Alloy Artifacts  

Packer Auto Specialty

Table of Contents


Introduction

The Packer Auto Specialty Company was active from 1912 through the 1920s as the maker of "Ray" brand socket sets and other automobile accessories. The company was notable for its early use of a roller clutch mechanism for ratchets and as the first company to offer socket sets in metal cases.

Company History

The Packer Auto Specialty Company was incorporated in Chicago in 1912 as a maker of socket sets and automotive accessories. The company took its name from Eben R. Packer, an inventor with numerous patents for automotive tools and railroad equipment.

[1912 Notice for Packer Auto Specialty]
Fig. 1. 1912 Notice for Packer Auto Specialty. [External Link]

The small notice in Fig. 1 was published on page 1099 of the May 9, 1912 issue of Automotive Industries.

[1912 Ad for Ray Socket Sets]
Fig. 2. 1912 Ad for "Ray" Socket Wrench Sets.

The text notes the founding of the company and lists the founders as William Bangs, Laird Bell, and William C. Bayden. The capital stock is given as $2500.

A 1913 report from the Illinois Secretary of State listed the company's incorporation date as April 29, 1912.

The company used the "Ray" brand for its socket wrench products. The scan in Fig. 2 shows an early ad for Ray socket sets, as published on page 23 of the June, 1912 issue of the Automobile Trade Journal.

The illustration shows the larger Ray No. 1 socket set in a wooden box, with the smaller Ray No. 2 set supplied in a leather case.

The text describes the tubular ratchet handle as having a roller clutch mechanism with a reversing collar, an impressively early application of the roller clutch principle to a hand tool. The ratchet was based on patents 1,057,495 and 1,087,316, both issued to E.R. Packer.

The company address is given as 1770 Old Colony Building in Chicago.


Clam-Shell Metal Cases

[1916 Ad for Ray Tire Carriers and Socket Sets]
Fig. 3. 1916 Ad for Ray Tire Carriers and Socket Sets.

By the fall of 1916 Packer Auto had started supplying some of its sets in clam-shell metal cases, making it the earliest known socket set maker to use metal cases or boxes.

The scan in Fig. 3 shows a full-page ad for Ray socket sets and tire carriers, as published on page 87 [External Link] of the September 16, 1916 issue of Motor World.

The illustration shows socket sets No. 39, No. 22, and No. 11-A in metal cases, and the text confidently states "Absolutely the only socket wrench sold IN PRESSED STEEL ENAMELED CASES."

This ad doesn't provide a description of the socket sets, but the notice in Fig. 4 below, published a few months later, fills in some of the details.

This ad is also notable for the "Ray" sunburst logo at the top, a design which became the company's registered trademark a few years later.

[1917 Notice for Ray Socket Wrenches]
Fig. 4. 1917 Notice for Ray Socket Wrenches. [External Link]

The composite scan in Fig. 4 was published on page 27 of the January 17, 1917 issue of Motor World. The text describes Ray socket sets No. 6, No. 11, a special set for Ford service (not numbered here, but identified as No. 11A in the previous figure), and the company's largest No. 39 set.

The No. 39 set offered additional non-socket tools including a pipe wrench, pliers, and "S"-shaped open-end wrenches.

At this time the company was apparently in the process of changing from wooden boxes to metal cases. The text mentions that the No. 11 set was supplied in a wooden box, but the No. 11A and No. 39 sets were shown in metal cases in the previous figure.

This notice did not provide an illustration, but Fig. 5 below illustrates the No. 6 set.

[1917 Notice for Ray No. 6 Socket Set]
Fig. 5. 1917 Notice for Ray No. 6 Socket Set. [External Link]

The composite scan in Fig. 5 was published on page 46 of the January 1, 1917 issue of The Horseless Age and describes the Packer Auto Ray socket set No. 6 in a roll-up canvas carrier.

The illustration shows the company's No. 6 set, which consisted of a plain or ratchet handle, an extension, six sockets, and a screwdriver bit. The price was $3.50 with a plain handle or $5.00 with a ratchet handle.

