Project Garage Part VI: Air Tools


Impact wrench sockets
Get a nice, complete set of impact sockets and extensions to take care of all your jobs.
Ingersoll Rand tools are known for being reliable, lightweight, and strong. I’ve definitely thrown some difficult jobs at mine and they’ve been successful every time.  They’re worth the extra bucks upfront knowing they won’t have to be replaced any time soon. The Ingersoll Rand 2131 1/2″ impact wrench delivers up to 600 ft lbs of torque in reverse and 450 ft lbs in forward with a working range off 50-400 ft lbs. It has since been replaced by the 2130- 550 ft/lbs maximum torque with 50-500 working ft lbs. For something a little more heavy duty, the IR2135TI-2Max (about $300) can offer about the same forward and working torque, but up to 780 ft/lbs reverse torque and advertises 1,100 ft lbs of nut busting torque.  It also runs quieter than most other choices. The IR 2141 is also a good buy, a 3/4″ impact wrench delivering 1200 ft lbs maximum torque and weighing in at 7 pounds; of course, now you’re in the $400 price range.
The Central Pneumatic CP Turbo 7750, a 1/2″ drive 5 pound model, delivers 50-650 ft lbs of torque in standard mode. If you’re working on removing a stubborn bolt and cursing expletive after expletive, switch to turbo mode and you’ll get 800 ft lbs of reverse torque.  The 7750 uses only 5.5 cfm for typical jobs and 18.1 cfm forward, but requires 41.1 cfm in turbo mode. A cheaper choice (under $75) can be found from the Husky lineup.  Their 1/2″ impact wrench uses just 3.5 cfm to operate a maximum of 350 ft lbs of torque.  The Husky Pro advertises up to 550 ft/lbs torque with six different available settings for about $150, but it’s not very highly rated. The Craftsman 5 1/2″ Pro Composite impact wrench can deliver up to 725 ft/lbs maximum torque (no good stats on working torque) but the composite body means it weighs just 4.25 pounds.  It is also about half an inch shorter than the other choices offering the most compact impact wrench. Some impact wrenches also include longer anvils, which are like extensions that allow you to reach into tight places such as wheel wells.
Air ratchet wrenches let you work in smaller areas. They’re great for jobs under the dashboard or in the engine bay. The Ingersoll Rand 103A is just 6 1/2″ long and barely over a pound. This 1/4″ stubby drive delivers 20 ft lbs max torque and while it’s been discontinued, can be still be found online. It has since been replaced by the longer IR104B, but if you subscribe to the Tool Time motto of “more power”, get the IR1105MAX, a 300rpm free speed, ergonomic, variable speed regulator wrench with 30 ft lbs torque.  The IR107 is a 3/8″ heavy duty ratchet wrench with 160 free speed rpm, variable speed teasing throttle, and a 360° adjustable exhaust which directs air away from the operator and the work.  The newer IR109XPA has a push button throttle with 300 free speed rpm and 70 ft lbs max torque.  
Air ratchet wrench
This is my Ingersoll Rand 103A inline air ratchet wrench.  It consumes just 15cfm at load and has a 200rpm free speed.  It’s one of the smallest air ratchets ever manufactured.
Some cheaper alternatives to consider are the Central Pneumatic ones. They are offered in 1/4″ option delivering 10-15 ft lbs, and 1/2″ and 3/8″ providing about 45-50 ft lbs of torque. They even have a 1/4″ mini wrench that is just 5″ long, 1 pound, and has 20 ft lbs max torque, perfect for working under the dash or other tight spaces.  Northern Industrial Tools and Craftsman both offer air ratchet wrenches in between those price points that offer the middle of performance as well.  For the ultimate in tight space technology, Klutch offers air ratchet wrenches with adjustable heads in both 1/2″ and 3/8″ versions.  They both lock in at 30 degrees but do not have adjustable torque settings.

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