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Old 12-17-2012, 10:24 PM   #1
biscuit141
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Default Are the Danaher-era Kobalt ratchets anything special?

I have the danaher made Kobalt ratchets in all 3 sizes. They have kid of become my go-to beater ratchets. I was at lowes today and took a look at their newer style ratchets and really liked the thin head ratchets with the contoured handle. They had a much nicer feel than the danaher ones I have that some times reverse on their own. I was thinking about swapping out mine since they act up and auto reverse. I'm sure a good cleaning would help, but they really don't seem that special to me and I kind of want some new ratchets to play with. I really don't need more ratchets as I have many in each size with chrome handles and fixed heads so I was also wondering if this would be a good time to pay the price difference and add either a comfort grip handle or longer flex head ratchets to my collection. Here is what I currently have:

1/2"
Gearwrench 60 tooth chrome
Williams Superratchet S52
Snap On older 32/36 tooth
Kobalt 36 tooth chrome

3/8"
Gearwrench 60 tooth chrome
Gearwrench 50 tooth chrome stubby
SK 45170
Craftsman raised panel flex head
Kobalt 35 tooth chrome

1/4"
Gearwremch chrome (60 tooth??)
Kobalt chrome

I know I am forgetting one or two of them. I guess to get back to my question, are the new 72 tooth Kobalts a worth upgrade over the USA Danaher ratchets?
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Old 12-17-2012, 10:51 PM   #2
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Default Re: Are the Danaher-era Kobalt ratchets anything special?

YES. The new 72 tooth ratchets are 100x better. I traded in my Danaher Kobalt set (just a Craftsman head on an Armstrong handle) for a regular 72 tooth 1/2 drive and those nice thin profile ratchets in 3/8 & 1/4. I use them daily wrenching on diesel equipment, and they are my go to ratchets besides my Snap-On 80T set. If I ever have to trade in the 1/2 inch, I'll be offering them the difference to switch to the thin profile.
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Old 12-17-2012, 11:53 PM   #3
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Default Re: Are the Danaher-era Kobalt ratchets anything special?

I have a couple of each size of the Kobalt Danaher ratchets, and I cut a couple of them down to make them into stubby ratchets which I love and use all the time, and I just use the other ones as regular ratchets. They are the first ones I pick up on almost every job. I have a snap-on f80, but I still like the danaher Kobalts for some reason. I think it has a little to do with how I prefer a quick-release head. The spring ball is very stiff on my f80, which makes it hard to get small sockets off, because there is no way to get your fingers behind the socket for grip when greasy (like I can do when pulling a socket off of a breaker bar etc.). I end up having to use a small screwdriver.

Only about 10% of what I do with tools involves working on cars, so 90% of the time or more tooth count is not an issue. To fix the auto-reversing issue permanently I spent a few minutes with my dremel and ground the back of the ratchet pawls on the Kobalt ratchets like I talked about in my thread here

http://www.garagejournal.com/forum/s...d.php?t=178652

They all work great now without ever auto-reversing or slipping into neutral as they did a lot when I first purchased them. I snipped the spring as well on one or two ratchets, but did not notice any real difference, so I didn't do that to the rest. Just using a good light oil and grinding the back of the pawl down makes the ratchets work like butter. Now they have about the same amount of almost non-existent back drag as my lubricated and broken-in f80.

Since you already have the ratchets, I would not get rid of them or trade them in, just do the mod and you will have some nice ratchets to loan out, modify into custom ratchets, etc.

Last edited by jeremy v; 12-18-2012 at 12:26 AM. Reason: grammar
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Old 12-18-2012, 12:08 AM   #4
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Default Re: Are the Danaher-era Kobalt ratchets anything special?

Here is a pic of a couple stubby ratchets I made out of some Danaher kobalt ratchets I have. I love them in that configuration and use them all the time. I find that in many circumstances, having a stubby handled ratchet is much more beneficial than having a fine toothed ratchet, and a lot of the stubbies you can buy are pretty expensive for what they are or are very poor quality. Stubbies are hard to find used as well. The one at the top of the picture is a stock 3/8" Kobalt danaher ratchet for comparison. The 2 stubbies at the bottom of the pic are 1/4" ratchets.

Converting your Kobalt 1/4" and 3/8" ratchets into stubby ratchets combined with buying a fine toothed flex ratchet, long handled ratchet, etc. would greatly increase the overall versatility of your ratchet selection.
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File Type: jpg 100_6885.jpg (147.9 KB, 125 views)

Last edited by jeremy v; 12-18-2012 at 12:29 AM.
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Old 12-18-2012, 12:27 AM   #5
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Default Re: Are the Danaher-era Kobalt ratchets anything special?

