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Wiha: talking the Torque

FOUNDED almost 80 years ago in 1939 by Willi Hahn, grandfather of the current Wiha Managing Director, Wilhelm Hahn, Wiha remains an owner-operated family company with an international presence and reputation, writes PETER BRETT.

The company aims to make daily life much easier for users with a product assortment of innovative hand tool solutions geared towards user needs, which increase efficiency, reduce costs and preserve health.

Quite a mission statement and one that covers a lot of ground.

The design teams at Wiha are constantly developing, designing and making products that meet the highest functionality, durability and ergonomic demands. They provide a comprehensive range of tool concepts and sets, screwdrivers, torque tools, multitools, L-keys, bits, pliers, soft-faced hammers and much more.

The VDE (The Association of German Electrical Engineers) sector is a speciality for Wiha and it has tested, developed and brought to market many innovative solutions based on actual needs of the industries they serve.

Design teams at Wiha are constantly developing, designing and making products that meet the highest functionality.

Wiha is a multi-award winning company for both products and innovation.

Recently, Wiha received the Focus Open Design Award 'Special Mention' 2018 and the German Design Award 'Gold' 2019 for its product innovation speedE, the world’s first e-screwdriver from Wiha.

In 2016 it was recognised as belonging to the top 100 most innovative medium-sized companies in Germany, and other prestigious awards they have won include the Manufacturing Excellence Award in 2014 as the best German SME.

Why Torque?

I can’t give a better explanation of why we need specialist torque products than Volker Lehmann, Product Manager and Torque specialist at Wiha, who said: "New application fields, technologies and materials, coupled with ever advancing miniaturisation, are leading to a growing necessity for applying the right torque for fastening. Here, in order to prevent quality problems, process safety is at the forefront.

"However, it’s not just today’s shift system that results in people with different training or experience failing to meet the required safety level with exact power transmission due to not using the correct hand tool. It’s all about using the right tool to prevent the high costs involved with reworking or product recalls, and thus avoiding the loss of our own quality image."

In addition, Lehmann states that “correct torque usage prevents damage to materials, eliminates the need for retouching and protects against warranty claims.

In today's industry, using torque tools is one of the decisive factors in terms of increasing process reliability. This makes fully certified Wiha torque tools essential for mechanics, electricians and electronics technicians in different segments as they combine precision with security.”

Torqueing Tools – some of Wiha’s finest

The TorqueVario®-S range of screwdrivers is very sophisticated and intended for industrial and professional users.

The handles contain mechanisms to adjust the torque settings and cover a range of common torque brackets depending on the size of the screwdrivers. For example, the 0.5 – 2.0 Nm TorqueVario S screwdriver is a bit smaller than the top of the range 2.0 – 7.0 Nm version.

The handles are graded to suit the sizes and applications of the tools and are set using the torque setting tool supplied. All the screwdrivers feature the patented SoftFinish handle design that is recognised as being easy to use and causes reduced strain on hand and back muscles.

The VDE versions of these tools give the user protection up to 1000v while also encompassing the SoftFinish handle design.

Taking the next step up the ease of use ladder, the mechatronic iTorque screwdrivers can be set without tools.

The settings are guaranteed to be accurate and are easy to set via the integrated setting wheel on the end of the handle. A digital display confirms the chosen setting.

For users like electricians and electronics fitters who might find it uneconomical to invest in a range of torque tools, Wiha provides a simple and cost-effective solution in the form of the easyTorque adaptors.

They will fit all the variants of the slimVario family of Wiha screwdriver sets – both VDE and conventional.

The user simply chooses the adaptor from a range of preset torque adaptors and inserts it between the bit and the handle. In this way, the user can get accurate torque settings on sensitive fixings without breaking the bank – or the screwdriver!

Checking the Settings

Having been educated into some of the intricacies of torque tools recently, I know that torque tools have a life span during which they have to be regularly checked for accuracy and, if necessary, be recalibrated. Guarantees and warranties may depend on torque tools being accurately set, so it makes sense to have a system or even a tool that does informal and more regular checking of accurate torque settings.

It could be very costly and time consuming to find out that a production tool is outside the torque parameters and then having to recall or recheck products.

The Wiha solution is to use the Torque QuickCheck that enables all Wiha screwdrivers to be checked for accuracy very regularly – before each use if needed.

