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Allan G, Bob Buchanan, BSA_WM20, Gordon Gray, GrandPaul, Hillbilly bike, Hugh Jörgen, NYBSAGUY, Rohan, Shane in Oz
Total Likes: 20
Original Post (Thread Starter)
#849267 05/18/2021 10:51 PM
by Shane in Oz
Shane in Oz
I've been carrying on an interesting email conversation about spanners and related hand tools, and thought this make an interesting topic for this forum.

The general gist of it has been two-fold

1/ What level of quality is appropriate for working on our old British bikes?
2/ Ranking of brands, which is rather complicated by the different brands available in different places.

There is a bit of an ulterior motive as well, because some of my older tools are showing their age, so should be honourably put out to pasture, with young-uns taking their place in the drawer or hanging on the peg-board.
Liked Replies
#849482 May 20th a 07:35 PM
by Magnetoman
It appears some people have sipped the Snap-On Kool-aid. Normally I heavily weigh opinions offered by professionals, but Snap-On is a special case. I've been at shops when the Snap-On truck pulled in, and have seen how that instantly triggers a zombie-like trance in the mechanics who drop everything and pour out of the shop to queue up at the truck to buy the new 50th Anniversary Elvis Presley commemorative screwdriver set, Collector's Edition gold-embossed socket set, shop towels with embroidered Snap-On logo, and whatever else is in the truck. I've also seen how most of those mechanics can't afford these purchases, but how the driver happily indulges them with easy credit that quickly adds up to the point where they owe the driver their next five paychecks and first-born son. Their behavior toward Snap-On makes my tool obsession seem completely normal by comparison.

Snap-On tools have something in common with Las Vegas motorcycle auctions. That is, it seems that the fact the tools are highly polished is what most people use to judge their "quality," not whatever intrinsic quality they might have. Objective criteria could be developed for judging quality. For example, if under the same conditions the internal "teeth" of one brand mar a fastener whereas another brand doesn't, whether the steel is of a higher strength so the walls are thinner, if they have a tighter fit on a fastener (although, tighter isn't always better, because the heads of fasteners also have tolerances), etc. Maybe Snap-On would win if such an evaluation were made on objective criteria, but all I know for certain is it wins on Las Vegas criteria.

I still have a cheap set of no-name Japanese ⅜-drive 'Whitworth' sockets I bought from a motorcycle shop when I was a Freshman in college,[*] when I had no idea where else I could buy such tools. I've used and abused those sockets for over half a century and they haven't broken. They still get used when my "quality" sockets in a given size are tied up (or MIA). However, each of the cheap sockets is a simple cylinder, whereas each of their Snap-On counterparts has two diameters, with deep engraving, polishing, etc. that definitely make them look better. But, are they actually "better"?

[*]I also "Whitworth" sockets made by Bahco, Britool, Elora, JTMA, [no-name], Proto, Snap-On, and Superslim, so I have my own first-hand experience with "quality" to go by.

Mechanics either have been up to their eyeballs in Snap-On credit at some point in their life, or have paid exorbitant prices for Snap-On tools (e.g. Snap-On sells a single ⅜"–½" socket adapter for $19.50, whereas Craftsman sells a set of four such adapters from ¼" to ½" for just $9.99). Either way, their objectivity on this subject is suspect because of a conscious or unconscious need to justify what they spent on Snap-On tools while their kids had to go without birthday presents.

I'm sure nothing I wrote is controversial so I'm not expecting any responses to this post ...
2 members like this
#849686 May 22nd a 11:52 PM
by Tridentman
Roy---pleased to meet you-- I am Richard!

