Thursday, January 30, 2014

(Not so) Vanished Tool Makers: Apex Machine & Tool Company, Dayton, Ohio

Over the years, I've accumulated a very small collection of Apex sockets, all of which are of impact quality:

The Apex Machine & Tool Company was founded in 1933.  Their sockets and tools appear to have been largely geared to production.  For instance, in the 1950 patent below (for the socket in the foreground in the photo above), which was assigned to the Apex company, the inventors stressed that their invention represented a driver suitable for electric and pneumatic production tools in which the bit could be replaced separately, rather than having to replace the entire tool.  As such, they seem to have pioneered interchangeable bits on socket drivers.

Several of my Apex sockets are stamped with Patent No. 3,207,010.  In this 1965 patent, the inventor had designed a magnetic clearance socket for use when driving multiple nuts, sheet metal fasteners, or other fasteners in succession.
The above patent is assigned to the Gardner-Denver company, which acquired Apex in the early 1960's.  (Gardner-Denver began in 1859, when Robert Gardner invented the first effective governor for steam engines.  The company expanded into the production of pumps, which paid off when oil was discovered at Spindeltop, a gusher on the Gulf Coast south of Beaumont, Texas.  The maturing of the automobile industry had created a huge appetite for oil, and Garner drilling or "mud" pumps were consequently in high demand. Gardner further capitalized on the boom by developing high speed vertical air compressors for use by gas stations.  In 1927, they merged with the Denver Rock Drill Company, becoming Gardner-Denver.  They were acquired by Cooper Industries in 1979, but spun off as a publically-traded separate company in 1994, becoming privately owned in 2013.  At that time, the company claimed that their impact sockets "have hex tolerances that are on average 48% tighter than DIN and 35% tighter than ANSI requirements.")  The merger with Gardner-Denver appears to have constituted the actual end for the Apex company, although it was not legally dissolved until 1983, when it was under Cooper Industries' control.  According to Google Maps, it's former location in South Patterson Boulevard in Dayton is now a fenced and overgrown field, ironically situated next to a Habitat for Humanity Re-Store.  Apex Tools are still available from MRO Tools, but I can't discover who makes them or where they're now made.

University of Dayton Daytonian, 1946

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Apex tool is now part of apex tool group but is still manufactured in Dayton ohio. There were 2 plants one on Patterson one on Stewart st. The just combined in the late 80s to one building.