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Old 01-05-2011, 09:00 AM   #1
kc-steve
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Default Wilton Vise History

Hi all,

I've been looking around for any history on Wilton vises and it is sparse at best. The reason I would like this info is because I am writing an article for a new website, http://junkyardtools.com (site is currently offline while I build it in PHP format.) Sorry for the shameless plug. But I am sincere about getting some historical information.

EDIT: The Wilton History webpage is online now, and also reference my "Friends at Garage Journal" as a primary source of information.
http://junkyardtools.com/tool_history/wilton

About the only thing I can find is that Wilton was founded in 1941. And THAT is on the Wilton website! Not very proud are they?

But I am sure there is a long interesting history that needs to be told. I know some guys here have said the new Wilton vises are not as good as the old. Is that because they are made overseas now?

How about models and when they were made? I have a 3" "930" tradesman I believe, but don't have a clue when it was made.

Thanks,
Steve
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File Type: jpg Wilton-01.jpg (55.6 KB, 342 views)
File Type: jpg Wilton-02.jpg (89.4 KB, 192 views)
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Old 01-06-2011, 12:50 AM   #2
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Default Re: Wilton Vise History

I think it was autopts who said that if it was Chicago made, it was 50s or earlier.
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Old 01-06-2011, 08:12 AM   #3
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Default Re: Wilton Vise History

That's something I didn't know. Believe me, I don't know ANYTHING about these great tools and anyone with ANY info can help.

Thanks,
Steve
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Old 01-06-2011, 10:27 AM   #4
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Default Re: Wilton Vise History

For the date of your vise, pull the dynamic jaw all the way out and flip it over. On the bottom of the round end should be a flat section with a date stamped in it. Have you tried emailing Wilton and asking about thier history? I'd think someone there would have some kind of document with thier history. Also mention try mentioning its for a blog posting. I'm sure they love free advertising as much as the next company.
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Old 01-06-2011, 11:35 AM   #5
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Default Re: Wilton Vise History

The Wilton history story is a long one. Any vise that is stamped "Chicago" was made before their move out to Schiller Pk. in 1957.

Did you know retired Wilton employees schedule a dinner once a year to get together? In 2009 the Wilton Co's original founders son attended. He was a major player in Wilton's success in the 70's & 80's

Last edited by autopts; 01-06-2011 at 11:39 AM.
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Old 01-07-2011, 11:57 AM   #6
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Default Re: Wilton Vise History

Quote:
Originally Posted by autopts View Post
The Wilton history story is a long one. Any vise that is stamped "Chicago" was made before their move out to Schiller Pk. in 1957.

Did you know retired Wilton employees schedule a dinner once a year to get together? In 2009 the Wilton Co's original founders son attended. He was a major player in Wilton's success in the 70's & 80's
Thanks autopts, interesting info. Is Schiller Pk. in Illinois? Never mind, I just looked it up. It is in the Chicago metro area.

Steve
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Old 01-07-2011, 12:03 PM   #7
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Default Re: Wilton Vise History

Quote:
Originally Posted by DavidB View Post
For the date of your vise, pull the dynamic jaw all the way out and flip it over. On the bottom of the round end should be a flat section with a date stamped in it. Have you tried emailing Wilton and asking about thier history? I'd think someone there would have some kind of document with thier history. Also mention try mentioning its for a blog posting. I'm sure they love free advertising as much as the next company.
Thanks for the tip David. I called the new owner since 2002, Walter Meier (pronounced like Meyer), and they tell me they don't have any history documents before 2002. That's TERRIBLE they would pretty much ignore Wilton's formative years.

Did anyone else own the Wilton company before 2002? I'm gonna have to rely on everyone's help because Walter Meier is more interested in telling us about the Meier company.

