The Exile Files

Raging Against the Outrageous. Laughter and Insanity Abound.

Getting to Grips

Posted by Exile on January 2, 2022

A good friend, whom I have never met, was kind enough to send me a present. We have exchanged opinions and views for some years via the magic of the internet but never had the chance to physically meet. He lives in Eugene, Oregon, in the USA and is about as far away from me as one can get without standing in water. So it came as a bit of a surprise to me when he e-mailed me, saying he was sending me “something”. It arrived at my home on New Years Eve. I have never seen anything quite like it.

DSCN0041It is a tool, beautifully made. A piece of genuine American ingenuity. I know that because I went off to do a bit of research and found the patent number and even the inventor of this tool. I do not believe there are many of these in Europe.
But, perhaps, I am getting ahead of myself here. Firstly, I should thank Jim (his real name, but you will get no more from me here regarding identity) for sending it to me. He wrote an accompanying letter stating that he has carried the tool for the past 60 years and how he came by it. I must also thank his father who, I presume, bought the thing to use on his dairy farm and so passed it on to Jim. So now I have some history of the thing. It is probably close to 100 years old. Which makes it almost a true antique. And finally, the inventor of this wonderful tool. His name was Percival F. King. He had three patents on various forms of this tool. This one being the final and, in my opinion, best itteration of it, from 1926. The tool is marked ‘Vise-Lock-Pliers’ and ‘Seattle, U.S.A.’ The patent number is there too.
I found the patent in the Directory of American Tool and Machinery Patents. I’ll drop a link at the end.
It is a precursor to the ubiquitous visegrips that we all know and love today.

DSCN0042The pliers do get a firm grip on whatever they are applied to. I pride myself on having a reasonable mechanical understanding but I cannot for the very life of me see how they achieve that. Simply closing the jaws with some pressure causes it to grip and lock on, There is no mechanical device involved. To release the grip, one simply opens the handles and it lets go. I have studied the thing for hours and I can’t see how. It may have something to do with the cam inside the body of the tool which actuates the jaws but I really don’t know.

This wonderful invention will be passed down to my grandson when he is old enough to use and appreciate what he is getting. Right now it is going to take residence in the toolbox attached to my motorcycle. I suppose that, one day, that will also be passed on to him, once he’s big enough to start and ride it. That’s a few years away yet though so, for now, I will be the custodian.

I must say, that I am impressed by the ingenuity of our forefathers. They made things to last and we now stand on their shoulders. I believe that we should hang on to our historical inheritance and celebrate the achievements of those that went before us. We can learn from them and we must teach our children to do so as well.

Once again, a resounding ‘thank you’ to Jim. Rest assured my friend, that the tool is in good hands and greatly appreciated.

See the patent here;
American Directory of Tools and Machinery

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