Need to increase torque with ratchet

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Old 02-05-19, 08:52 PM
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Need to increase torque with ratchet

Hello. I didn't see a thread for general tool questions, so I thought I would post here because auto mechanics do a lot of ratcheting. I have to take off a 1" nut (I have a socket this large). It's not budging with my standard ratchet with 3/8" drive and 8" extension bar. The nut is not stripped or anything.

I decided to buy a longer ratchet (18"). It hasn't arrived yet. The idea obviously was to generate more torque. Now, my question is whether I should use the 18" ratchet in conjunction with an extension bar to generate even more torque? Or does the length of the extension bar not factor into how much torque you can generate?

My intuition is telling me that, as a general rule, torque is a product of both the length of the ratchet and the length of the extension bar. But I've been wrong on these things many times before.

Thanks!
 
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Old 02-05-19, 08:58 PM
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An extension adds nothing to the torque. It's the length of the handle... longer ratchet, longer breaker bar... long pipe put over the breaker bar... etc.

Be sure you soak things in PB Blaster before you try to break rusty bolts or nuts loose.
 
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Old 02-05-19, 09:05 PM
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I agree with XSleeper in that you need to use some sort of lubricant to break up the rust or whatever has it stuck. Personally, my opinion is that you dont need to use a longer ratchet as you're only likely going to break/twist off the bolt or stud before you break loose the nut.
So, my advise is to use the ratchet without the bar after you have used PB Blaster etc, to break loose whatever has it bonded to the bolt/stud. Once you have used a lubricant, let it soak as long as needed even it it requires spraying a little each day for a few days, even a week if necessary, then use the correct ratchet & the bolt should come loose without a lot of effort or stressing the bolt/stud..... or your ratchet.
 
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Old 02-06-19, 12:14 AM
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Have a neighbor with an impact wrench?
 
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Old 02-06-19, 02:11 AM
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First choice would be to use a 3/4" socket set and if that was not enough then a cheater bar, essentially a piece of pipe over the handle.

I had a rear hub nut from my 68 bug that had so much torque that I had to weld up a 5' nut plate to remove.

It's all about leverage!

And forget about those lubricants, they dont do anything, if the nut is that rusted the lubricant cant even get down into the threads.

Another option depending on the nuts location/use is a smoke wrench (acetylene torch) that will absolutely get the nut off!
 
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Old 02-06-19, 03:10 AM
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Smoke wrench +1. Learning to be an electric motor mechanic first new thing I was taught was to heat to red heat almost white. It worked almost like magic but you do need the heat of oxy acetylene not a propane touch and you need to try before it cools.
 
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Old 02-06-19, 04:45 AM
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Torque is force (applied at end of extension) times length of extension. A 5 pound force applied to a 1 foot extension generates a torque of 5 foot-pounds. A 5 pound force applied to a 10 foot extension generates a torque of 50 foot-pounds. The quality of sockets and extensions have an influence on loosening a nut/bolt as a socket will split and an extension bar will bend when over stressed. My suggestion would be to find a published torque value for the nut in question. Then buy a impact wrench and sockets designed to develop the published torque value as a minimum. Air operated impact wrenches are the best but you need a air compressor with a high air flow. Electric impact wrenches are the other option. AC powered are big and bulky and suffer torque loss due to voltage drop, but are the least expensive. DC (battery) powered are smaller by comparison and suffer torque loss as battery discharges and are more expensive than AC powered units.
 
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Old 02-06-19, 05:11 AM
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Adding pipe to the handle [cheater bar] works but it can come with some risk. I once added 6' of pipe to a breaker bar to remove a stubborn nut and I never did find all of the pieces of the breaker bar head when it came apart. I agree with spraying it down with PB Blaster, preferably hours or more before you work on it.
 
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Old 02-06-19, 05:14 AM
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OK. These are great tips. Thanks.
 
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Old 02-06-19, 05:20 AM
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Extension pipe on handle of ratchet is a good way to break the ratchet. You need at least a breaker bar or T handle. Even those aren't unbreakable, as Mark noted. Steve
 

Last edited by sdodder; 02-06-19 at 05:22 AM. Reason: change wording
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Old 02-06-19, 05:28 AM
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Can i ask, what is your application? It may help to know what you're working on.

I'm not going to join the PB blaster debate, other than to say "it can't hurt and it might help". In a pinch you can make your own penetrating fluid with equal parts acetone and automatic transmission fluid.