In late 1919 the company filed a trademark application for "Ray" in a sunburst logo, and the trademark was issued by mid 1920.

[1920 Notice for Packer Tractor Wrench Set]
Fig. 6. 1920 Notice for Packer Tractor Wrench Set. [External Link]

By 1920 Packer was offering a special set of tools for tractor service.

Fig. 6 shows a notice for a Packer "Tractor Wrench" set, as published on page 24 of the October 1, 1920 issue of Chilton Tractor Journal.

The set in the illustration is similar to the company's No. 39 "universal" set, the largest of their automotive sets, but includes a larger pipe wrench and a spark plug socket for tractor plugs.


Flat Ratchet Handle

[1921 Notice for Ray Socket Set]
Fig. 7. 1921 Notice for Ray Socket Set. [External Link]

The company's original tubular ratchet handle remained in production through at least the early 1920s, but the company also developed a more conventional flat ratchet handle.

Fig. 7 shows a notice for a Ray socket set in a metal case, as published on page 53 of the April, 1921 issue of the Accessory and Garage Journal. The illustration shows the company's No. 39 set with a flat ratchet, and the text notes that the sets could be furnished with either the tubular or flat ratchet handle.

We have an example of the flat ratchet with a "Pat. Pend." notation below the "Ray" trademark logo, suggesting that the flat ratchet could have been in production by late 1919.


The Missing Sales Channels

The ads for Ray socket sets frequently mentioned that the products were available through "jobbers", the distribution companies that most tool companies relied upon for sales. But after looking through a number of distributor catalogs, thus far we have found only four catalogs offering Ray products. (A list of distributors can be found in the References and Resources section.)

Since Ray socket sets appear to be fairly common — we had no trouble acquiring several examples some years back — we're not sure why the company's distribution channels seem to be somewhat limited. In contrast, pressed-steel socket sets from Mossberg and Walden were readily available from many distributors.

With some additional searching we found one listing for a Ray socket set in the 1919 "Ford Owners' Supply Book" from Western Auto Supply, a high-volume retailer. The set can be identified as a No. 11-A Ford set in a metal case, though the illustration is from an apparent prototype with only 10 sockets total.

Another retail listing was found in the 1920 catalog for the Charles Williams Stores of New York City. This catalog lists several of the standard Ray socket sets, including No. 11-A, No. 22, No. 31, and No. 39. In addition, it offers the special "Tractor Socket Wrench" set. The catalog does not mention the Ray name or display the logo on the sets, but the sets can be recognized by the tubular ratchet and general layout.

An additional listing has been found in the 1922 Justice Tires (Sears) catalog, in which the Ray No. 31 set is offered as a "Thirty" Socket Set. The "Ray" name is not shown, but the set can be identified by the flat ratchet and the metal box with parallel dividers.

The listings in retail catalogs (especially in Sears) would have given the company a national footprint for sales, suggesting that Packer Auto probably sold most of its products through retail channels.


Later Socket Sets and Tools

In later years the company began producing socket sets with heavy-wall machined and broached sockets, the dominant technology for sockets in the 1920s and 1930s.

[1925 Ad for Ray No. 74 Socket Set]
Fig. 7B. 1925 Ad for Ray No. 74 Socket Set. [External Link]

After vainly searching for an advertisement or catalog reference for these later sets, we finally found the ad in the next figure.

Fig. 7B shows an ad for a Ray No. 74 socket set, as published on page 102 of the October, 1925 edition of American Exporter.

The illustration shows a No. 74 socket set consisting of a ratchet, a speeder, a Tee handle, an offset handle, an extension, a drive plug, 18 hexagon sockets, and 4 square sockets.

We have a set similar to this one and are preparing it for display.

One interesting aspect of this ad is that it was placed by the Standard Motor Parts Company, but mentions Packer Auto Specialty and the Geo. H. Rives Manufacturing Company as well. These three companies would formally merge in 1927, but already had an apparent cooperative sales agreement in 1925.

After finding this ad, we subsequently were able to identify listings in Western Auto catalogs as being likely made by Ray, although without a company marking. We'll add some scans from the catalogs at some point.

