Four Wheeler Review: The Best Torque Wrench for the Price

1-2 torque wrench

So, what is the best torque wrench for the buck? After all, there are a lot of torque wrenches to choose from, running the gamut from the really cheap to the “skip-the-cruise-this-year” price. Is it really smarter for a home wrencher to go with a $500 torque wrench?

four wheeler harbor freight torque wrench test

Recently, Four Wheeler magazine decided to test the You-Get-What-You-Pay-For theory by pitting three popular 1/2″ click-type torque wrenches–

— against each other for performance and value. In his How-To article, “Who Builds the Best Torque Wrench for Less,”  columnist Jeff Smith took the tools to Cornerstone Metrology in Van Nuys, CA, “a company that does calibration work for both industrial and individual mechanics,” where they measured the three dial torque wrenches on a digital scale accurate to within 0.10 of a pound.

digital torque adapter

Then out of curiosity, they used the Pittsburgh Professional Digital Torque Adapter (#68283, $31.99) to compare their findings. Amazingly, after several measurements they found the digital adapter hit within 0.10 of a pound as well!

It comes as no surprise, the Pittsburgh torque wrench came out being the best value for the home or pro mechanic looking for a mechanical click-type torque wrench. And with Harbor Freight Tools‘ incredible lifetime warranty on all hand tools, it just doesn’t get better than that.

To get more details on Four Wheeler’s test, check out the article, and to learn more about the Pittsburgh Pro 1/2″ Torque Wrench, visit the product page at Harbor Freight Tools!

 

Harbor Freight Tools Father’s Day Gift Guide

father's day butterfly

Ah, Dad… He’s the guy who taught you how to hammer a nail, ride a bike, catch a fish and belch like a man. When he came home from work, he’d give you that bear hug, smelling like cold air and Old Spice, his five o’clock shadow bristling against your baby-butt-smooth cheek, and you loved it. He was the soft touch when it was time to go to bed, but you needed just a little more TV time… and when you went to bed, he could throw you up in the air like you were flying! He knew how to make your mom laugh like no one else, and he knew how to make the perfect pancakes on Sunday morning.

Father’s Day is the day we get to thank Dad for all of it– for making our childhood more magical, and for making us feel special when he took the time to do things with us. Harbor Freight understands what dads like, and he knows how you can thank them, too. All you have to do is visit the website and you’ll know why it’s their favorite toy store. So to help make the decision of what to get him easier, here are 10 popular items currently on sale at Harbor Freight Tools, any of which that will make him smile:

 

1. Drill Master 3/8″ 18 Volt Cordless Drill/Driver with Keyless Chuck #68239

Drill Master 3/8" Cordless Drill/Driver

This Harbor Freight favorite is a great general-purpose drill; home use, furniture building, etc. The keyless chuck is tight, the power is strong, and users love the LED light! This high performance cordless drill driver has 21 torque clutch settings to handle a variety of chores around the house and garage. It includes an electric brake and the battery is interchangeable with other 18-volt Drill Master tools. For sale at $18.99, it would cost more to buy a new battery for any other drill! In fact, pick up a Drill Master 18V NiCd Replacement Battery along with it, so when Dad’s on a roll, he’ll never have to stop to charge!

 

2. Pittsburgh Automotive Pneumatic Adjustable Roller Seat #46319

adjustable roller seat

What a great idea to save the back and knees! With a thick cushion, integrated easy-to-reach storage tray and a 15″ to 20″ lift range, this pneumatic adjustable roller seat is as practical as it is comfortable. Non-marring casters allows for smooth mobility while the 360 degree swivel seat and one-hand height adjustment lever let Dad get into the perfect position for whatever he’s doing. Whether it’s working on a bicycle, motorcycle, washing and waxing the car, lug nuts, changing brakes, wheel bearings, painting low cabinets, etc., he’ll be quietly thanking you again and again while he’s relaxing on his roller seat. At just $22.99, this is the ticket!