Thanks,
Steve
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Old 01-07-2011, 09:28 PM   #8
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Default Re: Wilton Vise History

As for the dates on the slide, some seem to have them and some dont. I've also read that in at least some cases those dates were the end of warranty date, not the date of manufacture. Warranty was 5 years.
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Old 01-07-2011, 09:49 PM   #9
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Default Re: Wilton Vise History

Quote:
Originally Posted by spongerich View Post
As for the dates on the slide, some seem to have them and some dont. I've also read that in at least some cases those dates were the end of warranty date, not the date of manufacture. Warranty was 5 years.
Really?! My Wilton is stamped 4-46. So that means it was made in 1941 - their first year? Does anyone have an earlier stamp?
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Old 01-07-2011, 10:05 PM   #10
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Default Re: Wilton Vise History

Quote:
Originally Posted by spongerich View Post
As for the dates on the slide, some seem to have them and some dont. I've also read that in at least some cases those dates were the end of warranty date, not the date of manufacture. Warranty was 5 years.
Ah, yes I should have mentioned that as well. Based on a pic I saw on OWWM, the warranty expiration date stamps have the text "GUAR EXP" stamped above them. I don't know if this is always true. It was also mentioned that the 5 year warranty went away in the mid sixties though so that should help determine if it is a manufacturing date.

Here is the pic, originally posted on OWWM.org by 9watts. Hopefully, he'd be ok with me borrowing it.



I'm surprised that Wilton has no info on their history. That's just sad. I don't know if you're a member of owwm.org but there is a moderator over there named jblenzi that seems to know a fair amount about Wiltons. You might try contacting him as well.

Here's the patent for the bullet style vise if that helps at all: http://www.datamp.org/patents/displa...31498&id=40894

Last edited by DavidB; 01-07-2011 at 10:14 PM.
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Old 01-07-2011, 10:14 PM   #11
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Default Re: Wilton Vise History

Quote:
Originally Posted by ajchien View Post
Really?! My Wilton is stamped 4-46. So that means it was made in 1941 - their first year? Does anyone have an earlier stamp?
They may have been finalizing their designs around 1939-1940. Yes, the early dates stamped were 5 years after the vise was originally made. It was for warranty reasons which was 5 years.
WMH wants nothing to do with Wilton's past. In 2010 Wilton customer service even changed the name when answering phones from "Good Morning, Wilton Tool Customer Service" to "Hi, this is Walter Meyers Holding Inc, may I help you"? WMH is Swiss based and huge! They want nothing more then to globalize every line they have. They tried it with some of their Tradesman vises being made in China. The 1740, 1750,& 1760. American users started screaming about how poorly made vises they were so eventually they brought that vise back home to make.
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Old 01-08-2011, 07:08 AM   #12
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Default Re: Wilton Vise History

Quote:
Originally Posted by DavidB View Post
. . .I'm surprised that Wilton has no info on their history. That's just sad. I don't know if you're a member of owwm.org but there is a moderator over there named jblenzi that seems to know a fair amount about Wiltons. You might try contacting him as well. . . .
Never heard of it, but thanks. I will try and join the "Old Wood Working Machines" forum and see what I can find out. I also joined Practical Machinist forum but it has taken 3 or 4 days just to get OK-ed to type a question.

I was reading post at PM and found out the differences between a Machinist and Mechanics vise.

Major differences include that the Mechanics vise was meant to be beat on with a sledge, and typically includes a pipe grip below the regular vise grips. That would seem to be the preferred vise to me, but those machinists "wouldn't want one."

Quoting Groucho Marx, "I wouldn't join a club that would have me as a member."

Steve
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Old 01-08-2011, 07:21 AM   #13
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Default Re: Wilton Vise History

Quote:
Originally Posted by ajchien View Post
Really?! My Wilton is stamped 4-46. So that means it was made in 1941 - their first year? Does anyone have an earlier stamp?
Mine's stamped 1946 as well. Does yours say Patented or Pat Pending?

