|Proto 2 3/8"|
Plomb to Proto
Proto traces its history to Alfonso Plomb who started a
blacksmith shop in Los Angeles in 1907. He was not with
the company for long but it carried his name. Plomb
began making automotive tools in 1921, and invented
what we now call the 'combination wrench' or
'Box end open end', now an industry standard,
In 1941, Plomb Tool acquired P & C Hand Forged Tool Company in Milwaukie (Portland, Oregon). Mr. John Peterson & Mr. Charles Carlborg established P& C in 1920. The facilities augmented contract production and continued producing P&C tools until about 1964. They were a familar brand of automotive tools here in Oregon at least in their day.
In the late 1940's Plomb Tool company of Los Angeles was on the wrong end of a Trademark case with Plumb Tool Company, a maker of hammer wrenches. After 1950 and a painful lawsuit the tools were using the Proto trademark.
The company as sold to Ingersoll Rand in 1964, and then to the Stanley Works in 1984.
Before that, though in 1962, Proto formed a joint enterprise with a Mr. Urrea of Mexico to create a Mexican company, "Protomex, SA" to manufacture Proto tools in Mexico. After Ingersoll Rand bought Proto, Urrea bought out the American share of Protomex S.A. but also gave up the rights to use the Proto trademark, and today we have URREA tools the biggest tool maker in Mexico, marketing tools not only in Mexico but also in the US which are remarkabaly similar to the Proto brand including even the same part numbers but bearing the URREA brand.
I'm going out on a limb here and talk about Mechanic's tools. You don't have a bunch of big iron around without the need to pull some wrenches. Most mechanics usually have pretty strong opinions about their tools though many are not that much different.
For a service truck to haul these tools see: Grand Ma's Chariot
There are a variety of popular US made tools on the Market. It is perhaps worth while to sort out who owns who. The big dog in the tool business is Snap-on. Other dogs in the fight include Stanley who owns Proto and MAC tools. The main difference between Proto and Mac is that Mac tools are sold out of the back of a truck like Snapon, while Proto's are sold in tool stores. Then there is Danher Corporation who owns Armstrong, Allen, K-D and Matco. Smaller but still makers of a robust line of tools is Wright. Williams, which is a subsidiary of Snapon, is also a well known brand.
You will of course see a lot of Craftsman tools around which is a Sears private label. The Craftsman line appears remarkably similar to the Armstrong line. Historic brand names include Plomb and P&C. P & C was a subsidiary of Proto for a long time and they were made in Milwaukie, Oregon, but he line is long gone now. After the demise of P & C, Proto used Challenger as the competitively priced line to meet Craftsman on a price basis, but alas Challenger is gone too. Proto has been consumed by The Stanley Works, so now you see Stanley branded Taiwanese tools providing the competitively priced sets. Interestingly you will find reference to MAC on the Stanly website, but never a mention of Stanley on the MAC website.
The good news is that they are all good tools. All of these folks have been in business for a long time and since the tools aren't much different, It is a marketing game. If you want a Craftsman, you can go to a shopping mall, wade past the ladies underwear and somewhere in the back of your local Sears store will be the tool department. The clerk that helps you may have been selling sofa's yesterday so you don't expect a lot of technical knowledge about tools, but if you are looking for sets of tools at very good prices you will find very good tools at very competitive prices.
Snap-on is at the very other end of the market. You won't find a Snap-on tool anywhere in a retail outlet. The Snap-on tools come to you. The Snap-on dealers have trucks and make the rounds where mechanics congregate. They know their products well, provide service and often credit and do business right beside your tool box. The prices reflect the service, but for mechanics who don't have time to go chase down a tool they might need, the service is a genuine value added.
In the middle is Proto. You commonly find them in tool stores. They are sold in places where guys in greasy coveralls are welcome, and are usually sold by someone who knows something about tools, but if you lean on your tool box and wait for a Proto to show up you may wait a long time. The Wright, Allen, and Armstrong brands seem to be sold similarly. I don't know where a Mac is sold, other than 'off the truck'. There is clearly value in the 'off the truck' sales, particularly if you are a line mechanic, as scrubbing up and wading through the women's ready to wear to find a wrench at Sears isn't to practical.
Tracking behind the first line domestic tool makers are the imported tools.You can find a variety of them from various Asian countries. The remarkable thing about them is the price. Imported tools will often be found at 75 to 90% less than the domestic brand name tools. The price differential is astounding. Unfortunately, often times so is the quality. Built into the price of the domestic tools is first quality and a guarantee system whereby in many instances the dealer will exchange broken tools for new ones if they fail. Don't expect a warranty on the imported ones. I've had some there were as good as any domestic brand name, and others that weren't worth putting on a bolt.
Actually that is a rhetorical question for which there is no answer. You need tools that fit the equipment that you must repair. If you are fixing watches your tools will be different than if you are a logger. Likewise whether you have fractional inch tools or metric tools will be a function of the equipment you are using them on. Older American equipment is almost universally fractional while imported equipment is almost universally metric. Newer domestic iron may be transitional and have some of each.
