TM reader rrcarlson12 posted some pics of the ViseGrip locking pliers above to the TM photo pool. He writes: “They have a patent date of 1942 and don’t have a separate release lever. But these weren’t made by Irwin, who released a similar model within the last few years as stated in the post on CH Hanson locking pliers.”
Indeed! The “new” Irwin ViseGrips without a release lever seem to work pretty much the same way as the ones pictured. (Check the photo pool for additional photos, including some closeups of the mechanism.) As far as I can tell the only major difference between the modern ones and the WWII-era pliers are the thermo-plastic rubber overmolds.
Of course, what I don’t get is why more tool companies don’t point out this heritage. Seriously, there’s nothing in the world wrong with recognizing a good thing from the past and bringing it back. Good ideas combined with modern materials and manufacturing technology make for some of the most kick-ass tools available. We’ve suggested for some time that companies like Stanley, Irwin, and others — those who have long histories and have recently bought/absorbed other companies that have long histories — should keep that heritage front and center. Bring back some of the “old” products (with modern upgrades, of course) and tell us how they built the future upon which we stand.