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Blackhawk Manufacturing: The Spirit of Innovation

[Label from A Blackhawk Q.D. Socket Set]
Label from A Blackhawk Q.D. Socket Wrench Set, ca. 1930.

From its founding in the early part of the 20th century, Blackhawk Manufacturing developed into one of the top producers of mechanic's tools, and its products were widely respected for their quality of design and production. Blackhawk's rapid innovation in the late 1920s and 1930s helped set the pace of development for the rest of the tool industry.

This article will review the history of Blackhawk Manufacturing, and then illustrate the development of its tools from 1919 up through the mid 1950s.

Table of Contents

Introduction

Company History

Blackhawk Manufacturing began operations in 1919 as a subsidiary of the American Grinder Manufacturing Company, but to understand its story, it's helpful to go back a few years earlier to the founding of the parent company. American Grinder had been founded in 1910 by Leo Bethke, Frank Lueck, and Charles Krause, and the company operated in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, initially as the maker of a self-oiling hand grinder.

[1916 Notice for American Grinder Manufacturing Company Hand Grinder]
1916 Illustration of American Grinder Manufacturing Company Hand Grinder. [External Link]

The illustration at the left, published in the July 1916 issue of Commercial America, shows an example of one of American Grinder's products, a hand-operated grinder for sharpening knives or other tools. The notice with the illustration explains the operation and advantages of the grinder.

American Grinder also produced equipment such as drill presses, and with the start of World War I in 1914 the company found an opportunity to produce water pumps and oil pumps for military vehicles.

The small notice below at the left appeared in the December 14, 1916 issue of The Iron Age. It notes that American Grinder had recently increased its capital stock from $25,000 to $100,000 due to the company's rapid growth, and lists the company address as 2203 Sycamore Street in Milwaukee. The company secretary is listed as "L. E. Berteno", presumably the same person listed as L. E. Bertane on trademark applications filed a few years later.

[1916 Notice of American Grinder Capital Increase]
1916 Notice of American Grinder Capital Increase. [External Link]

With the impending end of WWI, American Grinder's truck parts sales started slowing down, and the company looked for new lines of products. This lead to the developments outlined in the next section. (More information on American Grinder Manufacturing, including stories about their rather colorful early personnel, can be found in the Actuant History noted in our References section.)


The Formation of Blackhawk Manufacturing

In late 1918 the war was drawing to a close, and American Grinder was interested in developing new product lines to make up for the slowing sales of truck parts. The company had recently hired the C.N. and F.W. Jonas firm as sales agents, and the Jonas brothers had a very specific suggestion for American Grinder. The Jonas firm had been the sales agents for Walden-Worcester's west coast region from 1914 to 1918 and were therefore very familiar with Walden's line of automotive socket wrenches and socket sets. The Jonas brothers suggested that American Grinder should replicate substantially all of Walden's line of automotive tools, and apparently even went so far as to suggest "Blackhawk" as the trade name. (Our information for this section comes from a number of reports of later court proceedings after Walden-Worcester sued American Grinder and the Jonas brothers -- we'll have more on that later.)

In the context of the 1918 automotive tools market, developing a line of tools to compete with Walden looked like a good business choice. Walden was the leading maker of fixed socket wrenches at that time, and was also a major manufacturer of pressed-steel socket sets, probably second only to the Frank Mossberg Company in market share. (See our article on Walden-Worcester for more background on the company.) Hence American Grinder followed the Jonas brothers' recommendation and began planning to offer a line of both fixed socket wrenches and interchangeable socket sets.

Although Walden served as the primary starting point for the tool line, we can offer evidence that American Grinder also studied the socket tools produced by the Frank Mossberg Company, as the Blackhawk 911 Ratchet is much closer to Mossberg's well-known Model 350 Ratchet than to any of Walden's models. It's probably safe to assume that American Grinder would have reviewed the existing state of the socket market, to make sure that they didn't miss any important features or run afoul of patent restrictions.

One question remains regarding the extent to which the Jonas brothers may have influenced the socket technology used for the new interchangeable socket sets. Up until 1918 Walden-Worcester had shipped only pressed-steel socket sets, but the company is believed to have been working on a new line of interchangeable heavy-wall machined sockets. It's possible that Walden may have shown prototypes of the new line to the Jonas brothers while they were still sales agents for Walden, with this information then being passed on to American Grinder. But it's also possible that American Grinder would have found it simpler from a production standpoint to use the same type of heavy-wall sockets for both fixed-socket wrenches and interchangeable sets, with the only difference being the type of connection to the drive tool or rod. In any event, Blackhawk's new socket sets ended up with heavy-wall machined sockets, which provided a major improvement in strength over the prevailing pressed-steel sockets. This was a critical factor in gaining rapid acceptance for the new sets, and it would be very interesting to find additional information in this area.

Once the decision had been made to develop the line of automotive tools, American Grinder set up a new wrench division and began tooling up for production. As the company already had substantial expertise at manufacturing, it didn't take very long to prepare the new product line. By May of 1919 the wrench division had been named Blackhawk Manufacturing, and by the end of the month Blackhawk socket sets and socket wrenches were available for sale. American Grinder filed trademark applications in June of 1919 for "Blackhawk" and an Indian head logo, giving May 31, 1919 as the first use date on the applications, and this date provides us with a timeline for the tools. (See Table 1B below for details on the American Grinder/Blackhawk trademarks.)

[1919 Notice for Blackhawk Socket Set]
1919 Notice for Blackhawk Socket Set. [External Link]

The notice at the left, published on page 52 of the June 26, 1919 issue of Motor Age, provides a description of one of the new Blackhawk socket sets. The text notes the inclusion of hex and square sockets with a ratchet, brace, universal, and extension as drive tools. (Although not mentioned in the text, this would have been the Blackhawk No. 10 set.) This notice is one of the earliest public records of Blackhawk's socket set products, and the publication date places it less than a month after the company began using the Blackhawk trademark.

[1919 Motor Age Advertisement for Blackhawk Tools]
1919 "Motor Age" Advertisement for Blackhawk Tools.

The scan at the left shows one of the earliest advertisements for Blackhawk tools, published on page 70 of the July 3, 1919 issue of Motor Age magazine. The illustration shows a sampling of the many Blackhawk fixed socket wrenches and specialty tools, and in addition a No. 6 "Combination Set" socket set is shown just below the center text inset.

The text identifies C.N. and F.W. Jonas as the manufacturer's representative for American Grinder. The Jonas brothers had been the sales agents for Walden-Worcester previously, and their involvement with American Grinder figured heavily in a later lawsuit by Walden.

[1919 Advertisement for Blackhawk No. 8 Combination Set]
1919 Advertisement for Blackhawk No. 8 Combination Set.

Another early advertisement for Blackhawk socket sets can be seen at the left, published in the August 10, 1919 issue of Motor Boat magazine. The set in the illustration is a Blackhawk No. 8 Combination Set, which includes a ratchet, sliding Tee handle, two extensions, universal, 16 hex sockets, three square sockets, and other miscellaneous tools.

Note again that the text identifies C.N. and F.W. Jonas as the sales agents for American Grinder near the bottom of the advertisement.

Some subtle details in the illustration add further evidence for the Walden origin of the early Blackhawk tools. If you look closely at the extensions in the socket set, the drive stud end has a pin sticking out from both sides, to act as a stop for the socket. This was an uncommon production detail known to have been used by Walden, and an example can be seen in the Early Walden 1139 Extension. Blackhawk is not known to have used stop-pins in any of its actual production, suggesting that the illustrations were probably prepared from early prototypes of the tools.

The early Blackhawk socket sets were available in five different models, numbered from smallest to largest as No. 2, No. 4, No. 6, No. 8, and No. 10. (A summary of the set contents can be found in Table 1C below.) All of the tools and sockets in the sets could also be purchased individually.

The Blackhawk socket sets and fixed socket wrenches appear to have been highly successful products right from the beginning. With their prior experience at selling hand grinders, American Grinder knew how to use trade publications and magazine advertisements to promote their products. And with the help of their sales agents, the Jonas Brothers, the company would have had connections with major industrial distributors and "jobbers", so that the new Blackhawk tools could be purchased locally throughout the country.

Although it's generally difficult to get good estimates of sales volumes of older tools, we can make some qualitative judgements based on the observed frequency of items today. As part of the collection activities to support this article, within the past few years we have been able to round up examples of four of the five early Blackhawk socket set models, and with multiple examples for some of the sets. Based on these observations, the early Blackhawk sets in wooden boxes are not especially rare, and although much less common than the sets made by Mossberg (the leading maker of pressed-steel socket set), Blackhawk sets are probably more common than those of the numerous other makers. With the Blackhawk sets now 85 to 90 or more years old, this means that they probably had to be selling at a run rate of many thousands per month in order for so many to remain today.


The Modern Era Begins

In addition to being commercially successful, Blackhawk's interchangeable socket sets were important historically as the first line to offer heavy-wall machined sockets for automotive service, thereby ushering in the modern era of socket tools. The decade leading up to 1919 had seen automotive socket sets develop into a thriving (even booming) industry, lead by makers such as Mossberg, Walden, Bay State, Syracuse Wrench, and numerous others. These earlier makers had proven the convenience and utility of interchangeable sockets, but since the sets were based on relatively weak pressed-steel sockets, they lacked the strength needed for everyday use by professional mechanics. Blackhawk's heavy-wall sockets changed all that -- mechanics now could (and did!) wholeheartedly embrace interchangeable sockets, and the socket industry entered a new phase of explosive growth.

