Tools, and the use thereof ...

For those of you in the know, you will be aware that Karen and I are in the USA on holidays. We spent today in Huntsville, Alabama and tomorrow we will be off to the US Space and Rocket Center.

What has this got to do with tools? Nothing really. But on the way here I did find a 1/4 inch drive torque wrench for USD28.00.  Try even finding one in Queensland, yet alone for a real cost of about AUD35.00. Yesterday we also found a spark tester for USD8.00. Another tool that I struggled to find at home. Having one allows me to test output from the ignition coils on a motorcycle without risking damage to the CDI unit, which is usually very expensive to replace.

Anyhow, about using a torque wrench properly. Some home mechanics will say do not use one and have several stories of broken bolts and stripped threads. What they do not know and what I have learnt over the last year, is to use a torque wrench and to use it properly:

1. Check to see if the bolts are 'stretch bolts'. These are softer metal bolts that do actually stretch and should be replaced.

2. Clean the threads on the bolt and in the hole. You can use a wire brush, brake cleaner, a tap-and-die set or even some stainless steel bolts with a slit cut along the thread. This provides a cutting edge as well as a path for the debris to travel along and out on.

3. Check the motorcycle manual on the correct procedure. Does the bolt go in dry, with a specific grease or a threadlocker.

4. Finally, check the torque wrench instructions. Some require you to torque in steps, some require you to first lubricate the innards by torquing in a vise.

If you follow the correct procedures, broken bolts and stripped threads should become a thing of the past. In my case, at least, I hope it is.