Antique wrenches more than scrap iron | News

WAKEFIELD — Russell Marshall isn’t sure his collection is worth all that much, but he said he has no plans to get rid of it.

His collection? More than 3,000 antique wrenches.

They come in all kinds of shapes and sizes, each manufactured to fit a specific part on a specific machine.

All of the wrenches are located in the basement of the Graves Library Museum here. And they’re only part of a larger collection Marshall has at home.

Marshall said his oldest wrenches probably date to 1864. Back then, there was no standard for machine parts, so each one needed a tool to fit it. Companies began to standardize equipment in the 1920s, and Marshall said they probably stopped making so many different wrenches in the ’30s.

And now all of these wrenches have been left for collectors to find and research.

“Research is half the fun,” Marshall said.

To do so, Marshall said, he mostly relies on parts lists. Marshall said he looks through them for mentions of wrenches and tries to match the part numbers to the wrench he has. Sometimes — perhaps 15 to 20 percent of the time — the lists will have pictures to help.

“If they don’t have part numbers, boy is it tough,” he said.

He also uses the internet for research, though Google Books doesn’t always have what he needs. When that happens, the larger wrench-collecting community may be able to help.

The Missouri Valley Wrench Club was founded in 1981 and meets twice a year in York to show, sell and swap wrenches. Marshall said people come from across the country for the meetings.

Marshall’s great uncle was a founding member of the club, and he and Marshall’s grandfather were the people who introduced Marshall to the hobby.

Pete Rathbone, a wrench collector in Idaho with a similarly large collection, has also been helpful.

Marshall said Rathbone got him interested in collecting farm…

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