Over the past few weeks we’ve returned to the giant battery power stations that can keep the lights on while off-grid; looked at a multimeter, a simple tool that will save you so much diagnostic time; and played around with an adhesive that does as it says on the tin. This week’s Cool Tool is the pass-through ratchet, a tool strong and versatile enough to be your daily driver ratchet.
If you’re like me, a somewhat regular problem is dealing with fittings that are longer than even the deepest sockets in your arsenal. I always know it’s going to be a fun day when the socket can no longer turn the nut because the threaded rod or stud is just too long.
And the problem may not just be a stud that’s too long, but the necessity for two tools to be in the same place at the same time. Some struts are easier to remove when you hold the damper shaft with a hex wrench while you simultaneously loosen the nut. The struts of the Smart Fortwo are just like this.
It’s a similar situation with adjusting valve clearance on some vehicles where you need one tool to hold the nut while another tool slots in to adjust an inner fitting.
I’ve encountered this even when trying to do something simple like removing the seats from a school bus.
The bolts used to secure bus seats can be unnecessarily long, which makes removal a pain. In my case, I had someone under the bus holding nuts in place while I turned bolts. They couldn’t use a ratchet to hold the nuts, so I gave them a box-end wrench. The wrench held only for a few seconds before slipping off as I loosened bolts.
When this happens you could be like me and pull out either your adjustable hammer or a wrench. You could also buy specialized tools that you’ll use once and never again, but there’s a far easier way.
Meet the pass-through ratchet. It works as it sounds: a ratchet with a big hole right in the middle. They work with sockets that yep, also have a big hole right in the middle. These sockets allow you to pass fittings and other tools right through to make jobs either. And the best part? They’re just as strong as a regular ratchet. Check out this stress test from the ClientGraphics YouTube channel:
You may already have a similar tool laying around with a ratcheting wrench. But in my experience, those can get just as annoying as a regular wrench as they slip off. And they don’t quite have that nice handle like a ratchet. This is a tool I’m looking to add to my collection as I work on winter motorcycle projects and maybe install a lift kit on one of my Smarts.
These tools run pretty cheap. $22 gets you a Hart like featured in the video and that beefy Stanley is only $29. But you could go cheaper if you don’t need something that will survive a cheater bar.
Do you know of a weird or unique tool that wrenchers can benefit from knowing about? Do you want to see us put a type of tool to the test and see how it performs? Shoot me an email or drop it down in the comments!