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The New Britain Machine Company

[Decal from a None Better Socket Set]
Decal from a None Better Socket Set, ca. 1930s.

The New Britain Machine Company was an important manufacturer of both machine tools and hand tools, and over its long history sold tools under such well-known brands as Husky and Blackhawk. The company has appeared previously in our article on Craftsman "BE" and H-Circle Tools as the manufacturer of the familiar older tools. In this page we'll take a closer look at the company, and show examples of the tools New Britain made for its own brands, including None Better and Husky.

Table of Contents

Introduction


Company History

The New Britain Machine Company was founded in 1887 in New Britain, Connecticut. By the early 1900s the company was offering sockets and drive tools, intended primarily for automotive service, a rapidly growing market at that time. These early tools were sold under either the New Britain or "None Better" brand, the latter name a play on the letters "NB" for New Britain.


The Husky Brand

In the early 1930s New Britain Machine acquired the Husky brand (and possibly production facilities) from the Husky Corporation of Kenosha, Wisconsin. The Husky Corporation had been established in 1924 as the Husky Wrench Company in Milwaukee, and during the 1920s had developed a well-regarded line of socket tools. (See our article on the Husky Wrench Company for more information.) By the late 1920s Husky even had a cooperative sales agreement with the giant J.H. Williams, supplying the first sockets sold by the latter company.

So far we haven't been able to find any details regarding the acquisition of Husky by New Britain, as the Husky name just seems to disappear from the public records around 1931. If any of our readers have information on this, please let us know.

As a division of New Britain Machine, the Husky brand became very well known over the following decades. During the 1930s and 1940s Husky brand tools were sold with the same design and style as the popular Craftsman BE and H-Circle tools of the time. The Husky brand continued in production until at least the 1970s.


The Craftsman Contract

In the mid 1930s New Britain landed a major contract as the supplier of sockets and drive tools for the Sears Craftsman line. Although not the very earliest Craftsman-branded socket tools, New Britain's line of "BE" and H-Circle tools were extremely popular and helped establish Craftsman as a serious brand for the automotive service market. (The interested reader can refer to our article on Craftsman "BE" and H-Circle Tools for more information.)

During the 1940s the company continued to expand its automotive service line under the New Britain brand. After about 1945, New Britain's Sears contract declined as the older socket tools were replaced by the new "V"-series tools. Some of the older sockets were still listed in the 1947 catalog, but by 1949 only the "V" series tools were shown.

In the early 1950s New Britain registered the "Mustang" trademark and used it for a line of economy-grade tools, with a design very similar to the older style used for the Craftsman contract.


The NAPA Connection

[New Britain NAPA 50th Anniversary Wrench]
Fig. 1. New Britain NAPA 50th Anniversary Wrench, with Inset for Reverse Detail, 1975.

New Britain was a long-time tool supplier for the NAPA auto parts stores, a large retail chain managed by the National Auto Parts Association. This supplier arrangement was definitely in place by the late 1940s, based on a magazine advertisement of the time, and possibly began much earlier. (NAPA was established in 1925.)

New Britain remained as a supplier to NAPA until at least the mid 1970s. Fig. 1 shows a New Britain NAPA 50th anniversary wrench from 1975, a 9/32x5/16 ignition wrench.


Acquisition of Blackhawk

In 1955 New Britain acquired the Blackhawk hand tool brand (and production equipment) from Blackhawk Manufacturing of Milwaukee. (The 1955 date was found in a newpaper article during a search of news archives.) For several years prior to this Blackhawk had been revamping its tool division, perhaps in anticipation of a sale, and the 1953 Blackhawk catalog W-101 showed numerous changes to the product line compared to prior catalogs. Blackhawk remained an important brand for New Britain Machine for many years, and in fact New Britain adopted some of Blackhawk's designs for its own "New Britain" branded tools. (Refer to our article on Blackhawk Manufacturing for more information on this important company.)


Later History

In 1972 New Britain Machine was acquired by Litton Industrial Products, an industrial and aerospace company. (The date for the acquisition is given as December 22, 1972 in correspondence contained in the files for the "Husky" trademark #882,793.) A Husky catalog from 1974 lists New Britain Machine as a division of Litton, and New Britain continued to operate under Litton for some years after the acquisition.


Patents

Table 1. New Britain Machine Company: Issued and Licensed Patents
Patent No.InventorFiledIssuedDescriptionExamples
847,601 G.B. Pickop01/03/190703/19/1907Ratchet Wrench Pick-Up Spark Plug Wrench
1,289,558 R.F. Sedgley02/05/191612/31/1918Hex Wrench Socket Holder None Better 1/4-Hex Drive Socket Set
1,386,708 J.C. Hurley08/22/191908/09/1921Wrench with Ratchet Gear None Better Ratchet Handle
1,438,900 H.H. Chase10/04/192112/12/1922Socket Wrench Container None Better Hex Drive Socket Set
2,030,138 W.F. Costello06/19/193502/11/1936Tool Set Container  
2,206,943 W.F. Costello12/04/193707/09/1940Ratchet Wrench New Britain NS40 1/2-Drive Ratchet
2,542,241 J.A. Fors10/23/194602/20/1951Ratchet Wrench Husky CS41 1/2-Drive Ratchet
2,554,990 L.E. Kilness11/18/194905/29/1951Ratchet Mechanism Husky CS42 1/2-Drive Ratchet
2,671,368 F. Diebold01/24/195203/09/1954Open-End Wrench New Britain NDF-518 "Nut Master" Wrench
2,981,389 L.E. Kilness07/05/195704/25/1961Ratchet Mechanism Husky CS42 1/2-Drive Ratchet

Trademarks

New Britain Machine registered and used a number of trademarks over the years. The "New Britain" name itself was registered with the first use listed as 1895, although the company catalogs usually give the founding date as 1887.

The "None Better" trademark was registered with the first use listed as 1917, although some advertisements appear to have used the mark as early as 1915. The NB-Circle logo was registered with the first use date listed as 1919.

The "Husky" trademark was originally registered in 1924 by Sigmund Mandl and was acquired by New Britain with their purchase of the Husky Wrench Corporation.

The "Mustang" trademark was registered with a first use in 1954.

In 1968 New Britain filed a trademark application for "Husky" in block letters, and the registration was issued as #882,793 on December 23, 1969. This is the trademark that was subsequently passed to Litton Industrial Products and eventually to Stanley.


The None Better (NB) Brand

Most if not all of New Britain's early tool production was marked with the None Better brand, either as the fully spelled-out words or with the equivalent NB-Circle logo.


Early Tools


"Pick-Up" Spark Plug Wrench with Pickop Patent

[Pick-Up Spark Plug Wrench]
Fig. 2A. Pick-Up Spark Plug Wrench, with Insets for Construction and Marking Detail, ca. 1907+.

Fig. 2A shows an early "Pick-Up" spark plug wrench with an unusual design, marked with "Pick-Up" and "Patd" on the handle. In operation, the handle can be raised in its loose connection to allow the tab to disengage from the socket, and then turned to engage the next slot.

The overall length is 9.4 inches, and the finish is plain steel.

The patent notice refers to patent #847,601, filed by G.B. Pickop in 1907 and issued later that year.

The patent description calls this as a ratchet wrench, but technically it is a clutch mechanism, as the socket can be turned in either direction once the slot and tab are engaged. The "Pick-Up" trade name is a clever play on the inventor's name and the method of operation, as the handle is picked up to disengage the drive.


None Better Hurley Patent Ratchet Handle

[None Better Hurley Patent Ratchet Handle]
Fig. 2A. None Better Hurley Patent Ratchet Handle, with Inset for Reverse Detail, ca. 1920s.