[1925 Ad for Ray No. 150 Ford Service Set]
Fig. 7C. 1925 Ad for Ray No. 150 Ford Service Set. [External Link]

In later years Ray also produced fixed socket wrenches and other tools for automotive service.

Fig. 7C shows an ad for Ray fixed socket wrenches for Ford service, as published on page 116 of the December, 1925 edition of American Exporter.

The illustration shows a Ray No. 150 Ford service set at the top, consisting of four fixed socket wrenches and a ratchet, tools that would be needed for Model T service.

The tool in the lower part of the illustration is the Ray No. 318 nut-holding speeder, a tool similar to the Blackhawk 6218 or Bog "Speedy" Speeder.


Later Operations

Packer Auto Specialty remained in operation under this name until 1927, at which time it merged with two other companies to form a new corporation. A 1927 issue of American Exporter notes the three-way merger of Packer Auto Specialty, George H. Rives Manufacturing, and the Standard Motor Part Company to form the Auto Accessories Corporation of America. The notice offered copies of the new company's catalog listing their combined products, including "Ray" brand socket wrenches.

We have one example of a tool marked for the Auto Accessories Corporation, which can be seen as the Ray No. 275 Socket Wrench.


Patents

Packer Auto Specialty: Issued and Licensed Patents
Patent No.InventorFiledIssuedNotes and Examples
1,057,495 E.R. Packer05/01/191104/01/1913 Roller clutch
1,087,316 E.R. Packer06/03/191302/17/1914 Reversible clutch mechanism
1,306,712 E.R. Packer12/02/191506/17/1919 Tire holder

Trademarks

[1920 Ray Trademark for Packer Auto Specialty]
Fig. 8. 1920 "Ray" Trademark for Packer Auto Specialty. [External Link]

Packer Auto sold its products under the "Ray" trademark, which was issued on May 11, 1920 as #131,359.

Fig. 8 shows the trademark logo, as published on page 671 of the February 24, 1920 edition of the Official Gazette. The application was filed on November 8, 1919, and the first use date is listed as May 1, 1913.

Packer Auto Specialty: Registered Trademarks
Text Mark or Logo Reg. No. First Use Date Filed Date Issued Notes
Ray 131,359 05/01/191311/08/1919 05/11/1920 "Ray" in a sunburst logo.
Used for socket wrench sets.

References and Resources

Photographs and observations of particular tools are based on items in the Alloy Artifacts Collection.

Catalog Resources

Currently we do not have any catalogs for Packer Auto Specialty.

Industrial Distributors

Ray socket wrench sets were available from some industrial distributors and from high-volume retailers such as Sears Roebuck and Western Auto Supply.


Selected Tools

Packer Auto Specialty is best known for its "Ray" brand socket sets, and we'll begin this section with a survey of the socket set products.

Socket Sets

The early Ray socket sets were similar in several ways to the Auto-Clé sets from Mossberg. The Ray sets used a tubular ratchet similar in appearance to the Auto-Clé ratchet, and the sets used pressed-steel sockets compatible with those from Mossberg. Although not stated as a 1/2-drive set, the Ray sets used a 1/2 inch drive plug and extension to drive the sockets from the inside, as did the Auto-Clé sets.

Later Mossberg sets provided a No. 350 ratchet with an 11/16 square opening to drive the sockets from the outside, and by 1920 the Ray sets offered a similar flat ratchet with an 11/16 square opening. These similarities make it clear that the Ray sets were heavily influenced by Mossberg.

The company's first products were the No. 1 (large) and No. 2 (small) socket sets, which can be seen in the illustration for Fig. 2 above. The No. 1 set consisted of a tubular ratchet, a drive plug, a long extension, a universal joint, a screwdriver blade, a spark plug socket, 27 hexagon sockets, and three square sockets. This set was provided with a wooden box and was closely modeled on the Mossberg Auto-Clé set mentioned earlier.

The No. 2 set contained the same drive tools but with 10 hexagon sockets and one square socket. This set was supplied in a leather case.