The checks are very easy to carry out – simply insert the screwdriver into the TorqueCheck and they will be checked at 2.8 Nm as a standard. If the TorqueCheck and the handle settings match up, then a green light will indicate that it is accurate.

But a red or amber light would indicate an inaccuracy that would need further investigation and recalibration.

The virtue of the QuickCheck system is that it is light, compact, accurate and can be slipped into a toolbox so that regular checking is not a chore.

While it is not a substitute for recalibration, its use as a diagnostic tool that avoids expensive rechecks on jobs already completed is a cost-effective solution.

I acknowledge that this is a swift and broad-brush overview of the range of Wiha torque tools.

But I hope that it helps readers to understand a few of the trends in torque tools available and the levels of sophistication that we have already reached in using torque applications.

Like Brexit, torque applications aren’t going to go away, and end users will have to get to grips with the increasingly sophisticated systems in which torque tools are used.

Checks are very easy to carry out – simply insert the screwdriver into the TorqueCheck and they will be checked at 2.8 Nm as a standard.

Even your average ‘sparky’ and plumber these days need to know torque settings for RCDs and boiler fittings. The Wiha range might be a good place to start looking at the tools needed.


www.wiha.com

Wera and the era of the ‘torqueys’

A FLICK through the latest Wera product catalogue will confirm the company is no stranger to the ‘torqueys’ – tools that control the level of torque for tightening various bolts and screws, writes PETER BRETT.

As machines and components have become more advanced, the need to control the levels of torque of various fixings has become very important.

'As tight as you can get it' is not an acceptable procedure when working on a carbon-fibre structure, or on an electronic device that needs a correct torque to maintain electrical contacts.

The Wera torque tool range provides ultra-precise micro screwdrivers to standard and VDE formats, right the way to a monster torque wrench capable of delivering torque tightening from 200Nm to 1000Nm.

Clearly the latter have more sophisticated ‘innards’ to ensure accurate and consistent torque delivery for a wider range of tasks.

Eisenwarenmesse 2018 (Cologne Tool Fair) was the setting for the launch of Wera’s Click-Torque range of wrenches – and an array it was too.

To ensure all bases were covered the range stretches from the A5 & A6 ¼” drive 2.5 – 25Nm right through to the E, which is a ¾” drive.

C1 – C5 Range

The C1 reversible ratchet wrench comes with a 10 to 50Nm capability up to the C5 with an 80-400Nm available. Add in the Click Torque E and the Click Torque X series for use with insert tools and it is clear Wera takes torque tools extremely seriously.

Click Torque C3

I was sent a Click Torque C3 to review, which is in the middle of the C range (1/2”) of wrenches and is a typical example of the ergonomics and operation of the Wera torque wrenches – so readers can generalise a bit about how the rest work.

The Click Torque C3 announces its capability with green lettering by the ratchet head reading 40-200Nm, meaning it would be a good choice for mechanics, AA Patrol Staff and such like.

This precision tool is just over 51cm long and arrived packaged in a snug square plastic box, which is great for storage and would suit any retail display.

Also in the case was the all-important calibration certificate and Certificate of Conformity, which should be kept safe.

Torque wrenches need regular calibration after a fixed number of work cycles to ensure continuing accuracy. I was pleased to note my sample, according to the certificate, was well within the 3% tolerance allowed by the standards testing authorities.

Some features

As we would expect from a Wera tool, the ratchet head is made from finely finished alloy with a ½ inch square drive. This drive has a ball-bearing socket retainer and a socket release button.

I hate wrestling with sockets that rely on friction and a tight fit to keep them in place.

Inevitably I end up struggling to change sockets, particularly in cold weather, so I welcomed these features.

The 45-tooth ratchet is reversible, so the wrench can be used to loosen bolts. The 45-tooth ratchet also means the tool has a relatively small ‘throw’, making it easier to use in cramped spaces.

A solid oval tube painted in Wera Black conceals the inner workings of the ‘click’ part of the Click Torque mechanism – of which more below.

Then comes the user interface: the setting scales. These are marked in Nm on the right side of the line and in lbs/feet on the left. The scales are in black lettering on a white background so are clear to see.

Although the lbs/feet scale is a bit smaller and I needed my glasses. The Nm scales are marked in 10Nm graduations and each in-between increment is clearly visible in a separate window.

To adjust the torque settings you have to head past the large Wera Kraftform handle to the button on the far end of the wrench.

