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Monday, January 24, 2011

Saving My Back...and My Butt

DIY, Do It Yourself.  Yep, I'm one of those guys, a motor head in a past life.  A nice toolbox full of shiny tools, sockets, screwdrivers and wrenches.  And a drawer full of hammers, too.  For persuading. ;c)

When I first started messing with things mechanical, there was just one type of wrenches and sockets, known as SAE (which stands for Society of Automotive Engineers).  There were some other size wrenches out there but you never saw fasteners that needed them, like Metric for junk made in Japan,(like Datsun pickups and Honda Dream motorcycles).  For collectors of English cars like old Austin Healys and MGs, there were nuts and bolts measured in a size that required Whitworth wrenches.  I just dated myself...whoops!

But with good old SAE wrenches measured in fractions of an inch, 7/16, 1/2, 9/16, you could pick out the correct wrench size just by looking at the nut or bolt head.  I usually carried a 1/2 x 9/16 box wrench in my pocket that covered many of the fasteners that held things together.  Saved me a lot of steps.

With modern times, Metric became the World's standard except in the United States.  Congress passed legislation that the U.S. would adopt the Metric system of measurements back in 1982.  Somehow, not everything in the U.S. got changed over and today you find a mix of both Metric and SAE nuts and bolts holding things together.

Therein lies the problem.  The fastener sizes are so close, you can't eyeball the size wrench or socket you need.  You have to have two sets of wrenches, Metric and SAE to fix most everything today.

I do as much repair work on my own cars and the Journey as I possibly can.  With the Journey, I have to crawl underneath it, on my back and sliding myself around with my butt (not enough clearance to use a creeper). 

Because I can't always tell what size wrench I need, I usually have to drag a handful of both types and hope I brought the right one with me.  Too often, I don't get the right one and have to drag (butt push?) myself out from under the Journey and make another run on the tools box, hitting both the Metric and SAE drawers.

Now some sizes of fastener are pretty close between the Metric and SAE systems.  If you don't get the correct wrench size wrench on the bolt you're working on, you can round off the head and now you're in deep doggie do.

So, what is the solution?  I found this Kobalt wrench at Lowe's.  It is called a "dog-bone" wrench and it had two swivel heads that have a wide variety of openings.  The good news is you can easily find the size you need, be it Metric, SAE, or some of newer, fancier fasteners that are shaped like stars, squares or tamper proof designs.  You can even use it on rounded off fasteners.  Pretty neat.  For about 30 bucks.

Now this wrench won't work in every application due to clearances and long, threaded bolts and such.  But for me, butt crawling around under the Journey, sliding on my back, I no longer have to take half of the wrenches in my tool box with me.  My back and butt feel better already. :c)

Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.


  1. We had been contiplating purchasing this tool. Thanks for your input.

  2. Very interesting. Will you now lighten the load of wrenches and sockets that you will pack along in the rig? :)

  3. Thanks for the tip, gotta get one of those I think.

  4. thanks for the 'dog bone hint'..going to have to look into getting one of those!!

  5. The mixing of SAE and metric bolts on the same vehicle is enough to drive us all crazy. Glad to hear you have good assortment of hammers, when I was growing up I was always told "Don't force it get a bigger hammer"

  6. What a great tool - even I want one!

  7. Ohhh we love our tools too. I used to work in a small hardware store. I got the job after the boss walked me down the tool aisle, asking me what this or that random tool was. I was hired on the spot. Tee heeeeeee

    Steveio literally takes EVERY tool he owns in the motorhome now. He made up tool drawers and moved all the tools from the garage to the rig.

    I had to slap his hands when he wanted to take my own tools outta the studio to add to his squirreled away stash!

    Karen and Steve
    (Our Blog) RVing: Small House... BIG Backyard

  8. Great post Paul. Hope you get a commission on all those Kobalt's you are selling. You sold me!

  9. I'm headin' out for one of those "dog bones." It will make a great gift for my husband's birthday! Thanks for posting this!

  10. Nice idea, I will have to look at those. I am not one of those handy type guys, so I carry very few tools with me in the RV.

    I could work on my sailboat diesel, and carried all kinds of spares with me. I did that because it was not handy to expect help most of the time and there was no way I was going to call the USCG!

    Perhaps I am just lazy now, but I like to watch others do the work.