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 Post subject: Vaco Tools
PostPosted: Sep Sun 02, 2012 6:04 am 
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Joined: Jun Sat 30, 2012 9:26 pm
Posts: 1508
Location: Miami,Fl
There's not much on the web about this company before it was purchased by Klein Tools. I was wondering if any of you guys knew anything about them. My memory of them was a 2nd tier electronics precision tool company after Xcelite. They weren't the quality of Xcelite which at the time was the mac or snap-on of the electronics service industry during the 70's with their tools having a bright chrome that chipped or flaked with hard use. The tools were good however as I remember. No comparison to the precision of Xcelite or Vaco when it came to a precision phillips or slot to a brand such as craftsman. Just as Jensen built a reputation on packaging kits with Xcelite, several other tool vendors did the same with Vaco. Vaco had some unusual stuff that nobody else had such as very long shaft nut drivers. They also participated in developing manufactuer supplied tools to spec including company part numbers, but still struck their own brand. I was issued a "diploma" after completing factory training for one of the communications companies that I did service for. The company figured out all of their fastener, hand tool needs, and alignment tools from everything they made from the 50's to the 70's. Apparently they contracted with Vaco to build up and source a set of just the tools we needed to tackle anything made by them packaged in a white canvas or duck tool rool with three levels of gussets with I think a leatherette edging. There wasn't a complete set of anything, just what we needed to get the job done. We had a side board divider at our work stations with a set of hooks that engaged the eyes in the tool roll to hang it. I don't know if Vaco struck all the tools, but the tiny ignition size wrenches to the full sized wrenches were glossy chrome polished that were thin like bike wrenches. I never seen one of their catalogs, so I really don't know what they made outside of the tools that you would find at an electronics store or tv repair supply that sold their line. Cooper/Excelite pretty much dominated the market by the 80's. Hunter, Diamond, Jadow, Vigor, and Fordham and a few other precision tool companies that were around disappeared or were absorbed by other companies.


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 Post subject: Re: Vaco Tools
PostPosted: Sep Sun 02, 2012 7:08 am 
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Joined: Jan Thu 01, 1970 1:00 am
Posts: 17430
Location: Albuquerque, NM 87123
IIRC, Vaco made some 'specialty' tools, like screwdrivers and nutdrivers in various lengths, that really came in handy. The quality seemed fairly good. BTW, the quality of Xcelite and several others has really taken a nose-dive (IMO). If you can find some of those older tools in good shape at estate sales, grab them.


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 Post subject: Re: Vaco Tools
PostPosted: Sep Sun 02, 2012 3:58 pm 
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Joined: Apr Sat 09, 2011 11:53 pm
Posts: 422
Location: Gatineau/Ottawa. Canada.
Hello,
Over the years there has always been something from Vaco in my kit. At present this is one of theirs that I find very handy. Screwdriver with mechanism to grab the screw head.
Regards.
David.
Attachment:
Vaco K23 driver.jpg
Vaco K23 driver.jpg [ 25.86 KiB | Viewed 5304 times ]


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 Post subject: Re: Vaco Tools
PostPosted: Sep Sun 02, 2012 5:41 pm 
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Joined: Jan Thu 01, 1970 1:00 am
Posts: 26432
Location: Detroit, MI USA
I may still have one or two Vaco tools around, but always preferred Xcelite and Craftsman. While the Vaco stuff wasn't bad, it was never anywhere near as good as Craftsman. I always chose Xcelite for the specialty electronics tools like miniature side cutters, small screwdrivers like #0 and #1 sizes, and long nutdrivers. I bought Craftsman for common screwdrivers #2 and larger, and other tools.

The quality of everything is not what it used to be and the current crop of Xcelite is not the same as we got back in the 60's and 70's. Used to be that you could go to Sears and pick up any Craftsman tool at random and it would be very high quality. Today that is not true, you have to examine every screwdriver available on display to get one that looks decent.

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 Post subject: Re: Vaco Tools
PostPosted: Sep Sun 02, 2012 8:18 pm 
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Posts: 5847
Location: Upstate NY, USA
This was discussed here before but I finally threw out all my Vaco nut drivers as the plastic or whatever material the handles were made from had a tendency to develop a real bad stink.

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 Post subject: Re: Vaco Tools
PostPosted: Sep Sun 02, 2012 8:21 pm 
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Location: Gretna, Nebraska
The discussion of hand tool quality comes up fairly frequently here.

With all the global competition to keep costs down to remain competitive, fit and finish of manufactured goods is one of the first things to go.

I have tool boxes full of craftsman screwdrivers acquired over the last 40 years or so. The change in finish quality is obvious, and it bothers me because I can appreciate a well made product.

