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Early Socket Sets

In this section we'll look at the earlier models of socket sets and drive tools offered by Billings, covering roughly the period from the 1910s through 1920s. In general the Billings socket sets have turned out to be more difficult to examine and evaluate than other Billings tools, with several factors contributing to the difficulty. The first is the relative scarcity of examples; compared with the rather common adjustable and fixed wrenches, examples of Billings sockets and sets have been very difficult to acquire. For example, even the early Billings bicycle wrenches made more than 100 years ago can be easily found, but so far we have been unable to acquire even one 1940s era socket set.

A second contributing factor is that Billings made several abrupt changes to its manufacturing technology for socket products, with little if any overlap between the various phases. Socket production went from pressed-steel before 1920, to male-drive forgings in the 1920s, and finally to female-drive machined sockets in the 1930s and beyond.

The final factor is that Billings relied heavily on outside contract manufacturers for much (probably most) of the production from 1930 onward. Based on a careful examination of tool examples, the major producers of Billings-marked sockets and drive tools have been identified as Walden, Herbrand, and Wright, in approximate chronological order. In addition, New Britain Machine has recently been identified as a secondary provider of socket tools, beginning in the earlier years when Walden was the major supplier and continuing into the 1950s.

In order to provide a framework for examining these tools, we'll divide the production into four periods as follows.

  • The Pressed-Steel Period from approximately 1915 to 1920, characterized by pressed-steel sockets.
  • The Male-Drive Period from 1920 to 1929, with male-drive forged sockets.
  • The Chrome Alloy Period from 1930 to the early 1940s, featuring alloy steel sockets and tools primarily by Walden.
  • The Modern Period from the mid 1940s and later, with hot-forged sockets produced by Herbrand and Wright.

In this section we'll look at examples from the Pressed-Steel and Male-Drive periods. The discussion of the later socket tools will be deferred to the section on Later Contract-Production Socket Sets.


The Pressed-Steel Period: 1915-1920

The earliest interchangeable sockets produced by Billings were made of pressed steel, and were similar to the well-known sockets of Mossberg, Walden, and others. (See our Mossberg No. 10 Socket Set for an example of this style.) Sockets of this type had been in use since around 1907 or so, and were quite popular for automotive maintenance and other service jobs.

The Billings pressed-steel sockets were probably available by around 1915, although our earliest catalog reference is not until 1919, with several Billings sets offered in the Chandler & Farquhar catalog from that year. Of the five sets listed in that reference, four of them came with a Model CA Ratchet similar to the one shown here, and the other set used a "Eureka" model ratchet. The socket wrench sets in the 1919 catalog included the No. 31 with 30 sockets, No. 21 with 20 sockets, No. 9 with 8 sockets, the "Ford Special" with 8 sockets, and the "Eureka Ford Special" with 9 sockets. A ratchet and other accessories, such as extensions or universal joints, were also part of the sets.

The Billings sockets were compatible and interchangeable with the pressed-steel sockets from Mossberg, Walden, and other manufacturers, and this leads to an interesting observation. Billings pressed-steel socket sets are frequently acquired with some (or even most) of the original sockets replaced by Mossberg sockets; in place of the expected Billings B-Triangle logo on the sockets, one often finds the Mossberg M-Diamond logo instead. Although this might lead one to conclude that Billings sockets were inferior and more prone to breakage than other makes, there are several other factors that must be considered first.

The first observation is that all makes of pressed-steel sockets were subject to breakage. With the thin walls of the sockets and the relatively low strength of steel at that time, breaking a socket would not be unexpected.

The next consideration is the ease of replacement. Mossberg was the leading producer of pressed-steel sockets, and Mossberg sockets were readily available as individual pieces, not just in sets. Thus when the owner of a Billings, Walden, or any other maker's set needed to replace a broken socket, it was probably much easier to buy a Mossberg replacement.

Another factor relates to the type of drive tools supplied with the socket sets. Mossberg sets generally included a ratchet with a large opening (approximately 11/16 square) to drive the sockets from the outside, which places only compressive forces on the socket base. Other makers (including Billings) provided only 1/2 square tools to drive the sockets from the inside, thereby introducing tensile forces that tend to split the socket base. Sockets driven from the inside could thus fail on either the drive end or the service end, leading to overall higher failure rates.

In weighing all of these considerations, it's probably fair to say that the Billings sockets generally performed as expected for tools of this type, with possibly a somewhat greater failure rate than some other makes.

The Billings pressed-steel socket sets are less commonly found, but we have been able to acquire two examples, a Billings No. 31 set and an "Allen Friction Wrench Set" with Ford-special sockets.


Allen Friction Wrench Socket Set

We'll begin this section with an example of the Billings "Allen Friction Wrench Set", a collection of pressed-steel sockets and drive tools supplied in wooden box.

[Top Cover of Billings Allen Friction Wrench Socket Set]
Fig. 132. Top Cover of Billings Allen Friction Wrench Socket Set.

Fig. 132 at the left shows the top cover of the socket set, marked "The Billings & Spencer Co." with the B-Triangle logo and "Trade Mark". The text "Allen Friction Wrench Set" appears on a line below, followed by a repeat of the company name and "Hartford, Conn", but the latter text is quite difficult to read. (The text here is repeated on the inside cover, providing two chances to decipher the worn markings.)

[Billings Allen Friction Wrench Socket Set]
Fig. 133. Billings Allen Friction Wrench Socket Set.

Fig. 133 shows the Allen Friction Wrench Set in its wooden storage box. The markings on the inside cover appear to be a duplicate of those on the outside cover; both examples are rather worn, but between the two, most of the markings can be made out. The end of the box (shown below) marks this as a "Ford Special" set, meaning that the socket sizes had been chosen for the common service requirements of that make. (At this time, "Ford" meant "Model T".)

The set (as acquired) consists of the Allen Friction Wrench ratchet, a double-male extension, a universal, and nine pressed-steel sockets. All of the tools are built around a 1/2 square drive standard, with the sockets driven from the inside. (Mossberg socket sets used a ratchet sized to drive the sockets from the outside, which greatly reduced the chance of cracking the sockets at the base.)

The sockets are definitely not all original, as two of the square ones are marked by Mossberg, and other sizes may have been substituted. The five hex socket have sizes 17/32, 19/32, 5/8, 25/32 (cracked), and 29/32, and all are marked with the Billings B-Triangle logo. The three square sockets have sizes 13/32, 19/32, and 25/32, and only the smallest one is marked with the Billings logo; the two larger sizes have the Mossberg M-Diamond logo. The special oval socket has no markings of any kind.

[End Markings of Billings Allen Friction Wrench Socket Set]
Fig. 134. End Markings of Billings Allen Friction Wrench Socket Set.

Fig. 134 at the left shows the end of the box, marked "Allen Friction" and "Ford Special".

Currently we don't have a Billings catalog reference for this set, but a 1922 Marwedel catalog lists an apparently identical set as the Allen Wrench No. 9 Ford Special Set. (The ratchet in the illustration appears to be identical to the one here except for markings, and even has a B-Triangle logo.) According to the catalog description, the set consisted of the friction ratchet, short and long extensions, 8 regular pressed-steel hex sockets, and one spark plug socket. The hex socket sizes are given as 13/32, 17/32, 19/32, 11/16, 23/32, 25/32, 31/32, and 1-5/32.

The same catalog shows several other Allen socket sets, such as the No. 31 and "Eureka Ford Special", all of which appear to be identical to the corresponding Billings sets. These listings indicate that Billings was still acting as a manufacturer for Allen Wrench & Tool as late as 1922.


"Allen Friction Wrench" 1/2-Drive Ratchet

[Billings Allen Friction Wrench 1/2-Drive Ratchet]
Fig. 135. Billings "Allen Friction Wrench" 1/2-Drive Ratchet, with Insets for Side View and Reverse Detail.

Fig. 135 shows the 1/2-drive Allen friction ratchet from the socket set. The shank has forged-in markings "The Billings & Spencer Co. H'T'F'D. CT." on one side, and the reverse is marked "Allen Friction Wrench" and "Pat Aug 15 1911" with the B-Triangle logo.

The overall length is 8.4 inches, and the finish is nickel plating.

The patent date on the shank corresponds to patent #1,000,878, issued to Fred R. Allen on that date. The patent describes the design of a gearless ratchet, using a friction cam to alternately grip and release the drive wheel.

The Allen friction ratchet was initially produced by Allen Wrench & Tool of Providence, Rhode Island. Billings was apparently the contract manufacturer for Allen, but also offered the tools under its own name.


1/2-Drive 8 Inch Double-Male Extension from Allen Friction Wrench Set

[Billings 1/2-Drive 8 Inch Double-Male Extension]
Fig. 136. Billings 1/2-Drive 8 Inch Double-Male Extension.

Fig. 136 shows the unmarked 1/2-drive 8 inch double-male extension from the socket set.

The overall length is 7.5 inches, and the finish is nickel plating.


1/2-Drive Double-Male Universal from Allen Friction Wrench Set

[Billings 1/2-Drive Double-Male Universal]
Fig. 137. Billings 1/2-Drive Double-Male Universal.

Fig. 137 shows the unmarked 1/2-drive double-male universal from the Allen Friction Wrench socket set.

The overall length is 3.5 inches, and the finish is plain steel.


No. 31 Pressed-Steel Socket Set

The next several figures show a Billings No. 31 socket set, the largest of the pressed-steel sets offered by Billings.

[Billings No. 31 Pressed-Steel Socket Set]
Fig. 138. Billings No. 31 Pressed-Steel Socket Set, ca. 1917-1920.

Fig. 138 shows a Billings No. 31 pressed-steel socket set in its wooden box, consisting of a Model CA ratchet, short and long extensions, screwdriver bit, universal joint, 27 standard hex sockets, three square sockets, and one spark plug socket.

The set is marked on the inside of the lid with "Billings & Spencer" in an arc, followed by the B-Triangle logo and "Ratchet Socket Wrench Set" below. The text "The Billings & Spencer Co." and "Hartford, Conn." appears on the lines at the bottom.

The drive tools in the set are all 1/2-drive, and the sockets are therefore driven only from the inside. This is in contrast to the mix of 11/16-drive and 1/2-drive tools used by Mossberg and Walden socket sets, with the sockets sometimes driven by the outer base.

The 27 standard hex sockets include all sizes from 5/16 to 1 inch by 32nds, plus 1-1/32, 1-3/32, 1-5/32, and 1-9/32. The three square sockets (in the front row at the right) have sizes 13/32, 17/32, and 21/32. The Billings sockets are stamped with the B-Triangle logo and fractional size; however, most of the original sockets have been replaced with the Mossberg equivalent and are stamped with the M-Diamond logo.

The spark plug socket was missing when this set was acquired, and the size is not specified in our only catalog reference for the set. (Common sizes at the time were 29/32, 31/32, and 1-5/32.) For the photograph we have added a Mossberg 29/32 spark plug socket.

This set was reasonably complete when acquired, but most of the sockets had been replaced by Mossberg sockets: of the original 31 sockets, only seven Billings sockets remained in the set. For the photograph the set has been restored to a functionally complete state, with a few missing sockets filled in from inventory and the Universal on loan from the Billings "Allen Friction Wrench" Set shown in a previous figure.

