Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Snap Ring Pliers review

I don't usually review tools.  Usually, I research a bunch and then pick whatever the interweb tells me to buy.  I wasn't able to get a good direction from the web for Snap Ring Pliers, so I bought a couple pairs and experimented.  Today's brief post summarizes those experiments.

Why Bother?
In my previous post, I talked about solving a leaking oil seal.  Some of my research on that issue pointed me to believe that the input shaft was loose and needed to be removed and re-installed.  To do that, a circlip needs to be backed off so a thick lock-ring can be pulled back (see picture to the right. The input shaft rises from the center of the picture to the left).  Then, the input shaft can be threaded off the reverse gear.  First step in that process requires a pair of Snap Ring Pliers.

Some things about the old Volksies are very well documented on the web.  Arguably, some are over documented.  If you want to know what kind of oil to run, for example, you can go through literally hundreds of opinions.  Tires are equally well-opinion'd.  Getting something as simple as the size of the tip needed to remove the circlip on the input shaft, however, can sometimes prove impossible.  Hours of searching netted no useful information.  The size is 0.07 (US), by the way.  This is the largest size available in the standard multi-tip Snap Ring Pliers sets, and individual pliers with fixed-size tips can be found.

boink! tip fail.
Off to the friendly local auto parts store (FLAPS), I went to find a pair that would work.  Since I'm only really doing this once, I didn't want a spendy pair, just some that would do the job.  So, I tried the tip-adjustable set available at NAPA.  Using the largest tip (0.07), I was unable to open the circlip wide enough to get the circlip out of its seating channel without the tip failing.  The tips are held on with small Phillips head bolts pressing a removable plate against the plier arm.  The removable plate is slightly bent, presumably to best fit the tip on, but the engineering is flawed such that the final bit of torque needed to hold the tip is robbed from you by the curve of the plate.  Neat.  I tried to undermine that torque-robbery by jamming a finish nail under the plate on the opposite side of the bolt, increasing the torque on the tip.  That didn't work either.

mod no worky
Net-result: not good for this job.  Maybe, if the circlip you need to remove requires less than 10 foot-pounds of torque it would suffice, but for real automotive situations, its junk.

After setting the NAPA pliers aside, I hit Home Depot looking for a pair of Husky one-size-only 0.07 Snap Ring Pliers.  While their web site showed that they were in stock at the store (for $13), neither I nor the clerk could find them.  I'd love to review them, but instead I offer just a head-shaking at Home Depot.  Either offer the product or don't; don't post it on your web site if you don't have it.  Boo.

Channel Lock
Channel Lock works!
Home Depot did have Channel Lock 927 Snap Ring Pliers (for, like $23).  These are multi-tip pliers like the NAPA ones, but are clearly better made.  They are much heavier.  They have a flip-switch to set inner or outer ring direction.  Oh, they're made in the US, so somewhere my countryman benefited from my buying them, so that's nice.  But do they work for this?  Why, yes, they do.  Unlike the NAPA pair, the ring easily opened up enough to slip out of the channel and out of the way.  Like the NAPA, Channel Lock 927's are sold with a collection of smaller tips, and are delivered with the largest (0.07) already installed.  This made the test easy, removing the possibility of me putting the tips in wrong.  I didn't bother removing and re-installing to see how bad it was, but the engineering is very different.  Unlike the NAPA which has a plate screwed on, leveraging the friction created to hold the tip in place, the Channel Lock has a hole in the plier arm to slide the tip into.  The securing bolt simply prevents the tip from falling out, so the arms need to be able to support far less torque.  The arms are much thicker too, implying that they can handle far more pressure than the NAPA tool could.

In the end, I didn't need to remove and re-install my input shaft.  After I installed the oil slinger and input shaft seal (see: Transaxle Re-Assembled), I re-tested the wiggle in the input shaft.  It barely moved.  I concluded that the input shaft was appropriately loose, and some additional digging into theSamba verified that conclusion.  I'm keeping the Channel Lock's with the car tools, and returning the NAPA's.

That's it for today.  I'm working on a post summarizing the engine-trans re-mating as well as the adventure of raising the engine-tranny unit back into the bus.

1 comment:

The Volkster said...

Very nice review. It was very useful information. Thanks for writing it.