But by golly, it doesn't matter if it was made yesterday or made 40 years ago, each one of them will still tighten a screw just fine.

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 Post subject: Re: Vaco Tools
PostPosted: Sep Sun 02, 2012 11:47 pm 
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Joined: Jan Thu 01, 1970 1:00 am
Posts: 26432
Location: Detroit, MI USA
The stink coming from plastic tool handles is not unique to Vaco. I have had some Xcelite tools with the same problem, as well as no-name brands. There is a problem with the plastic material, and some of them also become quite sticky if left in a closed up tool box for many years.

Sears has had one of the same manufacturers, Western Forge, making a large percentage of the Craftsman hand tools for decades. You can tell theirs by the letters WF stamped into the tool. The finish quality is definitely getting worse but they still work fine. Sears was involved in the startup of Western Forge as a supplier for their hand tools, and at one time Western Forge was also owned by Emerson Electric which itself had been one of the major suppliers of larger Sears power tools and shop vacs.

I buy whatever non-worn out Xcelite tools that I run across at flea markets and estate sales if they are types that I need, same with Craftsman. There's one particular flea market that I go to sometimes where the seller has hundreds of apparently new Craftsman tools. I'm guessing they are seconds or rejects for cosmetic flaws but at a buck or two apiece it is far less expensive than buying from Sears even with a retiree discount.

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 Post subject: Re: Vaco Tools
PostPosted: Sep Mon 03, 2012 1:18 am 
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Joined: Jun Sat 30, 2012 9:26 pm
Posts: 1508
Location: Miami,Fl
I never figured out the "stink" and that white coating that develops on the Xcelites. Some of the yellow handles do it over and over again, others don't. It's not from being closed up in a tool box. My work set I had in my attache was usually opened every day. The set I have on my bench is open air all the time and does it too. That stuff was a pain and you had to scratch it off. Most solvents won't touch it. I found that immersing the handles in an ultrasonic cleaner will knock that stuff off easily in a cloud. You may have to do it a few times. The remaining patches can be wiped off as they're softened. I rinse them with alcohol to dehydrate and then put them in a warm oven to dry out the remaining moisture. It seems to affect the colored plastic, but not all. The black handled True Tips don't do that. I've had the problem with some of the yellow handled drivers, never with the Type 99 handles which is the same color, all of the colored midget handles will do it including the black torque amplifier handles, but it's never happened on the black metric midgets or on the solid red handles on the hex midgets.


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 Post subject: Re: Vaco Tools
PostPosted: Sep Mon 03, 2012 1:33 am 
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Joined: Feb Fri 22, 2008 3:28 am
Posts: 382
I've gotten that white junk off nut driver handles with a cleaner intended for removing stickers and labels. I don't remember the brand name but it's based on some citric compound (smells like orange peels).


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 Post subject: Re: Vaco Tools
PostPosted: Sep Mon 03, 2012 1:58 am 
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Location: Roaming the West
Quote:
I've gotten that white junk off nut driver handles with a cleaner intended for removing stickers and labels. I don't remember the brand name but it's based on some citric compound (smells like orange peels).


Goo be gone?

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 Post subject: Re: Vaco Tools
PostPosted: Sep Mon 03, 2012 1:59 am 
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Joined: Jun Wed 08, 2011 2:33 am
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Location: Ohio 45177
I still have alot of my Xcelite tools from the mid 70's. Thought they were unbreakable but not so. I dropped my favorite screwdriver from a lift recently, onto concrete. Busted that handle clean off behind the metal. Glued it back together. Then drilled the end and put a screw in and sealed over the hole with JB weld. Looks not as nice but totally fixed for another 40 years. Vaco? got one of their screw starters and it has always worked. Or whatever you call the ones that grip the slot.


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 Post subject: Re: Vaco Tools
PostPosted: Sep Mon 03, 2012 3:18 am 
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Joined: Jun Sat 30, 2012 9:26 pm
Posts: 1508
Location: Miami,Fl
I just tried the Goo Gone and it didn't touch the stuff. It does make it look like it's gone by the oil soaking into the white coating, but it's still there, hazy and not clear orange like it should be. You still can scrape the coating off with your nails. I've tried several solvents in the past with no or little luck. Before I discovered the ultrasonic cleaner, I used to run some rouge on a muslin wheel and buff it off.


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 Post subject: Re: Vaco Tools
PostPosted: Sep Mon 03, 2012 3:26 am 
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Joined: Jun Tue 21, 2011 8:27 pm
Posts: 3226
Location: Flint Hill, Virginia
That 'stink' is outgassing. It is where the plastic material is breaking down slowly over time.
When I worked on military satellites years ago, we were always concerned about outgassing materials.
Had to use highly stable / heat resistant plastics onboard or the end result was 'goo' covering the bird
when it got into space. Not the best thing to have especially if there are optics onboard.

