Torquing It to the Limit with Breaker Bars

Real Tool Reviews compares four leading brands

 

Real Tool Reviews takes breaker bars to their limit, comparing four top pro-grade brands with ½ inch drives – Pittsburgh Pro (available at Harbor Freight Tools) along with Snap-On, Matco and Mac Tools. For those of you unfamiliar with what a breaker bar is:

A breaker bar is a long non-ratcheting bar that is used with socket wrench style sockets. Breaker bars are used to break loose very tight fasteners because their additional length allows the same amount of force to generate significantly more torque than a standard length socket wrench. The use of a breaker bar also prevents damage to the ratcheting mechanism of a socket wrench. Often, after the first half turn of a fastener, the fastener is then loose enough to be turned with a socket wrench.1

Common applications include freeing lug nuts on vehicle wheels, freeing a variety of bolts in car repair and maintenance where rust is a common problem, manufacturing applications, home renovating projects and any other instance in which a bolt has become frozen in place.2

Now that we’re all up to speed on breaker bars, let’s dive into the review.

First off, length. Length is a key component of breaker bars since it’s the leverage provided that enables the user to generate significantly more torque compared to a standard wrench. Note that the Pittsburgh Pro brand is advertised as a 25-inch breaker bar and the other three as 24-inch breaker bars. The actual measurements are as follows:


Pictured top to bottom: Matco, Pittsburgh Pro, Snap-On and Mac

Length
Snap-On: 23-3/4 in.
Matco: 25-1/2 in.
Mac Tools: 24-5/8 in.
Pittsburgh Pro: 25 in.

The weight of each breaker bar was also measured.

Weight
Snap-On: 2 lbs., 3 oz.
Matco: 2 lbs., 4.5 oz.
Mac Tools: 2 lbs., 3-1/2 oz.
Pittsburgh Pro: 2 lbs., 7 oz.

Next, the drives were shown side-by-side.


Drive ends of the four brands

The Matco and Mac breaker bars have black ends while the Snap-On and Pittsburgh Pro versions have chrome ends. This really seems to be an area of preference with no discernable difference in terms of performance.

The handles, however, have the potential of making a significant difference.


Breaker bar handles

Each breaker bar handle has a two-piece design to secure a good hold—the colored portion is comprised of hard plastic with the black portion made of a softer rubber overmold, though the Pittsburgh Pro’s black material is respectively firmer than the other three. The handle lengths vary as well.

Handle length
Snap-On: 5-1/8 in.
Matco: 6-3/4 in.
Mac Tools: 4-5/8 in.
Pittsburgh Pro: 5-3/8 in.


Handle center positions marked

Leverage is a significant factor to consider and that’s why the length of a breaker bar is so important—applying the same amount of pressure or weight on the end can generate more torque respectively. Bar length alone though does not provide the working “length” in terms of leverage—Real Tool Reviews marked the center position of each handle which is where the user’s hand would naturally rest (see picture above). Taking the handle center points into consideration, the Mac breaker bar actually had the most length from the pivot point which suggests it would provide the most torque. But the real proof comes next.


Deflection and torque testing

The review moved on to testing the deflection of each breaker bar (how much the tool bends when applying force) and the resulting torque generated. The results may surprise you …

Torque
Snap-On: 281 ft. lbs.
Matco: 266 ft. lbs.
Mac Tools: 276 ft. lbs.
Pittsburgh Pro: 298 ft. lbs.

With the performance testing completed, the final comparison was on price. That’s where the results varied the most …

Price
Snap-On: $148.47 (with tax and free shipping)
Matco: $146.67 (with tax and shipping)
Mac Tools: $121.08 (with tax and shipping)
Pittsburgh Pro: $16.84 (using 20% coupon and no shipping cost – picked up at store)

Snap-On, Matco and Mac breaker bars are between seven and nine times higher in price compared to the Pittsburgh Pro brand, yet, as the torque testing revealed, Pittsburgh Pro generated the greatest amount of torque.

In conclusion, the performance of all four was similar with the Pittsburgh Pro coming in with the highest torque generated, 32 ft. lbs. higher than the Matco breaker bar. The handles differed from brand to brand but the biggest difference was on price. The review noted that all the breaker bars tested come with a lifetime warranty against manufacturing defects. Pittsburgh Pro is clearly the best value.

Click here to see the Real Tools Review breaker bar video and see for yourself how the Pittsburgh Pro breaker bar provides unyielding performance while breaking down the competition on price.