Of course there were many improvements to be added later -- alloy steel sockets, hot-forging and hot-broaching, better drive tools such as flex-head handles, fine-tooth ratchets, and so on. But Blackhawk's sockets were a major milestone, and readers interested in tool history may want to mark May 31, 2019 on their calendars as the 100th Year Anniversary of modern socket technology.


The Walden Lawsuit

The sudden appearance of a new competitor must have come as a great shock to Walden-Worcester, especially since Blackhawk's new line of fixed socket wrenches replicated practically all of Walden's models. Even more damaging was the presence of a full line of heavy-wall interchangeable socket sets, as these effectively stole the thunder from Walden's introduction of its own line of heavy-wall socket sets. (Walden's socket sets finally came out in 1920.)

The final blow was the realization that the Jonas Brothers, who until 1918 had been sales agents for Walden, were now the agents for the Blackhawk line. Walden cried foul and filed a lawsuit, claiming unfair competition and trademark (and patent) infringement.

[1921 Notice of Walden-Worcester Lawsuit]
1921 Notice of Walden-Worcester Lawsuit. [External Link]

The notice at the left was published in the August 11, 1921 of The Iron Age and provides some details of the court action by Walden-Worcester against American Grinder Manufacturing and its sales agents, the C.N. and F.W. Jonas Brothers. The Walden action had three underlying claims: (1) Trademark infringement for the similarity between "Blackhawk" and Walden's earlier "Tomahawk" trademark, (2) Unfair competition for the sales of similar products using Walden's prior sales agents, the Jonas Brothers, and (3) Patent infringement for the use of the nut-holding speeder extension.

Walden initially received some relief for its trademark infringement claim, as American Grinder's registration for "Blackhawk" (issued as #128,597) was cancelled. The other two claims were eventually decided in favor of American Grinder, and even the trademark infringement was eventually overturned.


A Near Miss for Mossberg

Although the sudden new competition from Blackhawk had a more immediate effect on Walden-Worcester, the Frank Mossberg Company, Walden's arch-competitor, was also greatly impacted. Within a decade, Mossberg's market-leading pressed-steel socket business would wither into nothing, leaving a weakened shell of a company that would never regain a leading position.

But in Mossberg's case, the loss of its once valuable franchise is probably best regarded as a self-inflicted injury. We can offer evidence that Mossberg understood beforehand that changes were coming to the socket industry, but then failed to take effective action.

In early 1919 Mossberg began advertising a No. 45 socket set, described in their catalogs as a "'Heavy Duty' Socket Speed Brace Wrench Set". The sockets in the set were made by a process similar to that for pressed-steel sockets, but used heavier gauge steel and so had some claim to the heavy-duty title. The set consisted of just one drive tool, a 1/2-drive speeder, along with 15 sockets and a universal. The new sockets were designed for 1/2 square internal drive only, unlike the internal/external mixed drive used for Mossberg pressed-set sets.

The Mossberg No. 45 set turned out to be a commercial failure, but the existence of the set and the reasons for its failure provide valuable insights into the company. The proximate causes for the lack of commercial success can be summarized as (1) a lack of depth in the heavy-duty line, and (2) the failure of the company's advertising to distinguish the heavy-duty set from Mossberg's existing line.

To expand on the points in the previous paragraph, we note first that the new heavy-duty sockets were available only in the No. 45 set, and that the set included only a speeder as a drive tool. Since speeders are not high-leverage drive tools, purchasers of the set might not have even noticed that the new sockets were significantly stronger than the older pressed-steel variety. If Mossberg had included new drive tools to go with the sockets -- perhaps a version of the Mossberg 350 Ratchet with a 1/2-drive stud, a stronger version of the Mossberg 320 Offset Handle, and a sliding Tee handle with a 10 inch bar -- the introduction of the "Heavy Duty" line might have been much more favorable.


New Investors and A Treasurer

In 1920 American Grinder found itself in need of additional funds, possibly as a result of the impending (if not ongoing) Walden litigation noted above. The need for additional capital was filled by an investment by Herbert Brumder and two siblings, plus others related by marriage. The Brumders were the sons of George Brumder, a well-known Milwaukee businessman who had built a German-language publishing business during the late 19th century. In addition to becoming an investor, Herbert Brumder signed on to become the treasurer of American Grinder.

[1920 Notice of Reorganization]
1920 Notice of Reorganization. [External Link]
[1920 Notice of Reorganization]
1920 Notice of Reorganization. [External Link]

The notice at the far left was published in the April 3, 1920 issue of Automotive Industries and notes the recapitalization of American Grinder, providing a list of the Brumder siblings and their in-laws. The small notice at the near left was published in the May 15, 1920 issue of the Commercial Car Journal and similarly notes the recapitalization of American Grinder.

Both notices cite rapid growth as the reason for the recapitalization (possibly a euphemism), and both note that a Brumder had become the company treasurer, although the far left notice incorrectly names Herman Brumder. The Jonas Brothers are also cited as the sales agents. Within a few years American Grinder again needed more capital, and by 1924 Herbert Brumder had become the major stockholder and company president.


Development Through the Mid 1920s

With the early success of its interchangeable socket sets Blackhawk became the leading producer of heavy-duty socket tools through at least the mid 1920s. Competition came quickly though, first from Walden-Worcester, who by mid 1920 was offering a full line of heavy-duty socket sets in wooden boxes, comparable to the Blackhawk line. Within a year or two the fast-growing Snap-On Wrench Company also became a strong competitor.

Throughout the 1920s, Blackhawk, Snap-On, and Walden fought for control of the socket market, with each company trying to outdo the others with innovations and improvements. Snap-On appears to have been the first with a larger 5/8 drive size, but Blackhawk responded by leaping to 3/4-drive and then 7/8-drive. In 1925 Walden topped both companies with a line of 1 inch hex drive tools, and also became the first maker to offer interchangeable sockets in alloy (chrome-nickel) steel. Despite the fierce competition, the rapidly growing market ensured that all three companies did well in this era.


A Name Change

By 1925 Blackhawk Manufacturing had become highly successful, with the result that the Blackhawk name had become much more widely recognized than that of its somewhat obscure parent, American Grinder Manufacturing. Accordingly, in 1925 American Grinder changed its name to Blackhawk Manufacturing. The name change is noted in the October 1925 issue of Popular Mechanics in an advertisement for Blackhawk Socket Wrenches. Note the parenthetical "Formerly American Grinder Mfg. Co." below the larger "Blackhawk Mfg. Company" text.

The latter part of the 1920s saw continued growth for Blackhawk, but also greatly increased competition. New makers entering the socket market included Cornwell (1926), Bonney (1927), and Plomb (1927), all of whom provided tools primarily for professionals. By 1928 Duro/Indestro and Hinsdale Manufacturing, two low-cost, high-volume manufacturers, had also become major competitors in the socket market. Both of these companies sold their socket sets through Sears Roebuck, thereby reaching a huge mail-order and retail market.


The Hydraulic Line

In 1927 Blackhawk saw an opportunity to expand its product lines into hydraulic jacks and acquired the Hydraulic Tool Company. Over the next decade Blackhawk became a leading supplier of hydraulic jacks for automotive service, and expanded into new areas with innovative products for lifting and pushing in constrained areas. During the 1930s Blackhawk's engineers (Edward Pfauser and others) developed and patented various hydraulic devices.

The hydraulic line provided an additional market for Blackhawk and proved to be important for the later history of the company. However, as this site is primarily interested in hand tools, we can't offer much information on the hydraulic products.


Lock-On Socket Tools

In the late 1920s Blackhawk began developing a new high-end line of socket tools featuring an innovative "Lock-On" locking mechanism. This ushered in a period of tremendous innovation during the 1930s and 1940s, lead by their engineers Edward Pfauser, Sigmund Mandl, and others. During this time Blackhawk received numerous patents for wrench and ratchet designs and socket locking devices.

Among the tools developed were the "Lock-On" locking sockets, gearless ratchets, ratchet adapters, reversible handles, and specialty tools such as the model 151 drain-plug wrench. Some of these innovations picked up support from other companies in the industry -- Snap-on in particular was an early adopter of the Lock-On patents, which they sold under the trademark "Loxocket".


Out of the Hand Tool Business

In 1952 Philip G. Brumder succeeded his father Herbert as president of Blackhawk Manufacturing. The younger Brumder recognized that the company faced some challenges -- from the late 1940s onward Blackhawk's line of socket tools had been becoming less competitive and losing market share. (The loss of market share is based on observations that Blackhawk's later handle style is much less common than the earlier "Gripline" tools.) Brumder began planning and implementing major changes for the company.

The first changes were visible in the Blackhawk catalog W-101 for 1953, with some copies printed in December of 1952. This catalog edition was markedly different from the previous W-51 and earlier catalogs. In particular, catalog W-101 offered many new types of tools not previously listed by Blackhawk, including pliers, screwdrivers, gear pullers, auto-body tools, and even soldering irons. In addition, the model numbers and style of the box wrenches had been changed, suggesting a new manufacturer. The new catalog positioned Blackhawk as a full-service tool brand, rather than as a socket tools and wrenches specialist.

By the early 1950s most of Blackhawk's competitors operated as full-service vendors of mechanic's tools, including such companies as Armstrong, Bonney, Cornwell, Duro/Indestro, Herbrand, MAC, New Britain, Plomb Tool (Proto brand), Snap-on, and J.H. Williams. Expanding Blackhawk's product offerings put them on a more equal footing with their competitors, although since most of the new products were rebranded contract production with lower margins, the larger product line may not have increased the business profits that significantly.

