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Preset 40 n/m Harbor Freight torque wrench failed me

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Preset 40 n/m Harbor Freight torque wrench failed me

Old 06-09-19, 08:16 PM
  #1  
masi61
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Preset 40 n/m Harbor Freight torque wrench failed me

I keep a Harbor Freight 1/2 drive torque wrench preset with a 19mm socket to take a Shimano lockring tool. The units are in foot pounds so I looked up the conversion to newton meters on a chart. I want to say 40 n/m is about 19 ft/pounds. I like to pop my cassette in an ultrasonic cleaner and re-install it fairly quickly while I’m doing my chain waxing.

I have it set & have left the dial on the same setting. Previously it clicked reliably when the HG lockring was at the specified torque.

It worked fine last week on my 9 speed Dura Ace 7700 wheel. Today I was working on a 10 speed SRAM cassette on another Dura Ace 7700 hub.

Well I cleaned the SRAM cassette & reinstalled it. I proceeded to tighten down the lock ring, waiting for a click. Well it didn’t click so I kept going - then something snapped!

Bummer! The snap I felt was not the torque wrench clicking, it was something now broken. I know this because the cassette was now loose.

So I removed the lock ring & inspected for damage. Strange thing is, I couldn’t find any.

Just for the hell of it, I tightened it again - by feel only and everything tightened up OK or so it seems.

could anyone speculate if I broke something? I will do a test ride around the neighborhood before embarking on a more serious ride.

Last edited by masi61; 06-10-19 at 09:23 AM.
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Old 06-09-19, 08:51 PM
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40 N-m is around 29.5 ft-lbs.

You should not keep a torque wrench permanently set at torque. After use you need to release it and leave it loose.

If you heard a snap, and the cassette became loose (define how it became loose), you almost certainly broke something. Did the ring come off the hub body? Are you sure it isn't cracked? Threads deformed? Is the freehub body damaged - thread deformed or body cracked?
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Old 06-09-19, 09:16 PM
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Harbor Freight is to tools what Walmart is to bicycles.

Also, 40 Newton X meter = 29.5 pound X foot

In my experience lock rings kind of go on less than smoothly, so maybe that is all that happened. If you didn't damage the thread, and the cassette behaves normally, it is probably ok.

Last edited by wgscott; 06-09-19 at 09:22 PM.
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Old 06-09-19, 09:25 PM
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Originally Posted by wgscott View Post
Harbor Freight is to tools what Walmart is to bicycles.
In my experience many Harbor Freight tools are better suited to their purposes than Wal-Mart bicycles. They are also nice to modify if I need to, for example, grind down a wrench for a special job, and would rather not do that to my Craftsman or Snap-On tools.
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Old 06-09-19, 10:29 PM
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Harbor Freight is all about getting you cheap stuff, spend more money for better tools and be less disappointed..
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Old 06-09-19, 10:39 PM
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I should copy this as I post it every few months. Neighbor brought his HF torque wrench over as he was suspicious it was an issue. Calibration showed it was dropping every thing but the lowest levels. Took it back with him to the store and the manager said "...we will change it out but wait for after next weekend parking lot sale to clear current inventory, after that we will have a new batch in and they should be OK, you do not want one off our shelf just now."
Return to "0" and periodically calibrate, lots of you tube videos on how to do calibration.
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Old 06-09-19, 10:45 PM
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Iíve bought a fair number of automotive and power tools from HF, and theyíve been pretty good. The thing to watch out for is the somewhat spotty QC, resulting in the occasional ďdudĒ, but their return policy is good, so just return it until you get a good one. I will say that the large torque wrench (50-150 ft.lb) I got there was nowhere near the quality of a larger (50-250 ft.lb) Kobalt wrench that I got from Lowes. HF arenít pro-level, but if you donít abuse them, theyíre adequate for home mechanic use
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Old 06-09-19, 11:37 PM
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Originally Posted by CyclingFool95 View Post
40 N-m is around 29.5 ft-lbs.

You should not keep a torque wrench permanently set at torque. After use you need to release it and leave it loose.