The basic tools of any mechanic will be an end wrench set and one or more socket sets. Of the end wrenches you will find two basic types, the open end and the box end. The Box end totally encircles the nut or bolt while the open end has, you guessed it, an open end and usually just holds on 2 sides of a faster. The open ends are prone to slip off, round off the corners of a bolt and do other undesirable things. They can also be used where for a variety of reasons a box end won't work. While you can buy Box end sets and open end sets, the single most popular type is what is officially known as the combination wrench. It has a box end on one end and an open end of the same size on the other end. You can use which ever end works giving preference to using the box end if you can---particularly if the fastener is turning hard.
Common combination wrenches appear in sizes from 1/4" on up in fractional and 6 mm up in metric. The top end size varies with the manufacturer. The bigger manufacturers offer these wrenches in sizes up to 2 1/2" though Craftsman stops at 1 5/16". The usefulness of the wrenches actually diminishes fairly quickly above 1 1/8". The problem is that the torque capability of the bolt increases dramatically as the diameter of the bolt is increased, and though longer the length of the wrenches doesn't follow. For example if you assume a strong mechanic can pull 200 lbs, it would take a 5 foot long wrench to generate 1000 lbs. of torque---a figure that you might well need to achieve even with bolt heads under 2". These end wrenches are usually less than 3 feet long which is one of the reasons we have sockets. Prices vary radically. The Snap-on Catalog lists a combination wrench set from 3/8" to 1 1/4" at around $680.00. You can get a Craftsman set for under $100, and may find an imported set for under $50.00. Go figure.
When you buy a set, though be very careful. The vendors keep the set prices down by leaving out some of the big wrenches. If you really don't need them then that is great, but if you have to in fill the set a wrench at a time you get hosed. You see SAE sets stopping at 3/4", 7/8", 15/16" etc. Heavy equipment requires the use of 15/16", 1 1/16", 1 1/8" in particular all the time. So far the only size under 2" I haven't used is 1 15/16" because I don't have one and at least Proto doesn't make one. Our Drott 80's are done in JIC fitting and 2" is a common size on the main lines on it so I keep a Proto 2" combination wrench handy.
Likewise a set of pump wrenches is a must if you work in hydraulics. These are thin short handled open end wrenches for working in tight places.
|Although SnapOn has now apparently dropped the 1 1/2" drive tools, they used to offer a ratchet and breaker bar which shared a common handle.|
Socket sets are usually defined by the 'drive size', this being the size of the square connector on the top of the socket. Common drive sizes for hand tools include 1/4", 3/8", 1/2", 3/4" and 1". For impact tools 1 1/2" and 2 1/2", and even 3 1/2" are to be found for impact wrenches.
In times past there was also a 5/8" drive and a 7/8" drive, but I don't know of anyone actively making those sizes presently except that both Snap on and Proto have adapters from 5/8" to other sizes so you can utilize any 5/8" drive sockets you may have (we have a full set of 5/8" impact sockets). Tool makers offer a range of socket sizes for each drive size. One of the things that you have to do as a mechanic is to select the drive size appropriate to the task at hand. You won't find a lot of guidelines as to what drive size to use for what. As a general rule, bigger is better--if there is adequate clearance for the larger and heavier tool to fit. However, if you follow that rule literally you end up swatting flies with a sledge hammer. My rough rule of thumb is to compare the drive size to the bolt size and use a drive size that more or less matches. If you have a 1/2" bolt think 1/2" drive. If it is an 1" bolt think 1" drive.
Looking at it another way, the 3/8" drive is a really nice automotive set. The sockets are thin and the handles pretty short implying that they will fit in a lot of tight places that bigger wrenches won't go and still provide the torque necessary for unbolting most of what you find under the hood of an automobile. There must be 10 different common ratchet configurations that you can get, stubby, standard, long, flex handle, index head, comfort grip, pear head, round head, plus every conceivable combination. Also it isn't that hard to break a 3/8" drive if you hook on to the immovable and muscle it, particularly with the long handled combinations.
Consequently your basic automotive mechanic will usually have a 1/2" drive set around for heavier things. It works really well for the bigger bolts that you might find on an automobile. I would guess my most used socket for the 1/2" drive is a 3/4" socket, though common socket sets usually include sockets up to 1 1/4" or so. You can pretty much pull as hard as you want to on a half inch flex-handle and expect that it won't break. I'm not sure about those long pattern flex handles with 24" handles, but certainly the ones with 15" or 18" handles have a good survival rate if you don't put a pipe on the handle to extend it. A half inch drive will take a lot of abuse, but jumping on a 4 foot pipe is not the type of abuse that you should expect it to endure.
