Whatzit: Hammer Indexer?

First Posted: September 28, 2011
Solved: October 2, 2011
Last Revised: October 23, 2023

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Here we have another "What is it" for you to ponder.
I saw this one on the sales counter of an on-line auction house in Baldwin, Wisconsin. They have no idea what it is, nor do I. Darn guys; they said they got it in a few weeks ago and just put it there to bug people like me.

The thing is about 14 inches or so in overall length. I can't tell whether the hammer was meant to be simply dropped upon the square shaft of the rotating/indexing mechanism or if it was to be driven. I can't see how the hammer would have indexed anything. Wait! is that machine used to flare boiler tubes?

I saw no identifying marks anywhere on the thing. Here are 3 views of it:
Tube Flaring Tool? 1
Tube Faraing Tool ? #2
Tube Falring Tool ? #3

The Answers!

It is a boiler tube swaging or beading tool. This work is done these days with pnuematic powered equipment. The descriptive drawing/image below shows a tool very similar to the photos we see above.
Just above the tool we are talking about is a hand held swaging tool that would do the same job without the automation. Some folks told us that these ratcheting tools might not work for boiler tubes that were close to the edge of the boiler. One person said that this tool would to most of the swaging of the tube, but a "roller" would be applied next to finish sealing the joint. I'd expect that most serious collectors of steam memoribilia would like to have one of these in their collection, if they don't already own one.
Boiler Tube Beading or Swaging Tool
Thanks again to the guys of Smokstak.com, rec.crafts.metalworking, alt.crafts.blacksmithing, and to certain members of the Guild of Metalsmiths.