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Cheap torque wrench..

Old 09-12-08, 06:01 PM
  #1  
lbear
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Cheap torque wrench..

Maybe "cheap" is not the right word. Is there a cost effective torque wrench out there?
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Old 09-12-08, 06:51 PM
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Why go "inexpensive"? You get what you pay for. Invest a few $$ in good tools, you will not be sorry.
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Old 09-12-08, 07:07 PM
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Originally Posted by kycycler View Post
Why go "inexpensive"? You get what you pay for. Invest a few $$ in good tools, you will not be sorry.
True, but if you plan on using it only once every blue moon, try harbor freight. I think it might be harborfreight.com.
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Old 09-12-08, 07:26 PM
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Buying the best tools for a job is some small assurance they won't break when you really need them. And they maintain a high re-sale value as well. One person I know learned this the hard way with, get this, a hammer. He drove, or tried to, a nail. The hammer broke on the metal and hit him in the face with the claw-end.

High-end doesn't mean silly - like a $300 Campagnolo tool when an $80 Park works fine. Just good tools that won't die on you. At least get things like Sears Craftsman. At least when they disintegrate, you get a new one free for life.
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Old 09-12-08, 07:37 PM
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A very suitable beam-style torque wrench can be had a Sears for around $30.00.
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Old 09-12-08, 07:44 PM
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Just don't get Harbor Feights 0-60 inch pound T-wrench. It's useless, having a 5 ft. pound max. bk
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Old 09-12-08, 07:59 PM
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lb, some things to think about:
1) Even for bikes (and definitely for cars), a single torque wrench won't cover the full range of torques. Remember that click-type torque wrenches are typically spec'd only for 20-100% of their max torque, so trying to go under 20% can cause problems.
2) Different types of torque wrenches vary greatly in their durability and ability to hold their calibration. In particular, the rotating-collar "micrometer-style" click wrenches need to be set back to their low end setting before storage, as otherwise an internal spring can become stretched, throwing off the calibration.
3) A number of items on bikes are reverse-threaded, so you'll want a torque wrench that works both clockwise and counterclockwise.
4) It's nice if the drive size of the torque wrench matches most of the sockets/drivers you'll be using it with, although adapters are fairly inexpensive.

I'd suggest looking at beam-type torque wrenches. Not only are they cheap to make and robust, but any miscalibration is easily spotted (the pointer doesn't indicate 0 at rest) and simply corrected (by bending the pointer to the correct position). Finally, they work equally well for clockwise and counterclockwise readings.

I'd suggest getting a pair of beam-type torque wrenches:
a) a 3/8" drive 0-600 inch pound (1-50 foot pound) model
b) a 0 to 100-200 inch pound model (probably 1/4" drive beam-type)

Sears has a 3/8" 1-75 foot pounder on sale today and tomorrow for $25: https://www.sears.com/shc/s/p_10153_12605_00944690000P
Park has their TW-1, which is a bit on the expensive side and only goes up to 60 inch pounds/5 foot pounds. Thus, it doesn't overlap that well with the Sears torque wrench; it does better with the Park TW-2, which only goes up to 50 foot pounds.
Personally, I'd try for something used, like this Snap-On dial-type torque wrench (150 inch pounds max): https://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/Snap-...mZ220279256106

Last edited by Mondoman; 09-12-08 at 08:03 PM.
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Old 09-12-08, 08:08 PM
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+1 on Sears Craftsman Beam style. They're cheap they're simple.

Take this with a grain of salt since I ride steel which is pretty forgiving.
aluminum's OK Titanium's neat(but too rich for my blood), but carbon I'd be very careful around anyway, & consider having a shop hack on for warranty issues. This is why I don't own carbon. nice to ride though.

I used to do a fair bit of auto work & have had them around since then, so I do have a pair of the cheaper beam ones, & haven't had any issues with them while working on bikes. This isn't rocket science, so no need to buy an expensive torque wrench that needs to be adjusted now & again, the one I have are accurate enough for anything I've encountered & store just fine during the long intervals between usage for me.

The drawback is in usage, you have to watch yourself vs. one of the "click", or "break-over" style ones I've used. I did have a cheap click, & will warn you off them, they can go out of adjustment, & you can end up sheering bolts if you're not careful. here is a good link for everything but the beams. here is a link to one of the wrenches I have. I also have one that does inch lb's, which I tend to use more often when working with bikes.
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Old 09-12-08, 08:33 PM
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I'm not partial to beam types for the simple reason you need to see the scale to use them. But on bicycles that's good enough.

For a few$ more you can get a click type that you don't need to look at so it can be used blind and it may come in super handy on the car or other uses at some point.

