Snap-On tools are decidedly for professionals or hobbyists who have serious cash. Just a 92-piece 3/8-inch socket set will set you back $3,630. To be fair to Snap-On, the vast majority of the brand’s tools and toolboxes are made in the United States, which contributes to the high cost. The brand is also known for its impeccable customer service. Few other tool brands will send out a representative and accompanying truck to help you replace broken or damaged tools — there’s a reason why the Snap-On truck is so iconic.
Given the brand’s professional and more specific clientele than a brand like Husky or Ryobi with mass market appeal, Snap-On doesn’t have too many tools that are outright weird or wacky. That said, hidden deep within Snap-On’s very vast catalog, there are a few items that stick out as either downright strange or so incredibly specific that it makes you scratch your head a little.
Landing Gear Socket Wrench
Even more so than cars, aircraft need dedicated mechanics to keep flying safely and efficiently. While a car can mostly get away with skipping a tune-up or service here or there, that is absolutely not the case with your average plane. Aircraft maintenance is also significantly more regulated and particular than an average car’s maintenance regimen. As such, you need a good set of tools to do the job and Snap-On often fits the bill.
Snap-On item LGSW125 is one such tool. It is a landing gear socket wrench, specifically for the bolts that hold the landing gear together on the Embraer 190, a Brazilian passenger jet. It’s not too strange that Snap-On makes the tool — after all, someone has to make it. But it is strange that it’s the only aircraft socket wrench on Snap-On’s site. There are no specific tools for other popular airliner brands like Boeing or Airbus. With that said, if you really need that socket wrench for emergency work on your airliner, it is priced at $134.
Railroad Torque Socket
Diesel electric locomotives are very powerful and extremely heavy. A GP-40 locomotive weighs upwards of 245,000 pounds (and that’s before you factor in the weight of fuel) and its electric traction motors generate a total of 3,000 horsepower. Needless to say, your average locomotive is a serious piece of heavy-duty equipment. There are few things more American than huge trains with miles of container cars traveling the width of the country. So it’s only natural that Snap-On would make tools specifically for working on locomotives.
With a machine as heavy as a locomotive, average sockets clearly won’t make the cut. Snap-On’s Railroad Torque Socket is made for the job. Specifically, according to Snap-Op, the socket is suited for letting mechanics and engineers properly torque the bolts that hold the motor’s gearing together. With that specificity comes a high price. Just one Railroad Torque Socket is $463.90. Given how important railroads are to the economic health of the country, a nearly $500 socket is much cheaper than replacing an entire train that failed due to improperly torqued bolts.
36 External Pipe Wrench
Pipe wrenches are not that strange and most hand tool brands offer at least some variation in a pretty wide array of sizes. But Snap-On’s largest offering is something else entirely: it’s three feet long. It more resembles a medieval weapon than a common plumbing tool. Although it would likely be up for the job, the tool’s sheer size puts its most common-use scenarios very far away from the house or other DIY territory. A tool that big is more suited to the environment of an oil field or maybe mining in space.
There are other larger pipe wrenches from other brands (Milwaukee carries a 60-inch long model). Milwaukee’s pipe wrench is very modern with sharp lines, an ergonomic handle, and holes cut out of the frame to make it lighter. Snap-On’s pipe wrench is not the same. It’s utilitarian and authoritative. Using it counts as exercise and weight training and it looks like it hasn’t changed design since Harry Truman was president. It’s priced at a very Snap-On-like $378, as it will likely outlast the heat-death of the universe.
Penlight with mouthpiece
Penlights and compact flashlights are vital tools for working around engine bays or otherwise really tight spaces where a large flashlight might be inconvenient. A penlight is often much more portable too. Anyone who has worked on cars, plumbing, or has done electrical work long enough has run into the problem of needing light and two hands to work. If you don’t have a headlamp available, what do you do? The easiest choice is to stick the flashlight in your mouth and hold it there until the job’s done. Firstly, that violates the age-old rule of never sticking something that isn’t food in your mouth, and secondly, it likely isn’t great for your teeth.
Snap-On has solved that problem by affixing a mouthpiece to the end of its 125 lumen penlight. Not only is the penlight rechargeable with two light modes, but the mouthpiece is also Food and Drug Administration compliant. This light looks like an April Fool’s joke or a gag gift, but it is absolutely real and Snap-On charges $69.95 for the privilege of sticking a flashlight in your mouth.
Lastly, Snap-On offers an item called the Magnetic Finger, and it does exactly what you think it does: turns your finger into a magnet. As goofy as it looks, that could be very useful when working in claustrophobic areas like inside an engine bay. Sometimes you drop a screw or bolt and while you can touch it, you can’t quite get a grip on it to retrieve it. The Magnetic Finger lets you pick up the wayward bolt with upwards of 1.7 pounds of magnetic force.
It comes in a pack of six from Snap-On’s website and the price is fairly steep at $78.75 per pack. However, it would likely come in handy more than once for any professional mechanic. Plus, it allows you to become the generic dollar store version of Magneto from the X-Men series. Either way, it’s a strange tool, but fairly ingenious when you think about all the times you’ve dropped a tiny piece of metal and absolutely could not recover it.
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