1/2 in. Drive 25 in. Professional Breaker Bar
item#62729

 

Source material:
1Wikipedia
2wiseGeek

Rotating Magnetic LED Work Light

magnetic light

This Rotating Magnet LED Work Light stays put on metal surfaces via a powerful magnetic base and provides 180 lumens, making it ideal for automotive repairs, shop work and hobbies. It’s also a great emergency back-up light.

Other features include an easy on/off switch and a 360-degree swivel head that enables you to direct the beam exactly where you want it. The work light is powered by three AA batteries providing between 3 to 6 hours of run time—batteries are included.

Customers really love this work light:

Handy light to have around. Bright and easy to use in tight and difficult places. – COS Mac, Colorado Springs, Colorado

Great little light with magnet bottom and rotating head puts the light just where you need it. – Don, Bewood, NC

I use the magnetic rotating light to work on farm machinery in tight places, within the engine area, under the vehicle, and in buildings that have no lighting. This light puts out a lot of light. – Rocking Double B Ranch, Russellville, MO

I got this to help provide a small spotlight when working under the hood. It is great for that. It also helps when checking the air pressure in the dark … – Dave, Antioch, CA

Great value for this product, lots of light and the magnet holds good when I clean our pellet stove. Very good quality, will purchase more. – Lil SKI, Plattsburgh New York

Pick up one or more of the Rotating Magnetic LED Work Light at your local Harbor Freight Tools store.

Rotating Magnetic LED Work Light
item#62955

Swivel Lens Headlamp

Swivel Lens Headlampswivel headlamp in use

This lightweight headlamp allows the user to work hands free without neck strain while the swivel lens can be adjusted 90 degrees up or down to light up any project. The headlamp also features an easy on/off button and is waterproof for use outdoors.

For plumbing, electrical work or a myriad of other projects, the Swivel Lens Headlamp is indispensable! Here’s what other customers have said about it:

I do a lot of work that virtually requires 3 hands. This headlamp has already paid for itself, and I was surprised to get it at a reduced sale price. The headstrap with the crown strap makes wearing it comfortable. Lamp is also adjustable on a swivel. I had my doubts about a product at such a low price, since some headlamps cost over $40.00. I have absolutely no complaints for a great buy at much less than $5.00. – Rondo, Texarcana, AR

Allows you to work hands free and shine the light where needed.  – Cel, San Antonio

I love this product. Can’t beat the price. I use it for cleaning litter boxes and taking care of cats at night. – animallover, San Jose, CA

You can pick up the Swivel Lens Headlamp at your local Harbor Freight Tools store.

Swivel Lens Headlamp
item#45807

3-In-1 Electric Blower Vacuum Mulcher

BLM 1BLM 2

Now you can tackle three yard tasks with only one tool, the Portland 3-In-1 Electric Blower Vacuum Mulcher available at Harbor Freight.

Featuring a lightweight and balanced design, you’ll experience less fatigue compared to other brands when blowing leaves and other debris. Once you have the leaves in a pile, simply convert to vacuum mode and turn those leaves into valuable mulch!

The 3-In-1 Electric Blower Vacuum Mulcher has two speed settings and a 12:1 mulch ratio.

Customers are raving about this powerful tool:

My Black & Decker died and this replacement has a few more safety features that are good to have because the unit will not start if any of the attachments are not properly attached. – leafman, Earie, PA

It was more than I expected. Cleaned up my front yard in less than an hour while filling two yard trash bags … – Ramfan1m, Lake Placid, FL

Great product, works well and is built with great quality. – Mils, Winter park, FL

I have a ton of oak leaves and pine needles in my yard and this mulcher handles it with ease … – Big Ed, Pinetop, AZ

Pick up the 3-In-1 Electric Blower Vacuum Mulcher at your local Harbor Freight Tools store.

3-in-1 Electric Blower Vacuum Mulcher
item#: 62337

EZ Reach & Grab Pickup and Reaching Tool

ez 1  ez4

This handy tool extends your reach nearly 3 feet and can lift up to 5 pounds. Quickly and easily pick up items without having to uncomfortably bend down or overreach. This tool also features super suction cup grippers and a trigger lock that keeps the jaws locked on the item.

