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History of Duct Tape

Ellen Emerson [ January 2004 ]

Last month we took a look at WD-40 - the first of two items that are a must have for any toolbox. If it doesn't move and it should we recommend WD-40. But what if it does move and it shouldn't? Duct tape is the way to go! It comes in many colors to match the bumper you are trying to hold in place, the hose you are trying to stop leaking or the broken tail light you are trying to put off replacing one more day. Called racing tape by many, it’s a common site in the pits.

During World War II, the American armed forces needed a strong, waterproof tape to keep moisture out of ammunition cases. Because it was waterproof, everyone referred to it as "duck" tape (now a brand name of Manco). This versatile tape was used as a mending material that could be ripped by hand and used to make quick repairs to jeeps, aircraft, and other military equipment. The Johnson and Johnson Company's Permacel division, which had by then developed its own line of adhesive tapes, helped the war effort by combining cloth mesh (which rips easily) with a rubber-based adhesive, and then gave that combination of rubberized mesh a waterproof coating. No specific person or group of people at Johnson and Johnson has been named in the development of duct tape.

Following the war, housing in the United States boomed, and many new homes featured forced-air heating and air-conditioning units that relied on duct work to distribute warmth and coolness. Johnson and Johnson's strong military tape made the perfect material for binding and repairing the ductwork. By changing the color of the tape's rubberized topcoat from Army green to sheet metal gray, "duct" tape was born.

There are hundreds of uses for duct tape and more are added all the time. Shown above is couch that was refurbished with duct tape.

Some other uses found on the web that might be of interest to car folks…

¨ Patch a rust spot at the bottom of a fender (works best on a silver car or buy the right color to match your vehicle.)
¨ Patch leaking radiator hoses.
¨ Hold up that window that fell off the track or tape the piece of clear plastic over it.
¨ Patch the torn seat covers.
¨ Tape the door shut when the latch breaks.
¨ Hold up your falling headliner.
¨ Patch the crack in your dashboard padding.
¨ Cover the annoying "check engine" light that won't go away.
¨ Temporarily repair a universal joint (has been known to have worked for 3 days!)
¨ Patch mufflers and tailpipes (needs frequent replacing).

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