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Western Auto Supply Company [Under Construction]


Table of Contents

Introduction


Company History

The Western Auto Supply Company was founded in 1909 by George Pepperdine as a mail-order retailer of auto supplies.

Eastern and Western Companies

One little-known facet of Western Auto is that for a major part of their early history, the company was actually split into two legally separate business entities. The founder, George Pepperdine, had been diagnosed with tuberculosis and was advised to move to the west, where the drier air would be better for his health. In 1915 he sold half of the company to Don Davis, who previouly had worked as a printer and had helped assemble and publish the company catalogs. (At that time the company had only two stores, one in Kansas City and one in Denver.) The two companies both continued to operate as "Western Auto Supply" and agreed on eastern and western regions of operation.

Bog Manufacturing

One of Western Auto's major suppliers of tools during the 1920s and 1930s was Bog Manufacturing of Chicago. It turns out that Bog Manufacturing was founded and operated by Ben Pepperdine, the brother of the founder of Western Auto. This almost-forgotten connection was rediscovered by Alloy Artifacts during our research into the history of Bog Manufacturing.

Alloy Steel in the Retail Market

Western Auto Supply was one of the first major retailers to recognize and promote alloy steel tools. In 1931 the company began offering alloy steel tools under the "Chromium Vanadium" brand, and became the first retailer to offer double-hex box wrenches.

Contract Manufacturers

Western Auto operated as a retailer rather than a manufacturer and as such relied on other companies for production. Some of their major manufacturing partners included Bog Manufacturing, Duro/Indestro, Herbrand, and Vlchek Tool. Other manufacturers that have been identified include Barcalo, J.P. Danielson, and Hinsdale.

We have an extensive collection of tools sold under various Western Auto brands and will be adding them as time permits. Many of these tools are already displayed on other pages, but adding them here will allow a better appreciation of the variety of tools sold by Western Auto.


Trademarks


Tool Identification

Western Auto Supply sold tools under a number of different brands. Some of these brands were registered as trademarks, but others were simply marked on tools and used in advertising. The following list shows the known brands used for tools.

  • Chromium Vanadium. Used for alloy tools during the early 1930s.
  • Perfection. Marked on wrenches during the early 1930s.
  • Chrome-X-Quality. Used for top-quality alloy tools from 1936 to 1940.
  • Wizard. Used for top-quality tools from about 1940 onward. Registered trademark.
  • Westcraft. Used for second-tier tools from about 1940 onward. Registered trademark.
  • Westline. Informal brand used for economy tools.

Since Western Auto Supply used multiple vendors for production, their tools were sometimes marked with a small vendor code, especially when multiple vendors were producing the same type of tool. The main codes used were "D" for Duro/Indestro and "V" for Vlchek, though it's possible that other codes may exist.


The "Chromium Vanadium" Brand

In 1931 Western Auto began using "Chromium Vanadium" as a brand for alloy steel tools, in particular wrenches and socket sets. In the previous decade the use of alloy steel had become standard for professional grade tools, spurred on in large part by Bonney's highly successful line of "Chrome-Vanadium" wrenches. Western Auto correctly predicted that alloy steel tools would become very successful in retail markets as well.


C-V Production by Duro/Indestro

One of our most important Western Auto artifacts is an early "Chromium Vanadium" socket set made by Indestro. This set was acquired with a rarely found "extra", a dated receipt from 1931! The receipt showed that the set had been purchased at a Western Auto Supply store in Texas, and the price on the receipt even matched the $5.35 price in the 1931 catalog.

In addition to providing a snapshot of Indestro's early alloy steel socket sets, this set also establishes Indestro as a supplier to Western Auto, and shows the early use of "Chromium Vanadium" as a brand.


Indestro "Chromium Vanadium" 1/2-Drive Socket Set

Indestro 1/2-Drive Chromium Vanadium Socket Set]
Fig. 1. Indestro "Chromium Vanadium" 1/2-Drive Socket Set, 1931.

Fig. 1 shows an Indestro "Chromium Vanadium" 1/2-drive socket set from 1931, dated by means of the sales receipt from Western Auto Supply. The set consists of a speeder, sliding Tee handle, ratchet adapter, three extensions, universal, and ten double-hex sockets from 7/16 to 15/16. All of the sockets and tools are marked "Chromium Vanadium", except for the universal, double-male extension, and one socket.


Indestro "Chromium Vanadium" 1/2-Drive 13 Inch Speeder from 1931 Socket Set

Indestro Chromium Vanadium 1/2-Drive 13 Inch Speeder]
Fig. 2. Indestro "Chromium Vanadium" 1/2-Drive 13 Inch Speeder, with Insets for Marking Detail, 1931.

Fig. 2 shows the Indestro 1/2-drive 13 inch speeder from the 1931 socket set, stamped "Indestro Mfg. Co." and Chicago, U.S.A." on the shank with "Chromium Vanadium" on the reverse.

The overall length is 12.9 inches, and the finish is nickel plating.

Indestro "Chromium Vanadium" 1/2-Drive Sliding Tee Handle from 1931 Socket Set

Indestro Chromium Vanadium 1/2-Drive Sliding Tee Handle]
Fig. 3. Indestro "Chromium Vanadium" 1/2-Drive Sliding Tee Handle, 1931.

Fig. 3 shows the Indestro 1/2-drive sliding Tee handle from the 1931 socket set, stamped "Chromium Vanadium" on the sliding head.

The overall length is 10.0 inches.

Indestro 1/2-Drive Double-Male Extension and Universal from 1931 Socket Set

Indestro 1/2-Drive Double-Male Extension and Universal]
Fig. 4. Indestro 1/2-Drive Double-Male Extension and Universal, 1931.

Fig. 4 shows the unmarked 1/2-drive double-male extension and double-female universal from the 1931 socket set.

The overall length of the extension is 6.0 inches, and of the universal is 2.6 inches. The finish is nickel plating.

The double-male extension was required when using the double-female universal supplied with the set.

In addition to the double-male extension, the set included two standard 1/2-drive extensions, with lengths 4.5 inches and 9.5 inches. Both of these are stamped "Chromium Vanadium" and are nickel plated.


Indestro "Chromium Vanadium" 1/2-Drive Ratchet Adapter from 1931 Socket Set

Indestro Chromium Vanadium 1/2-Drive Ratchet Adapter]
Fig. 5. Indestro "Chromium Vanadium" 1/2-Drive Ratchet Adapter, 1931.

Fig. 5 shows the Indestro 1/2-drive ratchet adapter from the 1931 socket set, stamped "Chromium Vanadium" and "1-2" with stars on either side.

The overall length (extended) is 3.2 inches, and the finish is nickel plating.

The 1932 Western Auto catalog called this tool simply a ratchet rather than a ratchet adapter. By 1933 the Western Auto socket sets included a true ratchet instead of the adapter, a model based on Duro's patent #1,902,878.


Indestro "Chromium Vanadium" 1/2-Drive Double-Hex Sockets from 1931 Socket Set

Indestro 1/2-Drive Chromium Vanadium 12-Point Sockets]
Fig. 6. Indestro 1/2-Drive Chromium Vanadium 12-Point Sockets, with Inset for Detail, 1931.

