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Good quality tools will always give good service - in some cases here "quality vital" is noted, especially for cutting tools. Professional brands (Snap-on, MAC, etc.) tend to be overpriced and are generally sold through a very inefficient and expensive franchise system - the exact same product made by the same manufacturer is often available with a different name stamped on it for a third of the price. Snap-off CPT110A is actually a rebranded FACOM D.120 - etc. Halfords' Professional range is as good or better and some of the packages are attractively priced. In independent tool merchants, Teng is an option. A good tool merchant will sell single Allen keys - having to buy a complete set to replace one Allen key is fiscal and ecological nonsense.

Socket sets

In general ratchet handles should be multi-pawl 72-tooth - especially useful for, e.g., bell housing to engine bolts. Long-handled versions reduce tiredness in long sessions. A modern 72-tooth long-handled ratchet will double as a breaker bar, withstanding tremendous torque - even foot pressure undoing front caliper carrier bolts. A 3/8" ratchet handle with a gimbal head - not a simple flex head - is extremely useful as a speed brace, spun between the palms. Repair kits should be carried for all ratchets - they have a habit of breaking simultaneously. A full set of extensions (especially short) should be carried for 1/4" and 3/8" sockets - a single 6" extension is adequate for 1/2" drive. Wobble end and flexible extensions deliver few benefits - locking types make some changes two-handed and should be avoided. Universal joints are unnecessary for 1/4" and 1/2" drive - a 3/8" universal joint wrapped in gaffer tape to stiffen it is useful in some exhaust applications.

A 1/4" drive roller-style palm ratchet with adapters to 3/8" and 1/2" is sometimes useful to avoid finger fatigue. Another option is the LASER 4009 ratchet head.

1/4" drive sockets:

3/8" drive

1/2" drive

Allen Drivers

Allen drivers the right length are often hard to find. It's easy to make your own by cutting a high-quality Allen driver with an angle grinder and cementing or welding the cutoff end into a standard socket of the correct size. Commercial drivers usually have slightly chamfered ends - these should be ground off to leave a sharp edge. The driver can then be seated in a rusty Allen screw (turbo oil feed to filter bracket, rear brake calipers, gearbox drain plugs) to dislodge the rust so it can be picked out. This operation should be repeated (perhaps with the driver being hammered in) before any attempt is made to remove the screw.

Triple Square Drivers

Allen keys


(see American translation)

Halfords are now supplying ratchet spanners made by Gear Wrench (Taiwan) in their "Professional" range. These are proving astoundingly robust in use - none is yet known to have failed. Caution - however - there is no reverse lever and it is possible in some situations to wind a nut or bolt out and jam the spanner against the bodywork irretrievably. The hinged (flex) versions offer few advantages over the rigid ones.

The screwdriver bit holder included for the 10mm ratchet spanner is extremely useful. There is also a set of three inserts that turn the 10mm, 13mm and 17mm ratchets into 1/4", 3/8" and 1/2" drive ratchets respectively - handy in an emergency.

Miscellaneous Tools:

Workshop Tools:

English -> American translations

Ring spanner=Box wrench
Box spanner=Tube wrench

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