If you heard a snap, and the cassette became loose (define how it became loose), you almost certainly broke something. Did the ring come off the hub body? Are you sure it isn't cracked? Threads deformed? Is the freehub body damaged - thread deformed or body cracked?
Right now I’m not sure if it’s not cracked. I did not see any damage upon initial inspection. When I say the cassette was loose, I mean it had side to side play on the freehub body. I’m thinking that the soft aluminum threads of the SRAM HG lockring slipped out of the titanium internal threads of the Dura Ace 7700 freehub body. Replacing the lock ring is obviously going to be much less speedy than if I just somehow ruined the freehub body.

I had wondered if I should have reset the torque wrench to zero then reset to the specified torque each use. Dang it!

This bike is supposed to be ridden 50+ miles for the Tuesday club ride.
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Old 06-10-19, 05:49 AM
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Originally Posted by masi61 View Post
Iím thinking that the soft aluminum threads of the SRAM HG lockring slipped out of the titanium internal threads of the Dura Ace 7700 freehub body. Replacing the lock ring is obviously going to be much less speedy than if I just somehow ruined the freehub body.

I had wondered if I should have reset the torque wrench to zero then reset to the specified torque each use. Dang it!
It's more likely the aluminum ring would fail than the titanium, but check it carefully. While it tightened up okay after, I'd be concerned that the first time there's some significant load on the cassette, the ring pops out if there's damage.

"Failure" mechanism for a torque wrench kept loaded is that the spring may weaken, so, if anything, it's not delivering the torque you think it is.

As an aside, I test my HF 3/8" wrench on the tester in the metrology lab at work. It's still reasonably accurate (within 15%), and this allows me to compensate when setting it:
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Old 06-10-19, 06:03 AM
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A beam type torque wrench is both cheap and reliable. Never goes out of calibration. Much preferable to a cheap click type torque wrench.
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Old 06-10-19, 07:47 AM
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Have you taken the cassette off and really closely looked at everything?

It sounds like a spacer at the cassette body deformed. Or you thrashed the thread on the lockring. I guess itís possible that some grit was in there and you smashed it, that is the best case scenario.

I own two torque wrenches. I see value in having them. I think you also need to get comfortable with doing things by feel. If for no other reason than to set off the inner alarm that something isnít right.
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Old 06-10-19, 08:00 AM
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Originally Posted by Nessism View Post
A beam type torque wrench is both cheap and reliable. Never goes out of calibration. Much preferable to a cheap click type torque wrench.
This is the kind that is always used with ultra-centrifuge caps. I think they are considered the most user-proof, and cracking an ultra-centrifuge tube can result in a major disaster, so it has to be right. Also, they are usually bi-directional. I don't know why they are scoffed at.
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Old 06-10-19, 08:17 AM
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Beam torque wrenches are great but can't always be used at an angle which makes reading the scale convenient.

Sometimes the bolt is just at an awkward angle and reading the scale is not even possible. This is when a click wrench makes more sense.


-Tim-
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Old 06-10-19, 08:33 AM
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There are a lot of people that are ham fisted and can screw up anything, even with a torque wrench.
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Old 06-10-19, 08:42 AM
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The instructions for the torque wrenches I have (HF and Husky) indicate that the wrench should be turned back to zero after each use and 'exercised' by periodically turning them up towards the max. value and returned to zero.
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Old 06-10-19, 09:47 AM
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Originally Posted by rosefarts View Post
Have you taken the cassette off and really closely looked at everything?

It sounds like a spacer at the cassette body deformed. Or you thrashed the thread on the lockring. I guess itís possible that some grit was in there and you smashed it, that is the best case scenario.

I own two torque wrenches. I see value in having them. I think you also need to get comfortable with doing things by feel. If for no other reason than to set off the inner alarm that something isnít right.
I always used to do fine by doing things by feel. The last couple of years I have been starting to use torque wrenches more since I have more lightweight parts on my bikes. I had some recurring clicking sounds on my Flyte aluminum road bike last year which I could not immediately track down. So as part of doing my maintenance lately has been to try to use the torque wrench on parts where they list a torque spec right on the part. And since the Dura Ace hubs that I use are a little more exotic with the titanium freehub body I want to take precautions to not damage the splines in any way.
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Old 06-10-19, 09:49 AM
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Originally Posted by jlaw View Post
The instructions for the torque wrenches I have (HF and Husky) indicate that the wrench should be turned back to zero after each use and 'exercised' by periodically turning them up towards the max. value and returned to zero.
This sounds reasonable. I plan on dialing mine back to zero when I'm done using it.
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Old 06-10-19, 10:22 AM
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Originally Posted by TimothyH View Post
Beam torque wrenches are great but can't always be used at an angle which makes reading the scale convenient.