By 1955 the full extent of Brumder's plan had become clear. In October of 1955 the entire hand tool line of Blackhawk Manufacturing was sold off to the New Britain Machine Company, and Blackhawk (hand tools) became a managed brand within a larger company. New Britain crated up all of Blackhawk's production equipment and moved it back to their base in Connecticut.

Blackhawk as a division of New Britain continued as a full-line supplier of automotive service tools, and most of the older Blackhawk socket wrench line remained in production for some time. Gradually though, some of the more distinctive products were dropped. In particular, Lock-On tools in 1/2-drive and all 7/16-drive tools had been discontinued by 1963.

Eventually New Britain Machine folded, and its assets (including the Blackhawk and Husky trademarks) were acquired by The Stanley Works. Stanley today continues to use the Blackhawk name for one of its product lines.


Blackhawk Manufacturing to Applied Power to Actuant

After the sale of the hand tools division, Blackhawk Manufacturing retained its line of hydraulic jacks and other hydraulic products and focussed on building out that line of products. Within a few years the company changed its name to Applied Power Industries to better reflect the new company business lines. After many decades of growth and acquisitions, the company continues in operation today as the Actuant Corporation, and additional information can be found on on the company's web site at www.actuant.com.


Patents

Some sense of the innovative spirit at Blackhawk can be appreciated by a look at the numerous patents in Table 1A.

Table 1A. Blackhawk and American Grinder Patents
Patent No.InventorFiledIssuedDescriptionExamples
1,476,058 J.B. Drahonovsky01/10/192212/04/19234-Way Demountable Rim Wrench 5104 Rim Wrench
1,574,136 H. Tautz 05/15/192202/23/1926Sheet Metal Tool Grip 500 Brace, T60 Extension
1,685,503E.M. Pfauser05/19/192709/25/1928Threaded Socket Locking Pin  
1,764,690 E.M. Pfauser04/16/192906/17/1930Tool Handle 49994 Speeder
1,797,730E.M. Pfauser09/20/192903/24/1931Socket Attachment for Tool  
1,807,134 E.M. Pfauser07/30/193005/16/1931Socket Wrench Drive Plug 9802 Drive Plug
1,873,472 E.M. Pfauser05/29/193008/23/1932Socket Wrench  
1,881,029E.M. Pfauser05/29/193010/04/1932Socket Wrench for Auto Rims  
1,896,645 E.M. Pfauser08/24/192903/28/1933Socket Locking Pin and Button 9210 Extension
1,927,844 E.M. Pfauser01/27/193206/06/1933Angled Locking Pin 49978 Universal
1,936,640 E.M. Pfauser08/14/193111/28/1933Reversible Friction Clutch 49997 Ratchet
1,941,565 S. Mandl 03/20/193301/01/1934Impact Socket  
RE19,287 E.M. Pfauser08/24/192908/21/1934Coupling for Socket Wrenches 8432, 66xx Sockets
1,982,008 S. Mandl & E.M. Pfauser02/23/193411/27/1934Socket coupling 8432 Socket, 9206 Extension
1,995,009 E.M. Pfauser & S. Mandl12/05/193103/19/1935Ratchet Mechanism 49973 Ratchet Adapter
2,003,155 E.M. Pfauser07/01/193205/28/1935Reversible Friction Clutch 49997 Ratchet
D108,143 S. Mandl02/27/193701/25/1938Socket Design with Grooves 401xx Series Sockets
D108,159 S. Mandl02/27/193701/25/1938Wrench Handle Design ["Gripline"] 49987 Extension, 49997 Free-Wheeling Ratchet
2,108,866 S. Mandl04/17/193602/22/1938Socket Locking Sleeve  
2,138,194 E.M. Pfauser11/29/1938Hydraulic Pump  
D115,416 S. Mandl05/10/193906/27/1939Torque Indicating Wrench Design  
2,190,081 E.M. Pfauser01/22/193802/13/1940Retaining Sleeve for Release Button 35314 Deep Socket
2,218,318E.M. Pfauser10/15/1940Detachable Conduit Housing  
2,218,319 E.M. Pfauser06/03/193910/15/1940Adjustable Extension  
2,231,680E.M. Pfauser02/11/1941Hydraulic Ram Construction  
2,235,643 E.M. Pfauser12/27/193703/18/1941Shackle Pin Press  
2,242,613 S. Mandl08/15/193805/20/1941Torque Wrench with Indicating Light  
2,282,148 S. Mandl01/18/194005/05/1942Tool Handle 39996 Two-Length Ratchet
2,283,089 E.M. Pfauser05/12/1942Hydraulic Wedge Assembly  
2,286,917 S. Mandl05/03/194106/14/1942Ratchet Adapter 49973 Ratchet Adapter
2,520,652 E.M. Pfauser & S. Mandl02/28/194808/29/1950Adjustable Tool Handle 39996 Two-Length Ratchet
2,687,056 W.M. Foor12/29/195108/24/1954Open-End Wedge-Head Wrench EW-1013 Wrench

Trademarks

The following table shows the known trademarks issued to American Grinder and Blackhawk Manufacturing. The entries are sorted by registration number (or issue date) to clarify the later re-registration of the "Blackhawk" trademark.

Table 1B. American Grinder/Blackhawk Manufacturing: Trademarks Issued
Description First Use Date Filed Date Issued Registration Notes
Blackhawk 05/31/1919 06/17/1919 01/13/1920 128,597 American Grinder Manufacturing at 2203 Sycamore, Milwaukee.
Signed by L.E. Bertane, Vice-President and Secretary.
Registration cancelled after Walden-Worcester litigation.
[Indian Head Logo] 05/31/1919 06/17/1919 01/25/1921 139,111 American Grinder Manufacturing at 2203 Sycamore, Milwaukee.
Signed by L.E. Bertane, Vice-President and Secretary.
Mark stamped on early sockets and tools.
Blackhawk 01/20/1925 02/16/1925 10/20/1925 204,588 Signed by H.P. Brumder, President. For Water Circulating Pumps.
Treasure Chest 03/31/1930 10/29/1930 03/31/1931 281,766 Blackhawk Manufacturing at 148 Broadway, Milwaukee.
Signed by H.P. Brumder, President. Mark used for sets of tools.
Adjusto March 1933 04/23/1945 02/05/1946 419,119 Signed by H.P. Brumder, President. Used for 4-Way Drain Plug Wrench.
Blackhawk 05/31/1919 04/23/1945 10/29/1946 424,871 Later re-registration of original mark.

Tool Identification

Blackhawk tools are generally easy to identify, as all except for certain types of early tools will be clearly marked "Blackhawk". Open-ended wrenches made in collaboration with Armstrong will be marked "Blackhawk-Armstrong".

Certain types of early Blackhawk tools, in particular the sockets and extensions, were marked with a distinctive Arrowhead logo instead of the Blackhawk name. (An example of this marking can be seen on the Arrowhead Sockets.) The use of the Arrowhead logo had been phased out by around 1925, so that a tool with the Arrowhead marking would probably have been made in years 1919-1925.


Manufacturing Dates

Blackhawk tools in general are not marked with a manufacturing date code, but some of the Lock-On socket tools and a few older wrenches have been observed with a digit that appears to function as a date code. Since this code applies primarly to Lock-On tools of a certain date range, its use and limitations are explored in a later section on Lock-On Date Codes.

For the more general case, estimates of the age of a tool must be made based on factors such as the style, model number, production characteristics, finish, patents, and so on. The list below will offer guidelines that may be helpful in estimating the production date of older Blackhawk tools.

  • Arrowhead Marking. Early Blackhawk sockets and extensions were marked with an Arrowhead logo instead of the Blackhawk name. The Arrowhead marking had been phased out by around 1925, so tools with this marking were probably made in the years 1919-1925.
  • Flat Machined Top on Sockets. Early Blackhawk sockets had a flat machined top, typically with some marks remaining from the turning process. Later sockets had a slightly "dished" top to guide the socket onto a bolt or nut.
  • Hexagonal Slider on Tee Handles. The slider on early Blackhawk sliding Tee handles was milled from hexagonal stock rather than round stock, as was used in later years. Sliding Tee handles with a hexagonal slider were probably made in the years 1919-1925.
  • 911X Ratchet. By 1924 the model 911 reversible ratchet had been superseded by the 911X, a non-reversible (push-through) ratchet using much heavier steel for the body. (This date is based on a 1924 reprint of the Ducommun "F" catalog.)

Early Tools

Blackhawk's earliest products included interchangeable socket sets and fixed socket wrenches. Since some of the earlier advertisements seemed to emphasize the socket sets, we'll begin the presentation with a look at these.


Interchangeable Socket Sets

[Logo from Early Blackhawk Advertisement]
Detail From An Early Blackhawk Advertisement, 1919.

Socket wrench sets with interchangeable sockets and drive tools were among the first products offered by Blackhawk. The photograph at the left shows the logo from a 1919 advertisement for a set of sockets and wrenches, a set that included both hex and square sockets, a ratchet, a sliding Tee-handle, extensions, and open end wrenches.

The early Blackhawk socket sets were sold in wooden boxes with finger-jointed corners, similar to the boxes used by Mossberg and Walden for their sets.

Blackhawk initially produced sockets and drive tools only in the 1/2 square drive size, a size that had been effectively standarized by Mossberg and Walden by 1910 or even earlier. Larger drive sizes were offered at a later date, and eventually smaller drive tools became available as well. As far as is known, Blackhawk never produced hex-drive sockets or tools.