The button has to be pulled out and this enables the handle to be turned. The design of the handle is excellent because the grippy patches not only help when applying torque, they also make it easy to twist it to set the scales.

The window below the scales provide individually click-stopped numbers from 0 to 9.

A full turn of the handle moves the scales exactly 10Nm and the 0 marks the exact spot for a 1Nm measurement.

An audible and tactile ‘click’ allows each incremental change to be clear to the user.

It is easy to work out if you wanted to set 45Nm, you set the scale to 40Nm and then turn the handle five clockwise click-stops.

In my opinion, the click-stop system is very accurate, and is easily repeatable should you need to change settings often. To lock the wrench settings so they will not move in use, the button on the end of the handle is simply pushed down.

Click – Torque is a brilliant feature of this series of wrenches.

On many older-styled torque wrenches, the torque’s indication target was reached when the head would give an audible click as the mechanism slipped.

However, if the user continued applying torque the likely result was a higher torque to that set on the wrench.

With the Click – Torque there is not only the audible signal to notify the user the target torque has been reached, but there is also a cam mechanism inside the handle to give a tactile click, which can be felt in the hand as it escapes the spring. This double signal means the user can immediately realise target torque is reached and can release pressure on the handle.

Not all torque settings are in traditional ‘righty-tighty’ screw threads, and Wera has therefore ensured the C-Series provides controlled tightening to the left and right.

So, will the C-Series catch on?

One of my usually infallible tests for finding out whether a tool will be a success or not is to lend it to the appropriate trade and then wait to see how long till you get it back.

In this case, deadlines being quite tight, I had to prise this wrench away long before the young motor technician to whom I lent it wanted to part with it.

He most liked the easy setting and overall quality of it, especially since he was having to reset torque readings several times a day. To my mind a slick summary of this wrench’s best points.


www-de.wera.de/en

STAHLWILLE's technical expertise means they will always be 'torque' of the town

STAHLWILLE is a traditional German company of the ‘mittelstand’ – the UK equivalent of a medium-sized business.

It is a family business since its establishment by Eduard Wille in 1862 in Wuppertal. Today the management of the company is independent, but the advisory committee represents the Wille family, writes Peter Brett.

Originally, the company was largely focused on making practical things in steel for domestic use - like fire tongs and pokers. However, after 1900, when the motor car was in fairly rapid expansion and development, the company turned to making the spanners, wrenches and pliers needed to maintain the new technology.

In ‘The Kontor’, the recently renovated visitor and training centre (which used to be the main office in Eduard Wille’s time), it is fascinating to see the display of the first rather heavy duty spanners made.

This was one of the most modern forges in Europe, and it was interesting to compare them with the slimmer and slicker ones made a hundred years later, where the demands of mechanics on their tools are so much greater. 

Eduard Wille established the maxim that the company was committed to producing the best possible tools with the customer in mind.

The Wille family and company remain true to this maxim today – and in my view it is a much better long and medium-term business model than the exploitative venture capital approach. 

STAHLWILLE has an excellent record of exporting products throughout the world. It has expertise in aerospace, automotive, renewable energies and industrial tools that puts it in a very strong position to compete with the biggest and best. 

The places and the people

The Cronenberg-Wuppertal site I visited was part of the original factory and forge started by Eduard Wille, and the large redbrick building that dominates the entrance has recently been renovated and redeveloped into a light and modern training and showroom space.

What is missing is the small railway that used to run down the side of the building into the factory area behind.

As the factory is in the midst of what is now quite a developed urban area, the heavy-duty hammer forges have been moved to a more suitable site in former East Germany, and a more recent extension, built in the local vernacular of slate tiles, houses the administration.

Eduard Wille was passionate in his belief that people were the most important aspect of a progressive company, since it was they who had the ideas to develop and then make into desirable finished products.

Today the company employs more than 600 people and still manufactures in Germany. It exports to over 90 countries worldwide through a dedicated sales network that focuses on understanding the needs of the customers, and then supplying the correct and most efficient solutions.

The innovations

Chris Rose, UK Sales Manager at STAHLWILLE UK, which is based in Surrey, was a great guide, and showed me not only how the company identifies issues and challenges that customers face, but also how the expert product development teams then try to develop solutions.

The obvious area to start is in the development of new ranges of torque wrenches for which STAHLWILLE is very well respected.

