By continuing to use this site, you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more
Forum sponsored by:
Forum sponsored by Allendale Oct 22nd

Hexagonal Socket Drive

All Topics | Latest Posts

Search for:  in Thread Title in  
Mike Donnerstag06/06/2019 12:41:28
avatar
92 forum posts
9 photos

I have a ratchet wrench and brace with a 7/16" hexagonal drive, instead of the (more modern I assume) square drive. Does anyone still use these? Anyone know what they were for and what vintage they are and, more to the point, whether they're worth anything to anyone?

The ratchet wrench is a Britool 2073.

Many thanks,

Mike

Edited By Mike Donnerstag on 06/06/2019 12:42:45

Michael Gilligan06/06/2019 12:53:00
avatar
14011 forum posts
608 photos

A quick search on Google shows plenty of these for sale ... You are not likely to get rich.

Hex drive sockets were once fairly common, but were made obsolete by 'market forces'

... rather like Betamax VCRs

MichaelG.

Kenneth Deighton06/06/2019 19:36:50
63 forum posts

In my apprenticeship days we still used the hexagon type socket sets , the advantage of them was the sockets being much slimmer than the square drive ones and you could get them into smaller gaps etc.

Ken.

Nick Hulme06/06/2019 21:06:58
703 forum posts
37 photos
Posted by Kenneth Deighton on 06/06/2019 19:36:50:

In my apprenticeship days we still used the hexagon type socket sets , the advantage of them was the sockets being much slimmer than the square drive ones and you could get them into smaller gaps etc.

Ken.

That will be because a hex is smaller than a square then? :D

Mike Donnerstag07/06/2019 07:14:07
avatar
92 forum posts
9 photos

Great - thanks chaps.

Mike

Howard Lewis07/06/2019 07:26:23
2337 forum posts
2 photos

The Britool; 7/16 hexagon drive socket sets were good quality, and quite durable. They predate WW 2

My father bought his when he started a garage in the thirties. We used it into the early 60s. I borrowed it and used it to earn my first money repairing cars in the late 50s.. I inherited it and only needed to replace one socket, (in the late 60s ) and used until the mid seventies.

Last year, I donated it to The WaterWorks Museum for their "Old Workshop" to be cherished, although still a quite useable item.

Howard

SillyOldDuffer07/06/2019 08:56:07
4711 forum posts
1010 photos

I can't find a reference to confirm it, but I think, weight-for-weight, that a square section bolt head is stronger (less likely to deform and slip) - than a hexagon head. They're also easier to make. I associate square heads with heavy engineering.

The advantage of a hexagon head is it can be approached from more angles with a spanner. This extra accessibility is highly desirable in a system of general purpose fasteners.

On a socket-set I suspect a hex drive adds to the cost of both driver and sockets to little advantage. Ease of manufacture and strength won the day - customers don't like paying for features they don't need.

The maths needed to compare wings vs triangular vs square vs hex vs polygonal heads is beyond me. (I just tried!) Can anyone confirm square is stronger than hex or am I typing rubbish again?

Dave

clogs07/06/2019 09:16:41
476 forum posts
12 photos

I have a couple of extension bars from who knows where....

they make great drifts...u can pound on them all day....hahaha.....

more old crxp from our distant past.....

a bit like flat head wood screws.....

just thrown a load of them in the bin (20kgs).....

onwards and upwards....hahaha......

Michael Gilligan07/06/2019 10:38:47
avatar
14011 forum posts
608 photos
Posted by SillyOldDuffer on 07/06/2019 08:56:07:

I can't find a reference to confirm it, but I think, weight-for-weight, that ...

The maths needed to compare wings vs triangular vs square vs hex vs polygonal heads is beyond me. (I just tried!) Can anyone confirm square is stronger than hex or am I typing rubbish again?

.

Regarding torsional stiffness: Have a look at 'polar moment of inertia'

[your CAD package may have such calculations inbuilt]

But the matter of slippage, and rounding of corners, has a lot to do with tolerancing.

MichaelG.

not done it yet07/06/2019 11:24:29
3358 forum posts
11 photos

One end of a modern day socket is hexagon (or more likely 12 pointed) and the other end is driven by a square drive. So go figure! Heavy duty sockets (impact air tools) are always hexagon.

Hex was easier to access from cramped angles without having too many corners to round over. Sqare bolts and nuts were originally forged by the simple smithy, so afforded dimensional accuracy without too much trouble.

So I doubt it was a purely structural engineering decision to adopt the hexagon shape.

Sockets with 12 points are clearly adequate when used on hex fixings in most instances.