By 1916 the company had expanded its product line to include additional socket sets, and had started supplying some of its sets in clam-shell metal cases. The new sets adopted the convention that the model number indicated the total number of sockets, including the spark plug socket (if present).

The 1920 Pittsburgh Auto Equipment catalog provides a snapshot of the Ray socket set models available at that time, as described in the list below.

Later Socket Sets

Later Ray socket sets were made using machined and broached sockets, the dominant technology of the 1920s and 1930s. We have only recently (January 2022) found advertisements and catalog references for these later sets, and so can begin to provide some details about these late products.

An advertisement from 1925 provides an illustration of a Ray No. 74 socket set, which consisted of a flat ratchet, a speeder, a Tee handle, an offset handle, long and short extensions, 18 hexagon sockets, and 4 square sockets.

Catalog Errata

The description for the No. 22 set noted a discrepancy in the list of socket sizes, leading to uncertainty about the exact sizes. In case any readers are interested in seeing how the specification of a pressed-steel socket set can be built up from its desired coverage of bolt sizes, we can offer the following exercise.

The Charles Williams catalog states that the No. 22 set would cover U.S.S. sizes 1/4 to 3/4, Hex Cap Screw sizes 1/4 to 1 inch, and A.L.A.M. sizes 5/16 to 7/8. In order to translate these bolt size ranges to the across-flats nut sizes, we can check the Table of Standard Nut Sizes for the three size conventions. The list below shows the resulting sizes.

If we now pool these ranges, we get the following 16 sizes: 7/16, 1/2, 9/16, 19/32, 5/8, 11/16, 3/4, 25/32, 13/16, 7/8, 15/16, 31/32, 1, 1-1/16, 1-1/8, and 1-1/4.

Since pressed-steel sockets are specified as 1/32 oversize, we next have to add 1/32 to each size, resulting in this set of socket sizes: 15/32, 17/32, 19/32, 5/8, 21/32, 23/32, 25/32, 13/16, 27/32, 29/32, 31/32, 1, 1-1/32, 1-3/32, 1-5/32, and 1-9/32. These 16 sizes of pressed-steel sockets would then provide the desired coverage.

Referring back to the list of socket sizes for the No. 22 set, there are three sizes not in the coverage list: 1/2, 11/16, and 7/8. Even though these don't correspond to a standard nut size, two of these sizes were chosen to make up the 18 hexagon sockets in the set, and one extra was added erroneously.


Ray No. 22 Socket Set

After our brief introduction to the Ray socket sets, it's time to show some examples.

[1920 Catalog Listing for Ray No. 22 Socket Set]
Fig. 9. 1920 Catalog Listing for Ray No. 22 Socket Set.

Fig. 9 shows a catalog listing for a Ray No. 22 socket set, as published on page 223 of the Pittsburgh Auto Equipment catalog No. 7 from 1920.

The set as illustrated consisted of a tubular ratchet, a short extension, a long extension, a universal joint, a double screwdriver attachment, a 29/32 spark plug socket, 18 hexagon sockets, and three square sockets. (Note that the smallest square socket is in the upper right corner of the case.)

The description gives the hexagon socket sizes as 15/32, 1/2, 17/32, 19/32, 5/8, 21/32, 11/16, 23/32, 25/32, 13/16, 27/32, 7/8, 29/32, 31/32, 1, 1-1/32, 1-3/32, 1-5/32, and 1-9/32. Unfortunately though there are some errors in the text, such as stating that there are 20 hexagon sockets instead of 18, and then giving 19 sizes. We're unsure of the correct sizes.

The 15/32 and 19/32 sizes for the square sockets are likely erroneous, as these sizes are the same as the No. 11A Ford set. We think the square sockets actually had sizes 13/32, 17/32, and 21/32, the same sizes as the three square sockets in the No. 31 set.

[Ray No. 22 Socket Set]
Fig. 10. Ray No. 22 Socket Set, ca. 1914-1916.

