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America on the Move
Collection Exhibition Themes
Alligator Wrench used in locomotive- and railroad car-repair shops, used at Spencer
Currently on display
Not a part of the official Smithsonian Collection
Alligator Wrench used at Spencer Shops, Southern Railway.
Physical Description
Dimension: 19 L x 3 5/8 W x 2.75 D inches (L= 47.8 cm W= 9.3 cm D= 7.2cm
Date Made:
ca. 1950s
Dates Used:
1820s - Today
North Carolina
Type wrench used everywhere in pipe work
Lent by North Carolina Transportation Museum

Part of a small array of hand tools displayed in "America On The Move" - such tools were used in the inspection and repair of steam locomotives. 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"). Most of these tools date from the early- to the mid-20th century, roughly 1900-1955.

This "alligator" wrench - the type is so-called because of its shape, like an "alligator's mouth" - was used to turn iron and steel pipes and rods which could not be turned with a regular wrench. A pipefitter often used such a tool in fitting or removing air- and water-piping from a locomotive.
Related People, Places, and Events
Related Place
Used at Spencer Shops of Southern Ry, Spencer, NC

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