What to Look for in a Torque Wrench with Interchangeable Heads

By Usha Fastners   In Torque Technology   On 09-Apr-2021

When many people think of manufacturing, they picture a large plant where hundreds to thousands of workers queue up in a line to punch in for their shift. While these factories do exist, they are few and belong to a select group with customer bases large enough to support such massive productions. Instead, most manufacturing companies operate at smaller scales with less standardization. In emergency equipment manufacturing, for example,a company may produce a small number of ambulance bodies at a time, and these bodies may be attached to truck chassis from different manufacturers with different mounting points and fastener sizes in the same production run.

Torque control is just as vital for these manufacturers. It’s just harder to standardize the fasteners and fastener types. The solution? A torque wrench with interchangeable heads. These tools allow workers to move around the production floor tightening fasteners to the desired specifications as needed. 

Why You Should Choose a Torque Wrench With Interchangeable Heads

Large scale assembly line production centers have several different stations connected by some means of moving the products from station to station. The entire assembly line is built to assemble products as quickly and as simply as possible. Each station along the assembly line only has a few assembly operations to carry out, with only a few or a single type of fasteners to worry about. Often, a single type of preset torque wrench with a single head type will suffice at each station.

The same is not necessarily true of manufacturing at smaller assembly operations. In the previous example of emergency equipment manufacturing, vehicles are often built onto stock vehicle chassis offered by the manufacturer. The manufacturer will build bodies with the dimensions, equipment support, and other features specified by the agency that submitted the order. There can be a great deal of variation between orders. Essentially, every purchase is made to customized specifications, and there are few cost-effective ways to standardize production.

This means that a small number of skilled employees perform much of the assembly process with the tools close at hand. A single employee can be responsible for everything from repositioning brake lines on the bare chassis to installing and testing hydraulic and air lines on the body once it’s installed. While a click or cam-over socket torque wrench with a ratchet head will work for many of the bolts on the chassis and mechanical systems, they cannot be seated fully on an air or hydraulic line connection or on some nuts that are threaded onto long stud bolts. 

However, torque is still critical for these connections, especially, air and hydraulic lines that depend on a perfect seal to function reliably and are more vulnerable to stripping from over-torquing. In these situations, assemblers need a torque wrench with interchangeable heads that can be swapped out as needed and used on fasteners where sockets will not seat.

Types of Torque Wrenches With Interchangeable Heads

The standard torque wrench is a large socket wrench with a ratchet. Indeed, when paired with a socket set, these can be considered torque wrenches with interchangeable heads and will work for most common applications in repair and manufacturing. A torque wrench of this type is, or should be, a fixture in every repair shop and factory. However, they do not work for every application.

In tight spaces—like those created by custom vehicle utility bodies—there may not be space to fit the height of the socket. Fluid lines, air lines, and long bolts can keep a socket from sliding over a fastener. The solution in these cases is a break-over torque wrench with the appropriate type of head. Break-over torque wrenches have a handle that disengages from the head when they reach the preset torque limit. Because of their form factor and method of torque control, these wrenches tend toward open-ended and spigot interchangeable torque wrench heads in various sizes. This level of torque control makes break-over wrenches outstanding for use with hydraulic, coolant, gas, and other pressure lines that are made of softer metals and demand exacting seals. 

Flatter wrench heads make them great torque wrenches for tight spaces, and ratchet heads are also available for some types of break-over wrenches. The sheer flexibility that adjustable captive pin head torque wrenches and other adjustable torque wrenches with interchangeable heads bring makes them ideal for the versatile roles needed by skilled workers in smaller manufacturing and assembly plants. Break-over wrenches of all types can also have a niche role in larger scale manufacturing where spaces are too tight for power assembly tools.

Break-over torque wrenches with interchangeable heads fill a vital role in manufacturing and assembly, from small scale local production to large multinational manufacturing. High-quality break-over wrenches give your employees the ability to tighten a wide variety of fasteners exactly to the needed specifications.