I understand your point ref the average Joe working possibly beyond his level of competence and ending up with an unsafe vehicle.
I understand it---but disagree with it.
Some of the rules ref vehicles in Oz and NZ seem to me to smack of Big Auntie State looking after you and not letting you do things.
It was going that way in UK 20 or so years ago--which was one of the reasons I moved to US.
Here in New Jersey where I live there are no inspections on motorcycles and the only inspection on cars is the exhaust emissions---and that is done just so the State gets Federal funds.
We IMHO will be a much poorer society if the "average Joe" is not allowed to repair his own vehicles.
I dont know what percentage of contributors to Britbike are professional mechanics --but I guess not more than 10%.
So the way society is going would wipe out 90% of Britbike over a period of time.
I am very much in favor of rugged individualism rather than being looked after by the nanny state.
And I say that not in a political sense but in the way of a personal philosophy.
Just my two cents worth of course.
2 members like this
#850147 May 27th a 10:43 PM
by Magnetoman
Originally Posted by gavin eisler
Its an American thing,
Actually, it was just a trivial slip. Americans have had a number of thread standards over the years, with the most common NF (National Fine) and NC (National Coarse), that became UNF and UNC (Unified Fine and Coarse). British also have fine threads (BSF), and while quickly posting something about the coarse ones I wrote BSC instead of BSW.

Since BSC is a real designation (British Standard Cycle) it didn't stand out when I typed it. However, one can only imagine how truly mortified I was to have made such an inexcusable slip and I beg everyone's forgiveness...
2 members like this
#850178 May 28th a 01:38 PM
by Hillbilly bike
Hillbilly bike
Originally Posted by Rohan
If they supply suitable torque figures, then fine.

But if you take the dry numbers and oil them and torque them to that, then that can be a serious overstretch... ?
Not to mention buckling/distorting/stripping/snapping things ...

We diverge a tad from spanners as the subject though.
Contrary to Triumph wisdom,I apply a slight touch of ARP bolt lube to the tip of the threads and under the bolt head .My opinion is this gives a more equal bolt tension. On 650 and 750 I tighten the head bolt to the standard specs...Never had a problem on street or race bikes...Just how accurate is your torque wrench? You all have the torque wrench checked before every job, grin. No matter what, fastener tightening is in the hands of the person doing the job..I have seen guys with an expensive torque wrenches jerking the fastener...
2 members like this
#850243 May 30th a 12:24 AM
by Magnetoman
Originally Posted by Rohan
Originally Posted by Magnetoman
Tightening a bolt has to overcome the metal-to-metal friction of the threads as well as etc
OK, so a lube that is 100% frictionless is science fiction, or fantasy land. At the moment....
And is the extreme end of the scale that torque wrenchs wouldn't/couldn't work at. !
I'm afraid you really don't understand the principle. Even if there were a completely frictionless lubricant, a fastener that required, say, 50 ft.lbs. dry would still require at least 20 ft.lbs. to stretch the bolt enough to create the desired clamping force. A frictionless lubricant most certainly would not, as you wrote in a previous post, allow you to snap the bolt by tightening it with finger pressure.

A thread is just a ramp that's wrapped around a cylinder. A frictionless lubricant would have made it easier for the Egyptians to push the blocks of stone up the ramp, but they still would have had to exert the considerable force that's necessary to overcome the gravitational potential energy. Frictionless and gravity-defying are two completely separate phenomena, even in science fiction.
2 members like this
#849341 May 19th a 01:43 PM
by Peter R
Peter R
Originally Posted by Shane in Oz
[quote=Peter R]I]Yes, but what tools make it to the A Team?

Brands like Stahlwille, Gedore, Hazet, all german brands, and the odd Snap-on material, I have a wide selection of different brands of tools. Bought several tools from a supplier who sells surplus material from the armed forces, bought a set of (ex airforce) Snap-ON combination spanners lately for a few quid, the stuff looked like if it had never been used.
1 member likes this
#849531 May 21st a 04:03 AM
by Stuart Kirk
Stuart Kirk
SnapOn doesn't make every good hand tool in the world. I have their BS, imperial and metric end wrenches, sockets, deep, shallow and half height, and various of their ratchets, extensions, pry bars, screwdrivers and tool boxes. They make good tools BUT, other companies do too.

Koken has been mentioned. They make very nice sockets. I have their 1/4" drive BA set and their 3/8" drive BS deep sockets. I recommend them highly but not so much my set of Gray open end Whitworths. They are to short and the jaws are just too big to be practical. OTOH, my set of Dowidat Whitworth combination wrenches are really excellent to use, maybe even better than my 50 year old stubby BS ones from SnapOn.

