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Danny Ray Thomas
***
pniederber@aol.com
***
 
 
'ANTIQUE TOOL TALK'


ANTIQUE TOOL TALK # 87

Well Folks, we hope you are having an exciting day as we are. Following is an article written by our webmaster Danny Ray Thomas

By DANNY RAY THOMAS

I came into possession of this brand new Williams railroad wrench in the mid-1970s.

I had friends who worked in the rail yard in Richmond and I was visiting with them in the repair yard area. I noticed the wrench lying in a pile of scrap iron and asked where the pile was headed and was told that it was being sold for scrap and would be melted down for reuse.

At that point I asked if I could have the wrench laying there and was told, "no problem, take it," so I did.

I knew exactly who I was going to deliver it to, because my uncle had been collecting wrenches for years and would know what to do with it.

I carried it up to the museum that he was putting together in his garage in Oroville and he was quite pleased to get a new item for his display.

The wrench was so large, three feet in length, that it dwarfed the museums collection and instantly became the center of attention.

This wrench hung on the wall for years and I never gave it much thought until I received a letter from the Bolt's Antique Tool Museum wanting to know if the wrench was still under warranty because he noticed it had begun to rust in a number of places. I told him the wrench was under a lifetime warranty and that I would take care of it right away.

Upon arriving in Oroville, and inspecting the wrench, I came to the same conclusion that my uncle had, rust was invading the quality and character of the museum's center of attention. We removed the wrench from its place of honor and I brought it back to the San Francisco Bay Area and pondered what I was going to do.

It was at this point a friend of mine came into my shop and said that he was on his way to a plating company in Stockton and had just stopped by to say hello. What timing, I thought. I showed him the wrench and we decided to have it triple chrome plated. So I handed the museum's pride and joy to my friend and off to Stockton it went. A few weeks later he brought it back with a big smile on his face. We stood there staring at it and could not keep from sneezing for the sunlight reflecting off the shiny new surface.

The next weekend I strapped the shiny new chrome wrench onto the back of my full dressed Harley Davidson and delivered it back to Bolt's Antique Tool Museum. To say that uncle was pleased was an understatement. You could even see the smiles in the wrench.

So now, many years later, it still shines and is now the center of attention in the brand new Bolt's Antique Tool Museum.

So come on by Bolt's and look this beauty over. It is displayed on PD-1, Board No. 78-A, Item No. 1.

We are open seven days a week, 10 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. Monday-Saturday, 11:45 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. Sunday, at 1650 Broderick St. downtown Oroville.

Allow a little extra time so we can talk tools, antique tools, that is. Also check out Danny's upgraded website at www.boltsantiquetools.com We think you will be as proud of it as we are.


Bud Bolt

ANTIQUE TOOL TALK # 55


Well Folks, today I want to visit with you about a couple of historic finds we made that are directly connected to our local history.

Will begin this adventure in Marsing, Idaho.  Not sure of the year.  The bride & I arrived there, RV and all and met up with our Nephew & Niece, Danny & Cheryl.

 

We visited our friend Pete Rathbone and his farm implement tool museum.  Pete researched and authored the book “The History of Old Time Farm Implement Companies & the Wrenches They Issued”.  His museum displays about 4,000 of these wrenches and he is considered the leading authority on the history of same.

 

After a great visit with Pete, the 4 of us in our R.V.’s started working our way to Eugene, Oregon for a get together with our Death Valley Stragglers Group.  We had nearly a month to get there so naturally we plan to take in the sights and do some serious tool hunting (Junkin) along the way.

 

Our first exciting visit was to Hells Canyon National Recreation area.  What a neat place.  Great campgrounds and scenery.  Then we head west to Baker City, Oregon and on to John Day .

 

By this time we are considering where to set out Labor Day weekend, which was coming up in the next couple of weeks and we decided on Shaniko, Oregon.  A real metropolitan city with a population of 25.  The Bolt’s had spent several days there on a previous trip and thoroughly enjoyed it.  So we headed that direction and took in the John Day Fossil Beds along the way all 3 sections of them.