Fig. 2A shows an unusual ratchet handle with open teeth, marked with "None Better" forged into the handle, with "Made in U.S.A. by The New Britain Machine Co." and "Pat'd 8-9-21" forged into the reverse.

The overall length is 8.0 inches, and the finish is plain steel.

The handle is very well made of hardened and polished steel, but the operation was a bit of a mystery until the patent document was located.

A search for patents on the stated date found this tool described by patent #1,386,708, filed in 1919 by J.C. Hurley and issued in 1921. The patent illustration clarifies the operation of the tool, as it shows that the ratchet handle was designed to work with special sockets, each having a matching set of teeth. The sockets were held in place by a detent ball in the handle, not visible in the photograph. (This handle was acquired without any matching sockets.)


None Better 1/2-Hex Drive Hurley Patent Ratchet

[None Better Hurley Patent Ratchet]
Fig. 2B. None Better Hurley Patent Ratchet, with Insets for Reverse and Side View, ca. 1920s.

Fig. 2B shows an example of the None Better Hurley patent ratchet with a 1/2-hex drive stud adapter, allowing it to work with ordinary hex drive sockets. The ratchet is marked with "None Better" forged into the handle on one side, with "Made in U.S.A. by The New Britain Machine Co." and "Pat'd 8-9-21" on the reverse.

The overall length is 8.0 inches.

During the 1920s None Better supplied this ratchet with sets of hex drive sockets.


Carbon-Steel and Economy Tools

New Britain Machine continued to offer a line of lower-priced carbon steel tools well after alloy steel had become standard for the higher-quality product line. These products were marked with the "None Better" or "Husky" brands; as far as is known, no economy tools were sold under the main New Britain name.


None Better No. 3 1/2-Hex Drive Socket Set

[None Better No. 3 1/2-Hex Drive Socket Set]
Fig. 3. None Better No. 3 1/2-Hex Drive Socket Set, with Inset for Top View.

Fig. 3 shows an early 1/2-hex drive None Better No. 3 socket set in a flip-top metal case, consisting of six hex sockets and an ell handle. The ell handle is stamped "Made by The New Britain Mach. Co." and "Made in U.S.A.", and the top cover is marked with a well-worn decal showing the NB-Circle logo. The model number for the set is not marked, but was identified by reference to the 1938 None Better catalog.

The socket sizes are, from left to right, 7/8, 3/4, 11/16, 5/8, 9/16, and 1/2. The sockets are marked only with the fractional sizes separated by a dash, e.g. 7-8. The finish is plain steel.


None Better 1/2-Hex Drive Ell Handle from No. 3 Set

[None Better 1/2-Hex Drive Ell Handle]
Fig. 4. None Better 1/2-Hex Drive Ell Handle, with Insets for Marking Detail.

Fig. 4 shows the 1/2-hex drive ell handle from the None Better No. 3 socket set, stamped "Made by The New Britain Mach. Co." with "Made in U.S.A." on the reverse.

The overal length is 7.4 inches, and the finish is plain steel.


None Better 1/2-Hex Drive 7/8 Socket from No. 3 Set

[None Better 1/2-Hex Drive 7/8 Socket]
Fig. 5. None Better 1/2-Hex Drive 7/8 Socket, with Inset for Broaching.

Fig. 5 shows the 1/2-hex drive 7/8 socket from the None Better No. 3 socket set above, stamped "7-8" for the fractional size. The finish is plain steel.

The inset shows the cold-broached construction of the socket, with a recess below the broached area. Note the attention to detail on this socket -- a tapered lip at the top and bottom, concave indentations on the service opening, and a band of cross-hatched knurling to help with hand-turning. New Britain Machine was a major manufacturer of the automatic screw machines (lathes) used to produce sockets of this type, and the company may have been one of the first makers of screw machine sockets.


None Better No. 177 1/4-Hex Drive Socket Set

[None Better No. 177 1/4-Hex Drive Socket Set]
Fig. 6. None Better No. 177 1/4-Hex Drive Socket Set, with Insets for Broaching and Detail.

Fig. 6 shows a None Better No. 177 1/4-hex drive socket set, consisting of seven sockets with a hexagonal Ell-handle fitted to a metal case. The model number is not marked, but the set was identified by reference to the 1938 None Better catalog.

The case has a decal at the end with the NB-Circle logo, shown in the inset at the right, and the center inset shows the date "Patented Dec. 12, 1922" stamped on the bottom.

The sockets range in size from 1/4 to 7/16 and are broached for 6-points, except for one special socket (third from the right) with a knurled broach. (This type of socket was needed to remove the knurled nuts used on some radios of the time.) The sockets are marked "Made in U.S.A." with a cross-hatched band around the center, and are finished with cadmium plating.

The patent date on the bottom of the case refers to patent #1,438,900, issued to H.H. Chase and describing a socket holder case such as this one, with the sockets held in place by the handle. The 1938 None Better catalog refers to this as a "Handle Lock Container", and notes that the No. 177 set was one of their best sellers at the time. The list price was $0.57.

The Ell-handle is marked "Made in U.S.A." with a "Pat. Dec. 31, 1918" patent date, which was found to refer to patent #1,289,558, issued to R.F. Sedgley. This patent describes a hex L-handle which can serve as both the driver and for socket storage, with the sockets pushed onto the handle and retained by a friction ball. Although no assignment is noted in the patent document, it was apparently licensed and used by New Britain Machine.

None Better offered a similar No. 77 set with the same sockets as this set, but with the sockets stored on the handle instead of a metal case. The list price for the No. 77 set was just $0.54.


None Better 1/2-Hex Drive Sockets

[None Better 1/2-Hex Drive 12-Point Sockets]
Fig. 7. None Better 1/2-Hex Drive 12-Point Sockets, with Inset for Broaching.

Fig. 7 shows an group of 1/2-hex drive sockets, identified by a catalog illustration as None Better carbon steel sockets. The sockets are marked "Made in U.S.A." and have a shallow knurled band around the base.


None Better No. 761 1/2-Hex Drive Socket Set

[None Better No. 761 1/2-Hex Drive Socket Set]
Fig. 8. None Better No. 761 1/2-Hex Drive Socket Set, with Insets for Side View and Marking Detail, ca. 1930s.

Fig. 8 shows a 1/2-hex drive None Better No. 761 socket set, consisting of six double-hex sockets stored on the shank of an Ell handle. The Ell handle is stamped "Made in U.S.A." with a "Patented Dec. 12, 1922" patent date. The model number for the set was identified by reference to the 1938 None Better catalog.

The overall length is 6.5 inches, and the finish is cadmium plating.

The socket sizes are, from the right, 1/2, 9/16, 5/8, 11/16, 3/4, and 7/8. Each socket is stamped "Made in U.S.A." with the fractional size, and the finish is cadmium plating.

The patent date refers to patent #1,438,900, filed by H.H. Chase in 1921.


New Britain 751 Stamped-Steel Wrench

[New Britain 751 3/8x7/16 Stamped-Steel Box-End Wrench]
Fig. 9. New Britain 751 3/8x7/16 Stamped-Steel Box-End Wrench.

Fig. 9 shows a New Britain 751 3/8x7/16 box-end wrench of stamped-steel construction, part of a set originally held together with a screw. The wrench is marked "New Britain, Conn." and "Made in U.S.A." on the front.

The overall length is 5.0 inches.


New Britain 756 Stamped-Steel Wrench

[New Britain 756 15/16x1 Stamped-Steel Box-End Wrench]
Fig. 10. New Britain 756 15/16x1 Stamped-Steel Box-End Wrench.

