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My Dad's old Gerstner Toolbox (long winded)

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  • My Dad's old Gerstner Toolbox (long winded)

    My Dad had been a mechanical engineer and machinist, among many other things, throughout his life.

    He'd owned and operated a machine shop prior to, and during World War II, winning a deferment as the owner of a business involved in war production.

    He sold the shop (named Michigan Automatic Valve company in Farmington, Michigan) in the late 50's, early 60's as I recall. Took some time off, and subsequently worked for and retired from ExCello corporation as a Chief Estimator.

    As I was growing up, our basement was always well stocked with Delta Rockwell and Delta Milwaukee power tools which came in very handy when (attempting) fabrication of cross-bows, go carts, guitar amplifier speaker cabinets, and various "minor pyrotechnic devices" as a youth (dad didn't know about the latter).

    One of my earliest memories was a big wooden toolbox filled with intricate and complicated "instruments", the purpose for which was lost on my adolescent self. Dad always patiently answered all my questions about such items, but I was often times too impatient to listen to the responses.

    My dad passed in 1986. My mom moved out of the house they lived in, for nearly 40 years, a couple years later. What belongings my mom didn't take to her new condo, my siblings and I distributed among ourselves, and sold the rest.

    I got most of my dad's power tools, and a number of micrometers and various hand tools, which I had to store for many years because I was in college at the time, and lived in apartments for some years after that.

    My sister took a fancy to, and snagged the old "wooden toolbox". I felt a little guilty "bogarting" the lions share of the tools, so I didn't begrudge her. My brothers never held much interest in my dad's machinist tools, favoring the woodworking tools.

    When my wife and I built our house 20 years ago, I happily retrieved all the tools from storage and have been using them frequently ever since.

    I recently remembered that "old wooden toolbox", and asked my sister if she still had it, after these nearly 30 years. She responded in the affirmative and offered to bring it over on her next visit.

    This last weekend she travelled from Traverse City, Michigan to visit, and did indeed bring the toolbox (pics below). I hadn't seen it in almost three decades, but I had a hunch it might be a Gerstner, my dad had a taste for the finer things, but I certainly had no idea it would be in the condition it was in.

    I'm 57, and I remember this toolbox from when I was very young. This toolbox is as old as I am, perhaps much older.

    All the felt is still nearly perfect, faded a little on the lid, undoubtedly from sunlight, but no need to replace it. The leather handle is still perfect. There is some very minor water damage on the bottom and near the handle. The latches and drawers all work perfectly, and front cover closes perfectly. The key is lost, but I may find it among a ring of keys I just remembered I still have from among my dad's belongings. The contents are gone, and I can't remember what happened to them, probably sold them when we cleaned out my moms house.

    But I did find an "attendee badge" to the Camp Perry, Ohio Shooting Expo, with my dad's name on it, dated 1957. My dad had been an avid outdoorsmen and shooter, and I remember one such family outing to Camp Perry, but I would only have been two years old at this particular one, so I don't know if this is the event I attended.

    I remember seeing my fist helicopter close-up at this event and being terrified at the noise, but not so terrified that I later became a helicopter pilot and owner, and still fly my own helicopter frequently.

    I thought the members here would be interested to hear the story of my "new" Gerstner toolbox.

    Last edited by jmarkwolf; 04-22-2013, 11:06 AM.

  • #2
    Awesome. That's a beauty. Is there a copy of Machinery's Handbook in that center drawer? Maybe you can open each drawer and take a picture of whatever's there, if you haven't rearranged things already.


    • #3
      Sadly, the contents are long gone, except for the 1957 attendee badge from the Camp Perry, Ohio shooting expo.


      • #4
        That's a dandy!!!!

        THANX RICH
        People say I'm getting crankier as I get older. That's not it. I just find I enjoy annoying people a lot more now. Especially younger people!!!


        • #5
          Interesting story, and great box.


          • #6
            Long winded? Not at all.

            A heartfelt and meaningful story! Thank you.

            And a beautiful box.



            • #7
              Good story and good personal touch. I think a lot of us like to read about carrying a family theme into the next generation as that is how a lot of us got here. The box is a treasure in excellent condition and ready to go back to work. Fill it up and let your tool marks join those of your dad. Its about time, don'tcha think?


              • #8
                I found a story kind of like that, I bought a 26" Wanut Gerstner from a guy in Goshen In with the riser. He told me it was his Dads & he ownwd a co, never used it, loved them & kept it on his desk. After I bought it he asked if wanted more as he had given all his sisters one too. I said sure , called him in a week & none of the girls wanted to sell theirs. I did pic up another walnut same model from a guy that started in T/D on '72 went into management a year later but kept the box. Thanks for keeping the box. They're really great & so's your story!


                • #9
                  Great story thanks for posting


                  • #10
                    I always like these stories as I have my Grandpas box from his days as a machinist at Bendix in South Bend.I use the tools I know how to and keep learning more about the ones I don't know how to and all the time feel Grandpa keeping an eye on me.


                    • #11
                      Great story and I'm glad to hear the box is being put to use. Having one of that age in excellent condition is quite a find. Just fill it full of your own tools so that your offspring will stand there in amazement wondering just what are these things. Hopefully they too will get "the bug" and become HSMers.

                      BTW, some Old English wood polish or Minwax finishing paste wax will help preserve the finish and may reduce the water stain.


                      • #12
                        Gerstner sells a product that will rejuvenate old finishes. It's only about $20 a bottle and does a good job.