Fig. 10 shows an early Ray No. 22 socket set in its wooden box, consisting of an 11/16-drive flat ratchet, a long extension, a universal joint, a 29/32 spark plug socket, 15 hexagon sockets, and three square sockets.

Our set as acquired was missing the drive plug, the screwdriver blade, and several sockets, and had a replacement 31/32 spark plug socket. We have replaced the spark plug socket with the correct 29/32 Ray socket.

The hexagon socket sizes are, in the front row from the left, 11/32, 3/8, 7/16, 15/32, 1/2, 19/32, and 21/32. Continuing in the back row from the right, the sizes are 23/32, 3/4, 25/32, 7/8, 31/32, 1-1/32, 1-3/32, and 1-5/32. The sockets are all stamped with "RAY" and the fractional size, except for three replacements with the Larson logo.

The square sockets sizes are, from the left, 13/32, 17/32, and 21/32. The square sockets are stamped with "RAY" and the fractional size, except for one replacement with the Larson logo.

The wooden box has dimensions 10.9 inches wide by 4.9 inches deep by 3.0 inches high. The use of a wooden box allows us to estimate the production date for the set as 1914-1916, since the No. 22 set was being advertised with a metal box by September of 1916.

The production date estimate in turn indicates that the flat ratchet in the set is actually a replacement. The flat ratchet is believed to have been introduced in late 1919, so that this set originally would have had a tubular ratchet.

Note that with the 11/16-drive flat ratchet in the set, the original drive plug is no longer needed — the ratchet can drive the sockets directly on the outside. In the event that the extension or universal joint is needed, any socket can be inserted in the ratchet as a bushing to provide a 1/2-drive connection.

It's clear that this set has been customized by the former owner, with a change in the ratchet and several replacement sockets noted. The former owner has probably added and removed sockets to make the set more useful for the particular situation, so there's not much point in comparing the actual socket sizes with the specification, even if we had an exact spec for the set.


Ray 11/16-Drive Flat Ratchet from No. 22 Set

[Ray 11/16-Drive Flat Ratchet]
Fig. 11. Ray 11/16-Drive Flat Ratchet, with Insets for Side View and Marking Detail, ca. Early to Mid 1920s.

Fig. 11 shows the Ray 11/16-drive flat ratchet from the No. 22 set, stamped with "Packer Auto Specialty Co." and "Chicago, U.S.A." on the shank, as seen in the lower inset.

The shank is also marked with the "Ray" logo plus "Trade Mark" and "Pat. Pend.", shown as a close-up in the middle inset.

The overall length is 8.7 inches, and the finish is black oxide.

Although not visible in the photograph, the drive gear has a friction ball on one wall of the opening to help hold a socket.

The ratchet is constructed from clam-shell metal pressings riveted together at several points, a construction technique also used by the Mossberg No. 350, Mossberg No. 355, and other ratchets. Although similar in appearance, the Ray flat ratchet has a rivet at the extreme end next to the drive gear, a detail not found on other ratchets. This production detail can help distinguish the Ray ratchet from other similar tools in catalog illustrations.

This ratchet was acquired as part of a Ray No. 22 Set in a wooden box, but would have been a replacement for the original tubular ratchet. Although it's tempting to use the pending status for the trademark to estimate production from late 1919 to mid 1920, it turns out that all of the flat ratchets we've examined have the pending status. This suggests that the stamping die for the "Ray" logo was not updated after the trademark was issued.


Ray 1/2-Drive 9 Inch Extension from No. 22 Set

[Ray 1/2-Drive 9 Inch Extension]
Fig. 12. Ray 1/2-Drive 9 Inch Extension, ca. 1914-1916.

Fig. 12 shows the Ray 1/2-drive 9 inch extension from the Ray No. 22 Set.

The overall length is 8.5 inches, and the finish is black oxide.


Ray 1/2-Drive Universal from No. 22 Set

[Ray 1/2-Drive Universal]
Fig. 13. Ray 1/2-Drive Universal, ca. 1914-1916.

Fig. 13 shows the unmarked Ray 1/2-drive universal from the Ray No. 22 Set.