The sockets and tools in the photograph have been arranged to match the illustration in the 1919 Chandler & Farquhar catalog, but there's a trick to packing the ten sockets in the back row. The ten largest sockets won't quite fit, so the 7/8 and 27/32 sockets were moved from the back row to the middle, and the 13/16 and 25/32 sockets were moved from the middle row to the back.


[Top View of Billings No. 31 Pressed-Steel Socket Set]
Fig. 139. Top View of Billings No. 31 Pressed-Steel Socket Set, ca. 1917-1920.

Fig. 139 shows a top view of the Billings No. 31 socket set in its wooden box. The cover markings are pressed (or possibly burned) into the wood, with the text "Billings & Spencer" in an arc at the top, followed by the B-Triangle logo and "Ratchet Socket Wrench Set" below. The text "The Billings & Spencer Co." and "Hartford, Conn." appears on the lines at the bottom. (The same markings appear on the inside of the lid.)

The dimensions of the box are 12.7 inches wide by 5.7 inches deep by 2.5 inches high.

[End View of Billings No. 31 Socket Set]
Fig. 140. End View of Billings No. 31 Socket Set, ca. 1917-1920.

Fig. 140 shows the end of the Billings No. 31 socket set wooden box, marked with "B. & S." and "Ratchet Socket Wrench Set", with the "No. 31" model number at the bottom. These markings appear at only one end of the box.


Model CA 1/2-Drive Ratchet from No. 31 Set

[Billings Model CA 1/2-Drive Ratchet]
Fig. 141. Billings Model CA 1/2-Drive Ratchet, with Insets for Side View and Reverse Detail, ca. 1917-1920.

Fig. 141 shows the 1/2-drive Billings model CA ratchet from the No. 31 set, marked with "Billings & Spencer Co." and the B-Triangle logo forged into the shank, with "Hartford Conn USA" forged into the reverse.

The overall length is 8.4 inches, and the finish is polished steel.

The model CA ratchet is a rugged tool with a hardened body and gear for a long service life. The ratchet is fitted with a relatively coarse 11-tooth drive gear, which is held in place by the piston-like pawl set into a recess drilled into the handle. The drive gear can be removed for cleaning (or replacement) by aligning the cross-drilled holes and then depressing the pawl with a suitable pin.

A slightly later version of this model can be seen as the Model CA Ratchet, and an example of the successor model can be seen as the Model CB Ratchet.


1/2-Drive 10 Inch Double-Male Extension from No. 31 Set

[Billings 1/2-Drive 10 Inch Extension]
Fig. 142. Billings 1/2-Drive 10 Inch Extension, ca. 1917-1920.

Fig. 142 shows the unmarked 1/2-drive 10 inch double-male extension from the Billings No. 31 set.

The overall length is 9.6 inches, and the finish is nickel plating.


1/2-Drive Ratchet Plug (Short Extension) from No. 31 Set

[Billings 1/2-Drive Ratchet Plug (Short Extension)]
Fig. 143. Billings 1/2-Drive Ratchet Plug (Short Extension), ca. 1917-1920.

Fig. 143 shows the unmarked 1/2-drive ratchet plug (or short extension) from the Billings No. 31 set.

The overall length is 1.7 inches, and the finish is nickel plating.


1/2-Drive Screwdriver Bit from No. 31 Set

[Billings 1/2-Drive Screwdriver Bit]
Fig. 144. Billings 1/2-Drive Screwdriver Bit, with Inset for Side View, ca. 1917-1920.

Fig. 144 shows the unmarked 1/2-drive screwdriver bit from the Billings No. 31 set.

The overall length is 1.8 inches, and the finish is nickel plating.


Pressed-Steel 1-9/32 Hex Socket from No. 31 Set

[Billings Pressed-Steel 1-9/32 Hex Socket]
Fig. 145. Billings Pressed-Steel 1-9/32 Hex Socket, ca. 1917-1920.

Fig. 145 shows the Billings 1-9/32 pressed-steel socket from the No. 31 set, the largest of the hex sockets. The socket is stamped with the fractional size and the B-Triangle logo on the base.


Small Pressed-Steel Sockets from No. 31 Set

[Billings Small Pressed-Steel Sockets]
Fig. 146. Billings Small Pressed-Steel Sockets, with Inset for End View, ca. 1917-1920.

Fig. 146 shows a group of three of the smaller Billings pressed-steel sockets from the No. 31 set, each stamped with the fractional size and the B-Triangle logo.

The socket sizes are, from the left, 11/32 (Hex), 3/8 (Hex), and 13/32 (Square).


The Male-Drive Period: 1920-1929

In the early 1920s Billings discontinued the production of pressed-steel sockets and adopted a very different socket design. The new sockets were rugged forgings built with male drive tangs, probably a natural design for a drop-forging company to consider, but very different from the heavy-wall machined sockets produced by others at that time.

These new sockets were forged of carbon steel, the standard material for all of Billings' tools of the time, and appeared to be strong but were rather bulky. (Perhaps for the latter reason they seem not to have been very popular.)

The Billings catalog of 1923 offers forged male-drive sockets in various sets, and they may have been available for some time prior to this. (No pressed-steel sockets were listed at this time.) These sockets were still being offered in the 1929 Billings catalog, but were likely discontinued by 1930 or shortly thereafter, when Billings started offering standard female-drive sockets of alloy steel.

Even by 1923, most of the tool industry had already adopted 1/2-square drive sockets with female drive ends as the standard, and the Billings tools must have seemed old-fashioned.


No. 52 Socket Set

Our example for this period is a No. 52 socket set, described in the 1923 catalog as the "S.A.E. and A.L.A.M. Ratchet Socket Wrench Set".

[Cover of Billings No. 52 Socket Set]
Fig. 147. Cover of Billings No. 52 Socket Set.

Fig. 147 shows the inside cover of the No. 52 set, marked "Billings & Spencer" with the B-Triangle logo.

This socket set (and several similar models) were furnished in wooden boxes with cutouts to hold the tools.

[Billings No. 52 Socket Set]
Fig. 148. Billings No. 52 Socket Set, ca. 1920s.

The tools in the No. 52 set are shown in Fig. 148 at the left. The standard contents of the set consisted of a ratchet, brace, extension, a screwdriver attachment, a spark plug socket, and 12 hex sockets. The sockets ranged in size from 3/8 up to 1-1/4.

The set as acquired was missing two of the original sockets (9/16 and 11/16), and one extra socket (13/32) had been added at some point.


1/2-Drive Model CA Ratchet from No. 52 Set

[Billings 1/2-Drive Model CA Ratchet]
Fig. 149. Billings 1/2-Drive Model CA Ratchet from No. 52 Socket Set, ca. 1920-1929.

Fig. 149 shows the 1/2 female drive Billings model CA ratchet from the No. 52 set. The shank has forged-in markings "Billings & Spencer" with the B-Triangle logo on one side, and "Hartford Conn USA" on the reverse.

The overall length is 8.5 inches.

The ratchet body is ruggedly built and hardened all over, and the mechanism uses an 11-tooth gear with a cylindrical pawl. The ratchet can be disassembled for cleaning by depressing the pawl with a pin, after lining up the access holes in the gear.

The drive gear was originally fitted with a spring clip to retain the inserted tool, but the clip has broken off.

This simple but effective ratchet design remained in production for many years. A slightly earlier version of this model can be seen as the Early Model CA Ratchet, and an example of the successor model can be seen as the Model CB Ratchet.


Early 1/2-Drive Brace (Speeder)

[Billings 1/2-Drive Brace (Speeder) from No. 52 Set]
Fig. 150. Billings 1/2-Drive Brace (Speeder) from No. 52 Socket Set.

Fig. 150 shows the 1/2 female drive brace (or speeder) from the No. 52 set, with no markings visible on the tool. The overall length is 10.8 inches, and the finish is black paint.

The drive end of the brace is a 1/2 square socket fitted with a spring clip to retain the male drive studs of the sockets.


Male-Drive Sockets

[Billings 1/2 Male Drive Sockets]
Fig. 151. Billings 1/2 Male Drive Sockets from No. 52 Socket Set.

Fig. 151 shows the three largest sockets from the No. 52 set, marked with the fractional sizes on the drive stud.

The sizes are, from the left, 1-1/16, 1-1/8, and 1-1/4. The finish is black paint.


Male-Drive Folding Tee Handle

This next figure shows another example of a Billings male drive tool, possibly part of a portable repair kit for automobiles.

[Billings 1/2 Male Drive Folding Tee Handle]
Fig. 152. Billings 1/2 Male Drive Folding Tee Handle, with Inset for Construction Detail, ca. 1920s.

Fig. 152 shows a Billings folding Tee handle for use with 1/2 male drive sockets, stamped with the B-Triangle logo.

The overall length is 8.8 inches, and the finish is black paint, with losses due to rust.

The inset shows the 1/2 square broaching of the drive end, suitable for a male drive socket. The hole in the side appears to have been for a rivet holding a flat spring, but these parts are now missing.

In operation, the bar with the hook end slides through the head to form a Tee handle or extended offset handle. The hook prevents the bar from being removed and lost.

Currently we don't have a catalog reference for this tool and so are unsure of its model number. The Tee handle was acquired along with several standard and deep male drive sockets, suggesting that it may have been part of a smaller automotive repair kit.


Male-Drive 1 Inch Deep Hex Socket

[Billings 1/2 Male Drive 1 Inch Deep Hex Socket]
Fig. 153A. Billings 1/2 Male Drive 1 Inch Deep Hex Socket, with Inset for Broaching, ca. 1920s.

Fig. 153A shows a 1/2 male drive Billings 1 inch deep hex socket, acquired with the Folding Tee Handle shown in a previous figure. The socket is stamped with the size and B-Triangle logo on the drive tang.

The overall height is 3.7 inches, and the finish is black paint, with some losses due to rust.


Male-Drive 1-1/8 Deep Hex Socket

[Billings 1/2 Male Drive 1-1/8 Deep Hex Socket]
Fig. 153B. Billings 1/2 Male Drive 1-1/8 Deep Hex Socket, with Insets for Broaching and Marking Detail, ca. 1920s.

Fig. 153B shows a 1/2 male drive Billings 1-1/8 deep hex socket, acquired with the Folding Tee Handle shown in a previous figure. The socket is stamped with the fractional size, but is not marked with the Billings logo.

The overall height is 3.7 inches, and the finish is black paint, with some losses due to rust.


Alloy Steel Tools: Early Life-Time and Chrome-Molybdenum Era

Billings was not one of the pioneers in the development of alloy steel tools, despite being one of the largest tool makers of the time. By the time Billings brought out its first alloy wrenches in 1925 or so, Bonney had already been selling its highly successful Chrome-Vanadium CV line of wrenches for two years. Other companies including Herbrand, Plomb, and Cornwell are believed to have been using alloy steels for tool production since around 1919. In particular, Cornwell appears to have used chrome-molybdenum alloys for substantially all of its tool production beginning in 1919.