Whether or not your longer lever will work depends on how closely your tools fit together, and whether you have a confined work space. Also, others have alluded to the possibility that your longer lever may provide enough force to break the bolt or lug off, rather than turn the nut off. This is a real threat and can ruin your day, so you may want to have a plan for what to do if that happens.

Good luck with it, let us know how it goes!

Dave
 
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Old 02-06-19, 09:15 AM
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Don't attempt this job without a well fitting socket. 12 point likely best. No thin wall ones.
 
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Old 02-06-19, 04:04 PM
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I guess never might not be the best way to say it because there's always an exception where the space is just too tight for anything else, but an extension on a ratchet handle would never be my first choice; that's what breaker bars are for. And even though 3/8" sets come with 1" sockets, if you're having to work that hard it's probably time to consider purchasing a 1/2" drive set. As far as the socket itself, I guess that I'm in the opposite camp of ukrbyk in this case, because for stubborn ones I'm looking for the best fitting 6 point, not 12 point.
 
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Old 02-06-19, 04:36 PM
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I agree a 6 point socket. Easier for a 12 point to slip. If you are going to use a cheater I'd suggest an impact socket.
 
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Old 02-06-19, 05:45 PM
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I'm a bit worried and confused by the choice of the term "ratchet" in contrast to "breaker bar".
Sounds like a great way to strip the teeth of that ratchet.

I was taught that when you are removing a bolt or nut using a ratchet and socket, if it doesn't loosen, FIRST you flip the ratchet to tighten and see if that breaks it loose.

Second is switch to a 6 point socket (impact socket if you have) and a "breaker bar" (and put on gloves, because you always seem to end up skinning a knuckle when it comes free), and try a section of pipe for more leverage.

If that doesn't work, Third is spray on solvent/WD-40/blaster and let it soak while you go turn on the compressor and dig out the impact wrench.

If THAT doesn't work, Fourth is get a torch and heat the nut then quench with ice, that forces the nut/bolt to expand and shrink, hopefully breaking it loose.
 
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Old 02-07-19, 03:12 AM
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If interested here is a great video related to the use of penetrating fluids, to make a long story short at 8:37 into the video he has a chart for each fluids/heat/dry results.

The bottom line, heat is the best, and that all the fluids provided minor improvement!

But the take away is that the results were from multiple applications over a 3 hour time period which in my opinion is simply not practical for the minimal improvements gained.

Bottom line, get good tools, not the krap at harbor freight, and just torque it off and get on with life!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xUEob2oAKVs
 
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Old 02-07-19, 03:24 AM
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Harbor Freight has some decent tools especially considering the price. All my impact sockets are from HF and the only one I had fail was a well used deep well impact. I was pleasantly surprised when they replaced it even though it was close to 30 yrs old. While HF does sell some hand tools that are junk, their better tools preform and hold up well.
 
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Old 02-07-19, 07:39 AM
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Originally Posted by Marq1


If interested here is a great video related to the use of penetrating fluids, to make a long story short at 8:37 into the video he has a chart for each fluids/heat/dry results.

The bottom line, heat is the best, and that all the fluids provided minor improvement!

But the take away is that the results were from multiple applications over a 3 hour time period which in my opinion is simply not practical for the minimal improvements gained.
True, but for many such projects are weekend projects, e.g. "tune up the lawn mower" so in most cases, you've got lead time and can apply the penetrating oils etc and give them time to work.

There's an important difference between the "it just broke" and "annual maintenance" situations.
 
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Old 02-07-19, 08:03 AM
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Harbor freight sells a tool in the automotive section called a torque multiplier for a low price.
 
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Old 02-07-19, 10:45 AM
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Use a 1/2" drive 6 point socket - not 3/8"
Use a breaker bar - not a ratchet
Add pipe to breaker handle as required to do the job.
BE SURE IT IS NOT A LEFT HAND THREAD !!
 
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Old 02-07-19, 02:06 PM
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Originally Posted by airmark

Harbor freight sells a tool in the automotive section called a torque multiplier for a low price.
My great-uncle's solution for loosening big-bolts
(John Deer tractor wheels/ Caterpillar tracks/ 1950s )

Find set of 6-point sockets in the huge sizes you want.

Find a piece of billet steel about 24" x 3" x 1/2". Get a relative who happens to be a turret lathe operator to drill holes in the billet to match the socket diameter. Braze the sockets into place.

"Acquire" a standard 9-foot small-town street sign post, i.e. ~3" id steel pipe.

