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Later Wrench Production


Open-End Wrenches

Blackhawk used their Hexite alloy steel for wrenches as well as for the 7/16-drive tools, and the Hexite name can be found on various styles of conventional wrenches, as well as on specialty wrenches such as the new "Wedg-Head" design shown in a later section.

Open-end wrenches continued to carry the Blackhawk-Armstrong dual company marking.


Blackhawk-Armstrong 4725 "Hexite" 7/16x1/2 Open-End Wrench

[Blackhawk-Armstrong 4725 Hexite 7/16x1/2 Open-End Wrench]
Fig. 270. Blackhawk-Armstrong 4725 "Hexite" 7/16x1/2 Open-End Wrench, ca. 1940 to Early 1950s.

Fig. 270 shows a Blackhawk-Armstrong 4725 7/16x1/2 open-end wrench, stamped "Blackhawk Armstrong" and "Made in U.S.A." with the Strong-Arm logo on the face. The shank has a grooved center with the "Hexite" trademark stamped on both sides.

The overall length is 5.8 inches, and the finish is chrome plating, with losses due to wear.


Blackhawk-Armstrong 4725-B "Hexite" 1/2x9/16 Open-End Wrench

[Blackhawk-Armstrong 4725-B Hexite Open-End Wrench]
Fig. 271. Blackhawk-Armstrong 4725-B "Hexite" 1/2x9/16 Open-End Wrench, ca. 1940 to Early 1950s.

Fig. 271 shows a Blackhawk 4725-B 1/2x9/16 open-end wrench, stamped "Blackhawk Armstrong" and "Made in U.S.A." with the Strong-Arm logo on the face. The shank has a grooved center with the "Hexite" trademark stamped near one end.

The overall length is 6.5 inches, and the finish is chrome plating with polished faces.

Blackhawk-Armstrong 4028 "Hexite" 19/32x25/32 Open-End Wrench

[Blackhawk-Armstrong 4028 Hexite 19/32x25/32 Open-End Wrench]
Fig. 272. Blackhawk-Armstrong 4028 "Hexite" 19/32x25/32 Open-End Wrench, ca. 1940 to Early 1950s.

Fig. 272 shows a Blackhawk-Armstrong 4028 19/32x25/32 open-end wrench, stamped "Blackhawk Armstrong" and "Made in U.S.A." with the Strong-Arm logo on the face. The shank has a grooved center with the "Hexite" trademark stamped near one end.

The overall length is 8.0 inches, and the finish is chrome plating with polished faces.

Blackhawk-Armstrong 4735-A "Hexite" 1-1/16x1-1/8 Open-End Wrench

[Blackhawk-Armstrong 4735-A Hexite 1-1/16x1-1/8 Open-End Wrench]
Fig. 273. Blackhawk-Armstrong 4735-A "Hexite" 1-1/16x1-1/8 Open-End Wrench, ca. 1940 to Early 1950s.

Fig. 273 shows a Blackhawk-Armstrong 4735-A 1-1/16x1-1/8 open-end wrench, marked "Hexite" on the shank, with "Blackhawk Armstrong", the Strong-Arm logo, and "Made in U.S.A." stamped on one face.

The overall length is 11.5 inches.

Blackhawk-Armstrong 4737 "Hexite" 1-1/8x1-1/4 Open-End Wrench

[Blackhawk-Armstrong 4737 Hexite 1-1/8x1-1/4 Open-End Wrench]
Fig. 274. Blackhawk-Armstrong 4737 "Hexite" 1-1/8x1-1/4 Open-End Wrench, ca. 1940 to Early 1950s.

Fig. 274 shows one of the larger Blackhawk-Armstrong wrenches, a Blackhawk 4737 1-1/8x1-1/4 open-end wrench, stamped "Hexite" on both sides of the grooved shank. One face is stamped "Blackhawk Armstrong" and "Made in U.S.A." with the Strong-Arm logo, and the reverse faces are stamped with the fractional sizes.

The overall length is 12.2 inches, and the finish is chrome plating with polished faces.


15911 9/16x9/16 Tappet Wrench with Stamped Construction

This next figure shows a previously unknown style of tappet wrench with stamped steel construction.

[Blackhawk 15911 9/16x9/16 Tappet Wrench]
Fig. 275. Blackhawk 15911 9/16x9/16 Tappet Wrench.

Fig. 275 shows a Blackhawk 15911 9/16x9/16 tappet wrench of stamped steel construction, marked "Blackhawk" and "Made in U.S.A." on the shank.

The overall length is 8.5 inches, and the finish is plain steel with a black oxide coating.


Blackhawk-Armstrong 1090-D "Armaloy" 1/2x9/16 Tappet Wrench

The next several figures show later examples of the Blackhawk-Armstrong line. These tools all bear the standard Armstrong markings of the time, clearly illustrating that these were really just standard Armstrong production with the Blackhawk name added.

[Blackhawk-Armstrong 1090-D Armaloy 1/2x9/16 Tappet Wrench]
Fig. 276. Blackhawk-Armstrong 1090-D "Armaloy" 1/2x9/16 Tappet Wrench, with Insets for Reverse and Marking Detail, ca. 1946 to Mid 1950s.