Fig. 10 shows a similar New Britain 756 15/16x1 stamped-steel box-end wrench, marked "New Britain, Conn." and "Made in U.S.A." on the front.

The overall length is 7.5 inches.

The New Britain stamped-steel box wrenches are very similar to the Indestro 14x-series wrenches, suggesting that Indestro may have been the contract maker for New Britain. An example can be seen as the Indestro 144 Stamped-Steel Box Wrench.


1/2-Drive Socket Tools

During the 1930s (and possibly earlier) None Better offered a wide selection of 1/2 (square) drive sockets and tools. These tools were of carbon-steel construction with cadmium finishes, and were priced inexpensively to meet the needs of automobile owners or other occasional uses.

The tools in these sets were typically marked with just "Made in U.S.A.", without a company name or model number, and some tools may be difficult to identify once removed from the context of the set. The sockets can be identified by the characteristic parallel knurled band around the base, along with the "Made in U.S.A." marking, as other makers of similar sockets used different marking styles.


None Better 1/2-Drive Sliding Tee Handle

[None Better 1/2-Drive Sliding Tee Handle]
Fig. 11. None Better 1/2-Drive Sliding Tee Handle, with Inset for Construction Detail, ca. 1930s.

Fig. 11 shows a 1/2-drive None Better sliding Tee handle, stamped "Made in U.S.A." on the head. Note that the knurled band is similar to that found on None Better sockets.

The inset shows the female-only drive head, intended for use with a drive plug or double-male extension. This example is one of the earlier models; by 1938 the sliding Tee handles were being equipped with both male and female drive.


None Better 1/2-Drive Universal

[None Better 1/2-Drive Universal and Drive Plug]
Fig. 12. None Better 1/2-Drive Universal and Drive Plug.

Fig. 12 shows a 1/2-drive None Better double-female universal with a double-male drive plug. Both pieces are marked "Made in U.S.A." but without a company name or model number, but the 1938 None Better catalog lists the universal as number 13590 and the drive plug as a number 12648.


None Better 1/2-Drive Open-Style Ratchet

[None Better 1/2-Drive Ratchet]
Fig. 13. None Better 1/2-Drive Open-Style Ratchet, with Inset for Side View, ca. 1930s.

Fig. 13 shows a 1/2-drive None Better open-style ratchet with a drive plug, stamped "Made in U.S.A." on the flat handle.

The overall length is 9.0 inches, and the finish is a thin cadmium plating.

Although not marked with a model number, the 1937 catalog lists the ratchet as number 12654, and the drive plug as number 12648.

This ratchet was one of the drive tools included in the None Better No. 536W Socket Set below.


None Better 1/2-Drive 7 Inch Double-Male Extension

[None Better 1/2-Drive 7 Inch Double-Male Extension]
Fig. 14. None Better 1/2-Drive 7 Inch Double-Male Extension, with Inset for Marking Detail, ca. 1930s.

Fig. 14 shows a 1/2-drive None Better 7 inch double-male extension, stamped "Made in U.S.A." on the shank.

The overall length is 7.5 inches, and the finish is plain steel, with traces of cadmium plating.

This extension is one of the drive tools from the None Better No. 536W Socket Set below.


None Better 1/2-Drive 31/32 Socket

[None Better 1/2-Drive 31/32 Socket]
Fig. 15. None Better 1/2-Drive 31/32 Socket, with Inset for Broaching, ca. 1930s.

Fig. 15 shows a 1/2-drive None Better 31/32 socket with a double-hex broaching, stamped "Made in U.S.A." on the side. The base of the socket has a simple knurled band, the design used by None Better for carbon-steel sockets in both square and hex drive.

The finish is cadmium plating.

This is one of the sockets from the None Better No. 536W Socket Set below.


None Better No. 536W 1/2-Drive Socket Set

[None Better No. 536W 1/2-Drive Socket Set]
Fig. 16. None Better No. 536W 1/2-Drive Socket Set, ca. Mid 1930s.

Fig. 16 shows a None Better No. 536W 1/2-drive socket set in its metal case, identified by the None Better decal and model number on the inside cover. The set includes an extensive collection of double-hex sockets, plus square sockets, drive tools, and a valve grinder attachment. The sockets and tools are all stamped "Made in U.S.A." (except for one or two), but are not marked with model numbers or the company name. The finish is cadmium plating.

The set as shown is almost complete, based on the description in the 1938 None Better catalog. The missing pieces are the Ell handle and 7/8 double-hex socket.

The double-hex socket sizes are, from the left in the top row, 5/16, 11/32, 3/8, 7/16, 1/2, 17/32, 9/16, 19/32, 5/8, 21/32, 11/16, 3/4, 25/32, 13/16, 7/8 (missing), 15/16, and 31/32. Three more double-hex sockets appear in the lower right corral, with sizes 1 inch, 1-1/8, and 1-1/4.

The drive tools consist of a speeder, a ratchet with drive plug, an Ell handle (missing), a double-male extension, and a universal joint. Also included is a valve-grinding attachment, shown in the lower right corner.

This set was likely made in the early to mid 1930s, based on the inclusion of double-hex sockets but square rather than double-square sockets. Still earlier sets would likely have included hex sockets, and by 1938 the None Better catalog was specifying double-square sockets for this set.


[Close-up of Decal for None Better No. 536W Set]
Fig. 17. Close-up of Decal for None Better No. 536W Set, ca. Mid 1930s.

Fig. 17 shows a close-up of the decal on the inside cover of the No. 536W set. This is the standard decal used on sets from None Better, and a similar decal appears on the top cover of this set.

The upper part of the decal shows the NB-Circle logo with "None Better" and "New Britain" arranged in a circle. Below that is "Made in U.S.A.", then "The New Britain Machine Co." with "New Britain, Conn" at the bottom.

The model number for the set is printed below the decal.


None Better Alloy-Steel Socket Tools

In the early 1930s New Britain developed a line of alloy-steel sockets and drive tools easily recognized by the forged ratchet handles and cross-hatched knurling on the sockets. These tools were probably first offered under either the None Better or Husky brand, but eventually were marked with the New Britain brand as well. In addition, this line of tools became the very well known Craftsman "BE" and H-Circle socket tools.


None Better C-17 1/2-Drive 9/16 Socket

[None Better C-17 1/2-Drive 9/16 Socket]
Fig. 18A. None Better C-17 1/2-Drive 9/16 Socket, with Insets for Broaching and Marking Detail, ca. Mid 1930s.

Fig. 18A shows an early 1/2-drive None Better C-17 9/16 socket, stamped "Chrome Vanadium" and "Made in U.S.A." with the NB-Circle logo.

The finish is chrome plating, with some losses due to wear.

This socket is unusual in being marked "Chrome Vanadium" instead of just "Chrome", and in its non-standard (for None Better) C-17 model number. Readers familiar with the Craftsman "BE" socket line (produced by New Britain Machine) may recall that the immediate predecessors in the Craftsman line were the C-Series socket tools, suggesting that this socket may have been part of an early line intended to match the Craftsman C-Series tools.


None Better [S1240] 1/2-Drive 1-1/4 Socket

[None Better S1240 1/2-Drive 1-1/4 Socket]
Fig. 18B. None Better S1240 1/2-Drive 1-1/4 Socket, with Inset for Broaching, ca. Mid 1930s.

Fig. 18B shows an early 1/2-drive None Better [S1240] 1-1/4 socket, stamped "Made in U.S.A." and "Chrome" with the NB-Circle logo.

The finish is chrome plating.


None Better S45 1/2-Drive Ratchet

[None Better S45 1/2-Drive Ratchet]
Fig. 19. None Better S45 1/2-Drive Ratchet, with Inset for Reverse Detail, ca. 1930s.

