Dad's Barcalo Linesman Pliers

My Tools

A Simple Restoration

Over the years my dad gave me a number of tools, with his classic Stanley plane, and the Gerstner tool chest being the prizes.  He's also given me some other hand tools - a pair of old Utica diagonal cutters, and his old Barcalo lineman pliers .  Let's talk about the Barcalos!

Barcalo - An Interesting History

Barcalo?  What's a Barcalo you ask?  Well, one of the fun things about restoring old tools is learning about the history of old tool companies, some I never heard of either.  These days it seems hand tools are all just Crescent, Klein, or a small handful of others.  But it turns out, once upon a time there were tool manufacturers all over the place.  There was a somewhat famous company in Utica, and we'll get to them another time, and there was also a manufacturer in Buffalo - Barcalo Tool Co.

It's not every day that a tool company is acquired by a furniture maker, but such was the case with Barcalo Manufacturing of Buffalo. Barcalo was a diversified maker of metal products including metal beds, tools, and later the Barcalounger line of reclining furniture. Eventually the fame of the Barcalounger chairs eclipsed the tool operations, and later Barcalo was purchased by a furniture maker in North Carolina.  So, they're sadly no longer located in Buffalo.

Some other tool restorations here at 173
The Inherited Old Oil Can - July, 2021
Dad's Stanley No. 4 Plane - February 2021
The Paring Chisel Restoration - March 2021
The Red Devil Sheet Metal Shears - April 2021
Random post collection:  The Dining Room

Dad's Barcalos

I have no idea where dad got these pliers.  He may have picked them up at work, from a catalog, a yard sale - who knows?  But what I do know is that he's had them almost all my life, and they've seen a lot of work.  And you may have already noticed that they're "seconds" meaning they had some flaw or flaws.  

And at a mere glance I can tell you the two flaws that probably resulted in the pliers being labeled "seconds."  One - the cutters aren't aligned properly, probably the result of the forging.  They still cut most wire beautifully, it's just when cutting thin, stranded wire that the flaw stands out.  

Two - the nose is separated a little too far, probably because the cutters aren't aligned properly.  I haven't come across an instance yet where either of these flaws made a difference.  This picture is a little deceiving because they really do close all the way.  You'll see that later.

At [the factory] you had to buy most of your own tools.  They used to come around with with catalogs and you'd order your tools and the company took the cost out of your check.  Because of that - you were always looking for a deal...buying from guys retiring, or less than perfect tools.  But whatever you got, you paid for them so you took care of them. - Paraphrase from a conversation with Dad

The Restoration

Dad's Barcalo Linesman pliers were actually in pretty decent shape.  Mostly they just needed a cleanup and a little rust removal.  I read in Alloy Artifacts that the pliers were polished with blued handles.  You can get a good sense of that in this picture: 

Vintage books, old china, antiques; maybe I love old things so much because I feel impermanent myself. - Josh Lanyon

I considered cold bluing the handles after cleaning them up, but at the time that I restored them, which was in March of 2021 (no idea why I waited so long to post this) I was on a Klein Koat Tenite kick.  Heck - maybe someday I'll take them off and cold blue after all!  In the meantime, here's how they turned out...

And while these pliers may be "seconds" they'll always have a special place in my plier arsenal.  They'll always make me think of my dad.  I wonder what he'd think about having grips on the handles.  I can almost hear him now, "why'd you do that?"

Natural Habitat

Of course, these pliers found the pliers rack on the tool board above the work bench to be their natural habitat.  After all, where else would they go?

With that, thanks for stopping by, and - see ya' next time!
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