Fig. 276 shows a Blackhawk-Armstrong 1090-D 1/2x9/16 tappet wrench, stamped with "Armstrong" and "Made in U.S.A. plus the Strong-Arm logo on the face. The shank is stamped with "Blackhawk-Armstrong" on the front, with "Armaloy" on the reverse.

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

This wrench is marked with Armstrong's "Armaloy" trademark, indicating production in 1946 or later.


Blackhawk-Armstrong 1094 "Armaloy" 3/4x7/8 Tappet Wrench

[Blackhawk-Armstrong 1094 Armaloy 3/4x7/8 Tappet Wrench]
Fig. 277. Blackhawk-Armstrong 1094 "Armaloy" 3/4x7/8 Tappet Wrench, with Insets for Reverse, ca. 1946 to Mid 1950s.

Fig. 277 shows a Blackhawk-Armstrong 1094 3/4x7/8 tappet wrench, stamped with "Armstrong" and "Made in U.S.A. plus the Strong-Arm logo on the reverse face. The shank is stamped with "Blackhawk-Armstrong" on the front, with "Armaloy" on the reverse.

The overall length is 8.9 inches, and the finish is chrome plating.

This wrench is marked with Armstrong's "Armaloy" trademark, indicating production in 1946 or later.


Blackhawk-Armstrong H-12 "Armaloy" Ignition Open-End Wrench

[Blackhawk-Armstrong H-12 1/4x9/32 Ignition Open-End Wrench]
Fig. 278. Blackhawk-Armstrong H-12 "Armaloy" 1/4x9/32 Ignition Open-End Wrench, ca. 1946 to Mid 1950s.

Fig. 278 at the left shows a Blackhawk-Armstrong H-12 1/4x9/32 ignition open-end wrench, stamped with "Blackhawk" on the shank and "Armstrong" on the face. The reverse is stamped "Armaloy" on the shank with the fractional sizes on the faces.

The overall length is 3.0 inches, and the finish is chrome plating with polished faces.

The use of the "Armaloy" trademark indicates production in 1946 or later.


Box-End Wrenches

In a previous section we saw examples of some Early Blackhawk Box Wrenches, tools in the 27xx and 29xx model number series. Blackhawk's numbering system for box-end wrenches was updated during the 1930s, first with the introduction of the HeXo brand 153xx wrench series in (or before) 1934. By the mid 1930s the 156xx and 157xx series of model numbers were in use.

The models available included double-box wrenches in long offset, short offset, and flat (angled) styles, plus heavy-duty single-box wrenches with stub handles. (Combination wrenches also used the 156xx model numbers, and somewhat curiously were referred to as "Half & Half" wrenches.)

In 1941 Blackhawk began offering a 158xx model series of heavy-duty offset double-box wrenches in larger sizes. These wrenches featured massive round shanks with heavy shoulders and thick-walled box ends, and were clearly intended for the heaviest of industrial applications. Oddly though, the Blackhawk catalogs didn't offer any specific description for these models, but instead just lumped them in with the much lighter 156xx offset box wrenches.

The 158xx wrenches were first offered in Blackhawk's 1941 catalog and were still available in 1951, but had been discontinued by 1953. We'll see a few examples of these interesting wrenches in the figures below.


15612 3/8x7/16 Short Offset Box-End Wrench

[Blackhawk 15612 3/8x7/16 Offset Box-End Wrench]
Fig. 279. Blackhawk 15612 3/8x7/16 Offset Box-End Wrench, 1936.

Fig. 279 shows a Blackhawk 15612 3/8x7/16 short offset box-end wrench, stamped "Made in U.S.A." with a "6" date code.

The overall length is 4.6 inches, and the finish is chrome plating with polished ends.

The "6" date code is believed to indicate production in 1936, as by 1940 the box-end wrenches were illustrated with a longitudinal groove on the shank, similar to the design for the open-end wrenches.

A 1937 price list (bound into a 1935 catalog) shows the model 15612 wrench as superseding the HeXo 15176 wrench of the same specification. An example of the earlier model can be seen as the HeXo 15176 Box Wrench.

The 15613 and 15614 wrenches shown in the next two figures were the successor models to the HeXo models 15177 and 15178, respectively.


15613 1/2x9/16 Short Offset Box-End Wrench

[Blackhawk 15613 1/2x9/16 Offset Box-End Wrench]
Fig. 280. Blackhawk 15613 1/2x9/16 Offset Box-End Wrench, with Inset for Side View, 1936.

Fig. 280 shows a Blackhawk 15613 1/2x9/16 short offset box-end wrench, stamped "Made in U.S.A." with a "-6" date code.

The overall length is 5.4 inches, and the finish is chrome plating with polished ends.

The "-6" date code is believed to indicate production in 1936, as by 1940 Blackhawk's box-end wrenches were designed with a longitudinal groove on the shank.


15614 5/8x11/16 Short Offset Box-End Wrench

[Blackhawk 15614 5/8x11/16 Offset Box-End Wrench]
Fig. 281. Blackhawk 15614 5/8x11/16 Offset Box-End Wrench, 1937.

Fig. 281 shows a Blackhawk 15614 5/8x11/16 short offset box-end wrench, stamped "Made in U.S.A." with a "7" date code.

