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  #1  
Old 09-16-2001, 03:30 PM
lakelover
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Post Torque Wrench Recommendation

I'm shopping for a torque wrench. A post on this forum recommended a Stahlwille, and I'm looking. As usual, I'm working on a tight budget. What is a good, modestly priced torque wrench and what type/size is best?
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  #2  
Old 09-16-2001, 04:30 PM
LarryBible
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If you're on a budget there are many sources of adequate quality tools that will get the job done satisfactorily. Unless you are a pro tech and are buying this tool for a lifetime of day to day work, an inexpensive beam wrench will get the job done. There also many acceptable click ratchet types including one from Sears. You can get decent ones for even less than what you would get at Sears.

Good luck,
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  #3  
Old 09-16-2001, 05:00 PM
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just don't buy from harbor freight. i picked up a 0 - 90 lb because i needed the low torque setting and it was cheap at $15. i used it once to torque my alloy wheels to 80 ft lbs and the darn thing broke. it's got a "limited lifetime warranty" but i think i'm not gonna bother - you get what you pay for. OTOH, i picked up a shorty torque wrench at a flea market 20 yrs ago for $25 and it still works perfectly!
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  #4  
Old 09-16-2001, 05:50 PM
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I agree with Larry, a beam type torque wrench will work very well and at the least cost for a good new one (a beam type has the long pointer attached to the head and extends to the handle where a graduated gauge is located, as the bolt, nut, fastener is tightened the beam/pointer indicates the amount of torque that is being applied). If you can find a click type torque wrench at a reasonable price, then they are a bit easier to use. As jsmith wrote, flea markets may be a good place to find either kind of torque wrench at a reasonable price (as well as pawn shops, garage sales, companies selling used tools/equipment, etc., etc.).

Torque wrenches come in various calibrations (inch pounds, foot pounds, kilograms, etc.) and range of torque they will measure (for example: 0-600 in. lbs., 0-150 ft. lbs., 50-250 ft. lbs., etc., etc.). Some torque wrench gauges will have more than one calibration (both foot pounds and kilograms is one). So, you will need to review the torque specs. for the fasteners you will be using and select a torque wrench accordingly (as well as considering possible future needs).

Your choice will depend on your needs. If you are torqueing fasteners with low torque specs., then you will want one measuring the lower torque ranges more precisely (say 0-600 inch pounds which equals 0-50 ft. lbs., recall 12 in. lbs. = 1 ft. lbs.). If you are using fasteners with middle to higher torque specs., then a 0-150 ft. lbs. torque wrench is a good all-around choice because it is very versatile. MB uses Newtons per meter (Nm) as their method of measuring torque/force applied to fasteners (1 Nm = .74 ft.lbs. = 8.8 in. lbs.).

Another consideration is the size of the torque wrench's connector (1/2" or 3/8") and the size of the sockets you own. Whatever your choice of torque wrench, you should buy an adaptor to fit both 1/2" and 3/8" sockets (a 1/2" to 3/8" adaptor if you buy a torque wrench with a 1/2" connector as is common on the 0-150 ft. lbs torque wrench, or a 3/8" to 1/2" adaptor if the wrench has a 3/8" connector), that is if you do not already own adaptor(s).

Hope this helps.

Tom
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  #5  
Old 09-16-2001, 07:01 PM
Southern_Son
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As stated above, beam type are generally not viewed as calibrated precisely but they have the advantage of keeping the original calibration longer than the dial in type.

The dial in, click type, is a great deal easier to use and I find a 1/2" drive very useful for tightening lug nuts to specifications on a regular basis. Just remember to 'back off' the tension after each use. This is very important.

The beam type is difficult to read in some tight places where the scale is not in position to be read. But, as stated previously, it retains near correct readings for a longer period of time. I bought my last one at Sears (lifetime guarantee).

You can join the craftsman tool club from sears and save 10% on purchases (800-682-8691).
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  #6  
Old 09-16-2001, 08:59 PM
lakelover
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Thanks for all the input. I think I'll try to find a reasonably priced click ratched type. I'll be using it on my 420 SEL, for light maintenance. So the Newton meter scale is what I'll need. A combination ft/lbs and Nm would be best, I guess. Think I'll check out Sears but I've seen some good sounding offers on E-Bay.
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  #7  
Old 09-16-2001, 09:11 PM
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My Proto torque wrnech is in ft pounds up to 150 ft/lbs while my MAC goes up to 250 ft/lbs, with ft/lbs on one side and Newtons on the other.
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  #8  
Old 09-17-2001, 01:22 AM
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Just a note that it may be tough to find a single size wrench that will do all the jobs you might encounter. I have three torque wrenches, not because I like them, (although I do confess they are one of the tools that make me feel professional when I use them. Those and the impact driver**) but true confessions aside, there are a wide variety of applications.

For wheel lugs and also things like the front axle nuts on my 4MATIC, you need a fairly hefty bugger. Mine is a PROTO 1/2" drive. I think it goes up to 250 or 30 ft-lbs. The second is a Snap-on 3/8" drive, which I bought when I was pro, and that stops around 80 ft-lbs. or so. It is just the ticket for most engine assembly type of applications. And the last is a True-Craft or something, which reads out in inch-pounds. That one I don't use much, but if you're going to do something like adjust automatic transmission bands, you'll need one of these more delicate sizes. I also come across the occasional small guage fastener that requires something of a precise torque.