Early Marking Conventions

Blackhawk's early socket tools display a variety of different marking styles, with some using the Blackhawk name and others with the Arrowhead logo, some with "U.S.A." markings and others with "Made in U.S.A.", and some without markings at all. When we first started examining these early tools, we tried to attribute the marking differences to different production periods. However, after looking at a greater number of examples, it now appears that except for the case of socket markings, the marking differences were simply due to the type of tool and the production equipment used to mark it.

Blackhawk's sockets did appear to go through several generations of minor marking changes, and these changes may prove helpful in estimating the production date more finely. The list below summarizes the observed markings on the different types of tools.

  • 911 Ratchet. Stamped with "Blackhawk" and "U.S.A." on the body.
  • T4 Handle. Stamped with "Blackhawk" and "Made in U.S.A." on the bar. Note that this style of marking is also observed on the early fixed socket wrenches, such as the Blackhawk 2119 Tee Handle.
  • T6, T8, T10 Extensions. Stamped with the Arrowhead logo and "U.S.A." on the square shank.
  • Universal. Unmarked.
  • Sockets. Early sockets marked with the Arrowhead logo with "U.S.A." below. Later sockets placed the "U.S.A." marking to the right of the Arrowhead logo, and still later sockets have "Made in" and "U.S.A." with the Arrowhead logo in the center.

These marking differences persisted only until around 1925 or so. By the time Blackhawk's tools had matured into the "Quick-Disconnect" or Q.D. line, the different styles of marking had all been merged into a uniform "Blackhawk" and "Made in U.S.A." convention. We'll look at the Q.D. Tools in the next section.


Summary of Early Socket Sets

The following table provides a summary of the contents of Blackhawk's five socket set models.

Table 1C. Summary of Tools in Early Blackhawk Socket Sets.
Model and Description Size or Length
  No. 2  

No. 4
Set Model
No. 6

No. 8

  No. 10  
Notes and Examples
911 Ratchet 9 Inch  X XX X 911. Later replaced by 911X.
T4 Sliding Tee 7.5 Inch X  X XX T4
500 Brace 15 Inch       X 500. (Later model shown.)
T6 Extension 6 Inch X   X X T6
T8 Extension 8 Inch  X X    T8
T10 Extension 10 Inch     X X T10
Universal 4 Inch  X XX X Universal. Unmarked.
Hex Socket 7/16  X XX X  
Hex Socket 1/2 XX XX X  
Hex Socket 9/16 XX XX X  
Hex Socket 19/32    XX X  
Hex Socket 5/8 XX XX X  
Hex Socket 11/16 XX XX X Early "Arrowhead" Sockets
Hex Socket 3/4 XX XX X Early "Arrowhead" Sockets
Hex Socket 25/32     X X  
Hex Socket 13/16    XX X  
Hex Socket 7/8 XX XX X Early "Arrowhead" Sockets
Hex Socket 15/16  X XX X Early "Arrowhead" Sockets
Hex Socket 31/32    XX X  
Hex Socket 1 Inch    XX X  
Hex Socket 1-1/16    XX X  
Hex Socket 1-1/8    XX X  
Hex Socket 1-1/4    XX X Large "Arrowhead" Sockets
Square Socket 7/16     X X  
Square Socket 1/2     X X  
Square Socket 9/16  X  X X  
Square Sockets 19/32 to 1-9/32       X Eight sizes.
3329 Spark Plug Socket 29/32x33/32     ? X  
3731 Spark Plug Socket 31/32x1-5/32     ? X  
Open-End Wrenches       X X  
Miscellaneous Tools         X Pliers, pipe wrench, offset screwdriver,
cotter-pin puller.

In the following figures, we will first show examples of Blackhawk's sockets and tools individually, and then provide examples of the various socket sets.


Early "Arrowhead" 1/2-Drive Hex Sockets

The earliest Blackhawk tools were marked with an Arrowhead design enclosing an Indian's head in profile, similar to the advertisement above. These tools were generally marked "U.S.A." but did not include the Blackhawk company name.

[Early Blackhawk 1/2-Drive Hex Sockets]
Fig. 1. Early Blackhawk 1/2-Drive Hex Sockets, with Inset Showing Arrowhead Logo, ca. 1919-1921.

Fig. 1 shows a group of very early Blackhawk 1/2-drive hex sockets, each stamped with the fractional size plus the Arrowhead logo with "U.S.A." below.

The socket sizes are, from the left, 11/16, 3/4, 7/8, and 15/16.

These sockets were acquired with a partially complete Blackhawk No. 4 Socket Set shown in a later figure.

The socket construction is cold-broached by the typical first-generation method, with a machined recess below the broached area to allow for chip removal. Note also the presence of a flat machined top on these sockets, a characteristic of Blackhawk's early production. The knurled band in the center was probably intended to provide a better grip for hand turning.

The flat top on the sockets and the use of the Arrowhead logo with "U.S.A." below indicate an early production date, probably in the range of 1919-1921. Later (but still early) socket production provided a machined indentation on the service end, and changed the "U.S.A." marking to "Made in U.S.A." with the Arrowhead logo in between. (See the Large Arrowhead Sockets for comparison.)

Later makers of machined sockets in the 1920s such as Snap-on, Hinsdale, and Indestro used similar construction techniques for their sockets. The interested reader may want to examine the Snap-On, Hinsdale, or Indestro figures for further information.


Large "Arrowhead" 1/2-Drive 1-1/4 Hex Sockets

[Early Blackhawk 1/2-Drive 1-1/4 Nex Sockets]
Fig. 2. Early Blackhawk 1/2-Drive 1-1/4 Hex Sockets, ca. 1921-1925.

Fig. 2 shows two early 1/2-drive Blackhawk 1-1/4 hex sockets, both marked with the Arrowhead logo. The lefthand socket is marked with "U.S.A." beside the logo, while the righthand socket has "Made in U.S.A." with the logo in the middle.

The righthand socket is of somewhat later production than the lefthand one, since the marking has become the full "Made in U.S.A.", as would be seen on all later tools. Note also that the hex opening of the earlier lefthand socket is machined flush, but the righthand socket provides a hollowed indentation to help guide the socket onto its nut.

Based on the catalog descriptions, these sockets could have been included (as the largest size) in any of the No. 6, No. 8, or No. 10 Combination Sets.


Blackhawk 911 1/2-Drive Reversible Ratchets

The next two figures show examples of early Blackhawk 911 reversible ratchets.

[Blackhawk 911 1/2-Drive Ratchet]
Fig. 3. Blackhawk 911 1/2-Drive Ratchet, with Insets for Reverse and Side View, ca. 1919-1924.

Fig. 3 shows an early 1/2-drive Blackhawk 911 reversible ratchet, stamped with "Blackhawk" and "U.S.A." on the handle.

The overall length is 10.0 inches, and the finish is plain steel with a black oxide coating.

This ratchet was originally acquired with a Blackhawk No. 6 Socket Set shown in a later figure. This ratchet is also included in the photograph of the Blackhawk No. 8 Socket Set shown below.

[Blackhawk 911 1/2-Drive Reversible Ratchet]
Fig. 4. Blackhawk 911 1/2-Drive Reversible Ratchet, with Inset for Side View, ca. 1919-1921.

Fig. 4 shows another early 1/2-drive Blackhawk 911 reversible ratchet, stamped with "Blackhawk" and "U.S.A." on the body. The original reversing lever for the ratchet has broken off, but the mechanism can be reversed by using a screwdriver to turn the shifter.

The overall length is 10.0 inches, and the finish is plain steel.

This ratchet was acquired as part of the Blackhawk No. 4 Socket Set shown in a later figure.

Readers familiar with the well-known Mossberg 350 Ratchet will recognize the strong similarities between that tool and the Blackhawk 911 ratchet. This suggests that American Grinder must have carefully studied the Mossberg line of socket tools, as well as the Walden line, when designing the tools for their new socket sets.

However, Blackhawk didn't fully capture the engineering of the Mossberg ratchet, as the pressed-steel body of the 911 model was built with sheet metal too thin for the job. In addition, the shift mechanism appears to have been rather fragile. As a result, these ratchets are often found in poor condition, when they can be found at all -- the ratchets are much less common than the socket sets themselves, suggesting that many ratchets have been discarded over the years.

By 1924 Blackhawk had replaced the 911 model with the 911X ratchet, using thicker steel for the body and a push-through drive plug instead of a reversing switch. Blackhawk appears to have learned well from this lesson, as their subsequent tools tended to be engineered for extremely rugged use.


Blackhawk T4 1/2-Drive Sliding Tee Handle

[Blackhawk T4 1/2-Drive Sliding Tee Handle]
Fig. 5. Blackhawk T4 1/2-Drive Sliding Tee Handle, ca. 1919-1921.

Fig. 5 shows an early 1/2-drive Blackhawk T4 sliding Tee handle, stamped with "Blackhawk" and "Made in U.S.A." on the handle. This tool was acquired as part of the Early Blackhawk No. 8 Socket Set shown in a later figure.

The overall length is 7.5 inches, and the bar has a 7/16 diameter. The finish is black paint.

The bar uses pinched tabs at each end to retain the slider, a construction technique used by Blackhawk for most of the 1920s. Later sliding Tee handles used fixed stop-balls at the ends.

The slider itself is made of hexagonal bar stock, an indication of early construction, as this is the way that the first Blackhawk sliding Tee handles were made. If you look carefully at the Early Advertisement for a No. 8 socket set, the sliding Tee handle is illustrated with a hexagonal slider in the lower righthand corner of the box.

On later sliding Tee handles the sliders were milled from round stock, as can be seen on the T4 Sliding Tee Handle in a later section. A 1925 Blackhawk magazine ad shows a breaker bar with a round slider, indicating that the change to round stock had occurred by that time.