Customers don’t know how they ever got along without the EZ Reach & Grab Pickup and Reaching Tool:

When I first took it out of the box I had little faith that it would hold a slick 16 oz can. But I took it out to my shop reached up and it picked up the can and held it solidly. I tried a number of things and it held them all just fine. I even picked up quarter inch dowels off the floor with it (boy was that a surprise). – Ken P, Spokane, WA

This is the best “pick up” tool I have ever seen. I have severe back trouble that prevents me from bending over. This tool will even pick up a pill I might have dropped. I now have one in almost every room in the house for picking up anything that falls or is put on the floor. – bern, Michigan

Wife just had a knee replacement and the orthopedist recommended the device for her. Your product was better designed and significantly cheaper than those at pharmacies and stores that sell medical devices. – Frank, Martinsburg, WV

I used it to pick up screws and nails and worked awesome! – Suzanne, Alvin, TX

I use this for everything. This fall I used it for pulling leaves out of holly bushes to keep from getting my arms scratched up. I am sure I will find many more uses. – Tinkerbella, Pennsylvania

Keep one in the garage, shop, kitchen … But before you can start picking up items with the EZ Reach & Grab Pickup and Reaching Tool, you have to pick one up at your local Harbor Freight Tools store.

EZ Reach & Grab Pickup and Reaching Tool
item#: 62752

5 mil Nitrile Powder-Free Gloves 100 Pc

5-mil-gloves

These gloves are ideal for professional mechanics, contractors, crafters and hobbyists! Nitrile gloves provide better chemical resistance compared to latex gloves and won’t trigger latex allergies.

The nitrile gloves provide a protective barrier against dirt, grime and oil as well as many chemicals and solvents. The gloves fit right or left hands with a comfortable fit and feel. Available in medium, large and extra-large sizes, they’re ideal for janitorial work, painting, maintenance, light shop work and even food processing.

You’ll definitely want to keep several boxes of the gloves on hand after you see what these customers said:

Get two boxes—you will be glad you did … have used them for years. – Shooter, Kingsport, TN

Always use nitrile for disposable gloves in my shop. They last longer, take more abuse, and don’t puncture as easily as latex, especially with some liquids like naphtha and paint thinners. – Mr. B Jr., On the Island

This is a more reasonably priced version of the nitrile gloves you find anywhere else. The quality is every bit as high, but the price is better. – Jim, McLean, VA

I use for painting and working with glues or two part putty. Durable enough to stand up to these kinds of uses. – BFABGH, Savannah, GA

Pick up the 5 mil Nitrile Powder-Free Gloves 100 Pc today at your local Harbor Freight Tools store.

5 mil Nitrile Powder-Free Gloves 100 Pc X-Large
item#68498

5 mil Nitrile Powder-Free Gloves 100 Pc Large
item#61360

5 mil Nitrile Powder-Free Gloves 100 Pc Medium
item#61363

3/8 in. x 50 ft. Retractable Hose Reel

3-8-in-x-50-ft-retractable-hose-reelKeep your shop, garage or other work area organized and safe with the 3/8 in. x 50 ft. Retractable Hose Reel. Mount it to the floor, wall or ceiling and set the ratchet system for the perfect hose length. Easily activate the spring-loaded release to effortlessly roll up your retractable hose. A 50 ft., 3/8 in. diameter hose rated up to 250 PSI is included.

Other features include machined brass fittings and four direction non-snag rollers to reduce hose wear.

Street Reviews commented: “Impressed with the quality, covers your entire garage at an unbelievable low price.”

Customers have also weighed in:

This hose reel is awesome! It’s made of thick gauge steel and quality parts. The HF reel looks exactly like more expensive reels but for far less money …  – RichardC, Springfield, PA

This is the second one of these I have purchased. The first I mounted overhead in the attic with the hose flange just coming through the drywall in the garage, works perfect in that there is no hose on the floor and with the 50′ hose I can use in any area of the garage or outside …  – Johnny, Richmond, KY

I’ve had mine for 2 years in service, works great. Like so much, bought one for a gift for my father’s new garage. – Father with lots of toys, Philadelphia, PA

You can pick up the 3/8 in. x 50 ft. Retractable Hose Reel at your local Harbor Freight Tools store.

3/8 in. x 50 ft. Retractable Hose Reel
item#93897

1 Ton Capacity Foldable Shop Crane

1 Ton Capacity Shop Crane

This shop crane is a must-have for automotive work and other jobs in and around the shop or garage. With a 2000-lb. capacity, the shop crane features double bearing swivel casters that provide smooth and easy maneuvering around your work space and comes with ram, chain and hook. The boom extends from 36-1/4 in. to 50-1/4 in. and the crane adjusts from 69-5/8 in. to 82 in.

When you’re done with it, the shop crane folds away for convenient storage.

