The loan of a tool is a sacred, holy thing, especially when it involves that kind of rare, extremely hard-to-replace, vintage implement that does the job oh-so-much-better than anything manufactured in the last half-century (and you know the type I'm talking about; they're always rust-colored without actually being rusty). -Man, that's an expression of trust and respect!
As an antique car newbie, I've been the recipient of considerable kindness from a few fellows who really know their stuff and I'm occasionally entrusted with the temporary care and feeding of one of their specialized, antique tools. -Not only is that a blessing because it makes the job go so much smoother, but it gives me a feeling of acceptance. -I become part of the fraternity.
And it's kind of an awesome responsibility. -I have to confess that my own tools don't get a whole lot of respect; they sit, gritty and greasy in a plastic bucket in my garage. -But the good stuff borrowed from a trusting friend gets cleaned and stored in a cabinet drawer reserved exclusively for the occasional visiting iron guest.
I was brought up by a second-generation, Italian-American Dad in a paper paint hat, shoulder-strap undershirt and leather tool-belt. -Grandpa wore the same uniform. -Both made their livings as disciplined craftsmen and both treated their tools like a priest treats golden altar utensils. -When he gave me my first bicycle, Dad, in ceremonial solemnity, withdrew from his tool cabinet, a satchel-grip of ancient hand tools—and with laser beam eye-contact, gave me permission to use them as I needed, explicitly conditional on their diligent care and return. -One made certain to be careful with the tools Grandpa had handed down to Dad. -Respect.
Well, Dad has been gone for a number of years and his tools are mine, now (and they sure as hell don't go in the plastic bucket with my Harbor Freight junk). -Some of them have the Ford imprint, for Giuseppe and Conrad were Ford men; and when I reach for one of those wrenches to use on my Model T—which is identical to the car in the sepia-tone photo of Dad and Uncle Lou, for they two went partners on a 1915 Touring just before the war—I get a feeling of heart-tugging nostalgia. -I gaze at that tool in my hand and from the archives of my earliest memory, a video is selected much the same way an old Wurlitzer juke box would extract a single record from a stack of 45’s. -As it plays, there’s Dad looking not quite forty years old; the tool-pouch clickity-clanking as he unrolls it, and he smiles patiently as he tells Bobby, not yet Bob, "Now, before you screw on the nut, turn it backwards till you feel the click; then spin it on... And here; you tighten it down with this."
... Then again, when some guys look at a wrench, all they see is a wrench.
Very nice Bob C! I know the feelings very well. I, too, have many tools that belonged to my grandfather, and even a few that belonged to his dad. Most sit preserved in various corners and shelves in my shop or barn (it is a small but nice barn). Some in a very old metal bucket that I walk next to often. Others, I keep handy, and use occasionally. Some, I actually use quite often. Many of my grandfather's C-clamps are kept in the same tool box I keep all my C-clamps in. I use C-clamps a lot. And I use grandpa's clamps a lot, but always with just a bit more care than my newer ones.
I have most of my dad's tools also. Many of his tools have become mixed with mine as he and I worked together most of my life. His tools, my tools? It would seem a thin gray line. Yet, still. I mostly know which ones were his. Some days, I still know my ten inch crescent from his. His acetylene welding torch is still the one I use to this day. And every time I use it, I know it is his even though he has been gone nearly fifteen years now.
Tools are special things.
The hand me down tools I got from my father back when I was in my early teens have remained prized possessions all through the years. I'm 72 now and still get a special feeling when I pull one of them out of the box for a special job.
I have an assortment of newer tools gathered through the years as I worked as a machinist for the first 25 years of my working life, (Aerospace tool and die work) and even more from the my second career as an A&P mechanic for 30 years, working on restoration and maintenance of vintage aircraft.
All the time along the way I have enjoyed playing with old cars and motorcycles and that hobby has added to the tool collection with some beautiful old specimens.
The one lesson my father taught me that has never gone away was that the biggest problems on any job were caused by "cheap tools" and if there were specialized tools made for a job they were worth their weight in gold.
Bob, I'm blaming my moist eyes on your submission!
THANK YOU, I saw MY Dad in every word of your tool talk and I passed that same talk down to my son. My Dad always said "You make your living with your tools and if you take care of them they will take care of you."