Early 1/2-Drive Universal

[Blackhawk 1/2-Drive Universal from No. 4 Socket Set]
Fig. 6. Blackhawk 1/2-Drive Universal from No. 4 Socket Set, ca. 1919-1921.

Fig. 6 shows an early 1/2-drive Blackhawk forged universal, acquired as part of a Blackhawk No. 4 Socket Set shown in a later figure. Although the universal is unmarked, it closely resembles the catalog illustration and is likely the original tool from the set.

The overall length is 4.0 inches, and the finish is plain steel.

This universal is very well made with tight-fitting parts, as can be seen from the careful machining in the photograph. It operates very smoothly after 80+ years in service.

Early socket sets often included forged universals of this type; for example, the Mossberg sockets sets offered in 1912 included a double-male universal.


Early T6 1/2-Drive 6 Inch Extension

[Early Blackhawk T6 1/2-Drive 6 Inch Extension]
Fig. 7. Early Blackhawk T6 1/2-Drive Square 6 Inch Extension, with Inset for Marking Detail, ca. 1919-1921.

Fig. 7 shows an early 1/2-drive Blackhawk T6 6 inch extension, stamped with "U.S.A." and the Arrowhead logo on the square shank.

The overall length is 5.7 inches, and the finish is plain steel.

This particular extension was acquired as part of a No. 8 socket set. (The T6 extension was supplied with the No. 2, No. 8, and No. 10 socket sets.)

This tool shows the typical construction used for early extensions, with a square shaft and a separate drive socket, and with pinched tabs as stops on the drive end. By the mid 1920s Blackhawk extensions were being made as a one-piece forging or turning, and the pinched tabs had been replaced by a milled shoulder. A later example of this model can be seen as the Blackhawk Q.D. T6 Extension.


Early T8 1/2-Drive 8 Inch Extension

[Early Blackhawk T8 1/2-Drive 8 Inch Extension]
Fig. 8. Early Blackhawk T8 1/2-Drive Square 8 Inch Extension, with Inset for Detail, ca. 1919-1921.

Fig. 8 shows an early 1/2-drive Blackhawk T8 8 inch extension, stamped with "U.S.A." and the Arrowhead logo on the square shank.

The overall length is 7.6 inches, but it may have been slightly longer originally; the socket end appears to have been trimmed a bit.

This particular tool was acquired separately from the sets shown here, but is substantially identical to the extension in the Blackhawk No. 4 Socket Set shown below. The T8 extension was supplied with the No. 4 and No. 6 sets.

This tool shows the typical construction used for early extensions, with a square shaft and a separate drive socket, and with pinched tabs as stops on the drive end. By the mid 1920s Blackhawk extensions were being made as a one-piece forging or turning, and the pinched tabs had been replaced by a milled shoulder. A later example of the T8 extension can be seen as the Blackhawk Q.D. T8 Extension.


Early T10 1/2-Drive 10 Inch Extension

[Early Blackhawk T10 1/2-Drive 10 Inch Extension]
Fig. 9. Early Blackhawk T10 1/2-Drive 10 Inch Extension, with Inset for Marking Detail, ca. 1919-1924.

Fig. 9 shows an early 1/2-drive Blackhawk T10 10 inch extension, stamped with "U.S.A." and the Arrowhead logo on the square shank.

The overall length is 9.8 inches, and the finish is plain steel.

This particular extension was acquired as part of a No. 8 socket set. (The T10 extension was supplied with the No. 8 and No. 10 socket sets.) Later examples of the T10 extension can be seen as the Blackhawk Q.D. T10 Extensions.


No. 4 "Combination Set" Socket Sets

The Blackhawk No. 4 "Combination Set" was one of their more popular early models, and we're fortunate to have acquired several examples, in various states of completion and condition.

[Early Blackhawk 1/2-Drive No. 4 Socket Set]
Fig. 10. Early Blackhawk 1/2-Drive No. 4 Socket Set, ca. 1919-1921.

Fig. 10 shows a partial Blackhawk No. 4 1/2-drive socket set in a wooden box. The set also included a forged universal joint, but unfortunately the other drive tools (a ratchet and an extension) were missing when the set was acquired.

Although the box no longer retained the original label, the set was identified by an illustration in the 1925 catalog No. 73 from Dunham, Carrigan, and Hayden, a wholesale hardware distributor. The catalog shows this as a Blackhawk No. 4 Combination Set, and also shows other similar Blackhawk socket sets.

The sockets in the back row are all 6-point, with sizes (from the left) 15/16, 7/8, 3/4, 11/16, 5/8 (missing), 9/16, and 1/2. At the front right is a 9/16 4-point socket.

Some of the sockets in this set are shown in greater detail in as the Arrowhead Sockets above. One detail to note is that the tops of the sockets are turned flat, without the indentation provided in later sockets. This indicates an early production date for this set, probably from 1919-1921.

[Early Blackhawk 1/2-Drive No. 4 Socket Set]
Fig. 11. Early Blackhawk 1/2-Drive No. 4 Socket Set, ca. 1919-1921.

Fig. 11 shows another example of the Blackhawk No. 4 socket set, this time in complete but well-used condition. The set consists of a 911 reversible ratchet, a T8 extension, a universal, seven hex sockets, and one square socket.

The inside of the cover still has the original label (although in rather tattered condition) identifying this as a "No. 4 Combination Set".

The hex sockets in the back row have sizes (from the left) 15/16, 7/8, 3/4, 11/16, 5/8, 9/16, and 1/2. At the front right is a 9/16 square socket. All of the sockets are stamped "U.S.A." with the Arrowhead logo.

Our earliest catalog reference for this set is the Marshall Auto Supply Catalog "A" of 1920, which offered Blackhawk socket sets Nos. 2, 4, 6, 8, and 10, along with a wide selection of other Blackhawk tools. According to the catalog listing, the No. 4 set included eight sockets, a ratchet, an extension, and a universal joint, together with a wooden box. The price was $9.00, a substantial sum at the time.


Early Blackhawk No. 6 "Combination Set" Socket Set

The Blackhawk No. 6 set was the middle model of their early line, similar to the No. 4 set but with a greater number of hex sockets.

[Early Blackhawk No. 6 Socket Set]
Fig. 12. Early Blackhawk No. 6 Socket Set, ca. 1919-1921.

Fig. 12 shows an early Blackhawk No. 6 "Combination Set" socket set in its wooden box, consisting of a 911 ratchet, T8 extension, and 15 hex sockets ranging from 7/16 up to 1-1/4. The original set would have included a T4 sliding Tee handle and a universal joint as well.

The set is marked with a paper sticker on the inside of the lid, printed with the text "Blackhawk" and "Rust-Proof Socket-Wrenches" between two Arrowhead logos, and with "No. 6 Combination Set" below.

The hex socket sizes in the front row are, from the left, 7/16, 1/2, 9/16, 19/32, 5/8, 11/16, 3/4, and 13/16. Continuing in the back from the right, the sizes are 7/8, 15/16, 31/32, 1 inch, 1-1/16, 1-1/8, and 1-1/4.

All of the sockets are stamped with the fractional size and the Arrowhead logo, with "U.S.A." below the logo. The sockets have a band of cross-hatched knurling around the center, with a very fine-pitched knurling on most of the sockets, but coarser knurling on some. The finish is black oxide.

The ratchet in the set can be seen in greater detail as the Blackhawk 911 Reversible Ratchet.


Label from No. 6 Socket Set

[Label from Blackhawk No. 6 Combination Set]
Fig. 13. Label from A Blackhawk No. 6 Combination Set.

Fig. 13 shows a close-up of the label from the Blackhawk No. 6 socket set, printed with the text "Blackhawk" and "Rust-Proof Socket-Wrenches" between two Arrowhead logos, and with "No. 6 Combination Set" below. Note also the words "Service", "Quality", and "Finish" on the top of the Arrowhead logo.

This label is basically identical to the tattered label for the No. 4 set shown above, except for the "No. 6" marking.


Early Advertisement for Blackhawk No. 8 "Combination Set" Socket Set

[1919 Advertisement for Blackhawk No. 8 Combination Set]
Fig. 14. Early Advertisement for Blackhawk No. 8 Combination Set, 1919.

The next several figures will show the Blackhawk No. 8 socket set, the second largest of the early socket sets. We'll begin with an early advertisement, published in 1919 only a few months after the sets were first offered.

Fig. 14 shows an advertisement for a Blackhawk No. 8 socket set, published in the August 10, 1919 issue of Motor Boat magazine. As can be seen from the illustration, the set included a generous number of sockets, together with a square-drive ratchet, sliding Tee handle, extensions, universal, extensions, and other tools.

The timing of this advertisement is significant, as it shows that Blackhawk was already selling heavy-duty square drive socket sets well before the founding of the Snap-On Wrench Company, their neighbor in Milwaukee.

An example of the set in the advertisement can be seen as the Early Blackhawk No. 8 Socket Set.


Early Blackhawk No. 8 "Combination Set" Socket Set

[Early Blackhawk No. 8 Socket Set]
Fig. 15. Early Blackhawk No. 8 Socket Set, ca. 1919-1921.

Fig. 15 shows an early Blackhawk No. 8 "Combination Set" socket set in its wooden box, consisting of a 911 reversible ratchet, T4 sliding Tee handle, T6 extension, T10 extension, universal, 16 hex sockets, three square sockets, and a double-ended spark plug socket. (Some additional pieces are missing, as noted below.)

The set is marked with a paper sticker on the inside of the lid, printed with the text "Blackhawk" and "Rust-Proof Socket-Wrenches" between two Arrowhead logos, and with "Combination Set No. 8" below.