 

When we arrived at Shaniko, we just had to take a few days off.  Do nothing and rest up.  Then back to some serious Junkin.  Checked out Shaniko and not finding anything of historical importance, we all 4 got in our Suburban and head in up Oregon 97 to Grass Valley and Mono.  We had visited these towns on previous trips and knew they had some neat trading posts.  In Grass Valley we found several interesting items.  If I dont forget will cover them in a future atory.

 

Now in Mono, we really lucked out.  This particular junk shop does not keep wrenches in any particular area so we had to dig through and look carefully in every nook and cranny.  Not that we mind – that’s part of the fun of it and as I told you before, Laila can smash a black widow spider or root a mouse out of it”s nest with the best of them.

 

So we each take a section and start digging and looking.  It wasn’t long till Danny says “Hey Uncle Bud- I think we have one and boy did he ever.  We have it proudly displayed in Area P-4 Bd. # 48 Item 106.  It’s a Benicia Hancock Plow Co. wrench shown in Pete’s book on page 50.

 

Now some of you may not realize there was a very successful Plow Co. in Benicia, Ca. with direct connections to Yuba City, Ca.  It all started in 1879 when a San Leandro Ca. Company could not handle the production on their farm implements so they purchased a facility in Benicia and manufactured plows there.  They were very successful and shipped plows to other countries such as Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands.  By 1880 they employed 200 people, by 1914 approx 400.  In year 1914 they sold out to Yuba Manufacturing Co.  Yuba Mfg. Co.  operated a plant in Marysville, Ca. until 1929 when it closed that facility and moved back to Benicia.  Went broke and went into receivership in 1934.  A victim of the great depression.

 

Now at some place and time over the years we picked up a Yuba Mfg. Co. wrench and have it displayed in Area p-6 Bd # 48-B Item # 1.

 

So here we are in a small town in Oregon and find a piece of history that is also part of our Northern California history.  It doesn’t get much better than that.

 

In closing, would like to add that we continued on to Eugene, Oregon, met with our dear friends, played golf – pot lucked – played games & the men sat around and listened to the women tell tall tails for a week or so and as we were departing for our next destination, our Niece Cheryl said “Uncle Bud, if we are to travel with you in the future, you are going to have to slow down.  The month we have been with you, we have averaged 16 ½ miles a day.  Guess she is right and will make it a point to do so.

So folks, if you have not been issued a Tool Hunting License from Bolt’s Antique Tool Museum, stop by and let’s get you fixed up with one.  There is no cost but it makes you a bonafied – qualified – certified tool hunter.  Then you can have as much fun as we do.  We are located at 1650 Broderick St.  Open Tuesday thru Sunday 11:45 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. Ph: 530-538-2528 and while you are at the museum, we will talk tools – Antique Tools, that is

 

Bud Bolt

ANTIQUE TOOL TALK # 40

 

Well folks, while I was writing the article on the Lincoln Hiway, another donation came in.  This from our local Honda Dealer

 

Now this neat old machine was still used up until around the late 1960’s- early 1970’s.  But it’s quite unique and most new mechanics have no memory of it being used or why it was needed.

 

It’s a champion spark plug cleaner and tester.  In my years in the tool business, nearly every shop had a unit of this or similar type.  It was common to have to clean the spark plugs on nearly every gasoline engine on a regular basis.  In some cases that would be every few miles or hours.  In fact, it was so common that many early cars and tractors had a spark plug wrench in their original tool kit.  Ford products such as the model “A” & “T” and their “N” series tractors came with a spark plug wrench.

 

Now to utilize this unit, we are in the process of using it as the center piece in a display of spark plugs sockets and wrenches.  Will really look neat when it’s finished.  Can’t tell you exact location in the museum as it is already mounted on casters making it portable.