Fig. 19 shows a 1/2-drive None Better S45 non-reversible ratchet, stamped with the brand and model number on the cover plate. The forged shank is marked "Forged" in raised letters, with "Made in U.S.A." on the reverse.

The overall length is 10.2 inches, and the finish is chrome plating.

This ratchet is basically identical to the Husky H3183 Ratchet except for the markings.


None Better S52 1/2-Drive 12 Inch Flex-Head Handle

[None Better S52 1/2-Drive 12 Inch Flex-Head Handle]
Fig. 20. None Better S52 1/2-Drive 12 Inch Flex-Head Handle, with Insets for Marking Detail, ca. 1930s.

Fig. 20 shows a 1/2-drive None Better S52 flex-head handle, stamped with the brand and NB-Circle logo on the shank, with "Made in U.S.A." on the reverse.

The overall length is 12.0 inches, and the finish is nickel plating.

The flex head has indentations for three favored positions, and the head movement is controlled by a detent ball in the shank.


None Better S40 1/2-Drive Reversible Ratchet

[None Better S40 1/2-Drive Ratchet]
Fig. 21. None Better S40 1/2-Drive Ratchet, with Inset for Side View, ca. 1937-1940.

Fig. 21 shows a very similar 1/2-drive None Better S40 ratchet, stamped "Pat. Pend." with the brand and model number on the cover plate. The forged shank is marked "Made in U.S.A" in raised letters, with "Forged" on the reverse (not shown).

The overall length is 10.2 inches, and the finish is chrome plating.

The shift lever is an earlier design and extends back from a pivot pin, with a raised tab for the thumb. Although not visible in the photograph, the shifter is held in position by a detent ball under the tail of the lever.

As with the previous example, the patent pending notice refers to patent #2,206,943, filed by W.F. Costello in 1937 and issued in 1940.


None Better B70 3/8-Drive Sliding Tee Handle

[None Better B70 3/8-Drive Sliding Tee Handle]
Fig. 22. None Better B70 3/8-Drive Sliding Tee Handle, with Inset for Marking Detail.

Fig. 22 shows a 3/8-drive None Better B70 sliding Tee breaker bar, stamped with the None Better brand and "Made in U.S.A" on the sliding head.

The overall length is 7.6 inches, and the finish is plain steel.


None Better M50 1/4-Drive Flex-Head Handle

[None Better M50 1/4-Drive Flex-Head Handle]
Fig. 23. None Better M50 1/4-Drive Flex-Head Handle, with Inset for Reverse Detail, ca. 1930s.

Fig. 23 shows a 1/4-drive None Better M50 flex-head handle, stamped "Made in U.S.A." on the reverse.

The overall length is 5.8 inches, and the finish is polished steel.

The tool was acquired as part of the None Better No. 600 Socket Set shown in the next figure.


None Better No. 600 1/4-Drive Socket Set

None Better offered 1/4-drive socket sets in several models, all with the same selection of sockets but with varying numbers of drive tools.

[None Better 1/4-Drive No. 600 Socket Set]
Fig. 24. None Better No. 600 1/4-Drive Socket Set, ca. 1930s.

Fig. 24 shows a None Better No. 600 1/4-drive socket set, a modest collection consisting of an M50 flex-head handle, an M30 cross-bar, six hex (later double-hex) sockets, and three double-square sockets. Our set as acquired was missing the cross-bar and three sockets.

The hex socket models and sizes were M608 (1/4), M609 (9/32), M610 (5/16, missing), M611 (11/32), M612 (3/8, missing), and M614 (7/16). The set also included three double-square sockets, with models and sizes M808 (1/4, missing), M810 (5/16), and M812 (3/8).

The steel case has dimensions 6.8 inches long by 2.3 inches wide by 1.1 inches high.

This set was likely made in the early to mid 1930s, based on the inclusion of hex sockets and plain steel finishes. By 1938 the 1/4-drive sets included double-hex sockets instead of the older hex broaching, and chrome-plated finishes were standard as well.


None Better Wrenches and Other Tools

In the 1930s the None Better wrenches were offered in a mix of styles, with some showing smooth shanks and others with raised oval panels on both sides. Some of this variation may have been due to the use of contract production from different makers. In particular, Barcalo Manufacturing is believed to have supplied the raised-panel wrenches.


None Better 4734 Open-End Wrench

[None Better 4734 19/32x11/16 Open-End Wrench]
Fig. 25. None Better 4734 19/32x11/16 Open-End Wrench, with Inset for Reverse, ca. 1930s.

Fig. 25 shows a None Better 4734 19/32x11/16 open-end wrench, stamped with the None Better name and model on the shank, with "Chrome Vanadium" and "Made in U.S.A." on the reverse faces.

The overall length is 6.2 inches, and the finish is chrome plating.


None Better 4950 Offset Box-End Wrench

[None Better 4950 5/8x11/16 Offset Box-End Wrench]
Fig. 26. None Better 4950 5/8x11/16 Offset Box-End Wrench, with Insets for Side View and Reverse Detail.

Fig. 26 shows a None Better 4950 5/8x11/16 offset box wrench with raised panels on the shank, stamped with the None Better name on one side with "Forged Vanadium" on the reverse. (The inset appears in its natural orientation.)

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

The design and construction of this wrench are virtually identical to an example from Barcalo Manufacturing, shown as the Barcalo "Forged Vanadium" Offset Box Wrench in our article on Barcalo.


None Better 4739 Combination Wrench

[None Better 4739 7/16 Combination Wrench]
Fig. 27. None Better 4739 7/16 Combination Wrench, with Inset for Reverse Detail.

Fig. 27 shows a None Better 4739 7/16 combination wrench with raised panels on the shank, marked "Chrome Vanadium Steel" on the reverse panel.

The overall length is 5.0 inches, and the finish is chrome plating.


None Better 8725-B Offset Box-End Wrench

New Britain made an extensive line of tools for the Sears Craftsman brand during the 1930s and 40s, and the tools were marked with either a "BE" or H-Circle manufacturing code. The meaning (if any) of these codes is not known, but the following example shows that at least the H-Circle mark was also used on some of New Britain's own tools. This suggests that it may have indicated a particular production facility.

[None Better 8725-B 1/2x9/16 Offset Box-End Wrench]
Fig. 28. None Better 8725-B 1/2x9/16 Offset Box-End Wrench, with Insets for Side View and Reverse Detail.

An example of the H-Circle mark on a None Better wrench is shown in Fig. 28, a None Better 8725-B 1/2x9/16 offset box-end wrench, marked "Made in U.S.A." with an H-Circle logo.

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

This wrench was acquired as part of a set of six wrenches in a plastic roll-up pouch, all marked with the H-Circle logo.


None Better 9/16 Connecting Rod Socket Wrench

[None Better 9/16 Connecting Rod Socket Wrench]
Fig. 29. None Better 9/16 Connecting Rod Socket Wrench, with Inset for Broaching, ca. Mid 1930s.

Fig. 29 shows a None Better 9/16 fixed socket wrench, marked "Chrome" and "Made in U.S.A." with the NB-Circle logo.

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

The upper inset shows the 12-point broaching of the socket.

Currently we have no catalog references for this tool, but would estimate a mid 1930s manufacturing date.

The Husky brand offered a similar wrench as the Husky H4527 Connecting Rod Wrench.

Similar wrenches for connecting-rod service were made by a number of other manufacturers. Examples include the Duro 615 Socket Wrench and Blackhawk 4021 Socket Wrench.