In general these wrenches are more accurate toward the middle of their ranges, so one that just covers your desired torque, especially at the low end, is probably not a best choice.

Cheers,
sc
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  #9  
Old 09-17-2001, 10:17 AM
roas
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I picked up a nice Craftsmen click type at Sears several months ago for around $75.

Don't drop it, bang on it, and zero the tension out (set to 0) before you go to bed and you should be fine for a long while.
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  #10  
Old 09-17-2001, 11:52 AM
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A caveat on beam-type wrenches - since they work by measuring the deflection of the wrench 'beam' (the pointer doesn't move), it is easy to run out of clearance when torquing some items. This is particularly an issue with suspension bolts tightened on the ground, for instance. Another issue is that the handle pivots in it's middle. If torque is applied with the handle touching at either end, the measurement will be inaccurate. All this is pretty limiting. In the same vein, check that the ratchet stops of a click-type torque wrench are closely spaced.

Steve
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  #11  
Old 09-17-2001, 06:38 PM
lakelover
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Autozone tool loan

Thanks for all the info on torque wrenches. I went looking, today, and discovered that Autozone has a tool loan program. They had a click-ratchet torque wrench which I took. There is a $90 deposit but no cost for the loan. The only problem is that when I got it home I realized the torque range is 47.5-345.7 Nm (30-250 ft/lbs) which is too big for my job. As tcane and others have noted, more than one size torque wrench may be needed. I think Autozone had only one size. At least it's not costing my anything.
I'm change transmission fluid and motor mounts. The transmission pan bolts take just 7 Nm, which isn't much more than hand tight, I guess.
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  #12  
Old 09-17-2001, 07:40 PM
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I would hand tighten the trans pan bolts - I do that on my 300D and lots of other similar fasteners not needing precise tightening requiring a torque wrench. Let's see, 7 Nm = 46.2 in. lbs. which is not much.

Thanks, I forgot about Auto Zone loaning tools (seems I have most that I need, except for some special tools).

It was mentioned that torque wrenches are not accurate toward the extremes. I tested the Snap-On click type torque wrenches when they first came out. Precision scientific gauges (spring and dial) were used to check out how precise the new click type wrenches were. I checked a 150-1,000 in. lbs. and a 0-150 ft. lbs. click torque wrenches and found that both were well within 1% of the specified torque value at the extremes and at three values in between the extremes. In fact, the 150-1,000 in. lbs. torque wrench was accurate down to 100 in. lbs. (it will loosen to 85-90 in. lbs.) and I used it a lot because a lot of the small fasteners I worked with required 100-120 in. lbs. As was written, click type wrenches must be loosened to the lowest setting and a few gentle taps of the handle end in your palm to ensure the machanism is completely loosened - I loosen my 150-1,000 in. lbs. wrench as far as the dial will turn without forcing it, back off about 5 in. lbs., tap the handle a couple of times, and then put it back into its case.

Beam type wrenches should be stored in a case or box they came in - nothing should touch the beam as this will damage the accuracy faster than anything I know of (I've seen more than a few thrown into a pile or tool box with other tools/stuff piled on them - surprisingly some were mechanics!).

I also checked my beam type torque wrenches and they were nearly as accurate as the click type, even at the extremes. Of course, using a 0-150 ft. lbs. torque wrench on a 10 ft. lbs. fastener is stretching it a bit, but can be done. Since I have done 1,000's of torquing operations (if not a lot more) on aluminum (heads, cases, etc.) with the beam type wrench with no problems - I have a high level of confidence in them. The click type wrench is easier to use, esp. in tight places (as was written). However, a properly used beam type wrench is more accurate than a click type that is not used properly. Believe it or not, there is a proper way to use a torque wrench and an improper way. I also calibrated my air wrenches and the torque applied checking against torque wrenches to make sure I was not over-torquing fasteners when I was making a living as a technician/mechanic.

Presently, I own 5 torque wrenches (3 beam and 2 click). If I had to only own one torque wrench, I would own the 0-150 ft. lbs. (or close to this range) wrench or its equivalent in kilograms or Neutons and a beam type if on a budget would be OK, or the click type if I could justify the extra cost considering how often I would use it - and the area where I was going to use it.

Hope this helps.

Tom
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America: Land of the Free!

1977 300D: 300,000+ miles

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Formerly:
Shop Foreman;
Technical Advisor to Am. Honda;
Supervisor of Maintenance largest tree care co. in US for offices in Tex.
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  #13  
Old 09-18-2001, 04:39 PM
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it's those 7 nm bolts that get you. usually something like a pan or valve cover. if you don't do it right, under or over torque it, the gasket could easily leak!
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  #14  
Old 09-18-2001, 09:55 PM
CJ CJ is offline
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My son (13 months old) bought me a Sears Craftsman click type torque wrench on sale for $49.00.
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  #15  
Old 09-19-2001, 07:09 AM
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I have a Craftsman that works great. Has both L/B`s and newton meters. I`ts a clicker and cost about $69.00
John
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