Sometimes the bolt is just at an awkward angle and reading the scale is not even possible. This is when a click wrench makes more sense.


-Tim-
True, but I can think of no situation where this would apply on a bicycle.
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Old 06-10-19, 12:18 PM
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HF isn't the tool you want if you use that tool often. However for occassional use, they are great because they are cheap. The only big and immediate difference between the HF torque wrench and the better ones I've used is that the HF doesn't have as perceptible a break as the others and it can easily be missed sometimes while tightening things. Over the long haul, I expect the HF will wear out sooner. But for the few times I use it, that might be after I'm gone.

P.S. Walmart bikes aren't bad bikes. They just aren't the bike for those that want to ride 100 plus miles a week. Just like HF isn't the tool for the person that needs to torque 100 nuts and bolts a week.
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Old 06-10-19, 12:23 PM
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Originally Posted by Iride01 View Post
HF isn't the tool you want if you use that tool often. However for occassional use, they are great because they are cheap. The only big and immediate difference between the HF torque wrench and the better ones I've used is that the HF doesn't have as perceptible a break as the others and it can easily be missed sometimes while tightening things.
Thanks for making that point about the subtle break in HF wrenches. I meant to mention that to the OP that he might have missed the click. I was having that problem last night with my 1/4" wrench and stem bolts. You need to get close, and then just take it really slow.

Agree fully about HF tools for light use. They're rust prone, and not the most durable, but I'm only an occasional mechanic. I do tend to stay away from their power tools though.
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Old 06-10-19, 12:35 PM
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Originally Posted by CyclingFool95 View Post
Thanks for making that point about the subtle break in HF wrenches. I meant to mention that to the OP that he might have missed the click. I was having that problem last night with my 1/4" wrench and stem bolts. You need to get close, and then just take it really slow.

Agree fully about HF tools for light use. They're rust prone, and not the most durable, but I'm only an occasional mechanic. I do tend to stay away from their power tools though.
I think youíre right - I probably missed the click! And you also made a good point about going slow - I was in a hurry to wrap up mechanic work for the day that I was proceeding in a rushed manner. This isnít my usual style.
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Old 06-10-19, 12:56 PM
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I have a 6' bar in my garage with S hooks at each end and a 1/2" socket welded in the center. I set it up to calibrate torque wrenches. A gallon jug of water comes out right about 8.33 pounds. At 3' out from the center that gives me 25 foot pounds of torque. The Harbor Freight torque wrenches are horribly calibrated but luckily they are easy to calibrate.

I recently calibrated mine to 50 foot pounds for some engine work that I was performing. My only question is how the linear it is.
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Old 06-10-19, 01:05 PM
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The directions on my SK torque wrench say to set back to zero, after each use. Probably the same for the HF one, whoever made it. Just get another. HF tools are expected to be cheap and disposable.
Tim
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Old 06-10-19, 01:10 PM
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Originally Posted by tkamd73 View Post
The directions on my SK torque wrench say to set back to zero, after each use. Probably the same for the HF one, whoever made it. Just get another. HF tools are expected to be cheap and disposable.
Tim
It does indeed. See #11
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Old 06-10-19, 01:22 PM
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Originally Posted by masi61 View Post
I think youíre right - I probably missed the click! And you also made a good point about going slow - I was in a hurry to wrap up mechanic work for the day that I was proceeding in a rushed manner. This isnít my usual style.
Another trick (assuming the calibration is accurate): Set the wrench to 35Nxm first, get the click, and then set it to 40. It should only require a little bit more actual movement. Also, when setting it, overshoot the desired setting slightly and come back down to the correct value.
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