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Old 06-13-2016, 08:46 PM   #1
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Torque Wrench Selection

I'm not well versed in typical torque values I might run into for general service on my coach. I'm not talking about something to torque my lug nuts. As an example, after a rather significant thread on slide motor bolts I think it is time to get one.

It seems in the moderate priced range that typically a 3/8" inch click torque wrench will have a range of around 20-100 or maybe even 150 ft lbs. A 1/2" torque wrench will run from 50-250 ft lbs. Of course, the 1/2" drive wrenches are longer than the 3/8" ones.

Again, I'm not doing heavy equipment work or tire changing. My gut thinks that a 3/8" drive will cover all of my needs. It will be easier to get into tight places like around those pesky slide motor bolts.

Does anyone see torque values exceeding 100 ft lbs for general purposes? How about 150?

Your thoughts?

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Old 06-13-2016, 08:49 PM   #2
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If your going to use a torque wrench I'd opt for both sizes for the coverage, there are relatively inexpensive ones out there that are good enough for the average DIYer.

Not the bar type either.

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Old 06-13-2016, 08:52 PM   #3
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3/8" is good for many places. One place you might need a 1/4" is transmission fluid filter changes if you need or want to tackle that. Over the years I have collected 1/2", 3/8" and a 1/4" torque wrench. 3/8" was used the most for normal automobile work.

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Old 06-13-2016, 08:55 PM   #4
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3/8" drive, torque wrench, would be rated in inch pounds , at least the one I have is . 250 in/lbs.= 21 ft/lbs
Other that wheel nuts and cylinder head bolts , 150 ft/lbs. should be lots.
1/2 drive rated to 100 ft/lbs would be shorter if that's what your after.
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Old 06-13-2016, 08:57 PM   #5
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One of the car magazines did some comparisons and concluded that for most people one from Harbor Freight was good enough and relatively cheap. I carry three of them (1/4, 3/8, 1/2") plus two other 1/2" ones. One of which goes to 350 ft lbs. None of them are the beam type, that one stays in the toolbox at home. For more torque I have a torque multiplier that gives me 500 ft lbs with 151 on the actual wrench.
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Old 06-13-2016, 09:54 PM   #6
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Check this out HFTorque Adapter

It is plenty accurate and can be installed on an extension

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Old 06-14-2016, 01:30 PM   #7
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Just remember when you use a torque wrench and you are done, set the adjustment back to the LOWEST torque setting. This will stop the wrench from loosing its settings.
I agree with the Harbor Freight wrenches, or as I did try ebay for used ones. They can be had for a decent price for a better grade one.
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Old 06-14-2016, 03:42 PM   #8
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I carry the two smaller torque wrenches and a torque multiplier. Haven't had to use them and hope I don't but I have them. Used to carry a real big one from Harbor Freight but now leave it at home.
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Old 06-14-2016, 04:30 PM   #9
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Perhaps I should have, but in all our RV travels I've never carried a torque wrench along. I've always thought that most things that go wrong along the road could be repaired without one, and that has been the case for me so far.

Most of my torque wrenches at home are Mac and are a 1/4 drive in lb, 2 3/8 in lb, one to 250 and one to 950 (?), and a 1/2 drive to 250 ft lb. These have done everything I've needed.

When I was going to A&P school years ago we had to have our torque wrenches calibrated. There were Snap-On, Macs, Craftsman, and just about every torque wrench available. Amazingly to me, the most closely calibrated tool out of the box was a Craftsman. So much for spending a lot of money.

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Old 06-15-2016, 01:04 PM   #10
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I have several in my workshop tool box but the only one that I carry is the tried and true 150 lb. ft. 1/2" drive with an optional 3/8" drive adapter Craftsman (made by PA Sturdevant) beam style since 'close enough' for lug nuts, u-bolts, hitch etc is ... close enough. If I'm doing engine or driveline work on my street rod, then I get the $$ one pound increment click styles out since they have been calibrated on a regular basis. The beam wrench is easily home calibrated as all you have to do is bend the pointer back to zero. The clickers or dial versions need to be sent to a specialty shop. I am not a fan of the Harbor Freight torque wrenches as I've seen several that friends have owned be way out. The current crop of Craftsman clickers I found weren't very reliable either. I wanted one a bit lower lb. ft./smaller length and 2 out of three I tried and returned wouldn't click at all and the third, according to my $$ one was 25 pounds light.

With a torque wrench, you get what you paid for - and an accurate one that stays that way wont be cheap
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Old 06-16-2016, 07:51 AM   #11
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Most work on the average rv does not "need" a torque wrench as repairing broken and loose doors and things usually involves small screws and other fasteners.


If one does battery work and they have nut and bolt posts or just threaded holes where the bolt goes into the battery post then proper process does require a torque wrench as too loose and it may not be proper and too tight will damage the post.

Harbor freight has decent ones and on sale about 20 bucks or so. For 1/4 to 1/2 drive.

For Batteries AND ANY kind of fluid tray like valve covers you need a 1/4 inch drive.


I picked up a hand full and assigned one to each of my techs and one who did not fully understand torque amounts ( had no natural feel for it) depended fully on the tool which was bad and broke off a couple bolts in the battery posts.

At 120 pounds for a battery it was a pain to lift them out and remove the bolts.
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Old 06-16-2016, 08:15 AM   #12
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I carry an older Craftsman beam type 1/2" drive. It's "close enough". Mostly I carry it for the length (leverage) compared to a breaker bar. If I need inch-lbs. I wing it ... the average medium-fat handled screwdriver/nut driver (in my hand) will generate 50 inch lbs. without using two hands. Your results may be different ...
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Old 06-16-2016, 08:57 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by Mr_D View Post
One of the car magazines did some comparisons and concluded that for most people one from Harbor Freight was good enough and relatively cheap. I carry three of them (1/4, 3/8, 1/2") plus two other 1/2" ones. One of which goes to 350 ft lbs. None of them are the beam type, that one stays in the toolbox at home. For more torque I have a torque multiplier that gives me 500 ft lbs with 151 on the actual wrench.
Since I only use one 2 or 3X a year, I bought a Harbor Freight 1/2" torque wrench. I have my auto mechanic neighbor test it against his professional model Snap-on 1/2" wrench every year, and it reads the same as his. That's good enough for my occasional use, and easy on my wallet.
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Old 06-18-2016, 03:01 AM   #14
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I carry a 1/2 inch drive to torque my lug nuts if and when I get a flat. So far, haven't had to use it on the road yet. I do check the torque at home before leaving on a trip.

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