For me a torque wrench is a torque wrench, but it soon became clear there is much more to developing an accurate tool, with a reliable and dependable mechanism that would withstand some rough handling.

Also, as torque wrenches are becoming increasingly important in aerospace and vehicle technology - where composite materials are very sensitive to pressure on the fixings - it is vital to have a reliable tool that will ensure these materials can be used safely.

I was introduced to simple mechanical torque wrenches that seemed to do the job well, and then to electro-mechanical wrenches that took accuracy and accountability to an advanced level.

Open protocol wrenches not only did the job well, but recorded in detail and then sent the data on to a central system for ultimate accountability.

DAPTIQ

Alexander Grosser, Project Manager Industry 4.0, did a few demonstrations to show me just how advanced this system could become.

Using an augmented reality headset, a user in a production line for example could be guided towards bolts which need tightening in the correct order.

As this is done, a computer is recording the torques as they are applied and noting that they are correctly applied. 

If for any reason the torque is not correct, the system notes and then stops the user so the situation can be rectified. 

By basing the system on an open source platform, STAHLWILLE is hoping to encourage users to develop their own ways of managing and using the system to their own advantage. 

Reading Station DAPTIQ is another system in development by STAHLWILLE that is constantly evolving, because users and R & D keep on finding out how much more potential there is in the idea.

It looks like a simple secure storage unit for tools. But the unit not only keeps the tools secure, it counts them to ensure that all the tools are present.

In modern manufacture and aerospace for example, it is too late to discover that a wrench has been left in an engine when you are about to take off. Once again, the software allows both STAHLWILLE and clients to customise the system to suit various needs.

More expertise

It behoves a manufacturer of torque wrenches to have very accurate systems of recording exactly how well and accurately the wrenches are performing. 

STAHLWILLE has developed a range of motorised calibration systems. The motorised bench automates the loading process, and the transducers use strain gauges to take the dozens of measurements which need to be taken into account when calibrating a torque wrench to the new ISO 6789-2:2017 standard.

TORKMASTER software records the measurements, and calculates the deviations and measurement uncertainty. 

I did not realise quite how many variations there are when measuring performance.

Apparently, even the four sides of an adaptor can give different readings on the same wrench set to the same torque.

This can be tricky when you consider there must be no more than a 1% deviation for the calibration of STAHLWILLE’s most accurate torque wrench, the SENSOTORK 713 to be passed.

... And the rough stuff

Away from the refined electronic quiet of the demo centre, Chris showed me the actual manufacturing, assembly and finishing of the huge range of STAHLWILLE tools. 

STAHLWILLE is not only torque wrenches; it is spanners, pliers, cutters, screwdrivers, sockets & ratchets, etc etc.

I enjoy watching ‘real’ manufacture, and STAHLWILLE has a range of heavy processes needed to make and finish a socket, as well as the capacity to assemble the delicate electronics in an electro-mechanical torque wrench and then test it. 

Despite the noise of machines, the humans keep control of the factory floor, ensuring the continued production of thousands of items.

STAHLWILLE and the future

It is clear that STAHLWILLE not only has a productive and innovative past, it is looking to the future too.

I have mentioned only a few key innovations, but the company is clear that precision manufacturing in the industrial sector will only become more important.

Key areas like aerospace, automotive and renewable energy already have niche demands for tools, but again, these needs will become even more complicated and demanding - a challenge STAHLWILLE is tackling head on.


www.stahlwille.co.uk

Stahlwille Quality Torque Wrenches

Why Buy?

  • Easy to Use
  • Efficient
  • Cost Effective
  • Flexibility

Start with the Setting…

Perhaps the most crucial part of this tool, the setting, is indeed easy. It took me all of a few seconds to grasp, and therefore a trained mechanic could very easily use several settings on a single job without taking very much time. It certainly saves on the scenarios I have seen, where several torque wrenches have been used to apply different torque settings to a variety of bolts on the same job.

On the long length of the side of the wrench is a plastic-outlined window with a green sliding button and a plastic magnifying lens. Clearly marked are two scales in Nm and lb./ft. The torque indicator mark has a definite V-shaped mark in it that will line up with one of the clear vertical lines indicating the torque settings. I managed to read the scales very well with my glasses on – and the silver background and black scale marks are very visible.