I absolutely love my 1/4" drive Matco indexable ratchet. It will get in where no SnapOn I've seen can. Matco also makes indexable pry bars that are a total life saver in certain situations. I don't use them often but boy are they nice when needed. Same with my metric and imperial Matco tubing nut crows feet.

MAC tools tend to be beefier than SnapOn. This is a good/bad thing. The open ends will take more torque but might not get in where needed. I have them too.

Then there are my 50 year old Craftsman sockets and even older end wrenches, Bonney wobble drove extensions, Williams speed handles, thin wrenches from Proto, Bonney, Fairmont, Williams. Pexto pliers anyone?

It goes on and on but the point is, there are lots of good tool makers out there. Even Harbor Freight, dare I mention that name, has a place. Their giant 3/4" drive sockets are absolutely adequate. I have those too. You can buy a whole set for the price of one SnapOn socket.

I keep miscellaneous cheap sockets and Pittsburgh tools around specifically for when I need to make a special tool. I don't mind heating, bending, cutting, welding or grinding one of those inexpensive things. They all have a place in a well equipped shop.

But I do stay away from the gold plated commemorative stuff.
1 member likes this
#849652 May 22nd a 02:59 PM
by Tridentman
Hi R Moulding---sorry -- I dont know your first name.
Yes-- I started my career in the automotive components industry---as a development engineer at the Associated Engineering (AE) group R&D center in the Midlands.
But --you are correct---I try not to work on any modern cars.
Firstly-- to be frank---modern cars are much more reliable than cars of old.
Secondly--- I can afford a younger car these days rather than trying an Easter trick (resurrection) on old bangers.
And thirdly--I prefer to spend my time working on old bikes so get the routine maintenance--such as it is-- on my cars done elsewhere.
But I fully understand your point--there used to be nuts, bolts and screws with either a cheese head or Phillips head.
Nowadays there are Torq heads---and various types even of those.
TBH I have never come across a bolt with seven faces---a septagon rather than a hexagon I guess.

Interestingly there is in US at the moment a lot of controversy concerning the "right to repair" ----some manufacturers have refused to release data and information to the wider public---forcing users into the arms of the dealer service departments.
Some states are considering legislation to force the manufacturers to release the information--thus giving the vehicle owner the "right to repair" his vehicle.

If you are a cynical suspicious old bugger like me then you suspect that one of the reasons for these fancy fasteners is that no average Joe in the street has the tools to undo them, so further forcing them to take the vehicle to the dealer service department.

After all--I see no logical reason for these fancy fasteners---nuts, bolts, Phillips head screws, Allen screws etc are perfectly sufficient to do the engineering jobs required in a vehicle.
Just my two cents worth of course.
1 member likes this
#849875 May 24th a 06:03 PM
by Magnetoman
To add to the topic, eighteen months ago I bought British tooling for dedicated use in my trailer. These were socket sets of no-name 12 pt. ⅜"-drive ⅛W–½W, no-name 12 pt. ⅜"-drive deep ⅛W–½W, no-name 6 pt. ¼"-drive 0–10 BA, and a combination spanner set of Silverline-brand ⅛W–9/16W. I got all of these on eBay for $89.13 and all are of more than just "acceptable" quality.

No matter what, if you will be working on a Triumph (and, if you own a Triumph, you will be working on it...) you won't be able to take the gearbox apart unless you modify your ¼W/5/16BS socket since the ID of the recess on the gearbox cover is less than the OD of any socket of which I'm aware. My Triumph 500 is currently trapped behind two other bikes so I can't photograph it, but the nut in question is the one inside the recess at the front of the shifter.

[Linked Image]

Because of this, decades ago I machined the ¼W socket in my original set of sockets.

[Linked Image]

The OD of the machined end of the socket is 0.685", while an unmodified Snap-On socket is too large to reach the nut at 0.738", and a Proto is even larger at 0.774".

