Gray Stories


Spent a Day with Dad

"Dad's been gone for almost fifteen years now but I got to spend a day with him...sort of.

Last Thanksgiving, I made the seven hour pilgrimage up to Mom's with the intention of installing a garage door opener that I gave her for Christmas. I forgot to pack one of my toolboxes and while I had supplies, there were few tools.

I rummaged around in Mom's garage and found some basic screwdrivers and wrenches tucked away in jars or sitting on shelves above the workbench now covered in gardening supplies and recyclables.

But underneath the bench was a familiar sight, the tatty old orange cantilever toolbox that Dad always had with him when we were fixing the boat or pulling the engine on one of his threadbare '70s Honda civics that were never as well kept as the family Chevy.

I opened the lids and the stories poured out. Everything was as he left it...mismatched wrenches, mostly Gray, some were even Gray sized in Whitworth. All painted orange many years ago so they could be easily found in the lawn. Old points and condensers from long gone cars, greasy matchbooks and pine needles in the bottom with the wooden handled screwdrivers.

There wasn't a complete set of anything in that tool box...I remember quite clearly the two of us squatting down on the hot asphalt digging around for an elusive yet common socket, comparing treasures, tossing them back in the box until we'd spot whatever we were looking for. And we would -always- find something that would do the job. I don't know how we swapped engines with only that kit and a block and tackle on a swaybacked beam in the garage, but we did, and more.

Dad wasn't a mechanic, he was an engineer and didn't let a lack of fancy tools stand in his way...but at the time we didn't think we were lacking, we just used what we had. The garage door opener was installed successfully by a slightly misty fella who found just what he needed in a crusty, old cantilevered toolbox, followed by a world class Thanksgiving dinner surrounded by family.

Mom insisted the box should come home with me, but I think I'll find a quiet corner for it away from the crap in my garage, a special place where I can find it next time I want to spend an hour or two with my Dad fixing something." (Rob Brophy)

Best Memories

Spanner"Some of the best memories I have of my father are of the times we spend fixing old cars in the laneway. For him it was a passion…for me it was time together. As his little helper, it was my job to pass him the right tool (sometimes that was beer) when he shouted it out.

During those countless hours I remember learning each tool’s name and purpose. Gray was the brand my father mostly had. I think some of my father’s tools were given to him by his father. My father insisted that to do a quality job a man needed to use quality tools.

My father has long since passed away I kept his old tool collection." (Frank)

Gray breaker barBreaker Bar

"I used to live in Europe. One of my friends came from Canada and brought me Gray breaker bar and told me that this is the best brand of tools ever made in Canada. He didn't buy it new I think it was already 20-25 years old but it is as strong as new even now.

Around 9 years ago I came to Canada and sure I took my favorite tool-Gray breaker bar. This tool crossed the Atlantic ocean twice! Since I live in Canada and work in automotive field I stick with Gray tools. They last forever!" (Dermanschi Sergiu)

My Grandfather’s Toolbox

Gray Hand Tools"I didn't really have a connection with my grandfather. When he passed away I felt like there was a lot I didn't ask him. I talked with my dad and he told me that back in the day my grandpa was a real wrencher. I had no Idea.

My dad pasted away a few years later. I was then given all the tools from my dad and also the tools he received when my grandfather pasted.

All my grandfather’s tools are gray! They all have his name engraved into them. It’s the coolest thing to grab a wrench and see it says Gray on one side and Bruce on the other. It’s also a great thing when I see a Gray tool and always think of him. I use those tools every day." (Dean Masson)

The Strength of Tools

Hand Tools Manufacturers"I am an Engineering Technologist with the Engineering Department at the University of New Brunswick in Saint John, N.B. My story involves demonstrating to students that sometimes a cheaper tool is not always the best way to go.

For an experiment in Design lab, I wanted to show students the differences in the manufacturing of tools. For the experiment, I bought two Gray Cold Chisels and five other chisels. The two Gray tools cost the same as the five others. The test was conducted using 3 criteria: durability during use, hardness, and Heat treatment. We checked out the hardness of the tools using the Rockwell Hardness test.

The results were that the Gray tools showed a hardness increase the closer one got to the cutting end, where the other showed very little difference between one end and the other.

For durability the students were to use the chisels on a piece of steel to see how the cutting edge would hold up. After several students had each tried out the tools, the edges of the other tools were showing signs of fatigue, whereas the Gray tools still had a good edge.

For heat treatment the tools were put in an electric oven and heated to 870° C after which they were quenched in water. The Gray tools were found to be much harder that the other tools again using the Rockwell hardness tester. When we tried tempering the tools, which involved reheating the tools and then doing an end dip quench it was found that the gray tools could be re-hardened for use whereas the other tools never reached their original hardness.

The results showed the students that sometimes it's all right to spend that little bit extra in order to purchase tools that have a longer service life that the bulk cheaper variety." (Cedric Boone)

Dad’s Toolbox

Industrial Hand Tools"My dad was an electrical tech in the Royal Canadian Air Force. For 35 years beginning in 1952 he was always around aircraft during his career. When not working on aircraft, dad was working on cars in the yard, usually a second vehicle he bought for $50-$100 that he'd fix and resell for a little more than he had paid for it.

I was the oldest of seven children including 4 boys. I and my brothers all remember spending countless hours under a jacked up car or with our heads stuck under the hood holding a work light while dad worked on one of his project cars. It was usually cold and damp. We only had two garages in all the places we lived during our childhood. Cold concrete was a bit better.

Early on I noticed he used some Gray tools. At first, I thought he'd had them engraved with our last name but it turned out it was Gray tools he was using. I still have some of those sockets and wrenches 50 years later. When I bought my first socket set at a local Woolco store in the early 70's, it was a Gray tools socket set. I still use it." (Daryl Gray)

Whitworth Spanners and Sockets

Whitworth"In 1990, I purchased a set of open ended spanners and a set of 3/8" drive sockets in the old Imperial Whitworth sizes from a company located in Ohio, USA. Up until I retired, I restored classic British motorcycles and these tools were in constant use.

Two years ago, my cousin, who lives in Nanaimo, Vancouver, expressed a desire to purchase a British motorcycle identical to the type he used to ride in his youth and before he immigrated to Canada in 1973. I duly located a 1958 Norton 'Dominator' which he purchased and the machine was shipped to Canada. He needed tools to service and work on the machine and so I enclosed with the motorcycle the GRAY open ended spanners that I purchased so many years previously.

I thought at the time how ironic it was that these much traveled tools had twice crossed the Atlantic Ocean and had finally, found their way back home to Canada, where they are once again, in constant use!" (Peter Snow)