Johan Petter Johansson
one of the foremost inventors in Sweden
Without our inventors, Sweden would not be what it is today- and not the remaining world either. Many of the objects that we daily are surrounded by and every 4th element has been invented or discovered by a Swede.
One of those successful men was Johan Petter Johansson. Every one of us has been in contact with his inventions or products. His most well-known inventions are the pipe wrench (1888) and the adjustable wrench (1892), of which most of us have an example in our tool box.
Few Swedish inventions have had such an extensive spread internationally, been manufactured in such a great number, and lasted such a long time as the adjustable wrench. So far 100 million wrenches have been made by the present Bahco Tools in Enkoping and production is still runn-ing. In the whole, 40 million wrenches are manufactured yearly and they are all of the J.P. Johansson type.
The story of Johan Petter Johansson.
J.P. Johansson was born in the village Vargarda in Vastergotland on December 12, 1853. Being the oldest of 7 children, the crofter’s cottage soon became too narrow and Johan Petter, after a short schooling of that time, had to leave and earn his own living. His first job was as a farmhand at an adjacent farm. He then worked as a helper at the steam engine of a peat factory at Vargarda. There, his good way of handling things was recognized and he was promoted to stoker.
In January 1873, when he just had turned 19 years old, he went to the city, Motala. There he participated as navvy at the then ongoing railway construction. The very next fall he left to work with the construction of the railroad Stockholm-Westeras-Bergslagen (SWB) at the part Vasteras - Kolback.
Having served his time in the army, he was employed by the Munktell factory at Eskilstuna in the spring of 1874 and at last he was in his career. At Munktells he got an all-round mechanical experience and after 3 years he was very familiar with fitting up machines. He then decided to try other employment and got the job as a smith work master at the Hagbyholm farm outside of the city, Vasteras.
Now he was very close to leaving Sweden. He had made up his mind to go to America with his family and on his way home to Vargarda for a short visit before the departure, he stopped at Munktells in Eskilstuna to say goodbye. There he was offered to select any job he wanted if he only remained in Sweden. He accepted the offer and chose to, as a representative for Munktells, be responsible for a larger fitting job at Kolningsberget in Norberg.
Although he was very satisfied with Munktells, he wanted to set up for himself. In July 1886 he moved from Eskilstuna to Enkoping to start his first own company, Enkopings Mechanical Verkstad. Most likely he went by train and thus travelled on the railroad that he participated in building.
He became his own enterpriser by leasing a blacksmith’s shop, located at the present Gustav Adolfs Plan, adjacent to the bus station in Enkoping.
After only one year he bought, as he put it, ”a water fall at Fanna”- about 2 km from the city center. There he built his first workshop. His good reputation as a mechanic and the increasing mechanization, primarily within farming, contributed to a very good opportunity of securing work.
J.P. Johansson’s first invention of importance was the pipe wrench, on which he obtained a patent on August 17, 1888. Some years later he invented the adjustable wrench, which was patented on May 11, 1892. He produced both these tools in his own workshop.
In 1890 J.P. Johansson formed a sales agreement with B.A. Hjorth&Co that, using its sales organization, sold the tools all over the world. The demand increased, the shop was enlarged and production rose rapidly.
However, J.P. Johansson did not settle down after having produced those epoch-making products. Another invention that became very popular was the adjustable mechanical spring hammer Vulkanus.
The inventions and the products were many and the operation increased. In 1916 he transferred the enterprise to his son Hannes Brynge and AB B.A. Hjorth & Co.
He continued to experiment and in 1919 he was ready with an electrical pendulum. The same year he built the Triplex factory where the Triplex pendulum, the sugar tong ”Triplex”, the door-lock, the fire log tong ”Eldgripen” and many other products were made.
J.P. Johansson was also engaged in the local government. Among other things, he was during many years member of the town council, chairman of the school board and the public assistance committee and a pushing power when the town was electrified.
Also during his last years he was working in the experimenting laboratory and was thinking about new inventions.
Johan Petter Johansson reached a very high age and passed away on August 25, 1943, only a couple of months before his 90th birthday.
But the memory of the inventor and industrialist J.P. Johansson is still alive. Every time we come in contact with the quality tools of Bahco, we are reminded of his inventions and industrial activity. Many of his products reached world-wide fame and still are an important part of the production at Bahco Tools.