In 1975, Al Hess watched the skateboard business explode. Al owned a machine shop and, at that time, there wasn’t a tool for the skateboard, but he could make it. At this time, all skateboard trucks were Sure Grip – a shoe skate truck that had a threaded shaft and nut holding the axle housing down and axle races (washers) holding the loose bearings in place inside the wheels. The first 4-way tool was made for the sloppy bearing, which if you didn’t keep the race tight, it would get loose and the bearings would fly out and you’d fly too. When the sealed bearing came out, it had a larger axle nut, so the new tool was enlarged to fit the new sealed bearing nut and it hasn’t changed in 40 years. At the same time, Al made stainless steel axles, which were bend-proof. He wanted to corner that market too. When it came time to do the Skateboard Magazine ad for the tool and axle, there wasn’t a brand name yet. James O’Mahoney had brought a real Elephant foot that would be perfect for the axle ad, so Elephant Brand was born. -Juice Mag
The use of the tool hasn’t changed in the last 40 years, Phillips screw or an Allen Key, for the shorties, 3/8″ Socket, 1/2″ Socket and 9/16″ Socket to tighten the different nuts sizes, but many companies have taken their crack at the some key design features to stand out in the crowd. Designs that include different handles, materials, ratcheting systems for quick installs, and various colors and novelty features, but overall the general tool will probably be the same until the end of time. No matter what, you will still need one!