The overall length is 6.0 inches. This wrench was pitted from rust when acquired, so it's difficult to determine the original finish, but it almost certainly would have been chrome plating as in the previous figure.

The "7" date code is believed to indicate production in 1937, as by 1940 Blackhawk's box-end wrenches were designed with a longitudinal groove on the shank.


15622 3/8x7/16 Long Offset Box-End Wrench

[Blackhawk 15622 3/8x7/16 Offset Box-End Wrench]
Fig. 282. Blackhawk 15622 3/8x7/16 Offset Box-End Wrench, with Inset for Side View, 1935.

Fig. 282 shows a Blackhawk 15622 3/8x7/16 offset box-end wrench, stamped "Blackhawk" and "Made in U.S.A." with a "3" date code.

The overall length is 7.8 inches, and the finish is plain steel.


15624 5/8x11/16 Long Offset Box-End Wrench

[Blackhawk 15624 5/8x11/16 Offset Box-End Wrench]
Fig. 283. Blackhawk 15624 5/8x11/16 Offset Box-End Wrench, with Insets for Side View and Reverse Detail, 1943.

Fig. 283 shows a Blackhawk 15624 5/8x11/16 offset box-end wrench, marked "Blackhawk" with a "-3" date code, and with "U.S.A." on the reverse.

The overall length is 10.1 inches, and the finish is cadmium plating, with the blotchy appearance due to rust and finish loss.

The shank of the wrench has a longitudinal groove on both sides, a decorative feature probably added after the tool was forged. Based on a review of catalog illustrations, this design had been introduced by 1940, and was still in use in the early 1950s.

The cadmium finish indicates production during the wartime years, and the apparent "-3" date code further indicates a 1943 manufacturing date. This tool provides confirmation of the use of Blackhawk's date code system for wrenches as well as socket tools.


15625 3/4x25/32 Long Offset Box-End Wrench

[Blackhawk 15625 3/4x25/32 Offset Box-End Wrench]
Fig. 284. Blackhawk 15625 3/4x25/32 Offset Box-End Wrench, with Insets for Side View and Reverse Detail.

Fig. 284 shows a Blackhawk 15625 3/4x25/32 offset box-end wrench, marked "Blackhawk" with a "1" date code, and with "U.S.A." on the reverse.

The overall length is 11.4 inches, and the finish is chrome plating, with some losses due to wear and rust.

The longitudinal groove on both sides of the shank is a decorative feature in use from 1940 (or earlier) through at least the early 1950s. The "1" date code on this wrench is ambiguous in this case, and could indicate manufacture in either 1941 or 1951.


15626 13/16x7/8 Long Offset Box-End Wrench

[Blackhawk 15626 13/16x7/8 Offset Box-End Wrench]
Fig. 285. Blackhawk 15626 15/16x7/8 Offset Box-End Wrench, with Inset for Side View, 1936.

Fig. 285 shows an early Blackhawk 15626 13/16x7/8 offset box-end wrench, stamped "Blackhawk" and "Made in U.S.A." with a "-6" date code.

The overall length is 12.9 inches, and the finish is chrome plating with polished ends.

The plain shank on this wrench indicates production before 1940 or so, by which time the grooved shank style had become standard. The plain shank and "-6" date code indicate production in 1936.


15627 15/16x1 Long Offset Box-End Wrench

[Blackhawk 15627 15/16x1 Offset Box-End Wrench]
Fig. 286. Blackhawk 15627 15/16x1 Offset Box-End Wrench, with Insets for Side View and Reverse Detail, 1942.

Fig. 286 shows a Blackhawk 15627 15/16x1 offset box-end wrench, marked "Blackhawk" with a "2" date code, and with "U.S.A." on the reverse.

The overall length is 14.2 inches, and the finish is chrome plating with polished ends.

The date code on this wrench could indicate either 1942 or 1952, but as the other tools acquired in the same lot were of 1940s vintage, the 1942 date seems more likely.


15632 3/8x7/16 Box-End Wrench

[Blackhawk 15632 3/8x7/16 Box-End Wrench]
Fig. 287. Blackhawk 15632 3/8x7/16 Box-End Wrench, with Inset for Side View, 1936.

Fig. 287 shows an earlier Blackhawk 15632 3/8x7/16 box-end wrench, marked "Blackhawk" and "Made in U.S.A." with a "-6" date code for 1936.

The overall length is 7.8 inches, and the finish is chrome plating with polished ends.

The plain shank on this wrench indicates production before 1940 or so, by which time the grooved shank style had become standard. The plain shank and "-6" date code indicate production in 1936.


15633 1/2x9/16 Box-End Wrench

[Blackhawk 15633 1/2x9/16 Box-End Wrench]
Fig. 288. Blackhawk 15633 1/2x9/16 Box-End Wrench, with Inset for Reverse Detail, 1941.

Fig. 288 shows a Blackhawk 15633 1/2x9/16 box-end wrench, stamped "Blackhawk" with a "1" date code on the shank, and with "U.S.A." and the model number on the reverse.

The overall length is 8.8 inches, and the finish is chrome plating with polished ends.

The wrench design has a longitudinal groove on both sides, a decorative feature in use from 1940 (or earlier) through at least the early 1950s. The "1" date code could indicate either 1941 or 1951, though 1941 is probably more likely.


