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Monkey Wrench

Monkey Wrench

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Description
This heavy wrench was used in steam locomotive and railroad-car repair work. A skilled mechanic used a monkey wrench only when a solid, open-end wrench was not available to properly fit a bolt or nut in question, or when the head of the bolt or size of the nut was non-standard. The jaws of a monkey wrench were only grossly adjustable and usually made a poor or loose fit on the nut or bolt head. “Monkeying” off a nut or bolt with such a wrench often involved several tries to get the wrench to fit without its slipping off.
This tool is part of a collection of hand tools used in the inspection and repair of steam locomotives in the early- to the mid-20th century, roughly 1900-1955. Light repairs on steam locomotives were usually done in roundhouses at the many small locomotive terminals throughout a railroad's system; heavy repairs were done in a large, centralized repair shop serving the whole system (often referred to as the "Back Shop").
Object Name
monkey wrench
Date made
1940s
used date
1850s-Present
Physical Description
steel (overall material)
Measurements
overall: 12 in x 3 in; 30.48 cm x 7.62 cm
ID Number
2002.0075.11
catalog number
2002.0075.11
accession number
2002.0075
Credit Line
Gift of National Park Service
subject
Railroads
See more items in
Work and Industry: Transportation, Railroad
Work
America on the Move
Transportation
Exhibition
America on The Move
Exhibition Location
National Museum of American History
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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