The Most Used Tool in the Tool Box: Open End Wrenches
Today we are going to talk a little about the most used tool in your tool box, the wrench. Specifically I am going to focus on the open end side. Open end wrenches come in many different shapes and styles. Go to any swap meet and you will find wrenches with as many different names as in a small town telephone book. You can even find many with makes like Ford and IH. Cars and tractors at one time actually shipped with a tool kit for fixing them. Today’s cars come with a dealer installed cling sticker on the front window with their service and collision centers numbers. That way you are covered for every occasion.
I always try and start these off with a blast from the past. But until about an hour before starting this blog I had no idea of what to use. I was going to have to use a simple Ford wrench and try to make the hard sell that it was something special. Thankfully I dug around in an old tool box and found this gem from the auto maker Peugeot. It is stamped 17 & 19. Now I have to take this wrench home with me and see how it works. This may explain why the exotic imports shop rates are $30 an hour higher than the domestic ones. I would want more money if I had to look at this in my box yet alone use it all day.
This is the standard open end wrench. Some manufactures vary the head angle by a few degrees and they think re-invented the wheel. It is still an open end wrench. This is by far the most popular style of wrench on the market. I am going to make up stats here, but this design is easily 90% of all wrenches produced in the world.
After saying nasty things about a few degrees of angle. Change the angle a whole bunch and this wrench comes in real handy in tight situations.
Before the invention of the ratcheting box wrench, Craftsman came up with this ratcheting open ended wrench. It actually does work once you get the hang of it and do not try and apply too much torque.
This is another attempt to make the open end wrench better by Mac Tools. I like the concept for 6 point bolts but I have to say I am not sold on the idea of having to keep the wrench completely seated against the bolt/nut.
Now I will admit that when Snap-On came out with this open ended drive called the flank drive plus I was intrigued. Its revolutionary design of different spaced teeth made slipping off the bolt/nut a thing of the past. Everyone I have talked to that has these wrenches love them. A major word of caution: If you are in the aviation business or work on concourse automobiles, you might want to pass on these as they do severely mark up the fastener.
One item that I personally have in my tool box and love is a good set of thin wrenches. Just about everyone should recognize the wrench on the bottom of this picture. This is a stamped wrench that often ships with die grinders or just about any hipster has a stack of them from last week’s adventure to IKEA. The wrench pictured on top is your standard forged thin wrench. The one in the photo is actually a proto off our governor test bench. So if you own an Apex High Idle Governor, this wrench tightened the adjusting nut and end cap of every governor we have produced.
You can find all kinds of specialty open end wrenches. This one is a fuel line wrench. I am not even going to try and cover all of them on the market.
The wrench has to be on my list of tools that everyone needs to own. Well maybe not the Peugeot variety. I know many times I have heard it asked are you still turning wrenches. No other tool is so closely associated with being a mechanic or automotive/diesel technician if you prefer. So be proud of your wrenches and know that they truly never can be replaced by a mere ratchet. Plus a ratchet can never give that crisp clear ring of a good wrench hitting the concrete floor right before the slew of profanities.