View Full Version : Saving a tool.

07-07-2007, 12:54 AM
No, not me, I'm doomed. When I came to Canada in the early 70's I didn't bring much with me, in particular no tools save a pocket knife and a couple of other small items. One of the first tools I bought here was a six inch Crescent wrench. A few years ago it vanished until recently. It somehow wound up under the edge of the floor mat on the driver's side of the Ranger. Not a good place to be, especially in winter. It was soaked in salt slush repeatedly for some years until I found it one day. It looked like this...


Not a pretty sight. Normally I would just toss it but this is a genuine Made in USA back in the good old days real American tool. I decided to see if it could be saved. I started with an all day soak in a strong solution of phosphoric acid. This removed all the visible rust and revealed a heavily pitted surface, not encouraging. However, having nothing to lose I continued. Next treatment was spraying with a lubricant similar to WD-40 and letting it soak. After a couple of days of this I began beating the wrench on a block of wood occasionally. After a week of this I started using the partly open jaws to try to pry a piece of 1/8" sheet metal to loosen the jaws. More lube, more beating and more prying.

Today I decided it was time for the heat treatment. Since the wrench claims to be made of Crestoloy (what ever that is ) I proceeded carefully. Using a flap wheel I polished up the sides of the jaws to remove the pitting so I could see the metal clearly. I turned on the torch and heated the wrench until I saw a tiny indication that the the pointy tips below the adjuster were beginning to color. I removed the heat and began spraying with similar-to-WD-40 and bashing on the wood block intermittently. Rust came out of the adjuster and slide in large quantities.

Eventually, with the careful application of minor brute force to the jaws and the adjuster (via Vicegrip, yes, the real thing, another story, left clamped on the underside of the Land Rover for two years)... where was I? Oh yeah, brute force. It finally loosened, pretty much all at once until it was working just like it never rusted. After buffing and an application of cold bluing it looks like this:


Paul Alciatore
07-07-2007, 01:15 AM
We must be brothers under the skin. I thought I was the only one a*** enough to spend that much time and effort on a rusted tool. I have an inside caliper that had a similar amount of rust. Belonged to my father so I was determined to salvage it. I also did the cold bluing: it looks great and works perfectly.

Nice job.

07-07-2007, 03:10 AM
Back from the dead, looks fine. I'm sure I have a tool or two hiding in just the same spot in the land cruiser.

Ah, but on to the vice grips. I have a real one, and a fake one that was a gift. I use the fake a lot in the shop for minor holding jobs, and pretty much curse it out every time. Then I used it outside and lost track of it. I was getting kind of hopeful that I wouldn't find it, but then it turned up. Whaddya gonna do.

If I do find them rusted up some day, I'm NOT going to restore them.

07-07-2007, 07:59 AM
I don't know what it is about saving old tools......

I've spend shop hours (normally income producing time) doing it. Those hours would bring in many times the value of the salvaged tool.

One method I use in addition to those mentioned by Evan is a pneumatic rivet gun on low pressure to break loose stuck moving parts. The rivet gun seems to work well on bolts deeply threaded into castings.

Your Old Dog
07-07-2007, 08:07 AM
I'm sure I have a tool or two hiding in just the same spot in the land cruiser.

That's why I won't own a Land Cruiser :D

Your Old Dog
07-07-2007, 08:09 AM
I don't know what it is about saving old tools......

I know what it is for me. I value tools that have done work much more then new ones. They are like shoes to me, at some point they get very comfortable and familiar in my hands. It's kinda like when the newlywed status wears off after you been married a few years..................... on the second thought, maybe I shouldn't start down this road :D I don't want anyone to think my tools are sagging :D

07-07-2007, 08:21 AM
They are like shoes to me, at some point they get very comfortable and familiar in my hands.

I've always used shoes to protect my feet. Oh well, to each his own. It's gotta be difficult to pick things up though.

I just couldn't bring myself to toss the wrench. Many of the tools I own are from a time when quality came first and was the main selling and even bragging point for manufacturers.

07-07-2007, 08:39 AM
I just couldn't bring myself to toss the wrench.

Not to be a buzz-kill here as you did a great job bringing it back from the brink but when I was a Engineman in the Navy and lead Petty Officer on tugs and "A" division on a ship I gathered every Crescent wrench I could find and tossed 'em overboard.

No risk of rounding fasteners that way with hundreds of gallons a minute flooding in!

Now I own several.

I live on a mountain! ;)

07-07-2007, 08:58 AM
I own several machines with square head bolts in places. No risk of rounding them either. They carry titanium crescent wrenches on the shuttle. I wonder what they cost?

A.K. Boomer
07-07-2007, 09:19 AM
Geeze, my first thought is dont worry about your wrench, worry about your rocker panels:p

07-07-2007, 09:24 AM
The rocker panels are fine. I do have some rust out to fix on the fenders above the rear wheels though. Stupid plastic wheel well liner traps crap in there that you can't wash out.

grand master flash
07-07-2007, 11:27 AM
On a related note I was watching one of the Sunday mechanic ahows on Spike TV and they showed a slick way to remove rust.
What they did was put a part in a plastic container coverer the part with water . Then they added an electrode and attached the electrode and the part to a battery charger . They did add a Arm and Hammer product (it was not baking soda ). I cannot remember the polairity of the connections . After 24 hours the part was black and free of rust,

07-07-2007, 11:42 AM
:D Is it a metric wrench or imperial??

Malc :cool:

07-07-2007, 12:31 PM
Thats cool - i probably would have figured it was a gonner and bought a new one.

Have Crescent brand adjustable wrenches changed that much? They still say crestaloy and made in USA on them. I've had one for maybe 6 years now and its nice. The jaws move smoothly, which seems to be the main difference (or at least most readily recognized) between good wrenches and cheap import wrenches.

I agree with YOD though; i get attached to my tools and i hate to use other peoples, even when they are just as good or better than my own. Once you get a feel for a particular tool and organization, its hard to adjust. (especially with things like micrometers - i know how much pressure my thimbles need for an accurate reading, but other micrometers are tougher to use until you get a feel for them)

07-07-2007, 02:34 PM
That is why I bought a tumble vibe,I have / Find too many tools like that.

A couple of hours in the tumble vibe and even the rubber handles look good.

John Garner
07-07-2007, 11:49 PM
Evan --

Asked with tongue stuck forcefully into cheek: When did your wrench grow the two inches, between the time you lost it and found it, or is the something-like-WD-40 fertilizer for wrenches?


07-08-2007, 01:02 AM
grand master flash, have a look at the following sites. It works.



Also use the search funtion above to look at more threads on this board about it.


07-08-2007, 03:06 AM
When did your wrench grow the two inches, between the time you lost it and found it, or is the something-like-WD-40 fertilizer for wrenches?

I should have mentioned that those are Canadian inches and bigger than US inches, just like Canadian gallons are bigger than US gallons. You won't find the conversion information available anywhere since we switched to metric long since.