A Spanner In the Works: Railroad Wrench, ca. 1890s

Every household should have a toolbox for those little emergencies. In the case of this railroad wrench, you’d need a somewhat larger place to store it as it’s 27″ long!

This piece of railway history was manufactured by the Roebling Machine Shop of Trenton, New Jersey; the same Roebling family who designed the Brooklyn Bridge. It spent its days tightening heavy duty iron nuts on locomotives and shifting rails to allow trains to branch off to other locations.

The wrench shows some rusting and pitting but the teeth are in good shape and it’s clearly marked with a patent date of 1898. Now, if only I could find someone to help left it…

UPDATE: This is a short note sent to me by the purchaser of this wrench, Mike from Georgia:

Some 21 years ago, I began my wrench collection with a like new Roebling No.3 baby brother to the one you have. Now 11 different Roeblings and close to 900 other wrenches later, I can complete my first collection! The Number 5 is scarce, probably because they were pretty useless as a tool and a lot of them probably went into WWII scrap metal drives. I have only seen 2 others up for auction over the years. Looking forward to its addition to the “Tool Room”.


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