15634 5/8x11/16 Box-End Wrench

[Blackhawk 15634 5/8x11/16 Box-End Wrench]
Fig. 289. Blackhawk 15634 5/8x11/16 Box-End Wrench, with Insets for Side View and Reverse Detail, 1942.

Fig. 289 shows a Blackhawk 15634 5/8x11/16 box-end wrench, stamped "Blackhawk" with a "2" date code on the shank, and with "U.S.A." and the model number on the reverse. (The inset has been rotated for readability.)

The overall length is 9.8 inches, and the finish is chrome plating with polished ends.

The wrench design has a longitudinal groove on both sides, a decorative feature in use from 1940 (or earlier) through at least the early 1950s. The "2" date code could indicate either (early) 1942 or 1952, though 1942 is probably more likely.


15818 1-1/16x1-1/8 Heavy-Duty Offset Box-End Wrench

The introduction to this section mentioned the somewhat mysterious Blackhawk 158xx series of heavy-duty wrenches, and we'll now examine some examples of these tools.

[Blackhawk 15818 1-1/16x1-1/8 Offset Box-End Wrench]
Fig. 290. Blackhawk 15818 1-1/16x1-1/8 Offset Box-End Wrench, with Inset for Side View, 1946.

Fig. 290 shows a Blackhawk 15818 1-1/16x1-1/8 offset box-end wrench, marked "Made in U.S.A." with a "-6" date code.

The overall length is 15.3 inches. The finish is plain steel with a rough-forged surface.

As can be seen from the photograph, this wrench style is very different from the other Blackhawk models, and for the origin of these models we turn to Armstrong, Blackhawk's long-time manufacturing partner. By 1939 the Armstrong catalogs were offering a 5xxx series of heavy-duty wrenches in industry-standard size combinations. Based on the catalog illustrations and the available examples, the Armstrong heavy-duty wrenches are virtually identical to the Blackhawk 158xx models. (See for example the Armstrong 5037 Offset Box Wrench.)


15829 1-1/4x1-3/8 Heavy-Duty Offset Box-End Wrench

[Blackhawk 15829 1-1/4x1-3/8 Offset Box-End Wrench]
Fig. 291. Blackhawk 15829 1-1/4x1-3/8 Offset Box-End Wrench, with Inset for Side View, 1947.

Fig. 291 shows a Blackhawk 15829 1-1/4x1-3/8 offset box wrench, marked "Made in U.S.A." with a "7" date code.

The overall length is 18.0 inches, and the finish is cadmium plating.


15830 1-7/16x1-5/8 Heavy-Duty Offset Box-End Wrench

[Blackhawk 15830 1-7/16x1-5/8 Offset Box-End Wrench]
Fig. 292. Blackhawk 15830 1-7/16x1-5/8 Offset Box-End Wrench, with Insets for Side View and Marking Detail, 1946.

Fig. 292 shows a Blackhawk 15830 1-7/16x1-5/8 offset box wrench, marked "Made in U.S.A." with a "6" date code.

The overall length is 21.0 inches, and the finish is cadmium plating.


Combination Wrenches

Blackhawk offered combination wrenches as early as 1934, relatively soon after the modern style of equal-sized open and box ends had been developed. These earliest combination wrenches were marked with the HeXo brand and were offered in a 153xx series of four models, with sizes ranging from 7/16 to 5/8 inch. (An example of the early HeXo series can be seen as the HeXo 15350 Combination Wrench.)

By 1937 combination wrenches were being offered under the Blackhawk brand as part of a 156xx model number series, which also included double-box wrenches (see figures above). The earliest Blackhawk combination wrenches had a raised-panel design with three grooves, similar to the design used for the later sockets. However, the panelled combination wrenches were soon replaced by a plain shank with a milled groove down the center, in keeping with the style used for the later open-end and box-end wrenches.

Blackhawk referred to combination wrenches as the "Half & Half" style wrenches, a somewhat odd name for the now familiar style, in keeping with Bonney's "TuType" or Herbrand's "Multitype" names.

In the mid 1940s Blackhawk changed to yet another model number series for combination wrenches, this time adopting the 11xx numbers used first by J.H. Williams, and later adopted by Armstrong and Bonney. Armstrong was Blackhawk's manufacturing partner for wrenches, and Blackhawk seems to have just followed Armstrong with the model number change. These new model numbers applied only to combination wrenches of sizes 7/16 and up; the miniature wrenches retained the older 156xx numbers.

Blackhawk combination wrenches appear to have sold in only small quantities, as they are rather difficult to find now. Currently we have only two examples of the early Hexo 153xx series and only a single example of the 11xx series, but were fortunate enough to find a complete set of the 156xx panelled series.


15647 7/16 Combination Wrench, Early Panelled Style

We'll begin with some early examples of combination wrenches in an unusual raised panel design. We were fortunate to find an entire set of the panelled combination wrenches, all dated from 1939, and will add a photograph of the entire set in the near future.

[Blackhawk 15647 7/16 Combination Wrench]
Fig. 293A. Blackhawk 15647 7/16 Combination Wrench, with Insets for Reverse and Side View, 1939.

Fig. 293A shows a Blackhawk 15647 7/16 combination wrench in an early panelled style, stamped with "Blackhawk" and a "-9" date code on the front panel, with "U.S.A." and the model number on the reverse panel.