Fig. 6 shows nine of the ten Indestro sockets from the 1931 socket set. (The 7/16 socket didn't match the others and appears to be a replacement.)

The sizes are, from the front left, 1/2, 9/16, 5/8, 21/32, and 11/16, and in the back row, 3/4, 13/16, 7/8, and 15/16. All of the sockets are stamped "Chromium Vanadium" and have a star symbol on each side of the size, a characteristic marking for Indestro sockets. The inset at the top shows a typical "Chromium Vanadium" marking.

The sockets have a coarse knurled band around the base, probably intended to help with turning a loose nut by hand.

The socket construction is cold-broached with a bored recess at the base. If you look carefully at the full-sized photograph, you can see chatter marks typically left by cold broaching.


Perfection Brand

The 1933 Western Auto catalog offered a series of six offset box wrenches under the heading "Perfection Quality", listed right under the section for their top-quality [Herbrand] Van-Chrome Multi-Hex offset box wrenches. The catalog noted that the Perfection wrenches were of identical shape and size as the Multi-Hex line, but were available at a significant discount, $2.98 for the set of six, compared with $4.85 for the Multi-Hex.

We've found a few wrenches marked "Perfection" and believe that these are the items sold by Western Auto. The wrenches are very similar to the Indestro Polygon examples, and also closely resemble the Herbrand Multi-Hex wrenches. These observations suggest that the Perfection wrenches were made by Duro/Indestro as intentional copies of the Herbrand models, probably in an attempt to win the Western Auto production contract.


Perfection P-27 5/8x11/16 Offset Box-End Wrench

[Perfection P-27 5/8x11/16 Offset Box Wrench]
Fig. 7. Perfection P-27 5/8x11/16 Offset Box Wrench, with Insets for Side View and Reverse Detail, ca. 1933.

Fig. 7 shows a Perfection P-27 5/8x11/16 offset box wrench, stamped "Perfection" with the fractional sizes on the front, with "Chromium Vanadium" on the reverse.

The overall length is 9.9 inches, and the finish is nickel plating, with extensive losses due to rust.


C-V Production by Herbrand

In the early 1930s Herbrand tools were sold through Western Auto catalogs under the Herbrand name, and the catalog descriptions specifically mention the brands Van-Chrome, MultiHex, and Obstructo. During this period Western Auto frequently used the term "Chromium Vanadium" as a brand name for their alloy-steel tools, and at least some of the Herbrand production for Western Auto was marked with this brand.

It's worth noting here that the "Chromium Vanadium" marking was also used extensively by Duro Metal Products, perhaps initially for their Western Auto contract production, but later for their own tools as well. Duro and Herbrand each had specific production characteristics, but in some cases there may be some uncertainty as to the maker of a particular tool.

Western Auto later developed a "ChromeXQuality" brand, and Herbrand was chosen as a supplier some of those tools as well, as will be seen in the next section.


Chromium Vanadium 1/2x9/16 Short Box-End Wrench

[Chromium Vanadium 1/2x9/16 Short Box-End Wrench]
Fig. 8. Chromium Vanadium 1/2x9/16 Short Box-End Wrench, with Inset for Side View.

Fig. 8 shows a 1/2x9/16 box-end wrench marked "Chromium Vanadium" with the fractional sizes. The overall length is 4.6 inches, and the finish is nickel plating with polished ends.

This wrench closely resembles the Herbrand 6725-B Multihex Wrench shown earlier in this article.


Chromium Vanadium 5/8x11/16 Short Box-End Wrench

[Chromium Vanadium 5/8x11/16 Short Box-End Wrench]
Fig. 9. Chromium Vanadium 5/8x11/16 Short Box-End Wrench, with Inset for Side View.

Fig. 9 shows a similar example, a 5/8x11/16 box-end wrench marked "Chromium Vanadium" with the fractional sizes.

The overall length is 5.1 inches, and the finish is nickel plating with polished ends.

This wrench is very similar to the Herbrand 6727A Multihex Wrench shown earlier, and the figure below shows a side-by-side comparison of the two wrenches.


[Comparison of Herbrand 6727A (Bottom) and Chromium Vanadium 5/8x11/16 (Top) Wrenches]
Fig. 10. Comparison of Herbrand 6727A Box Wrench (Bottom) with
Chromium Vanadium 5/8x11/16 Box Wrench (Top).

Fig. 10 at the left shows a comparison between the Herbrand 6727A wrench on the bottom and the present 5/8x11/16 Chromium Vanadium wrench on the top. As the photograph illustrates, the design and construction are very similar, with the Herbrand 6727A having a slightly more refined finish. (The edges of the Chromium Vanadium wrench still show some trimming marks.)


The "ChromeXQuality" Brand

"ChromeXQuality" was until recently a mystery brand, as a number sockets and drive tools of apparent Duro production had been found, but no information on the mark could be located. This mark has now been identified as an brand used by Western Auto during the 1930s. A 1937 Western Auto catalog shows many examples of the ChromeXQuality brand, sometimes written as "Chrome-X Quality" or just "Chrome-X". This brand was their top-of-the-line at the time, and the catalog notes that these tools were made of Chrome-Molybdenum or Chrome-Vanadium steels. Western Auto offered a lifetime free replacement guarantee for ChromeXQuality tools.

Based on Western Auto historical sources, the ChromeXQuality mark first appeared in 1936, and was their first private-brand label for hand tools. The line of tools proved successful, but in 1940 Western Auto switched to the "Wizard" brand name for the top-quality tools. (Wizard was their favorite brand name, and it appeared on a wide variety of products.) The relatively short usage interval for ChromeXQuality is actually fortunate, as it allows the manufacturing date to be estimated as 1936-1939 for tools with this mark.

Most of the known examples of ChromeXQuality tools can be readily identified as production by Duro/Indestro, Herbrand, or Vlchek. Other producers may have been used as well, particularly for certain specialty tools.

As a side note, it's worth mentioning that Western Auto also used a brand "Master Quality" to indicate their second-tier tools. The term "Master Quality" was also used by Montgomery Ward as a brand, but for their top-grade products, so Western Auto's usage may have been intended as a dig against the competition. (Neither company had registered "Master Quality" as a trademark, so it was open to such abuse.) Based on a catalog illustration, one supplier of Western Auto "Master Quality" tools has been identified as Barcalo Manufacturing of Buffalo, New York.


ChromeXQuality Production by Duro/Indestro


ChromeXQuality N693 1/2-Drive Socket Set

[ChromeXQuality N693 1/2-Drive Socket Set]
Fig. 11. ChromeXQuality N693 1/2-Drive Socket Set, ca. 1936-1937.

Fig. 11 shows an early ChromeXQuality N693 1/2-drive socket set, consisting of a flex-head handle and eight double-hex sockets. The set is marked with a decal on the inside cover, displaying the ChromeXQuality brand with "Deluxe Vanadium Steel Tools", and with "Western Auto Supply Co." at the bottom.

