Games Learning Resources Visit the Museum
America on the Move
Collection Exhibition Themes
Sockets (3)
Catalog #: 2002.0075.15, - .17, Accession #: 2002.0075
Currently on display
From the Smithsonian Collection
Used in steam locomotive repair work.
Physical Description
2 1/2" x 15 1/2", 2 3/4" x 9", 2 1/2" x 9 1/2"
Date Made:
Dates Used:
1870s - 1960s
Types used everywhere for heavy 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.

Such large sockets were used to tighten or remove bolts and associated nuts. The mechanic used a bar inserted through a hole in the top end of the socket or used a large, open-end wrench to turn the socket. A long-handled bar or wrench gave considerable leverage in turning or holding the socket. An "extender" could be slipped onto the bar or wrench handle to give even more leverage.

National Museum of American History About This Site | Sponsors | Buy the Book | E-mail Signup | Credits