View Full Version : Ever seen a genuine Studebaker hammer?

11-30-2013, 10:06 PM
I picked up this hammer not too long ago. My claim to fame is I know probably more than I should about the internal workings of the South Bend plants, especially Chippewa, but this tool stumps me. It's a tack hammer, and is very old, but on the back it's engraved "Studebaker Corp. Eng. records dept." The engraving does appear to be old as well. I've looked at many photos, and the only places that I've seen tack hammer being used on the production line are when bodies got their headliners in building #84. Perhaps somebody here knows something more about this thing? It's actually one of two that I have. The other hammer is more like a mallet and the only reason I know it came from Studebaker is because it's also ancient and I picked it up out of the courtyard at SASCO back when I was working in that building.
http://i768.photobucket.com/albums/xx323/chris_dresbach/019_zps54199c58.jpg (http://s768.photobucket.com/user/chris_dresbach/media/019_zps54199c58.jpg.html)
http://i768.photobucket.com/albums/xx323/chris_dresbach/055_zpsc5280265.jpg (http://s768.photobucket.com/user/chris_dresbach/media/055_zpsc5280265.jpg.html)

11-30-2013, 10:07 PM
The engraving on the back in the bottom photo is very faint, heck I can barely see it in person; but it is there. You can just barely see it in the photo.

12-01-2013, 12:21 AM
IMO, this hammer predates automobiles when one considers how upholstery was attached to wagon seats.

12-01-2013, 06:25 AM
Pretty neat item...
But it might not pre-date automobiles, as wooden substructure and wooden seat frames ran well into the 1930's, or even later.

Being an assembly line tool, I wonder if the department (Studebaker tool room) engraved it, or if they had the hammer manufacturer engrave it.
I kind of doubt/wonder if Studebaker actually made a simple thing like a hammer, but rather purchased them.
But... You never know.....
PS: That would be a real neat item, were it mounted in a frame with a tool room check tag and a neat little explanatory plate.:!:

12-01-2013, 06:55 AM
How cool. I love old tools and this one is really nice. Congrats on your find Chris.

Lark Parker
12-01-2013, 07:20 AM
Nit pick alert.
That is an upholstery hammer, not really a tack hammer. It's a better hammer, a little longer handle and head, with superior balance. They are a bit more difficult to buy these days.
Tack hammers are the commonly available item in hardware stores.

Most upholstery hammers you run across will be older vintage but new ones can be ordered from the manufacturer after some searching.

12-01-2013, 07:42 AM
Learn something new every day.

12-01-2013, 08:43 AM
Great find Chris! Well worth displaying!
Keep looking for Studebaker goodies laying
about. Who knows maybe you'll
find some of those missing green dashboard
covers for my 57 Packard!

Dwain G.
12-01-2013, 10:27 AM
Chris, have you checked to see if either end is magnetic?

12-01-2013, 10:45 AM
Is it still practiced where upholsterers put a bunch of tacks in their mouth to use in concert with the tack hammer? I remember my dad doing that back when he still did the odd chair or couch. He learned upholstery at a small shop for such before he went to work for DuPont, making car paint. Seemed like a dangerous trick to me!

12-01-2013, 12:54 PM
That's what the ex studebaker employees said during the building 84 tour that worked on headliners, that the tacks were kept in their mouths and never touched their hands, just spit onto the magnetic hammers. Bad job for someone with hiccups.

12-01-2013, 02:53 PM
I guess I should have specified, Studebaker didn't MAKE this hammer, it was made by Heller. You can barely see that inscription if you look at the head in the top photo. Studebaker did however engrave their name on it. I checked to see if one end is magnetic and to my surprise it actually is, but it's faint. It could barely pick up a small washer.

12-01-2013, 07:39 PM
As a small example I think I may know of a use for that hammer; my '50 2R5's windlace. The windlace that's on it is tacked in place at the edges along both doors on a set of narrow cardboard strips. As to the practice of putting the tacks in your mouth, well when you have a hammer in one hand, and stringing up the upholstery in the other, you find that your mouth becomes a great tool for holding these small things that have to be fastened in rapid succession! :rolleyes:

12-01-2013, 08:26 PM
I think even into the 1950's, and certainly in my 1948 M5, the windlace was put in with tacks through cardboard-like "tack strip". This was a fairly dense material, about 1/8" thick. The tacks went through the windlace, through the tack strip, and hit the metal strip behind. The metal strip was a separate layer from the outside skin of the truck cab, so you didn't get dimples on the outside. The sharp ends of the tacks curled when they hit the metal strip, turning back into the tack strip. That held the windlace tightly in position and prevented the tacks from pulling out. In my M5 cab, the tack strip was attached to the metal strip with spiral nails. Maybe that's why there is a big end and a small end for that tack hammer. For those of us without the skill of the old-time upholsterers and less-pressed for time, a short sheet metal screw is easier to put in the right place with a cordless or pneumatic drill and will hold as well. I like the pneumatic drills better for this work because they stop instantly when you let the trigger up. My cordless drill keeps going too long.