The socket sizes are, from right to left, 7/16, 1/2, 9/16, 19/32, 5/8, 21/32, 11/16, 3/4, and 13/16. Each socket is marked with "ChromeXQuality" and "Vanadium Steel", but without a model number.

The flex handle is marked with "Chromium Vanadium" on the shank.

The set as acquired was missing the 7/16, 1/2, 11/16, and 3/4 sockets, and also included an extra 1-1/16 socket of the same style. The missing sizes have been replaced with sockets of the same style and markings.

The set is not marked with a model number, but the N693 model and standard contents were identified by reference to the Western Auto Supply catalogs for 1936 and 1937. The 1936 catalog referred to this model as the "Beginner's Socket Set", but by 1937 it was being called the "Auto Owner's Set".


ChromeXQuality 1/2-Drive Flex-Head Handles

The next two figures show examples of 1/2-drive flex handles supplied with ChromeXQuality sets, beginning with the tool from the N693 set.

[ChromeXQuality 1/2-Drive Flex-Head Handle from N693 Set]
Fig. 12. ChromeXQuality 1/2-Drive Flex-Head Handle from N693 Set, with Inset for Marking Detail, ca. 1936-1937.

Fig. 12 shows the 1/2-drive flex-head handle from the ChromeXQuality N693 set, marked with "Chromium Vanadium" stamped on the shank.

The overall length is 11.6 inches, and the finish is chrome plating.

The breaker bar is equipped with a fixed male drive stud on the handle end, allowing it to be used as an extension with a female-drive ratchet. (Female drive ratchets were still quite common in the mid to late 1930s, but were being replaced by male drive tools.) In addition to the male drive stud, the handle has a cross-bar hole to allow use as a Tee-handle.

This breaker bar closely resembles the illustration in a 1937 Western Auto catalog, and is basically identical to the standard Indestro 3221 flex handle of that period. An example of the Indestro model can be seen as the Indestro "Chromium Vanadium" 3221 Flex Handle.


[ChromeXQuality 1/2-Drive Flex-Head Handle]
Fig. 13. ChromeXQuality 1/2-Drive Flex-Head Handle, with Inset for Detail, ca. 1936-1939.

Fig. 13 shows another example of a 1/2-drive ChromeXQuality flex-head handle, stamped "ChromeXQuality" and "Vanadium Steel" on the shank.

The overall length is 11.6 inches. The finish was originally chrome plating, though much has now worn off; a close look at the photograph shows that this tool has led a hard life.

As with the previous example, the handle of this tool is equipped with both a cross-bar hole and a 1/2-drive stud. These features allow use as a Tee-handle (with a cross-bar) and as an extension with a female-drive ratchet. (Female drive ratchets were still quite common in the mid to late 1930s.)


ChromeXQuality N705 3/8-Drive Socket Set

[ChromeXQuality N705 3/8-Drive Socket Set]
Fig. 14. ChromeXQuality N705 3/8-Drive Socket Set, ca. 1938-1939.

Fig. 14 shows a ChromeXQuality N705 3/8-drive socket set with most of its original sockets, but missing a few of the drive tools. The decal on the inside cover reads "Deluxe ChromeXQuality Vanadium Steel Tools" with "Western Auto Supply Co." at the bottom.

The model number of the set is not marked, but was identified by reference to the 1938 Western Auto catalog. The original contents included seven double-hex sockets, three double-square sockets, a ratchet, a flex-head breaker bar, an extension, and a screwdriver bit. The set as acquired had all of the sockets except for the 9/16 double-hex size, but included only the ratchet as a drive tool.

The tools in the set are not marked with the ChromeXQuality brand, but carry the standard markings for the Indestro "Super Quality" line of the late 1930s. This is believed to indicate a later production date for the set; in order to keep costs down, socket sets for Western Auto were filled from standard Indestro production, leaving only the decal to indicate the specific brand.

The dimensions of the box (in inches) are 9.5 long by 3.2 wide by 1.3 high.


Chromium Vanadium 27xx 3/8-Drive Double-Hex Sockets

[Chromium Vanadium 27xx Sockets from ChromeXQuality N705 3/8-Drive Socket Set]
Fig. 15. Chromium Vanadium 27xx Sockets from ChromeXQuality N705 3/8-Drive Socket Set, ca. 1938-1939.

Fig. 15 at the left shows the double-hex sockets from the ChromeXQuality N705 set, all marked "Chromium Vanadium" with model numbers and the fractional sizes.

The model numbers and sizes are, from the left, 2712 (3/8), 2714 (7/16), 2716 (1/2), 2720 (5/8), 2722 (11/16), and 2724 (3/4). One socket is missing from the set, the model 2718 9/16 size.

Based on the model numbers and markings on the sockets, these are the standard 3/8-drive sockets offered by Indestro as part of its "Super Quality" product line in the late 1930s.


[Chromium Vanadium 2724 3/8-Drive 3/4 Socket]
Fig. 16. Chromium Vanadium 2724 3/8-Drive 3/4 Socket, with Insets for Broaching and Marking Detail.

Fig. 16 at the left shows more detail for the 2724 3/4 socket in the above figure. The interior of the socket (see right inset) illustrates the typical hot-broached construction used by Duro/Indestro from 1935 onward.


Indestro 2888 3/8-Drive Ratchet

[Indestro 2888 3/8-Drive Ratchet from ChromeXQuality N705 Set]
Fig. 17. Indestro 2888 3/8-Drive Ratchet from ChromeXQuality N705 Set, with Insets for Side View and Marking Detail, ca. 1938-1939.

Fig. 17 at the left shows the 3/8-drive ratchet from the N705 set, marked "Made in U.S.A." and "Pat. No. 1,902,878" on the cover plate, with "No. 2888" on the reverse (see lower inset).

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

As was often the case for contract production, the ratchet is not marked with a company name or brand, but can be readily identified as Indestro production by the pressed-flange construction and #1,902,878 patent notice. In addition, the model number 2888 is listed as a 3/8-drive ratchet in the Indestro Super Quality (later Indestro Super) product line.

Other examples of ratchets made with the pressed-flange construction method include the Duro 678D Ratchet and Indestro 3202 Ratchet.


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

[ChromeXQuality 1027 19/32x11/16 Open-End Wrench]
Fig. 18. ChromeXQuality 1027 19/32x11/16 Open-End Wrench, with Inset for Reverse, ca. 1936-1939.

Fig. 18 shows a ChromeXQuality 1027 19/32x11/16 open-end wrench, stamped with "Vanadium Steel" and the model number on the front faces, with "Forged in U.S.A." and the fractional sizes on the reverse.

The overall length is 7.2 inches, and the finish is nickel or chrome plating.

The use of the "Forged in U.S.A." marking along a curved arc identifies this wrench as Duro production.


ChromeXQuality 3/8x7/16 Offset Box-End Wrench

The 1937 Western Auto catalog listed a group of six deep offset box-end wrenches in their ChromeXQuality brand, with sizes ranging from 3/8x7/16 up to 15/16x1. The text noted that they were chrome-molybdenum or chrome-vanadium steel, and were offered with a lifetime free replacement guarantee. We have acquired several examples of these wrenches, all of Duro/Indestro production, as the following figures will show.