Tappet Wrenches


3002 7/16x1/2 Tappet Wrench

We'll begin this section with one of the earliest known examples of Billings' alloy-steel tappet wrenches.

[Billings 3002 7/16x1/2 Tappet Wrench]
Fig. 154. Billings 3002 7/16x1/2 Tappet Wrench, with Insets for Reverse and Marking Detail, ca. 1925-1926.

Fig. 154 shows an early Billings 3002 7/16x1/2 tappet wrench, stamped with the Billings early face markings on the left face (see lower inset), with the model number on the right face. The shank is marked with the B-Triangle logo plus "Chrome-Molybdenum" and "Made in U.S.A." forged into the front.

The overall length is 7.9 inches. The finish is nickel plating, but with extensive losses due to wear and rust.

The reverse faces are marked "1/4 NUT 5/16 [HEX]C 5/16 S.A.E." and "1/4 [HEX]C 1/4 S.A.E.", references to the older U.S.S., Hex Capscrew, and S.A.E. size conventions.

The use of the Billings standard early face markings suggests production in 1925 or early 1926, prior to the April 1926 introduction of the modern face markings.


3000 3/8x7/16 Tappet Wrench

[Billings 3000 3/8x7/16 Tappet Wrench]
Fig. 155. Billings 3000 3/8x7/16 Tappet Wrench, with Inset for Reverse, ca. 1927-1929.

Fig. 155 shows an early Billings 3000 3/8x7/16 tappet (or checknut) wrench, stamped "Made U.S.A." with the B-Triangle logo on the face. The shank is marked with B-Triangle logo and "Chrome-Molybdenum" forged into the front, with "Made in U.S.A." forged into the reverse.

The overall length is 8.0 inches.

The use of the fractional size markings (instead of the older size conventions) suggests production in 1927 or later. This style of tappet wrench had been discontinued by 1930, in favor of the 109x series of tappet wrenches.


3002 7/16x1/2 Tappet Wrench

[Billings 3002 7/16x1/2 Tappet Wrench]
Fig. 156. Billings 3002 7/16x1/2 Tappet Wrench, with Insets for Reverse Detail, ca. 1926-1927.

Fig. 156 shows another early Billings 3002 7/16x1/2 tappet (or checknut) wrench, stamped with the Billings modern face markings on the left face, with the model number on the right face. The shank is marked with the B-Triangle logo and "Chrome-Molybdenum" forged into the front, with "Made in U.S.A." forged into the reverse.

The overall length is 7.9 inches.

The upper left and lower right insets show the reverse face markings "1/4 NUT 5/16 CAP 5/16 S.A.E." and "1/4 CAP 1/4 S.A.E.", references to the older U.S.S., Hex Capscrew, and S.A.E. size conventions. The use of the older size markings with the Billings modern face markings (introduced in 1926) suggests production in the 1926-1927 range.


Early 3004 9/16x5/8 Tappet Wrench

[Billings Early 3004 9/16x5/8 Tappet Wrench]
Fig. 157. Billings Early 3004 9/16x5/8 Tappet Wrench, with Inset for Reverse, ca. 1925-1926.

Fig. 157 shows an early Billings 3004 9/16x5/8 tappet wrench, stamped with the Billings early face markings on the left face, with the model number on the right face. The shank is marked with the B-Triangle logo plus "Chrome-Molybdenum" and "Made in U.S.A." forged into the front.

The overall length is 8.0 inches, and the finish is nickel plating.

The reverse faces are marked "7/16 [HEX]C 7/16 S.A.E." and "3/8 [HEX]C 3/8 S.A.E.", references to the older Hex Capscrew and S.A.E. size conventions.

The use of the Billings standard early face markings suggests production in 1925 or early 1926, prior to the April 1926 introduction of the modern face markings.


3005 1/2x19/32 Tappet Wrench

[Billings 3005 1/2x19/32 Tappet Wrench]
Fig. 158. Billings 3005 1/2x19/32 Tappet Wrench, with Inset for Reverse, ca. 1926-1927.

Fig. 158 shows an early Billings 3005 1/2x19/32 tappet wrench, stamped "Made U.S.A." with the B-Triangle logo on the face. The shank is marked with B-Triangle logo and "Chrome-Molybdenum" forged into the front, with "Made in U.S.A." forged into the reverse.

The overall length is 7.9 inches, and the finish is plain steel.

The top inset shows the reverse face markings "NUT 5/16" and "1/4 NUT 5/16 CAP 5/16 S.A.E.", references to the older U.S.S., Hex Capscrew, and S.A.E size conventions. The use of the older size markings with the Billings modern face markings (introduced in 1926) suggests production in the 1926-1927 range.


3006 9/16x5/8 Tappet Wrench

[Billings 3006 9/16x5/8 Tappet Wrench]
Fig. 159. Billings 3006 9/16x5/8 Tappet Wrench, with Inset for Reverse, ca. 1926-1927.

Fig. 159 shows an early Billings 3006 9/16x5/8 tappet wrench, stamped "Made U.S.A." with the B-Triangle logo on the face. The shank is marked with B-Triangle logo and "Chrome-Molybdenum" forged into the front, with "Made in U.S.A." forged into the reverse.

The overall length is 7.9 inches, and the finish is nickel plating.

The top inset shows the reverse face markings "7/16 CAP 7/16 S.A.E." and "3/8 CAP 3/8 S.A.E.", references to the older Hex Capscrew and S.A.E size conventions. The use of the older size markings with the Billings modern face markings (introduced in 1926) suggests production in the 1926-1927 range.


3008 11/16x13/16 Tappet Wrench

[Billings 3008 11/16x13/16 Tappet Wrench]
Fig. 160. Billings 3008 11/16x13/16 Tappet Wrench, with Inset for Reverse, ca. 1926-1927.

Fig. 160 shows an early Billings 3008 11/16x13/16 tappet (or checknut) wrench, stamped "Made U.S.A." with the B-Triangle logo on the face. The shank is marked with B-Triangle logo and "Chrome-Molybdenum" forged into the front, with "Made in U.S.A." forged into the reverse.

The overall length is 8.0 inches, and the finish is nickel plating.

The top inset shows the reverse face markings "7/16 U.S.S." and "3/8 U.S.S.", references to the older U.S.S. size convention. The use of the older size markings with the Billings modern face markings (introduced in 1926) suggests production in the 1926-1927 range.


3010 3/4x13/16 Tappet Wrench

[Billings 3010 3/4x13/16 Tappet Wrench]
Fig. 161. Billings 3010 3/4x13/16 Tappet Wrench, with Inset for Reverse, ca. 1926-1927.

Fig. 161 shows an early Billings 3010 3/4x13/16 tappet (or checknut) wrench, stamped "Made U.S.A." with the B-Triangle logo on the face. The shank has a forged-in B-Triangle logo, with "Chrome-Molybdenum" forged into the front and "Made in U.S.A." on the reverse.

The overall length is 8.0 inches, and the finish is nickel plating.

The reverse faces are marked "9/16 [HEX]C" and "1/2 CAP 1/2 S.A.E.", references to the older size conventions for the 13/16 and 3/4 openings, respectively. The use of the older size markings with the Billings modern face markings (introduced in 1926) suggests production in the 1926-1927 range.


3011 3/4x7/8 Tappet Wrench

[Billings 3011 3/4x7/8 Tappet Wrench]
Fig. 162. Billings 3011 3/4x7/8 Tappet Wrench, with Inset for Reverse, ca. 1925-1926.

Fig. 162 shows an early Billings 3011 3/4x7/8 tappet wrench, stamped with the Billings early face markings on the left face, with the model number on the right face. The shank is marked with the B-Triangle logo and "Chrome-Molybdenum" forged into the front, with "Made in U.S.A." forged into the reverse.

The overall length is 7.9 inches, and the finish is nickel plating, with some losses due to rust.

The reverse faces are marked "5/8 [HEX]C 9/16 S.A.E. 1/2 U.S.S." and "1/2 [HEX]C 1/2 S.A.E.", references to the older size conventions for the 7/8 and 3/4 openings, respectively.

The Billings early face markings on this example suggest production in 1925 or early 1926, prior to the April 1926 introduction of the modern face markings.


Open-End Wrenches

When Billings began producing alloy-steel open-end wrenches, it adopted and adapted the industry-standard numbering system by adding 1000 to the number, and then used an "M-" prefix. For example, an industry-standard number 29 wrench became a Billings model M-1029.


M-1728 "Chrome-Molybdenum" Open-End Wrench

We'll begin with an example believed to be an early Billings alloy-steel wrench, based on the design and raised-letter markings.

[Billings M-1728 1/2x5/8 Open-End Wrench]
Fig. 163. Billings M-1728 1/2x5/8 Open-End Wrench, with Insets for Reverse Detail, ca. 1925-1926.

Fig. 163 shows an early Billings M-1728 1/2x5/8 open-end wrench, with the standard early face markings and a forged-in B-Triangle logo on the shank. The logo is followed by "Chrome-Molybdenum" and "Made in U.S.A.", all in raised letters.

The overall length is 6.6 inches.

The 1929 Billings catalog offered a broad selection of M-1xxx series wrenches at that time, and the illustrations show the "Chrome-Molybdenum" marking seen in the example here. The use of the early face markings on this example indicates production in 1926 or earlier.


M-1025 "Chrome Molybdenum" 1/2x19/32 Open-End Wrench

This next example is believed to be representative of Billings' alloy steel production in the late 1920s to mid 1930s. The modern face markings indicate production in 1926 or later, and instead of a forged-in markings, this wrench has a smoothly ground convex shank with stamped markings.

[Billings Chrome Molybdenum M-1025 1/2x19/32 Open-End Wrench]
Fig. 164. Billings Chrome Molybdenum M-1025 1/2x19/32 Open-End Wrench, ca. 1929-1937.

Fig. 164 shows a Billings M-1025 1/2x19/32 open-end wrench, stamped "Chrome Molybdenum" on the shank with the simplified standard markings on the face.

The overall length is 6.4 inches, and the finish is chrome plating.

The "Chrome-Molybdenum" marking instead of "Vitalloy" indicates production before the adoption of the Vitalloy brand in 1937. The alloy markings together with the simplified face markings suggest that these smooth-shank wrenches represent production intermediate between the earliest models and the later "Duo-Forged" panelled design.


M-1027-C "Chrome Molybdenum" 9/16x11/16 Open-End Wrenches

The next figures show two generations of the M-1027-C model.

[Billings Chrome Molybdenum M-1027-C 9/16x11 Open-End Wrench]
Fig. 165. Billings "Chrome Molybdenum" M-1027-C 9/16x11/16 Open-End Wrench, ca. 1926-1927.

Fig. 165 shows an early Billings M-1027-C 9/16x11/16 open-end wrench, stamped with the standard modern face markings, with the B-Triangle logo plus "Chrome Molybdenum" and "Made in U.S.A." forged into the shank.

The overall length is 6.4 inches. The finish is nickel or chrome plating, with extensive losses due to wear.