The overall length is 4.9 inches, and the finish is chrome plating with polished faces.

Note that the raised panels are marked with three parallel grooves, a pattern similar to the three-groove design introduced for sockets in 1938. The "-9" date code indicates production in 1939.

This wrench was acquired as part of a Blackhawk-Armstrong six-piece wrench set in a leatherette roll.


15648 1/2 Combination Wrench, Early Panelled Style

[Blackhawk 15648 1/2 Combination Wrench]
Fig. 293B. Blackhawk 15648 1/2 Combination Wrench, with Insets for Reverse and Side View, 1939.

Fig. 293B shows a Blackhawk 15648 1/2 combination wrench in an early panelled style, stamped with "Blackhawk" and a "-9" date code on the front panel, with "U.S.A." and the model number on the reverse panel.

The overall length is 5.3 inches, and the finish is chrome plating with polished faces.

Note that the raised panels are marked with three parallel grooves, a pattern similar to the three-groove design introduced for sockets in 1938. The "-9" date code indicates production in 1939.

This wrench was acquired as part of a Blackhawk-Armstrong six-piece wrench set in a leatherette roll.


15649 9/16 Combination Wrench, Early Panelled Style

[Blackhawk 15649 9/16 Combination Wrench]
Fig. 293C. Blackhawk 15649 9/16 Combination Wrench, with Inset for Reverse Detail, ca. 1938.

Fig. 293C shows a Blackhawk 15649 9/16 combination wrench, stamped with the Blackhawk name on the raised panel, with "Made in U.S.A." on the reverse panel. (The inset has been rotated for ease of viewing.)

The overall length is 5.7 inches, and the finish is chrome plating with some loss due to wear.

Note that the raised panels are marked with three parallel grooves, a pattern similar to the three-groove design introduced for sockets in 1938. This suggests that the present example may have been an early prototype of a raised panel design for wrenches, but that ultimately Blackhawk decided in favor of the grooved shank design instead.


Blackhawk-Armstrong 1166 3/4 Combination Wrench

[Blackhawk 1166 3/4 Combination Wrench]
Fig. 293D. Blackhawk 1166 3/4 Combination Wrench, with Insets for Side View and Reverse Detail, ca. 1945-1946.

Fig. 293D shows a Blackhawk-Armstrong 1166 3/4 combination wrench, stamped "Blackhawk Armstrong" and "Made in U.S.A." on the face with the Strong-Arm logo. The shank is stamped "Alloy Steel" on one side with the 1166 model number on the reverse.

The overall length is 7.9 inches, and the finish is chrome plating, but with losses due to wear.

The 1947 Blackhawk catalog shows wrenches of this model with a grooved handle (and possibly a "Hexite" marking), but this particular example resembles a standard Armstrong model with just an updated face stamping.


15641 Hexite 7/32 Miniature Combination Wrench

The next several figures show examples of Blackhawk's miniature combination or "Half & Half" wrenches, ranging in size from 7/32 up to 3/8 inches and intended primarily for ignition service. The examples here show quite a bit of variation in the markings, with some displaying "Hexite" and others bearing the "Armstrong" name. In addition, the markings are not stamped with the wrenches in a consistent orientation.

[Blackhawk 15641 7/32 Miniature Combination Wrench]
Fig. 294. Blackhawk 15641 7/32 Miniature Combination Wrench, with Inset for Reverse Detail.

Fig. 294 shows a Blackhawk 15641 7/32 6-point combination wrench, stamped "Hexite" on the reverse.

The overall length is 2.9 inches, and the finish is chrome plating.

15642 1/4 Miniature Combination Wrench

[Blackhawk 15642 1/4 Miniature Combination Wrench]
Fig. 295. Blackhawk 15642 1/4 Miniature Combination Wrench, with Inset for Reverse Detail.

Fig. 295 shows a Blackhawk 15642 1/4 6-point combination wrench, stamped "Armstrong" on one side with "Blackhawk" on the reverse.

The overall length is 3.0 inches, and the finish is chrome plating.

This wrench is clearly marked with both the Blackhawk and Armstrong names, although the catalogs did not advertise these models as part of the old Blackhawk-Armstrong dual-branded line. These examples provide good evidence that Armstrong continued as Blackhawk's manufacturing partner for wrenches even after the dual brand was no longer advertised.


15643 Hexite 9/32 Miniature Combination Wrench

[Blackhawk 15643 9/32 Miniature Combination Wrench]
Fig. 296. Blackhawk 15643 9/32 Miniature Combination Wrench, with Inset for Reverse Detail.

Fig. 296 shows a Blackhawk 15643 9/32 6-point combination wrench, stamped "Blackhawk" on one side with "Hexite" on the reverse.

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


15644 Hexite 5/16 Miniature Combination Wrench

[Blackhawk 15644 5/16 Miniature Combination Wrench]
Fig. 297. Blackhawk 15645 5/16 Miniature Combination Wrench, with Inset for Reverse.

Fig. 297 shows a Blackhawk 15644 5/16 6-point combination wrench, stamped "Armstrong" on one side, with "Blackhawk" on the reverse.