The New Britain Brand


New Britain Alloy-Steel Socket Tools

In the early 1930s New Britain developed a line of alloy-steel sockets and drive tools easily recognized by the forged ratchet handles and cross-hatched knurling on the sockets. These tools were probably first offered under either the Husky or None Better brand, but eventually were marked for all three of New Britain's brands. In addition, this line of tools became the very well known Craftsman "BE" and H-Circle socket tools.


New Britain NH1248 3/4-Drive 1-1/2 Socket

[New Britain NH1248 3/4-Drive 1-1/2 Socket]
Fig. 30. New Britain NH1248 3/4-Drive 1-1/2 Socket, with Inset for Broaching, ca. 1930s to Early 1940s.

Fig. 30 shows a 3/4-drive New Britain NH1248 1-1/2 socket, marked "Made in U.S.A." with the "New Britain" name in script.

The finish is plain steel with polished walls.

This socket is decorated with a band of cross-hatched knurling, a style in use from the early 1930s through mid 1940s.


New Britain NS58 1/2-Drive 12 Inch Flex-Head Handle

[None Better S52 1/2-Drive 12 Inch Flex-Head Handle]
Fig. 31. New Britain NS58 1/2-Drive 12 Inch Flex-Head Handle, with Insets for Construction and Marking Detail, ca. 1930s.

Fig. 31 shows a 1/2-drive New Britain NS58 flex-head handle, stamped with the "New Britain" name in script, with "Made in U.S.A." on the reverse (see lower inset).

The overall length is 11.9 inches, and the finish is chrome plating.

The flex head has indentations for three favored positions, and the head movement is controlled by a detent ball in the shank.


New Britain NS40 1/2-Drive Ratchet

[New Britain 1/2-Drive NS40 Ratchet]
Fig. 32. New Britain 1/2-Drive NS40 Ratchet, with Insets for Side View and Reverse Detail, ca. 1940s.

Fig. 32 shows a somewhat later 1/2-drive New Britain NS40 ratchet, stamped "Pat. Pend." with the New Britain brand and model number on the cover plate. The shank has forged-in markings "Made in U.S.A" one one side with "Forged" on the reverse.

The overall length is 10.2 inches, and the finish is plain steel.

The shift mechanism on the ratchet is a later design with a short lever and thumb wheel, and matches the illustration in the 1941 New Britain catalog 56-M.

As with the previous examples, the patent pending notice refers to patent #2,206,943, filed by W.F. Costello in 1937 and issued in 1940.


New Britain NS70 1/2-Drive Sliding Tee Handle

[New Britain 1/2-Drive NS70 Sliding Tee Handle]
Fig. 33. New Britain 1/2-Drive NS70 Sliding Tee Handle.

Fig. 33 shows a 1/2-drive New Britain NS70 sliding Tee handle, stamped "Made in U.S.A." with the New Britain name in script.

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


New Britain NBF16 3/8-Drive Universal Socket

[New Britain 3/8-Drive NBF16 Universal Socket]
Fig. 34. New Britain NBF16 3/8-Drive Socket, with Inset for Broaching.

Fig. 34 shows a 3/8-drive New Britain NBF16 1/2 universal socket, stamped with the New Britain name in script and "Made in U.S.A." on the base, with the fractional size as "1-2" on the socket wall.


New Britain NB40 3/8-Drive Ratchet

[New Britain 3/8-Drive NB40 Ratchet]
Fig. 35. New Britain NB40 3/8-Drive Ratchet, with Insets for Side View and Marking Detail.

Fig. 35 shows a 3/8-drive New Britain NB40 ratchet, stamped with the model number and New Britain name in script on the cover plate. The handle is marked "Forged" in forged raised letters, with "Made in U.S.A." on the reverse.

The overall length is 6.6 inches, and the finish is plain steel.


New Britain NM51 1/4-Drive Flex-Head Handle

[New Britain NM51 1/4-Drive Flex-Head Handle]
Fig. 36. New Britain NM51 1/4-Drive Flex-Head Handle, with Inset for Reverse Detail.

Fig. 36 shows a 1/4-drive New Britain NM51 flex-head handle, stamped with the New Britain name in script, with "Made in U.S.A." on the reverse.

The overall length is 5.8 inches, and the finish is plain steel.


Later Tool Styles

In the late 1940s New Britain switched to a different design for its ratchets, replacing the older dual-pawl mechanism with a simpler oscillating pawl. The new design appeared first with the New Britain brand, but later was used for Husky and possibly other brands.

Around this same time the handle styles of the drive tools were updated, and the sockets were redesigned to a style with dual knurled bands.


New Britain NS91 1/2-Drive 3/4 Drag Link Driver

[New Britain 1/2-Drive NS91 3/4 Drag Link Driver]
Fig. 37. New Britain 1/2-Drive NS91 3/4 Drag Link Driver, with Inset for Top View, ca. Late 1940s to 1950s.

Fig. 37 shows a 1/2-drive New Britain NS91 3/4 drag link driver, stamped "Made in U.S.A." with the New Britain name in script.

The overall height is 1.3 inches, and the finish is crome plating.

The base of this driver shows the dual bands of simple knurling that defined New Britain's new style for sockets and tools. Introduced in the late 1940s, this style replaced the single cross-hatched knurled band in use since the early or mid 1930s.


New Britain NH1228 3/4-Drive 7/8 Socket

[New Britain NH1228 3/4-Drive Socket]
Fig. 38. New Britain NH1228 3/4-Drive Socket, with Inset for Broaching, ca. Late 1940s.

Fig. 38 shows a 3/4-drive New Britain NH1228 7/8 socket, marked "Made in U.S.A." with the "New Britain" name in script.

The finish is chrome plating with polished walls on the base.

This socket shows the dual bands of simple knurling that defined the new style of sockets introduced in the late 1940s. This style replaced the single cross-hatched knurled band used since the early or mid 1930s.


New Britain NS56 1/2-Drive Flex-Head Handle

[New Britain NS56 1/2-Drive Flex-Head Handle]
Fig. 39. New Britain NS56 1/2-Drive Flex-Head Handle, with Insets for Side View and Marking Detail, ca. late 1940s.

Fig. 39 shows a 1/2-drive New Britain NS56 flex-head handle, marked "New Britain NS56" on a panel forged into the handle, with "Made in U.S.A" on the reverse.

The overall length is 18.0 inches, and the finish is plain steel.


New Britain NB42 3/8-Drive Ratchet

[New Britain 3/8-Drive NB42 Ratchet]
Fig. 40. New Britain 3/8-Drive NB42 Ratchet, with Insets for Side View and Reverse Detail, ca. 1950s.

Fig. 40 shows a 3/8-drive New Britain NB42 ratchet with a forged handle, stamped "Made in U.S.A." on the reverse.

The overall length is 6.9 inches, and the finish is chrome plating.

This ratchet has a dual-pawl mechanism of a distinctive design.


Mustang MS41 1/2-Drive Ratchet

In the early 1950s New Britain began using the "Mustang" brand for a line of economy tools.

[Mustang 1/2-Drive MS41 Ratchet]
Fig. 41. Mustang 1/2-Drive MS41 Ratchet, with Insets for Side View and Reverse Detail, ca. 1950s.

Fig. 41 shows a 1/2-drive Mustang MS41 ratchet with a forged handle, stamped "Made in U.S.A." and "98" on the reverse shank.

The overall length is 9.9 inches, and the finish is cadmium plating.

As with the previous example, this ratchet is covered by patent #2,542,241, filed by J.A. Fors in 1946 and issued in 1951.


