Name that Tool!!
April 3, 2016 9:42 AM   Subscribe

This tool has been in the family for many decades. Even the prior generation did not know what it is or what it is for. 7 photos follow. Here's some descriptive text:

On the top the inscription "A. Davidson Pat March 13 1880" or might be 3, not 13. My phone camera is bad so you can see that, but it's clear to me.

As you tighten the hand crank the lower jaws move up so that its moveable upper jaw comes in contact with the moveable lower jaw. As they contact the continued tightening forces the jaws close so they will grip whatever is in them.

When they are in contact the lower jaws are a bit forward of the upper, They are not parallel. Given the depth of their mouths they could still hold two things parallel to each other.
Also, the threaded shaft and hand crank allow them to be opened around 7 inches but the jaws will never apply clamping force unless they are in contact with each other, or something is placed between them as a stop.

If it helps, it entered the family in Southern Oregon at a time there was logging, livestock husbandry, farming and other rural pursuits.

I checked Google Patents for the name "Davidson" and all patents issued prior to 4-1-1880 and before 1-1-1881. About 600 results. Non seem to be this.

Tool Again
posted by BrooksCooper to Technology (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
You forgot the photo links :(
posted by brainmouse at 9:53 AM on April 3, 2016

Response by poster: I've tried to add the link twice. It was in my question and I put it in the answer but it's not showing up.
I used the "link" button but it doesn't work for me.
You'll probably need to cut and paste this:

Sorry about that.
posted by BrooksCooper at 9:58 AM on April 3, 2016

posted by Mitheral at 10:03 AM on April 3, 2016

Mod note: Added the link to your dinglehopper, carry on.
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 10:05 AM on April 3, 2016 [1 favorite]

Looks like some sort of clamp. A quick googling ("davidson clamp 1880") found an entry in a book ("George Davidson: Pioneer West Coast Scientist"), probably describing it: "In 1874 he devised an improved clamp for use on astronomical and geodetic instruments...". Further googling shows this guy has a lot of inventions and one of the clamps could be the one you are holding now.

To add links, make sure you select some text you want to use (e.g.: 'pictures here') in your post first and then click the link-button before you fill the pop-up with the URL; else you are linking nothing and nothing will show.
posted by KMB at 10:26 AM on April 3, 2016

Just a heads up, the image hosting site you've got the photos on took me to some nasty popup page that I had to close the browser to get out of.

But it also looks like a clamp to me.
posted by limeonaire at 10:52 AM on April 3, 2016

Except this is A Davidson, not George Davidson and the text linked specifically says George Davidson did not patent his clamp or other devices. Also, this device is way to crude to be a clamp for astronomical or geodetic instruments, which would definitely require high precision and adjustability.
posted by ssg at 10:55 AM on April 3, 2016 [1 favorite]

It's some kind of a dog; that is, a clamp for pulling or lifting or tensioning wires, pipes, etc. Exactly what may be impossible to ever tell, but it looks like you need to keep an even tension on two metal things.

Possible ideas: straining two fence wires at the same time, double-strand barbed wire twisting, ductile pipe drawing (maybe a little lightweight for that) or for gripping the end of well casing for lifting (too small?).
posted by scruss at 12:05 PM on April 3, 2016 [2 favorites]

Google patents ( and the US Patent Office ( both have US patents from the early 1800s to the present. I am too lazy to spend much time downloading the PDFs and looking at the drawings, but "davidson clamp 1880" got me about 60 patents to look through.
posted by holyrood at 12:31 PM on April 3, 2016

It looks like it was made for a particular task, and not a mass market anything. And, judging by your last photo where you have built a pedestal for your laptop, you possibly have something in your genes that makes you and your ancestors capable of creating things for particular tasks, that would only make sense to the creator.
posted by myselfasme at 1:01 PM on April 3, 2016 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Myselfasme - fantastically funny comment. I had not intended to include the laptop tower (ad hoc for my partner to Skype with family) but since Imgur requires no log in, I cannot edit.

Thanks for the laugh. We are both laughing out loud.
posted by BrooksCooper at 2:45 PM on April 3, 2016 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Scruss, seems plausible but note - unless the movable jaws are in contact with each other or some other immobile object they exert no clamping force. Could still work to twist two wires together, as you say.
posted by BrooksCooper at 2:46 PM on April 3, 2016

You might try contacting some speciality antique tool collecting groups (e.g., this site full of pictures of old tools that vaguely resemble yours) and see if any experts there can help you.
posted by MadamM at 5:06 PM on April 3, 2016

Reddit has the whatisthisthing sub where you can get help identifying almost anything
posted by anadem at 6:42 PM on April 3, 2016

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