Old Canadian-made wrenches stamped with the "Dreadnaught" name turn up commonly in eastern Ontario.
On the reverse side, they are stamped "Molybedenum."
Toolmakers like to give their products name which suggest strength and durability. In 1906, the Royal Navy introduced an entirely new design of battleship called the “Dreadnought” (i.e., "fear nothing") fitted with steam turbines, making it the fastest and most powerful warship afloat.
Not surprisingly, someone thought to apply the name to a wrench. (Similarly, Ausco used the name "Drednaut" on some of their jacks, and Slazenger marketed a "Dreadnought" riding suit.) The use of molybdenum in tool steels came to the fore in the 1930's, when the proper heat ranges for forging and heat-treating this alloy were determined. So, these tools are likely from this period or later.
The maker remained a mystery to me until one day I happened to find a Dreadnaught adjustable wrench:
On the reverse side, the answer!
So, “Dreadnaught” was actually a brand of the Gray Tool Co. of Toronto. This firm was founded in Toronto, Ontario in 1912 by Alex Gray as the Gray Ball Bearing Co. Ltd. It continues to be a family-owned firm and one of the few all-Canadian tool companies left. (However, see additional information in a visitor's comment below.)
Below, an early ratchet and early box-end wrenches made by the company:
Below, an old ratchet stamped Gray F&S Ltd. (Thanks to the visitor's comment below I have learned that F&S stands for "Forgings and Stampings.")
In 1930, Gray undertook a joint venture with the Bonney Forge & Tool Works of Allentown, Pennsylvania, a partnership which lasted until 1961. (After being in business since 1877, the Bonney name disappeared from the market in 1995). Below, a soft-faced Gray-Bonney hammer:
|Mervin J. McGuffin. Automotive Mechanics. Principles and Operation. Toronto: The Macmillan Co. of Canada Ltd., 1962.|
Postscript: About a year ago, I sent an email to Gray Tools asking if they might be able to tell me roughly the years during which they produced wrenches under the Dreadnaught brand name. All I got back was an email promoting one of their tool sales. I was forced to conclude that the company was obviously not too interested in celebrating its own history.
Ironically, last year was their centenary and I was clearly now on their email list. Their big promotion was a colletors' set that included (wait for it!) a "thank you" card signed by Alex Gray. Certain to become a treasured family keepsake! Be still, my beating heart! Anyway, I passed.
Interestingly, the name Dreadnought continued until recently on a British submarine. She was decomissioned in 1980.
|David Chatterton (Editor). The Mind Alive Encyclopedia. Technology. Chartwell Books, 1977.|