Where you go after half inch depends on how ugly the biggest of big is. If you are not going to need over about 1200 lbs of torque, a 3/4" drive will suffice. Two loggers on a 6 foot pipe slipped over the handle of a 3/4" drive flex-handle will break it. While a 3/4" drive set is often sold as the 'extreme duty' set and it is sufficient for saw a diesel truck mechanic for most purposes, when I set up my service truck for big logging machinery I mostly bypassed the 3/4 drive. Instead of a full set, I got just a ratchet, a flex-handle and a 15/16" through 1 1/8" sockets. A 3/4" drive wrench can be broken--a couple of loggers on a 6 foot pipe extending on a 3/4" flex handle and something is going to break---likely the wrench of the bolt doesn't come loose. I don't know the design torque limits of 3/4" drive, but I note that the upper end of the 3/4" drive with impact tools is around 1200 foot lbs. of torque.
Since I need to be able to work on a lot of big iron, I just mostly skipped over the 3/4" drive and went straight to a 1" impact socket set. The pleasant thing about the 3/4" size is that if you are man powering it, the wrenches are usually light enough to lift which is a big deal if you are working on the bottom side looking up, and strong enough that just one man, unless you are real gorilla, or use a cheater pipe you aren't going to break it. Once again I don't have much of a clue what the maximum engineering spec is for an 1" impact drive, but I see 1" impact wrenches advertising 2400 lbs of torque which suggests to me that this is likely within the design spec. I've only twisted off one 1" drive product, and this was a 1 1/2" to 1" adapter. I got the job done manually by myself by stacking a couple X4 Torque multipliers producing what I would estimate under the circumstances to be around 6,000 foot lbs of torque (quite a bit beyond the rated capacity of my model 1500 X4 torque multiplier---but it wasn't what gave way.
Judging from the output sizes and capacities that I see on torque multipliers on the Snap-on web site, I that the idea that torque values in the range of 2500 to at least 8000 foot lbs can be handled via a 1 1/2" drive. Values beyond 8000 require the use of a 2 1/2" drive, or at least Snap-on's 12,000 foot lbs. torque multiplier has a 2 1/2" drive. The values for various drive sizes which appear in the following table come from one manufacturer, Hytorc. I haven't seen published torque capacities of other manufacturers.
|Drive size||Max Working torque||Probable Failure|
|1/2"||385 ft.lbs.||425 ft. lbs.|
|3/4"||1310 ft. lbs.||1485 ft. lbs.|
|1"||3100 ft. lbs.||3400 ft. lbs.|
|1 1/2"||10460 ft. lbs.||11475 ft. lbs.|
|2 1/2"||48440 ft. lbs.||53125 ft. lbs.|
The bottom line is this----If you use an impact socket and a 1" drive flex handle (or t-bar) you are unlikely to break the wrench with one or two men pulling on the wrench even if you use quite a long pipe extender, though you may brain yourself if the wrench slips off.
The all around most common usage of 1" drive components is for truck lug nuts on Budd wheels. The usual spec I have seen suggests tightening them to around 450 lbs which can be achieved manually about the time your eyes bulge if you are using a wrench with a 3 foot handle (150 lbs of force on a 3 foot handle equals 450 foot lbs of torque). Of course, if you are taking the wheel off, it is another story. It is not uncommon to find lug nuts that a 1" drive impact wrench nominally capable of 1200 lbs of torque won't loosen. I say nominally, because impact wrenches get tired with age, and may not have optimum air supply to reach the manufacturers rating as well.
I have found that a single 4:1 X4 torque multiplier turned with a 1" flex handle or t-Bar is usually sufficient to get nuts that the impact wrench won't take. I use an model 1500 torque multiplier rated for 1000 foot lbs in on a 1" drive, and 4000 ft. lbs. out on a 1 1/2" drive. Presumably, most folks with this 4 to 1 gain won't be producing more than 2000 foot lbs. of torque using this combination.
One toy I accumulated on Ebay is a 10,000 lb Sturtevant-Richmont Torque Multiplier. It has a 6 to 1 ratio and is a 2 1/2" drive output. Presumably this means that you need to generate 1600 foot lbs of torque on the input side to max it. I"ve got an 2 1/2" to 1 1/2" adapter so I can use my 1 1/2" drive sockets. Based on the information I have, 10,000 ft lbs shouldn't split open a 1 1/2" drive socket so this should be a workable solution. I have collected some 2 1/2" drive sockets but most of the large bolts don't have enough clearance around them for the sockets to be usable. It does turn things that are otherwise reluctant.
An alternative to a torque multiplier or an air-impact wrench for larger sizes is the slug wrench sometimes called a striking wrench or a hammer wrench. It is usually a short handled box end wrench with a square 'slug' on the end of it. they may be straight or with an offset in them. Some I have seen have an eye for a tag line so someone can hold the string to keep the wrench from flying. Anyhow the usage is the same. You put the wrench on the nut and whack the wrench with a sledge hammer. Bigger sledge hammers work better than smaller sledge hammers.
