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Dead Men Tales: The Little-Known Story Behind a Popular Tool

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HeatingHelp
HeatingHelp Administrator Posts: 653
edited July 2021 in THE MAIN WALL



The Little-Known Story Behind a Popular Tool

In this episode, Dan Holohan shares the fascinating story behind one of the world’s most widely used inventions.

Listen and subscribe here.

Thank you to our sponsor SupplyHouse.com.

Comments

  • dopey27177
    dopey27177 Member Posts: 887
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    an, Love the history lesson. Used them tools for 40 years and never thought about who, what, where or when.

    Nice to know that the piping industry came from America not CHINA.

    Jake
    Voyager
  • DanHolohan
    DanHolohan Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 16,565
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    Thanks, Jake.
    Retired and loving it.
  • newinnj
    newinnj Member Posts: 37
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    Dan,

    Thanks for the story. It is unbelievable in this day and age to have an owner of a company to look out for a person and allow them to have patents and actually get royalties from it. I guess it was from a different time and era. Btw the art of storytelling is dying in this country and Dan you will need to really consider in passing your craft of storytelling onto others.

    Greg
  • Danielta
    Danielta Member Posts: 2
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    Great Story!!! I looked this up on GOOGLE and found the "Stillson" wrench invented by Daniel Chapman Stillson!?! In your story he was Daniel Chapman.... where did the name "Stillson" come from??
  • Danielta
    Danielta Member Posts: 2
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    ..... that will teach me to stop in the middle of your story and google something... CLEARLY you told me his last name was Stillson!! LOLOL... sorry for impetuously leaving the story to google and comment!
  • DanHolohan
    DanHolohan Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 16,565
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    His full name was Daniel Chapman Stillson. I held his last name until the end of the tale. As Paul Harvey used to say, “And now you know the REST of the story.”

    Thanks for listening. 
    Retired and loving it.
  • Labenaqui
    Labenaqui Member Posts: 72
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    Still have Stillson's passed down from my father and before. Some wood handles are split or missing, but they all work in a pinch .....
  • TomP
    TomP Member Posts: 12
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    Thanks for keeping the history alive.
  • RonGallant
    RonGallant Member Posts: 5
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    As always, a great story, told with respect and passion.
  • drainsurgeon
    drainsurgeon Member Posts: 5
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    Thanks Dan, you are a blessing to the industry as you set me straight attending your heating seminars early in my career living in Medford Massachusetts next to Somerville
  • bluecollarbill
    bluecollarbill Member Posts: 1
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    Dan - you are such a talented writer. Even my wife who knows nothing about heating or anything mechanical - loves to read your stories.

    You have so many wonderful tales of individual contributors from the dawn of central heating. Heating and cooling - something we all take for granted - but the vast majority of people know nothing about.

    I think there is a book to be written where you weave all of these stories together to tell the story of central heating. With your talent to make theses subjects interesting and understandable to everyone - I think the sales potential goes way beyond us "wetheads". I hope you will consider it !
  • Steam_Gus
    Steam_Gus Member Posts: 7
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    This is a very timely posting. Recently I rescued a slightly rusty 18in pipe wrench from a curbside giveaway/recycle day in the neighborhood.
    I can't seem to post a picture of it here, but one side of the handle is marked "WALLWORTH MADE IN USA" The other side "GENUINE STILLSON".
    It's clean forging lines make me think it's from another era of manufacturing.
    Thanks again for an excellent article that gives great meaning to my find.


  • DanHolohan
    DanHolohan Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 16,565
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    Thanks, guys!
    Retired and loving it.
    Alan (California Radiant) Forbes
  • Steam_Gus
    Steam_Gus Member Posts: 7
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    I'm trying to date this wrench and there are no patent marking that I can find.
    However I did discover someone had stamped N.Y.N.H.&H. in the handle groove.
    Does anyone have a guess what that might be? "New York New Haven & Harlem", railroad stuff?
    CLamb
  • DanHolohan
    DanHolohan Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 16,565
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    Probably 
    Retired and loving it.
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 9,944
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    Steam_Gus said:

    I'm trying to date this wrench and there are no patent marking that I can find.

    However I did discover someone had stamped N.Y.N.H.&H. in the handle groove.

    Does anyone have a guess what that might be? "New York New Haven & Harlem", railroad stuff?

    If you can figure out how to attach a picture that will help. You can look up the patent if there is one too. Doesn't @Larry Weingarten collect these?
  • WMno57
    WMno57 Member Posts: 1,408
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    This might be a date code, or not. K (tenth letter skipping I) 46 might be October 1946. Just guessing here.
    http://alloy-artifacts.org/walworth-mfg-company.html
    Alan (California Radiant) Forbes
  • Ed59
    Ed59 Member Posts: 13
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    Also interesting, the Walworth Company was the receiving end of the very first "long-distance" telephone call, from Alexander Graham Bell's office in Boston to their headquarters in Cambridge. The building still stands at 695 Main St, with several plaques on it.
  • Dick Olsen
    Dick Olsen Member Posts: 7
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    so a Stilsonwrench doesn't have teeth, but a Monkey wrench does? Or is it the other way aroung? Enjoyed the story.
  • HomerJSmith
    HomerJSmith Member Posts: 2,511
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    I always thought a Monkey Wrench was invented by a guy call Monkey, just kidding. The Stillson wrench was probably an improvement on the monkey wrench for a specific task. I have always called it a Stillson wrench, tho. I always use a Stillson wrench on pipe fittings. I tighten the fitting until it breaks and then give it one more turn. How your life would have been different without that tool. We take so much for granted.
  • Larry Weingarten
    Larry Weingarten Member Posts: 3,387
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    Hi, I have a book that might shed a little light. It's called American Wrench Makers, 1830-1915. Here are some pictures of relevant bits.


    Yours, Larry

    ps. Monkey wrenches have no teeth. Pipe wrenches have teeth ... that can be sharpened :)
    pps. I like @WMno57 s guess about the date code. Some water heater makers use that code.
  • Steam_Gus
    Steam_Gus Member Posts: 7
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    With a little more looking I'm sure it's New York New Haven & Hartford Railroad.

    Thanks for the date code logic too. 43 C - March 1943? I'm good with that.

    Couldn't post pictures with my phone, had to fire up the laptop. Here they are.






    WMno57bburd
  • TomP
    TomP Member Posts: 12
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    Thanks for another great story. You are like a pipefitters Paul Harvey. And now we know the rest of the story.