 

As I write this article my thoughts drift back to a story about a man who had to clean the spark plugs on his old car so often that his friends nick-named him Spark Plug.  It starts with an article written about a Native American in the Ballarat area of the low desert.  He was referred to as Indian George and the story goes like this:  quote:

 

My acquaintance with Indian George began on my first trip to Ballerat with Shorty Harris and was the result of a stomach ache Shorty had.  I suggested a trip to a doctor at Trona instead.

 

“No, Sir. I’ll see old Indian George.  If these doctors knew as much as these old Indians, there wouldn’t be any cemeteries.”

I asked what evidence he had of George’s skill.

 

“Plenty.  You know Spark Plug (Michael Sherlock)?  He was in a bad way.  Fred Gray put a mattress in his pickup, laid Spark Plug on it and hauled him over to Trona.  Nurses took him inside.  Doctor looked him over and came out and asked Fred if he knew where old Spark Plug wanted to be buried.  “Why, Ballarat, I reckon,’ Fred said.” well you take him back quick.  He’ll be dead when you get there.  Better hurry. He’ll spoil on you in this hot weather.’

 

“Fred raced back, taking curves on seventeen with two wheels hanging over the gorge, but he made it; stopped in front of Spark Plug’s shack, jumped out and called to me to bring a pick and shovel.  Then he ran over to Bob Warnack’s shack for help to make a coffin.  Indian George happened to ride by the pickup and saw Spark Plug’s feet sticking out.  He crawled off his Cayuse, took a look, lifted Spark Plug’s eyelids and leaving his horse ground-hitched, he went out in the brush and yanked up some roots here and there.  Then he went up to Hungry Hattie’s and came back with a handful of chicken guts and rabbit pellets;  brewed ‘em in a tomato can and when he got through he funneled it down Spark Plug’s throat and in no time at all Spark Plug was up and packing his flivver to go prospecting.  If you don’t believe me, there’s Spark Plug right over there tinkering with his car.

unquote.

 

Was glad to know old Spark Plug made it and do hope you don’t have to clean and test the spark plugs on your car so much they nick-name you Spark Plug.

 

In closing I must say, can’t really recommend you use Indian Georges formula to cure your aches and pains.  Not that I don’t think it will work just don’t want to cut into our good doctors source of income.

 

So drop by Bolt’s Antique Tool Museum, 1650 Broderick St. in historical down town Oroville, Ca. we are open Tuesday thru Sunday 11:45 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. closed on Mondays.--   look this new display over and we will talk tools. -  Antique tools, that is.

 

Bud Bolt

ANTIQUE TOOL TALK # 30

 

Well folks, I must confess had a bit of a problem this morning.  As usual, was out in the Gazebo bright and early enjoying the peace  & quiet & cool morning, wondering what exciting event we would have at the museum today.  Then decided to write a story.  Before I finished my 2nd cup of coffee, I forgot what I was going to write about.  It just so happened there was a full moon about to drop out of sight over the hill to our west.  So as I admired the beauty of the occasion, decided this would be a good time to write about the moon wrench we have been looking for over the last quarter century.

 

Now so we are all familiar with what I’m talking about, let’s review what the moon wrench was made for.  The moon brothers Co. was formed in Grove City, PA in 1908.  In 1909 they were listed in the City directory as Machinist, Dealers in Machinery & Supplies, Steam & Gas Engines, Pumps, Boilers, etc.  Also Auto and Bicycle repair.

 

Then there was the Joe Moon Buggy Co. in St. Louis, Missouri and the Moon Car 1905 to 1929.

 

Now we are not sure how many wrenches were made with Moon name on them.  We do know of 3 different sizes and types.

 

This has proven to be one of the most difficult wrenches to find in fact have only seen two of them and they are in Pete Rathbone’s Museum in Marsing, Idaho.