 

3. Pittsburgh 22-Piece Fully-Polished SAE and Metric Combination Wrench Set #47467

22 pc wrench set

The legendary Pittsburgh 22-piece combination wrench set from Harbor Freight includes 11 of the most widely used SAE wrench sizes and 11 of the most popular metric sizes to accommodate almost any wrenching moment. Fully polished, they’re made of chrome vanadium steel and a chrome plate finish for added durability, and come with an organized portable storage rack for quick access. This wrench set is great for everything from around the house to auto work– even working on trucks, trailers, tractors and farm equipment! And at just $16.99, everyone should have a set of these! And did I mention the lifetime warranty? This set of wrenches is awesome!

 

4. Pittsburgh 21 Piece High Visibility 3/8″ Drive SAE/Metric Socket Set #67900

21 pc SAE metric socket set

A good socket set makes your life so much easier. How about a great socket set? Well, now you’re talking! The wrenches in the Pittsburgh professional-quality set are constructed of rugged chrome vanadium are triple-chrome-plated. They also come with high visibility markings for quick and easy socket selection, a quick-release ratchet with reversible 72-tooth gearing and a comfy cushion grip. An awesome set, believe me, and it beats paying hundreds for those big name brand sets off the tool trucks. And, of course, it’s got that lifetime warranty! Pick up a set (or two!) for just $14.99.

 

5. Pittsburgh 60 Piece Alloy Steel SAE/Metric Tap & Die Set #35407

60-pc tap and die set

And while we’re talking about incredible deals on hand tools, what do you get the man who’s got all the wrenches and sockets he’ll ever need (like that’s going to happen)? Why, a Pittsburgh 60-pc. SAE-metric tap & die set, of course! Thread and bore taps like a pro with this tap and die set!  This tap and die set will perform– and out-perform!– other tool & die sets that cost ten times as much. Each tap and die is constructed of long-lasting alloy steel and the sizes are embedded in, not printed on, the surfaces. This set will cover most all Dad’s tap and die needs and, in no time, it’ll become his go-to tool for creating and repairing his own screws and bolts. For the home workshop and auto shop; thread plastic, wood, brass, and even plate steel– everything from an aluminum frame to a hardened steel bumper! Tell Dad to keep them oiled and they’ll last him a lifetime– which, it just so happens, is how long the warranty lasts. Only $29.99 at Harbor Freight.

 

6. Chicago Electric 4″ Angle Grinder #91222

4-inch grinder

Dad will save time and hacksaw blades with this angle grinder. This lightweight grinder is powerful and easy to operate while he’s cutting or shaping a brick walkway, cutting steel bolts, rebar, masonry, plaster, copper or galvanized pipe. or grinding welds, removing rust, removing bolts, sharpening sections on blades like sickle bars, etc. This grinder’s 4.5 amp ball-bearing mount motor delivers 11,000 RPMs for fast stock removal. It also has a spindle lock for fast and easy wheel changes, easy access brushes, a removable side handle, an easy-to-replace carbon brush and aluminum gear housing.  Included with the grider are a 4″ grinding wheel, arbor wrenches and a 7/8″ arbor adapter. Other cutting blades sold separately. An incredible price at $19.99!

 

7.  Cen-Tech 3-In-1 Jump Starter and Power Supply #38391

3-in-1 power supply 38391

The car battery on Dad’s old Crown Vic been dead for months? No problem! This jump starter will easily jump-start nearly any weak or dead 12-volt car battery. Tell him to throw it in the trunk and never worry about getting stuck somewhere again. The #4 industrial copper booster cables include durable alligator clips that can easily attach to any car battery, and the jumper’s got a built-in 3.6 watt light to illuminate his sight under the hood, making this a perfect jump companion to have on the road! It also comes with an invaluable power supply for electrical equipment in case of an emergency, such as a C-PAP, spotlight, air pump, etc. The Cen-Tech jump starter/power supply has an automatic cutoff to prevent overcharging, a charge/battery level indicator, and an easy-to-read battery indicator. And before he can say, “What are you, a Rockefeller?” tell him, “Dad, relax. It was only $42.99 at Harbor Freight!”

 

8. Central Machinery 1-Ton Chain Hoist #996

1 ton chain hoist

This hoist lifts loads up to 10 feet high easily, thanks to its sturdy, hardened steel chain. The strength of this hoist can lift up to 2,000 lbs. hassle-free and includes a mechanical load brake to give operator more control when lifting or spotting. Works wonderfully with a gantry or I-beam. Dad can use it for lifting and swapping out engines and trannies like they’re not even there– for a lot less than an engine lift!– hoist motorcycles for chain and other maintenance, lift the front of a tractor or heavy-duty truck for tire repair, etc. Rugged and reliable, this chain hoist is ideal for heavy loads at the auto repair shop or industrial warehouse. This jewel works as smooth as silk., and for only $44.99, is worth every penny. He’ll love it!