The Kilness Patent Ratchet Mechanism

In the early 1950s New Britain licensed a patent for a new ratchet design that promised great strength in a very small head. The ratchet design and a later improvement were developed by Luther Kilness, and the patents were issued as #2,554,990 in 1951 and #2,981,389 in 1961. These are basically second-generation improvements on the original round-head fine-tooth patent #1,981,526 developed by S-K's Theodore Rueb in 1934.

The Kilness-design ratchets were highly successful products for New Britain, and probably should be considered as one of the company's most important contributions to tool development.


New Britain NB45 3/8-Drive Ratchet

[New Britain 3/8-Drive NB45 Ratchet]
Fig. 42. New Britain 3/8-Drive NB45 Ratchet, with Inset for Side View.

Fig. 42 shows a later example of the Kilness ratchet design in a 3/8-drive New Britain NB45 ratchet, stamped with the New Britain name in script and "USA" on the shank.

The overall length is 7.4 inches, and the finish is polished chrome plating.

The knurled handle with decorative grooves shows an example of design elements borrowed from the Blackhawk product line, acquired by New Britain in the early 1950s.


NBM 45 1/2-Drive Ratchet

In later years New Britain sold tools under the "NBM" brand, with no further markings to indicate the company. This next figure shows an example.

[NBM 45 1/2-Drive Ratchet]
Fig. 43. NBM 45 1/2-Drive Ratchet, with Insets for Side View and Reverse Detail.

Fig. 43 shows a 1/2-drive NBM 45 ratchet of the Kilness design, stamped "USA" with "Pat. 2981389" on the reverse.

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


NH44 3/4-Drive Ratchet

The Kilness design scales nicely to larger drive sizes as well, as the next figure illustrates.

[New Britain NH44 3/4-Drive Ratchet]
Fig. 44. New Britain NH44 3/4-Drive Ratchet, with Insets for Side View and Marking Detail.

Fig. 44 shows a 3/4-drive New Britain NH44 ratchet of the Kilness design, stamped "U.S.A." and "29" with "Pat. 2554990 & 2981389" on the reverse. (The patent notice is very worn and difficult to read.)

The overall length is 19.4 inches. The finish is chrome plating, but with extensive losses due to wear and rust.

The patent notice refers to Kilness patents #2,554,990 and #2,981,389, issued in 1951 and 1961, respectively.

The ratchet mechanism uses a 60-tooth drive gear with a compact head diameter of only 2.4 inches, very respectable for a 3/4-drive design.


New Britain NB51 3/8-Drive Flex-Head Handle

[New Britain 3/8-Drive NB51 Flex-Head Handle]
Fig. 45. New Britain 3/8-Drive NB51 Flex-Head Handle, with Inset for Marking Detail, ca. 1950s.

Fig. 45 shows a 3/8-drive New Britain NB51 flex-head handle, stamped with the New Britain name in script, with "Made in U.S.A." on the reverse.

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


Wrenches

New Britain produced wrenches for its various brand lines in a number of different styles.


New Britain Early Ribbed Style


New Britain NDF-10 Open-End Wrench, Ribbed Style

[New Britain NDF-10 1/4x5/16 Open-End Wrench]
Fig. 46. New Britain NDF-10 1/4x5/16 Open-End Wrench, with Inset for Reverse Detail, ca. 1930s.

Fig. 46 shows a New Britain NDF-10 1/4x5/16 open-end wrench with a raised panel or rib, stamped with the company name in script on the front with "Made in U.S.A." on the reverse.

The overall length is 4.2 inches, and the finish is plain steel.


New Britain NDF-14 Open-End Wrench, Ribbed Style

[New Britain NDF-14 3/8x7/16 Open-End Wrench]
Fig. 47. New Britain NDF-14 3/8x7/16 Open-End Wrench, with Inset for Reverse Detail, ca. 1930s.

Fig. 47 shows a New Britain NDF-14 3/8x7/16 open-end wrench with a raised panel or rib, stamped with the company name in script on the front with "Made in U.S.A." on the reverse.

The overall length is 5.2 inches, and the finish is plain steel.


New Britain NDF-18 Open-End Wrench, Ribbed Style

[New Britain NDF-18 1/2x9/16 Open-End Wrench]
Fig. 48. New Britain NDF-18 1/2x9/16 Open-End Wrench, with Inset for Reverse Detail, ca. 1930s.

Fig. 48 shows a New Britain NDF-18 1/2x9/16 open-end wrench with a raised panel or rib, stamped with the company name in script on the front with "Made in U.S.A." on the reverse.

The overall length is 6.4 inches, and the finish is plain steel.


New Britain NDF-30 Open-End Wrench, Ribbed Style

[New Britain NDF-30 15/16x1 Open-End Wrench]
Fig. 49. New Britain NDF-30 15/16x1 Open-End Wrench, with Inset for Reverse Detail, ca. 1930s.

Fig. 49 shows a New Britain NDF-30 15/16x1 open-end wrench with a raised panel or rib, stamped with the company name in script on the front with "Made in U.S.A." on the reverse.

The overall length is 10.4 inches, and the finish is plain steel.


New Britain NDF-32 Open-End Wrench, Ribbed Style

[New Britain NDF-32 1-1/16x1-1/8 Open-End Wrench]
Fig. 50. New Britain NDF-32 1-1/16x1-1/8 Open-End Wrench, with Inset for Reverse Detail, ca. 1930s.

Fig. 50 shows a New Britain NDF-32 1-1/16x1-1/8 open-end wrench with a raised panel or rib, stamped with the company name in script on the front with "Made in U.S.A." on the reverse.

The overall length is 11.3 inches, and the finish is plain steel.


New Britain NDF-82 Tappet Wrench, Ribbed Style

[New Britain NDF-82 1/2x9/16 Open-End Wrench]
Fig. 51. New Britain NDF-82 1/2x9/16 Tappet Wrench, with Inset for Reverse Detail, ca. 1930s.

Fig. 51 shows a New Britain NDF-82 1/2x9/16 tappet wrench in the ribbed style, stamped with the company name in script on the front with "Made in U.S.A." on the reverse.

The overall length is 9.9 inches, and the finish is plain steel.


New Britain NDF-200 Box-End Wrench, Ribbed Style

[New Britain NDF-200 3/8x7/16 Box-End Wrench]
Fig. 52. New Britain NDF-200 3/8x7/16 Box-End Wrench, with Insets for Side View and Reverse Detail, ca. 1930s.

Fig. 52 shows a New Britain NDF-200 3/8x7/16 box-end wrench in the ribbed style, stamped on the front with the company name in script, with "Made in U.S.A." on the reverse.

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


New Britain "Double-Groove" Panelled Style

One of New Britain's more distinctive wrench designs featured forged panels with two deep grooves along the handle. These wrenches were produced in open-end, tappet, box-end, and combination styles, and all were assigned NDF-xxx model numbers. Most of the known examples have a plain steel or black oxide finish, but some have chrome plated finishes. We'll call this the "Double-Groove" wrench style, for lack of a better term.

The production dates for this style are somewhat uncertain, but the midpoint time appears to be the late 1940s. Catalog 57M from around 1947 shows the Double-Groove style in most of its wrench illustrations, and in addition, New Britain magazine advertisements from the late 1940s show the Double-Groove style for wrenches. The earlier 56M catalog from 1940-1941 shows the NDF-series wrench shanks with a single panel or rib, which is probably the earlier "Ribbed" style shown in previous figures. By the time of catalog 58 in 1952, New Britain had switched to a simpler flat-shank style for its wrenches, presumed to be the successor to the Double-Groove style. Thus the likely dates of production for the Double-Groove wrenches are from the mid 1940s to around 1950, and we'll use 1944-1950 as the stated range in the following figures.