 

Pete has the world’s largest collections of Farm Implement Wrenches and has them displayed in a converted agriculture building on his ranch.  We have visited his museum and he, ours.  Might mention he authored and published a book we have in our library titled “The History of Old Time Farm Implements Companies and the Wrenches they issued

 

On one of our visits to Pete’s museum, we had quite an interesting experience with my nephew Danny.  (If you were at the museum dedication, he was the singer, songwriter & cowboy poet)

 

Well Danny and Cheryl (his wife) were working their way to Marsing from Las Vegas area and we were coming from Nebraska.  We were to meet and visit Pete on a given day.  Either we were early or they were late, anyway, by the time they arrived we had already visited Pete’s Museum and among many other items we would love to have, we spotted those two moon wrenches.

 

So the next day as Danny was leaving the camp ground for their visit I said to him.  “Now, Danny, you do know you’re in a bit of trouble don’t you? And with a look of surprise on his face he says, “Well, Uncle bud, why is that” So I explained to him where the moon wrenches were at in Pete’s Museum and then went on to explain to him if he returned to camp without one of them, I would be forced to do great bodily harm to him.  On the other hand, if he took one of them, Pete would surely do likewise, so either way he was in trouble.  Now, I’m sure you have already figured out what happened.  He returned without one and out of the kindness of my heart and because I love him, I didn’t follow through with my threat.

 

Now I don’t mean to burden you with my troubles, but there is another episode in this Moon story.  Our local Model A Club  (The Feather A’s) became aware of our desire to have a Moon wrench, so as a Club project they set out to get us one.

 

After some searching (how much has not been determined) and they hadn’t found one, they printed out a neat little Moon Label and put it on and old wrench and in it’s own Moon Labeled box and gave it to us.  While writing this story, we checked out the box only to find it empty.  Come to think about it, I haven’t seen that wrench since Pete’s last visit.  Looks like we need to take another trip to Idaho.

 

So, no Moon wrench on display.  But come on down to Bolt’s Antique Tool Museum, 1650 Broderick St. in Historic downtown Oroville, Ca. Open Tuesday thru Sunday 11:45 A.m. to 3:45 P.m. – Summer hrs. 9:00 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. Friday & Saturday and we will talk Tools – Antique Tools, that is.

 

Bud Bolt

 

ANTIQUE TOOL TALK #12

 

This article should be titled "All in the family" as the principals involved are Laila's brother, James K. Daley Sr., her nephew James K. Daley, Jr., and her Father, Charles F. Daley. Now as Paul Harvey would say "For the rest of the story" .....

As many people know, Bud and Laila Bolt started in the tool business as a Snap-On Tool Dealer in November 1952, covering Vallejo ­Napa area of California. We stayed in the business in that area until 1955.

 

With this thought in mind, let's fast-forward 50 years.

 

In 2003, James K. Daley, Sr. from Napa visited us and brought 5 boxes of tools, which he donated to the museum.

Now tool hunting is exciting, but when 5 boxes full of tools, fall in your lap,-that's really exciting. So just like a kid on Christmas morning, I started looking these beauties over. Among them were some nice clean Snap-On wrenches. Naturally this intrigued us, so we checked them for the year they were made. For anyone not familiar with their system, all Snap-On Tools have a code indicating the year of manufacturing. So all you need is the chart and, of course, we had it.

 

We found these tools were made in 1952-53-54. Now my curiosity was really working overtime. I asked Jim where he got the tools and he informed us they were his son's Jim Jr.'s, who had passed away at an early age.

 

When we checked his birth year, we found he would have only been 6 years old when these tools were made, so obviously my next question was "where did the son get the tools?" and was informed he had received them after his grandfather Charles F. Daley passed away in the early 1970's.

 

Well, folks, when we tied the story all together, we found the Grandfather Charles F. Daley, who had lived in Vallejo, had purchased the tools from me during the years I was a Dealer there. So, these items made the full circle in just 50 years.

