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I have to admit, I’m not entirely sure how these work, but they look like something from the end of Inspector Gadget’s forearm. They’re for precisely torquing large bolts in tight spaces, apparently mounting on the end of a long handle and accepting hydraulic feed and return lines. Unless I miss my guess, an internal pressure regulator determines how much torque is exerted.

If anyone’s ever used one of these, what are they like? The baddest torque tool I’ve ever used was a 3/4″-drive impact wrench, which is probably a pushover compared to these suckers.

Since the application is scarce, so are these tools. As far as I can find, no online retailer even posts prices; in accordance with “if you have to ask, you can’t afford it,” that makes me doubt they’re cheap. The model above — Hytorc’s Stealth — looks like a rare and high-quality piece of work, so odds are they’re worth it for the right user.

Hytorc Hydraulic Torque Wrenches [Hytorc Products]

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17 Responses to Unusual Tools: Hydraulic Torque Wrenches

  1. Todd says:

    A major use for these is on-site when building wind turbine towers. There is no handle used in this application, the body of the tool acts as a reaction arm against the inside of the tower when tightening. They use real small hydraulic power units that they can hoist around inside the tower with them. Think small suitcase.

  2. bigalexe says:

    I did some research into these things looking for an alternative to air tools for a school robotics project (Tire Changer). Mostly they appear to aimed at the Construction Equipment Service Industry for use on repairing backhoes, bulldozers, front-end loaders, and other forms of HEAVY equipment.

    I decided to give up searching because finding a unit that had a torque rating below 500 ft.lbs. became next to impossible. If you are using one of these then you must REALLY want that bolt tight.

  3. Ross says:

    The units we use for assembling tower cranes cost around $20K each. But then you really do want to have your crane torqued to spec.

  4. Bill1974 says:

    I have seen similar used on large industrial valves used in power pllants

  5. Joshua says:

    The USARMY has a vehicle called the M88, it is a tracked recovery vehicle. It carries a hydraulic impact, that lookes like most any other 1″ impact. Don’t recall precise numbers, but it’s torque was counted by thousands. Pretty cool thing about it is that it is very quiet… soft whine of the hyd. pump and the faint sound of the socket “tinking” off the bolt.

    Equally cool the FLU419, horribly designed backhoe/loader from Mercedes Benz. It has a hyd. chansaw. Again, very quiet. All you really hear is the chain slapping the bar and the wood being “torn”

  6. Dean says:

    The pressure is set at the power unit and the tool as such is just a “dumb” unit. The tool head contains a hydraulic piston which acts on a ratcheting arm turning the drive. You normally only get about 20-30 degrees of rotation before needing to release pressure, allow it to return and then drive it up again. They “stall” out at the set pressure/torque. We normally drive the fasteners up with an impact gun and then finish off with the hydraulic tools. They are capable of some serious torque, we use from the 1MXT (271-1817Nm) to the 4XLT (786-5226Nm), operating pressure range from 1500-10000PSI.

  7. Josh says:

    We use hytorcs every day in construction on nuclear plants. Mostly structural steel, coolant pumps, and other large components. Of course I’m just a white hat. They don’t let the silly design engineer play with the tools. I designed the component, I should be able to build it, right? No fun.

    Cheers, Josh

  8. Matt K says:

    We use a 6′ long 1″ drive torque wrench at work to attach devices to the rail. They’ll do 1200 lb ft and came from England at $5000 each. We only usually use them at 760, and after doing 30-40 nuts I’m usually beat for the rest of the day… I really wish we had something like this.

  9. Brosif says:

    We use these on locomotives engines. Among many other uses on the locomotive they can be used for torquing two power assemblies (our name for connecting rod, piston, etc cylinder) to the other.

  10. Brosif says:

    Matt,
    At 40 nuts you do a staggering 30,400 lb-ft of torque a day! Either you will (or already do) look like Popeye or will most likely have ergo issues in the future. We stopped using the man-sized torque wrench years ago because of an injury. If you can get an EHS guy to study your work I bet they can make a case for your job function to have a hytorc.

  11. Matt K says:

    Brosif,

    I generally feel it the most between my shoulders. We have a 2 stroke Impact wrench as well, but it will not get into the area around the frog on the rail switches, and when we are walking through the yard it is just plain easier to carry the wrench. The head on this wrench looks to be relatively light which would be great, of course then I’d need a couple hundred feet of hydraulic hose to go with it……

  12. PhilipB says:

    Once you are above about 1000 ft.lbs your choices are fairly limited: a big ‘clicker’ or ‘break back’ torque wrench but see what Matt K has to say about this. Impact wrenches are fast but have severe noise and vibration issues and are not torque controlled tools. Hand operated torque multipliers – great until you have a lot of bolts to do (typically 25 turns of the input to get 1 turn of the output). This leaves hydraulic wrenches and pneumatic (non impacting) wrenches. Choice will depend alot on the available head room because pneumatic wrenches tend to be quite long. Where pneumatic wrenches score is on speed compared with a hydraulic wrench. Admittedly, the free speed is nothing like an impact wrench but you have low noise, very low vibration and good torque control.

  13. Dick Bonnet says:

    These wrenches are common in industry where you “can’t do it by hand” Hytorc is a name of a manufacturer. I represent TorcUP, a competitor. We have square drive wrenches from 120 ft/lbs to 60,000 ft/lbs and low profile (like the one pictured) from 200 ft/lbs to 50,000 ft/lbs. Our website http://www.torcup.com can show you tools and applications. Our national and international sales engineers can bring a tool to your jobsite and let you try it. They are more efficient and safer than the cheater pipe/ slug wrench way. They are Made in the USA and the best tools for the money in the business.

  14. David M says:

    My company went under and I purchased one of these torque wrenches from the auction at the end of the company. Really useful machine, I must say. Back in the day, it’d take 10-20 of us able-bodied men with a huge pole to pry loose a bolt on some of our larger machines, more often than not resulting in a trip to the hospital for at least one of us (because when that bolt came loose, the pole went down, and we along with it). I was scouting craigslist and saw an almost exact model I worked with, don’t know if anyone was looking for more information on it. Cheers.
    http://cincinnati.craigslist.org/tls/1540859474.html

  15. Carman says:

    These are used a lot offshore working on subsea equipment that has some pretty high torque specs

  16. Howard says:

    We use these tools in the oil refinery on bolts of 27mmdia. and larger. Each cassett has a specific model number and requires exact pressure settings on the regulator for each pass. Finger safety is parramount with these machines as they remove them very easily if they get in the way.

  17. bob Barbarin says:

    hyd operated torque actuators are used widely mainly because the area cheaper and more handy item than any other unit on the market so far, the torque is usually in (metric) Bar or (standard) psi,both have to be converted to ft lbs. there are conversion charts available.

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