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America on the Move
Collection Exhibition Themes
Large Spanner
Catalog #: 2002.3013.01, Accession #: 2002.3013
Currently on display
From the Smithsonian Collection
Used in steam locomotive repair work for very large nuts and bolt heads.
Physical Description
Single ended, open-end wrench. 6" W x 25" L
Date Made:
Dates Used:
1930s - Today
Type wrench used eveywhere, for big work
Gift of National Park Service

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.

The term "spanner" could apply to any size open-end wrench. In the US, the term often applied to open-end wrenches to fit very large nuts and bolts. Steam locomotives had many "very large nuts and bolts" to both tighten and remove during repairs.

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