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Side by side: Cordless impact wrenches
Top-end battery-powered wrenches find a ready home on the farm
 
Dave Mowitz, Machinery Editor
 
1/01/2005, 9:00 AM CST
 
 
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Pages in this Story:
 
Cordless impact wrenches    Side by side chart

 
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Cordless impact wrenches
Darrell Geisler

Darrell Geisler spent 1 1/2 years putting a Milwaukee 18-volt, 3/4-inch tool to work on his farm. He discovered the cordless impact wrench's maximum 325 foot-pounds of torque took on everything except lug nuts on semitrailers.

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When they first came on the market battery-powered impact wrenches seemed a novelty - the kind of tool suburban wives buy their husbands. The same could be said of cordless drills until the tool industry grew the size and power of batteries. Today, cordless drills readily compete with their corded counterparts when it comes to power.

Although pneumatic impact wrenches deliver more maximum torque and often cost less than their battery-powered cousins, the latter don't need large air compressors and hose lines to operate. Convenience and portability are the competitive values cordless impacts offer. And the 14.4- and 18-volt versions of these tools pack enough oomph to back a rusted 1-inch nut off an implement bracket in the field.

As a result, cordless impacts are readily earning a spot behind pickup seats and in field toolboxes. "I seem to use mine all the time," says Darrell Geisler, who got the opportunity to test an 18-volt, 3/4-inch shaft Milwaukee cordless impact for Successful Farming magazine.

The Elkhart, Iowa, farmer admits he was dubious of the tool's abilities. "It seemed a glorified toy," he recalls. "Sure, it won't do the work of a heavy-duty pneumatic impact. But out in the field, there is nothing handier for adjusting a planter or cultivator."

Geisler is not alone in those sentiments. Online discussion groups are singing the cordless impact's praises (see sidebar on the next page). Like Geisler, they recommend purchasing nothing less than a 14.4-volt model. But the 18-volt models are best for farmwork, they nearly all agree. "Mine has a 3/4-inch drive, which I think is a must," Geisler adds.

The comparison table above lists all the 14.4- and 18-volt cordless impacts on the market with 1/2-inch-drive anvils. Common features among these models include reverse operation and variable speed. Both 9.6- and 12-volt models are also available as are impact wrenches with 1/4-, 7/16-, 3/8-, and 3/4-inch square drives.

Other features worth examining are hex driveshafts (for fast changeovers from socket adapters or auger bits), electric brakes (that stop the tool when the trigger is released), externally accessible and replaceable brushes and armature, metal housing over the front drive, and fan-cooled motors.


Online opinions on cordless impact wrenches

This is what farmers in the Machinery Talk discussion group at Agriculture Online had to say about cordless impact wrenches:


  • "Don't wait, get one now. We use our Milwaukee 1/2-inch all the time. Honestly don't know how we got along without it. About as handy as a cordless electric grease gun."-Bagman

  • "I wouldn't recommend anything but 18V. The smaller ones will have you changing batteries too much." -Ohiomike

  • "It is so much handier for quick projects. I think we use it (cordless) more than the air wrench now." -mvp farms

  • "For work around the farm we haven't found any job that the 18-volt won't do." -bd1

  • "I bought a Snap-On 14.4-volt 3/8-inch drive about five years ago. I use it every day at my job in an ag equipment shop. Not just on service calls - I use it in the shop since it beats dragging an air hose around. Wouldn't be without it." -buckwheat


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