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

This wrench is clearly marked with both the Blackhawk and Armstrong names, although the catalogs did not advertise these models as part of the old Blackhawk-Armstrong dual-branded line. These examples provide good evidence that Armstrong continued as Blackhawk's manufacturing partner for wrenches even after the dual brand was no longer advertised.

15645 11/32 Miniature Combination Wrench

[Blackhawk 15645 11/32 Miniature Combination Wrench]
Fig. 298. Blackhawk 15645 11/32 Miniature Combination Wrench, with Inset for Reverse Detail.

Fig. 298 shows a Blackhawk 15645 11/32 combination wrench, stamped "Armstrong" on one side with "Blackhawk" on the reverse.

The overall length is 4.1 inches, and the finish is chrome plating.

15646 Hexite 3/8 Miniature Combination Wrench

[Blackhawk 15646 3/8 Miniature Combination Wrench]
Fig. 299. Blackhawk 15646 3/8 Miniature Combination Wrench, with Inset for Reverse Detail.

Fig. 299 shows a Blackhawk 15646 3/8 combination wrench, stamped "Blackhawk" on one side with "Hexite" on the reverse.

The overall length is 4.2 inches, and the finish is chrome plating.


Specialty Tools


2581 "Steeldraulic" Pliers

In the late 1920s and early 1930s several makes of automobiles (e.g. Hupmobile, Auburn) were equipped with Steeldraulic brakes, a brand of mechanical brakes with an odd adjusting mechanism. Special pliers were required for making adjustments to these brakes, and not surprisingly the pliers came to be known as Steeldraulic pliers.

[Blackhawk 2581 Steeldraulic Pliers]
Fig. 301. Blackhawk 2581 Steeldraulic Pliers, with Inset for Reverse Detail.

Fig. 301 shows the Blackhawk 2581 "Steeldraulic" pliers, marked "U.S.A." on the handle.

The overall length is 5.4 inches, and the finish is cadmium plating.

Steeldraulic pliers were produced by a number of other manufacturers, and examples include the Bonney 2581 Pliers, Duro-Chrome 2120 Pliers, Herbrand 272 Pliers, Utica 516 Pliers, and Vacuum Grip No. 14 Pliers.


15432 5/8x3/4 Specialty Box Wrench

[Blackhawk 15432 5/8x3/4 Specialty Box-End Wrench]
Fig. 302. Blackhawk 15432 5/8x3/4 Specialty Box-End Wrench, with Insets for Broaching and Marking Detail.

Fig. 302 shows a Blackhawk 15432 5/8x3/4 specialty box wrench, stamped "Made in U.S.A." on the shank.

The overall length is 17.0 inches, and the finish is cadmium plating.


15660 11/16x3/4 Halfmoon Box Wrench

[Blackhawk 15660 11/16x3/4 Halfmoon Box-End Wrench]
Fig. 303. Blackhawk 15660 11/16x3/4 Halfmoon Box-End Wrench, with Inset for Marking Detail, 1939.

Fig. 303 shows a Blackhawk 15660 11/16x3/4 halfmoon box wrench, stamped "Made in U.S.A." with a "-9" date code for 1939.

The overall length is 7.8 inches, and the finish is chrome plating.


151 "Adjusto" Drain Plug Wrenches

The next two figures show examples of the Blackhawk "Adjusto" adjustable drain plug wrench, a specialty tool designed to work with a wide variety of square and hex plugs. Blackhawk registered "Adjusto" as a trademark, with the first use date listed as March 1933.

[Blackhawk 151 Drain Plug Wrench]
Fig. 304. Blackhawk 151 "Adjusto" Drain Plug Wrench, with Inset for Detail, 1941. (Click to show operation.)

Fig. 304 shows a Blackhawk 151 4-way adjustable drain plug wrench, stamped with "Made in U.S.A." and a "-1" date code on the handle.

The overall length is 9.1 inches, and the finish on this wrench is cadmium plating, now mostly worn away. (According to a 1941 catalog, cadmium plating was the standard finish for this tool.)

The wrench handle is the "Gripline" style, with raised ribs along the axis. This style is described by the 1938 design patent #D108,159 and was used from 1938 through 1946.

The "-1" date code on the handle is consistent with a manufacturing date of 1941. This tool contributed to our interpretation of the Blackhawk date codes.

The model 151 drain plug wrench remained in production for many years, at least until the mid 1950s, as the next example will show.


[Blackhawk 151 Drain Plug Wrench]
Fig. 305. Blackhawk 151 "Adjusto" Drain Plug Wrench, with Inset for Detail, 1956.

Fig. 305 shows a later Blackhawk 151 "Adjusto" drain plug wrench, stamped with "Made in U.S.A." and a "-6" date code on the handle.

The overall length is 9.1 inches, and the finish is plain steel.

This wrench is made with the grooved handle style used by Blackhawk after 1947. The "-6" date code together with the grooved handle style indicate production in 1956.

152 Drain Plug Wrench

Blackhawk also made another type of drain plug wrench, a simpler design with four sizes of male drive plugs on each end.

[Blackhawk 152 Drain Plug Wrench]
Fig. 306. Blackhawk 152 Drain Plug Wrench.

Fig. 306 shows an example of the Blackhawk 152 drain plug wrench, marked "Made in U.S.A" on the shank.

