How to Torque Without a Torque Wrench

In order to deal with torque. People tend to ignore torque values and just choose whatever feels right, for no other reason than they don’t have a torque wrench. You won’t use a torque wrench two or three times a year, so it’s not worth spending two hundred four hundred eight hundred dollars on one. 

Certain things like spark plugs, whether on a boat engine or a vehicle engine, must be torqued to a specific value for a reason. Some manufacturers design these components to be torqued to a specific value.

Overtightening these things can result in stripped threads, and under tightening them can result in leaks. Putting together a simple set of tools to gauge how much torque you are applying to a part isn’t all that difficult.

What is a Torque Wrench?

Let’s take a moment to take a closer look at what this tool actually is and how it works before we explain how you can get by without it. The torque wrench is a simple piece of equipment that applies a certain level of torque to your lug nut to help you fix it. Most of the time, this tool is used in industrial workshops or auto-repair shops.

It can prevent a lot of problems with your car, such as brake wear or warping brakes. Due to its ability to apply the perfect amount of force, overtightening will not cause any damage to the nut.

How to Torque Without a Torque Wrench

So today we will share some tools that you might need if you don’t have a torque wrench.

Breaker Bar and Fishing Scale

How to Torque Without a Torque Wrench
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All you need is a breaker bar which is at least a foot long if you’re going to be dealing in foot-pounds you need your arm in a way to measure the exact amount of distance from the component and then you also need a way to measure the amount of force exerted.

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Now we have chosen to use a HEETA fish scale. You could use a luggage scale if you wanted to, but anything that’s going to show you exactly how much force you’re exerting as weight is going to work.

Torque is nothing more than a representation of the amount of force exerted across a distance so if I’m working at one foot and I pull ten pounds I’ve exerted ten-foot pounds on that component.

How to Torque Without a Torque Wrench
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So just to illustrate real quick we will go ahead and hook up to this bolt here on the throttle of this engine. Then I’m going to hook up and just exert 10 pounds. 

How to Torque Without a Torque Wrench
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Now watch on the display until it reaches 10 pounds. When you see that it exerted 10 foot pounds on that component, you will know without a doubt that you’ve exerted the prescribed amount of torque on your component. whether it’s a spark plug or a bolt. 

Ratchet and Fishing Scale

In this instance, we will use a fish scale and a ratchet with marks every inch to determine the torque applied to rotate the gear set.

  • Take the example of torqueing a fastener to 15 inch pounds. Mark a ratchet at 1″ and 2″ (I ground a notch at each mark to prevent the scale hook from slipping) then hook a fish scale to the ratchet and pull while watching the needle. 
  • Pull the 15-pound weight 1″ from the ratchet’s center of rotation when pulling 15 inch pounds. 
  • By the 2″ mark, you’ll need 15 inch pounds to reach your goal. 
  • Pull 120 pounds 1″ out of 120 inch pounds. 60 pounds 2” out so on so forth.
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A 50 pound weight can theoretically be hung 2′ away from the center of rotation of a fastener if you need 100 foot pounds and have a 2′ breaker bar.

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