The overall length is 4.0 inches, and the finish is black oxide.


Ray Pressed-Steel Sockets from No. 22 Set

[Ray Pressed-Steel Sockets]
Fig. 14. Ray Pressed-Steel Sockets, with Inset for Top View, ca. 1914-1916.

Fig. 14 shows three of the larger Ray pressed-steel sockets from the No. 22 set. The socket sizes are, from the left, 1-3/32, 1-1/32, and 31/32. (The largest socket was a Larson replacement, so we selected sockets starting with the second largest.)

The sockets are all stamped with "RAY" and the fractional size on the drive end, but with some differences in the marking style.


Ray No. 31 Socket Set

The Ray No. 31 set was basically the same as the company's original No. 1 set and followed the design of the Large Auto-Clé set. The set was notable for its inclusion of 27 hexagon sockets, substantially more than would be required to cover all of the standard nut sizes in its range.

The 27 hexagon sockets included all sizes from 5/16 to 1 inch by 32nds (23 sizes), plus 1-1/32, 1-3/32, 1-5/32, and 1-9/32. A discussion of the rationale for this selection can be found in our article on Mossberg.

[1922 Catalog Listing for Ray No. 31 Socket Set]
Fig. 15. 1922 Catalog Listing for Ray No. 31 Socket Set.

The scan in Fig. 15 shows a listing for a "Thirty" socket set, as published on page 42 of the 1922 Justice Tires (Sears) catalog.

The set can be identified as a Ray No. 31 socket set by the flat ratchet and the metal box with parallel dividers. Note the rivet at the extreme end of the ratchet (next to the drive gear), a construction detail specific to the Ray ratchet.

The text provides a description of the set, which included 27 regular hexagon sockets and three square sockets, providing the "Thirty" moniker. There appears to be a minor error error though — it states that a short extension is included, but the 11/16-drive flat ratchet can drive the sockets directly, so there's no need or use for a short extension.

[Ray No. 31 Socket Set]
Fig. 16. Ray No. 31 Socket Set, ca. Early 1920s.

Fig. 16 shows a Ray No. 31 socket set in its metal case, consisting of a flat ratchet, a long extension, a universal joint, a 29/32 spark plug socket, 27 hexagon sockets from 5/16 to 1-9/32, and three square sockets.

The set as shown is missing a double-ended screwdrive blade, but is otherwise complete.

While showing some signs of use, this set is somewhat unusual in that none of the sockets are cracked or otherwise damaged. However, there are several replacement sockets from Larson and Walden, suggesting that the former owner may have promptly replaced any cracked sockets.

The hexagon socket sizes are, in the front from the left, 5/16, 11/32, 3/8, 13/32, 7/16, 15/32, 1/2, 17/32, and 9/16. Continuing in the middle row from the right, the sizes are 19/32, 5/8, 21/32, 11/16, 23/32, 3/4, 35/32, 13/16, 27/32, and 7/8. In the back row from the left, the sizes are 29/32, 15/16, 31/32, 1 inch, 1-1/32, 1-3/32, 1-5/32, and 1-9/32. The sockets are all stamped with "RAY" and the fractional size, except for several replacements from Larson and Walden.

The square socket sizes and markings are, from the left, 13/32 (Larson), 17/32 (unmarked), and 21/32 (Ray).

The 29/32 spark plug socket is a replacement from Walden.

The Flat Ratchet, 1/2-Drive Universal, and 1/2-Drive Extension are basically identical to those in the Ray No. 22 Set.

The dimensions of the metal box are 11.0 inches wide by 6.0 inches deep by 2.0 inches high. The finish is black paint.

The construction of the box is an interesting mix of techniques. The top was pressed from a single piece of sheet metal, but the bottom was made by spot-welding a flat bottom piece to a wrap-around strip forming the walls. The socket rails were then spot-welded to the bottom.

Spot-welding became the dominant method of construction for toolboxes by the 1930s, but its use by Packer Auto Specialty before 1920 was significantly ahead of its time.


Ray No. 39 Socket Set

The Ray No. 39 set was the company's largest automotive socket set.