The overall length is 9.1 inches, and the finish is plain steel.

15798 Ford Drain Plug Wrench

[Blackhawk 15798 Ford Drain Plug Wrench]
Fig. 307. Blackhawk 15798 Ford Drain Plug Wrench.

Fig. 307 shows a Blackhawk 15798 Ford drain plug wrench with 2 inch hex and 9/16 square openings, marked "Made in U.S.A" with a "6" date code.

The overall length is 10.0 inches, and the finish is cadmium plating.

This tool was designed for servicing drain plugs on 1939 Ford and Mercury automobiles. Other manufacturers made similar tools for this application, for example the Herbrand 2373 Drain Plug Wrench.


EW-1013 "Wedg-Head" Open-End Wrench

In the early 1950s Blackhawk introduced a new style of open-end wrench, giving it the name "Wedg-Head" for its unique head shape. The wrench was designed to work in tight places where the only access is at a relatively high angle to the plane of a nut.

[Blackhawk EW-1013 Open-End Wrench]
Fig. 308. Blackhawk EW-1013 "Wedg-Head" 9/16x5/8 Open-End Wrench, with Inset for Reverse, ca. 1951-1954.

Fig. 308 shows a Blackhawk EW-1013 "Wedg-Head" 9/16x5/8 open-end wrench, marked "Hexite" on the shank with "Wedg-Head" on the reverse, and with "USA Pat. Pend." on one face.

The overall length is 7.3 inches, and the finish is chrome plating with polished faces.

Finding the patent document for this wrench required a lengthy search, as no examples were available with the patent number marked. The document was finally located as patent #2,687,056, filed by W.M. Foor in 1951 and issued in 1954 with assignment to Blackhawk.

Wedg-Head wrenches were offered in the 1953 Blackhawk catalog in just three models, the EW-1009 (7/16x1/2), EW-1013 (9/16x5/8), and EW-1022 (3/4x7/8). It appears that no additional sizes were offered later; these three models continued to be available for a few years after Blackhawk was acquired by New Britain, but had been discontinued by 1963.

It's interesting to note that the Wedg-Head wrenches were also sold by Snap-On during the early to mid 1950s. The available examples appear to have been made for Snap-On by Blackhawk, as the finish is the micro-satin chrome used by Blackhawk at that time, and the Snap-On logo looks a little different as well.

Three models were available -- the same three made by Blackhawk -- with models and sizes S-1416W (7/16x1/2), S-1820W (9/16x5/8), and S-2428W (3/4x7/8). Photographs will be added at a later date.


EW-1022 "Wedg-Head" Open-End Wrench

[Blackhawk EW-1022 Wedg-Head 3/4x7/8 Open-End Wrench]
Fig. 309. Blackhawk EW-1022 "Wedg-Head" 3/4x7/8 Open-End Wrench, with Insets for Side View and Reverse Detail, ca. 1951-1954.

Another example of the Wedg-Head style is shown in Fig. 309, a Blackhawk EW-1022 "Wedg-Head" 9/16x5/8 open-end wrench. As with the previous example, the shank is stamped "Hexite" on one side with "Wedg-Head" on the reverse, and "USA Pat. Pend." is stamped on the face.

The overall length is 9.7 inches, and the finish is chrome plating with polished faces.

The top inset shows a side view of the wrench, illustrating the distinctive wedge shape of the heads.


Postscript: Blackhawk As A Managed Brand

The previous sections of this article have documented Blackhawk's development from its founding in 1919 up through the mid 1950s. In 1955 the hand tool line of Blackhawk Manufacturing was acquired by the New Britain Machine Company, after which Blackhawk became a managed brand within a larger organization. The acquisition by New Britain Machine is documented by the October 1, 1955 edition of the Hartford Courant newspaper and the October 2, 1955 edition of the Milwaukee Sentinel newspaper. The latter publication cites Philip G. Brumder, the president of Blackhawk, as stating that the sale would allow Blackhawk Manufacturing to expand its line of hydraulic and lifting equipment.

This section (still under development) will look first at some of the changes to Blackhawk's tool products under its new management. We'll then explore (or perhaps speculate about) some of the factors that may have contributed to the management change.


References and Resources

Photographs and observations of particular tools are based on items in the Alloy Artifacts collection.

Information on the history of American Grinder and Blackhawk Manufacturing can be found in A Drive To Lead by John Gurda, a work commissioned for the 100th anniversary of the Actuant Corporation, the business successor to American Grinder. This work can be downloaded (as a PDF file) from the History page on Actuant's web site. Although this reference is mostly interested in the Blackhawk hydraulic products (the business line of Actuant), it offers useful background information on American Grinder and the Blackhawk tool operations as well.


Catalog Coverage

Product information was obtained from a number of Blackhawk catalogs, and our current catalog resources have been listed in the table below. Currently our earliest Blackhawk publication is the catalog No. 327 for 1927, a full-size catalog with very clear illustrations.

The last several catalogs in the table were published after Blackhawk had been acquired by the New Britain Machine Company. These list the company address in New Britain, Connecticut, but otherwise show much of the old Blackhawk product line, with some items being discontinued over time.