 

9. Predator 420cc, 5500 Watts Max/5500 Watts Rated Portable Generator #68529, #68526

5500 watt generator

Powered with a reliable Predator engine, this portable generator is ideal for emergencies, job-site use, recreation, family reunions, heating and cooling. The generator features a 420cc air-cooled OHV gas engine, a low oil indicator, UL-listed circuit breaker and 11 hours run-time at 50% capacity. With a heavy-duty steel roll cage for protection, this is the ideal portable generator for powering countless electronics, appliances and tools! And if Dad’s left without power after a storm or other occurrence, this will keep him going with whatever he needs to power. On sale for Father’s Day at $469.99, the 5500 watt generator comes in a standard and California-certified model.

 

10. Harbor Freight Tools Gift Cards

gift card

The ultimate go-to Father’s Day present when you don’t know WHAT’S going on in Dad’s head!  He’ll appreciate this ’cause he gets to choose exactly what’s he’s had his eye on. You can even have it sent directly to him if you order online; just enter his mailing information on the Shipping Address page. Harbor Freight has gift cards for $10, $25, $50, $75, $100 and $500!

So, take some time and check out these and other tremendous Father’s Day deals at Harbor Freight Tools. And when you give your gift to your dad, mention something about those childhood memories, and thank him. Chances are, that’s the best present you could have given him. The tools don’t hurt, though.

Truckin’ Magazine Review: Socket Tray Organizers

truckin 5-2013

“Ever need a 10mm socket and opened your toolbox only to find a sea of  random sockets rolling around in complete chaos?”

Uh, yeah, like every weekend! And in the May 2013 issue of Truckin’The World’s Leading Truck Publication – they tackle this very subject, pitting Harbor Freight Tools’ Pittsburgh 3 Piece SAE (#68100)  and 3 Piece Metric Socket Tray/Organizers (#68102) against the other guys.

socket organizer SAE

Pittsburgh SAE Socket Organizer

socket organizer METRIC

Pittsburgh Metric Socket Organizer

The 3-piece socket organizer fits nicely in your tool chest, and will fit most socket designs, including both regular and deep wall sockets. Holders for 1/4″, 3/8” and 1/2″ drives are also included on both the SAE and metric trays. Each 3-piece set sells for an incredibly low $7.99 and will service your needs for a lifetime!

So, what did Truckin’ magazine have to say about the Pittsburgh socket tray organizers? Good stuff, of course!

“Purchased locally from Harbor Freight, the Pittsburgh three-piece organizers were easy to read, easy to handle and accommodated a total of 168 sockets, placing it in a tie for third-highest capacity. Large impact sockets fit with no issues, the organizers feature a lifetime warranty, and both SAE and Metric sizes only put us out of pocket for $15.98– an incredible value. Overall, for weekend warriors or lifetime mechanics, the Pittsburgh socket tray/organizer is certified Truckin Tough.”

Harbor Freight customers who have already bought these trays, love them!

“I use these at home along with the metric set in my tool chest to organize my socket. The price of these is incredible when you compare it to any of the alternatives that allow you to stand up your sockets vertically. They’re built well, marked well, and do the job perfectly. Great buy!”  Big Al – Ottowa, ON

“Accomplishes the same thing as other socket trays at a much lower price. They work great in the top of a tool chest or in a deep drawer… I have several sets that I use for standard/impact, 6pt/12pt, etc. and I highly recommend them.”  Isaac – Pella, IA

“I am by no means a mechanic, but I love my tools and try to take care of them. My wife got a Habor Freight magazine and she found the above-shown socket organizers. She bought them for me and I have to say I’m very happy with the price and quality. These socket organizers are made with thicker plastic post for your sockets and the trays are more sturdy than the “high end” brands… trust me, for the price you can’t go wrong.”  Scooter – Chowchilla, CA

To read the entire “Socket Organizer Shootout” article, pick up your copy of the May 2013 Truckin’ magazine!