The advantage of this method is that it is cheap and you usually don't break the tools. The slug wrench is a really heavy beefy box end wrench designed for hammer use. Your typical hand box end wrench is made light in weight and if you whack it with a 20 lb sledge hammer it is flexible enough that it will absorb most of the shock, but the hammer wrench is suppose to have enough mass to transmit the shock right to the fastener which his what you want. Some manufacturers suggest the use of slug wrenches for taking things loose as a preferred alternative to a torque multiplier. The problem with the torque multiplier is that they are expensive, and since you never know for sure how hard you are going to have to turn to loosen a fastener it is easy to exceed the torque limitations of the multiplier which produces a couple cups of tiny little pieces as the planetary gears come apart. Slug wrenches make a lot of sense when dealing with nut sizes of 1 1/16" and larger. Your traditional box end / open end wrench doesn't do much good. For example, the standard 1 7/8" combination wrench is around 30" long. Maybe you can get 500 lbs of torque with it, if you are big and strong, but a bolt big enough to have a 1 7/8" nut ( 1 1/4" bolt ) needs a lot more torque than that either reasonably tighten it, or to get it loose. Slug wrenches work well wit extension pipes as well as sledge hammers which make them a vastly preferred solution for the larger sizes.
A super no-no with a torque multiplier is to put an impact wrench on it. That is a guaranteed way to turn an expensive tool into junk.
You, of course, need more tools than a service truck will haul, but here is a start of what is useful:
Three Eighths and 1/2" drive sets with usual sockets, and a good variety of ratchets, breaker bars, extension bars including some really long extensions. I prefer to have a stubby ratchet and extra long ratchets. My favorite ratchet is a Proto 15 inch handle 1/2" rachet. The flex handle ratchets have their place, but not for general use. I also have a 24 inch (long handle) breaker bar which is very handy. Most of my tools are Proto or Craftsman, but the 24" breaker bar for the 1/2" drive is a MAC, and we just call it 'Big Mac' as it is one of the few MAC tools I have. It is about the first thing out of the tool box when I encounter 1/2" and 5/8" bolts, although you learn right away not to use Craftsman deep sockets with "Big Mac" as they split open before I even get serious about pulling. The chart above says that 1/2" drive is good for 385 foot lbs. With a 2 foot flex handle (aka breaker bar) just a modest gorilla, or a one armed logger is about enough. Breaking half inch drive stuff isn't all that difficult. If the wrench feels like it is about to break, it is because it is. Remember, 250 lbs of force on a 24" breaker bar which is fairly easily done by an over weight gorilla, or a one armed logger is in the disintegration range for 1/2" drive.
My inclination is to skip a full 3/4" drive set. My logic is this. The 24" long handled breaker bar for the half inch drive is actually 4 inches longer than the 20" standard breaker bar for the 3/4" drive, and if you are going to be using extension pipes the 1" drive is much preferred as the 3/4" drive won't take survive the 6 foot pipe much better than the half inch will, Although I have a new style Snapon sealed 3/4" ratchet with a 40" handle. The older Snapon 3/4" drive used a 13/16" diameter handle and I don't know how one kept from breaking those, but the new 15/16" handle is about right. Get on the end of it and pull, and about the time your eyes bulge a little the handle bows. If you then give a good jerk on it, the spring in the handle will help you. I also have a normal Proto 3/4" ratchet and breaker bar and a few common sockets. There are frequently some clearance issues where thin wall (relatively) sockets are required so something besides impact sockets are needed. If I want to use the 3/4" drive on things larger, I use an expander and an 1" drive socket. I have the full meal deal on 1" drive sockets. They run from 7/8" to 3". I carry 2 sets--a cheap imported set for use where a thin wall is needed and an impact set for general use.
One recent trick that I have added to my bag is a Snap-on 3/4" ratchet, with the L872RM 36" handle. It gives an overall length of about 42" on the 3/4" ratchet. In recent years Snap-on upgraded their 3/4" drive system from a 13/16" handle diameter to a 15/16" diameter. It does good things. If you can pull 200 lbs, that figures out to around 600 lbs of torque. It's not a handle you want to pull with the shop truck, but for a man to grunt on, it works well. If you have a big diesel engine with a nut on the front of the crankshaft, it is just about right for barring an engine as well (Detroit Diesels come to mind).
Although I don't carry them all in the truck for space and weight reasons I have acquired a full set of 1 1/2" drive sockets. The Proto set runs from 1 3/8" to 4 3/4" (by 1/16's to 4 1/2"). It is a spendy set, but I pieced mine together on Ebay, and even so it cost some real money, however, they don't break, and their mass makes the 1 1/2" impact wrench much more effective. You don't use the larger sizes a lot, but about every time you tear into a large hydraulic cylinder you find a nut in the 4 inch range on the end of the rod.