The tools in the set have various marking conventions, with some showing the Blackhawk name, others using the Arrowhead logo, and with one piece (the universal) unmarked.

The set as acquired had most of its sockets, but only two of the original tools remained, the T4 sliding Tee handle and the universal joint. The other tools in the photograph been borrowed from similar early sets. A few pieces are missing, as the specifications for the set included five stamped-steel open-end wrenches and a hooked bar for the spark plug socket.

The wooden box is very well made with finger-jointed corners. The dimensions are 15.4 inches wide by 8.7 inches deep by 2.4 inches high.

[Bottom Part of Early Blackhawk No. 8 Socket Set]
Fig. 16. Bottom Part of Early Blackhawk No. 8 Socket Set, ca. 1919-1921.

Since the set is rather large for one photograph, we've included a separate view to show the tools in greater detail. Fig. 16 shows the bottom part of the No. 8 socket set.

The hex socket sizes in the front row are, starting fourth from the left, 7/16, 1/2, 9/16, 19/32, 5/8, 11/16, 3/4, and 25/32. The sizes in the back row are, from the right, 13/16, 7/8, 15/16, 31/32, 1 inch, 1-1/16, 1-1/8, and 1-1/4.

The three square sockets in the front are, from the left, 9/16, 1/2, and 7/16. All of the sockets are stamped with the fractional size and the Arrowhead logo, with "U.S.A." below the logo. The sockets have a band of fine cross-hatched knurling around the center, and the finish is black oxide.

The lower bay on the right contains, from top to bottom, a T4 Sliding Tee Handle, 911 Reversible Ratchet, T6 6 Inch Extension, and T10 10 Inch Extension.

The lower bay on the left holds a spark plug socket and an unmarked universal joint. The spark plug socket is a Blackhawk 3731 31/32x1-5/32 socket borrowed from a later No. 10 set. Blackhawk made two sizes of spark plug sockets for its early sets, model 3329 with sizes 29/32x1-1/32 and the model 3731. The catalog specifications for the No. 8 set indicate that one spark plug socket was included, but so far we haven't found an indication of which size was specified.


[Label for Early Blackhawk No. 8 Socket Set]
Fig. 17. Label for Early Blackhawk No. 8 Socket Set, ca. 1919-1921.

Fig. 17 shows a close-up of the paper label for the No. 8 socket set, printed with the text "Blackhawk" and "Rust-Proof Socket-Wrenches" between two Arrowhead logos, and with "Combination Set No. 8" below. Note also the words "Service", "Quality", and "Finish" on the top of the Arrowhead logo.

This was the standard label used for the early Blackhawk sets, with the model number changed to indicate the specific set.

Several production and marking details indicate that this set was made at an early date. The sliding Tee handle has a hex slider, instead of the round slider used later. The sockets in the set are marked with "U.S.A." below the Arrowhead, instead of at the right, and the sockets have a band of finely cross-hatched knurling. In addition, the tops of the sockets are machined flat, instead of the slight depression used for later production.

One further detail may indicate very early production. Note that of the hex sockets, only the smallest (7/16) size has tapered upper walls. Other early sets have been observed with tapered walls on two or three of the smaller sockets, suggesting that Blackhawk progressively added tapered walls. (The later Q.D. sockets had tapered walls for all sizes.) Under this hypothesis, the single tapered wall socket in this set would indicate a very early production date.


Blackhawk No. 10 "Combination Set" Socket Set

The largest of the early Blackhawk sets was the No. 10 "Combination Set", which added a speeder, a larger selection of square sockets, and various miscellaneous tools. We have an example of the No. 10 set and are preparing it for display in the future.

Fig. 18. Blackhawk No. 10 1/2-Drive Socket Set To Be Added.

Fixed Socket Wrenches

Fixed socket wrenches for automobile service were among the earliest products for Blackhawk. Based on a 1920 catalog from Marshall Auto Supply, Blackhawk was offering a broad line of such tools in just its first year of operation. Not surprisingly, the Blackhawk fixed socket wrenches were very similar to those offered by Walden-Worcester, the leading maker of fixed socket wrenches at that time.

The sockets of the earliest Blackhawk wrenches were attached by crimping the rod, so that the socket is directly butted against the end. By late in 1920 Blackhawk had developed a method of welding the sockets to the rod, and the smooth welded joint gave these later tools a distinctive appearance. The use of welded sockets was a highly touted feature in Blackhawk's advertising, and it remains a useful feature for us, as a guide to the approximate manufacturing date of the tools. We'll use a manufacturing date of 1921 or later for the tools with welded sockets.


Early 4020 5/8 Ford Connecting Rod Socket Wrench

Our first example is an early specialty tool, designed specifically for servicing the Ford Model T fourth connecting rod.

[Early Blackhawk 4020 5/8 Connecting Rod Wrench]
Fig. 19. Early Blackhawk 4020 5/8 Connecting Rod Wrench, with Inset for Markings, ca. 1919-1920.

Fig. 19 shows an early Blackhawk 4020 5/8 socket wrench marked "Made in U.S.A.", and seen here in what appears to be the original black paint, as this tool is in exceptionally good condition. The overall length is 13.5 inches.

Catalog references for this tool were noted in the 1920 Marshall Auto Supply catalog "A", 1924 Ducommun catalog "F", and 1925 Dunham catalog No. 73. The catalogs called this the "Improved Connecting Rod Wrench", as the offset in the shank would help to clear obstacles.

Note that the socket here is not welded, but is attached by crimping the end of the rod. This is an indication of an early production date, as Blackhawk switched to welded sockets late in 1920.


2119 19/32 Short Tee-Handle Socket Wrench

[Blackhawk Model 2119 19/32 Short Tee-Handle Wrench]
Fig. 20. Blackhawk 2119 19/32 Short Tee-Handle Wrench, with Insets for Construction and Marking Detail, ca. 1919-1920.

Fig. 20 shows an early example of the 21xx series of short Tee-handle wrenches, a Blackhawk 2119 19/32 socket wrench, stamped "Made in U.S.A." on the shank.

The overall length is 7.3 inches, and the finish is plain steel.

The socket on this wrench is crimped to the shaft rather than welded, as can be seen in the lower inset, indicating an earlier production date.

This type of wrench (possibly even this particular example) was among the first tools made by Blackhawk Manufacturing in 1919. The wrench is quite similar to models made by Walden-Worcester and Mossberg, such as the Walden-Worcester 2620 Tee-Handle Wrench.


2124 3/4 Short Tee-Handle Socket Wrench

[Blackhawk Model 2124 3/4 Short Tee-Handle Wrench]
Fig. 21. Blackhawk 2124 3/4 Short Tee-Handle Wrench, with Insets for Construction and Marking Detail, ca. 1919-1920.

Fig. 21 shows a Blackhawk 2124 3/4 Tee socket wrench, stamped "Made in U.S.A." on the shank.

The overall length is 7.4 inches, and the finish is black paint.

The socket on this wrench is crimped to the shaft rather than welded, indicating an earlier production date.


3120 5/8 T-Handle Socket Wrench

[Blackhawk 3120 5/8 Long Tee-Handle Wrench]
Fig. 22. Blackhawk 3120 5/8 Long Tee-Handle Wrench, with Inset for Marking Detail, ca. 1919-1920.

Fig. 22 shows an early example of the 31xx series of long T-handle wrenches, a model 3120 5/8 wrench stamped "Made in U.S.A." on the shank.

The overall length is 12.2 inches. The finish is plain steel with some traces of the original black paint.

As with the previous figures, the socket on this wrench is crimped to the shaft rather than welded, indicating an earlier production date.


Early 4116 1/2 Speeder Socket Wrench

[Blackhawk Early 4116 1/2 Speeder Socket Wrench]
Fig. 23. Blackhawk Early 4116 1/2 Speeder Socket Wrench, with Insets for Construction and Marking Detail, ca. 1919-1920.

Fig. 23 shows an early Blackhawk 4116 1/2 speeder socket wrench, stamped "Made in U.S.A." on the shank near the end piece.

The overall length is 13.7 inches, and the finish is plain steel, with some pitting due to rust.

On this early example the socket is attached with crimped construction. A later example with welded construction can be seen as the Blackhawk 4116 Speeder Socket Wrench.


Early 6218 9/16 Sliding-Extension Speeder Socket Wrench

[Early Blackhawk 6218 9/16 Sliding-Extension Speeder Socket Wrench]
Fig. 24. Early Blackhawk 6218 9/16 Sliding Extension Speeder Socket Wrench, with Inset for Markings, ca. 1919-1920.

Fig. 24 shows another early specialty tool of unusual design, a Blackhawk 6218 9/16 speeder socket wrench with a sliding extension. As can be seen from the photograph, the basic tool operates as a fixed-socket speeder wrench, and the sliding extension carries an additional holding socket.

In use, the sliding extension was pushed out and slipped over the bolt head, and the spring then held it in place while the speeder loosened or tightened the nut.

What was the motivation for this tool? Certain service jobs required turning nuts on bolts that were not secured by other parts, so that the bolt would need to be held while the nut was turned. Since a speeder wrench really needs two hands for efficient operation, placing a bolt-holding extension on the shank allows the speeder to work, well, speedily.

The idea for this tool actually goes back to Walden-Worcester, who noticed that the rather obscure patent #1,164,815 for agricultural tools could be adapted to automotive use. Walden's version of this tool was built as an extension adapter that could be bolted onto a standard speeder, and an example can be seen as the Walden-Worcester 6418 Nut-Holding Extension. Incidentally, Blackhawk's copying of Walden's idea became one of the claims in a lawsuit filed by Walden.

