A Fabulous Tool
This is THE item for any radio buff who likes to have the right tool for the job. That's right, it's an earphone jack nut driver. You are looking at the "standard" 3.5mm size, but there is also a 2.6mm size that's good for mini jacks as well as external antenna jacks.
So, what's so special about these? Well, how many times have you felt the cold sweat on your brow as you struggle with an old rotted earphone jack nut, trying to coerce it loose without losing your grip on the two slots and scratching your tool across the cabinet of a precious radio? Been there, done that? That's how life goes when you use needle nose pliers, a pair of small screwdrivers, or even a handy modified flat head screwdriver. This baby makes removing the nuts like cutting soft butter! The big phallic prong in the center is the real key. It goes down inside the jack to stabilize the driver's position while the 'teeth' on either side fit into the nut and spin 'er any way you wish.
Having seen something similar in a fifties magazine, although without the center prong, I spent over a year hunting all over Tokyo's "Electric Town" for such an item. Almost grew tired, (yet sometimes amused), at the strange looks of most shopkeepers when I had the nerve to ask about such a thing. Most just stared at me as though I had asked them for green kryptonite, and proceeded to brush me off. One or two established places thought they remembered something like that existing many years ago, but told me emphatically that I'd never find one in this day and age. And the odd odd shopkeeper would say, "Sure, I know where you can try. Go to OOOO Electric around the corner." Inevitably, I would arrive at the recommended location only to begin the process all over again. That is, until the day I stumbled across Adachi Kosho. I asked Yasuyuki Adachi, the man who runs the show, about such a driver and was shocked when he casually replied, "What size would you like; 2.6mm, 3.5mm or 6.4mm?" I almost fell over with joy. I bought a pair for myself and walked away as the happiest boy in Akihabara. Francesco, my dear friend and companion on the trip shook his head commenting how amazed he was that, after more than ten years of cruising Akihabara together, I could still be looking for items he'd never dreamed about. He got a real kick out of the whole scene.
That big "stud" protrusion in the center was a fun discovery because it is a functional part I hadn't expected to see. It's so easy to get the right amount of torque without worrying about slipping that it's almost fun to use. Even my wife, who could care less about touching a radio, was preoccupied for a while loosening and tightening jack nuts.
Yasuyuki tells me these drivers are his father's original design, and he takes pride in being the only shop that sells this "exclusive" item. He custom orders them by the dozen and they are one of the few great tools along these lines still handmade by local craftsmen. Despite the small quantities made and the fact they are hand tooled, the drivers are not overly expensive at just over five (US) bucks a piece.
Eager to share my discovery, I carried mine along to the next meeting of a local radio club a few of us started in spring 2000. I figured the members would all look at me kindly as they thought how cute the foreign kid was having discovered something they all knew about for years. Well, I got another surprise because none of them had come across them, nor had they thought to attempt searching for them at this point in history. I then offered to pick them up for anybody who wanted one, which turned out to be basically everybody present. That's when I started ordering them a dozen at a time. And Yasuyuki, prince that he is, offered to give me distributor pricing so I could sell them at the same price as he does without losing out on the time and train fare to handle them.
After supplying all my local cohorts with the drivers, I started offering them to a few friends and fellow collectors overseas. This gave birth to what I jokingly dubbed the "Jack Nut Consortium".
[07.02.17] Update: Time for an addendum I'd prefer not to write. Some time has already passed since that dreadful day I dropped by to visit Adachi-san only to have a bombshell dropped on my head. The bad news he had to share was that the fellow who hand tooled the jack nut drivers had reached an age and stage that he decided to retire from his craft. I knew the supply of these wonderful tools couldn't last forever; and it didn't. After cleaning out the last of the inventory, I'll have to see how well I do at hoarding a few away for prosperity.