Another goody that is very useful is an 1 1/2" ratchet and breaker bar. The same handle is used for both the ratchet head and the sliding T slug. I have a Snap-on 1 1/2" ratchet. For the really ugly things you may well end up pulling the wrench with a nylon strap and the service truck crane. You worry less about breaking the wrench if you are using 1 1/2" drive all the way through. I"ve bent up some 1" drive stuff. Unfortunately, the 1 1/2" drive ratchet is a Snap-on and as nearly as I can tell Snap-on has dropped 1 1/2" drive items from their catalog so I don't know how you can buy one now. The T-Bar handle is 3 feet long and you can't put a pipe on it long enough to hurt it. Well, Almost---but 2 loggers on a 10 foot pipe won't hurt it, but could be expected to break a 1" drive system (400 lbs on 10feet = 4000 foot pounds----more than the design spec of a 1" drive system. The long and short of it is that the 1 1/2" drive is 3 times stronger than the 1" drive and this is a big deal when you start dealing with bolts more than 1" in diameter. My rule of thumb that you want the drive size to be at least is big as the bolt diameter doesn't really change just because everything gets bigger.
I have not encountered much need for deep sockets in the larger sizes, but you do need deep 1 1/2" and 1 3/4" deep sockets for standard Budd and jumbo Budd wheels. You will, of course, need the 13/16" square, (standard Budd) and 15/16" square (jumbo Budd) sockets as well for the castle nuts on the Budd wheels. I can't find one of those cute little stubby wrenches for holding the outer Budd nut from the castle nut when they come apart in the wrong place for 1 3/4" jumbo size. A slug wrench or a cut off box end wrench is the option for that. You probably won't find the 1 3/4" / 15/16" Budd nuts on a highway truck, but they are sort of standard on off highway trucks that use Budd wheels in the 12x24" and 14x24" sizes.
When you get into hydraulic cylinders, the bigger ones will have nuts that hold the pistons on well over 3 inches. We were just into a boom cylinder on a Link Belt 4300 which required a 4 1/2" socket. I've been accumulating the over 3 inch sockets on an as needed basis as they are very spendy.
Given the transition to metric, you will need metric sockets for the smaller sizes. After you get over about 1 1/4" you can usually find an SAE socket that is close enough to the metric size that the need for dual sets isn't much of an issue as a millimeter or two of slack doesn't make much difference in the larger sizes.
Don't forget the torx and the hex drives. Our imported shovel has metric hex drive bolts as large as 17MM in it which is a whopper of an allen wrench On the SAE side you can encounter Allens from the most trivial up to 1" size. I usually keep a couple sets around, SAE and Metric, socket wrench driven and traditional "L" shaped ones. When you need them, you really need them, and usually end up ruining the size you need so a spare helps.
Metric equipment is everywhere now. I try to keep separate draws in my tool box to keep is straight. You don't want to paw though the metric sizes looking for an SAE wrench or vice versa. There are lots of opportunities for large used SAE tools. Ebay is awash in them, but large Metric stuff is going to cost you money but you can't attack a metric shovel with a pipe wrench and an SAE box end wrench.
A well equipped service truck will have all sizes of impact wrenches. The half inch impact wrench is handy---but you will need a half inch drive impact socket set as well for it. A 3/4" is a really good deal also. It is small enough to hold in one hand, but is adequate for bolts with 15/16" and 1 1/16" and 1 1/8" heads which are very common on logging equipment. There are a couple of ways to go on the top end. You can get a really spendy 1" drive impact (which is good for about 2,000 lbs torque (the standard ones are around 1200 lbs), or buy a cheap 1" drive air wrench and also the low end 1 1/2" drive air wench. There are a couple basic versions of the 1 1/2" drive wrenches. The low end one is a one man wrench at around 4,000 lbs torque while the high end one is a 2 man wrench at around 8,000 lbs torque. they use a lot of air, and even the low end one needs a serious compressor (my service truck has a 70 FM compressor). Bigger is better when it comes to air line sizes. You must use at least a 1/2" hose.
A service truck has to be designed around the welder. While in the oil field the welders are sometimes mounted separately in a 'welding truck', welders are an indispensable part of a loggers service truck. Loggers fix things in 3 ways: With Cable Mollys (Logger's substitute for duct tape), welders and as a last resort, bolts. Gas bottles are, of course, needed mostly for the cutting torch, but the choice of an arc welder is a big deal. The problem is weight and space. There is no such thing as a welder that is too big for the job. Most are too small for the job. Most of the newer welders have a power supply for 110/220 power to run the variety of electric appliances that you might have on the job as well as lights as you do want that busted thing fixed before morning don't you?
In looking around at the really old engine driven welders many I have seen are Lincolns, and don't have the 110/220 volt connectors or if they do, they are DC. Of welders made in the last 25 years Miller seems to dominate. They are recognizable by their bright blue paint job. You will find them in all sizes, from small portable units with a 1 cylinder gas engine, to water cooled diesel models which weigh in at several thousand lbs. and which cost as much as the truck they are mounted in. The smallest of the welders are often mounted up on top the tool boxes leaving the bed free for other things. Intermediate sized welders will fit in the bed crossways. Typical of the intermediate welder is the Miller Bobcat--a 225 AMP welder with a 2 cylinder 3600 RPM air cooled engine, it is just 4 feet long and will fit crossways in a typical service body. IT is not uncommon for people to put these cross ways in the front of a service body and cut the back out of the right front compartment so you can access the controls which are all on the end of the welder. Models of this size are suitable for most welding jobs and have a nice sized generator in them usually about 6 KW for the AC side. Alternately you can mount them up high and crossways so you can stow things under them, but then you have to either climb into the truck or use a ladder to reach the controls. A welder of this size will handle a medium capacity plasma cutter (barely) and can provide some capability with an air arc. It is not suitable for larger rod sizes such as 3/16ths or 1/4" rod which make things happen a lot faster when you have to weld the south end of a logging machine back to the north end. Needless to say, don't even think of an air arc or a plasma cutter if you have one of those itty bitty welders.
