I found a few more similar ones
apparently it is some sort of obstruction wrench for working around
starters, distributers, etc...
Wow! A 3/4" distributor wrench!
The Cornwell looks the same as the Thorsen in the size of the box, the
way it's on the same side of the shaft as the handle, and the length of
My theory that the Thorsen had two boxes for situations where there was
very little room to turn a wrench, has a weakness. If space were that
tight, you'd have to flip the wrench approximately 24 times per revolution.
On the Thorsen, the length of the arms looks different. Now I see that
the flattened sections look equally long, but the round sections look
quite different in length.
I believe the arms are of different lengths. I think it was designed to
work on more models than the Cornwell. It would be analogous to a
cruciform lug wrench, designed to work on any car an independent
mechanic might encounter.
I've gotten a few emails from people who own similar tools and who say it is
a distributor wrench, as well as people posting here in the newsgroups who
have said the same, so I went ahead and changed my answer identifying it as
such. I'm still waiting to hear back from Thorsen, and will be happy to
change my answer if they or anyone else has evidence to the contrary.
Rob way back when I used distributor wrenches they always had 2 bends
and or a bend with an end to place a ratchet which would create the
second bend. The distributor wrench has to bend to reach under the
distributor and bend again to give you leverage to turn it.
Check out these wrenches, samples of each.
If I read you correctly, I'm not the only one who wants to bet on a
different horse. The right leg of the Cornwell starter motor wrench
looks functionally identical to Rob's.
2. 8" shaft
3. able to fit within a cylinder wall only 3/4" from the hex head
4. handle bends in same direction as box
The age looks similar to me.
LOL, Yeah! I am not saying what it is but am saying what it isn't. ;~)
I think you would be hard pressed snaking that thing to the bottom
side of a distributor.
It very well could be a specialized tool as some have indicated, perhaps
not offered to the general public. Thorsen has been around a long time
and they may have been an automobile manufacturer tool supplier.
Dealerships get a highly specialized set of tools every year with the
introduction of a new model year. GM used to use Kent tools to
manufacture the special tools.
Your google images page showed me why some say it looks like a
distributor wrench, but it's not clear that any is identical to Rob's in
more than one of these ways:
The right leg of the Cornwell seems to be identical to Rob's in all four
ways. Call me Mister Common Sense, but I say (at the risk of being sued
for plagiarism), "when I see a bird that walks like a duck and swims
like a duck and quacks like a duck, I call that bird a duck."
Typically a distributor wrench is not used to actually remove a
distributor retaining bolt so much as to simply tighten and loosen the
bolt so that the distributor could be rotated. Typically a 90 degree
turn of the bolt was more than adequate.
That said that 2778 is not a distributor wrench. A distributor wrench
has a handle that runs parallel to the end holding the box end of the
wrench. It then makes a 90 degree turn to reach down the length of the
distributor cap and distributor then makes another 90 degree bend to
reach under the base of the distributor to the distributor shaft and
retaining bolt. The distributor wrenches I always used had 3 sections
with 2 bends.
Thorsen, the length of the arms looks different. Now I see that
I think thats a good call... I've been working on cars since the 60's,
and never recall seeing a distributor hold down bolt that large.
I bet it turns out to some special application wrench... will be
interesting to see what Thorsen says!
I like the image of a hexagon in a well, like some spark plugs! There
must have been a need for spark plugs or fasteners in wells before they
had socket sets. A wrench like the mystery item would have been the
It reminds me of situations with a 3/8" ratchet and a 6" extension where
I switched to a ratchet with smaller teeth because I couldn't move the
handle very far at all. The alternative would have been a wrench like
the mystery item, with two 12-point boxes. Once the fastener was
untorqued, a tool to spin it out would have been a lot quicker.
Correction: socket sets wouldn't have made this wrench obsolete. Until
ratchet drives had enough teeth and little enough backlash to click on a
15-degree swing, a wrench like this may sometimes have been necessary.
My usual ratchet seems to have 44 teeth. Because of backlash, it takes
about 15 degrees to get a click. I switch ratchets when I don't have
room or 15 degrees.
2773 Just has to be a work of art.
2774 Is obviously a shipping case, probably for a musical instrument.
2775 I see that several people have said 'valve key'. In the 1964 Burt
Lancaster movie, "The Train", he uses a tool exactly like this to undo
the track fastening bolts on a WWII french railroad line.
Symbol of power, historically used by Romans, and Italian WWII and
On 1/24/2013 4:36 AM, Rob H. wrote:
In January, we were looking at this item in set 477:
which shows a valve key for turning off a water supply.
And Alexander Thesoso wrote:
And I (Mark Brader) wrote:
Having now seen the scene again, I was almost right. The tool that
Labiche (Burt Lancaster) uses does have a socket like a socket wrench.
But the heads of the track bolts aren't hexagonal; they're square.
But because they're square, a tool like the valve key, bearing on only
two sides of the head, would also work.
And there's another scene where we see the bolts being turned -- that's
a little earlier, where Labiche blows up a bit of track and the Germans
patch it by moving a rail from behind the train. And the tool *they*
use does have a head something like the valve key. (I picked exactly
the wrong moment to walk away from the TV and locate the image from
set 477, so i can't say if it was exactly the same, but it certainly
was something like it.)
Now you know.
Mark Brader, Toronto | "Men! Give them enough rope and they'll dig
email@example.com | their own grave." -- EARTH GIRLS ARE EASY
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