The Mountz TB or Torque Break-Over Wrench came to life to fill a customer application request in the late 1960s. AMPEX Corporation, founded in 1944, in San Carlos, California by Alexander M. Poniatoff was a pioneer in early audio and film recording and later data instrumentation devices. The name AMPEX was an acronym for the founder’s name. EX stood for Excellence. AMPEX equipment was used to record radio shows, standing out for the quality of their taped audio. The TB wrench was designed to fit into a small space and tighten critical fasteners that controlled moving parts inside AMPEX audio recording products. Ensuring that fasteners would not loosen during operation (had correct clamp load) was vital to the quality and reliability of the AMPEX product line. A loose fastener could cause serious product failure resulting in a botched recording and costing a studio thousands of dollars in lost time.
Mountz TB wrenches were originally made in rectangular design shape. It consisted of an off the shelf spring and parts including a modified ratchet drive to hold a specialized screwdriver bit. The TBRA was born in 1969. Only one model was available for 15 inch pounds of torque. The wrench head would break over instead of a click, which would disallow an over torque condition from occurring. An overtightened faster could cause the recording heads or tape reels to fail within the AMPEX device. Hard to image in today’s digital world, but in the 1950s a tape was the medium to create a recording.
AMPEX soon wanted to solve other fastening application problems. They sought Mountz out to expand the TB into a tool series by adding small open-end, flare and box heads for special nut sizes that were used in the growing AMPEX product line. These early designs were rather crude as Mountz fabricated a tang and cut and welded wrench heads in place. Looking more like a science project that a precision tool, AMPEX helped Mountz launch the TBOE series of tools, which blossomed into a substantial product family by the mid 1970s.
One of Dick Mountz’s early assignments was to modernize the TB wrench product line. Dick proved that a cylindrical or round shape design produced a more repeatable torque result. As the radio frequency industry developed in the Silicon Valley, many new customers found the TB torque wrench provided a perfect replacement for small click wrenches that were easy to over torque fasteners.
Hewlett Packard approached Mountz in the later 1970s with an idea to modernize the wrench even more. HP’s line of frequency-based instrumentation products required connectors to be properly torqued to avoid signal degradation. Non-Ferrous metals demanded perfect torque control, and the collaboration between HP and Mountz led to the design of custom made heads that fit perfect with these unique connections found on HP’s calibration products for Microwave Counters and Microwave Transition Analyzers.
Today Mountz is the largest maker of break-over wrenches under 100 inch pounds with over 45 OEM brands placing their name on a tool, developed for a special application nearly 50 years ago. Stay tuned for more of the stories behind Mountz…. click here to go to all the Mountz 50 Year Anniversary blog posts.
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