New Britain NDF-33 Open-End Wrench, Double-Groove Style

[New Britain NDF-33 1x1-1/8 Open-End Wrench]
Fig. 53. New Britain NDF-33 1x1-1/8 Open-End Wrench, with Inset for Reverse Detail, ca. 1944-1950.

Fig. 53 shows an example of the Double-Groove style, a New Britain NDF-33 1x1-1/8 open-end wrench, with the reverse marked "Forged" and "Made in U.S.A." in raised letters.

The overall length is 11.5 inches.


New Britain NDF-84 Tappet Wrench, Double-Groove Style

[New Britain NDF-84 5/8x11/16 Tappet Wrench]
Fig. 54. New Britain NDF-84 5/8x11/16 Offset Box-End Wrench, with Inset for Reverse Detail, ca. 1944-1950.

Fig. 54 shows a New Britain NDF-84 5/8x11/16 tappet wrench in the double-groove style, with markings "Forged" and "Made in U.S.A." forged into the reverse.

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


New Britain NDF-102 Offset Box-End Wrench, Double-Groove Style

[New Britain NDF-102 1/2x9/16 Offset Box-End Wrench]
Fig. 55. New Britain NDF-102 1/2x9/16 Offset Box-End Wrench, with Insets for Side View and Reverse Detail, ca. 1944-1950.

The overall length is 8.6 inches, and the finish is plain steel.


New Britain NDF-106 Offset Box-End Wrench, Double-Groove Style

[New Britain NDF-106 3/4x25/32 Offset Box-End Wrench]
Fig. 56. New Britain NDF-106 3/4x25/32 Offset Box-End Wrench, with Insets for Side View and Reverse Detail, ca. 1944-1950.

Fig. 56 shows a New Britain NDF-106 3/4x25/32 offset box wrench in the double-groove style, stamped with the New Britain name in script on the front, with "Forged" and "Made in U.S.A." forged into the reverse. (The lower inset has been left in its natural orientation.)

The overall length is 11.4 inches, and the finish is plain steel.


New Britain NDF-110 13/16x7/8 Offset Box-End Wrench, Double-Groove Style

[New Britain NDF-110 13/16x7/8 Offset Box-End Wrench]
Fig. 57. New Britain NDF-110 13/16x7/8 Offset Box-End Wrench, with Insets for Side View and Reverse Detail, ca. 1944-1950.

Fig. 57 shows a New Britain NDF-110 13/16x7/8 offset box wrench in the double-groove style, marked with "Forged" and "Made in U.S.A." forged into the shank, and with the New Britain name in script stamped on the reverse.

The overall length is 12.8 inches, and the finish is plain steel.


New Britain NDF-114 Offset Box-End Wrench, Double-Groove Style

[New Britain NDF-114 1-1/16x1-1/8 Offset Box-End Wrench]
Fig. 58. New Britain NDF-114 1-1/16x1-1/8 Offset Box-End Wrench, with Insets for Side View and Reverse Detail, ca. 1944-1950.

Fig. 58 shows a New Britain NDF-114 1-1/16x1-1/8 offset box wrench in the double-groove style, stamped with the New Britain name in script on the front, with "Forged" and "Made in U.S.A." forged into the reverse. (The lower inset has been left in its natural orientation.)

The overall length is 15.7 inches.


New Britain NDF-201 Box-End Wrench, Double-Groove Style

[New Britain NDF-201 5/8x11/16 Box-End Wrench]
Fig. 59. New Britain NDF-201 5/8x11/16 Box-End Wrench, with Insets for Side View and Reverse Detail, ca. 1944-1950.

Fig. 59 shows a New Britain NDF-201 5/8x11/16 box wrench in the double-groove style, marked "Forged" and "Made in U.S.A." on the reverse.

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


New Britain NDF-210 Box-End Wrench, Double-Groove Style

[New Britain NDF-210 13/16x7/8 Box-End Wrench]
Fig. 60. New Britain NDF-210 13/16x7/8 Box-End Wrench, with Insets for Side View and Reverse Detail, ca. 1944-1950.

Fig. 60 shows a New Britain NDF-210 13/16x7/8 box wrench in the double-groove style, marked "Forged" and "Made in U.S.A." on the reverse.

The overall length is 11.2 inches, and the finish is plain steel.


New Britain NDF-304 5/8x11/16 Short Offset Box-End Wrench, Double-Groove Style

[New Britain NDF-304 5/8x11/16 Short Offset Box-End Wrench]
Fig. 61A. New Britain NDF-304 5/8x7/8 Short Offset Box-End Wrench, with Insets for Side View and Reverse Detail, ca. 1944-1950.

Fig. 61A shows a New Britain NDF-304 5/8x11/16 short offset box wrench in the double-groove style, stamped with the New Britain script name on the front, with "Forged" and "Made in U.S.A." forged into the reverse.

The overall length is 6.4 inches, and the finish is plain steel.


New Britain NDF-404 5/8x11/16 Short Box-End Wrench, Double-Groove Style

[New Britain NDF-404 5/8x11/16 Short Box-End Wrench]
Fig. 61B. New Britain NDF-404 5/8x7/8 Short Box-End Wrench, with Insets for Side View and Reverse Detail, ca. 1944-1950.

Fig. 61B shows a New Britain NDF-404 5/8x11/16 short box wrench in the double-groove style, stamped with the New Britain script name on the front, with "Forged" and "Made in U.S.A." forged into the reverse.

The overall length is 5.1 inches, and the finish is plain steel.


New Britain NDF-58 Combination Wrench, Double-Groove Style

[New Britain NDF-58 5/8 Combination Wrench]
Fig. 62. New Britain NDF-58 5/8 Combination Wrench, with Inset for Reverse Detail.

Fig. 62 shows a New Britain NDF-58 5/8 combination wrench in the double-groove style, stamped with the New Britain name in script on the front, with "Forged" and "Made in U.S.A." forged into the reverse.

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


New Britain NDF-60 Combination Wrench

[New Britain NDF-60 11/16 Combination Wrench]
Fig. 63. New Britain NDF-60 11/16 Combination Wrench, with Insets for Side View and Reverse Detail, ca. 1944-1950.

Fig. 63 shows a New Britain NDF-60 11/16 combination wrench in the double-groove style, stamped with the New Britain name in script on the front, with "Forged" and "Made in U.S.A." forged into the reverse.

The overall length is 8.7 inches, and the finish is polished steel.


New Britain NDF-62 Combination Wrench, Double-Groove Style

[New Britain NDF-62 3/4 Combination Wrench]
Fig. 64. New Britain NDF-62 3/4 Combination Wrench, with Inset for Reverse Detail, ca. 1944-1950.

Fig. 64 shows a New Britain NDF-62 3/4 combination wrench in the double-groove style, stamped with the New Britain name in script on the front, with "Forged" and "Made in U.S.A." forged into the reverse.

The overall length is 9.4 inches, and the finish is plain steel.


New Britain NDF-64 Combination Wrench, Double-Groove Style

[New Britain NDF-64 7/8 Combination Wrench]
Fig. 65. New Britain NDF-64 7/8 Combination Wrench, with Inset for Reverse Detail, ca. 1944-1950.

Fig. 65 shows a New Britain NDF-64 7/8 combination wrench in the double-groove style, stamped with the New Britain name in script on the front, with "Forged" and "Made in U.S.A." forged into the reverse.

The overall length is 10.4 inches.


New Britain NDF-66 Combination Wrench, Double-Groove Style

[New Britain NDF-66 15/16 Combination Wrench]
Fig. 66. New Britain NDF-66 15/16 Combination Wrench, with Insets for Side View and Reverse Detail, ca. 1944-1950.

