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Nutdrivers are tools usually associated with the electronics industry, but they are also very useful for in-shop bicycle work. A nutdriver (also known as a "spintite") consists of a socket wrench, generally six- sided, with a screwdriver-type handle. It will usually have a hollow shaft, so that it can be used to run a nut a long way onto a bolt, with the excess length of the bolt going up inside the shaft. For bicycle work, I use three sizes of nutdriver - 8, 9, and 10 millimeters. In these rather small sizes, the screwdriver-type handles are speedy to use, but you can still apply enough torque to tighten the corresponding nut and bolt sizes se- curely. Because of the limited amount of torque provided by these handles, how- ever, you would have to be a real gorilla - to overtighten anything with them. This is a useful safety feature.
A real timesaver in adjusting the most common types of caliper brakes is to use a 10-millimeter nutdriver to tighten the acorn nuts that hold the brake shoes to the brake arms. In the same operation, you can use the nutdriver to `bend (straighten) the brake arms for good par- allel contact between the brake shoes and the rim. A nutdriver is also the best tool for tightening brake cable anchor bolts, especially on centerpull brakes. The most well-known and widely dis- tributed brands of nutdrivers are Xcelite and Vaco. Both are first-quality tools. Un- fortunately, it is not always easy to find them in Metric sizes. (To substitute for the 8-millimeter size, the readily avail- able 5/16-inch size is quite a good fit in practice.) Metric sizes can be specially ordered by any quality electronics supply store, however, and they are also readily available by mail order, usually at a somewhat higher price. One mail-order source is Jensen tools of 1230 Priest Drive, Tempe, Arizona 85281. Their catalog is a treat for anyone who appreciates fine professional tools.
Xcelite also makes a modular "Series 99" system with interchangeable blades and handles. I have seen a number of similar systems, but none with the same quality and versatility. In addition to nut- driver blades, the company has all kinds and sizes of screwdrivers, Allen drivers, Bristol drivers, Pozi-Driv drivers, and you name it! There are several sizes of screw- driver-type handles and "T" handles, with and without ratchets, a couple of sizes of reamers, and extensions. (The extensions, used with a conventional screw- driver blade, make it possible to tighten loose Zefal HP pump heads, which are held by a screw that is only accessible from the inside of the barrel!) I have been using this series of tools for several years with satisfaction, except that the ratchet handles, while a joy to use, don't seem to be durable enough for heavy-duty use.
Another variation on the nutdriver is the "Y" wrench. This is a three-ended socket wrench in the shape of the letter "Y." They are generally available in bicycle shops in two sizes - 8; 9, and 10 millimeters; or 12, 14, and 15 millimeters. The 8-9-10 is a very versatile tool to carry for on-tbe-road repairs, as it is yery small and light. It is also okay for shop use, although not quite as fast to use as true nutdrivers. I don't particularly recommend the 12-14-15 "Y" wrenches. They are too bulky and heavy toscarry iri a road tool kit, and I find them too awkward for efficient shop use,s although I know sev eral excellent mechanics who disagree with ine on thiss point.
Neither the "Y" wrench nor the "T" Wrench has the hollow handle of a true nutdriver so a bolt can bottom out in the socket if the bolt projects more than a little through the nut. This is not usually a problem with routine bicycle work, but it can cause trouble in some instances, especially when installing luggage racks, bottle cages and the like.
Bicycling July 82
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