In case you're wondering why this happens, remember there is no atmosphere in space.
Therefore the oils which are released have no where to go. That's why they cling to the vehicle.
Dust, fingerprints or any other foreign matter could scrub the whole mission. :cry: :cry:

~ Mitch ~


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 Post subject: Re: Vaco Tools
PostPosted: Sep Mon 03, 2012 3:43 am 
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Joined: Apr Tue 03, 2007 1:31 am
Posts: 3796
Location: Jonesville, MI
The (former) Vaco Plant is at the end of our block, along the river. In the winter of 2006 the work force struck, as they were unwilling to accept the wage cuts proposed by Klein management. The management had announced the imminent closure of the factory, with most production being moved to China. They proposed that but eleven of the staff of one-hundred-twenty-seven would stay on. The surviving employees would see their health insurance benefits disappear, and their wages would be cut from $14.80-19.25 down to $9.75. The union rejected this proposition, and "production" (which now consists of placing chinese made rubber guards on chinese made molded screwdrivers) moved to `the Mansfield TX "Advanced Manufacturing Facility".

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 Post subject: Re: Vaco Tools
PostPosted: Sep Mon 03, 2012 6:28 pm 
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Joined: Feb Sun 17, 2008 11:36 pm
Posts: 1928
Location: Dayton, Ohio
I haven't seen any posts mentioning Boker/In-Dus-Tronic tools, maybe I missed it.

The small electronics store I worked in, just out of high-school, 1963, carried Excelite, Boker/In-Dus-Tronic as well as some Vaco and General Cement tools.

I have 5 Boker dikes and needle nose pliers of various sizes and shapes. (all for electronic use). They ALL still have their chrome, without chips or flaking, just minor use wear, after over 40 years service. (they weren't cheap).

If they were still made today and as good quality as those made in '63, that would be what I would buy for tools of that type.

I still have the complete set of Xcelite, 99-PR, that I bought in 1963, except for a new pouch.

Charlie


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 Post subject: Re: Vaco Tools
PostPosted: Sep Mon 03, 2012 6:46 pm 
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Posts: 3022
Location: Roaming the West
Quote:
I just tried the Goo Gone and it didn't touch the stuff. It does make it look like it's gone by the oil soaking into the white coating, but it's still there, hazy and not clear orange like it should be. You still can scrape the coating off with your nails.


Guess that is not what he used.

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 Post subject: Re: Vaco Tools
PostPosted: Sep Tue 04, 2012 3:30 am 
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Posts: 552
Real handy in a field kit.

Attachment:
IMG_0002.JPG
IMG_0002.JPG [ 77.95 KiB | Viewed 5081 times ]


Bill


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 Post subject: Re: Vaco Tools
PostPosted: Sep Tue 04, 2012 8:43 am 
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Joined: Feb Fri 22, 2008 3:28 am
Posts: 382
The "cleaner" I used to remove the white junk was some stuff my Dad had that he told me he used to remove stickers from the car; it smelled like orange peels and was messy as I recall. I used one of those green scrubber deals like used for cleaning pots & pans soaked in the stuff. I don't remember the brand, though it could have been Goo Gone (this was a dozen years ago though) ; I know whatever it was was strong stuff; I should have worn gloves but didn't.


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 Post subject: Re: Vaco Tools
PostPosted: Sep Wed 05, 2012 4:51 am 
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Location: Somers, CT
Mr. Detrola wrote:
The quality of everything is not what it used to be and the current crop of Xcelite is not the same as we got back in the 60's and 70's. Used to be that you could go to Sears and pick up any Craftsman tool at random and it would be very high quality. Today that is not true, you have to examine every screwdriver available on display to get one that looks decent.



Ain't that the truth! Weller and Xcellite quality has gone down 50% since they were bought out. At one time Xcellite guaranteed their tools for life. That is long gone under the new ownership.

Pete

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 Post subject: Re: Vaco Tools
PostPosted: Sep Wed 05, 2012 5:28 am 
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Joined: Jun Sat 30, 2012 9:26 pm
Posts: 1508
Location: Miami,Fl
It's the only stuff that answers to that description made for labels and adhesives. There's Goof-Off, but that's primarly Xylene and Benzene. I've tried virtually every solvent I can get my hands on over the years. Abrasives and ultrasonic cleaning are the only things that completely clean them.

[quote="N7ZAL
Guess that is not what he used.[/quote]


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