The reverse face is marked "3/8 U.S.S.", a reference to the older U.S.S. Size Convention for the 11/16 opening. (The right hand face is worn and no markings are visible, but probably would have been marked "3/8 S.A.E." for the 9/16 opening.)

The use of the Billings modern face markings with the older size convention places the likely manufacturing date in 1926-1927.

[Billings Chrome Molybdenum M-1027-C 9/16x11/16 Open-End Wrench]
Fig. 166. Billings "Chrome Molybdenum" M-1027-C 9/16x11/16 Open-End Wrench, ca. 1929-1937.

Fig. 166 shows a later Billings M-1027-C 9/16x11/16 open-end wrench, stamped with the standard modern face markings, with "Chrome Molybdenum" stamped on the shank.

The overall length is 7.0 inches, and the finish is chrome plating.

A later example of this model can be seen as the Billings M-1027-C Duo-Forged Open-End Wrench.


M-1030 "Chrome Molybdenum" 11/16x7/8 Open-End Wrench

[Billings Chrome Molybdenum M-1030 11/16x7/8 Open-End Wrench]
Fig. 167. Billings Chrome Molybdenum M-1030 11/16x7/8 Open-End Wrench, ca. 1929-1937.

Fig. 167 shows another example of the smooth-shank style, a Billings M-1030 11/16x7/8 open-end wrench, stamped "Chrome Molybdenum" on the shank with the simplified standard markings on the face.

The overall length is 8.0 inches.

The neatly drilled hole in the shank is probably a later addition.


C-Series Wrenches

In addition to its M-series of chrome-molybdenum wrenches, Billings also produced a similar series of alloy-steel wrenches with C-prefix model numbers. These wrenches were typically stamped "Forged Chrome Steel" on the shank, with only the B-Triangle logo to identify Billings as the maker.

Currently we have no catalog references for this series of tools. Given the minimal markings, these tools may have been sold as generic contract production for other tool makers, or possibly as lower cost tools for hardware or automotive repair markets.


C-1723-A 3/8x1/2 Open-End Wrench

[Billings C-1723-A 3/8x1/2 Open-End Wrench]
Fig. 168. Billings C-1723-A 3/8x1/2 Open-End Wrench, with Inset for Reverse, ca. 1930s.

Fig. 168 shows a Billings C-1723-A 3/8x1/2 open-end wrench, stamped "Forged Chrome Steel" and "Made in U.S.A." on the convex shank, and with a B-Triangle logo (but no Billings name) on the face.

The overall length is 4.7 inches, and the finish is nickel plating.


C-1725-B 1/2x9/16 Open-End Wrench

[Billings C-1725-B 1/2x9/16 Open-End Wrench]
Fig. 169. Billings C-1725-B 1/2x9/16 Open-End Wrench, ca. 1930s.

Fig. 169 at the left shows a Billings C-1725-B 1/2x9/16 open-end wrench, stamped "Forged Chrome Steel" and "Made in U.S.A." on the convex shank, and with a B-Triangle logo (but no Billings name) on the face.

The overall length is 5.3 inches. The finish is mostly plain steel, but the faces show some traces of a prior plated finish.


C-1025 1/2x19/32 Open-End Wrench

[Billings C-1025 1/2x19/32 Open-End Wrench]
Fig. 170. Billings C-1025 1/2x19/32 Open-End Wrench, with Inset for Reverse, ca. 1930s.

Fig. 170 shows a Billings C-1025 1/2x19/32 open-end wrench, stamped "Forged Chrome Steel" and "Made in U.S.A." on the convex shank, and with a B-Triangle logo (but no Billings name) on the face.

The overall length is 5.2 inches, and the finish is nickel plating.


C-1027 19/32x11/16 Open-End Wrench

[Billings C-1027 19/32x11/16 Open-End Wrench]
Fig. 171. Billings C-1027 19/32x11/16 Open-End Wrench, ca. 1930s.

Fig. 171 at the left shows a Billings C-1027 19/32x11/16 open-end wrench, stamped "Forged Chrome Steel" and "Made in U.S.A." on the convex shank, and with a B-Triangle logo (but no Billings name) on the face.

The overall length is 6.2 inches. The finish is mostly plain steel, but the faces show some traces of a prior plated finish.


C-1729 5/8x3/4 Open-End Wrenches

The next two figures show examples of the Billings C-1729 wrench.

[Billings C-1729 5/8x3/4 Open-End Wrench]
Fig. 172. Billings C-1729 5/8x3/4 Open-End Wrench, with Inset for Reverse, ca. 1930s.

Fig. 172 shows a Billings C-1729 5/8x3/4 open-end wrench, stamped "Forged Chrome Steel" and "Made in U.S.A." on the convex shank. The faces are stamped with the B-Triangle logo and model number on the front, with the fractional sizes on the reverse.

The overall length is 7.4 inches. The original finish was nickel plating, but most has been lost due to wear and rust.

[Billings C-1729 5/8x3/4 Open-End Wrench]
Fig. 173. Billings C-1729 5/8x3/4 Open-End Wrench, ca. 1930s.

Fig. 173 shows a Billings C-1729 5/8x3/4 open-end wrench, stamped "Forged Chrome Steel" and "Made in U.S.A." on the convex shank, with the B-Triangle logo on the face.

The overall length is 7.5 inches, and the finish is nickel plating, with extensive losses due to rust.


C-1731 3/4x13/16 Open-End Wrench

[Billings C-1731 3/4x13/16 Open-End Wrench]
Fig. 174A. Billings C-1731 3/4x13/16 Open-End Wrench, with Inset for Reverse, ca. 1930s.

Fig. 174A shows a Billings C-1731 3/4x13/16 open-end wrench, stamped "Forged Chrome Steel" and "Made in U.S.A." on the convex shank, and with a B-Triangle logo (but no Billings name) on the face.

The overall length is 8.8 inches, and the finish is nickel plating with polished faces.


C-1031 25/32x7/8 Open-End Wrench

[Billings C-1031 25/32x7/8 Open-End Wrench]
Fig. 174B. Billings C-1031 25/32x7/8 Open-End Wrench, ca. 1930s.

Fig. 174B shows a Billings C-1031 25/32x7/8 open-end wrench, stamped "Forged Chrome Steel" and "Made in U.S.A." on the convex shank, and with a B-Triangle logo (but no Billings name) on the face.

The overall length is 8.6 inches, and the finish is nickel plating with polished faces.


C-1033-C 15/16x1 Open-End Wrench

[Billings C-1033-C 15/16x1 Open-End Wrench]
Fig. 175. Billings C-1033-C 15/16x1 Open-End Wrench, ca. 1930s.

Fig. 175 shows a Billings C-1033-C 15/16x1 open-end wrench, stamped "Forged Chrome Steel" and "Made in U.S.A." on the convex shank, and with a B-Triangle logo (but no Billings name) on the face.

The overall length is 10.1 inches, and the finish is nickel plating with polished faces.


C-92F 5/8x11/16 Tappet Wrench

The C-Series tools also included tappet wrenches, as this next figure illustrates.

[Billings C-92F 5/8x11/16 Tappet Wrench]
Fig. 176. Billings C-92F 5/8x11/16 Tappet Wrench, ca. 1930s.

Fig. 176 shows a Billings C-92F 5/8x11/16 tappet wrench, stamped "Forged Chrome Steel" and "Made in U.S.A." on the convex shank, and with a B-Triangle logo (but no Billings name) stamped on the face.

The overall length is 8.9 inches, and the finish is plain steel.


Obstruction Wrenches

During the mid 1920s a number of tool companies experimented with open-end wrench designs for clearing obstacles, commonly called obstruction wrenches. The design variations typically involved different head offset angles, or placement of the openings on opposite sides, and each style had its advocates. The Billings design used two different opening sizes offset at high angles, with both openings on the same side of the wrench.

The Billings obstruction wrenches were listed in the 1929 catalog and may have been available somewhat earlier. The obstruction style was relatively short-lived though, and by 1938 had been discontinued.

Several other companies produced obstruction wrenches similar to the Billings models, including Armstrong and Williams, and examples can be seen in the Blackhawk-Armstrong 2029 Wrench and Williams 2021 Wrench. Alternate styles of obstruction wrenches can be seen in the Bonney 2031 Wrench, Cornwell AW10 Wrench, and Herbrand 1827 Wrench.


M-2725 Life-Time 7/16x1/2 Obstruction Wrench

We'll begin this section with two early examples of the obstruction style, marked with the "Life-Time" trademark.

[Billings Life-Time M-2725 7/16x1/2 Obstruction Wrench]
Fig. 177. Billings Life-Time M-2725 7/16x1/2 Obstruction Wrench, with Inset for Reverse Detail, ca. 1926-1930.

Fig. 177 at the left shows an early Billings M-2725 7/16x1/2 obstruction wrench, marked with "Life-Time Wrench" and the B-Triangle logo forged into the shank, and with "Chrome-Molybdenum" forged into the reverse. The wrench also has stamped markings "Made U.S.A." with the B-Triangle logo on one face, with the model number stamped on the other face.

The overall length is 5.5 inches, and the finish is nickel plating.


M-2030 Life-Time 11/16x7/8 Obstruction Wrench

[Billings Life-Time M-2030 11/16x7/8 Obstruction Wrench]
Fig. 178. Billings Life-Time M-2030 11/16x7/8 Obstruction Wrench, with Inset for Reverse, ca. 1926-1930.

Fig. 178 at the left shows an early Billings M-2030 11/16x7/8 obstruction wrench, marked on the shank with "Life-Time Wrench" and the B-Triangle logo in forged raised letters, and with "Chrome-Molybdenum" on the reverse.

The overall length is 7.7 inches. The finish appears to be a thin nickel plate, now partially worn away.


M-2731B Life-Time 13/16x7/8 Obstruction Wrench

[Billings Life-Time M-2731B 13/16x7/8 Obstruction Wrench]
Fig. 179. Billings Life-Time M-2731B 13/16x7/8 Obstruction Wrench, with Inset for Reverse, ca. 1926-1930.

Fig. 179 shows an early Billings M-2731B 13/16x7/8 obstruction wrench, marked on the shank with "Life-Time Wrench" and the B-Triangle logo in forged raised letters, and with "Chrome-Molybdenum" on the reverse.

The overall length is 9.2 inches. The finish is nickel plating, with extensive losses due to rust and pitting.


M-2731 Special 1x1-1/8 Obstruction Wrench

[Billings M-2731 Special 1x1-1/8 Obstruction Wrench]
Fig. 180. Billings M-2731 Special 1x1-1/8 Obstruction Wrench.

Fig. 180 shows a Billings M-2731 "Special" 1x1-1/8 obstruction wrench, stamped "Made in U.S.A." with the B-Triangle logo on the face.

The overall length is 9.3 inches.


Box-End Wrenches

Box-end wrenches with double-hex broachings became popular in the late 1920s, and were typically made in both flat and offset styles. Billings did not offer wrenches of this style until sometime during the 1930s, and our earliest catalog reference is the 40th Edition catalog of 1937.

The 1937 catalog lists box-end wrenches in two lengths, a short S-xxx series and long L-xxx series, and both flat and angled styles were available in each length. The (ordinal) model numbers assigned were S-15x for the short flat wrenches, S-45x for short offset, L-15x for long flat wrenches, and L-45x for long offset. These early box wrenches had wide slightly oval shanks and stamped markings.

