Tuesday, January 20, 2009

CLAYTON AND LAMBERT BLOW TORCH

Blow Torch

Q: I have this brass fire starter that has "Clayton & Lambert Mfg. Co, Detroit, Mich., U.S.A." on the front. It is marked Mar 18 1902 on the pump button. This belonged to my grandfather, who was a friend of someone who worked on the railroad. Someone told me it was used to keep the tracks from freezing. Is this true?


A: You have a blow torch probably made c.1915. Railroad workers used blow torches to prepare wooden surfaces for painting and sometimes to melt ice on switches. Clayton and Lambert traces its history to 1888. Three Lambert brothers began making gasoline-burning blow torches in Ypsilanti, Michigan, in 1882. Clayton, an inventor of firepots, joined the firm in 1887 and the name of the company soon became Clayton and Lambert Mfg. Co. In 1899 the company built a plant in Detroit and by 1915 Clayton and Lambert was making auto parts as well as blow torches and firepots. The company moved to Louisville, Kentucky, after World War II and moved production to Buckner, Kentucky, in 1961. Gasoline torches and firepots continued to be made until 1970. The company is still in business in Buckner and now makes swimming pools and industrial storage structures. Your tool is interesting but not very decorative. It would sell for about $90 in a sale of tools or railroad memorabilia.



7 comments:

RWG said...

You are correct it is a blow torch and it has many different uses: They could have been used by the railroads to thaw switches I am not familiar with that use. One of its primary uses was to heat soldering irons for electricians to solder joints, to thaw frozen water pipes (caused many a house fire), by and plumbers to melt lead joints or make new lead joints, soldering copper pipe and to thaw frozen water pipes (caused many a house fire) also. In the north central part of the US almost any farm sale you go to has one or more blow torches and the will go for $1 to $5. I have polished up and listed several nice brass blow torches on eBay and start them at $9.99 and never get a bid. Reduce them to $4.99 they would eventually sell. The Price of $90 seem unreasonable high to me.
RWG

Anonymous said...

You are correct it is a blow torch and it has many different uses: They could have been used by the railroads to thaw switches I am not familiar with that use. One of its primary uses was to heat soldering irons for electricians to solder joints, to thaw frozen water pipes (caused many a house fire), by and plumbers to melt lead joints or make new lead joints, soldering copper pipe and to thaw frozen water pipes (caused many a house fire) also. In the north central part of the US almost any farm sale you go to has one or more blow torches and the will go for $1 to $5. I have polished up and listed several nice brass blow torches on eBay and start them at $9.99 and never get a bid. Reduce them to $4.99 they would eventually sell. The Price of $90 seems unreasonable high to me.
RWG

Anonymous said...

30 years ago, my father made a lamp out of one of these. It's in my living room and used every night.
- Pat S., Seattle

randy johnson said...

how decorative it is would seem to be a matter of personal taste. i often see tools and industrial looking objects, particularly if the metal is an attractive, unlaquered brass or steel or whatever, that i find make handsome curios on a bookshelf or occasional tabletop. i have a 2" diameter, 3"long brass bushing with a hole about 1/2 inch wide that gets a lot of comments. another piece is a gear about an inch thick, 4" diameter, with a six inch shaft attached, made of case-hardened steel that draws attention. both are parts from a heidelberg printing press and i wouldn't part with either.

davej said...

standard price for this item in the trade is 7.50 to 12.00 dollars in used condition. in pristine condition you could triple that. if you could find one of the three collectors there are for this item

Anonymous said...

I just happened upon this site looking up Clayton & Lambert. My father just showed me, I guess its called a firepot with the lead still in it. He thought it was for making fishing sinkers. Nice to get a little history lesson. Thanks kathy.

firepots said...

There are no wax drippings that go along with lighting candles. Feel free to walk about or dance in each other’s arm without having to worry about the flame going out.