They aren't much either if you get a basic pair. The BIG thing to remember is to never leave click type torque wrenches stored with torque settings on them. ALWAYS back them off to the minimum setting when you're done with them. It's a good habit to get into doing that after each use.

$15 for a nice little 20-200 inch-lb 1/4
https://www.harborfreight.com/cpi/cta...temnumber=2696

And another $15 for the 0-80 ft-lb 3/8 unit
https://www.harborfreight.com/cpi/cta...Itemnumber=807

Some will argue that these are too cheap and will break. That may be but a little searching here and a few other sites should produce some feedback on them. If they don't have a horrible reputation this is a nice option for torque wrenches that are not a daily use sort of thing.

If you would be using them a lot more often like daily or a few times a week then I'd suggest spending a little more for a more recognized brand name or a line that comes with a lifetime warranty.
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Old 09-12-08, 08:37 PM
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I have a buddy who bough himself a brand-spankin'-new beam-type torque wrench from a major box store (cheap store brand) and promptly went home and stripped out the threading in a hole in the engine block of his motorcycle.

A good quality torque wrench is not that expensive - compared to the cost of replacing a carbon handlebar or a few crankarms.
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Old 09-12-08, 09:05 PM
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BC - I suspect the HF 1/4" unit is really a 40-200 inch lb unit, as IIRC the click-types are only supposed to be within calibration from 20% to 100% of max. I really like my $10 1/2" drive HF unit, though!
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Old 09-12-08, 09:30 PM
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Originally Posted by z415 View Post
True, but if you plan on using it only once every blue moon, try harbor freight. I think it might be harborfreight.com.
Because you want it to work right? I wouldn't trust a harbor freight torque wrench on anything I cared enough to use a torque wrench for. I've seen them with the wrong scale on them.
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Old 09-12-08, 09:30 PM
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Above posts regarding 20% -100% for beam torque wrenches are quite correct and these for practical purposes do not go out of adjustment. Two quality manufacturers in the US are Sturtevant Richmont and Precision Instruments. These are probably well beyond what you want to spend new but they do come up on eBay and the basic beam wrenches should be OK used. There is someone who must have a pallet of 200 lb-in beam wrenches that he keeps selling for $19 + shipping on eBay. While not an SR flat beam, I got one and it is quite reasonable quality (Edit: Because it IS a Sturtevant-Richmont wrench, I just checked mine). Dual scales, both lb-in and N-m (Newton-Meters), are available on some wrenches (Park's, for instance).

If you are going to use these, also be aware the torque specifications may be given as "dry" (no lubrication) or "wet" (lubricated). You get an equivalent bolt stretching (which is the real measure of bolt tightening and is actually measured in some applications) at LESS torque when LUBRICATED. Thus if you use the wrong condition, you can over or under tighten.

Edit: LINK to the $19.99 200 lb-in genuine Sturtevant-Richmont wrenches on eBay.

Last edited by Giro; 09-14-08 at 10:08 PM. Reason: Add link to $19.99 S-R torque wrench on Ebay
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Old 09-12-08, 09:40 PM
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A torque wrench is a measurement tool. I don't trust any measurement tool that does not come with a calibration certificate. If one cannot be sure that a measurement tool can accurately and precisely measure whatever it is suppose to measure, then what good is this tool?

After saying that, if you have a torque wrench that you know is good, it can be used to estimate whether a cheapie is good enough. I would guess that most cheapie torque wrenches are precise, but probably not accurate, simply because calibrating a torque wrench requires time and therefore money.
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Old 09-12-08, 10:09 PM
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Originally Posted by Giro View Post
Above posts regarding 20% -100% for beam torque wrenches are quite correct and these for practical purposes do not go out of adjustment.
This is correct. In fact, they really can't be calibrated wrong, unless the dimensions of the beam (length, diameter) are significantly off, and that is pretty easy to get right.

It is not typically a problem on bikes, but one issue with beam type torque wrenches is that you have to apply the torque while having your eyes in a position to read the scale....it can be difficult when you need to apply 200+ lb-ft. while lying under a car. Those are the times I use the clicker wrenches.
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Old 09-12-08, 10:25 PM
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Originally Posted by Mr. Fly View Post
A torque wrench is a measurement tool. I don't trust any measurement tool that does not come with a calibration certificate. If one cannot be sure that a measurement tool can accurately and precisely measure whatever it is suppose to measure, then what good is this tool?