The catalogs recommended this particular tool for Model T engine base bolts, but there were probably many other applications as well. Blackhawk also made a similar 6216 model with a 1/2 socket, which was recommended for Model T rear axle service jobs.


3416 1/2x1-1/16 Double-Socket Wrench

[Blackhawk 3416 1/2x1-1/16 Double-Socket Wrench]
Fig. 25. Blackhawk 3416 1/2x1-1/16 Double-Socket Wrench, with Insets for Side View and Construction Detail, ca. 1920s.

Fig. 25 shows a Blackhawk 3416 1/2x1-1/16 double-socket wrench, pairing a 1-1/16 hex socket with a 1/2 square socket. The wrench is stamped "Blackhawk" and "Made in U.S.A." on the shank.

The overall length is 10.7 inches, and the finish is plain steel with traces of the original black paint.

The specific application for this wrench is not yet known.


144 (1/2x5/8)x9/16 Triple-Socket Wrench

[Blackhawk 144 (1/2x5/8)x9/16 Triple-Socket Wrench]
Fig. 26. Blackhawk 144 (1/2x5/8)x9/16 Triple-Socket Wrench, ca. 1924.

Fig. 26 shows a Blackhawk 144 triple-socket wrench with sizes 1/2x5/8 and 9/16, stamped "Made in U.S.A." on the shank.

The overall length is 10.1 inches, and the finish is plain steel with traces of the original black paint.

This wrench is listed in the Ducommun catalog "F" of 1924 as a recommended tool for Buick automobiles.


Welded Socket Construction

[1916 Notice of American Grinder Capital Increase]
1920 Notice of Welded Socket Wrenches. [External Link]

By late 1920 Blackhawk had developed a technique for welding a socket to a wrench shank, when the socket is oriented along the axis of the shank. This production change is documented in a notice published on page 32 of the November 25, 1920 issue of Motor Age, as seen at the left. The 1920 date for this change is earlier than we had originally estimated, and some of Blackhawk's own advertisements may have continued to show the older style of socket attachment well after this date. Since the change was late in 1920, we'll use 1921 as the approximate inception date for welded wrenches.

This use of welded construction is believed to be unique to Blackhawk, as most other producers of socket wrenches used some sort of crimping technique to attach the sockets. The following figures will show some examples of Blackhawk's later welded socket wrenches.


1116 1/2 L-Handle Socket Wrench

[Blackhawk 1116 1/2 Ell-Handle Wrench]
Fig. 27. Blackhawk Model 1116 1/2 Ell-Handle Wrench, ca. 1921-1928.

Fig. 27 shows a Blackhawk 1116 1/2 L-handle wrench with a welded socket, stamped "Blackhawk" on the shank.

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

This type of wrench is similar to tools made by Walden-Worcester and Mossberg, such as the Walden-Worcester 2524 L-Handle Wrench.


2116 1/2 Short Tee-Handle Socket Wrench

[Blackhawk 2116 1/2 Short Tee-Handle Wrench]
Fig. 28. Blackhawk Model 2116 1/2 Short Tee-Handle Wrench, ca. 1921-1928.

Fig. 28 shows a Blackhawk model 2116 1/2 short Tee-handle wrench, stamped with "Blackhawk" and "Made in U.S.A." on the shank.

The overall length is 7.5 inches, and the finish is plain steel.

Note here that the socket has been welded to the handle rod, a technique developed by Blackhawk in late 1920. This construction set Blackhawk apart from most of their competitors, who typically used some sort of crimping technique to attach the sockets.

Blackhawk's short Tee-handle wrenches had been discontinued by 1929, but some models in the long Tee-handle 31xx series were still in production.

2118 9/16 Short Tee-Handle Socket Wrench

[Blackhawk 2118 9/16 Short Tee-Handle Wrench]
Fig. 29. Blackhawk Model 2118 9/16 Short Tee-Handle Wrench, with Inset for Detail, ca. 1921-1928.

Fig. 29 shows another example of the short Tee wrenches, a Blackhawk 2118 9/16 short Tee-handle wrench, stamped with "Blackhawk" and "Made in U.S.A." on the shank.

The overall length is 7.3 inches, and the wrench has a few traces of the original black paint remaining.

As with the previous figure, the socket here has been welded to the handle rod, the construction technique used by Blackhawk from about 1924 onward.


2125 25/32 Short Tee-Handle Socket Wrench

[Blackhawk 2125 Short Tee-Handle Wrench]
Fig. 30. Blackhawk Model 2125 25/32 Short Tee-Handle Wrench, with Inset for Detail, ca. 1921-1928.

Fig. 30 shows another similar model 2125 25/32 short Tee-handle wrench, marked "Blackhawk Made in U.S.A." and with traces of black paint.

The overall length is 7.0 inches.


3118 9/16 Tee-Handle Socket Wrench

[Blackhawk 3118 9/16 Long Tee-Handle Wrench]
Fig. 31. Blackhawk 3118 9/16 Long Tee-Handle Wrench, with Insets for Marking and Construction Detail, 1921-1928.

Fig. 31 shows a later example of the 31xx series long Tee-handle wrenches, a model 3118 9/16 wrench with a welded socket. The shank is stamped "Made in U.S.A." with the model and fractional size.

The overall length is 12.1 inches. The finish is plain steel with some pitting due to rust.


3124 3/4 Tee-Handle Socket Wrench

[Blackhawk Model 3124 Long Tee-Handle Wrench]
Fig. 32. Blackhawk Model 3124 3/4 Long Tee-Handle Wrench, with Inset for Detail, ca. 1924-1928.

Fig. 32 shows a model 3124 3/4 long Tee-handle socket wrench, stamped "Made in U.S.A." on the shank.

The overall length is 11.9 inches, and most of the original black paint finish remains intact.

Although some of the 31xx series wrenches were still in production in 1929, the 3/4 size had already been discontinued by that time.


4916 (1/2x5/8)x1/2 Triple Socket Wrench

Our next example shows a very popular early style of socket wrench, with two sockets in a "T" at one end and a single socket at the other.

[Blackhawk Model 4916 Triple-Socket Wrench]
Fig. 33. Blackhawk Model 4916 (1/2x5/8)x1/2 Triple Socket Wrench, ca. 1921+.

Fig. 33 shows the Blackhawk 4916 (1/2x5/8)x1/2 triple-socket wrench, marked "Made in U.S.A." and with some of its original paint remaining.

The overall length is 9.7 inches.

In this style of wrench the single socket typically repeated one of the sizes on the "T" end, so that once a nut had been broken loose, the single socket could quickly spin it off.

Note that this wrench has a welded socket on the long end, the characteristic construction technique used by Blackhawk. A 1924 Western Auto catalog lists a wrench of this size and type in a group of similar tools, under the heading "Wrenches for Chevrolet Cars". Although Blackhawk isn't mentioned by name, the catalog description notes the use of welded sockets, which pretty much confirms Blackhawk as the maker. The application suggests this model for oil pan bolts and transmission covers, and the price was a mere $0.58.


4924 9/16x3/4 Double Socket Wrench

[Blackhawk 4924 9/16x3/4 Double Socket Wrench]
Fig. 34. Blackhawk 4924 9/16x3/4 Double Socket Wrench, with Inset for Marking Detail, ca. 1925-1927.

Fig. 34 at the left shows a Blackhawk 4924 9/16x3/4 double socket wrench, stamped "Made in U.S.A." on the shank.

The overall length is 10.3 inches, and the finish is plain steel.

We haven't yet found a catalog reference for this particular model, but the 1927 Blackhawk catalog lists a very similar model 4924X wrench with an L-shaped shank, instead of the looped shank shown here. The 4924X wrench is listed for Chevrolet applications, with the 3/4 socket fitting the cylinder head bolts and the 9/16 size for connecting-rod nuts. The looped shank is believed to be an earlier version of the wrench.


4116 1/2 Speeder Socket Wrench

[Blackhawk 4116 1/2 Speeder Socket Wrench]
Fig. 35. Blackhawk 4116 1/2 Speeder Socket Wrench, with Inset for Marking Detail, ca. 1925-1930.

Fig. 35 shows a Blackhawk 4116 1/2 speeder socket wrench, stamped "Made in U.S.A." on the shank near the socket.

The overall length is 14.8 inches, and the finish is plain steel with traces of the original plack paint.

The socket of this wrench is attached with the welded construction characteristic of mid 1920s Blackhawk. An earlier example can be seen as the Blackhawk Early 4116 Speeder Socket Wrench.


6118 9/16 Long Speeder Socket Wrench

[Blackhawk 6118 Speeder Socket Wrench]
Fig. 36. Blackhawk 6118 9/16 Speeder Socket Wrench, with Inset for Detail, ca. 1921-1930.

Fig. 36 shows a Blackhawk 6118 9/16 speeder socket wrench, marked "Made in U.S.A." as shown in the right inset.

The overall length is 19.2 inches.

The socket is attached with the welded construction characteristic of Blackhawk.


4120 5/8 Ford Connecting Rod Socket Wrench

The infamous 4th connecting rod of the model T required a special offset wrench for service, unless one was inclined to lift the entire motor from the car. This next figure shows an example of a specialty connecting rod wrench designed for this application.

[Blackhawk 4120 5/8 Connecting Rod Socket Wrench]
Fig. 37. Blackhawk 4120 5/8 Connecting Rod Socket Wrench, with Insets for Construction and Marking Detail, ca. 1921+.