Sure do wish those other people that bought tools from us would do the same and bring theirs back.

You can see these tools displayed on Board #25B Area N-3. They are displayed in memory of James K. Daley, Jr.

 

On Board 25 Area N-3 you can look over another display of antique Snap-On Tools including items #1 and #2. These are the first two items I collected and were given to me while touring the Snap-On factory in 1954. If my math is correct, that was 52 years ago. Let's see now, we were married 6 years before that­-boy, my wife must be getting old.

Anyway, you will find some interesting items and when you see one marked Snap-On Milwaukee, that tells you it was made prior to 1929. As they started in Milwaukee in 1920 and moved to Kenosha, Wisconsin, in 1929.

 

To learn more about the history of this company and their great American success, ask the volunteer on duty to let you read their history on file in the museum library or look over the book displayed on board 25. "America's 100­year love affair with the automobile and the Snap-On Tools that keep them running."

 

So drop by for a visit, we are at 1650 Broderick Street in Historic Downtown Oroville. We are open 6 days a week 1 0:00 a.m. to 3 :45 p.m. ­Sundays-l l :45 a.m. to 3 :45 p.m. -- After you look this display over, we can talk tools ­Antique Tools, that is.

 

Bud Bolt

 

ANTIQUE TOOL TALK #3

 

On a Tool Hunting trip in 1984, we find ourselves westbound out of San Antonio headed for Del Rio on Hwy. 90 - arrived in Marathon about noon and decided to call it a day. It was obvious this West Texas town had seen more prosperous times.

 

At the main intersection - really, the only one; was an abandoned store with the faded sign still showing that it was Green's General Store. We looked through the dusty and water-stained windows and could see the display counter, etc. It was like what we had seen in the 30's.

 

We sat down on the pondering bench in front to just relax a bit and enjoy our surroundings. Within a few minutes, an elderly gentleman approached us. He had a smile on his face - a twinkle in his eye - a spring in his step and, when he said "Howdy Folks", you could sense the enthusiasm he had for life.

                       

We introduced ourselves and, doing so, he said "I'm Mr. Green". We asked if he had any connection to the store and he said "yes, my parents opened this store around 1900 and I took it over in 1930 and went broke in 1937. The depression and the Dust Bowl finally got me, along with almost all of the other businesses in town. Not much been done to it since".

 

We visited awhile and he asked if we were staying over and we said, "Yes, if there was an RV Park in town". He said "no, but there is a good place to park right in front of my house". So, we took a look and agreed to stay, providing we could take him to dinner. He said, "he wished he could, but he would be staying over with his girlfriend as she is kinda’ scared to stay alone, you know".

 

Well, we leveled up the rig and he tossed us an electric line over the fence along with a water hose. Before he left for the night, he told us he would be home by 5:00 A.M. and have the coffee on, so don't leave until we get a chance to visit.

 

We awoke early and stepped out into the fresh Texas air. We could hear the mourning doves calling from the meadow behind Mr. Green's house. The lights were on and we could smell the aroma from perked coffee and fresh-baked cinnamon rolls.

 

As we visited with Mr. Green and told him about our Tool collection, he asked "When you coming back this way?" We told him we had no idea. He said "Well, when you do, stop by and I'll have a bucket of old tools for you".

 

We bid him well and thanked him for his hospitality and headed south into Big Bend. It was 9 years later when we pulled into Marathon on our way to the Rio Grande Valley. We pulled up in front of Mr. Green's house and it appeared no one was around. A young cowboy stopped his pickup and asked if we needed help. We said "No. Just looking for Mr. Green". You could see the sadness in his face as he

replied. "Mr. Green died last week, just shy of his 95th birthday". We expressed our sorrow and pulled back on 90 heading for Laredo and points South.

 

My thoughts drifted back to this kind, enthusiastic gentleman who had treated us so neighborly. To this day, we do not have one tool from Marathon, Texas, but we do have our wonderful memories of Mr. Green.