The figures below will show a number of examples of these various styles.


2822 Early Chrome-Molybdenum 11/16x11/16 Single-Offset Box-End Wrench

We'll begin this section with two examples of single-offset box wrenches, a style that became popular in the late 1920s and early 1930s.

[Billings Chrome-Molybdenum 2822 11/16x11/16 Single-Offset Box Wrench]
Fig. 181. Billings Chrome-Molybdenum 2822 11/16x11/16 Single-Offset Box Wrench, with Insets for Side View and Reverse Detail, ca. 1930-1934.

Fig. 181 shows an early Billings 2822 11/16x11/16 single-offset box wrench, stamped "Billings" and "Made U.S.A." with the B-Triangle logo, with "Chrome Molybdenum" and a "Patent No. 1424069" patent notice on the reverse.

The overall length is 11.1 inches, and the finish is nickel plating.

This wrench is listed in the 1930 Billings "Socket Wrenches and Handle Units" catalog, which shows similar models ranging in size from 2814 (7/16) up to 2830 15/16). The wrenches were available individaully or as part of a No. 2800 set.

The patent notice refers to patent #1,424,069, issued to F.W. Blackmar in 1922. The patent describes the design of offset 12-point wrenches and was later assigned to Snap-On around 1930. Snap-On apparently licensed it to other tool companies, as the patent can be found marked on wrenches from Bonney, Mossberg, Williams, and now Billings.


2828 Early Chrome-Molybdenum 7/8x7/8 Single-Offset Box-End Wrench

[Billings Chrome-Molybdenum 2828 7/8x7/8 Single-Offset Box Wrench]
Fig. 182. Billings Chrome-Molybdenum 2828 7/8x7/8 Single-Offset Box Wrench, with Inset for Side View, ca. 1930-1934.

Fig. 182 shows an early Billings 2828 7/8x7/8 single-offset box wrench, stamped "Billings" and "Made U.S.A." with the B-Triangle logo. The reverse shank is also stamped "Chrome Molybdenum" and "Patent No. 1424069" (not shown).

The overall length is 13.1 inches, and the finish is nickel plating.

This wrench is listed in the 1930 Billings "Socket Wrenches and Handle Units" catalog, which shows similar models ranging in size from 2814 (7/16) up to 2830 15/16). The wrenches were available individaully or as part of a No. 2800 set.


2890 Early Chrome-Molybdenum 9/16x13/16 Specialty Box Wrench

[Billings Chrome-Molybdenum 2890 9/16x13/16 Specialty Box Wrench]
Fig. 183. Billings Chrome-Molybdenum 2890 9/16x13/16 Specialty Box Wrench, with Insets for Side View and Reverse Detail, ca. 1930-1934.

Fig. 183 shows an early Billings 2890 9/16x13/16 specialty box wrench, stamped "Billings" and "Made U.S.A." with the B-Triangle logo, with "Chrome Molybdenum" and "Patent No. 1424069" on the reverse.

The overall length is 14.0 inches, and the finish is nickel plating.

The patent notice refers to patent #1,424,069, issued to F.W. Blackmar in 1922, as discussed in the previous figure.

This wrench is listed in a 1930 Billings catalog for Chevrolet connecting-rod and main-bearing service. Note that although the wrench resembles the single-offset style shown in the previous figure, the openings are asymmetric, as required for its specialized purpose.

This wrench is very similar to the APCO-Mossberg 3014 Wrench shown in another article. This suggests that Billings may have been providing drop-forging services to Mossberg for this (and other) wrenches, as Mossberg was not known as a drop-forging specialist.


L-2 Early Chrome-Molybdenum 1/2x9/16 Offset Box-End Wrench

[Billings Chrome-Molybdenum L-2 1/2x9/16 Offset Box-End Wrench]
Fig. 184. Billings Chrome-Molybdenum L-2 1/2x9/16 Offset Box-End Wrench, with Insets for Side View and Reverse Detail, ca. Early 1930s.

Fig. 184 shows an early Billings L-2 1/2x9/16 offset box wrench, stamped "Billings" and "Made U.S.A." with the with the B-Triangle logo, and with "Chrome Molybdenum" on the reverse.

The overall length is 8.8 inches, and the finish is plain steel.

No catalog reference is available for this early model, but it likely dates from the early 1930s.


Structural Wrenches


M-1907A 1-1/8 Single-Open Structural Wrench

[Billings M-1907A 1-1/8 Single-Open Structural Wrench]
Fig. 185. Billings M-1907A 1-1/8 Single-Open Structural Wrench, with Insets for Side View and Marking Detail, ca. Late 1920s to Mid 1930s.

Fig. 185 shows a Billings M-1907A single-open structural wrench, stamped with the model number and modern face markings on the shank, with "Chrome Molybdenum" on the reverse.

The overall length is 17.2 inches, and the finish is black oxide.


The Vitalloy Era

In 1937 Billings filed an application for its "Vitalloy" trademark, a marking for alloy steel use not tied to a specific metal composition. The adoption of this new trademark was probably the occasion for a redesign of their wrench styles, as around this time Billings started using a panelled shank design for its alloy-steel wrenches, with smoothly contoured oval depressions on each side of the shank. The standard markings for this design were forged into the panels, and consisted of the B-Triangle logo in between "Billings" and "Vitalloy", with "Duo-Forged" on the reverse.

The marking "Duo-Forged" is frequently seen on Billings tools, apparently in reference to a particular forging process, but the exact meaning is not known at this point.

The date of first production for the panelled design is not known, but this style was definitely in use by 1938, as a catalog from that year shows illustrations of panelled open-end wrenches.


Vitalloy Open-End Wrenches


M-1723 Vitalloy Open-End Wrenches, Duo-Forged Panelled Design

The next two figures show examples of the Billings M-1723 wrench.

[Billings Vitalloy M-1723 3/8x7/16 Open-End Wrench]
Fig. 186. Billings Vitalloy M-1723 3/8x7/16 Open-End Wrench, with Inset for Reverse Detail, ca. 1937-1947.

Fig. 186 shows an early Billings M-1723 3/8x7/16 open-end wrench with the standard panel markings. The face is stamped "Made U.S.A." with the B-Triangle logo.

The overall length is 4.3 inches, and the finish is appears to be a thin nickel plating.

This wrench is thought to be an early example of the style, based on the thin plating and the slightly different face stamping. Note that the "Made U.S.A." on the face is along a straight line, instead of curving downwards as in most of the other examples here.

[Billings Vitalloy M-1723 3/8x7/16 Open-End Wrench]
Fig. 187. Billings Vitalloy M-1723 3/8x7/16 Open-End Wrench, with Inset for Reverse Detail, ca. 1942-1945.

Fig. 187 shows a somewhat later Billings M-1723 3/8x7/16 open-end wrench with the standard panel markings.

The overall length is 4.3 inches, and the finish is plain steel.

The plain finish suggests that this wrench may have been manufactured during the wartime years 1942-1945.


M-1723A Vitalloy Open-End Wrench, Duo-Forged Panelled Design

[Billings Vitalloy M-1723A 3/8x1/2 Open-End Wrench]
Fig. 188. Billings Vitalloy M-1723A 3/8x1/2 Open-End Wrench, with Inset for Reverse Detail, ca. 1937-1947.

Fig. 188 shows another early example, a Billings M-1723A 3/8x1/2 open-end wrench with the standard panel markings. The face is stamped "Made U.S.A." with the B-Triangle logo.

The overall length is 5.3 inches. The original finish has been lost due to rust, but the face has a few traces of thin nickel plating.

This wrench is thought to be an early example of the style, based on the thin plating and the slightly different face stamping. Note that the "Made U.S.A." on the face is along a straight line, instead of curving downwards as in most of the other examples here.


M-1020A 3/16x1/4 Vitalloy Open-End Wrench, Duo-Forged Panelled Design

[Billings Vitalloy M-1020A 3/16x1/4 Open-End Wrench]
Fig. 189. Billings Vitalloy M-1020A 3/16x1/4 Open-End Wrench, with Inset for Reverse Detail, ca. 1937-1947.

Fig. 189 shows the panelled design applied to a very small wrench, a Billings M-1020A 3/16x1/4 open-end wrench, marked with a variant of the standard panel markings. In this example the usual "Billings Vitalloy" and B-Triangle logo forged markings have been replaced with just "Vitalloy".

The overall length is 3.5 inches, and the finish is chrome plating with polished faces.


M-1026 Special 1/26x3/4 Vitalloy Open-End Wrench, Duo-Forged Panelled Design

[Billings Vitalloy M-1026 Special 1/2x3/4 Open-End Wrench]
Fig. 190. Billings Vitalloy M-1026 Special 1/2x3/4 Open-End Wrench, with Inset for Reverse, ca. 1937-1947.

Fig. 190 shows a Billings M-1026 "Special" 1/2x3/4 open-end wrench with a panelled shank, stamped with the standard modern face markings on the front, with "Special" on the reverse face, and with the standard panel markings forged into the shank.

The overall length is 6.9 inches. The finish is mostly plain steel, but with traces of the original chrome plating.


M-1027-C 9/16x11/16 Vitalloy Open-End Wrench, Duo-Forged Panelled Design

[Billings Vitalloy M-1027-C 9/16x11/16 Open-End Wrench]
Fig. 191. Billings Vitalloy M-1027-C 9/16x11/16 Open-End Wrench, with Insets for Reverse and Side View, ca. 1942-1945.

Fig. 191 shows another example of the panelled design, a Billings M-1027-C 9/16x11/16 open-end wrench with the standard panel markings.

The overall length is 6.9 inches, and the finish is plain steel with a dark oxide coating.

An earlier example of this model can be seen as the Billings M-1027-C "Chrome Molybdenum" Open-End Wrench.


M-1027 Vitalloy 19/32x11/16 Open-End Wrench, Duo-Forged Panelled Design

[Billings Vitalloy M-1027 19/32x11/16 Open-End Wrench]
Fig. 192. Billings Vitalloy M-1027 19/32x11/16 Open-End Wrench, with Inset for Reverse Detail.

Fig. 192 shows a Billings M-1027 19/32x11/16 open-end wrench with the standard panel markings.

The overall length is 6.9 inches, and the finish is plain steel.


M-1028 Vitalloy 19/32x25/32 Open-End Wrench, Duo-Forged Panelled Design

[Billings Vitalloy M-1028 19/32x25/32 Open-End Wrench]
Fig. 193. Billings Vitalloy M-1028 19/32x25/32 Open-End Wrench, with Inset for Reverse, ca. 1937-1947.

Fig. 193 shows a Billings M-1028 19/32x25/32 open-end wrench with the standard panel markings.

The overall length is 8.0 inches, and the finish is chrome plating, with losses due to wear and rust.


M-1729 Vitalloy 5/8x3/4 Open-End Wrench, Duo-Forged Panelled Design

[Billings Vitalloy M-1729 5/8x3/4 Open-End Wrench]
Fig. 194. Billings Vitalloy M-1729 5/8x3/4 Open-End Wrench, with Inset for Reverse Detail, ca. 1937-1947.