[ChromeXQuality 3/8x7/16 Offset Box-End Wrench]
Fig. 19. ChromeXQuality 3/8x7/16 Offset Box-End Wrench, with Inset for Reverse Detail, ca. 1936-1939.

Fig. 19 shows a ChromeXQuality 3/8x7/16 offset box-end wrench, marked "Chrome Vanadium Steel" in a slanted font on the reverse.

The overall length is 7.7 inches, and the finish is chrome plating with polished ends and panels.

The wrench can be identified as Duro/Indestro production by the design of the box-end forgings and general construction, the raised parallelogram panels, and the use of a slanted font for the "Chrome Vanadium Steel" marking.


ChromeXQuality 5/8x11/16 Offset Box-End Wrench

[ChromeXQuality 5/8x11/16 Offset Box-End Wrench]
Fig. 20. ChromeXQuality 5/8x11/16 Offset Box-End Wrench, with Inset for Reverse Detail, ca. 1936-1939.

Fig. 20 shows a ChromeXQuality 5/8x11/16 offset box-end wrench, marked "Chrome Vanadium Steel" in a slanted font on the reverse.

The overall length is 10.0 inches. and the finish is chrome plating with polished ends and panels.

The wrench can be identified as Duro/Indestro production by the design of the box-end forgings and general construction, the raised parallelogram panels, and the use of a slanted font for the "Chrome Vanadium Steel" marking.

Western Auto offered these wrenches at extremely attractive prices, ranging from $0.42 for the 3/8x7/16 size to $0.69 for the 15/16x1. By comparison, the 1938 Duro-Chrome catalog listed prices of $0.90 and $1.95 for their "Handy-Twin-Hex" equivalent wrenches (models 2051 and 2056 respectively.)


ChromeXQuality 3/4x25/32 Offset Box-End Wrench

[ChromeXQuality 3/4x25/32 Offset Box-End Wrench]
Fig. 21. ChromeXQuality 3/4x25/32 Offset Box-End Wrench, with Inset for Reverse Detail, ca. 1936-1939.

Fig. 21 shows a similar ChromeXQuality 3/4x25/32 offset wrench, with the reverse marked "Chrome Vanadium Steel" in a slanted font. The overall length is 11.4 inches.

The finish is chrome plate with polished ends and panels.

ChromeXQuality 15/16x1 Offset Box-End Wrench

[ChromeXQuality 15/16x1 Offset Box-End Wrench]
Fig. 22. ChromeXQuality 15/16x1 Offset Box-End Wrench, with Inset for Reverse Detail, ca. 1936-1939.

In Fig. 22 we see the largest of the group of wrenches, a ChromeXQuality 15/16x1 offset wrench marked "Chrome Vanadium Steel" in slanted font. The overall length is 14.4 inches.

The finish is chrome plating with polished ends and panels, with some finish loss and pitting due to rust.

The design and construction of this wrench closely resembles the previous examples.


ChromeXQuality 1/2x9/16 Box-End Wrench

[ChromeXQuality 1/2x9/16 Box-End Wrench]
Fig. 23. ChromeXQuality 1/2x9/16 Box-End Wrench, with Insets for Side View and Reverse Detail, ca. 1936-1939.

Fig. 23 shows a ChromeXQuality 1/2x9/16 box-end wrench, marked "Chrome Vanadium Steel" in a slanted font on the reverse.

The overall length is 7.9 inches, and the finish is chrome plating with polished ends and faces.

The wrench can be identified as Duro production by the design and construction, and the use of a slanted font for the "Chrome Vanadium Steel" marking.


ChromeXQuality 3/4x7/8 Box-End Wrench

[ChromeXQuality 3/4x7/8 Box-End Wrench]
Fig. 24. ChromeXQuality 3/4x7/8 Box-End Wrench, with Insets for Side View and Reverse Detail, ca. 1936-1939.

Fig. 24 shows a ChromeXQuality 3/4x7/8 box-end wrench, stamped "ChromeXQuality" with the fractional sizes on the raised panel, with "Chrome Vanadium Steel" in a slanted font on the reverse.

The overall length is 11.1 inches, and the finish is chrome plating with polished ends and faces.

The wrench can be identified as Duro production by the design and construction, and the use of a slanted font for the "Chrome Vanadium Steel" marking.


ChromeXQuality Production by Herbrand

Western Auto had sold Herbrand tools through its catalogs since the early 1930s, and the early catalog descriptions specifically mention the brands Van-Chrome, MultiHex, and Obstructo. By 1936 Western Auto had developed a private brand for their tools called "ChromeXQuality", and Herbrand was chosen as a supplier for at least some of the items, as the figures below will show.

The other major suppliers for the ChromeXQuality line were Duro Metal Products and Vlchek Tool, and information on their tools can be found in the sections on Duro and Vlchek contract production.


ChromeXQuality 9/16 Combination Wrench

[ChromeXQuality 9/16 Combination Wrench]
Fig. 25. ChromeXQuality 9/16 Combination Wrench, with Inset for Reverse, ca. 1936-1939.

Fig. 25 shows a ChromeXQuality 9/16 combination wrench with depressed panels, stamped with "Chrome X Quality" on the front, with "Chromium Vanadium" and "Made in U.S.A." on the reverse.

The overall length is 6.0 inches.

The distinctive design marks this as Herbrand production, and the dimensions are virtually identical to the Herbrand 1218 "Multitype" Wrench shown in our article on Herbrand.


ChromeXQuality 1/2x9/16 Box-End Wrench

[ChromeXQuality 1/2x9/16 Box-End Wrench]
Fig. 26. ChromeXQuality 1/2x9/16 Box-End Wrench, with Insets for Side View and Reverse Detail, ca. 1936-1939.

Fig. 26 shows a ChromeXQuality 1/2x9/16 box-end wrench, stamped "Chromium Vanadium" on the reverse.

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

This wrench has a distinctive angular shank of nearly the same thickness as the box end, the characteristics of the Herbrand "Angular Multihex" wrench series. An example can be seen in the Herbrand 5731-A Angular Multihex Wrench.


ChromeXQuality 9/16x5/8 Half-Moon Box Wrench

[ChromeXQuality 9/16x5/8 Half-Moon Box Wrench]
Fig. 27. ChromeXQuality 9/16x5/8 Half-Moon Box Wrench, with Inset for Reverse Detail, ca. 1936-1939.

Fig. 27 shows a ChromeXQuality 9/16x5/8 half-moon box wrench for starter and manifold applications. The wrench is stamped with "Made in U.S.A." and "Chromium Vanadium" on the shank, with "ChromeXQuality" on the reverse.

The overall length is 7.8 inches.

This wrench closely resembles the Herbrand 1936 Starter & Manifold Wrench shown in our article on Herbrand. The 1937 Western Auto catalog offered the ChromeXQuality model for a $0.57 net price.


ChromeXQuality Tappet Wrench

[ChromeXQuality 1/2x9/16 Tappet Wrench]
Fig. 28. ChromeXQuality 1/2x9/16 Tappet Wrench, with Inset for Reverse, ca. 1936-1939.

