This business was founded in 1893, as the Independent Pneumatic Tool Co., by John D. Hurley, John Hopkins (then the mayor of Chicago), and Roger Sullivan (a politician). The following year Hurley's brother, Neil C. Hurley, Sr., was appointed to the board to directors. Early products included a pneumatic riveting hammer, bicycles, and motorcycles. A separate company owned by members of the Hurley family, Hurley Machine Co., produced a washing machine that also used the Thor name and logo.
In 1953 the Independent Pneumatic Co. name was dropped in favor of Thor Power Tool Co. The same Thor logo remained in use. Speedway Manufacturing Co. was acquired in 1954 and incorporated its name and brands into the Thor family.
Thor was best known for their handheld power tools, which are outside the scope of this website. They qualify for listing here because they made at least one stationary machine, namely a bench grinder that was sold through Montgomery Ward Co. At least some such grinders bore the Speedway label; Speedway Manufacturing Co. of Cicero, IL and La Grange Park, IL. Speedway Mfg Co was a division of Thor Power Tools.
In August 1964, Stewart-Warner Corp. announced that they were acquiring Thor Power Tool Corp. and merging the two businesses, Shortly afterwards, Stewart-Warner claimed that Thor had overstated its assets and understated its liabilities, and the purchase agreement was rescinded. Stewart-Warner continued an advisory relationship with Thor, and in December of 1964 a Stewart-Warner employee assumed the presidency of Thor Power Tool Co. Over the next few years, Stewart-Warner continued to purchase more shares in Thor, and it appears that the "Thor Power Tool Co." was supplanted by "Stewart-Warner Corp." by 1988; by that time they were no longer selling bench grinders or handheld power tools.
Handheld power tools are outside the scope of this web site. Please do not upload pictures of handhelds!
- An online history of Thor provided many of the key names and dates.
- The July 1967 issue of Popular Mechanics mentions that Thor Power Tool Co. of 175 North State St., Aurora, Ill., had introduced a new two-wheel bench grinder with shaded-pole motor for $18.88.
- The May 1983 issue of Popular Mechanics listed Thor Power Tool Co., with a Johnson City, TN, address, as having manuals available for their products dating as far back as 1950.
- A patent search provided clues that Thor became part of Stewart-Warner sometime between 1984 and 1988.
- A 1949 Popular Science publication lists the current Speedway Manufacturing Co. address as 1863 S. 52nd Ave., Cicero, Illinois.