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After raving about the utility of tools like Stanley Proto’s Rotator Ratchet — which allows you to drive the ratchet by rotating the handle with your wrist as well as turning it the normal way — I came across the tool pictured above in the bottom of my “spare sockets” drawer.  Turning the T-handle at the left rotates the ratchet head.

It’s branded Popular Mechanics, and I can’t imagine that it’s anywhere near new.  Most of the stuff in the drawer where I found it came from a similar drawer in my Dad’s roll-away.

Since I found it, I’ve used it a couple of times.  It’s certainly handy for situations where clearances are tight, but I’m not much of a fan of the ratcheting mechanism.  And turning the T-handle while holding the ratchet in place requires two hands.  Though I think I’d like Proto’s wrist-action design better, I imagine I can make more torque with this one.

Of course, there is one big advantage (for me, anyway) of this wrench over the Proto: I already own this one.

Note: If you have a cool old tool lying around in your collection, why not drop us a description and a link to a picture of it using our contact form?  I bet other readers would enjoy seeing it, and I know we would.


11 Responses to From The Toolbox: A Rotator Ratchet, Old-School Style

  1. eschoendorff says:

    Isn’t that a sidewinder ratchet? I always wondered about them but never actually found myself needing one.

  2. Old Donn says:

    One of those things that look like a great idea in the store, then when you get it home, it winds up in the bottom drawer of the tool chest. Another candidate for Santa’s Secret gift exchange.

  3. John says:

    I had a Sidewinder, and it was great till I loaned it out and it came back jammed solid. It wasn’t even a ratchet anymore. DON’T try to do anything that requires a lot of torque!

    OTOH, I have no idea what that guy did to break mine. He may have welded it to keep it from ratcheting.

  4. ImportTuner says:

    I have the same wrench except that it is called a Sidewinder; thought I would have use for it but only used it once in 5 years …

  5. b_harris265 says:

    I have had two of them. They are really handy, especially for bolts like starter or bell housings in tight spaces. I have finally found a sight where I could order another. http://www.aircraftspruce.com. John is right They don’t stand a lot of torque either at the “t” or as a ratchet, so use a breaker bar or other ratchet first. Then you can speed it off. Using the “T” handle spins the bolt out at a 4:1 ratio so it is pretty quick.
    They run about $29 plus shipping, and yes it might sit in your tool box a while, but when you need it and can only wish you had it……

  6. CS says:

    I love the rotator ratchet for car work-taking out an alternator or removing side post battery cables, for example. The index ratchet I have just doesn’t get where I need it to.

  7. jesse says:

    The Popular Mechanics name was licensed by Walmart as a private label brand for some hand tools.

  8. leah Weathersbee says:

    Just picked up one of these does anyone know their value

  9. Mike Rosser says:

    I have had mine for 15 years , Theres always the right tool for the job and i have found a few, spark plugs and headers for a start! Mine still works like a charm but dors take some getting used to..

  10. Randy says:

    A friend of mine has one. They are good for spinning off nuts and bolts in tight areas. I am considering getting one.

  11. George says:

    Is there a repair kit for that type of ratchet (sidewinder der] in particular the gears inside?

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