Fig. 28 shows a ChromeXQuality 1/2x9/16 tappet wrench marked "Chromium Vanadium" on the reverse. The overall length is 7.9 inches, and the finish is plated chrome.

This dimensions of this wrench match very closely to those of the Herbrand H-2 tappet wrench shown in our article on Herbrand.


ChromeXQuality V-8 Ford Brake Wrench

[ChromeXQuality 7/16x1/2 8-Point V-8 Ford Brake Wrench]
Fig. 29. ChromeXQuality 7/16x1/2 8-Point V-8 Ford Brake Wrench, with Inset for Reverse, ca. 1936-1939.

Fig. 29 shows a ChromeXQuality 7/16x1/2 8-point brake wrench for V-8 Ford applications, marked "Chromium Vanadium" and "Made in U.S.A." on the reverse. The overall length is 14.4 inches.

The finish is plated chrome.

This brake wrench has the same distinctive design as the Herbrand 2333V brake wrench shown in our article on Herbrand.


ChromeXQuality Battery Pliers

[ChromeXQuality Battery Pliers]
Fig. 30. ChromeXQuality Battery Pliers, ca. Late 1930s.

Fig. 30 shows a pair of ChromeXQuality battery pliers, marked "Made in U.S.A." and "Chromium Vanadium".

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

These pliers are nearly identical to the Herbrand 179 Battery Pliers shown in our article on Herbrand, with closely matching dimensions and curves in the handles.


ChromeXQuality Waterpump Pliers

[ChromeXQuality Waterpump Pliers]
Fig. 31. ChromeXQuality Waterpump Pliers, with Inset for Reverse Detail, ca. Late 1930s.

Fig. 31 shows a pair of ChromeXQuality waterpump pliers, stamped "Chromium Vanadium" and "Made in U.S.A." on the reverse.

The overall length (fully extended) is 10.0 inches, and the finish is nickel plating.

These pliers are very similar to the Herbrand 166 "Multigrip" Pliers shown in our article on Herbrand.


ChromeXQuality Production by Vlchek

The third major producer for the ChromeXQuality brand was Vlchek Tool of Cleveland. Vlchek provided primarily wrenches in open-end, combination, and box-end styles, although some chisels have been found as well.


ChromeXQuality 2731A 3/4x7/8 Open-End Wrench with "Western Auto" Marking

We'll begin with an unusual example marked for both ChromeXQuality and Western Auto. This wrench would have saved us a lot of trouble in tracking down the ChromeXQuality brand if it had shown up earlier.

[ChromeXQuality 2731A 3/4x7/8 Open-End Wrench]
Fig. 32. ChromeXQuality 2731A 3/4x7/8 Open-End Wrench with Dual Markings, with Inset for Reverse, ca. 1936-1939.

Fig. 32 shows a dual-marked ChromeXQuality 2731A 3/4x7/8 open-end wrench, stamped with "Chrome X Quality" on the shank and with "Western Auto Stores" on the reverse. The faces are stamped with the fractional sizes, with "Chrome Molybdenum" and the model number on the reverse.

The overall length is 9.2 inches, and the finish is plain steel, with extensive pitting due to rust.

This wrench can be identified as Vlchek production by the general construction and the use of the "Chrome Molybdenum" marking with larger initial letters. In addition, Vlchek is known to have used the 2xxx model series for its open-end wrenches, whereas other markers typically used this series for obstruction wrenches.


ChromeXQuality W1012 5/16x3/8 Open-End Wrench

[ChromeXQuality W1012 5/16x3/8 Open-End Wrench]
Fig. 33. ChromeXQuality W1012 5/16x3/8 Open-End Wrench, with Inset for Reverse, ca. 1936-1939.

Fig. 33 shows another ChromeXQuality tool of Vlchek production, a 5/16x3/8 open-end wrench with the Vlchek model number W1012. The head is marked "Chrome Moly" and the shank is stamped with a "KV" code, presumably an indication of the Vlchek source.

The overall length is 4.8 inches.

The forged-in number is "3".


ChromeXQuality W1416 7/16x1/2 Open-End Wrench

[ChromeXQuality W1416 7/16x1/2 Open-End Wrench]
Fig. 34. ChromeXQuality W1416 7/16x1/2 Open-End Wrench, with Inset for Reverse, ca. 1936-1939.

Fig. 34 shows a similar ChromeXQuality 7/16x1/2 open-end wrench with the Vlchek model number W1416, stamped "Chrome Moly" on the face with a "KV" code on the shank to indicate the Vlchek source. The shank has a forged-in number "4" at the left.

The overall length is 5.3 inches.


ChromeXQuality W1820 9/16x5/8 Open-End Wrench

[ChromeXQuality W1820 9/16x5/8 Open-End Wrench]
Fig. 35. ChromeXQuality W1820 9/16x5/8 Open-End Wrench, with Inset for Reverse Detail, ca. 1936-1939.

Fig. 35 shows a ChromeXQuality 9/16x5/8 open-end wrench with the Vlchek model number W1820, stamped "Chrome Molybdenum" on one face with a "KV" code stamped on the shank. The shank has a forged-in number "2" at the left.

The overall length is 6.4 inches.


ChromeXQuality 90A 7/16x17/32 Tappet Wrench

The next two figures show examples of ChromeXQuality tappet wrenches.

[ChromeXQuality 90A 7/16x17/32 Tappet Wrench]
Fig. 36. ChromeXQuality 90A 7/16x17/32 Tappet Wrench, with Inset for Reverse, ca. 1936-1939.

Fig. 36 shows a ChromeXQuality 90A 7/16x17/32 tappet wrench, stamped "ChromeXQuality" on the shank, with "Chrome Molybdenum" on the reverse shank and "Made in U.S.A." and the model number on the reverse faces. The reverse shank also has a forged-in number "2" visible at the left.

The overall length is 8.0 inches.


ChromeXQuality 92 1/2x9/16 Tappet Wrench

[ChromeXQuality 92 1/2x9/16 Tappet Wrench]
Fig. 37. ChromeXQuality 92 1/2x9/16 Tappet Wrench, with Inset for Reverse Detail, ca. 1936-1939.

Fig. 37 shows a ChromeXQuality 92 1/2x9/16 tappet wrench, stamped with "Chrome Molybdenum" and a "KV" code on the shank, with "Made in U.S.A." and the model number on the faces. The shank also has a forged-in number "11" visible at the left.

The overall length is 8.1 inches.


ChromeXQuality WBE18 9/16 Combination Wrench

[ChromeXQuality WBE18 9/16 Combination Wrench]
Fig. 38. ChromeXQuality WBE18 9/16 Combination Wrench, with Insets for Side View and Reverse Detail, ca. 1936-1939.

Fig. 38 shows a ChromeXQuality 9/16 combination wrench, marked with the brand and fractional size on the raised panel, with "Chrome Molybdenum" and "WBE18" on the reverse panel.

The overall length is 7.4 inches.

The example here can be readily identified as Vlchek production by the sharply rounded box end, the forged-in number "1", and the Vlchek WBE18 model number.


