AIR IMPACT WRENCHES
¶ Rattle Guns, I just love Rattle Guns. They have so much power! They are just wonderful. With an air gun you can pop the nut off a flywheel without locking the engine. Just hold the flywheel with your hand.
Air Guns come in a lot of sizes and styles. There are the guns we are all familiar with. They come in 1/2" drive and are used a lot in most every shop for pulling lug nuts off wheels and most any big nut that needs to come off.
Then there are other types of air operated tools. Ratchets, Saws, Chisels, Cut Off Wheels, all kinds of stuff.
The reason everyone likes air tools is that they are so powerful. A 1/2" drive gun usually has about 250 foot pounds of torque. Some of the fancier 1/2"guns can come in at almost 500 Foot pounds.
A few years back I was trying to remove a big crankshaft bolt on a car engine. It was still in the car and while I could get my Rattle Gun on it I just could not get it to come off. The way the car body was around the engine I could not get a big long breaker bar and socket on it. I borrowed one of the 500 Foot Pound 1/2" guns from a friend and put it on it and POP. Off it comes.
Of course that got me to lusting for a more powerful Air Gun. Trouble is I only need this kind of power once in a while. Usually to take off a car axle nut. Some of those can be put on with over 300 foot pounds of torque. Let a nut sit there rusting for eight or ten years and it can be really locked on to that axle. Anyway, I wanted one but these things go for four to five hundred dollars. A bit much when you don't use it very often.
Godzilla and Tank
So I got a 3/4" drive monster gun from Harbor Freight for $80.00. I call him Godzilla. Yeah, I know. Buy American. Well, as soon as I can find an American made one for $100.00 I will. Now, I ran into another problem. This thing needs a big volume of air. My air compressor is a little five horsepower one and my air fittings are 1/4". So I need more air volume. I can't afford a new air compressor but I don't need one. I took a ten gallon air tank (Garage sale-$10.00) some bigger air fittings and five foot of big air line hose (another $20.00). I put an extra fitting on the tank that connects to a hose from my compressor.
So now I have a tank I can pump up and big air hoses from the tank to the gun. Lots of air flow now. I get full power for maybe ten seconds and then I have to wait for the compressor to refill the ten gallon tank. BUT now I have a genuine One Thousand foot pounds. WOW. I need maybe two seconds, tops, to pop off ANY bolt or nut. This thing will twist the Tusks out of a Elephant in two seconds. I am one happy camper!
This brings up what could be called a problem with air tools. They need compressed air (well Duh). Now there are electric Rattle Guns but they, in my experience, seem to be a bit short on power. This really isn't that much of a problem. You really need an Air Compressor if you work on motorcycles. Look around. They can found for forty bucks on sale on up to thousands of dollars. Figure on spending two to four hundred dollars to get one that will work well for you.
Some people may disagree but if you use 3/4" hot water CPVC pipe you can pipe it all over your shop very cheaply. A few cheap fittings and a cheap long rubber hose and you are in business. Don't use cold water PVC pipe. It is just not strong enough. All the air in my shop is piped through 3/4" hot water CPVC pipe rated at 325 PSI. I installed it in my shop in 1981. Thirty-four years of constant use and NONE of it has ever failed.
If you need more volume and you are using a small compressor just add a cheap used air tank. You can find them at a General Salvage Yard. A used pressure tank from a Well Water System will work too. Just plumb it in to any part of the air pipe system and you are good to go. You need a tank that is rated at least 200 psi or so.
Due to all this power you will need to use special six point Impact Sockets. Regular sockets can fly apart causing you and everything around you lots of damage.
One thing to remember. DO NOT use an impact gun to tighten nuts, bolts or screws down. Oh sure, you can use them to run down long screws, nuts on long shafts and the like, if you start them by hand first, but never run them in hard.
There is just too much power and no "feel" to them. A 1/2 inch gun can twist a 3/8 inch bolt in half real easy. A 3/8" Butterfly gun can do the same to a 1/4" bolt. Always assemble things with hand tools and use a torque wench.
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