To set the torque simply put your thumb into the handle end of the wrench shaft and you will find a small flat lever. Push this all the way down (if you don’t push it far enough the scale will not move freely) and use the green milled adjuster button to the setting you want. Release the thumb lever and the setting is set – it won’t move. 

Although the lever is on the open end of the wrench shaft, it is recessed enough so that it can’t be accidentally pressed or too easily become a victim of the ever-present greasy muck associated with workshops.

There is a rubbery plastic handle sited right on the end of the shaft for easy grip and maximum leverage. I wondered if some users might find it a bit small since my small hands had no trouble covering it.


The Working End

It would be pointless to have a quick setting torque wrench and not have a similar level of convenience when it comes to changing sockets etc. The Manoskop 730 Quick has a simple oblong socket into which spanner heads and square drives can be slotted. They are easy to release by simply pushing the green plastic button on the end of the shaft. I did have a small query about this arrangement because if the square drive is inserted ‘upside down’ the button release doesn’t work. Fortunately Stahlwille has provided a little hole where you can insert a pen/file/whatever to push down the release button.  I admit that this might not happen often because the orientation of the wrench is almost always the ‘correct’ way, but mistakes happen. 

What you can be sure of though, is that the QuickRelease Safety lock, while it is quick, will not release until you do it – it is safely held while working.

Accessories

There are several accessories that will fit either to the square drives, or straight into the end of the wrench. I tried the wheelnut socket and the spark plug socket on my car. A mechanic friend who gave the wrench a once over could really see the benefits of the ‘Quick’ aspects of the system, in terms of saving time and hassle for a busy mechanic working to deadlines.

He also liked the fact that there was no need for a manual reset to zero on this wrench made possible by STAHLWILLE’s unique triggering cam mechanism. This means the mechanism is not under any load unless a force is applied, even when it is left set, therefore you do not need to release the tension from the spring, as with conventional torque wrenches.

Once it has clicked as the torque is reached, the job is done and the wrench can be moved straight on to the next bolt.

Compared to the other old style torque wrenches I have used, the Stahlwille Manoskop 730 Quick is a more sophisticated wrench, that did the torque to the required spec with no hassle at all.

 

 

 

Stahlwille Quality Torque Wrenches Review - Torqueing it Easy!

The Background Bit…

I confess that I only knew of Stahlwille products peripherally because I rarely go into the world of spanners. More recently however, spanners and socketry have become more prominent in my work – it all depends on what jobs come your way I guess.

I had admired the huge Stahlwille presence at the Cologne Hardware Show last year, and was interested to hear about the products they were developing, but I don’t think I was fully aware of just what the company’s values and traditions are. But a chance to test one of its torque wrenches gave me the opportunity to look a bit more closely.

The company was founded in1862 by Eduard Wille and remains a family based concern. At the outset, the company focused on quality, but was also forward thinking enough to realise that quality has several components, including innovative ideas, a team of good workers and investment. It has tried to maintain this outlook and has survived and prospered for over 150 years, so it must have done something right.

The company has also insisted on maintaining production in Germany and has three production plants there. It was one of the first manufacturers to be certified with DIN EN ISO 9002 and later DIN EN ISO 9001 – fine indicators of quality.

But one final statistic might set you thinking – of all the 3.5 billion airline passengers who flew on aeroplanes worldwide in 2015, the airlines that carried them all relied on Stahlwille tools for daily and other maintenance.

Torqueing the Talk

The first torque wrench I ever used belonged to my uncle and it was a complicated beast whose setting alone was a trial. It needed to be checked and recalibrated quite quickly, and required quite a knack to get accurate results.

Roll on a few years, and the problem is that many applications now are torque sensitive – from electrical installations to automotive and onwards. So, what is needed are reliable torque instruments that are easy to use, recalibrate and are reliable – and in some cases even recordable so they can be checked on for warranty purposes. The Stahlwille Manoskop 730 Quick range consists of ten torque tools that vary in size and capacity. For example, the smallest in the range will deliver on ranges between 6 to 50 Nm while the largest and longest can deliver a range of 130 to 650 Nm. What they all have in common is that they are easy to use, easy to set and reset, and do not require a manual reset to zero.

Start with the Setting…

Perhaps the most crucial part of this tool, the setting, is indeed easy. It took me all of a few seconds to grasp, and therefore a trained mechanic could very easily use several settings on a single job without taking very much time. It certainly saves on the scenarios I have seen, where several torque wrenches have been used to apply different torque settings to a variety of bolts on the same job.