 

Shower Valve Socket Wrench Set: DIY Leak Repair

Well, it’s almost the end of April and you know what that means.  April showers are all around us.  And speaking of showers, why not keep yours in top condition with the handy Shower Valve Socket Set from Harbor Freight Tools?  With this outstanding wrench set, you can save money by handling repairs on your own without having to pay for a professional plumber.  Best of all, this useful item is just $9.99!

1A

Now, it’s not like you’re going to need to use this wrench set very often.  Unlike most tools, the Shower Valve Socket Set serves the very specific purpose of removing fittings and nuts from showers and tubs.  But, if you discover that you have a leak, isn’t it comforting to know that you can potentially take care of this problem on your own?  Yeah, I know, getting behind the faucet can seem a little intimidating but once you understand what’s involved, you’ll be amazed at how simple it can be.

Most faucet plates come right off with the use of an everyday screwdriver.  At the most, you may need to pry off a cover to get at the screw but most designs have the screws right in the open so there’s no screwing around.  After you have the faucet handle removed, you’ve reached the point where most home owners would be stymied.  But, lucky you, you’ve got the Shower Valve Socket Set from Harbor Freight.  Using one of the five double-sided sockets and the included turning bar, removing the valve stem is a piece of cake.

2A

From there, the cause of your leak could be a couple of things.  Maybe a damaged washer that needs to be replaced or even a worn stem valve.  But the hardest part of removing the valve is already taken care of and you can get to the root of the problem often with no further assistance.  This shower valve socket wrench set is extra-long to reach deep and get to those hard-to-reach valve stems, fittings and nuts and accommodates most jobs.  Plus, with a zinc-plated steel construction, these suckers are built to last.  For the do-it-yourselfers out there, this tool is a must-have!

So while you can’t control the precipitation outside, you can be in full control of your bathtub or shower with this great set.  Whether it’s a leaky faucet, a damaged part that needs replacing or even if you’re just installing something new, the Shower Valve Wrench Socket Set pays for itself with a single use!  And don’t forget, if you include a Harbor Freight 20% Off coupon, you save even more!

Car Craft Tests Torque Wrenches: Guess Who Won!

It’s not enough just to claim having the lowest prices around. A Scion is a lot cheaper than a Lexus, but, well… Now on the other hand, if you can claim lowest price AND the same quality (or better) than the high-priced brands, now we got ourselves a ball game.

In the April 2013 issue of Car Craft (not online yet… I guess it goes along with the whole “why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free” philosophy), in the Hands On section, I stumbled across an article entitled, “Testing Torque Wrenches”, by Jeff Smith. The gist of it was to compare the performance of 1/2-inch drive click torque wrenches from Craftsman ($240), Snap-on ($323) and the Pittsburgh model (#239 – $19.99) from Harbor Freight.

“Then we discovered a digital torque adapter sold by Harbor Freight (#68283). This small unit fits in between a standard 1/2-inch drive breaker bar and the socket, and using a digital strain gauge, it converts the torque applied through the adapter into a digital readout. At a typical Harbor Freight price of $39.99, we decided to include it in our test. We frankly didn’t expect this little unit to be very accurate. But the testing proved otherwise.”

After running the torque adapter through five consecutive applications of 70-lb.-ft. of torque, the average came out to be an “amazing 70.1 lb.-ft. In fact, when they tested it against a Snap-On digital torque wrench “costing far more,” the readings from the two tools were generally within 0.20 lb-ft.

As for the drive click torque wrench…

“… we also tested Harbor Freight’s 1/2-inch clicker torque wrench, and it was also very close. It also has a range of 20 to 150 lb-ft and a lifetime warranty. Accuracy after five consecutive tests at 70 lb-ft ranged from 68.8 lb-ft (-1.2) to 70.3 (+0.3), with an average error of 0.30 ft-lb over five tests. It doesn’t get much better than that for a mechanical torque wrench.”

Bottom line: You don’t have to pay an arm and a leg to get precision performance– and with your 20% Off Coupon, you can have the drive click torque wrench for just $16! For so much less than the competition, Harbor Freight’s 1/2-inch drive click torque wrench is the clear winner!

For a more detailed coverage of the tool test, get the April 2013 issue of Car Craft today.