Fig. 66 shows a New Britain NDF-66 15/16 combination wrench in the double-groove style, stamped with the New Britain name in script on the front, with "Forged" and "Made in U.S.A." forged into the reverse.

The overall length is 10.8 inches, and the finish is plain steel, with pitting due to rust.


Flat-Shank Style

Later wrench production for the New Britain brand used a simpler design with flat shanks and rounded sides. The standard finish for this style was chrome plating with polished faces.

The flat-shank style appears to have been introduced in the late 1940s, as a combination wrench in this style has been spotted in a magazine advertisement from August of 1948.

The flat-shank style was also used for later production of the None Better brand.


New Britain NDF-18 Open-End Wrench, Flat-Shank Style

[New Britain NDF-18 1/2x9/16 Open-End Wrench]
Fig. 67. New Britain NDF-18 1/2x9/16 Open-End Wrench, with Inset for Reverse Detail.

Fig. 67 shows a New Britain NDF-18 1/2x9/16 open-end wrench in the flat-shank style, stamped with the New Britain name in script, with "Alloy Steel" and "Forged in U.S.A." on the reverse.

The overall length is 6.4 inches. The finish is chrome plating, with losses due to wear and rust.


New Britain NDF-62 Combination Wrench, Flat-Shank Style

[New Britain NDF-62 3/4 Combination Wrench]
Fig. 68. New Britain NDF-62 3/4 Combination Wrench, with Insets for Side View and Reverse Detail, ca. 1950s.

Fig. 68 shows a later New Britain NDF-62 3/4 combination wrench, stamped with the New Britain name in script on the front, with "Alloy Steel" and "Forged in U.S.A." on the reverse.

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


New Britain NDF-63 Combination Wrench, Flat-Shank Style

[New Britain NDF-63 13/16 Combination Wrench]
Fig. 69. New Britain NDF-63 13/16 Combination Wrench, with Insets for Side View and Reverse Detail, ca. 1950s.

Fig. 69 shows a New Britain NDF-63 13/16 combination wrench with a flat shank, stamped with the New Britain name in script on the front, with "Alloy Steel" and "Forged in U.S.A." on the reverse.

The overall length is 10.2 inches, and the finish is plain steel with polished ends and faces.


New Britain NDF-518 "Nut Master" Open-End Wrench

In the mid 1950s New Britian brought out a line of contoured-opening wrenches under the "Nut Master" brand, based on 1954 patents by F. Diebold. Although the wrench openings look as though they would apply to some exotic spline connector, the design was actually intended as an improved type of open-end wrench, with the contact made on the flats rather than at the corner. The Diebold patents thus anticipate the later "Loc-Rite" patent #3,125,910 and the "Flank-Drive" patent #3,273,430 of Snap-On.

[New Britain NFD-518 1/2x9/16 Open-End Wrench]
Fig. 70. New Britain NDF-518 1/2x9/16 Open-End Wrench, with Inset for Reverse Detail.

Fig. 70 at the left shows an example of the "Nut Master" line, a New Britain NDF-518 1/2x9/16 wrench stamped with the company name in script, with "Pat. No. 2671366 & 2685219" and "Made in U.S.A." on the reverse.

The overall length is 6.9 inches, and the finish is chrome plating with polished faces.

The patent notices refer to patents #2,671,368, and #2,685,219, both issued to F. Diebold in 1954. (Note that the first patent number stamped on the tool is incorrect in the last digit; our citation shows the correct patent number.)


New Britain NDF-522 "Nut Master" Open-End Wrench

[New Britain NFD-522 5/8x3/4 Open-End Wrench]
Fig. 71. New Britain NDF-518 1/2x9/16 Open-End Wrench, with Inset for Reverse Detail.

Fig. 71 shows another example of the "Nut Master" line, a New Britain NDF-522 5/8x3/4 wrench stamped with the company name in script, with "Pat. No. 2671366 & 2685219" and "Made in U.S.A." on the reverse.

The overall length is 7.6 inches, and the finish is chrome plating with polished faces.


Specialty Tools


New Britain M-200 Chevrolet Valve Adjusting Tool

[New Britain M-200 Valve Adjusting Tool]
Fig. 72. New Britain M-200 Valve Adjusting Tool, with Inset for Side View, ca. 1930s-1940s.

Fig. 72 shows a New Britain valve adjusting tool, consisting of a stamped-steel wrench with a retractable screwdriver bit mounted on a swinging arm. The tool is stamped "Made in U.S.A." and "Pat. Pend" on the swinging arm.

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

The patent corresponding to the pending status is not yet known.

This tool is listed as a model M-200 "Chevrolet Tappet Adjusting Tool" in the 1947 New Britain catalog 57M. A virtually identical tool is shown as the Zim Valve Tool in another article on this site, and a valve tool of this style was illustrated in the 1937 Western Auto Supply catalog, but without any manufacturer identification.


New Britain HF8 Angle-Head Brake Wrench

[New Britain HF8 9/16x9/16 Angle-Head Wrench]
Fig. 73. New Britain HF8 9/16x9/16 Angle-Head Wrench, with Inset for Reverse Detail.

Fig. 73 shows a New Britain HF8 9/16x9/16 angle-head wrench, intended for brake service applications. The shank is stamped with New Britain in script, with "10" and "Made in U.S.A." on the reverse.

The overall length is 5.7 inches, and the finish is chrome plating.

Readers familiar with the Cornwell angle-head wrench series will immediately recognize close resemblance of this wrench to the Cornwell models, suggesting that these wrenches were likely made by Cornwell for New Britain. See for example the Cornwell AW10 Angle-Head Wrench.

The HF series of brake wrenches were offered by New Britain as early as 1940, as they are listed in catalog 56-M from that year.


New Britain 375 Offset Screwdriver

[New Britain 375 Screwdriver]
Fig. 74. New Britain 375 Screwdriver.

Fig. 74 shows a New Britain 375 offset screwdriver, stamped "USA" with the New Britain name in script.

The overall length is 4.7 inches, and the finish is black paint.


New Britain SS-5 Screw Starter

[New Britain SS-5 Screw Starter]
Fig. 75. New Britain SS-5 Screw Starter, with Insets for Construction and Marking Detail.

Fig. 75 shows a New Britain SS-5 screw starter, a tool designed to hold and turn a slotted screw. The shank is stamped with the New Britain name in script, followed by "Made in U.S.A." and "Licensed Under Patent No. 2150184".

The overall length is 5.1 inches.

The patent notice refers to patent #2,150,184, issued to G.F. Pearson in 1939.

To operate the tool, the black barrel is first turned against the torsional spring until it locks with the pin in the detent. The blades on the end are then placed in the screw slot and the barrel released, after which the screw is firmly held by the center tab. The screw can then be inserted in its threaded hole and turned by hand using the knurled grip.


New Britain R-50 Drain Plug Multi-Wrench

[New Britain R-50 Drain Plug Wrench]
Fig. 76. New Britain R-50 Drain Plug Multi-Wrench, with Inset for Marking Detail.

Fig. 76 shows a New Britain R-50 drain plug multi-wrench, stamped "Made in U.S.A." with the New Britain name in script.

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

The wrench provides a total of eight openings, with seven hex and one 9/16 double-square at the right. The hex opening sizes are, from the left, 11/16, 1-1/8, 15/16, 3/4, 7/8, 1 inch, and 2 inches.


New Britain P-41 Battery Pliers

[New Britain P-41 Battery Pliers]
Fig. 77. New Britain P-41 Battery Pliers.

Fig. 77 shows a New Britain P-41 battery pliers, stamped "USA" with the New Britain name in script.

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


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