Thursday, July 31, 2014

Metric Tool Mash-Up

I bought myself the cheap roll around cabinet from Sears the other day. It's called standard duty and comes with a three year warranty. It's flimsy but will serve the purpose for what I'm looking for, which is a fairly complete set of tools in the new barn to keep me from having to walk back to the shop whenever I'm working on the mower, VW, etc. While I was sorting tools I went through the metric drawer. What a hodge-podge of stuff I've got in there. I got my first Japanese bike, a Honda Sport 50, when I was 15. I started buying metric tools shortly there after - close to 50 years ago now. What's amazing is that I still have most of them and most everything metric fits in one small drawer in the tool box. Apparently you don't need a lot of tools to fix Japanese motorcycles - like rebuilding a small box Chevy - a few end wrenches and sockets takes care of 95% of everything. I'll give you an idea of what's on hand.

The box of sockets was one of my first purchases. New Britain brand and because there's a lid on the box, I've still got all of them. Here's where it gets interesting:

Starting from the left, J.C. Penney ratcheting box wrench. I've got a set of them and rarely do they get touched. Seems like on motorcycles there's always something that prevents your taking advantage of the ratcheting function. For you younger readers, might be the first time you've seen a J.C. Penney wrench.

SK Wayne combination wrench. I bought a set of these right after the sockets.

Ace Hardware 10 mm wrench. Just one but you can never have too many 10 mm wrenches and this one is a long reach.

Sears Craftsman combination wrench. I bought a set of these as well. Sometimes you need to hold both the bolt and the nut. I've lost a few of these over the years - victims of carelessness during a test ride mostly. Sears always has more though.

Mac Tool 18 mm wrench because some dumbass engineer in this country figured that 18mm was a nice size for something rather than using the 17 or 19 like they do in Japan or Italy.

Snap-On socket because I needed 1/2" drive for something and the Snap-On man used to swing by the Career Center when I worked there.

Power Kraft 10mm socket. Again, because you can never have too many 10mm sockets. House brand of Montgomery Wards back in the day. Our family used to buy a lot of merchandise from Montgomery Wards. They had a catalog store in town. Shop the catalog for whatever you wanted, go uptown or phone in your order, few days later they'd call and tell you your order was in. Things weren't really all that bad before the internet. You could get most anything from one of the catalog houses including a house if that's what you wanted.

The last three are branded Taiwan, China and Japan as country of origin. I've got no idea where I picked these up at, probably in a parking lot or along the side of the road while I was out running. Don't see too many Japanese sockets these days. There was lots of Japanese crap floating around in the 50's but I don't recall seeing many Japanese tools. I was always looking to buy good tools like Craftsman when I was young. I had a tool box stolen from my van one time and I lost quite a few good mechanics tools. 

Last but not least is the Snap-On combination wrench along the bottom. I wish I had a set of these but this is the only one. I went on a tour of the Snap-On plant a few years back and at that time they were making the Kobalt brand of wrenches for Lowe's. Made by Snap-On, nice finish, great guarantee - be a good place to shop for tools if you were putting a set together. And they've got a socket for life deal where if you lose one out of your set, they'll send you a new one for just a few bucks shipping and handling. 

Lots of mismatched stuff here but it gets the job done. And has for close to 50 years. The end wrenches in the new roll around cabinet are the same kind of mismatched odds and ends. There's a 5 piece set of True-Test open end wrenches - supposed to be a 6 piece set but I managed to lose the 1/2 x 9/16 some place many years ago. There are no two box wrenches alike but I do have a "set". Pretty much the minimum for servicing things but it'll save me lots of steps and it cut down on the clutter in the other tool box in the shop. 


Rich said...

My first metric tools were also collected when I bought my first bike; a 1970 Honda CL70. I was 13 or 14 years old then. Proud to say that I was already able to 'eyeball' SAE sizes. Metric literally threw a wrench into that. For some reason, I can still eyeball non-metric, but cannot do the same with metric. I always have to grab two or three and try them for size. I'm sure there's a reason for this, but darned if I know what it is.

Shop Teacher Bob said...

The difference in size with metric wrenches is a smaller increment than with SAE sizes. Roughly 0.040" as opposed to 0.0625". Makes it a little tougher to distinguish the size by just eyeballing it. Also, there seems to be a difference in where things are made as to what size wrench will be required for the same size bolt. Similar to some of the older stuff made using 7/16" bolts - sometimes you need a 5/8" wrench, others an 11/16".

Nice thing about all of this is I'm finally getting a little bit more organized so I can have a little fun working on my projects.

Surly said...

We should compare tools. I think I'm missing a Power Kraft socket from a set that was Grandpa's and I have a spare 10mm combo wrench that I didn't buy.I also have an enormous collection of 7/16 sockets for some reason. Maybe we could fill in the gaps.

Shop Teacher Bob said...

You're welcome to the Power Kraft socket. Next time you're down this way I'll show you the new tool box and you can take a look at the tools.