[1920 Catalog Listing for Ray No. 39 Socket Set]
Fig. 17. 1920 Catalog Listing for Ray No. 39 Socket Set.

The scan in Fig. 17 shows a Ray No. 39 socket set, as published on page 224 of the 1920 catalog No. 7 from the Pittsburgh Auto Equipment Company.

The socket tools in the set consisted of a tubular ratchet, an offset handle, a short extension, a long extension, a universal joint, a double screwdriver attachment, a 29/32 spark plug socket, 27 hexagon sockets, and 11 square sockets.

Although not spelled out in the description, the 27 hexagon sockets formed the standard "large set" selection compactly described as all sizes from 5/16 to 1 inch by 32nds, plus 1-1/32, 1-3/32, 1-5/32, and 1-9/32.

The 11 square sockets ranged in size from 13/32 to 1-9/32.

The additional tools consisted of an 8 inch pipe wrench, pliers, five double-open "S" wrenches, and a cotter pin puller.

We have a partial No. 39 set in a metal case and are preparing it for display.


Ray 210 1/2-Drive Ell Handle

The No. 39 set noted the inclusion of an offset handle, and this next figure shows an example of such a tool.

[Ray 1/2-Drive 210 Ell Handle]
Fig. 18. Ray 1/2-Drive 210 Ell Handle, with Inset for Marking Detail, ca. Mid 1920s.

Fig. 18 shows a Ray 210 1/2-drive ell handle, stamped with "Ray" and the model number on the shank.

The overall length is 9.8 inches, and the finish is plain steel, with some pitting due to rust.


Ray 35-Piece 1/2-Drive Socket Set

By the mid 1920s Ray was offering socket sets with heavy-wall turned and broached sockets, which had become the dominant technology for that time. For example, a 1925 advertisement earlier in this article shows a Ray No. 74 socket set.

We have an example of one of these late sets, which is roughly comparable to the popular Hinsdale G-20 Set. Although we don't have an exact catalog reference and model number for our set, we have identified the set as a "35 Piece Wrench Set" in a 1929 catalog listing from Western Auto Supply, which can be seen in Fig. 19A below. The manufacturer is not noted in the listing, but the tools can be identified as a Ray set by the distinctive oval-handled Tee, the design of the flat ratchet, and the universal with split drive studs.

Based on the catalog listing, the contents of the set consisted of a flat ratchet, long and short speeders, a Tee handle, an offset handle, long and short extensions, a universal, 19 hexagon sockets from 13/32 to 1-1/4, and 8 square sockets from 3/8 to 7/8.

Our set was acquired in its original metal box with most of the sockets and the long extension, but was missing the other drive tools. We have made a reconstruction of the set using drive tools from our inventory.

[Catalog Listing for Ray 35-Piece 1/2-Drive Socket Set]
Fig. 19A. Catalog Listing for Ray 35-Piece 1/2-Drive Socket Set.

The scan in Fig. 19A shows a 35-piece socket set, as published on page 111 of the 1929 Western Auto (Eastern edition) catalog.

The illustration shows the distinctive oval-handled Tee characteristic of Ray. In addition, the design of the flat ratchet, the universal with split drive studs, and the socket design with a turned-down base and a ring at the bottom all match the known Ray examples.

Fig. 19B. Ray Late 35-Piece 1/2-Drive Socket Set To Be Added.

Ray 1/2-Drive Flat Ratchet

Later versions of the Ray flat ratchet were produced with a 1/2-drive female drive gear, probably coinciding with the change from pressed-steel to machined and broached sockets.

[Ray 1/2-Drive Flat Ratchet]
Fig. 20. Ray 1/2-Drive Flat Ratchet, with Inset for Side View, ca. Mid to Late 1920s.

Fig. 20 shows a Ray 1/2-drive flat ratchet, stamped with the "Ray" logo plus "Trade Mark" and "Pat. Pend." near the center, with "Packer Auto Specialty Co." and "Chicago, U.S.A." on the shank.

The overall length is 8.7 inches, and the finish is nickel plating.

