hi everyone and happy new year, sadly im looking to replace my trusty snap-on socket set which was recently nicked and whilst looking on the e bay auction site came across a guy who sells a lot of hand tools branded "u.s pro" which he claims are close to the top american/german makes but a lot cheaper i however can find no info anywhere about this make and am a bit sceptical of his claims as i beleive as in most things you tend to get what you pay for, so before i part with my hard earned cash have any of you tecno guros out there any knowledge of this brand? many thanks
Neither of you have been to an autojumble lately then. US Pro is one of those makes, along with Bergen, that seem to turn up on every trade stand selling tools at autojumbles. I've only got one 1/4 inch drive ratchet by US Pro bought recently so not much to judge the make by. I did, however, buy a load of Facom tools when Halfords had its clearout last winter and I would place the US Pro behind Snap On or Facom, and probably Britool, for quality although this ratchet is a neat well finished bit of kit with natty rubber grips at the end. Probably ahead of Draper and about level with Halfords Professional which I see are currently at sale prices. Bergen is similar for quality of materials and they both are definitely cheaper than the top makes and about level pegging with Draper for price.
I do wonder why I only ever see US Pro and Bergen on autojumble stands, suggesting there is an importer shifting them at low prices into the trade. Some of the autojumble people also carry secondhand Snap-On and some other specialist makes favoured by the aircraft industry. Might be worth a look, depending on your budget. There's a big one at the NEC this weekend, I believe, and I can almost guarantee you will find US Pro tools being sold there.
The Great British Autojumble and Automart at the NEC, Birmingham, on Sunday January 5 from 10-5. Costs £7 to get in but parking is free.
Personally, I think seven quid is a bit much for the privilege of possibly doing some shopping, so I will be looking out for smaller events for my next autojumble outing. Again a personal view, I also suspect that stall prices are so high for the NEC and similar venues that only the bigger, more professional traders turn up and prices also go up.
So, pardon the ignorance, but are all sockets not made equal?
Do tolerances on, say a 13mm socket play such a critical role in rounding nuts/bolts off?
This did cross my mind on tring to free off the caliper bolts on my Monterey the other day. Perhaps a swankier socket would give just the edge to avoid runing the bolt head.
My no-name metric socket set bought in 1977 from a shifty bloke on Long Eaton market seems to have served me well in most situations, apart from nightmare seized studs, flats rusted below original "across-flats", and all the other fun situations we get ourselves into when we progress beyond filling up the screen-wash bottle.
Many of my tools had built up before I did this as a business and some of the 15-20yr old Draper/Kamasa stuff has lasted very well. I now buy a mixture of makes when replacements are needed, I tend to spend the most when a tool may have a very stressful and specific use where you want 100% reliability. Perhaps where the tool is obviously small compared with its intended loading so it can fit in a restricted space..and where failure is going to waste a great deal of time.
But take the average easy access 13mm nut and any one of a dozen spanners/sockets from the toolbox would shift it so no hassle using cheapies there.
I'm not knocking it but I haven't bought into the Snap-On way of life......yet.
Actually just one example where quality is important. Bought a new diesel compression tester in 2002...budget kit at about £125. Soon found the hose unions leaked and one of the adaptors wouldn't screw into the appropriate make cylinder head. Took it straight back to the factors and swapped it for one retailing at £230...that's an absolute pleasure to use and everything fits.
Just to plug a name that used to be well regarded that's only had one mention here. I'm still using a 35 year old Britool 3/8 drive socket set, and only now is the ratchet starting to show signs of wear. Expensive when I got it, but cheap in the long run. I believe the quality shows in terms of socket sizing and so fit on the nuts, and reduced wear in use, so the sockets still fit well over time reducing damage. That said I've also sets from Kamasa, which seem to be fine, although sometimes their heavier build makes access more difficult.
Britool were considered the finest in socket sets and never seemed to wear out.
We had socket sets at work 40 year old and they were still as good as new despite all the maltreatment they suffered.
Never seen them for years are they still produced?.
In the heating industry the American tools were excellent with electric pipe threaders,stillsons and other hand tools being of the highest quality but expensive.
I think the main name was Rigid which prompted variable but repetitive jokes about having a rigid tool and so on..
Do tolerances on, say a 13mm socket play such a critical role
in rounding nuts/bolts off?
In my experience it all depends on whether the socket has six faces to "grip" the head of the nut or 12 faces. If you look in the end of the socket, you'll see what I mean. Six faces, and it'll look like a hexagon shape. 12 faces, and it'll look like a series of ridges around the edge. Probably not very well described, but I know what I mean.
I've always prefered using the hexagonal shaped sockets as these are less likely to slip if a bit loose on the nut.