The welder than everyone dreams of, and few people have because of their size, weight and expense is a 400 to 600 amp welder. These usually have a 10 kw AC outlet which supports a really nice plasma cutter, and will run welding rod as big as you want and will make an air arc sing. The newer ones often have diesel engines while the traditional power for this class of welder has been a Continental gas engine Usually a 4 cylinder flathead with an updraft carburetor. If a welder is run up a lot of hours these monsters also make sense as they typically turn and 1800 rpm implying that they are likely to last longer than the air cooled 3600 RPM models.
Unfortunately they just don't fit in the service body. If you are going to have one of these things, you need to add 3 feet to the length of the service truck and put a 'welder deck' between the service body and the back of the cab. Sometimes the welder decks are inclosed as a separate box. You can also make space for it by using a 'super long' service body of the 14 foot length instead of the more standard 11' body. which fit very nicely on an 84" CA (cab-axle) truck. In either case you have a significantly different truck.
Many mechanics prefer to carry two sets of end wrenches.--a good brand name set, and an inexpensive imported set. In order to deal with hydraulic lines they need to include sizes up to 2 inches. The reason for the cheap set of tools is that occasionally a wrench will have to be 'customized for a job. You may have to cut it off, or heat it and bend it for a particular application. This sacrifice for the occasion is a fitting disposition for the imported set. In addition to the two sets of standard combination wrenches, consider extra long sets, and stubby sets, as well as the Gear wrench sets. You will need them all. One of the challenges of field mechanic work is that there is no limit to the variety of equipment you will encounter and you need a different tool for everything.
Aside from the traditional combination wrenches, several other sets have their place. A hydraulic service set of open end wrenches (extra thin short handled open end wrenches in large sizes), a Flare nut wrench set (I really like the Proto set with a traditional flare nut open end on one end and an extra fat traditional open end on the other end), and, of course, crow feet---lot of them and hope you never have to use them. I'm not much on using double box ends, or double open ends but keep some around just because.
The fully outfitted truck, of course, needs many other things.Comealongs, straps, chains, binders, pipe wrenches, bars (including some that would be at home with a railroad section gang), cheater pipes, sledge hammers (including a 10-20 lb one) together with every other kind of a tool that will fit in the truck rounds out the load. My favorite cheater pipe is an 1 1/4" water pipe cut about 3 to 5 feet long. Smaller pipe either bends or won't fit over the handles---larger is excessively heavy. I usually carry 2 or 3 of them because if you are using a torque multiplier---or two of them stacked, the reaction bars of the multipliers will nearly always need to be extend to reach something solid. Another cheater that is handy for special occasions is a short piece of pipe with a loop welded on the side of it. Then when all else fails, you pull the wrench with the truck service crane. There are, of course, safety issues involved with all of these things, and as they say on TV, don't try this at home.
One or more torque wrenches are sort of a necessity. Proper torque setting are more important in some instances than others, but the tendency of mechanics is to over torque small things and undertorque large things. They are an absolute necessity if you are going to be inside a diesel engine. You usually end up with several torque wrenches. You need a small one for setting tappits and injectors, often calibrated in 'inch pounds'. Then the half inch drive kind is about right for automotive work as it will usually calibrate up to 150 foot lbs. or so. However, the one that I actually use the most is a 3/4" drive one with a range of 90-600 foot pounds. I have a nice Proto model clicker with a ratchet head. It's range is suitable for head bolts on big diesel engines, and with a simple 4:1 torque multiplier will handle most high torque applications that are within the limits of 1 1/2" drive systems. There are seveal styles of torque wrenches. The cheap ones are those which simply measure the bend in the handle. Beyond that there are Dial models, Clickers, and electronic ones. These can be calibrated for accuracy, and are easier to use. The dial models often have a buzzer or a light that comes on when you have achieved the preset torque, while the clickers, well, click and the handle gives way a little. I like the ratcheting head as sometimes bringing the breaker bar type to bear is hard to accomplish. One high torque application that loggers regularly have to deal with involve the Scales pads on log trucks. These electronic ones typically bolt down under the log bunks with a couple bolts that need to be torqued to 1000 foot pounds. I acquired for this purpose a Proto 2000 foot pound dial type torque wrench. It is suppose to have a light that comes on when you 'arrive', but I don't use it often enough to justify a fresh battery. It is a 1 inch drive unit with a 5 piece handle when assembled which is about 9 feet long. At clumsy as it is you need two guys anyway, but in particular you need someone to read the dial because you can't see it when you are pulling the handle. You only need to assemble about 6 feet of it for 1000 lbs., but still you need a wrench handler and dial reader to accomplish the task.