Virtually all really old ploughs and other farm machinery have square headed fixings.

The problem with access to square fixings would have been very much been removed (had they been retained) by the invention of the ratchet in the socket set.

Allen keys were introduced and now we have torx, too. Screw heads were slotted, then cross point (in various guises) and now in a multitude of forms, but the Canadians (and US?) still retain the Robertson square drive screws. So I reckon it was just ease of use that caused the change to hex from square. Likely the same for sockets - we all know which is the driver end and which is to fit the nut!

Alistair Robertson 107/06/2019 11:52:23
59 forum posts
6 photos

I remember when I bought my first Britool socket set in mid to late sixties I was offered either square or hex socket sets. I went for the square because there were AF sockets in the set (There were only Whitworth in the hex drive set although some of them were 8 sided for square nuts!

My Uncle who owned the garage where I got to use the ramp etc. bought the hex set. I think it was a lot cheaper than the square one (He was always tight with his money!) and was probably old, old stock.

When he retired and sold out I looked for the Hex set but I never found it and he could remember nothing about it!

Robert Atkinson 207/06/2019 12:37:04
avatar
367 forum posts
21 photos

I wonder if it has anything to do with IP? Snap on used square but don't seem to have patented that
**LINK**

Maybe someone in the UK had a patent on square drive?

Clive Foster07/06/2019 13:10:22
1840 forum posts
59 photos

Slight topic drift but reading through Robetts Snap On link I saw :-

"The Weidenhoff Corporation of Algona, IA was acquired in 1956. This brought the manufacture of automotive test equipment into the Snap-on line. Voltmeters, Ammeters, Distributor and Alternator Testers and the Anal-O-Scope"

?? For cars!! ??

The last being somewhat unfortunate branding. Even by American standards where insertion of -O- in the middle or i on the front seems to be an irremovable national trait.

Clive

Guy Lamb07/06/2019 14:58:26
64 forum posts

Some sets of sockets at the cheaper end of the scale had an Allen key instead of a ratchet, the set I have is also Whitworth.

Guy

Michael Gilligan08/06/2019 14:33:59
avatar
14011 forum posts
608 photos
Posted by Michael Gilligan on 07/06/2019 10:38:47:
Posted by SillyOldDuffer on 07/06/2019 08:56:07:

I can't find a reference to confirm it, but I think, weight-for-weight, that ...

The maths needed to compare wings vs triangular vs square vs hex vs polygonal heads is beyond me. (I just tried!) Can anyone confirm square is stronger than hex or am I typing rubbish again?

.

Regarding torsional stiffness: Have a look at 'polar moment of inertia'

[your CAD package may have such calculations inbuilt]

But the matter of slippage, and rounding of corners, has a lot to do with tolerancing.

MichaelG.

.

Dave,

I must confess to being mildly disappointed that we have not yet seen the first release of:

'Duffer's illustrated guide to the Torsional Stiffness of DriveShafts with various Sections'

angel MichaelG.

SillyOldDuffer08/06/2019 16:21:11
4711 forum posts
1010 photos
Posted by Michael Gilligan on 08/06/2019 14:33:59:
Posted by Michael Gilligan on 07/06/2019 10:38:47:
Posted by SillyOldDuffer on 07/06/2019 08:56:07:

I can't find a reference to confirm it, but I think, weight-for-weight, that ...

The maths needed to compare wings vs triangular vs square vs hex vs polygonal heads is beyond me. (I just tried!) Can anyone confirm square is stronger than hex or am I typing rubbish again?

.

Regarding torsional stiffness: Have a look at 'polar moment of inertia'

[your CAD package may have such calculations inbuilt]

But the matter of slippage, and rounding of corners, has a lot to do with tolerancing.

MichaelG.

.

Dave,

I must confess to being mildly disappointed that we have not yet seen the first release of:

'Duffer's illustrated guide to the Torsional Stiffness of DriveShafts with various Sections'

angel MichaelG.

It's that Joe Noci's fault, he's got me mainlining on an ST Nucleo Microcontroller F446RE.

However, I can offer this first step:

squarevshex.jpg

Observations:

  1. The square head has about 15% more metal in it, and is presumably stronger
  2. The bearing surface available to the spanner on a hex head is 56% of that available on a square head. A square bolt would experience less pressure on its faces for the same turning force, which I suppose is less likely to chew the head up.
  3. The extra strength of a square head compared with a hex head may be irrelevant because in both cases the diameter of the bolt's shank is the identical weak point.