Enjoy the-ultimate-breaker-bar, and remember that if you are loosening the wheel nuts of a vehicle, you can simply brace the breaker bar against a few logs on the ground, and drive forward to loosen the right/passenger side, drive backward to loosen the left/driver side.
 
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Old 02-07-19, 02:15 PM
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Where is the nut that ya have to take off? What is it holding together?

Not to insult your intelligence or anything. But make sure it doesnt have lefthanded threads before throwing too much at it.
 
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Old 02-07-19, 04:49 PM
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I have never stripped a nut or bolt head with well fitting 12 point. Six point - way too many times. Plus, I cracked walls on them.
There's thing called TightGrip, sold at Sears or online. Lifetime. Now that is also something to consider. But truly, it's a glorified 12 pointer.
 
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Old 02-07-19, 05:28 PM
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Never had much luck but not yet mentioned is nut splitters.
 
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Old 02-07-19, 05:46 PM
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Never seen one of those... thanks Ray, I may try to find one of those for my shop.
 
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Old 02-07-19, 08:06 PM
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Why quench it with anything? The point of heating is to cause the nut to expand so it breaks free easier. As there is a barrier (air, corrosion, oil ect) between the threads of the nut and the threads of the bolt the nut will heat faster (assuming you apply your heat to the nut) and as such expand more. Every material in existance expands and contracts at a known rate. Take mild steel for example. Modern mild steel will expand by .001" for every hundred degrees it is heated up until it hits its kindlijg temperature. Or maybe till its Currie point. Cant remember. So. Ya apply your heat primarially to the nut and remove heat when its medium red your bolt will likely still be mostly grey. Meaning there is a temperature difference of five or six hundred degrees (more or less depending on the size and what they are alloyed with) so ya end up with the nut being thirteen or fourteen thousandths larger than it was cold and the bolt ends up being only eight or nine thousandths larger than it was when it was cool. And presto, the nut breaks free.
 
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Old 02-07-19, 08:27 PM
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I'm sure we agree an oxy-acetylene torch is ideal. Was thinking earlier, where would you find or borrow one of you didn't have one? A TIG arc would do the job too. Unless you knew a guy that knows a guy, or unless you had a well-equipped neighbor, most people would be out of luck.

Is a propane torch just not hot enough?
 
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Old 02-07-19, 08:48 PM
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18-inch ratchet with 1-inch socket did the trick. Wasn't that hard to get off! Great tips here for future jobs, but the simplest route was the best!!! Thanks!!!!!!
 
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Old 02-07-19, 08:55 PM
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Amazing how much discussion it takes to remove one nut.
 
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Old 02-07-19, 09:25 PM
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Maybe time to break out the Dremel?

With a torch I was taught not to quench ans it almost always worked. As I wrote earlier a propane torch just doesn't have the heat output. Where I worked we went to red almost white heat. Doubt even Map does that.
 
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Old 02-08-19, 05:18 AM
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There is a ton of good suggestions here but a 3/8" drive socket set is too small for that size nut.
Instead of breaking a 3/8: socket or ratchet that cost would justify buying a 1/2" drive set.
 
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Old 02-08-19, 05:28 AM
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Glad it all worked out for you. Ended up being a good topic with good ideas.
All were good & work in many situations.
 
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Old 02-08-19, 05:44 AM
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Originally Posted by Thumper38
Why quench it with anything?
...
Modern mild steel will expand by .001" for every hundred degrees it is heated up
Well, because it works.
Heat the nut with a propane torch, (eh, +200 Fahrenheit degrees??) then quench the stud with dry ice eh, -100 Fahrenheit degrees.).

Pondering it, I guess the combination of heating the nut and quenching the stud so that the nut expands, the stud contracts, (or vice-versa, the bolt contracts, the bolt-hole expands) is enought to do the job.
 

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Old 02-08-19, 08:45 AM
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Originally Posted by ray2047

Never had much luck but not yet mentioned is nut splitters.


Eh, that's a "nut-cracker"

I hang one on the Christmas every year,

instead of the usual "nut-cracker"


but only the engineers and mechanics in the family get the joke.
 
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Old 02-08-19, 07:33 PM
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Hal. Yeah. That does make sense. Assuming the cost is justified. I could see it being justified in heavy industry where some fasteners are torqued to seven hundred ft.lbs or more and left in place for a long time and where a machine being down equals exorbinant amounts of money being lost. Not So much for the home wrencher IMHO.

As an asside. A propane torch without the use of oxygen can easily get a moderately sized nut heated to a thousand degrees or more realitivly quickly
 
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