A friend of mine, a retired Montana judge and antique firearms expert, related some interesting information about a well-known Montana rifle barrel manufacturer. The NRA rifle and pistol championships have been held at Camp Perry, Ohio, since 1907. Way back then, J.R. Buhmiller was not satisfied with the barrels he was using, and purchased a high tech “deep hole” boring machine and a rifling machine and began producing his own barrels. His secret? A good relationship with Henry Ford who sent him Model T axle shafts that had been normalized, that is, heat treated to improve ductility and impact toughness. Mr. Buhmiller related this to my friend, who was helping him when he was 15 years old in 1942. Buhmiller was known not as a gunsmith, but a barrel maker, and his barrels are still well known today. According to Mr. Buhmiller, Ford kept this association under wraps as he did not want to cater to this type of business.
I have heard that Plomb Tool Co. of Los Angeles used Model T axle shafts obtained at local junk yards to produce the wide range of tools manufactured by them. The metallurgy was perfect and the size of the shafts lent themselves well to the forging dies used for producing the wrenches and other tools made by Plomb.
I know several local guys that collect Plomb tools and covet their collection.
Plomb Tools became Proto.
I made a seat post for my antique schwinn out of a t drive shaft. Used the rest of the shaft to make a Chuck wrench for an 18" lathe I used to run. My broken Chevy drive shaft machines differently. More grainy and harder.Ford shafts machine great; a bit milder than L-80 4140. Maybe more like ETD 150.
Don't forget about axle shafts with gears still attached being used as circus tent stakes.
Have you seen that as a kid Steve? Makes sense. Could just see a old photo of a big top set up with them.
I've seen that many times. Not just Model T shafts. Model A & flathead V8 era stuff too.
Ford axles were definitely a much higher caliber than other makes. !0)
I've seen it in movies, but I couldn't tell you now which ones.
We used them to stake down the buzz saw.Bud.
I saw them used as tent stakes up until late 70's or early 80's
I have used a Buhmiller barreled Mauser! Shot really well out to 800 yards. It was pretty old, I wonder if it was a T axle. Heavy barrel.
I have seen them used as a Ruckstell shifter.
I have seen many used as Steve said, for tent stakes. Almost every water shut off valve on a water line to a house or building has a flat end on top with a hole through it for locking purposes. My Dad used the axle shafts from our first restoration to make a T handle tool to open and close the valve.
Horse shoe stakes.
My dad liked Plomb/Proto tools very much. He always talked about collecting as many as he could get, but never got a lot of them. I do have most of what he had, including a nice tool box with the Proto name on it. He had it as far back as I can remember clearly (about 60 years).
He told me that they changed their name because there was another major tool manufacturing company that also used the name "Plomb". They made different types of tools mostly, but there was still confusion from it. He didn't know any details about why they changed, but the other company didn't. I never have really tried to find out.
I have a few old Plomb box end wrenches that I use quite often. Interesting to think that they could have been made from a model T axle? They are good wrenches.
Drive carefully, and enjoy, W2