My feeling is that hex heads are convenient because more faces are available, but a square bolt should resist wear and tear better. In both cases a properly fitting ring spanner would spread the turning forces better than the ordinary type by using all the faces rather than only two. Also possible that square performs 'better' than hex with an ordinary spanner, but hex is better than square if a ring spanner or socket is used.

Might mock up a few heads in modelling clay and see if it's obvious which shape is more easily deformed. Otherwise, I've got torsional analysis in CAD on my to-do list...

Dave

Clive Foster08/06/2019 17:05:43
1840 forum posts
59 photos

interesting analysis but the resistance to rounding off issue has more to do with goodness of fit between the nut and spanner than raw geometry. Obviously the spanner has to have a certain clearance between itself and the nut so it can be put on. Once the clearance is taken up the force will be concentrated on a relatively small bearing area close to the tip. The slacker the spanner the smaller the bearing area and the more readily the nut will round off.

Nightmare calculation especially when considering 12 point ring on a hex head. Presumably a graph of slackness v strength could be plotted but you'd need to take into account the actual material properties as the shear line will be on some sort of diagonal below the corner. Classic example of that are the modern bolts with surface hardened heads due to the cold forming process. Very strong if the hex is undamaged but far weaker if its anything more than little imperfect.

Flank drive was developed as a response to that problem. Theoretically pushing onto the flanks gives a lot more metal to resist torque as the loads aren't concentrated at the tips of the hex or square.

In a practical world both hex and square can be made strong enough but hex is better for access as giving 6 bites per turn rather than 4. More with correctly offset spanner heads. 12 point ring for same more bites reason as offset open ended spanners. 12 point carried over into socket but not so needful if you have a strong ratchet. Still handy with a breaker bar tho'.

Clive

Michael Gilligan08/06/2019 17:30:48
avatar
14011 forum posts
608 photos

Thanks, Dave ... 'though I must admit that's not quite the direction in which I was trying to point you.

Clive has rightly picked-up on the tolerancing aspect ... which of course ultimately leads us away from 12-point sockets, and on to 'flank drive' configurations for sockets.

However: Your first self-imposed calculation was [or so I thought] going to be to compare the torsional stiffness of bars of different shape cross-section, but the same 'weight per unit length' of material.

That said ... whatever you do is sure to be interesting.

MichaelG.

SillyOldDuffer08/06/2019 19:05:04
4711 forum posts
1010 photos
Posted by Michael Gilligan on 08/06/2019 17:30:48:

Thanks, Dave ... 'though I must admit that's not quite the direction in which I was trying to point you.

Clive has rightly picked-up on the tolerancing aspect ... which of course ultimately leads us away from 12-point sockets, and on to 'flank drive' configurations for sockets.

However: Your first self-imposed calculation was [or so I thought] going to be to compare the torsional stiffness of bars of different shape cross-section, but the same 'weight per unit length' of material.

That said ... whatever you do is sure to be interesting.

MichaelG.

Not ignoring your suggestion Michael, in fact I think it will be very revealing. More the size of the queue and a concern about my ability to get CAD working quickly! I was able to do the comparison in about 10 minutes.

Clive's comments are relevant too. Now he's pointed out all spanners must have point contact rather than tightly fit the flanks, it's obvious my observations are off-beam. Have to see what can be done about simulating tight and loose fitting spanners.

Making my head hurt. I expect a clever bloke sorted it all out around 1850!

Dave

Michael Gilligan08/06/2019 19:56:05
avatar
14011 forum posts
608 photos

No rush at all, Dave

We know you're on the case ...

MichaelG.

All Topics | Latest Posts

Please login to post a reply.

Magazine Locator

Want the latest issue of Model Engineer or Model Engineers' Workshop? Use our magazine locator links to find your nearest stockist!

Find Model Engineer & Model Engineers' Workshop

Latest Forum Posts
Support Our Partners
ChesterUK
Eccentric July 5 2018
Ausee.com.au
Meridienne oct 2019
cowbells
Eccentric Engineering
TRANSWAVE Converters
Warco
emcomachinetools
Allendale Electronics
Subscription Offer

Latest "For Sale" Ads
Latest "Wanted" Ads
Get In Touch!

Do you want to contact the Model Engineer and Model Engineers' Workshop team?

You can contact us by phone, mail or email about the magazines including becoming a contributor, submitting reader's letters or making queries about articles. You can also get in touch about this website, advertising or other general issues.

Click THIS LINK for full contact details.

For subscription issues please see THIS LINK.

Digital Back Issues

Social Media online

'Like' us on Facebook
Follow us on Facebook

Follow us on Twitter
 Twitter Logo

Pin us on Pinterest