Fig. 194 shows a Billings M-1729 5/8x3/4 open-end wrench, with the standard panel markings on the shank and "Made in U.S.A." on the face.

The overall length is 8.0 inches. The finish is chrome plating, missing in some areas due to rust.


M-1028-S Vitalloy 5/8x25/32 Open-End Wrench, Duo-Forged Panelled Design

[Billings Vitalloy M-1028-S 5/8x25/32 Open-End Wrench]
Fig. 195. Billings Vitalloy M-1028-S 5/8x25/32 Open-End Wrench, with Inset for Reverse Detail, ca. 1942-1945.

Fig. 195 shows a Billings M-1028-S 5/8x25/32 open-end wrench in the standard panelled style, but with a variant of the standard panel markings. On the reverse we see "Made in U.S.A." flanked by two B-Triangle logos, instead of the expected "Duo-Forged" marking.

The overall length is 8.0 inches. The finish is plain steel on the faces and gray paint on the shank, suggesting production during the 1942-1945 wartime years.


M-1029 Vitalloy 11/16x25/32 Open-End Wrench, Duo-Forged Panelled Design

[Billings Vitalloy M-1029 11/16x25/32 Open-End Wrench]
Fig. 196. Billings Vitalloy M-1029 11/16x25/32 Open-End Wrench, with Inset for Reverse Detail, ca. 1937-1947.

Fig. 196 shows a Billings M-1029 11/16x25/32 open-end wrench with the standard panel markings.

The overall length is 7.9 inches. The finish is nickel plate on the faces, now worn in some areas, and plain steel for the shank.


M-1731 Vitalloy 3/4x13/16 Panelled Open-End Wrench

[Billings Vitalloy M-1731 3/4x13/16 Open-End Wrench]
Fig. 197. Billings Vitalloy M-1731 3/4x13/16 Open-End Wrench, with Inset for Reverse, ca. 1942-1945.

Fig. 197 shows a Billings M-1731 3/4x13/16 open-end wrench, stamped with the modern face markings and model number on the front, with the fractional sizes on the reverse. The panelled shank is marked with "Billings Vitalloy" and the B-Triangle logo forged into the front, with "Duo-Forged" forged into the reverse.

The overall length is 9.5 inches, and the finish is cadmium plating.

The cadmium finish indicates production during the 1942-1945 wartime years.


M-1033-C Vitalloy 15/16x1 Panelled Open-End Wrench

[Billings Vitalloy M-1033-C 15/16x1 Open-End Wrench]
Fig. 198. Billings Vitalloy M-1033-C 15/16x1 Open-End Wrench, with Inset for Reverse Detail, ca. 1937-1947.

Fig. 198 shows a Billings M-1033-C 15/16x1 open-end wrench, with the standard panel markings on the shank and "Made in U.S.A." on the face.

The overall length is 10.7 inches. The original finish was chrome plating, but extensive rust has left only traces of the finish.


M-1723 3/8x7/16 Open-End Wrench, Wartime Production

During the wartime years of 1942-1945, tool makers faced shortages of certain materials (and sometimes labor), and as a result had to make substantial changes to their production. The next figures show examples of some of these production changes.

[Billings M-1723 3/8x7/16 Open-End Wrench]
Fig. 199. Billings M-1723 3/8x7/16 Open-End Wrench, with Inset for Reverse, ca. 1942-1945.

Fig. 199 shows a Billings M-1723 3/8x7/16 open-end wrench, stamped "Made in U.S.A." with the B-Triangle logo on the face.

The overall length is 4.7 inches, and the finish is plain steel.

The plain finish and other construction details indicate manufacturing compromises made during wartime production. The edges of the wrench have been left rough from the trimming operation, and neither of the "Vitalloy" or "Life-Time" trademarks are marked, suggesting the possibility that a lesser quality steel was used here.


M-1725 7/16x1/2 Open-End Wrench, Wartime Production

[Billings M-1725 7/16x1/2 Open-End Wrench]
Fig. 200. Billings M-1725 7/16x1/2 Open-End Wrench, ca. 1942-1945.

Fig. 200 shows a Billings M-1725 7/16x1/2 open-end wrench, marked "Made in U.S.A." with the B-Triangle logo on the face.

The overall length is 6.0 inches, and the finish is cadmium plating.

The cadmium finish and other construction details indicate manufacturing compromises made during wartime production. The edges of the wrench have been left rough from the trimming operation, and neither of the "Vitalloy" or "Life-Time" trademarks are marked, suggesting the possibility that a lesser quality steel was used here.


M-1729 5/8x3/4 Open-End Wrench, Wartime Production

[Billings M-1729 5/8x3/4 Open-End Wrench]
Fig. 201. Billings M-1729 5/8x3/4 Open-End Wrench, ca. 1942-1945.

Fig. 201 shows a Billings M-1729 5/8x3/4 open-end wrench, marked "Made in U.S.A." with the B-Triangle logo on the face. The overall length is 8.0 inches.

This wrench is the same model as the M-1729 shown previously, but a number of changes can be noted. The finish is cadmium plating, and the edges have been left unfinished, with marks from the trimming operation remaining. Note also that neither of the "Vitalloy" or "Life-Time" trademarks are marked, suggesting the possibility that the steel composition was compromised.


M-1031W Vitalloy 7/16Wx1/2W Panelled British Standard Open-End Wrench

Our next figure shows a wrench in the less commonly seen British Whitworth sizing. The Whitworth system was actually the first standard for screw thread sizes, dating back to the mid nineteenth century. Wrench sizes in the Whitworth system are specified by the bolt size rather than the milled opening (or AF "across flats") size, as is the case with the USS and SAE systems as well.

[Billings Vitalloy M-1031W 13/16x29/32 Open-End Wrench]
Fig. 202. Billings Vitalloy M-1031W 13/16x29/32 Open-End Wrench, with Inset for Reverse Detail.

Fig. 202 shows a Billings M-1031W open-end wrench, sized 13/16x29/32 across flats or 7/16W by 1/2W in the Whitworth system. The face is stamped "Made in U.S.A." with the B-Triangle logo, and the shank has the standard panel markings.

The overall length is 9.4 inches.

The wrench has a uniformly roughened surface, probably from shot-peening. This particular wrench appears to be unused, and may have been intended for a maintenance tool kit for a British vehicle.


Vitalloy 109x Series Tappet Wrenches

By 1930 Billings had changed its tappet wrench design to the standard 15 degree offset openings favored by most major tool makers. In addition, Billings had adopted the 109x model number series used by Armstrong and J.H. Williams. Tappet wrenches in the 109x series are illustrated in the Billings "Socket Wrenches and Handle Units" catalog of 1930. The 109x series wrenches continued in production into the Vitalloy era.


1092B Vitalloy 1/2x11/16 Tappet Wrench

[Billings Vitalloy 1092B 1/2x11/16 Tappet Wrench]
Fig. 203. Billings Vitalloy 1092B 1/2x11/16 Tappet Wrench, ca. 1942-1945.

Fig. 203 shows a Billings 1092B 1/2x11/16 tappet wrench, stamped "Billings Vitalloy" with the B-Triangle logo on the shank, and with "Made in U.S.A." stamped on the face.

The overall length is 9.0 inches, and the finish is plain steel.

The plain finish suggests production during the 1942-1945 war years.


1092F Vitalloy 5/8x11/16 Tappet Wrench

[Billings Vitalloy 1092F 5/8x11/16 Tappet Wrench]
Fig. 204. Billings Vitalloy 1092F 5/8x11/16 Tappet Wrench, ca. 1937-1947.

Fig. 204 shows a Billings 1092F 5/8x11/16 tappet wrench, stamped "Billings Vitalloy" with the B-Triangle logo on the shank, and with "Made in U.S.A." and another logo on the face.

The overall length is 9.0 inches, and the finish is chrome plating with polished ends.


Specialty and S-Shaped Wrenches


M-34 Vitalloy 5/8x3/4 Open-End Wrench

[Billings Vitalloy M-34 5/8x3/4 Open-End Wrench]
Fig. 205. Billings Vitalloy M-34 5/8x3/4 Open-End Wrench, with Inset for Side View, ca. 1937+.

Fig. 205 shows a Billings M-34 5/8x3/4 open-end wrench intended for servicing Draper looms. The wrench is stamped with the Billing modern face markings, with "Billings Vitalloy" and the B-Triangle logo on the shank.

The overall length is 7.0 inches, and the finish is chrome plating with polished faces.

Most of the Billings tools made for Draper Loom applications were of carbon-steel construction, with this M-34 model being an exception. This tool was listed in the 1937 Billings catalog.


M-71 Vitalloy 1/2x9/16 S-Shaped Wrench

[Billings Vitalloy M-71 1/2x9/16 S-Shaped Wrench]
Fig. 206. Billings Vitalloy M-71 1/2x9/16 S-Shaped Wrench, with Inset for Reverse, ca. 1937+.

Fig. 206 shows a Billings M-71 1/2x9/16 S-shaped wrench, stamped "Made in U.S.A." with the B-Triangle logo on the face, with "Billings Vitalloy" stamped on the reverse of the shank.

The overall length is 4.8 inches, and the finish is chrome plating with polished faces.


Ignition Wrenches

Billings produced an 11xx series of miniature open-end wrenches for ignition service or other work with small nuts and bolts. These wrenches were designed with two equal-sized openings, but set at different offset angles.

The model numbers for the ignition wrenches use the last two digits to specify the opening size in 64ths, so for example a model 1122 would indicate an 11/32 opening. (The same model numbers were used by J.H. Williams for its "Midget Superrench" series.) Note that the Billings ignition wrench model numbers conflicted with some of their earlier 11xx standard open-end wrenches.


1112 3/16x3/16 Ignition Wrench

[Billings 1112 3/16x3/16 Ignition Wrench]
Fig. 207. Billings 1112 3/16x3/16 Ignition Wrench, with Inset for Reverse, ca. 1937+.

Fig. 207 shows a Billings 1112 3/16x3/16 ignition wrench, stamped with the B-Triangle logo on one face, with the model number on the other end. The shank has forged-in markings "Made in U.S.A." on one side with "Billings Vitalloy" on the reverse.

The overall length is 3.1 inches, and the finish is plain steel (or possibly cadmium plating).


1122 11/32x11/32 Ignition Wrench

[Billings 1122 11/32x11/32 Ignition Wrench]
Fig. 208. Billings 1122 11/32x11/32 Ignition Wrench, with Inset for Reverse.

The overall length is 3.8 inches, and the finish is chrome plating with polished faces.


Vitalloy Box-End Wrenches

The 1937 catalog lists box-end wrenches in two lengths, a short S-xxx series and long L-xxx series, and both flat and angled styles were available in each length. The (ordinal) model numbers assigned were S-15x for the short flat wrenches, S-45x for short offset, L-15x for long flat wrenches, and L-45x for long offset. These early box wrenches had wide slightly oval shanks and stamped markings.

