|Image Credit: Craftsman.com|
So what happens when you mate a yankee drill with a ratchet wrench? You get yatchet wrench. Obviously I had better remain retired and not seek employment as the creative genius in a tool advertisement agency. So what happens when you hand a yatchet to such a creative genius?
You get the:
|3/8-IN Drive Ratchet|
Registered Trademark: Sears Brands LLC.
Oooooohhhh, the Sears Craftsman MACH Series 3/8-IN Drive Ratchet! I feel a tingling in my nether regions. It sounds so much more MACHo than a yatchet. Poor Ernst Mach, once again his name is misused on a product that he has absolutely nothing to do with--he died 98 years ago. Other examples of this misuse are the Mustang Mach 1, an arguably fast car, and the Gillette MACH3 razor, a device for shaving that apparently can reach velocities of 3 times the speed of sound.
|Ernst Mach 1838-1916|
Obviously had little use for the
Image Credit: Wikipedia
Ernst Mach was an Austrian physicist that studied the properties of sound in regards to projectile physics. He discovered the shock wave (sonic boom) produced when a projectile exceeds the speed of sound. Mach number is a ratio of an object's speed to the speed of sound. As such, the Mustang Mach 1 is patently false advertising. Let's give the Mach 1 the benefit of the doubt and say that it can go 200 mph. The speed of sound in dry air at 68 degrees F at sea level is 767 mph. So our 200 mph hour Mustang is actually a Mach 0.261 (200 / 767). Our Gillette Mach3 has to be traveling at 2301 mph (3 X 767). How this relates to shaving, I have no idea. But I think in both cases that they just forgot to add the o turning mach into macho. BTW (according to the Wikipedia article) take the same razor, change the color of the plastic and packaging and call it Venus, and you can sell it to women.
So getting back to our yatchet, errrr MACH Series 3/8-IN Drive Ratchet, it is so named because it is fast, 16 times as efficient as their traditional ratchet. This seems to be based on a 72 teeth resulting in a 5 degree "arch" (I think they meant arc). So I looked at their run of the mill 3/8 ratchet that is priced at 1/3 the cost and it had 36 teeth resulting in a 10 degree arc. Smaller arcs allow wrenches of the same length to ratchet in tighter quarters. So how do we get a 16 X (a whopping 1600%) improvement in efficiency when the handle is actually longer than a standard ratchet, and only has twice the number of teeth? Well it is efficiency and they haven't really defined what they mean by efficiency. In one place they say "compared to our traditional ratchet, measuring the distance the handle travels to rotate the socket." In the sales web page they state:
"The 72-tooth Mach Series 3/8-Inch Drive Ratchet is built for SPEED turning sockets 16X's Times more efficient than a regular ratchet with a swing arch of 60-degrees."
I am still mystified by the 16, 60 / 5 is 12. To get a 60 degree arc you would need a 6 tooth ratchet. The oldest Craftsman ratchet I have is dated to 1967, it is a 1/4 drive and does not have a release button. It has 24 teeth. By my calculations to get a 16 X improvement in efficiency only looking at teeth, the traditional ratchet would have to be a 4.5 tooth ratchet resulting in an 80 degree swing. Perhaps the traditional ratchet is the one that Sears sold during the Spanish American War? But I quibble, it is faster. The question is in my mind, is it three times the cost and much lower torque more efficient?
|Gimbal mounted head.|
Image Credit: Craftsman.com
So here is what this thing does. The head is a standard ratchet mechanism although fine toothed, but it is gimbal mounted. This allows the head to swivel 270 degrees in relation to the axial center line of the handle. So you get a high degree of flexibility of the handle position relative to the head. Where it shines is that you can position the handle directly over the head so that the centerline of the handle matches the center line of the fastener rotation. This allows you to turn the handle like a standard screwdriver. If the torque goes up, you can swing the handle down ward to pick up some mechanical advantage through the handle behaving like a lever arm. The second nifty feature is that the handle itself can ratchet in either direction or lock (white icons on the black collar in the image to the left). And the third cool idea is that shaft and handle is a "yankee drive." By pushing the handle down and holding the red collar near the head, you get a fast rotation action, one and a half turns of socket rotation per stroke. The ratchet mechanism in the handle allows the handle to remain fixed in your hand on the return stroke. They claim the shaft is "expandable." I am not sure what they mean by that but it appears that you can use the ratchet in a short handled or a long handled configuration.
Image Credit: Craftsman.com
Image Credit: Craftsman.com
So yes the wrench is kind of cool and nifty. But one man's nifty is another man's gimmicky. Yep it is that too. It kind of strikes me as cool solution looking for a problem. Its fast, but not as fast as a drill with a bit driver or an impact gun. It will deliver torque but not too much torque. So it is kind of limited to those in-between jobs where you have a need for a lot of rotation but not much torque. At 50 bucks it is priced a way too high for my budget. But I did get one. It is on sale for $25 for Labor Day. That is the price for the ratchet alone, the full mechanics set which includes 20 sockets, and 30 bits and a case is $99.99 on sale for $49.99. For the most part this thing is a little too gimmicky for my tastes but it just so happens that I have a problem that I think it will work great for. Rotating my tires. I have fancy lug nuts that I am loathe to use an impact wrench. I think this thing will be great for removing and installing those lug nuts. I will use my 1/2 inch drive breaker bar as usual to un-torque the nuts and this ratchet's yankee drive action to remove them. Likewise I can install the nuts again with the yankee drive action with this ratchet and slightly torque them using it as a ratchet wrench. Then I can apply the full torque value with my torque wrench. OK, I'll admit, I wanted the wrench...it is kind of cool, but if it were not for my lugs nuts, even at 25 bucks, I think this is a pricey gimmick looking for an application. I hope to be proved wrong.
The wrench is available at Sears and K-Mart retail stores and on line at:
Introducing Craftsman MACH SERIES
Craftsman 3/8-Inch Drive Mach Series Ratchet