ChromeXQuality WBE24 3/4 Combination Wrench

[ChromeXQuality WBE24 3/4 Combination Wrench]
Fig. 39. ChromeXQuality WBE24 3/4 Combination Wrench, with Inset for Reverse Detail, ca. 1936-1939.

Fig. 39 shows a ChromeXQuality WBE24 3/4 combination wrench with raised panels, stamped with "Chrome X Quality" and the fractional size on the front panel, with "Chrome Molybdenum" and "WBE24" on the reverse panel.

The overall length is 9.7 inches.

The example here can be readily identified as Vlchek production by the sharply rounded box end, the forged-in number "3", and the Vlchek WBE24 model number.


ChromeXQuality 1/2x9/16 Offset Box-End Wrench

[ChromeXQuality 1/2x9/16 Offset Box-End Wrench]
Fig. 40. ChromeXQuality 1/2x9/16 Offset Box-End Wrench, with Insets for Side View and Reverse Detail, ca. 1936-1939.

Fig. 40 shows a ChromeXQuality 1/2x9/16 offset box-end wrench, stamped with "Chrome X Quality" and the fractional sizes on the raised panel, with "Chrome Molybdenum" on the reverse panel.

The overall length is 8.5 inches. The finish is plain steel with pitting due to rust, and with possible traces of a plated finish.

This wrench can be identified as Vlchek production by the general construction, and by the use of the "Chrome Molybdenum" marking with taller leading letters.


ChromeXQuality 5/8x11/16 Offset Box-End Wrench

[ChromeXQuality 5/8x11/16 Offset Box-End Wrench]
Fig. 41. ChromeXQuality 5/8x11/16 Offset Box-End Wrench, with Insets for Side View and Reverse Detail, ca. 1936-1939.

Fig. 41 shows a ChromeXQuality 5/8x11/16 offset box-end wrench, stamped with "Chrome X Quality" and the fractional sizes on the raised panel, with "Chrome Molybdenum" on the reverse panel.

The overall length is 9.8 inches, and the finish is plain steel, with traces of a plated finish.

This wrench can be identified as Vlchek production by the general construction, and by the use of the "Chrome Molybdenum" marking with taller leading letters.

The deep offset construction makes this wrench similar to the Vlchek early WBA series models, an example of which can be seen as the Vlchek WBA 2425 Box Wrench.


ChromeXQuality 3/4x25/32 Offset Box-End Wrench

[ChromeXQuality 3/4x25/32 Offset Box-End Wrench]
Fig. 42. ChromeXQuality 3/4x25/32 Offset Box-End Wrench, with Insets for Side View and Reverse Detail, ca. 1936-1939.

Fig. 42 shows a ChromeXQuality 3/4x25/32 offset box-end wrench, stamped with "Chrome X Quality" and the fractional sizes on the raised panel, with "Chrome Molybdenum" on the reverse panel.

The overall length is 11.1 inches, and the finish is plain steel, with traces of a plated finish.

This wrench can be identified as Vlchek production by the general construction, and by the use of the "Chrome Molybdenum" marking with taller leading letters.


ChromeXQuality 1/2 Inch Flat Chisel

[ChromeXQuality 1/2 Inch Flat Chisel]
Fig. 43. ChromeXQuality 1/2 Inch Flat Chisel, with Inset for Side View, ca. 1936-1939.

Fig. 43 shows a ChromeXQuality flat chisel with a 1/2 inch octagonal shank, stamped with "Chrome X Quality" and a "KV" code on the shank.

The overall length is 6.1 inches, and the finish is nickel plating.


The "Wizard" and "Westcraft" Brands

Wizard and Westcraft were registered trademarks of the Western Auto Supply Company, and both marks were used for a line of hand tools, as well as other items. The major tool suppliers for these lines were Duro/Indestro and Vlchek Tool.

The Wizard brand was the immediate successor of the ChromeXQuality mark shown in the previous section, and was generally (or exclusively) used for their top-quality tools.

Also lumped into this section is the "Westline" brand, an unregistered mark generally used for economy-grade tools.


Wizard and Westcraft Production by Duro/Indestro

Duro/Indestro was a major supplier for the Wizard and Westcraft lines. The Duro tools known to have been sourced for Western Auto include ratchets, sockets, drive tools, tappet wrenches, and some double-box wrenches.


Wizard H2833 1/2-Drive Ratchet

[Wizard H2833 1/2-Drive Ratchet]
Fig. 44. Wizard H2833 1/2-Drive Ratchet, with Inset for Reverse.

Fig. 44 below shows a Wizard model H2833 1/2-drive fine-tooth ratchet, with a small "D" next to the brand and "Forged in U.S.A." marked on the reverse. The overall length is 10.3 inches.

The ratchet mechanism is marked with patent #2,686,582, issued in 1954 to Odlum and Hosford of Duro Metal Products. (This patent will be seen on most of the Duro and Indestro fine-tooth ratchets.)

A check of the Indestro catalog for 1961 shows that this closely resembles the model 3277 ratchet; the model 3275 ratchet is similar, but with a knurled handle.


Wizard H2178 Tappet Wrench

[Wizard H2178 5/8x11/16 Tappet Wrench]
Fig. 45. Wizard H2178 5/8x11/16 Tappet Wrench, with Insets for Reverse.

Fig. 45 shows a Wizard model H2178 5/8x11/16 tappet wrench. The reverse is marked "Alloy Steel" and "Forged in U.S.A.", and the overall length is 8.4 inches. The wrench is finished in a bright chrome plate.

The particular identifying marks for Duro/Indestro include the small "D" next to the Wizard brand, and the "Forged in U.S.A." notation on a curved arc, as seen in the inset.


Wizard HR2192 Box-End Wrench

[Wizard HR2192 1/2x9/16 Offset Box-End Wrench]
Fig. 46. Wizard HR2192 1/2x9/16 Offset Box-End Wrench, with Inset for Reverse.

Fig. 46 shows a Wizard model HR2192 1/2x9/16 offset double-box wrench, marked with a small "D" code. The reverse is marked "Alloy Steel" and "Forged in U.S.A.", and the overall length is 5.1 inches.

The wrench is finished in a matte chrome plate and polished ends. The identification as Duro/Indestro production relies on the "D" code and the construction details, as the modern Duro/Indestro wrench designs no longer include the distinctive "streamline" motif.


Westcraft Offset Box-End Wrench

[Westcraft 19/32x11/16 Box-End Wrench]
Fig. 47. Westcraft 19/32x11/16 Deep Offset Box-End Wrench, with Inset for Reverse.

Fig. 47 shows a Westcraft 19/32x11/16 deep offset wrench, marked "Forged in U.S.A." on the reverse. The overall length is 9.4 inches.

Although not marked with the small "D" notation, this wrench can be clearly identified as Duro/Indestro production by the streamlined raised panel, a motif previously seen on many examples.


Westcraft HR2820 1/2-Drive Flex-Head Handle

[Westcraft HR2820 1/2-Drive Flex-Head Handle]
Fig. 48. Westcraft HR2820 1/2-Drive Flex-Head Handle, ca. 1943-1945.

Fig. 48 shows a 1/2-drive Westcraft HR2820 flex-head handle. The knurled handle has a cross-bar hole, and the end is broached for 1/2-drive.