I have tools passed down from grand dad ,dad and to me. I go to sales of dear friends and buy tools not only to help the family but as a way to keep their memory fresh in my mind. I have tools my grand dad made on his forge. Tools are much like my cars I use them as they were intended. Just a bit more care is taken when using them.
Thanks for this thread. You have a way with words.
Very well said. Reading this, I closed my eyes and pictured both my Father and Grandfather and all the fond memories of growing up and them teaching me how to fix/repair things and not to be part of the "Throw-away Generation". From them I learned how to problem solve, fabricate and repair anything and everything that needs to be fixed. I hope my son will one day look back and feel the same way. Thank you for posting your memories.
Well Guy's I have some of my Dad's old tools that was used during WWII when he worked for Todd Ship Building and Drydock in San Pedro, Ca. I have one small hammer that he always called his "Gasket Hammer". It was very small and good getting into small areas. If I would have lost or loaned it out I might be here typing this note on the Forum.
That one hammer has made a few gaskets for my two Model T's.
Thank you and enough said
I don't believe the tool pictured is for a Model T, even though it's Ford script.
I’m with Keith,,,above very wall said.....
Sometimes we think like you said in your post ,Bob,but we never tell anyone ...Sometimes I use one of my Dad’s old tools or my Grampa’s old hand saw and thank them for teaching me how to use them ...I don’t think 70 year old guys get a tear in the eye ....It musta been a little piece of sawdust or sweat,,,,Ya that’s it just a little sweat....Carl....
Good post, Bob. Obviously it touched a lot of us. (Larry notwithstanding.)
My dad was a farmer and a plumber. When he had his farm auction I bought several of his tools that I still use. One of his tools I bought was his 30 inch pipe wrench, not because it was dads, but because I used it to open 11 fire hydrants on Halloween and drained the Adams water tower in 1973. The news headlines said 58,000 gallons.
I went to a family reunion last month. My uncle showed up and told me had something for me. He handed me an adjustable wrench. I asked him for the story. He sort of "borrowed" it from his dad, my grandfather, a long time ago. He decided it was time to pass it on, and I was the lucky one to receive it when there were many other grandsons that were there. I turned it over, and lo and behold it said "FORD" on it. It fits right in with my Model T. It kind of felt like my grandfather, who died when I was 7 years old, showed up at the family reunion for me....
My dad made his living with pens, paper and words so didn't have a lot of tools to pass on, but the ones he had he sure knew how to use and that is what I thank him for. He was never afraid to try a new project and even if he failed at it he at least tried with the few tools he had. He was a lefty and always called me his right hand man in doing jobs he would take the left side and I would take the right. I now have more tools than he ever would have thought of but I still go back to a couple of his when needed. Jim Teary eyed in Ohio. Oh! He did leave me some nice fishing gear.
Thanks to all you softies with the tissues in hand; you made me feel good. -Yeah, me and my Dad were close buddies and I do miss him pretty bad... -I posted this one last year around this time:
I inherited my fathers tools split between my brother and me. One of those tools was a large yellow handled Snap On screwdriver. Finally a corner broke off the tip. At my wife's Subaru Store the Snap ON dealer shows up each week. I decided to see if the lifetime guarantee really worked.
I gave the screwdriver to the dealer he looked it over and said he had never seen one yellow handled Snap On tool. He turned around in his truck and picked out a suitable replacement and handed it to me no charge.
A couple of weeks later he saw me in the store, and told me that screwdriver had been manufactured in 1938 and their warranty is supposed to be for the 1st purchaser only. I had not been born in 1938 and he knew that but let it go through anyway.
So Snap On does really take care of their customers.
The one thing I can still hear my father say, "there is never time to do it right but always time to do it over". Go slow and do it right the 1st time.I learned so much, threading, taping,lathe and milling machine work, how to take apart and put back together(the right way)how to pour babbit bearings and line bore. These teachings I use every day in my restoration shop. Sadly my offspring took after his mother my ex, and used his brains not his hands and became a lawyer. Every time something goes bad at his home, I get the "how to" call.
Nice prose Bob...as always.
I enjoy reading your entries. Thanks for posting them.