This ratchet was likely produced several years after the "Ray" trademark had been issued, showing that the company did not update their stamping die to remove the pending status.


Ray 510 1/2-Drive Short Speeder

[Ray 1/2-Drive 510 Speeder]
Fig. 20B. Ray 1/2-Drive 510 Speeder, with Inset for Reverse Detail, ca. Mid to Late 1920s.

Fig. 20B shows a Ray 1/2-drive 510 short speeder, stamped with "Ray" and the model number on the reverse.

The overall length is 11.5 inches, and the finish is plain steel with traces of nickel plating.


Ray 1/2-Drive Hexagon Sockets from 35-Piece Set

[Ray 1/2-Drive Hexagon Sockets]
Fig. 21. Ray 1/2-Drive Hexagon Sockets, with Inset for Top View, ca. Mid to Late 1920s.

Fig. 21 shows three of the larger sockets from a Ray 35-piece 1/2-drive socket set. The sockets are stamped "Ray" with the fractional sizes.

The socket sizes are, from the left, 31/32, 1 inch, and 1-1/4.

The finish is nickel plating.

The sockets are turned and broached with a reduced base and a distinctive annular ring at the drive end. The upper walls are knurled to assist with hand turning, and the service end has a dished chamfer to help fit the socket to a nut.


Ray 12-Piece 1/2-Drive Socket Set

This next figure shows a listing for a smaller Ray socket set intended for Ford Model T service.

[Catalog Listing for Ray 12-Piece 1/2-Drive Socket Set]
Fig. 21B. Catalog Listing for Ray 12-Piece 1/2-Drive Socket Set.

Fig. 21B shows a listing for a "Handy" 12-piece socket set for Ford service, as published on page 110 of the 1929 Western Auto (Eastern edition) catalog.

Although the maker is not mentioned in the listing, the tools can be identified as a Ray set by the distinctive oval-handled Tee.

In addition, the larger sockets are illustrated with dual knurled bands and a raised ring at the base, matching the Ray 1/2-Drive Sockets from a 35-piece set.

The set consists of a Tee handle, Ell handle, and 10 hexagon sockets from 7/16 to 7/8.


Fixed Socket Wrenches

In addition to socket sets, Packer Auto also offered fixed socket wrenches under the "Ray" brand. We haven't found a catalog reference for these tools and so are unsure of the extent of the product line, but a 1925 advertisement shows a No. 150 set of fixed socket wrenches for Ford service.

Production of fixed socket wrenches is believed to have begun in the 1920s.


Ray No. 654 (1/2x5/8)x5/8 Triple Socket Wrench

[Ray No. 654 (1/2x5/8)x5/8 Triple Socket Wrench]
Fig. 22. Ray No. 654 (1/2x5/8)x5/8 Triple Socket Wrench, with Insets for Side View and Marking Detail, ca. 1920s.

Fig. 22 shows a Ray No. 654 (1/2x5/8)x5/8 triple socket wrench, stamped with "Ray" and the fractional sizes on the shank.

The overall length is 10.3 inches, and the finish is plain steel, with extensive pitting due to rust.

This type of triple-socket wrench was popular for Ford service, and another other example can be seen as the Walden 1620 "Tomahawk" Wrench. This wrench was likely sold as part of a Ray No. 150 Ford service set, as illustrated in a 1925 advertisement.


Ray No. 275 9/16 Ell Handle Socket Wrench

As noted in the company history, in later years the "Ray" brand was used by the Auto Accessories Corporation, formed by a merger with Packer Auto Specialty. This next example shows one of their later "Ray" tools.

[Ray 275 9/16 Ell Handle Socket Wrench]
Fig. 23. Ray 275 9/16 Ell Handle Socket Wrench, with Inset for Marking Detail, ca. 1927+.

Fig. 23 shows a Ray 275 9/16 Ell handle socket wrench, stamped with "Ray" between the fractional size and model number, and with "Auto Access Corporation of America" above, as shown in the composite inset.

The overall length is 7.7 inches, and the finish is plain steel.


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