 

Drop by the museum and let's sit on our pondering bench and talk tools - Antique tools, that is.

 

Open 6 days a week (Tuesday thru Sunday), 11:45 A.M. to 3:45 P.M.

Bolt's Antique Tool Museum, 1650 Broderick St., Oroville, CA 95966, PH: 530/538-2528.

 

Bud Bolt

ANTIQUE TOOL TALK #2

  

On a tool hunting trip years ago, we left Oroville in our RV and headed East, expecting to cover 8 or 10 states in the next several months.

 

Arrived at Rye Patch Dam, east of Lovelock, Nevada off I-80 (one of our favorite campsites) expecting to stay a day or two.

 

We awoke the next morning to a bleak cloudy, windy day.  The light drizzle was so cold we expected it to sleet anytime.  Not exactly the kind of day we hoped for.  As any of us know that camping, even in an RV, is not so much fun when you are closed in all day and you can only stand to lose so any games of cards to the good wife.

 

About 10:00 A.M., we hooked up and headed into Winamucca, Nevada to do some "Junkin".  Now, we should explain that "Junkin" is how we refer to Tool Hunting.

 

"Junkin" could be in a second-hand store - swap meet - antique store - garage sale or wherever we might find some treasures.

 

Well, Eastbound on I-80, we spotted a "Junkin" place and pulled in.  Just what we hoped for - good stuff to dig through all over the place.  We did our usual thing.  Laila took one section - I took the other and looked that place over from top to bottom (we thought).  Didn't find much so decided to go on down the road.  A serious hailstorm changed our minds, so decided to stay until the storm blew over.

Was a good thing we did.  When we went back and dug a little deeper in one old box, you guessed it - we found that treasure.  A Remington Wrench.  The first one we had ever seen.  We looked this rusty old beauty over and wondered what kind of Remington Firearm it worked on.  Years later, we found the answer.  It wasn't a firearm at all - it was for the Remington Sulky Rake made in 1883.  Guess you know

that rare piece of tool history is on display in Area P-3, Board 48, Item 59.  For two dollars, you can come into Bolt's Antique Tool Museum, 1650 Broderick Street, in historic downtown Oroville, CA and look at it.

 

We will even let you touch it for nothing.  So, drop by and take a look at this and approximately 11,000 more and we will talk tools - Antique Tool, that is.

 

Open 7 days a week 10:00 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. – Sundays 11:45 a.m. to 3:45 p.m.

 

Bud Bolt

ANTIQUE TOOL TALK #1

 

In 1938, this barefoot boy was following behind his Dad as he plowed with a single team of horses and a single bottom walk-behind plow.

 

In the mid-afternoon of this hot day, he plowed up a monkey wrench.  Well, he stopped the team, picked up the rusty old wrench and said "Hey, Buddy, look what we got here.  How about going down to the fence row and get the water jug".  When I returned, Dad had taken off his shoes and socks and was sitting with his feet in the newly-plowed and still somewhat cool soil.  I sat beside him and did the same.  We

took a long drink of water and then proceeded to analyze our newfound treasure.

 

We discussed some issues as to who lost it.  How long had it been in the dirt?  Who bought it new?  And, how proud he must have been of his purchase.  We wondered what he paid for it.  What company made it and where?

 

At that time, we had no idea we were looking at the tool that played a major role in developing the Industrialized World and it would become known as the most important wrench ever made.

 

I still cherish the memories of this special time with my Dad and wish all children could enjoy the same.

 

We have this tool displayed on PD-2.  So, please take a look at it when visiting the Museum.  In Area C, you will find a couple hundred more - not quite so rusty and none with the wonderful memories as that one plowed up 74 years ago.

 

So, we hope you can stop by the museum at 1650 Broderick Street in historic downtown Oroville, CA -  Let's talk tools - Antique tools, that is.

 

Bud Bolt