Life isn't complete in a logging shop unless you have lots of weird tools for special occasions. That accumulation of these things is a lifetime activity. For example, you will encounter retainer rings or snap rings. Most have little holes in the ends of them which you can remove with a variety of snap ring pliers. Classic snap rings come in all sizes, both internal and external--ones that you can get to and ones that you can't.But beyond that you will now and then run into a retainer ring that is much heavier and angled at the end but with no holes for a snap ring plier to grab. This takes another kind of retainer ring plier with ends that look like duck bills that are hollow on the outside as these rings need to be expanded to remove. People who make gear boxes love these various retainer rings and if you get into gear boxes you will find them.
Another priceless tool for special occasions is a brass hammer, or better yet several sizes of brass hammers. They are particularly useful when you need to pound on a steel bolt and don't want to ding up the threads. Wear your safety goggles as brass will fly, but this is how you for example replace lug bolts. They are usually a driving fit, and unless you are really catty with a big press you will end up pounding them in and out, and if you use a brass hammer you will still be able to put lug nuts on them when you are done.
Another thing that you will regularly be dealing with is hydraulic hoses. In the old days we had 1000 PSI systems and used fittings that could be field replaced. If you had a roll of hose, a chop saw, and a vice, you could 'roll your own', but that is about as common now as self rolled cigarettes. The reason is that now most of the hydraulic systems are high pressure systems --4-5000 lbs. These high pressure systems need high pressure hose and fittings which are universally pressed on. Unless you have a spendy press, and a large inventory of fittings, you are going to visit someone who does when you need a hose. The trend has been away from the JIC fitting toward an O-ring fitting. The JIC fittings are a threaded connect that make you dig out your large open end wrenches--often at least up to 2 inches. The O-ring fitting is held to a flat surface by a couple of half moon clamps, each bolted down with a couple of small bolts. You will nearly always find these on the spool valves if not elsewhere as well. They require a lot less space, and the manufacturers have determined how much space you need to get them apart and then not provided it. Depending on the alignment of the sun, moon and stars you may find either metric or SAE bolts holding the clamps down and they may be allen headed or even torx. Consequently your bag of tricks needs every size of allen wrench known to man in both SAE and metric sizes. This needs to include not only the traditional 'L' shaped wrenches, but also those that are of the 'socket type'. You can even get allen wrenches rated for impact wrenches and we recently were there. We had to dismantle a swing gear box on a Link Belt shovel. It took a 3/4" drive hex 17mm hex driver.
When it comes to bars you never have enough. Little pry bars, jimmy bars, rolling head or heel bars, and some 6 foot long bars are all called for. We even have an old spike bar designed to pull rail road spikes which often comes in handy.
Get a lot of nylon straps for the service crane in all lengths. When the time comes to change a giant tire, (assuming its weight is within the capacity of your service truck crane), you can run a nylon strap right around the circumference of the tire (on the tread) and take a choke hold on the tire and manage it very easily, but you need a sling long enough to reach around the tire. Of course, traditional chain slings.
And don't forget the punches and chisels. Lots of them. You will encounter numerous roll pins---little ones that make a match stick look like a log to ones the size of your finger. The right roll pin punch makes them tolerable.
If you are to be a mechanic these days, you better be an electrician as well. Increasingly, electric controls and electronics are everywhere. Pretty much every diesel engine made in the 21st century is going to have a computer controlled fuel injection system. Electric over hydraulic controls are the norm and have been for a decade so you find electric joy sticks with buttons all over them doing just about everything inside an excavator these days. Consequently a good VOM meter and knowledge of how to use it is critical.
The real challenged is the large special wrenches that you need rarely. For example, to service a final drive on a Fiat Allis HD16, in addition to the usual tools that you might have the outer nut on the sprocket shaft is 4 1/4", and is tight. I have used double compounds to turn it loose, though a slug wrench and a 20 lb sledge hammer does the job as well and faster if you happen to have a 4 1/4" slug wrench handy. The nut that holds the sprocket on the tapered splines is an astonishing 7 1/2". If you have enough money to buy a slug wrench from Snapon for that job, you should keep the money and head for the Riveria. You don't need to work. There are a couple cost effective ways to get this nut. I got ours with a 48" inch pipe wrench pulled gently with the shop truck crane. The alternative is 2 loggers or 4 ordinary men on an 8 foot pipe. You should be aware however that even the good brand name steel 48" pipe wrenches will break under these sorts of stresses and we have broken ours at least once. The other solution is to make your own wrench. Depending on your mood you can make either a box end or an open end wrench by cutting it out of a piece of steel plate---preferably about an inch thick. Leave plenty of meat. around the nut part. If you make an open end---- or more likely and open sided wrench then you can also use it or retightening the sprocket nut after the tractor is assembled. You can slip it over the nut and drive the tractor ahead letting the wrench bear against the swing frame, etc. The wrenches I have seen hand made usually cut a notch out of the side of a piece of heavy iron.
