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From: John De Armond
Date: 12 Sep 89 06:14:24 GMT (richard welty) writes:

>does anyone have any opinions on the relative quality of
>the different brands of `better quality' tools, like mac tools,
>S&K, Snap-On, and Craftsman?  i've never been real happy with
>Craftsman's small pliers, and have been having trouble with the
>mechanisms in their ratchets lately.  is that $60 1/2" Snap-On
>ratchet handle really worth it (only $50 in industrial finish)?

NO! it is not.  There are just so many ways of alloying steel and 
forging it into tools.  Beyond the quality of the metal, which is excellent
in all name-brand tools, the shape and finish are the major issues.

I personally dislike the shiny finishe on Snap-on and Mac tools.  My
favorite tools are S&K, though I have some Craftsman tools in the box.
(Try to find a Snap-on man on a Sunday afternoon after you have broken
that ratchet with a 6' cheater :-)  The one exception I've made is that
I've bought a set of Snap-on "flank-drive" sockets.  These sockets, which
I believe are patented, have specially machined flats designed to apply
the torque away from the corner of the nut.  This avoids bugering up the 
edges and/or breaking the chrome plating on things like custom lug nuts.

I have a friend who is in the Mac tool business.  I've had the opportunity
to observe the business up close.  My observations have confirmed my 
previous suspicions that the whole operation is a rip-off, both for the
dealer and the customer.

A Snap-On or Mac tool dealer is an independent dealer.  In order to get
a franchise, he has to come up with something like $100,000 in fees and such.
Then he has to buy a $40,000 van and stock it with something like $50,000
worth of tools.  He then has to buy the tools at a discount from list (and
not too good a discount at that).  He is given a protected territory which
ensures low competition.  Plus, he has to pay into certain promotional 
programs, buy a computer and expensive software.  It is no wonder that a $12
ratchet costs $60 bux off the truck.  You do get the convenience of front
doorservice but at what a price.

Mac teaches the salesmen tricks that I consider deceptive, especially 
considering that the average garage mechanic is not Einstein.  A favorite
trick of my friend is to start a "my box is bigger than your box" war in
a shop.  Pretty soon, he has sold one or more $4000 roll-around boxes just
so one mechanic or the other can brag that he has the biggest box.
When I used to be a service manager at a motorcycle shop, I used to go to
the Snap-On truck and ride herd on my troups.  I stopped that stuff quickly
but that is the exception rather than the rule.

For me personally, I have not found any reason to go outside S&K and Crafts-
man.  My tools have survived over 6 years on the motorcycle race circuit,
many years in a bike shop and several years in a car garage.  About the only
things I replace are the ones that are stolen.


From: John De Armond
Date: 16 Sep 89 04:46:10 GMT (richard welty) writes:

>2) i know for a fact that the small pliers and wire cutters available
>   from Snap-On are nicer than those from Craftsman; are S&K's small
>   pliers better than Craftsman and cheaper than Snap-On?  is there
>   some other good source for such tools?

Let me add one comment to my previous posting.  I've had a fairly
complete set of Snap-on electronic hand tools from my first-ever job
where my employer bought my tools (nice, eh?).  These tools are almost
20 years old and are *worn out*.  I consider this performance unacceptable,
especially since they've received little use in the last 5 to 10 years or so.

Some of the nicest "electronics" tools I've found are from Xelite.  
"Electronics" describes tools up through sizes commonly used for car work.
Anyone interested in precision tools would do well to look at Xelite.


Subject: good and bad brands
Posted by: Tom Carver <emory!!carver>

Here's my list of good and bad brands (from my own experience)

	Milodon, Comp Cams, Cam Dynamics, Edelbrock, Weiand, Holley (except
for leaky gaskets), TRW, Mallory, Moroso, B.F. Goodrich Radial T/As, Clevite
77, Fel-Pro, Engineered Components (Excellent brake parts), K&N, 

Good tools:  Proto, Mac, Armstrong, Williams, Bonney, old Craftsman, Snap-On

Bad tools:  New Craftsman, Crew-Line, anything made in China, Taiwan, or
Japan, except for Makita which is pretty good.