Fig. 37 shows a Blackhawk 4120 5/8 socket wrench with an offset shank, designed for servicing the 4th connecting rod of the Model T. The shank is stamped "Blackhawk" and "Made in U.S.A." along with the size and model number.

The overall length is 11.8 inches, and the finish is plain steel.

Note the welded construction used to attach the socket to the wrench handle, a technique used by Blackhawk from about 1924 onward.


4122 11/16 Ford Flywheel Capscrew Socket Wrench

The flywheel capscrews on the Ford Model T were located in an awkward position requiring a specially designed wrench for access. The next two figures show examples of specialty socket wrenches designed for this application, with an offset shaft to provide clearance.

[Blackhawk 4122 11/16 Flywheel Socket Wrench]
Fig. 38. Blackhawk 4122 11/16 Flywheel Socket Wrench, with Inset for Marking Detail, ca. 1921+.

Fig. 38 shows a Blackhawk 4122 11/16 socket wrench with an offset shank, designed to service the flywheel capscrews on the Model T. The shank is stamped "Made in U.S.A." with the size and model number.

The overall length is 12.0 inches, and the finish is plain steel.

One detail to note regarding the wrench construction is that the socket is welded (or brazed) to the shaft. Blackhawk used its welded construction in advertising in the mid 1920s.

Similar tools were available from Walden and possibly other companies; for example, the 1924 Beckley-Ralston catalog shows a model 6250 wrench called a "Flywheel Capscrew Wrench for Ford".


4422 11/16 Ford Flywheel Capscrew Socket Wrench

[Blackhawk 4422 11/16 Flywheel Socket Wrench]
Fig. 39. Blackhawk 4422 11/16 Flywheel Socket Wrench, with Insets for Construction and Marking Detail, ca. Late 1920s.

Fig. 39 shows an improved successor to the model 4122 wrench, a Blackhawk 4422 11/16 flywheel socket wrench, stamped "Made in U.S.A." with the size and model number.

The overall length is 12.0 inches, and the finish is plain steel.

This shank of this wrench has an offset similar to the previous 4122 model, but the socket is constructed with a much heavier wall, with one side cut away for clearance (see lower inset).


Other Specialty Tools

In addition to the broad categories of interchangeable socket sets and fixed-socket wrenches, Blackhawk offered various other types of automotive service tools.


4021 21/32 Connecting Rod Wrench

[Blackhawk 4021 21/32 Connecting Rod Wrench]
Fig. 40. Blackhawk 4021 21/32 Connecting Rod Wrench, ca. 1928-1932.

Fig. 40 shows a Blackhawk 4021 21/32 offset connecting rod wrench, marked "Made in U.S.A." and with a knurled handle. The overall length is 12.0 inches.

Wrenches in this style were made from the early 1920s on by Blackhawk and a number of other manufacturers. However, this particular size would have been produced only after 1928, when Ford started using 21/32 connecting rod bolts. (The 1928 date is mentioned in the Samuel Harris catalog, but is probably already well known to Ford antique auto buffs.)


4124 3/4 Ford Main Bearing Socket Wrench

Our next figure shows a specialty tool designed for Ford main bearing applications, and an early example of 12-point socket wrenches as well.

[Blackhawk 4124 3/4 Ford Main Bearing Socket Wrench]
Fig. 41. Blackhawk 4124 3/4 Ford Main Bearing Socket Wrench, with Insets for Marking and Broaching, ca. Late 1920s.

Fig. 41 shows a Blackhawk 4124 3/4 offset socket wrench, stamped "Blackhawk Made in U.S.A." on the offset shank with a knurled handle.

The overall length is 15.6 inches, and the finish is plain steel.

The lower inset shows the socket with its 12-point broaching. This model appears to have been one of the earliest 12-point socket wrenches produced by Blackhawk.

This wrench was listed in the 1927 Blackhawk No. 327 catalog, where it was recommended for Ford rear bearing service with the engine still installed. The offset handle and 12-point broaching were intended to help avoid the obstacles inherent in this application.


4222 Ratcheting Box Wrenches

The next figures show examples of another type of specialty tool, a ratcheting box wrench intended for Model T reverse and brake band adjustments.

[Blackhawk 4222 Transmission Band Wrench]
Fig. 42. Blackhawk 4222 Transmission Band Wrench, ca. 1919-1925.

Fig. 42 shows a Blackhawk model 4222 11/16 ratcheting box wrench with a 15/16 fixed box end, stamped "Made in U.S.A." on the handle.

The overall length is 8.3 inches, and the finish is plain steel.

The wrench is constructed of laminated sheet steel with two layers, with a stepped bend providing space for the ratchet gear and pawl.

The 1930 catalog refers to this as a transmission band wrench, and notes that the larger box end could also be used for some spark plugs.

The model 4222 wrench remained in production for a number of years, and during this time Blackhawk made incremental improvements in the design and construction.

[Blackhawk 4222 Transmission Band Wrench]
Fig. 43. Blackhawk 4222 Transmission Band Wrench, Later Model, ca. 1925-1930.

Fig. 43 at the left shows a later version of the model 4222 wrench, this time with three laminated layers for increased strength. Note also that the ratchet end has a wider neck and is offset for extra strength.

Other manufacturers made similar ratcheting wrenches, including Bog, Mossberg, and Walden. Examples include the Bog 11/16 Ratcheting Box Wrench and Mossberg 645 Ratcheting Box Wrench.


4230 Head Bolt and Spark Plug Wrench

[Blackhawk 4230 5/8x15/16 Head Bolt and Spark Plug Wrench]
Fig. 44. Blackhawk 4230 5/8x15/16 Head Bolt and Spark Plug Wrench, with Inset for Side View, ca. 1919-1929.

Fig. 44 shows a Blackhawk 4230 specialty wrench combining a 5/8 socket with a 15/16 offset box, intended as a Model T Ford head bolt and spark plug wrench. The wrench is marked "Made in U.S.A." and has an overall length of 11.0 inches. The finish is plain steel.

This wrench is listed in a Blackhawk Mechanic's Guide from 1929, at a price of $0.65 net, but apparently had been discontinued by 1930.

The inset shows the side of the wrench to illustrate the deep offset at the box end, providing an example of early use of the offset box configuration. The socket is attached to the handle with a pin through the back of the socket.

This wrench is very similar to the Walden 3620 Wrench described in our article on Walden-Worcester. Another tool frequently used for Model T spark-plug service was an open-end/socket combination, of which the Herbrand 2334 Wrench is a good example.


2520 Buick Offset Socket Wrench

[Blackhawk 2520 5/8 Offset Socket Wrench]
Fig. 45. Blackhawk 2520 5/8 Offset Socket Wrench, with Insets for Construction and Marking Detail, ca. 1928-1930.

Fig. 45 shows a Blackhawk 2520 offset socket wrench with size 5/8, designed for Buick motor block service. The wrench is stamped "Made in U.S.A." on the shank.

The overall length is 15.2 inches, and the finish is plain steel.

This wrench model was first offered in the 1928 Blackhawk catalog for use on Buick Standard six cylinder motor blocks. The catalog notes that the wrench will service all of the motor block stud nuts except the right rear, for which the No. 2320 wrench was needed.


2018 9/16x5/8 Box-End Battery Wrench

[Blackhawk 2018 9/16x5/8 Box-End Battery Wrench]
Fig. 46. Blackhawk 2018 9/16x5/8 Box-End Battery Wrench, ca. 1920s.

Fig. 46 shows a Blackhawk 2018 9/16x5/8 box-end wrench, marked with "Blackhawk" and "Made in U.S.A." forged into the shank, with the sizes and model number forged into the reverse.

The overall length is 5.9 inches, and the finish is plain steel.


4950 Chevrolet Clutch S-Shaped Box Wrench

The next figure shows a specialty wrench designed for Chevrolet clutch applications.

[Blackhawk 4950 3/4x1 Inch S-Shaped Box-End Wrench]
Fig. 47. Blackhawk 4950 3/4x1 S-Shaped Box-End Wrench, for Chevrolet Clutch Service, ca. 1925-1927.

In Fig. 47 we see the Blackhawk 4950 S-shaped box-end wrench, with sizes 3/4x1 in 12-point broachings. The wrench is marked with "Blackhawk" and "Made in U.S.A." forged into the shank.

The overall length is 8.2 inches.

The box ends are very thin, apparently a requirement of the application, and have 12-point broachings. This wrench is listed in a 1925 catalog from Dunham, Carrigan, and Hayden, making it one of the earliest known examples of a 12-point box-end wrench.

5104 4-in-1 Rim Wrench

[Blackhawk 5104 4-in-1 Rim Wrench]
Fig. 48. Blackhawk 5104 4-in-1 Rim Wrench, with Insets for Detail and Markings, ca. 1926-1930.

Fig. 48 shows a Blackhawk 5104 rim wrench of distinctive design, marked "4 In 1 Rim-Wrench" and "Made in U.S.A.", with a "Pat. Dec. 4, 1923" patent date.

The overall length is 18.3 inches in the operating position and 19.4 inches when fully extended.

The rotating socket cluster has openings 5/8, 11/16, 3/4, and 7/8, all with hex broachings. In operation, the socket carrier slides to the end of the shaft to unlock the sockets, and the desired opening can then be rotated into position. When the carrier is moved back, the end of the shaft locks the socket cluster in place, and the tool is ready for use.

The patent date refers to patent #1,476,058, issued to J.B. Drahonovsky and assigned to American Grinder Manufacturing, the parent company of Blackhawk. Additional patent notations were marked on the rotating hand grips for the well-known patent #1,574,136, issued on February 23, 1926. These notations were too worn to photograph here, but examples can be seen seen in later figures.


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