If you are going to work on logging machinery sooner or later you will need to do some hydraulic service work. After all big hydraulic cylinders make everything move these days. The real issue that you have to look at is whether to be a 'parts changer' or whether you are going to fix the things.
Large cylinders are enormously expensive, and need repairs from time to time. In this writers experience about 3 bad things happen to cylinders. A) A butt weld somewhere will crack and they will leak, B) The packing will wear out and the cylinder will sag or leak around the rod gland, or C) they will suffer mechanical damage in that the rod or tube will be bent or broken.
Parts changing is fairly low tech. Most cylinders have a pin on each and and a couple of hoses. Knock the pins out, disconnect and seal off the hoses and take your truck service crane and lift the cylinder away.
The money, however in in the cylinder overhaul. The materials for repacking a large cylinder are likely in the hundred dollar range, but the cost to the user if you drop this cylinder off at a commercial shop for an overhaul is likely to be thousands of dollars, which means you can make pretty good wages doing it yourself if you are inclined.
It takes a few special tools to do it. Your basic hydraulic cylinder usually consist of 4 major parts. A Tube, a rod, a head, and a piston. The rod sticks through the head and into the tube. The piston is bolted on the end of the rod. The process for dismantling generally involves removing the head from the end of the tube, pulling the rod and piston out of the tube, taking the piston off the rod and slipping the head off the rod.
The most daunting part is removing the head. Sometimes they are bolted on with some sort of a bolt circle, but more often than not they are screwed into the end of the tube. Typically a spanner wrench of some sort is required to unscrew them. Sometimes there is a roll pin keeper somewhere and sometimes not. Some spanners you can buy but others you will need to make. The bottom line here is that you have to buy or make a special wrench to unscrew the head and it needs to be strong enough to take a good whack with a sledge hammer, because those bit heads are heavy and are usually screwed in pretty tight.
Once you get the head unscrewed, then you can pull the cylinder apart and access the piston. Sometimes you will find a piston that is threaded and screwed on the end of the rod but more often you will find a nut on the end of the rod holding the piston there. With a big cylinder this may be a large nut. The last several cylinders I have dealt with have had 4" nuts. Sometimes you can get a box end wrench on the nut and other times it is recessed in the piston requiring a socket wrench. I have a set of large impact sockets for this task, as well as a set of large hammer wrenches. Sometimes though you can get by with a 'Truck wheel bearing nut socket' --- those are cheap but also expendable when used for this application. I've even seen 48" pipe wrenches used, but watch for leaving 'cuttings' that might contaminate your hydraulic systems. Once apart, screw drivers and various small prying tools are used to dig out the old packing and stuff the new packing in. Then you reassemble and are a few grand ahead of the game.
Reassembly is not as easy as it seems. With new packing the pieces don't want to slide together very easily. Be sure and oil the packing well, and then we have a crude press we use to facilitate the process or large cylinders. It is just a piece of 10" H-beam about 20 feet long laying on a couple logs (so you don't have to bend over so far). We chain the tube into the H-beam, and then use a wagon jack to shove the piston back into the tube.
If the cylinder is cracked---usually a butt weld on the back end of the cylinder, those can be welded, usually without dismantling the cylinder. Adjust the piston so it isn't near where you will weld by extending the cylinder, and drain the oil down in the cylinder and turn it so oil won't seep while you are tying to weld. Then you can weld up the crack.
Now if the cylinder has other problems life gets more difficult. If the rod is dinged in a fairly minor sort of way you can often salvage the cylinder with a file. If you 'file it smooth' preferably before the burrs destroy the rod packing, a minor indentation in the rod will cause little trouble. If the rod is bent or broken, you are going to need a machine shop to make a new rod. The chrome stock can be had at a steel supply house. The outer end of the rod usually has a weld on end which often can be salvaged from the bent cylinder and simply welded onto the new rod. The piston end of the rod must be turned down and threaded to hold the piston and retaining nut. This requires an engine lathe large enough to turn the rod. If you have a 6 or 8 foot long rod, this implies a serious lathe.
We have actually 're-tubed' cylinders as well, but this requires a serious machine shop as well. You can salvage the butt of the cylinder by cutting the weld around the tube (just as you remove the tube of a drive shaft), but the head end of the tube will have to be machined (usually turned and threaded) to accept the head, and the plumbing will have to be welded on. You will also need to hone the inside of the tube to size. None of this is too mysterious to a maintenance machinist, but a lathe big enough to turn the tube is a requirement. Usually diameter is not an issue but lots of engine lathes lack a bed long enough to handle the tubes. Since you are going to have to get the lathe carriage out beyond the end of the tube to to work inside it, manufacturing a 7 foot tube is likely, for example to need a lathe with a bed of around 9 feet in length. The popular 4 and 5 foot lathes are simply not the ticket for giant cylinders.