If you’re working on a motorcycle or other engine, then you’re probably familiar with a gear wrench set.
But if this is something new to you, or if you have a sweetheart who needs tools to work on a project in very tight quarters, then this article is going to explain some of the uses and benefits of gear wrenches.
What Is It?
A gear wrench is basically a closed end, hand held wrench. Picture a metal wrench, with a closed end on one side and an open end wrench on the other. The difference between this type of wrench and a gear wrench is that the gear wrench has a “ratchet” inside the closed end.
The closed ratchet end of the wrench allows someone to tighten or loosen a bolt or nut when space is limited. For example, when working on a motorcycle engine where there isn’t a lot of room to move, a gear wrench tool will allow you to loosen a nut even though you may only be able to move your hand a few degrees.
The ratchet lets you turn the wrench, then holds the position while you back up the wrench to take another turn. It’s just like a ratcheting socket set, only without the sockets.
Gear wrench sets come in groups, usually in metric or SAE (inches) sizes. There are generally about 10 or 12 wrenches per set in various sizes. This allows you to have a number of wrenches to choose from, since most engines and projects will require bolts, nuts and screws of differing sizes.
An additional benefit to these type of wrenches is that the ratchet prevents “rounding” of the fastener you’re working on. That means that the edges of the bolt or nut will stay sharp, allowing the wrench to grab well long into the future.
So Where Do You Use These Wrenches?
In a nutshell, anywhere!
You can use this type of wrench anyplace that you would need to use a regular wrench. Gear wrenches are typically used in places where space is tight, for example, motorcycle engines, lawnmower engines, auto and bus engine repair, and so on. One reviewer stated that he used the wrenches to change the convertible top on his Volkswagon and found them to be exactly what he needed.
Have you ever found that you needed a socket to loosen or tighten a bolt, but couldn’t fit the socket inside the space? This is precisely where a gear wrench shines!
The only caveat worth mentioning about gear wrench sets is that you don’t want to rely on these to remove rusted bolts or nuts.
These wrenches are designed to work in tight spaces, but not to torque or “whale” on fasteners that have been sitting untouched for decades. The good news, though, is that most engines and equipment are worked on regularly and so there will not usually be any occasion to have to yank on anything.
If you do find that you have a stubborn bolt or nut, you might try spraying some WD-40 or other penetrating oil on the offending part. Allow it to work its way into the threads for 15-30 minutes and then try to remove it.
Cost and Availability
Gear wrench sets can be found online and at some home improvement stores. It’s not a bad idea to look at these tools in person at a home improvement store and then shop online to get the best price. Don’t be afraid to compare prices and quality, and always check online reviews. These will give you a good idea as to what others have found after using the tools themselves.
Prices can range from about $85 to more than $180 for a good tool set.
However, it’s very likely that this will be a one-time purchase and your gear wrench set can last a lifetime.