By 1938 Billings had updated the model numbers for its box wrenches to a system based on the industry standard numbers for open-end wrenches. (See our Table of Industry Standard Wrench Sizes for an explanation of this system.) Model numbers were assigned by adding a prefix to the industry standard number for the opening sizes, with the prefix based based on the particular wrench style. The prefix numbers were 6000 for the short flat wrenches, 7000 for the standard flat models, 8000 for the standard offset models, and 9000 for the short offset models. (These numbers were the same as those used by J.H Williams for its box wrenches.)

For example, a wrench with openings 1/2x9/16 would be an industry-standard number 725B, so the corresponding offset box wrench was assigned model number 8725B.

With the model number change-over Billings also greatly expanded the range of sizes available, and apparently also changed the physical design of the wrenches at this time as well. The offset box wrenches (the 8000 and 9000 series) were made with distinctive deeply panelled shanks, with the markings in raised letters forged into the shank. The flat wrench styles (the 6000 and 7000 series) were designed with oval shanks and stamped markings. The timing of these design changes is a bit uncertain, as the catalog illustrations are not very clear; however, no examples of the earlier S-xxx or L-xxx series with panelled shanks are known.

By 1949 Billings had changed its wrench styles again, adopting a flat or slightly convex shank instead of the depressed panel design. The markings for the new design were all stamped instead of forged (for the offset models), and typically the "Billings" and "Vitalloy" trademarks were placed on opposite sides of the shank. One notable detail for this change is that the venerable B-Triangle logo was no longer marked on the wrenches.

The figures below will show a number of examples of these various styles.


L-456 Vitalloy Early Duo-Forged 15/16x1 Offset Box-End Wrench

[Billings Vitalloy L-456 15/16x1 Offset Box-End Wrench]
Fig. 209. Billings Vitalloy L-456 15/16x1 Offset Box-End Wrench, with Insets for Side View and Reverse Detail, ca. 1937-1938.

Fig. 209 shows a Billings L-456 15/16x1 offset box wrench, stamped "Billings Vitalloy" with the with the B-Triangle logo, and with "Duo-Forged" and the model number on the reverse.

The overall length is 14.5 inches. The finish is now plain steel, but a few traces of an apparent chrome plated finish can be found on one box end.


S-153 Vitalloy Early Duo-Forged 5/8x11/16 Box-End Wrench

[Billings Vitalloy S-153 Duo-Forged Box-End Wrench]
Fig. 210. Billings Vitalloy S-153 5/8x11/16 Box-End Wrench, with Inset for Reverse Detail, ca. 1937-1938.

Fig. 210 shows a Billings S-153 5/8x11/16 box wrench, stamped "Billings Vitalloy" with the with the B-Triangle logo, and with "Duo-Forged" and the model number on the reverse.

The overall length is 5.1 inches.


7723 Vitalloy 3/8x7/16 Box-End Wrench

The next several figures show examples of the 7000 series style of box wrenches introduced in 1938. These wrenches feature straight oval shanks with angled box ends.

[Billings Vitalloy 7723 3/8x7/16 Box-End Wrench]
Fig. 211. Billings Vitalloy 7723 3/8x7/16 Box-End Wrench, with Inset for Reverse Detail, ca. 1938-1947.

Fig. 211 shows a Billings 7723 3/8x7/16 box wrench with an oval shank, stamped "Billings Vitalloy" and "Made in U.S.A." with the B-Triangle logo. The model number and sizes are stamped on the reverse side.

The overall length is 7.6 inches.


7725B Vitalloy 1/2x9/16 Box-End Wrench

[Billings Vitalloy 7725B 1/2x9/16 Box-End Wrench]
Fig. 212. Billings Vitalloy 7725B 1/2x9/16 Box-End Wrench, with Insets for Side and Reverse Detail, ca. 1938-1947.

The overall length is 8.4 inches.


7727 Vitalloy 9/16x5/8 Box-End Wrench

[Billings Vitalloy 7727 9/16x5/8 Box-End Wrench]
Fig. 213. Billings Vitalloy 7727 9/16x5/8 Box-End Wrench, with Insets for Side View and Reverse Detail, ca. 1938-1947.

Fig. 213 shows a Billings 7727 7727 9/16x5/8 box wrench, stamped "Billings Vitalloy" with the B-Triangle logo and "Made in U.S.A." on the front. The reverse is marked with the model number and fractional sizes.

The overall length is 9.5 inches.


7733 Vitalloy 7/8x1 Box-End Wrench

[Billings Vitalloy 7733 7/8x1 Box-End Wrench]
Fig. 214. Billings Vitalloy 7733 7/8x1 Box-End Wrench, with Insets for Side View and Reverse Detail, ca. 1938-1947.

Fig. 214 shows a Billings 7733 7/8x1 box wrench with an oval shank, stamped "Billings Vitalloy" with the B-Triangle logo and a smaller "Made in U.S.A" marking.

The overall length is 14.0 inches, and the finish is chrome plating.


7033C Vitalloy 15/16x1 Box-End Wrench

[Billings Vitalloy 7033C 15/16x1 Box-End Wrench]
Fig. 215. Billings Vitalloy 7033C 15/16x1 Box-End Wrench, with Inset for Reverse Detail, ca. 1938-1947.

Fig. 215 shows a Billings 7033C 15/16x1 box wrench with an oval shank, stamped "Billings Vitalloy" with the B-Triangle logo and a "Made in U.S.A" marking.

The overall length is 14.1 inches, and the finish is chrome plating with polished ends.


8723 Vitalloy Duo-Forged 3/8x7/16 Offset Box-End Wrench

The next group of figures show examples of the 8000 series offset box wrenches.

[Billings Vitalloy 8723 3/8x7/16 Offset Box-End Wrench]
Fig. 216A. Billings Vitalloy 8723 3/8x7/16 Offset Box-End Wrench, with Insets for Side View and Reverse Detail, ca. 1938-1947.

Fig. 216A shows a Billings 8723 3/8x7/16 offset box wrench with a deeply panelled shank, marked with "Billings Vitalloy" and the B-Triangle logo forged into the shank, with "Duo-Forged" forged into the reverse. The shank is also stamped with one size and the model on the front, with "Made in U.S.A." and the other size on the reverse.

The overall length is 8.7 inches, and the finish is chrome plating.

The "Duo-Forged" marking is found on all of the wrenches of this style, and is apparently a reference to a production technique. The specific meaning is not known.


8725B Vitalloy Duo-Forged 1/2x9/16 Offset Box-End Wrench

[Billings Vitalloy 8725B 1/2x9/16 Offset Box-End Wrench]
Fig. 216. Billings Vitalloy 8725B 1/2x9/16 Offset Box-End Wrench, with Insets for Side View and Reverse Detail, ca. 1938-1947.

Fig. 216 shows an example of the 8000 series offset box style, a Billings 8725B 1/2x9/16 offset box wrench. The deeply-panelled shank has forged-in markings for "Billings Vitalloy" with the B-Triangle logo, and the reverse is marked "Duo-Forged" in raised letters with "Made in U.S.A." stamped to one side (see inset).

The overall length is 9.2 inches.

The "Duo-Forged" marking is found on all of the wrenches of this style, and is apparently a reference to a production technique. The specific meaning is not known.


8727 Vitalloy Duo-Forged 9/16x5/8 Offset Box-End Wrench

[Billings Vitalloy 8727 9/16x5/8 Offset Box-End Wrench]
Fig. 217. Billings Vitalloy 8727 9/16x5/8 Offset Box-End Wrench, with Insets for Side View and Reverse Detail, ca. 1942-1945.

Fig. 217 shows another example of the deeply-panelled style, a Billings 8727 9/16x5/8 offset box wrench. The shank has forged-in markings for "Billings Vitalloy" with the B-Triangle logo, and the reverse is marked "Duo-Forged" in raised letters with "Made in U.S.A." stamped to one side (see inset).

The overall length is 10.1 inches, and the finish is cadmium plating.

The cadmium finish suggests a manufacturing date during 1942-1945.


8027 Vitalloy Duo-Forged 19/32x11/16 Offset Box-End Wrench

[Billings Vitalloy 8027 19/32x11/16 Offset Box-End Wrench]
Fig. 218. Billings Vitalloy 8027 19/32x11/16 Offset Box-End Wrench, with Insets for Side View and Reverse Detail, ca. 1942-1945.

Fig. 218 at the left shows a Billings 8027 19/32x11/16 offset box wrench in the panelled style. The shank has forged-in markings for "Billings Vitalloy" with the B-Triangle logo, and the reverse is marked "Duo-Forged" in raised letters with "Made in U.S.A." stamped to one side (see inset).

The overall length is 10.1 inches, and the finish is black oxide.

The oxide finish suggests a manufacturing date during 1942-1945.


8729 Vitalloy Duo-Forged 5/8x3/4 Offset Box-End Wrench

[Billings Vitalloy 8729 5/8x3/4 Duo-Forged Offset Box-End Wrench]
Fig. 219. Billings Vitalloy 8729 5/8x3/4 Offset Box-End Wrench, with Insets for Side View and Reverse Detail, ca. 1942-1945.

Fig. 219 at the left shows a Billings 8729 5/8x3/4 offset box wrench in the panelled style. The shank has forged-in markings for "Billings Vitalloy" with the B-Triangle logo, and the reverse is marked "Duo-Forged" in raised letters with "Made in U.S.A." stamped to one side (see inset).

The overall length is 11.3 inches, and the finish is cadmium plating.


8029 Vitalloy Duo-Forged 11/16x25/32 Offset Box-End Wrenches

The next two figures show examples of the Billings 8029 wrench, with minor differences in the markings.

[Billings Vitalloy 8029 11/16x25/32 Duo-Forged Offset Box-End Wrench]
Fig. 220. Billings Vitalloy 8029 11/16x25/32 Offset Box-End Wrench, with Insets for Side View and Reverse Detail, ca. 1938-1947.

Fig. 220 shows a Billings 8029 11/16x25/32 offset box wrench in the panelled style, marked with "Billings Vitalloy" and the B-Triangle logo forged into the shank, and with "Duo-Forged" forged into the reverse. The shank also has stamped markings for the model and 25/32 size on the front, with "Made in U.S.A." and the 11/16 size on the reverse.

The overall length is 11.3 inches, and the finish is chrome plating.

[Billings Vitalloy 8029 11/16x25/32 Duo-Forged Offset Box-End Wrench]
Fig. 221. Billings Vitalloy 8029 11/16x25/32 Offset Box-End Wrench, with Insets for Side View and Reverse Detail, ca. 1938-1947.

Fig. 221 shows a Billings 8029 11/16x25/32 offset box wrench in the panelled style, marked with "Billings Vitalloy" and the B-Triangle logo forged into the shank, and with "Duo-Forged" and "Made in U.S.A." forged into the reverse. The shank also has stamped markings for the fractional sizes on the front, with the model number on the reverse.

The overall length is 11.3 inches. The finish is chrome plating with some loss due to rust.


8731 Vitalloy Duo-Forged 3/4x13/16 Offset Box-End Wrench

[Billings Vitalloy 8731 3/4x13/16 Duo-Forged Offset Box-End Wrench]
Fig. 222. Billings Vitalloy 8731 3/4x13/16 Offset Box-End Wrench, with Insets for Side and Reverse Detail, ca. 1938-1947.