Quote:
Originally Posted by jeremy v View Post
Here is a pic of a couple of stubby ratchets I made out of some Danaher kobalt ratchets I have. I love them in that configuration and use them all the time. I find that in many circumstances, having a stubby handled ratchet is much more beneficial than having a fine toothed ratchet, and a lot of the stubbies you can buy are pretty expensive for what they are or are very poor quality. Stubbies are hard to find used as well. The one at the top of the picture is a stock 3/8" Kobalt danaher ratchet for comparison. The 2 stubbies at the bottom of the pic are 1/4" ratchets.

Adding some stubby ratchets combined with you buying a fine toothed flex ratchet, long handled ratchet, etc. would greatly increase the versatility of your ratchet selection.
Nice mods
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Old 12-18-2012, 12:37 AM   #6
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Default Re: Are the Danaher-era Kobalt ratchets anything special?

Those mods to the older round handle ratchets do look really nice. The style I had were these, and I was not a fan...
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Old 12-18-2012, 12:48 AM   #7
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Default Re: Are the Danaher-era Kobalt ratchets anything special?

As far as I'm concerned the Danaher Kobalt's were junk. My 1/4" is the only one I never had to swap out. As bad as it pains me to admit it, the 3rd Generation Rotar made Kobalt's are WAY nicer than the Danaher junk. I still miss the 1st Generation Williams stuff though.
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Old 12-18-2012, 01:49 AM   #8
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Default Re: Are the Danaher-era Kobalt ratchets anything special?

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Originally Posted by Conductor562 View Post
As far as I'm concerned the Danaher Kobalt's were junk. My 1/4" is the only one I never had to swap out. As bad as it pains me to admit it, the 3rd Generation Rotar made Kobalt's are WAY nicer than the Danaher junk. I still miss the 1st Generation Williams stuff though.
I never really understood the appeal of the older Williams Kobalt stuff. I bought complete 3/8", and 1/2" socket sets, complete wrench sets, breaker bars, etc. of the older Williams stuff in the early 2000s and I have not been impressed overall. I finally had enough and sold the wrench sets off a few months ago and went back to raised panel US made Craftsman (danaher made) because I liked them better and they seem just as tough (if not stronger) and a lot easier to find replacements if one is lost etc. The Williams wrenches were polished, but they had squared off edges that were very hard on my knuckles and the open ends seemed to ding on the edges/corners way too easily.

I still have all my Williams sockets and they are all fine and rate the same in my mind as Craftsman sockets.

The Kobalt ratchets from Williams were their real downfall. Stock, the back drag was excessive to say the least. The springs used in the ratchets were very heavy and they had very little flex in them, so I couldn't just cut them down, I had to change them out completely. Even the spring for the quick release ball on my 1/2" ratchet is about 8-10x harder to push down than any other ratchet I own. I also don't like how on the 1/2" ratchet the ratchet direction lever screw is also the same screw that holds the back panel on the ratchet, so if the screw is tightened down enough to hold the back panel firmly the direction lever will bind and not work. The screw has to be kept loose and adjusted regularly to prevent the direction lever from binding or the back panel from getting too loose. Loctite only helps for a little while. I like my first generation danaher Kobalt ratchets (round handled ones) over their Williams Kobalt equivalents big time.

As a response to the OP related to looking at new Kobalt ratchets, I have a 3rd gen Rotar Kobalt 1/4" (taiwan) socket set with ratchet and it is very nicely made, but if you want to go foreign made, I think a better value would be the Pittsburgh Pro stuff. In most cases it is just as well made, and often the exact same tool for a lot less money.

I attached pics of the ratchets I was just talking about so those reading this can see what I mean about the screw in the back of the 1/2" ratchet and also see the 1/4" Kobalt Taiwan ratchet that I have (that I also happened to make into a stubby).
Attached Images
File Type: jpg 100_6893.jpg (143.0 KB, 41 views)
File Type: jpg 100_6894.jpg (143.9 KB, 36 views)

Last edited by jeremy v; 12-18-2012 at 02:40 AM.
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Old 12-18-2012, 06:56 PM   #9
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Default Re: Are the Danaher-era Kobalt ratchets anything special?

Quote:
Originally Posted by jeremy v View Post
I never really understood the appeal of the older Williams Kobalt stuff. I bought complete 3/8", and 1/2" socket sets, complete wrench sets, breaker bars, etc. of the older Williams stuff in the early 2000s and I have not been impressed overall. I finally had enough and sold the wrench sets off a few months ago and went back to raised panel US made Craftsman (danaher made) because I liked them better and they seem just as tough (if not stronger) and a lot easier to find replacements if one is lost etc. The Williams wrenches were polished, but they had squared off edges that were very hard on my knuckles and the open ends seemed to ding on the edges/corners way too easily.

I still have all my Williams sockets and they are all fine and rate the same in my mind as Craftsman sockets.