KC-Steve - If you haven't already done so, you might also spend some time searching patents.google.com. There might be some good info hidden there as well. I assume that Wilton has at least a few patents filed there.
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Old 01-08-2011, 07:55 AM   #14
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Default Re: Wilton Vise History

Autopts, thanks again. BTW, I checked David's patent link and it has the names A.J. Vogl, and Hugh W. Vogl on several of their patents.

FYI per our pm's.

Spongerich: Thanks, I found the "bullet style" patent was granted on March 3, 1942. Applied for on August 1, 1941.

Thanks,
Steve
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Old 01-08-2011, 08:32 AM   #15
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Default Re: Wilton Vise History

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Originally Posted by spongerich View Post
. . . you might also spend some time searching patents.google.com. There might be some good info hidden there as well. I assume that Wilton has at least a few patents filed there.
Correct me if I am wrong, but I think I found the patent for the "Columbian style" Wilton vise, US Patent: D154,001. It doesn't explicitly say that it is the Columbian though.

Applied: Nov. 12, 1947
Granted: May 31, 1949

http://www.datamp.org/patents/search...id=40895&set=2

Steve
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Old 01-08-2011, 09:12 AM   #16
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Default Re: Wilton Vise History

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Originally Posted by kc-steve View Post
Correct me if I am wrong, but I think I found the patent for the "Columbian style" Wilton vise, US Patent: D154,001. It doesn't explicitly say that it is the Columbian though.

Applied: Nov. 12, 1947
Granted: May 31, 1949

http://www.datamp.org/patents/search...id=40895&set=2

Steve
Another fruitful search Steve. I believe that was a patent for Wilton's Torco vise. That was was made very early on. Notice the shapes of the anvils?

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Old 01-08-2011, 09:39 AM   #17
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Default Re: Wilton Vise History

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Another fruitful search Steve. I believe that was a patent for Wilton's Torco vise. That was was made very early on. Notice the shapes of the anvils?
AWESOME! Autopts, you are ALWAYS a wealth of information.

Edit: I think that photo also shows a later patent of their swivel base, US Patent: D184,413
Applied: Feb. 14, 1957
Granted: Feb. 10, 1959

http://www.datamp.org/patents/search...id=40886&set=7

Is it possible that (my new link) was the Columbian style? I don't really know.

Thanks,
Steve
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Old 01-08-2011, 07:59 PM   #18
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Default Re: Wilton Vise History

Mine is simply stamped "4-46". Nothing else. No "Patent", "Pat Pending", nor is there a "Guar Exp" on it.



Quote:
Originally Posted by spongerich View Post
Mine's stamped 1946 as well. Does yours say Patented or Pat Pending?

KC-Steve - If you haven't already done so, you might also spend some time searching patents.google.com. There might be some good info hidden there as well. I assume that Wilton has at least a few patents filed there.
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Old 01-08-2011, 10:12 PM   #19
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Default Re: Wilton Vise History

Quote:
Originally Posted by kc-steve View Post
AWESOME! Autopts, you are ALWAYS a wealth of information.

Edit: I think that photo also shows a later patent of their swivel base, US Patent: D184,413
Applied: Feb. 14, 1957
Granted: Feb. 10, 1959

http://www.datamp.org/patents/search...id=40886&set=7

Is it possible that (my new link) was the Columbian style? I don't really know.

Thanks,
Steve

That was Wilton's "Rapid Titan 3 Way" Triple duty vise. Final production had that vise with 3 different options, 1, it had woodworking jaws, 2, pipe jaws, and 3, regular vise jaws. Wilton entered quick and early on the DIY market.
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Old 01-08-2011, 10:34 PM   #20
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Default Re: Wilton Vise History

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Thanks autopts, interesting info. Is Schiller Pk. in Illinois? Never mind, I just looked it up. It is in the Chicago metro area.

Steve
in case your interested the old wilton plant is occupied by Russo Hardware at roughly Irving pk rd & wesley terrace... google earth should show soo line rail tracks behind the block long factory, the park on the corner use to be a parking lot i played baseball in (knocking a homer thru a factory window at one point) and a house on that street i grew up in
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