I agree, Dave. I use the shiny bi-hex sockets for general work but have a set of black hexagon sockets for the more demanding jobs.
Lots of bolt heads, like the washer-faced ones on some Japanese engines, are made with rounded corners together with a slight taper to the sides and a recess in the top. Making them this cheap and nasty way saves a coining operation during the cold-forming operation. It is very easy for a bi-hex socket to slip on these and it only has to happen once for the corners to become even more rounded. I would always use a hexagon socket on these.
The quality of sockets also varies of course, and they can split, though I think only the very cheap ones need to be avoided for general work. Draper tools are not *too* bad but they are close to being my least favourite. It is much more satisfying to use top quality tools and I go for cheap ones only where they are likely to be used for a one-off light-duty job.
Snap-on have a good reputation but are over-rated and far too expensive in my view. I have only one Snap-on tool, a screwdriver with interchangeable bits that are held in the handle. This is not very well designed at all as the cap unscrews when the screwdriver is turned anti-clockwise. Also, there is a rubber sealing ring which insists on dropping off and rolling under the car when the cap is removed! The bits themselves are very strong and well dimensioned however.
Rob, not so much of the 'Mr' please, I don't need reminding that I am beyond my first youth! When I first started posting here I discovered that my chosen forum name (David W) was identical to that of an existing regular poster so I decided to use my old school nickname 'Dizzy' instead. The other 'David W' then decided to change his forum name as well!
Back to the subject: Sorry, I don't know of a cheap source of hexagon sockets. Mine are 'professional' and were not cheap. I avoided 'cheap' because they were bought specifically for heavy duty work like rear wheel bearing replacement where a very high force is often needed, perhaps with a length of scaffold tube over the end of the bar to give a little extra leverage!
I'm not sure I should have mentioned 'black' when describing these sockets because I suspect that some unplated sockets could be junk. Mine are very strong and have withstood the scaffold tube treatment even after being ground down in outside diameter to fit into recesses.
"Cheap" not a good word. "Cost-effective" then. What make are yours?
FWIW I use hand tools in my own business, and always like to buy prudently, avoiding manufactureres hype, buying decent stuff for long life, and cheap stuff where light duty and likely to wear/get lost.
The sockets are stamped 'OZAT'. No, I'd never heard of them before either! I don't think they are marketed as D-I-Y items and mine were bought via tool suppliers to industry. I've had them many years and don't know if they are still available.
If you ever need the odd hexagon socket, it is possible that stockholders of tools-to-the-trade might be able to help. Partco, for example, can supply Pickavant tools and hexagon sockets might be part of their range.
I hadn't realised that those awful 'fall-away' bolts were also used on brake calipers. That is inexcusable! Still, by making the bolts that way about 0.1 pence is saved per bolt, so you might have had to pay another 50p for the Monterrey if it had proper bolts throughout!!
I take your point about 'black' sockets, and it's my experience that the industrial heavy duty sockets (always 6 point and often called 'impact sockets' to indicate their grade) are often finished in matt black and don't have the chrome finish to attract the buyers.
It's usually the cheaper sets seem to have the gaudiest appearance.
I seem to recall a discusion with a salesman of such stuff who seemed to be confusing the chrome plated finish on the sockets with chrome in chrome-vanadium steel......
The main purpose of these so called 'black' and 'impact sockets' is for use on the air impact guns. That is why they tend to have much thicker side walls and are nearly always 6 point/single hex. If you use normal chrome style sockets on air impact guns they are more likely to split down the side of the socket and it will also create excessive wear on the adapter end, ie the 1/2" drive end. I assume that proper impact sockets are also made of up of different type metals to withstand the abuse that they are subject to.
On the topic of top of the range tools such as Snap On and Britool, I think that you have got to admire that quality and practicality of the tools. In my vast array of tools I do have a fair few bits and pieces from Snap On and the odd Britool item, but these tend to be the important things like ratchets and breaker bars and stuff like that. I know they are an awful lot of money to buy but not only is it top notch stuff, but with the lifetime guarantee, if it breaks they will replace it free of charge.
In my current job a as heavy vehicle recovery operator I have to carry a range of tools to remove propshafts and halfshafts and wind off brakes etc before the trucks can be towed. This means that each time any of us go out in our trucks we have to lift our tool boxes into the locker on the truck. This in turn means that we have to manage with a basic metal 3 drawer tool box which you cannot fit a lot into and even if you do fill it right up, you will then have trouble picking it up off the floor. It is therefore essential to have some top quality tools (as I have found out) because when you are out on the side of the road and you split open a socket trying to undo a bolt, or break a spanner doing something similiar, you are in the s**t, because you only have the capacity to carry one of each tool. Its not like being in a workshop where you can turn to your mate in the next bay and borrow his.
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