The Kobalt ratchets from Williams were their real downfall. Stock, the back drag was excessive to say the least. The springs used in the ratchets were very heavy and they had very little flex in them, so I couldn't just cut them down, I had to change them out completely. Even the spring for the quick release ball on my 1/2" ratchet is about 8-10x harder to push down than any other ratchet I own. I also don't like how on the 1/2" ratchet the ratchet direction lever screw is also the same screw that holds the back panel on the ratchet, so if the screw is tightened down enough to hold the back panel firmly the direction lever will bind and not work. The screw has to be kept loose and adjusted regularly to prevent the direction lever from binding or the back panel from getting too loose. Loctite only helps for a little while. I like my first generation danaher Kobalt ratchets (round handled ones) over their Williams Kobalt equivalents big time.

As a response to the OP related to looking at new Kobalt ratchets, I have a 3rd gen Rotar Kobalt 1/4" (taiwan) socket set with ratchet and it is very nicely made, but if you want to go foreign made, I think a better value would be the Pittsburgh Pro stuff. In most cases it is just as well made, and often the exact same tool for a lot less money.

I attached pics of the ratchets I was just talking about so those reading this can see what I mean about the screw in the back of the 1/2" ratchet and also see the 1/4" Kobalt Taiwan ratchet that I have (that I also happened to make into a stubby).

I suppose beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. I really liked the 1st gen stuff. The Danaher stuff just never did it for me.
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Old 12-18-2012, 10:23 PM   #10
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Default Re: Are the Danaher-era Kobalt ratchets anything special?

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I suppose beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. I really liked the 1st gen stuff. The Danaher stuff just never did it for me.
I understand totally. I hope you didn't think I was picking on you or insulting you for your preference, because i didn't mean it that way. I just mentioned what I did, because I don't recall ever reading anything bad about their stuff and it disturbes me a little to have it sound like Danaher stuff was so much worse than the Williams stuff, because in my experience they are about equal.

I think Danaher gets a bad rap sometimes especially on this forum, because to me they make really good stuff for being US made when you factor in the price point they are hitting compared to all the other US tool makers. As you read above, I had problems with my Danaher ratchets as well, I just ended up liking them better overall because the problems were easily fixable and the fix was permanent and never had to be messed with again unlike the screw issue on my 1/2" Williams ratchet.

I originally bought the Williams stuff over Danaher because I liked the look of it, the chrome looked a little better, the wrenches were polished for only a little bit more money than the Craftsman raised panel satin stuff, most of the sockets were 6pt instead of being 12pt like most other socket sets at that time, Kobalt Williams did a better job of putting together more complete and usable socket sets with less missing sockets than the competition, the carry cases were nicer, etc. There are a lot of people that really like the wrenches and I can testify to that, because I actually made money overall when I sold mine, they sold fast, and the buyer was happy to get them.

Personally i have an affinity for some of the older Thorsen stuff, and it was well made, but it in all honesty it also falls short in almost every way compared to modern offerings in terms of function and my current tool preferences. I really prefer pear head ratchets functionwise over round heads. It is a sentimental thing for me though, and the downfalls are more than made up for in the rekindling of the memories I have from using them as a kid.

P.S.- I also agree with the posts above 100%, the more recent Danaher stuff with the satin Armstrong type handle is UGLY and to me it doesn't even look comfortable to hold.
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Old 12-18-2012, 10:43 PM   #11
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Default Re: Are the Danaher-era Kobalt ratchets anything special?

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Originally Posted by jeremy v View Post
I understand totally. I hope you didn't think I was picking on you or insulting you for your preference, because i didn't mean it that way. I just mentioned what I did, because I don't recall ever reading anything bad about their stuff and it disturbes me a little to have it sound like Danaher stuff was so much worse than the Williams stuff, because in my experience they are about equal.

I think Danaher gets a bad rap sometimes especially on this forum, because to me they make really good stuff for being US made when you factor in the price point they are hitting compared to all the other US tool makers. As you read above, I had problems with my Danaher ratchets as well, I just ended up liking them better overall because the problems were easily fixable and the fix was permanent and never had to be messed with again unlike the screw issue on my 1/2" Williams ratchet.

I originally bought the Williams stuff over Danaher because I liked the look of it, the chrome looked a little better, the wrenches were polished for only a little bit more money than the Craftsman raised panel satin stuff, most of the sockets were 6pt instead of being 12pt like most other socket sets at that time, Kobalt Williams did a better job of putting together more complete and usable socket sets with less missing sockets than the competition, the carry cases were nicer, etc. There are a lot of people that really like the wrenches and I can testify to that, because I actually made money overall when I sold mine, they sold fast, and the buyer was happy to get them.

Personally i have an affinity for some of the older Thorsen stuff, and it was well made, but it in all honesty it also falls short in almost every way compared to modern offerings in terms of function and my current tool preferences. I really prefer pear head ratchets functionwise over round heads. It is a sentimental thing for me though, and the downfalls are more than made up for in the rekindling of the memories I have from using them as a kid.

