Do you understand their principle? They use a roller drive system. The have the ability to get a fresh 'bite' every 1°, whereas a fine-tooth rachet will be 2-3°. This is a rather marginal gain. Standard will be ~5° so that comparison looks a little better but the older course drives are usually only found in cheaper sets anymore.
I've expanded this topic to get a discussion on the one-size-fits-all sockets. I see the infomercials on the sockets filled with steel pins on some sort of spring base. The principle is that you put the socket over a nut or bolt, the pins in the direct line of the nut retract and the remaining pins form this theoretical perfect fit to the damaged nut.
I have some problems with the theory -- if the pins can retract, there must be some wiggle room. Second, how small do the pins have to be to get this fit, and then at that size what strength remains? Third, how deep is that socket so that it can also accomodate maybe ½" of bolt end sticking out, too?
If the irregular forming is needed in the first place (they advertise for rounded or damaged nuts), how is a round pin going to get a better grip than the right size wrench?
I once got curious enough to think about buying one, but then I could only find them in a set with a made-in-China junk rachet, so couldn't see contributing to the trade deficit for something that will go straight to trash. Anybody played with one? Got one in the Christmas gift exchange party? Inquiring minds want to know.
I've seen open end wrenches that advertise you don't have to remove them from the bolt/nut to get a fresh grip. They appear to have most of one side of the jaw ground away. The ads indicate you put the wrench on one way for direction of travel, then when needing a fresh bite, just rotate back like a rachet. The cut-away section of the jaw allows the wrench to come loose enough for the reverse manuever and then retightens when the fresh bite has been achieved.
Curious as to experiences. It would seem to me a tight nut would need both faces of the wrench. A loose nut probably wouldn't need the constant new bite. Would it be more susceptible to slipping off and damaging the nut? How many times would this be needed when a racheting box end wouldn't fit?
6/10/05 update: I was at a friend's helping him with some welding. We had to dig into his toolchest and he came out with one of these open-end, no-remove wrenches. Apparently a gift he can't yet throw away, it evoked a 5-minute tirade on how useless they were. My buddy, a former IBM engineer that designed their test equipment & tools, is not shy about expressing his opinion, but they are usually right on when it comes to tools.
Vice-Grip makes a pair of pliers specifically for nuts or bolts. They are adjustable within a certain range. One side forms a V so that two sides of the nut wedge in. The other side of the pliers has a matching anvil surface, putting the nut into a 3-sided grip aligned with the flats of a hex nut. With Vise-Grip's legendary ability to tighten, the nut is squeezed enough to compensate for a degree of rounding off and irregularities.
The Wrench-Pliers are available in a couple of sizes to handle different nut size ranges. I've got a pair of the 4" for nuts 7-14mm (1/4-9/16"). I think I've used them twice in maybe 5 years. However I can picture them as a solution to situations where you need a wrench on one side that won't fall off while you are working the other.
I'm violating one of my own axioms of reporting on something I've not experienced. But my source is a very knowledgeable engineer friend that designed tools.
Craftsman started selling a pair of channel-lock style pliers (NOT Channel Lock® brand name) that were supposedly self-adjusting. They were also a laminated construction instead of forged. My friend bought a pair and said he threw them away after the first outing. The didn't adjust properly and then distorted under pressure until they bent.
I'm not a fond believer of pliers (on nuts & bolts) and adjustable wrenches to begin with. I have full sets of both, but they rarely get out of their drawer. If a correctly sized wrench will fit, use it!
I inherited somehow a set of one-size fits all wrenches. I guess depending on vendor, they are called Multi-wrench, Super Wrench or Super Spanner. Each alleges to fit a wide range of nut sizes.
In concept, they have a head with 3 inner flats that swivels on the handle to enclose the nut. The handle is then tapered at the end so that as the head is placed over the nut and the handle turns in direction desired, it pivots until the handle taper presses the nut into the inner flats until you have a grip along the lines of the Vice-Grip Wrench-pliers above.
Also in theory, when you turn the other direction for a fresh bite, it just releases the grip, turns freely, and then regrips with the next bite so you don't have to remove from the nut.
In reality, they deserve a new name, Super-Useless. They don't belong in the shop tool box and I'm not sure even measure up to the miscellaneous junk drawer. I suppose they could go in the travel tool box as a placebo but without expectation of actually using them. Room to fit over the nut, enough room to swivel into grip and then turn the nut, if it will, is rare. More likely to round-off or damage a stuck nut than get it off.
Transferred to consolidate same topic. Original posted by jerepowers.
Rounded corner sockets
I bought a set of impact socket made by American Tool Exchange for cheap beaters. However, they are designed as six-sided sockets with rounded corners, which force the sides of the sockets to take most of the abuse. They are excellent on bolts that have rounded corners. I have used them on numerous rusted nuts and bolts and have been able to remove them, even if the heads are already rounded. I am not making any suggestion of American Tool Exchange and I am sure there are other companies that make similar kinds of sockets. With our Westys getting older, these kinds of sockets are a real lifesaver.
[Moderator Note: This feature is is called "Flank Drive" by Snap-On.]