War Department Adjustable Wrench

Adjustable wrenches come in many styles and have many colloquial names depending on their use and the user’s country of origin: monkey wrench, pipe wrench etc. One feature they all have in common is that they have adjustable jaws that can be altered in size to accomodate different fittings and they are an essential tool in most mechanics’ tool kits. Obviously during the Second World War there was a huge demand for these sorts of tools from the British Army and tonight we have an example of one of these wrenches to look at:

The jaws of the wrench can be made wider or narrower by turning the screw at the base of the handle that then moves the head up and down:

Obviously what makes this tool interesting however are the markings, and this example is festooned with them! Firstly we have a date of 1944 and a broad arrow mark:

There is also a mark indicating that the finish is ‘War Grade’:

This means that whilst the tool is perfectly functional, to speed up production certain steps in the finish have been dropped, so the milling marks from the tool’s manufacture are still visible, which would have been smoothed out in peacetime.

The manufacturer’s name is also stamped on the tool:

In this case the wrench was made by the famous firm of Joseph Lucas Ltd, and their logo is still applied, even though the wrench is of wartime manufacture:

Joseph Lucas was predominantly a manufacturer of automotive lighting and electrical equipment, but during the Second World War they expanded to produce gun turrets, fuses, shells, bombs and metal pressings and clearly hand tools as well.

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