P.S.- I also agree with the posts above 100%, the more recent Danaher stuff with the satin Armstrong type handle is UGLY and to me it doesn't even look comfortable to hold.
No offense taken man I prefer a pear head as well. I eventually moved on from Kobalt and started buying Proto almost exclusively. I still have the old Williams combos, though they've been relegated to a spare set, and I still have the sockets but I long ago upgraded to all Proto ratchets.

Someone on here once called that Kobalt with the Armstrong handle a "Danaher mutant"
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Old 01-30-2013, 10:24 PM   #12
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Default Re: Are the Danaher-era Kobalt ratchets anything special?

So I have yet to swap out my Danaher-era Kobalt ratchets even though they give me a few issues. I don't know why I feel nostalgic about them, I have only had them about 2 years and they are nothing special. I did stop at Lowes today and took another look at the 72-tooth thin head ratchets and they seem real nice. I don't know why I am afraid to exchange them, I think I a second guessing myself and since they are not available anymore I get unsure.
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Old 01-31-2013, 12:30 AM   #13
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Default Re: Are the Danaher-era Kobalt ratchets anything special?

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So I have yet to swap out my Danaher-era Kobalt ratchets even though they give me a few issues. I don't know why I feel nostalgic about them, I have only had them about 2 years and they are nothing special. I did stop at Lowes today and took another look at the 72-tooth thin head ratchets and they seem real nice. I don't know why I am afraid to exchange them, I think I a second guessing myself and since they are not available anymore I get unsure.
I had the same reservations due to the Taiwan stamp on the new ones. I took the plunge and while I'm still not crazy about it saying Taiwan, they are really nice ratchets. Very smooth and they feel nice in your hand as well. If they said USA on them they'd be the talk of town (town meaning GJ of course).
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Old 04-23-2013, 10:11 PM   #14
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Default Re: Are the Danaher-era Kobalt ratchets anything special?

OK, I finally took the plunge and exchanged my 1/4" and 1/2" ratchets. The CS rep didn't even ask questions. I picked up the 1/4" thin-head 72 tooth and 1/2" flex-head, since I did not have one. Opened them both up tonight, dry like a desert. Gave them both a good dose of Super Lube and they are really smooth! I just hope they hold up, time will tell. I am not a fan of how larger the head is on the 1/2" but it is still nice. I compared the pawl teeth to the Gearwrench I have and it seems the Gearwrench engage more teeth than the Kobalt does, but that doesn't necessarily mean anything. Anyway, here are some pictures. Now I just need to decide which 3/8" to get. I really like the thin-head ratchet, but I do not own a soft grip ratchet so I have contemplated going that route. The soft grip just has a much larger head, which again I don't really care for. Any opinions?



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Old 04-23-2013, 10:52 PM   #15
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Default Re: Are the Danaher-era Kobalt ratchets anything special?

this is interesting lowes is stepping up i might have to stop by my lowes and check these out. my 3/8 cman RP just started to slip .
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Old 04-23-2013, 11:18 PM   #16
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Default Re: Are the Danaher-era Kobalt ratchets anything special?

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OK, I finally took the plunge and exchanged my 1/4" and 1/2" ratchets. The CS rep didn't even ask questions. I picked up the 1/4" thin-head 72 tooth and 1/2" flex-head, since I did not have one.
You'll enjoy that thin-head. I have them in 1/4" & 3/8" and they've held up great to daily use and abuse. If I ever break the 1/2" I have, I'll be swapping it for the thin head version (even if I have to throw the extra $10 their way).
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Old 04-24-2013, 12:15 AM   #17
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Default Re: Are the Danaher-era Kobalt ratchets anything special?

AFAIK, they are all ROTAR/TOPTUL based OEM ratchets; the ratchet mechanisms are strong but the swivel heads, tend to get floppy after awhile.
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Old 04-24-2013, 08:41 AM   #18
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Default Re: Are the Danaher-era Kobalt ratchets anything special?

The bolt on the flex head was loose so I tightened it up. We shall see. I have a 3/8" flex head RP Cman my father in law gave me otherwise I would pick up the Kobalt version. I didn't have one in 1/2" so I ghouls that would be useful along with the extra inch or so of length. I tend to like full polis ratchets because they are very easy to wipe down after use. But that 3/8" comfort grip did feel nice.
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Old 04-30-2013, 10:06 PM   #19
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Default Re: Are the Danaher-era Kobalt ratchets anything special?

I have 4 of the Danaher Kobalts. They work good, there is nothing wrong with them, but I don't like the feel of them. Mind you the other rats I have are SO and Gray so that is pretty big shoes to fill. Not that it matters but the lever is ugly imo.
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