The overall length is 12.0 inches. The finish is plain steel, indicating that this tool was likely manufactured in 1943-1945.

The distinctive head shape marks this as Duro/Indestro production, and the closest models are the Duro-chrome 666D and Indestro 3221. However, these models were made with male drive studs on the end at least until 1941; the Westcraft female broach may have been a special order, or possibly the models had been changed by then. (The mid 1950s catalogs show the Duro-chrome 666D breaker with a female broach.)


Westline 0725B 1/2x9/16 Open-End Wrench

Western Auto also sold tools under the "Westline" brand, typically used for lower priced "economy" tools.

[Westline 0725B 1/2x9/16 Open-End Wrench]
Fig. 49. Westline 0725B 1/2x9/16 Open-End Wrench, with Inset for Reverse.

Fig. 49 shows a Westline 0725B 1/2x9/16 open-end wrench with streamlined depressed panels, marked with "Westline" and a "D" code forged into the shank, with "Forged in U.S.A." forged into the reverse.

The overall length is 5.3 inches, and the finish is cadmium plating.


Wizard and Westcraft Production by Vlchek Tool

The Western Auto Supply Company sold mechanic's hand tools under the brands Wizard and Westcraft, both of which were registered trademarks. Vlchek was a supplier for the wrenches sold under these brands, as can be seen from the great similarities in design and construction with the Vlchek-marked tools. Note also that the pieces below have a small "V" mark stamped on them.


Wizard HR2062 13/16x7/8 Open-End Wrench

[Wizard HR2062 13/16x7/8 Open-End Wrench]
Fig. 50. Wizard HR2062 13/16x7/8 Open-End Wrench, with Inset for Reverse.

Fig. 50 shows a Wizard model HR2062 13/16x7/8 open-end wrench, marked "Made in U.S.A." and "Alloy" on the reverse, along with a small "v" source code. The overall length is 9.25 inches.

The wrench handle features a distinctive design with a central polished area and curved arcs at either end. This design was apparently developed for Western Auto, as the only examples known are for Wizard or Westcraft branded items.

Based on the illustrations in a 1953 Western Auto Supply catalog, the curved-arc design goes back at least to the early 1950s. That catalog shows Wizard open-end, box-end, and combination wrenches all with handles of this style.


Wizard HR2201 3/8x7/16 Offset Box-End Wrench

[Wizard HR2201 3/8x7/16 Offset Box-End Wrench]
Fig. 51. Wizard HR2201 3/8x7/16 Offset Box-End Wrench, with Insets for Side View and Reverse Detail.

Fig. 51 shows a Wizard HR2201 3/8x7/16 offset box-end wrench, marked "Alloy" and "Made in U.S.A." on the reverse, along with a small "v" code.

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

The forged-in number is "11".


Wizard H2103 7/16 Combination Wrench

[Wizard H2103 7/16 Combo Wrench]
Fig. 52. Wizard H2103 7/16 Combo Wrench, with Inset for Reverse.

Fig. 52 shows a Wizard H2103 7/16 combination wrench, marked "Wizard Hi-Torque" with "Forged U.S.A." on the reverse.

The overall length is 5.0 inches.

This tool is readily identified as Vlchek production by the sharply rounded box end and the forged-in number, as well as the "v" mark on the reverse.


Wizard H2106 5/8 Combination Wrench

[Wizard H2106 5/8 Combo Wrench]
Fig. 53. Wizard H2106 5/8 Combo Wrench, with Insets for Side View and Reverse Detail.

Fig. 53 shows a Wizard H2106 5/8 combination wrench, stamped with "Wizard Hi-Torque" and the fractional sizes on the shank, with "Forged U.S.A." and a "v" code on the reverse. The shank is also marked with a forged-in number "1" visible at the left.

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

This tool is readily identified as Vlchek production by the sharply rounded box end and the forged-in number, as well as the "v" mark on the reverse.


Westcraft WBC1012 5/16x3/8 Box-End Wrench

The next few examples show tools marked with Westcraft, the sister brand to Wizard. (Western Auto appears to have used them interchangeably.)

[Westcraft WBC1214 5/16x3/8 Offset Box-End Wrench]
Fig. 54. Westcraft WBC1012 5/16x3/8 Offset Box-End Wrench, with Inset for Reverse.

In Fig. 54 we see a Westcraft WBC1012 5/16x3/8 offset box-end wrench, marked "Chrome Moly" and "Made in U.S.A." on the reverse, along with a small "v" code. The overall length is 4.1 inches.

The finish is chrome plate with polished ends, and the forged-in number is "23".


Westcraft WBC1214 3/8x7/16 Box-End Wrench

[Westcraft WBC1214 3/8x7/16 Offset Box-End Wrench]
Fig. 55. Westcraft WBC1214 3/8x7/16 Offset Box-End Wrench, with Inset for Reverse.

Fig. 55 shows a Westcraft WBC1214 3/8x7/16 offset box-end wrench, marked "Chrome Moly" and "Made in U.S.A." on the reverse, along with a small "v" code. The reverse shank also has a forged-in number is "42" visible at the left.

The overall length is 4.7 inches.


Westcraft WBH2628 13/16x7/8 Offset Box-End Wrench

[Westcraft WBH2628 13/16x7/8 Offset Box-End Wrench]
Fig. 56. Westcraft WBH2628 13/16x7/8 Offset Box-End Wrench, with Inset for Reverse.

Fig. 56 shows a Westcraft WBH2628 13/16x7/8 long offset box-end wrench, marked with a Vlchek model WBH2628. The reverse is marked "Chrome Molybdenum" and "Made in U.S.A.", and has a small "v" code.

The overall length is 13.4 inches.


Westcraft WBH3032 15/16x1 Offset Box-End Wrench

[Westcraft WBH3032 15/16x1 Offset Box-End Wrench]
Fig. 57. Westcraft WBH3032 15/16x1 Offset Box-End Wrench, with Insets for Side View and Reverse Detail.

Fig. 57 shows a Westcraft WBH3032 15/16x1 long offset box-end wrench, stamped "Chrome Molybdenum" and "Made in U.S.A." with a small "v" code, and with "Westcraft" and the model number on the reverse. The shank also has a forged-in code "19" visible at the left.

The overall length is 15.0 inches, and the finish is chrome plating.

This wrench is basically identical (except for markings) to the standard Vlchek WBH3032 Offset Box Wrench.


Westcraft HR2080 5/16x3/8 Open-End Wrench

[Westcraft HR2080 5/16x3/8 Open-End Wrench]
Fig. 58. Westcraft HR2080 5/16x3/8 Open-End Wrench.

Fig. 58 shows a Westcraft HR2080 5/16x3/8 open-end wrench, marked "Alloy" and "Made in U.S.A." on the shank, with a small "v" code in between. The overall length is 4.3 inches.

The finish is chrome plating with polished faces, and the forged-in number is "60".


Westcraft W1416 7/16x1/2 Open-End Wrench

[Westcraft W1416 7/16x1/2 Open-End Wrench]
Fig. 59. Westcraft W1416 7/16x1/2 Open-End Wrench.