After saying that, if you have a torque wrench that you know is good, it can be used to estimate whether a cheapie is good enough. I would guess that most cheapie torque wrenches are precise, but probably not accurate, simply because calibrating a torque wrench requires time and therefore money.
All you need to check the calibration is a measuring tape, a vise, and a known weight or a bike scale. This is a lot more obvious when working in imperial units, since we don't typically have weights or scales denominated in Newtons, and since the metric unit of force is seldom used for measuring everyday things, many don't know the definition, and fewer still have a "feel" for it. The solution is to note that a 1Kg mass weighs 9.8N. (on earth!) Use 10 because it's easy, and you'll only be off by 2%.
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Old 09-16-08, 11:23 AM
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Originally Posted by BCRider View Post
Some will argue that these [Harbor Freight] are too cheap and will break.
Spending more is no guarantee either. E.g. Nashbar was recently selling the exact same wrench as HF for $75 (vs. $20), and you never hear how crappy Nashbar wrenches are. The equation of cost to quality runs very deep in us.

Fwiw, I have two HF TWs and both calibrate and perform just fine. Of course, Snap-On has a much nicer feel and finish, but...
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Old 09-16-08, 12:26 PM
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+1 on Giro's ebay wrench- I bought one because that is the brand we changed over to at work( Nuke plant). I took mine to work and had it calibrated- It was dead on (better than +-2%) at 100in/lbs and very good elsewhere. Very nicely made.

Edit-my Ebay wrench was from the same seller as Giro's link
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Old 09-16-08, 04:55 PM
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Originally Posted by Giro View Post
be aware the torque specifications may be given as "dry" (no lubrication) or "wet" (lubricated). You get an equivalent bolt stretching (which is the real measure of bolt tightening and is actually measured in some applications) at LESS torque when LUBRICATED. Thus if you use the wrong condition, you can over or under tighten.
This is not a minor effect. Torque readings for the same level of stretch can vary by 50+% between wet and "dry"*! They can also vary by 25-30% by the type of lube used.


* No fastener is completely dry and I don't see many specs for "dry", but I'll go with the the flow...
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Old 09-16-08, 08:09 PM
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Mr. Fly is spot-on re: accuracy versus precision. I bought my torque wrench fleet off eBay, all clicker style since I'm usually upside down under a 4-wheeler or tractor. I stick with used Mac, Snap-on etc brands from solid sellers. I'm more interested in consistency than absolute accuracy, good judgment must be engaged with any used tool. I like to relax clickers to zero for storage.
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Old 09-17-08, 01:31 AM
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Originally Posted by Giro View Post

Edit: LINK to the $19.99 200 lb-in genuine Sturtevant-Richmont wrenches on eBay.
OK, I figured I'd eventually buy one after I noticed torque specs on my son's carbon fork (the stem actually) and then later my carbon frame. Now comes the dumb question - since I need allen wrenches to adjust the stem and seatpost, for example, where do I get allen wrench adapters that attach to the 3/8" torque wrench. Got plenty of 3/8" sockets from my car tools.

Disclaimer: not much of a mechanic ... yet.
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Old 09-17-08, 05:02 AM
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where do I get allen wrench adapters that attach to the 3/8" torque wrench.
Sears and many other places have Allen sockets( 3/8 square drive to go on the wrench on one end with a short pc of Allen wrench sticking out the other)
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Old 09-17-08, 05:15 AM
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Craftsman tools quality, son basura!

Originally Posted by tromper View Post
+1 on Sears Craftsman Beam style. They're cheap they're simple.
Do not get fooled by the brand name Craftsman, many of those tools are not made with the same quality as before.

I bought a brand new heavyduty carjack for my little 4 cylinder, it lasted maybe a year. I also claim in warranty a 100 dollar torque wrench were the adjustment collar stripped out. Sears tools do not have the same quality as they used to be.

Every now and then I check on my dad's old Craftsman tools and I can tell the difference.

You don't have to go to Sears anymore, just support your LKS (Local K-Mart Shop), lol:

https://content.kmart.com/shc/s/c_101...echanics+Tools

The good thing is the warranty and that is also changing in the last few years, it has become more of a limited one.
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Old 09-17-08, 03:47 PM
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maz - I haven't noticed the Craftsman hand tool warranty changing, although the Craftsman click-type torque wrenches don't fall under that warranty, but have only a one-year warranty instead.
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Old 09-18-08, 04:44 AM
  #25  
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Originally Posted by sunburst View Post
OK, I figured I'd eventually buy one after I noticed torque specs on my son's carbon fork (the stem actually) and then later my carbon frame. Now comes the dumb question - since I need allen wrenches to adjust the stem and seatpost, for example, where do I get allen wrench adapters that attach to the 3/8" torque wrench. Got plenty of 3/8" sockets from my car tools.

Disclaimer: not much of a mechanic ... yet.
Here you go, $8 from Harbour Freight:

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