I realized in writing this that I never checked to see if the socket in the no-name set I bought for the trailer would fit in current form, which is possible because it's only 0.696". There's no point removing the 0.011" if it isn't necessary, but I'll have to unearth the Triumph in order to check this. This issue applies to Triumph 650s as well, as NYBSAGUY discovered to his chagrin several years ago when he needed to repair the shifter mechanism on a poorly-fettled bike he had borrowed for the Irish rally. As a result of that experience I subsequently modified the socket in the tool bag I keep in Ireland.
Attached Images
1 member likes this
#849892 May 24th a 09:09 PM
by Cyborg
This (posted elsewhere on this site) is one of my favourites. Tried different methods of grasping the stack, but it was really on there and risk of damaging it was high.

[Linked Image from]15138F06-474E-499A-8E1D-015756F07052 by First Last, on Flickr

This one has been posted before as well... another favourite. Mostly because it was my first go at using Cerrobend and it actually worked. Holder for Manx/Inter cam gear. Some folk hold the gear by locking the back wheel, but can’t say I like sending that much torque through those little bevel drive teeth. Used a bevel gear for a plug, modified Kowa sprocket holder for a handle and a soup can for the OD. Photo isn’t the finished version.

[Linked Image from]D0CD78CA-74CB-4AA7-90ED-44F4E50CDC37 by First Last, on Flickr
1 member likes this
#849975 May 25th a 04:41 PM
by Allan G
Allan G
Originally Posted by GrandPaul
Originally Posted by Allan G
Cheese head because the head of the screw resembled a typical cheese “truckle” (wheel/round)

I googled "cheese truckle" and there are many images of cheese wheels, but nothing even remotely resembling the indented cross. Though, I suppose the head of the screw itself resembles a cheese wheel...

To be honest I haven’t a clue, when I gave it a quick clue it came up with “truckle”. I thought using the word truckle instead of just wheel sounded more believable 😂 I could be right or wrong but I thought it sounded interesting.
1 member likes this
#849978 May 25th a 06:22 PM
by R Moulding
R Moulding
I always assumed it was because that at the first sign of the wrong screwdriver, or the right screwdriver used half arsed, the head of the screw will instantly turn to cheese and round out.
1 member likes this
#849996 May 25th a 09:21 PM
by Hugh Jörgen
Hugh Jörgen
Originally Posted by Shane in Oz
As soon as this digression started, I had visions of John Cleese and Michael Palin
Have you in fact got any cheese head screws here at all?
1 member likes this
#850029 May 26th a 06:54 AM
by Rohan
Originally Posted by Shane in Oz
even though some pitches are the same, so some UNC sizes will "fit".

All the common small sizes are the same threads per inch between BSW and UNC
(Whitworth and Unified Coarse)

EXCEPT for 1/2"

BSW is 12 tpi
UNC is 13 tpi

This used to catch farm tractor jockeys out something terrible.
If the plough hitch 1/2" (BSW) bolts on yer Massey Ferguson snapped or stripped out and you replaced them again with 1/2" UNC, then the thread was really b*ggered.
And if the plough hitch 1/2" bolts (UNC) on yer John Deere snapped or stripped out and you replaced them again with 1/2" BSW, then the thread was really b*ggered.

As they often did, in fact.
1/2" weren't really strong enough in either scenario, goodness knows why they chose that size.

An ancestor of mine used to specialize in making them good again with 5/8" or even bigger bolts.
Offered a mobile-on-farm-service in fact.
Reckons he made a good living for some years out of it, without even charging the earth.
He was always careful to do American Tractors in UNC, and Brit/Aussie tractors in BSW.

But we diverge, a tad.
Differing threads being a topic you could write volumes on, and never cover everything.

* SPECIAL NOTE * Ye all primed for the super blood full moon total lunar eclipse this eve (safe to watch with yer eyes).
Last one this good until sometime in the 2030s. Starts ere in a few hours.
1 member likes this
#850146 May 27th a 10:43 PM
by Shane in Oz
Shane in Oz
Originally Posted by Rohan
If they supply suitable torque figures, then fine.

But if you take the dry numbers and oil them and torque them to that, then that can be a serious overstretch... ?
Not to mention buckling/distorting/stripping/snapping things ...

We diverge a tad from spanners as the subject though.
Well, that's what the spanners are for
1 member likes this
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