Customer’s give the 1 Ton Capacity Foldable Shop Crane great reviews:

I’m going to use it to move things around in my home wood working shop. The thing I like the most is the storage footprint is extremely small & fits in corner. It was very easy to assemble w/o assistance! – JO, Chesapeake, VA

Does exactly what it’s supposed to do. Lifted a 200 hp outboard off the transom of my boat. – Bob the Builder, West Chester, PA

I purchased this for carrying heavy stuff like garden tools, generator, etc. in and out of my SUV. I have limited space in my garage. This crane is a very important item in my garage. It takes very little space when folded. It is very sturdy and is more than enough for my needs. – Sean, Wayland, MA

I used this lift to remove a motor out of a 67 GM convertible. Light weight and easy to handle. Meets my needs. Would recommend to a friend. – Nukeypo, Sulphur, LA

You can pick up the 1 Ton Capacity Foldable Shop Crane at your local Harbor Freight Tools store.

1 Ton Capacity Foldable Shop Crane
item#61858

6 gal. 1.5 HP 150 PSI Professional Air Compressor

6 gal. 1.5 HP 150 PSI Professional Air Compressor

This 6 gal. air compressor features a pancake style tank for maximum stability and a full-coverage shroud to protect gauges and cooling fins. It’s designed to start easily even in cold weather.

The portable oilless air compressor delivers 2.5 CFM @ 90 PSI, 3.4 CFM @ 40 PSI. It’s ideal for powering nailers, general shop clean-up, airing tires and inflating sports equipment.

Customers have given it top marks:

We use this compressor on jobs mainly to air up tractor tires before the work day, small and easy to move. A lot of power and quick to fill tires, etc. Would recommend. – RS, Charlotte, NC

Since my recent purchase, I have used it with my nailer and inflating tires. This replaced a bigger air compressor I had for over 10 years which stopped working. – Muffinman, Hebron, CT

A must have tool in any handyman’s garage. – System Sam, Woodland Park, NJ

Very pleased so far. What I like best is that it’s been a week since I’ve used it and the tank pressure hasn’t dropped a bit. – Pat, Wilmington, NC

You can pick up the 6 gal. 1.5 HP 150 PSI Professional Air Compressor at your local Harbor Freight Tools store.

6 gal. 1.5 HP 150 PSI Professional Air Compressor
item#67696

6.5 HP (212cc) OHV Horizontal Shaft Gas Engine EPA

6.5 HP 212cc OHV Horizontal Shaft Gas Engine EPA

Since its inception, the Predator line of engines has received rave reviews from customers who want the best while paying less. This 6.5 HP (212cc) OHV Horizontal Shaft Gas Engine EPA available at Harbor Freight Tools is a real work horse and can be used to replace the engines on lawn mowers, log-splitters, pressure washers, cement mixers, compressors, water pumps and dozens of other machines.

The engine features gas-saving overhead valves for cooler, cleaner performance and a ball-bearing mounted horizontal shaft. The powerful gas engine also features a durable cast iron cylinder to improve wear, low oil sensor and auto shutdown when the oil level is too low for safe operation and user-friendly controls.

With over 450  reviews, this engine has earned an average rating of 4-1/2 out of 5 stars. Here’s what customers are saying:

Cranks every time and has plenty of power. The price is unreal. – Douglas, Houston, TX

I purchased this motor to replace a locked up motor. No modifications had to be made to put this motor on. Works great! – Bill, Parker, CO

I bought this engine to replace the 5hp engine from an older Toro 521 snowblower. The engine was a perfect match and was easy to swap out. The engine starts right away, was easy to break in, and is ready for use. – Nick, Providence, RI

Installed this on my 1996 troy bilt horse rototiller. Entire motor was cheaper than just a few parts for the old motor. Install was cake, just needed a few washers to space out the pulley and a 5/16th x 2″ long bolt. 24 pitch. Added oil and gas and the little motor fired on the first pull and purred like a kitten! – Jhelms, Laveen, AZ

I needed to replace my 1966, 5hp shredder engine after this one finally died. Did my research and found this little beauty for way less than I expected to spend. I bought it with no second thoughts, yanked the old one out and installed the new one in. The bolt pattern was the same ( as in 1966…?) … Filled the oil, filled the gas tank and fired that little puppy. I have put now 3 days of work, shredding leaves and twigs and that engine is the greatest. I love the speed control to fine tune the rpm of my shredder. The only regret I have is that I should have replaced my old motor sooner. I have a 1962 tiller ( also a LawnBoy) and I’m going to replace the engine in the spring with this same engine. I’m very happy with my purchase and would recommend it to anyone. Thank you. – Vince, Statford, CT

To pick up the 6.5 HP (212cc) OHV Horizontal Shaft Gas Engine EPA, visit your local Harbor Freight Tools store!

6.5 HP (212cc) OHV Horizontal Shaft Gas Engine EPA
item#69730

Note that this engine is for sale outside of California only – refer to 69727 for the California compliant model.