PublicationTitleYearFormatNotes
No. 327 Blackhawk Catalog for 1927 1927 Full Full product line for Q.D. tools and fixed socket wrenches.
Also lists products from American Grinder.
No. 328 Blackhawk Socket Wrenches 1928 Full Full product line for Q.D. tools and fixed socket wrenches.
No. 329 Blackhawk Socket Wrenches 1929 Full Full product line for Q.D. tools and fixed socket wrenches.
MG? Handy Guide for Mechanics 1929 Booklet Shows early Lock-On tools in "Chief" line. Limited selection of Blackhawk-Armstrong wrenches.
Pricing net to mechanics.
MG330 Handy Guide for Mechanics 1930 Booklet Full selection of Blackhawk-Armstrong wrenches. List prices with discount to mechanics.
MG534 Handy Guide for Mechanics 1934 Booklet Full line of Lock-On tools, Q.D. line being phased out. Release buttons shown on 7/8-drive sockets.
HeXo wrenches offered.
MG535 Handy Guide for Mechanics 1935 Booklet Q.D. still available in 1/2-drive only. Release buttons shown on 7/8-drive sockets.
HeXo wrenches offered.
533-437-40 Blackhawk Wrenches 1937 Booklet Price list only, no illustrations. Dated April 26, 1937. Bound into copy of MG535 Handy Guide above. Includes cross-reference of old and new model numbers. Q.D. tools shown as discontinued.
No 7/16-drive models listed.
No. 240 Blackhawk Wrenches 1940 Full Handles shown in "Gripline" style. Tools in 7/16-drive available, "introduced in early 1938".
Hexite steel touted.
HG41 Handy Guide 1941 Booklet  
No. 247 Blackhawk Wrenches 1947 Full Handle styles changed to grooved and "Bullet" form.
W-51 Blackhawk Wrenches 1952 Full  
W-101 Blackhawk Hand Tools 1953 Full Style of catalog changed with much broader line of tools. Address still in Milwaukee.
W-102M Blackhawk Hand Tools ? Half Division of New Britain Machine Company. Tools in 7/16-drive still available.
W-103M Blackhawk Hand Tools ? Half Division of New Britain Machine Company. Tools in 7/16-drive still available.
W-203M Blackhawk Hand Tools 1963 Mini Division of New Britain Machine Company. No 7/16-drive tools, Lock-On only for 3/4-drive.

Blackhawk tools were available through a number of industrial and automotive distributors, and the catalogs from these distributors often provide a valuable supplement to the company's own catalogs.

  • Marshall Auto Supply 1920. The Marshall Auto Supply Company was an automotive distributor in Marshalltown, Iowa, and their catalog "A" from about 1920 lists 18 pages of Blackhawk tools. The catalog appears to provide complete coverage for Blackhawk's products at that time, and this reference is especially valuable as (currently) our earliest catalog resource for Blackhawk. The listings include the Nos. 2, 4, 6, 8, and 10 "Combination Wrench" socket sets, plus an extensive selection of fixed socket wrenches and specialty tools.

  • Ducommun "F" 1924. The 1924 catalog "F" from the Ducommun Corporation, a west-coast industrial supplier, shows eight pages of listings for Blackhawk tools, including socket wrench sets, fixed socket wrenches, and specialty tools.

  • Dunham, Carrigan & Hayden 1925. The 1925 catalog No. 73 from the Dunham, Carrigan & Hayden Company provides extensive listings of early Blackhawk tools on pages 1495 through 1513. Included are illustrations of display boards, socket sets, and listings of many rarely-seen tools.

  • Ducommun "G" 1926. The 1926 catalog "G" from the Ducommun Corporation shows thirteen pages of listings for Blackhawk tools, including socket wrench sets, fixed socket wrenches, and specialty tools. The listings include the 7/8-drive "Extra Heavy Duty" sockets and drive tools, with sockets available from 1-1/4 up to 2-3/8 inches. This is currently the earliest known listing for Blackhawk's 7/8-drive line.

  • H. Channon 1930. The 1930 catalog No. 101 from the H. Channon Company lists six pages of Blackhawk tools, including sockets sets, sockets and drive tools, single-offset box wrenches, and fixed socket wrenches. The sockets sets listed include the No. 32CD (1/2-Drive), No. 36B (3/4-Drive), No. 12E (7/8-Drive), and several others.

  • Samuel Harris 1931. The 1931 catalog No. 57 from the Samuel Harris Company includes 13 pages of Blackhawk tools, covering their fixed socket wrenches, Q.D. and Chief socket sets, Treasure Chest sets, and many other tools.

  • Neill-LaVielle 1942. The 1942 Neill-LaVielle Supply Red Book 8 catalog shows 10 pages of Blackhawk tools, including their line of 7/16-drive sockets and drive tools.

Period advertisements also provided valuable information. A 1919 magazine advertisement shows the Blackhawk No. 8 socket set being offered only a few months after the company's founding, and a 1925 ad provides an interesting snapshot of the early Q.D. line.


Patents and Trademarks

Patent and trademark information was obtained from the U.S. Patents and Trademarks Office (USPTO) uspto.gov web site. Patent documents were obtained from web sites offering free downloads, notably freepatentsonline.com.


Feedback

If any readers have additional information about Blackhawk, please let us know via the "Contact Us" link on the home page. Your comments and suggestions are welcome as well.


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