Mediocre parts:
	No-name stuff from PAW, J.C.Whitney, Warshawsky, the flea market.  
Mr. Gasket, Daytona, TransDapt, Autogage (cheap division of Autometer)


Subject: Tools
Posted by: Tom Carver <emory!!carver>

I forgot to mention S-K tools.  I'm really happy with my set of 3/8" drive
sockets I bought about five years ago.  The new S-K tools look different from
mine though, so I don't know how they are now.

I get a lot of my tools used at the Flea Market in San Jose (world's largest
flea market).  It's like you struck gold when you find some beautiful Proto
tools or Mac tools for a buck or two a piece.  A lot of guys have piles of
old tools that you can rummage through.  It's fun digging through all the
junk to find jems like Proto and Snap-On.  It's a joy wrenching on cars with
top-quality tools that you don't have to worry about stripping heads,
cracking sockets, breaking wratchets, etc.

Easco is another brand of wrenches which are pretty good, but they don't look
that nice (not fully polished).  

If you're looking at old tools, the key words are "made in USA", drop-forged,
or chrome-vanadium.  The good brands like Proto don't need to hype up their
tools, they sell on their reputation alone.  The better quality tools usually
are lighter weight and easier to fit into tight locations.  They use superior
steel and hardening/tempering to get the strength rather than massive amounts
of cheap soft steel.  The made-in-China open-end wrenches have massive steel
heads, but they bend and spread open if you torque on them.

My fifteen year-old Craftstman socket wrenches are still fine, but a set I
bought for work a few years ago are junk.  The newer socket wrench is
pitifully short with a pushbutton that gets in the way.  The ratchet stripped
when I was tightening a 1/2" nut -- what a piece of junk.  

I have a Craftsman set of 1/2" drive sockets, they're not as nice as my S-K

My best 1/2" drive wratchet wrench is an old one that just says
"Super-ratchet".  It's great, it clicks in super tiny increments with no
backlash.  I got it for $4.00 at the flea market.

It's tough to find decent screwdrivers.  All of my Craftsmen screwdrivers
eventually get twisted, or chewed up.  They're good for a while.  I've had
good luck with XcelLite screwdrivers.  Klein screwdrivers are excellent, but
expensive -- they're what professional electricians use.  I think I'll get
some more Kleins when I find 'em on sale or something.


From: (Andy Dingley)
Subject: Re: Metrinch Tools? Any Opinions? (FACOM?)
Date: Sun, 31 Dec 1995 15:49:59 GMT (Ed Wong) wrote:

>Is FACOM better than Snap-On? 

Quality is about the same, but the design is different. It's a matter
of personal choice from that point, but I prefer the shape of Facom's
flat wrenches. 

Facom ratchets are much better than Snap-on. They have a different
internal design (a curved pawl with many teeth) so that you get the
action of the fine-tooth ratchets, but still the strength of the
coarse tooth ratchets.

The advantage of Facom in the UK is that they're now available from
Halfords (these are about as common over here as Walmart in the US).
Snap-on are difficult to get hold of, as you're at the mercy of the
local distributors, some of whom just aren't interested in orders that
are for only a couple of hundred quid (Gwent, I mean you !)

BTW - If you don't already have one, get yourself a Snap-on "nose
hook" (they call it a cotter pin puller). It's a screwdriver handle
with a pointed steel hook at the end. Most people make their own
split-pin pullers from odd bits of welding rod, but the Snap-on one is
hardened so that it won't break or straighten out. I use and abuse
mine for almost everything; hooking out O rings, pulling brake
springs, picking off epoxy sealant. One of the most frequently used
tools in the box, and they're cheap too !

Andy Dingley                

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