Firebird Restoration Tools: Harbor Freight vs. the Competition – Engine Rebuild

Believe it or not, for the meatiest phase of the Firebird restoration project– the engine rebuild– the star of the show was the Pittsburgh Professional 1/2″ Drive Click Stop Torque Wrench, a multipurpose tool utilized throughout the video (check out the great details and tips employed in this installment). A heavy-duty cam and pawl mechanism, this reversible 1/2″ drive click type torque wrench is THE go-to tool when precise torque is needed. The click-type wrench design provides a torque range from 20 to 150 ft. lbs and is accurate to within +/- 4% ! Harbor Freight price: $19.99.

Judging by the reviews, we already know it’s an awesome automotive hand tool. But how does it measure up cost-wise to the competition? Let’s check it out:

  • Sears – Performance Mechanics 1/2″ Drive Click Torque Wrench #M200DB – $47.02
  • Northern Tool – Northern Industrial 1/2″ Torque Wrench #558266 – $29.99
  • Home Depot – Husky 1/2″ Drive Torque Wrench #39104T – $79.97
  • Lowe’s – Kobalt 1/2″ Drive Click Torque Wrench #85601 – $94.97
  • Grainger – Proto 1/2″ Torque Wrench #J6016CX – $281.50

Next time we’ll look at the tools used for painting the car and, as always, compare them to the competition’s stuff. By now the pattern should be clear: Harbor Freight Tools offers, without a doubt, the best value on quality auto restoration tools. Don’t forget to check out their weekly flyer and keep checking HarborFreight.com for sales, coupons and the best deals around!

See you next time!

Firebird Restoration Tools: Harbor Freight vs. the Competition – Pt. 1

While I’ve been posting the progress of the ’67 Firebird’s restoration these past weeks, it occurred to me some of you might be thinking, “Well, so what? That’s what tools are for.” This is true. But the proposition that Harbor Freight’s  tools are rugged, reliable and capable is beside the point. The purpose of this exercise (besides showing you a sexy car) is to demonstrate how someone can execute something as meaningful and professional as restore a classic car while spending a lot less money– or getting a lot more value for the money– for the tools to do it. That’s a pretty big deal.

So to better illustrate the point, I’ll compare the prices of the tools used on the project with similar (if not exact) products the competitors advertise. The competitors I chose were Craftsman, Northern Tool, Home Depot, Lowe’s and Grainger. It should be noted that exact matches weren’t always found, so I substituted the closest comparison available. I don’t think this compromises the test, however, because we’re only talking about differences in size and shape, not function.

In the first segment, we’ll be looking at the Harbor Freight tools used in the vehicle’s disassembly video:

 

This solidly-built, steel tool cart is the perfect rolling workstation for wrenchers, able to hold 700 lbs of tools and easily roll around the garage.  Standing at over 41″ high and 37″ wide, there’s tons of space, and with 5 drawers, a bottom shelf, a covered tray on top, side slots and more, it will keep you fully armed at your spot without having to go “fetch” a tool.

  • Craftsman – 3-Drawer GRIPLATCH Utility Cart – $349.99
  • Northern Tool Excel – 5-Drawer Rolling Metal Tool Cart  – $399.99
  • Home Depot – Excel 600 lb. 4-Drawer Steel Tool Cart – $369.99
  • Lowe’s – Task Force 400 lb. 6-Drawer Steel Tool Chest – $189.00
  • Grainger – Westward 250 lb. 4-Drawer Utility Cart – $572.50

The huge, industrial-quality tool set contains a comprehensive collection of the most used automotive and mechanic’s tools, including adjustable wrenches, ratchets, breaker bars, pliers, sockets in SAE and metric, extensions and universal joint adapters. This treasure trove of tools is built to last!