On the long length of the side of the wrench is a plastic-outlined window with a green sliding button and a plastic magnifying lens. Clearly marked are two scales in Nm and lb./ft. The torque indicator mark has a definite V-shaped mark in it that will line up with one of the clear vertical lines indicating the torque settings. I managed to read the scales very well with my glasses on – and the silver background and black scale marks are very visible.

To set the torque simply put your thumb into the handle end of the wrench shaft and you will find a small flat lever. Push this all the way down (if you don’t push it far enough the scale will not move freely) and use the green milled adjuster button to the setting you want. Release the thumb lever and the setting is set – it won’t move. 

Although the lever is on the open end of the wrench shaft, it is recessed enough so that it can’t be accidentally pressed or too easily become a victim of the ever-present greasy muck associated with workshops.

There is a rubbery plastic handle sited right on the end of the shaft for easy grip and maximum leverage. I wondered if some users might find it a bit small since my small hands had no trouble covering it.

The Working End

It would be pointless to have a quick setting torque wrench and not have a similar level of convenience when it comes to changing sockets etc. The Manoskop 730 Quick has a simple oblong socket into which spanner heads and square drives can be slotted. They are easy to release by simply pushing the green plastic button on the end of the shaft. I did have a small query about this arrangement because if the square drive is inserted ‘upside down’ the button release doesn’t work. Fortunately Stahlwille has provided a little hole where you can insert a pen/file/whatever to push down the release button.  I admit that this might not happen often because the orientation of the wrench is almost always the ‘correct’ way, but mistakes happen. 

What you can be sure of though, is that the QuickRelease Safety lock, while it is quick, will not release until you do it – it is safely held while working.

Accessories

There are several accessories that will fit either to the square drives, or straight into the end of the wrench. I tried the wheelnut socket and the spark plug socket on my car. A mechanic friend who gave the wrench a once over could really see the benefits of the ‘Quick’ aspects of the system, in terms of saving time and hassle for a busy mechanic working to deadlines.

He also liked the fact that there was no need for a manual reset to zero on this wrench made possible by STAHLWILLE’s unique triggering cam mechanism. This means the mechanism is not under any load unless a force is applied, even when it is left set, therefore you do not need to release the tension from the spring, as with conventional torque wrenches.

Once it has clicked as the torque is reached, the job is done and the wrench can be moved straight on to the next bolt.

Compared to the other old style torque wrenches I have used, the Stahlwille Manoskop 730 Quick is a more sophisticated wrench, that did the torque to the required spec with no hassle at all. 

New from Stahlwille – The MANOSKOP 730 Fix – It’s an adjustable wrench that you can “Fix”

The MANOSKOP 730 Fix – It’s an adjustable wrench that you can “Fix”.

For customers in industrial production environments, the use of ‘pre-set’ or ‘production’ torque wrenches has been the natural choice for many years. If the operator is repeating the same operation over and over on a production line, it is important to ensure that they cannot change the torque setting of the wrench, thus ensuring the product is manufactured to specification.

However, the customer often has to invest in an increasing number of ‘pre-set’ wrenches, preset at different torque settings for different applications. Alternatively, workshop torque testers are used to adjust the torque setting of the wrench for different tasks, or it is returned to the calibration lab for a torque setting change. This has been a bug-bear for many operators for some time.

The new MANOSKOP 730 Fix addresses this head on:

The 730 Fix is adjustable, with a scale, and is calibrated throughout the range.


The target torque can be set very quickly and easily using the QuickSelect knob.


The QuickSelect knob can then be unscrewed and removed by hand within seconds, without the use of any tools.


The TORX® TAMPER-RESISTANT screw (included) can be installed using the screwdriver bit (also included) and a bit driver.


Finally, as an extra measure, the self-adhesive cover (included) can be applied to cover the blanking screw.

Hitachi DV18DBXL Combi-The Torque of the Town

Amied at: Professionals in all trades who need a drill with really serious levels of torque for BIG drilling.

Pros: Excellent ergonomics and loads of torque and a 6Ah battery too, for longer working times.

This torquey Combi drill from Hitachi is a brand new, “from the ground up” development, although it would be hard to tell that from just its external appearance. The two key developments on it are the use of a “biggest ever” 6Ah lithium ion battery pack, which is actually the same size and weight as the 5.0ah pack, and a competition-busting 136Nm of “torques”, as Jeremy Clarkson would say.