Fig. 59 shows a Westcraft W1416 7/16x1/2 open-end wrench, marked "Alloy" and "Made in U.S.A." on the shank, with a small "v" code in between. The overall length is 5.4 inches.

The finish is chrome plating with polished faces, and the forged-in number is "55".


Westcraft W2526 25/32x13/16 Open-End Wrench

[Westcraft W2526 25/32x13/16 Open-End Wrench]
Fig. 60. Westcraft W2526 25/32x13/16 Open-End Wrench.

Fig. 60 shows a Westcraft W2526 25/32x13/16 open-end wrench, marked "Alloy" and "Made in U.S.A." on the shank with a small "v" code on the face. The overall length is 9.2 inches.

The finish is chrome plating with polished faces, and the forged-in number is "13".


Westcraft HR2285 3/8 Combination Wrench

[Westcraft HR2285 3/8 Combination Wrench]
Fig. 61. Westcraft HR2285 3/8 Combination Wrench, with Inset for Reverse.

Fig. 61 shows a Westcraft model HR2285 3/8 combination wrench, marked "Made in U.S.A." and "Alloy" on the reverse, and showing the small "v" code. The overall length is 5.9 inches.

The finish is chrome plate, and the forged-in number is "7".

The wrench handle shows the distinctive design previously see in the Wizard HR2062 example.


Westcraft WBE20 5/8 Combination Wrench

[Westcraft WBE20 5/8 Combination Wrench]
Fig. 62. Westcraft WBE20 5/8 Combination Wrench, with Inset for Reverse, ca. 1946-1952.

In Fig. 62 we see another Westcraft combination wrench, a 5/8 size model WBE20 with a flat shank. The reverse is marked "Chrome-Alloy" and "Made in U.S.A." with a small "v" in the center, and the overall length is 8.2 inches.

The wrench is finished with chrome plating, and the forged-in number is "4".

The flat shank on this wrench indicates an earlier manufacturing date than the example in the previous figure. Since the curved-arc design is known from a 1953 Western Auto catalog, this wrench was likely made before then, and the chrome plating places it at least after 1945.


Westline 19/32x11/16 Open-End Wrench

Western Auto also sold tools under the "Westline" brand, an unregistered mark found mostly on lower-priced tools.

[Westline 19/32/11/16 Open-End Wrench]
Fig. 63. Westline 19/32x11/16 Open-End Wrench, with Inset for Reverse Detail.

Fig. 63 shows an example of the Westline brand, a Westline 19/32x11/16 open-end wrench with a panelled shank. The wrench is marked with "Westline" and the fractional sizes forged into the shank, with "Drop Forged U.S.A." on the reverse. The reverse shank also has a forged-in number "1" visible at the left.

The overall length is 8.2 inches, and the finish is plain steel.

This wrench is basically identical (except for markings) to the Vlchek 19/32x11/16 Panelbar Wrench shown in an earlier section.


Westline 5/8x3/4 Open-End Wrench

[Westline 5/8x3/4 Open-End Wrench]
Fig. 64. Westline 5/8x3/4 Open-End Wrench, with Inset for Reverse Detail.

Fig. 64 shows a Westline 5/8x3/4 open-end wrench with a panelled shank, marked with "Westline" and the fractional sizes forged into the shank, with "Drop Forged U.S.A." forged into the reverse. The reverse shank also has a forged-in number "1" visible at the left.

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

This wrench is basically identical (except for markings) to the Vlchek 5/8x3/4 Panelbar Wrench shown in an earlier section.


The Western Giant Brand

Both branches of Western Auto Supply used the "Western Giant" brand for automobile tires from before 1920 into the 1930s. The brand was later used for automobile accessories, and during the 1930s the western branch used "Western Giant" for tools as well.

Tools found with the Western Giant brand include socket sets, open-end wrenches, and adjustable wrenches.


Western Giant 3/4x7/8 Open-End Wrench

[Western Giant 3/4x7/8 Open-End Wrench]
Fig. 65A. Western Giant 3/4x7/8 Open-End Wrench, ca. 1930s.

Fig. 65A shows a Western Giant 3/4x7/8 open-end wrench, stamped with "Western Giant" and "Chrome Alloy" on the faces, with "Made in U.S.A." on the shank.

The overall length is 9.3 inches, and the finish is plain steel, with minor pitting due to rust.


Western Giant 6 Inch Adjustable Wrench

[Western Giant 6 Inch Adjustable Wrench]
Fig. 65B. Western Giant 6 Inch Adjustable Wrench, with Insets for Side View and Reverse Detail, ca. 1930s.

Fig. 65B shows a Western Giant 6 inch adjustable wrench, stamped with "Western Giant" and "Heavy Duty Tools" on both sides of the shank. The shank is also marked with "Drop Forged" forged into the front, with "Made in U.S.A." forged into the reverse.

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

This tool can be recognized as Diamond production by the broached hanging hole and forged-in markings.


Other Tools


Western Auto 1/2x9/16 Open-End Wrench

Our next figure shows an example of Barcalo's production for Western Auto Supply.

[Western Auto 1/2x9/16 Open-End Wrench]
Fig. 66. Western Auto 1/2x9/16 Open-End Wrench, ca. 1940s.

Fig. 66 shows a Western Auto 1/2x9/16 open-end wrench of obvious Barcalo production, marked "Western Auto Stores" on the distinctive convex shank.

The overall length is 5.5 inches, and the finish is plain steel.

This tool can be recognized as Barcalo production by its distinctive convex shank, a style described by design patent #D111,094, issued in 1938.


References and Resources

An interesting history of Western Auto Supply can be found in The Last Western Flyer, published in 2004 by Jim Marchman.

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


Catalog Coverage

Western Auto Supply published and distributed large quantities of catalogs, and we have examples of a number of the catalog editions.

Title Year Region Notes
Auto Supplies and Camping Equipment 1922 East Lists Hinsdale pressed-steel socket set.
Ford Owners' Supply Book 1924 East  
Auto Owners' Supply Book 1927 East Lists Hinsdale G-20 socket set. Lists Hinsdale and Bog fixed socket wrenches.
Tires and Auto Supplies 1927 West  
Auto Supplies for All Cars 1929 West  
Auto Owners' Supply Book 1930 East Lists several carbon steel socket sets identified as Indestro production.
Lists chrome-molybdenum open-end wrenches, probably Vlchek production.
Save at "Western Auto" Stores 1931 East Lists "Chromium Vanadium" socket set identified as Indestro production.
Lists "Multihex" box wrenches identified as Herbrand production.
Western Auto Stores 1932 East Lists "Obstructo" obstruction wrenches with Herbrand logo.
Auto Owners' Supply Book 1933 East  
Auto Owners' Supply Book 1934 East  
Auto Owners' Thrift Book 1936 East First reference to "Chrome-X-Quality" brand.
Western Auto's 1937 Thrift Book 1937 East  
1937 Auto Supplies 1937 West  
Western Auto Stores 1938 East  
Western Auto Stores 1953 N/A  

Patent and Trademark Information

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


Feedback

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


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