Fig. 222 shows a Billings 8731 3/4x13/16 offset box wrench in the panelled style, marked with "Billings Vitalloy" and the B-Triangle logo forged into the shank, and with "Duo-Forged" forged into the reverse. The reverse shank is also stamped with "Made in U.S.A." and the "3/4" fractional size.

The overall length is 12.9 inches.


8033C Vitalloy Duo-Forged Offset Box-End Wrench

[Billings Vitalloy 8033C 15/16x1 Offset Box-End Wrench]
Fig. 223. Billings Vitalloy 8033C 15/16x1 Offset Box-End Wrench, with Insets for Side and Reverse Detail, ca. 1938-1947.

Fig. 223 shows a Billings 8033C 15/16x1 offset box wrench in the panelled style, marked with "Billings Vitalloy" and the B-Triangle logo forged into the shank, and with "Duo-Forged" and "Made in U.S.A." forged into the reverse.

The overall length is 15.0 inches.


8039 Vitalloy 1-1/4x1-7/16 Offset Box-End Wrench

The next two figure show examples of the larger Billings offset box wrenches. The larger sizes of the offset box wrenches (models 8037 and up) are noted in the catalogs as having round shanks for greater strength.

[Billings Vitalloy 8039 1-1/4x1-7/16 Offset Box-End Wrench]
Fig. 224A. Billings Vitalloy 8039 1-1/4x1-7/16 Offset Box-End Wrench, with Insets for Side View and Marking Detail, ca. 1938-1947.

Fig. 224A shows a Billings 8039 1-1/4x1-17/16 offset box wrench with an oval shank, stamped "Billings Vitalloy" and "Made in U.S.A." with the B-Triangle logo on one side, with the model number and fractional sizes on the reverse.

The overall length is 19.5 inches, and the finish is chrome plating with polished ends.


8742B Vitalloy 1-1/2x1-11/16 Offset Box-End Wrench

[Billings Vitalloy 8742B 1-1/2x1-11/16 Offset Box-End Wrench]
Fig. 224B. Billings Vitalloy 8742B 1-1/2x1-11/16 Offset Box-End Wrench, with Insets for Side View and Marking Detail, ca. 1938-1947.

Fig. 224B shows a Billings 8742B 1-1/2x1-11/16 offset box wrench with a massive round shank. The shank is stamped "Billings Vitalloy" and "Made in U.S.A." with the B-Triangle logo on one side, with the model number and fractional sizes on the reverse.

The overall length is 24.4 inches, and the finish is chrome plating with polished ends.


9723 Vitalloy 3/8x7/16 Short Offset Box-End Wrench

[Billings Vitalloy 9723 3/8x7/16 Short Offset Box-End Wrench]
Fig. 225. Billings Vitalloy 9723 3/8x7/16 Short Offset Box-End Wrench, with Insets for Side and Reverse Detail, ca. 1938-1947.

Fig. 225 shows a Billings 9723 3/8x7/16 offset box wrench with depressed panels, marked with "Billings Vitalloy" and the B-Triangle logo forged into the front panel, with "Made in U.S.A." forged into the reverse.

The overall length is 4.9 inches. The finish is plain steel with pitting due to rust.


9725 Vitalloy Short Offset Box-End Wrench

[Billings Vitalloy 9725 7/16x1/2 Short Offset Box-End Wrench]
Fig. 226. Billings Vitalloy 9725 7/16x1/2 Short Offset Box-End Wrench, with Insets for Side and Reverse Detail, ca. 1938-1947.

Fig. 226 shows a Billings 9725 7/16x1/2 offset box wrench with depressed panels, marked with "Billings Vitalloy" and the B-Triangle logo forged into the front panel, with "Made in U.S.A." forged into the reverse.

The overall length is 5.4 inches.


9725B Vitalloy Short Offset Box-End Wrench

[Billings Vitalloy 9725B 1/2x9/16 Short Offset Box-End Wrench]
Fig. 227. Billings Vitalloy 9725B 1/2x9/16 Short Offset Box-End Wrench, with Insets for Side and Reverse Detail, ca. 1938-1947.

Fig. 227 shows a Billings 9725B 1/2x9/16 offset box wrench with depressed panels, marked with "Billings Vitalloy" and the B-Triangle logo forged into the front panel, with "Made in U.S.A." forged into the reverse.

The overall length is 5.9 inches.


Combination Wrenches

Billings first offered combination wrenches during the mid or late 1930s. The 1938 catalog listed eight models with sizes from 7/16 to 7/8, with the model numbers in a somewhat odd 5xxx series, some with 50xx numbers and others with 57xx numbers. Based on the catalog illustrations, these early combination wrenches had a convex shank with "Billings Vitalloy" in raised letters.

In the mid 1940s Billings updated its combination wrench models and adopted the 11xx series numbers used by Williams, Armstrong, Bonney, and other tool companies. The combination wrenches of this era were ruggedly built with hefty convex shanks, and the markings were stamped instead of being forged into the shank. The shank markings included the B-Triangle trademark in the center, with the Billings name and Vitalloy trademark on either side.

By around 1948 Billings had updated its combination wrench design again, replacing the thick oval shank with a wider and thinner shank. The markings were changed as well, with the B-Triangle trademark no longer stamped on the shank, and the Billings and Vitalloy trademarks placed on opposite sides. (The wrench faces continued to show the B-Triangle logo however, at least for some period of time.) Examples of combination wrenches in this later style can be seen in the section on Later Combination Wrenches.

In this later period the Billings "Life-Time" trademark made a reappearance, being used to designate a line of tools for the wholesale hardware trade. In this line the Life-Time marking replaced the Vitalloy trademark, but the tools were other very similar to the Vitalloy counterparts, except for a somewhat lower grade finish. The examples of Life-Time wrenches are shown in the next section.


1162 Vitalloy 1/2 Combination Wrench

[Billings Vitalloy 1162 1/2 Combination Wrench]
Fig. 228. Billings Vitalloy 1162 1/2 Combination Wrench, with Insets for Reverse and Side View, ca. 1940s.

Fig. 228 shows a Billings 1162 1/2 combination wrench, stamped "Made in U.S.A." with the B-Triangle logo on the face, and stamped "Billings Vitalloy" with the B-Triangle on the shank as well.

The overall length is 6.0 inches, and the finish is chrome plating with polished faces.


1164 Vitalloy 5/8 Combination Wrench

[Billings Vitalloy 1164 5/8 Combination Wrench]
Fig. 229. Billings Vitalloy 1164 5/8 Combination Wrench, ca. 1940s.

Fig. 229 shows a earlier Billings 1164 5/8 combination wrench, stamped "Made in U.S.A." with the B-Triangle logo on the face, and stamped "Billings Vitalloy" with the B-Triangle on the shank as well.

The overall length is 7.5 inches, and the finish is chrome plating with polished faces.

A later version of this model can be seen as the Billing 1164 Combination Wrench, Later Style.


1165 Vitalloy Combination Wrench

[Billings Vitalloy 1165 11/16 Combination Wrench]
Fig. 230. Billings Vitalloy 1165 11/16 Combination Wrench, with Inset for Side View, ca. 1942-1945.

Fig. 230 shows a Billings 1165 11/16 combination wrench, stamped "Billings Vitalloy" with the B-Triangle logo on the shank, and stamped "Made in U.S.A." with another B-Triangle on the face.

The overall length is 8.5 inches, and the finish is plain steel.

The inset shows a side view to illustrate the oval shank and substantial construction.


1166 Vitalloy Combination Wrench

[Billings Vitalloy 1166 3/4 Combination Wrench]
Fig. 231. Billings Vitalloy 1166 3/4 Combination Wrench, with Inset for Side View, ca. 1940s.

Fig. 231 shows a Billings 1166 3/4 combination wrench, stamped "Billings Vitalloy" with the B-Triangle logo on the shank, and stamped "Made in U.S.A." with another B-Triangle on the face.

The overall length is 9.4 inches, and the finish is chrome plating with polished faces.

A later version of this model can be seen as the Billing 1166 Combination Wrench, Later Style.


1167 Vitalloy Combination Wrench

[Billings Vitalloy 1167 7/8 Combination Wrench]
Fig. 232. Billings Vitalloy 1167 7/8 Combination Wrench, with Inset for Side View, ca. 1940s.

Fig. 232 shows a Billings 1167 7/8 combination wrench, stamped "Billings Vitalloy" with the B-Triangle logo on the shank, and stamped "Made in U.S.A." with another B-Triangle on the face.

The overall length is 10.9 inches, and the finish is chrome plating with polished faces.


1170 Vitalloy Combination Wrench

[Billings Vitalloy 1170 1 Inch Combination Wrench]
Fig. 233. Billings Vitalloy 1170 1 Inch Combination Wrench, ca. 1942-1945.

Fig. 233 shows a Billings 1170 1 inch combination wrench, stamped "Billings Vitalloy" with the B-Triangle logo on the shank, and stamped "Made in U.S.A." with another B-Triangle on the face.

The overall length is 13.0 inches.

The finish is cadmium plating, indicating a likely manufacturing date of 1942-1945.


Adjustable Wrenches


77-4 4 Inch Adjustable Wrench

[Billings Vitalloy 77-4 4 Inch Adjustable Wrench]
Fig. 234. Billings Vitalloy 77-4 4 Inch Adjustable Wrench, with Insets for Side View and Marking Detail.

Fig. 234 shows a Billings 77-4 4 inch adjustable wrench, stamped "Billings Vitalloy" on the handle. The reverse is stamped "Hartford, Conn." and "Made in U.S.A." with the B-Triangle logo in between.

The overall length is 4.3 inches, and the finish is plain steel.


77-10 10 Inch Adjustable Wrench

[Billings Vitalloy 77-10 10 Inch Adjustable Wrench]
Fig. 235. Billings Vitalloy 77-10 10 Inch Adjustable Wrench, with Insets for Side View and Marking Detail.

Fig. 235 shows a Billings 77-10 10 inch adjustable wrench, stamped with the "Billings Vitalloy" logo and model number on the front. The reverse is stamped "Hartford, Conn." and "Made in U.S.A." with the B-Triangle logo in the center.

The overall length is 10.0 inches, and the maximum opening is 1.1 inches. The maximum head thickness was measured at 0.60 inches.

The finish is chrome plating with polished faces.


77-12 12 Inch Adjustable Wrench

[Billings Vitalloy 77-12 12 Inch Adjustable Wrench]
Fig. 236. Billings Vitalloy 77-12 12 Inch Adjustable Wrench, with Insets for Side View and Marking Detail.

Fig. 236 shows a Billings 77-12 12 inch adjustable wrench, stamped with the "Billings Vitalloy" logo and model number on the front. The reverse is stamped "Hartford, Conn." and "Made in U.S.A." with the B-Triangle logo in the center.

The overall length is 12.2 inches, and the maximum opening is 1.4 inches. The maximum head thickness was measured at 0.71 inches.

The finish is plain steel.


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