I have already had a comment from a tradesperson who sniffily told me that trades didn’t need that amount of torque, but I disagree. I seem to have had a few situations recently where I could have done with quite a lot more torque from my drill! For example, using a 75mm hole saw through a bit of 20mm thick hardwood. You may not need the torque often, but when you do, its nice to know its there. Also, with all that torque on tap, the drill seems to work more quietly and responsively – but maybe I am getting ahead of myself.

A quick run down of the Hitachi DV18DBXL proves that the innovations are largely internal – its functions and controls follow a very familiar pattern. The speed sensitive trigger is large enough for a gloved finger and the forward/reverse function is via the push through switch above it.

Behind the quality metal- bodied 13mm chuck, the large collar for changing torque settings is large and easy to grasp and therefore easier to adjust. It has 22 torque settings as well as drill and hammer modes. A slider switch on top of the ABS body casing selects slow or fast motor speeds.

But I think that what users will notice is the very ergonomic handle that the drill boasts. I think it is genuinely comfortable to hold and provides very good grip, especially at higher torques. My feeling was that the designers have made the grip a bit smaller and slightly more hand-shaped to give the level of comfort needed.

Below the handle there are several important features. Not least of these is the 6Ah battery pack, which has a flat base so the drill can be stood on it.

The rails for sliding the battery packs are robust and the battery slides easily on them. The spring-loaded buttons for releasing the battery pack operate positively as well.

On the base of the handle is a bright LED light aimed at the chuck. This switches on and off automatically, and is definitely not a gimmick or “me too” as anyone working in the semi dark or in enclosed spaces will tell you.

Just behind the light is a battery charge indicator so that users can know when to charge up.

There is the customary reversible belt hook too, probably only usable if you have a proper weight-bearing belt round your waist.

The small RFC logo on both sides of the motor housing stands for Reactive Force Control – a posh name for a sophisticated safety clutch. Basically, should the drill bit or whatever, become stuck in the material, the RFC electronics will cut in and stop the motor before the operator breaks a wrist or fingers (with 136Nm of torque on tap it is best to be wary)

The electronics will also cut in to protect the combi from heat build up, battery overloading and deep discharge, as well as maximizing the torque usage, speeds etc of the new brushless motor.

What was a big surprise for me was that this Hitachi combi comes with a 37cm long auxiliary handle. This handle screws into either left or right hand side of the alloy gearbox housing on the front of the tool. The “hand” end has an ergonomic handle with big flanges to prevent hands from coming off it.

I confess that I thought that the length of the auxiliary handle was a bit over the top when I saw it, but when I started testing the torque available from the combi, I realized that there would be times when I would need it.

Unfortunately, because of the demand for sample tools to test, I had a relatively brief window in which to try it out, but I did my best. In the past I have found that some drills I regularly use are unable to drill holes in hardwood when using the three-fluted spiral “speed” drills on the market. In fact, I have often managed to stall a drill bit into the material just past the pilot screw. No such trouble with the Hitachi DV18DBXL – it eats such stuff for breakfast. I drilled 25mm diameter hole after 25mm diameter hole, through 30mm thick, dry and hard oak with the drill not even breaking into a metaphoric sweat. It really has so many guts that you will like having the long auxiliary handle to help control the torque effect.

While it might not look like it because it retains the current Hitachi look and livery, the DV18DXBL is in fact a deliberate move into a new era of drilling by Hitachi.  Using a new and powerful brushless motor and a 6Ah battery pack, there is a focus on compact power that uses the latest electronics to deliver maximum performance for the end user while reducing energy sapping heat from both the motor and battery packs.

The pairing of the 6Ah battery packs and brushless motors maximizes power and run times without the expected extra weight – the new battery packs weigh the same as the “old” ones. Hitachi also assures us that there will be full compatibility with every “slide battery” from 1.5 to 6Ah, and that chargers will be similarly compatible. Charge times will of course vary from old to new, with the new battery packs expected to charge in about 35 minutes.

But even better is that Hitachi intends pricing for the new drill to be VERY competitive. We users will not know the exact pricing details until the launch of the drill in February – but I am sure it will be a pleasant surprise.

For more information on Hitachi Power Tools, please visit www.hitachi-powertools.co.uk

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