The most important thing my father passed on to me is, to only buy quality tools made in the USA and not foreign made tools as they are junk. While I have a few of his tools, someone someday will get my vast aray of tools that I have bought and accumulated from a 35 year career (and still going) working as a heavy equipment mechanic. Not having any sons maybe one of my 3 daughters will marry a guy who likes to turn a wrench? What else is to happen to the tools that have cost me in the range of $50,000+ ? I would like to be that grandpa (someday) whose grandson looks on with pride & fond memories like many of you have posted here.
I just purchased a set of 3/8 drive square male and female sockets from Snap-on. I new they existed some years ago but I didn't know they existed today, expensive $250 set. These are sometimes called 4 point, I am also ordering a set of 8 point to round off my tool crib, these are sometimes called double square.
Ok Bob. When are you going to write for Vintage Ford Magazine. I think you would be a big hit. Nice to put a story around what most would call a simple object.
My dad's tool rules are (in no particular order):
1. Never lend a tool that you're not okay with losing forever. Don't expect any precision tools to still be precise on their return to you.
2. If you expect to need a specific tool two times or less, try and borrow it. More than that, just buy it.
3. Don't trust a mechanic who mistreats their tools. If you see them throw a wrench chances are they'll also throw pieces of whatever they work on.
4. Pay attention to the tools other people throw out. Nearly all hand tools are easily rebuildable and they just don't make them like they used to.
In my lifelong quest to learn everything myself, I can confirm the above through personal experience. Turns out the guy knows what he's talking about.
You guys are lucky.
My Italian immigrant father was a tailor. For decades, he was head tailor and ran the complete tailor shop at Saks Fifth Avenue
He had a complete tailor shop in the basement with all kinds of sewing machines that did different things, steam irons, changing room, cutting boards, a million different spools of thread, etc.
He could make you a custom made suit. But not tighten a nut!
Meanwhile, on the vintage suits forum some guy is saying his father was unfortunately a mechanic and could fix anything but couldn’t sew a button...
Some of you are very lucky. My dad's parents were both dead by the time he was eight, and he was raised in horse & buggy days by his grandma. Dad was a woodworker and built two houses to sell. But he hated working on cars and had the mechanical touch of death, maybe at least partly because he bought the cheapest, lowest quality tools he could find. I miss him.
When our Dad passed, my brother and I divided up his tools. What struck us both was just how few hand tools he owned, especially considering that he had worked as an aircraft mechanic early on (Lockheed Aircraft) and in later years did frame-up restorations of a '31 Model A coupe and a '32 Pierce Arrow Brougham. And maintained his '12 T at the same time.
He had quite a few Ford wrenches, but no real set of box wrenches at all. Maybe a few assorted box ends. He had a full set of Plomb open ends (Plomb later became Proto). And a set of Snap-On sockets.
In my late thirties I bought a 10" Logan lathe. Taught Dad to run the lathe. He was delighted. He lived 45 miles away from me and sometimes would come up to the house and work all day on the lathe.
Looking back I think he was just a child of the depression and knew how to get along with the minimum. In his later years he could certainly have afforded more tools, but I think it was a mind set for him.
Tim, you're probably right!!!
I grew up on a Dairy farm nearly 15 miles from town. There wasn't a Snap On truck that stopped by only the Milkman and Postman. When we worked on the farm equipment many times you needed a special tool. My Grandpa and Dad showed me many times how "You might have to make a tool for that". I've taught my son and grandsons that same concept here in my shop.
Some of the tools I treasure the most are the ones that my Dad or Grandfather made for special jobs.
Your posts are fantastic.
You should've been a professional writer.
When is the first novel coming out???
My grandfather, who I inherited my T from, lived through the depression and never threw out anything.
I keep this socket on the top of my toolbox as a reminder.
It's just a no-name brand spark plug socket of his that cracked at some point and he brazed them up.
I went on tour with a friend in another man's 1908 Pierce Arrow demi tonneau, and the brakes failed. I had brought my tool box just in case. During a repair session in a restaurant parking lot, we also found the wheel nuts were loose. After tightening the them, my friend wanted to stake the nuts using a screw driver that was my dads. No way! That old screw driver is a great connection to my old man, and even though I use it, it is precious to me.
PS. We found a Craftsman screw driver to take the abuse, and went on our way. Cheers, Bill