  • Craftsman – 309-pc. Mechanics Tool Set – $249.99
  • Northern Tool – 305-pc. Mechanics Tool Set – $299.99
  • Home Depot – Husky 264-pc. Mechanics Tool Set – $198.00
  • Lowe’s – Kobalt 227-pc. Mechanics Tool Set – $199.98
  • Grainger – Craftsman Industrial 273-pc. Mechanics Tool Set – $985.00

 

This little 2-1/2 lb. air ratchet delivers up to 50 lbs. of torque! The slim design allows mechanics get to fasteners in cramped and hard-to-reach spots that standard impact wrenches can’t hope to go! Features easy reversible action.
  • Craftsman – 3/8″ Ratchet Wrench – $34.99
  • Northern Tool – Northern Industrial 3/8″ Air Ratchet Wrench – $29.99
  • Home Depot – Campbell Hausfeld 3/8″ Air Ratchet Wrench – $32.68
  • Lowe’s – Campbell Hausfeld 3/8″ Air Ratchet Wrench – $48.38
  • Grainger – Westward 3/8″ Air Ratchet Wrench – $79.00

 

Central Pneumatic 1/4" Mini Air Ratchet
This thing fits everywhere! Only 5″ long, the compact 1/4″‘ air ratchet wrench is ideal for tight work spaces like under dashboards or in engine bays. Designed to work with all 1/4” drive sockets, this rugged air tool has a die-cast aluminum body and a black oxide-coated head that resists corrosion. It’s got just the right amount of torque for tightening small bolts.
  • Craftsman – 1/4″ Mini Air Ratchet – $49.99
  • Northern Tool – AirCat Mini 1/4″ Air Ratchet – $99.99
  • Home Depot – Black Bull 1/4″ Air Ratchet – $21.97
  • Lowe’s – N/A
  • Grainger – Westward 1/4″ Air Ratchet – $69.75

So as you can see, when you buy at Harbor Freight Tools, you really are getting the best of both worlds– great tools at ridiculously low prices!

Join us next week when we’ll review the tools employed to remove the engine!

The One Thing

Curly: Do you know what the secret of life is?
(holds up one finger)  This.
Mitch: Your finger?
Curly: One thing. Just one thing. You stick to that and the rest don’t mean (squat).
City Slickers, 1991

As you may or may not be aware, we’ve been following the restoration of a ’67 Firebird where only Harbor Freight Tools are being employed, and are documenting it in a video series. While I’ve been editing footage for the blog, I couldn’t help but notice that the Pittsburgh Pro 1/2″ Drive Click Stop Torque Wrench was used throughout the project. In fact, in the sixth installment, where the engine gets rebuilt, this tool was the star of the show– doing about 80% of the work!

Don’t let the price fool you. The reversible 1/2″ torque wrench is up to the task, whether you’re a weekend warrior or professional practitioner, in the home or under the hood. And as a friend pointed out to me, it’s the primo tool to keep in the car as a lug wrench. Accurate to within plus-or-minus 4%, the Pittsburgh torque wrench features a click-stop design with a range of 20-150 ft. lbs. It also comes with a heavy-duty cam and pawl mechanism that delivers the necessary precision required for jobs that require specificity. It’s the go-to tool for engines, suspension and a long list of projects.

So, when you’re looking to start or fortify your auto and/or shop tool arsenal. just remember One Thing:

The Pittsburgh Pro 1/2″ drive click-stop torque wrench.

 

Carrying

Last Fathers Day,  I bought myself an old ’72 GMC long bed pickup. A friend of mine who runs an auto parts store told me one of his regular customers– the original owner– had to sell it because he couldn’t drive anymore. The truck was in great shape; perfect body, clean interior, bulletproof 402 cu. in. V8 with a Turbo 400 transmission. It’s my “man cave on wheels.” I put in a new stereo, gutted a dead CB radio that came with it and now hide a small .38 in it when driving cross-country. I also added a cooler with a cup holder lid as kind of a “center console.” However, the vehiclewas still missing the one thing every pre-computer-age car has got to have– a tool kit. Nothing super fancy, just something reliable and sturdy enough to deal with the off-chance mechanical mishap. So, the next time Harbor Freight had a coupon sale, I picked one up:

The Pittsburgh 105 Piece Tool Kit With 4-Drawer Chest goes above-and-beyond any other basic tool kit, for the home, auto and for the price. A dramatically thorough collection of sockets, bits, wrenches, screwdrivers, pliers, hex keys, utility knife and more, the only things I had to add to complete the package were duct tape, galvanized wire and fuses. It also comes with a sturdy 4-drawer case, which is extremely convenient… for anyone else. I threw all my tools in a canvas bag which I tucked under the bench seat.

A lesser-known bonus: Harbor Freight Tools guarantees their hand tools for life! So if you’re the kinda guy that needs reassurance, there ya go.