Now let's get down to brass tacks...

12-01-2013, 11:27 PM
I think even into the 1950's, ...1953 for certain, and I wouldn't be surprised if they were unchanged until at least the GT Hawks.

12-02-2013, 07:07 AM
Weren't tacks used on the convertible tops through 1964? Or were they stapled?

08-09-2014, 01:24 AM
Although not made by Studebaker, I think we can agree that it appears to have been a factory-supplied tool. I too have one, but I did not see any plant engravings on it. This belonged to my great-grandmother who was an upholsterer as well.

It's seen a lot of action, as the head has been re-secured with nails and screws quite a few times.

It also seems that yours has paint smears on it, so does mine. White splotches, and a bloody red splotch



I also have other old hammers that were with it, can anyone confirm if these were from Studebaker too?


08-09-2014, 01:45 AM
Well don't you think the inscription on your Hammer Chris is a clue to something?

I mean "Studebaker Engineering Records Dept." tells you this one was NOT used in any Production Line of ANY kind. :ohmy:

Deaf Mute
08-09-2014, 06:50 AM
When ordering an upholstery kit from LeBaron Bonny for my Model A Ford... there was a warning on the bag of tacks. "Do not place these tacks in your mouth the coating on them is extremely hazardous to your health!" But then so was the Mercury we played with in school and the Mercurochrome that Mom put on my cut knees.

08-09-2014, 09:20 AM
Maybe that was the hammer used to break records...:rolleyes:
I've worked in machine shops and factory shops for 35 years and one thing I can suggest is maybe:
the records department needed a hammer for whatever purpose, "commandeered" the easiest, closest one and put their dept name on it. I've seen it done many times. Not just with hammers.
Cool piece nonetheless.

08-09-2014, 10:57 AM
I just finished the interior of my 1928 Dictator. The upholstery, inlcuding the headliner, had upholstery nails everywhere. This upholstery hammer is what would have been used for those, so there were probably a lot of these in the body department. My guess is that most of them walked home with employees over the years since they are useful.
I have two Heller tack hammers just like these; I used to do furniture upholstery and these were the most used tool I had, not counting my extra large upholstery scissors. They are common in upholstery shops. If you went in to one today you would find these in daily use. Mine were purchased from an elderly man who probably bought his new back in the '40s. And yes, the smaller head was always magnetic so you could pick up a tack without touching them.

New question: I'm interested in the tool room checks. I have one for department 7, which was the transportation department. Chris, or anyone else, know the name and number of all the departments?

08-10-2014, 06:03 PM
I ran the tool repair dept. during my years at McDonnell-Douglas Aircraft. It was common practice for various departments to mark tools they had as a means to keep those items from "growing legs". Even tho they'd gotten their tools thru the tool distribution system, tools had a habit of disappearing. Occasionally, the tool dept. would send me a big cart full of tools - tools that for whatever reason were lying unused in the tool cribs for too long. Once they'd gone uncalled for for long enough, they'd send them to me in the off chance I might have a use for parts from them. Alot of them would be marked with McDonnell-Douglas and or specific department names/numbers. Once I sent them back, the next stop for them was the surplus store. I have quite a few tools I just kept for myself. One of them is a HUGE hand drill motor that would literally break your arm if a bit stalled and you couldn't let go of it in time! I'm fairly certain it dates to the 40s. I also have a really cool strobe light that was used for calibrating the RPM of various rotating machinery. It has several Douglas Aircraft ID tags and calibration tags riveted to it.
Of course, being a govt. contractor, McDonnell-Douglas was a place where MANY things that didn't make sense went on. I can't begin to remember all the times I saw (and was a party to) the trash-canning of many brand new and very expensive items. I've been witness to MANY multi-thousand dollar items going right into the nearest dumpster! And you wonder why they went outta business.:yeahright:

Warren Webb
08-10-2014, 10:58 PM
Of course, being a govt. contractor, McDonnell-Douglas was a place where MANY things that didn't make sense went on. I can't begin to remember all the times I saw (and was a party to) the trash-canning of many brand new and very expensive items. I've been witness to MANY multi-thousand dollar items going right into the nearest dumpster! And you wonder why they went outta business.:yeahright:

About a year ago a friend of mine gave me a nice Snap-On tool roller cabinet. It had been kept in a building at Camp Pendleton that was destined to be torn down. She told me her husband who was stationed there at the time was told to get rid of them, so he got 5 I think, giving me one of them, all with brand new tools inside, including nice cut out foam for them to sit in order. It has 6 drawers, 4 of them full of the tools that came with it. Otherwise they would have had a date with the dumpster too!!