Shop Press

Shop Press is the news and idea hub for everything related to working on cars and trucks, focusing on repair, technology, and wrenching lifestyle.

From the creative minds at:

FEATURE STORY

Hot Off the Press

Trailer bearings: a hidden moneymaker for auto repair shops

You already can see where I’m going with this based on the title. Trailers are the simplest things in the world, and yet unless you’re at an RV shop, a dedicated trailer shop, or you live in a rural or coastal area (ag and marine use), you probably rarely see trailers...

What it’s like being a new tech in 2022 (VIDEO)

Torque specs. Electronics diagnostics. Foreign automobiles. 12V electrical systems. TPMS sensors. Disc brakes. 0W16 oil. All of the aforementioned technologies were changes that occurred in the automotive industry that changed the business and altered what techs...

It’s time to stop salting the roads

  I was just thinking today that my “fun vehicle” window is closing soon; this is the period of the year where I’ll drive or ride anything I own. Old vehicles don’t stand a chance in the salt belt. Anyone I know who has anything nice keeps it far away from...

Nine notable “cars” that aren’t cars

Recently, I’ve been seeing a lot of Polaris Slingshots on the road. OK, not a ton of them, but I do take notice of them when I see them. Usually it makes me think, “What is the deal with those things? Are they cars or not?” When I looked into it, I discovered there...

In defense of the beam-style torque wrench

by | Dec 8, 2021

Way back when, torque specs didn’t exist. Oh, mechanics were familiar with busted fasteners. Prior to torque wrenches, factory tools often had handles of specific lengths, with the understanding that “cheater pipes” were not to be used and that an average man of average strength could use the tool to get critical fasteners tight enough. But a tool to accurately measure torque wasn’t invented until the 20s and weren’t in common use until World War II. Did you know Walter P. Chrysler was actually the guy who invented beam-style torque wrenches? (Yes, THAT Chrysler!) In professional shop applications all across America, the de facto tool for tightening fasteners to spec is the clicker-style torque wrench. But beam-types have a few advantages that keep them relevant, even today. If your arsenal doesn’t include one (even as a backup), you might want to think about acquiring one. Here’s why.

Torque wrench box

This old thing has torqued countless fasteners over the years. It could die tomorrow and it wouldn’t owe me nothin’. Photo by Lemmy.

They’re inexpensive

A high-quality beam-style torque wrench is not a particularly pricey item when stacked up next to a comparable clicker-type. One of my old beam wrenches is older than I am. Amortized over its service life, the cost was miniscule.

They’re tough

Part of the reason they’re inexpensive is that they have no real moving parts to wear. That also makes them tougher. Drop a clicker-torque wrench, and you just made an expensive mistake requiring recalibration. Drop a beam-style wrench, and all ya need to do is make sure the pointer is still pointing at zero. Since the entire thing works off the deflection of the wrench relative to the pointer, there’s no real way to mess it up in a real-world shop setting—steel’s springiness is pretty much constant.

Torque wrench pointer

Calibrated correctly. And if it’s not, a simple adjustment is all it takes to make it right. Photo by Lemmy.

They’re trustworthy

This is sort of related to the last point. Unlike clickers, beam-type torque wrenches don’t need to be recalibrated periodically. Do you really want to find out that your clicker was improperly calibrated after you bust a cylinder head bolt or crack an expensive casting?

They’re simple

You can just put it away when you’re done. Beams don’t need any special treatment. Your clicker? Best relax that spring and set it back to zero if you want it to stay accurate.

They’re consistent and repeatable

Your grip is more uniform using the beam-style. Some wrenches have a handle that’s “pinned” into the end of the wrench and it can wobble. Proper use dictates the floating handle not be resting against the body of the wrench, meaning the effect of your hand placement along the body of the wrench is always minimized if you are using the tool correctly, leading to smaller torque variances between fasteners. A clicker usually just has a handle you’re supposed to grab and that’s that.

Deflecting beam handles

Here you can see one of the “floating” handles. By securing the handle to the wrench with a pin, consistent operation is virtually assured. Photo by Lemmy.

Clickers have their strong points, certainly—they can be used in places where the beam’s scale can’t be read, and the tactile and audible feedback can certainly be helpful in tight quarters. However, if you need a backup (or even just a second to check the accuracy of your main tool!), a beam-style torque wrench is definitely a workable option worthy of consideration.

Related Articles

Please note that functionality immediately above is provided by Disqus, a third-party plugin, and opt-ins or opt-outs only apply to Disqus and not Dorman Products. Please see Dorman’s Privacy Statement for information regarding Dorman’s privacy policies.

Get Articles In Your Inbox

Subscribe to receive a monthly email summary of our latest Shop Press stories.

Shop Press

Thanks! You're now subscribed.