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Gearless Right Angle Adapter

When you’re working in tight quarters, you can never have too many options — one tool you might want in your arsenal is the CalVan gearless 90-degree socket adapter. Available in both 1/4″ and 3/8″ square drives, the patented gearless drive turns smoothly while exceeding the ANSI torque specs for universal socket adapters.  You can find either the 1/4″ or 3/8″ right-angle drive adapter for as low as $10.

From the supplied picture, we’re not exactly sure how the mechanism works. If you have one of these adapters, or if you have any insight into its inner workings, we’d be interested to hear about it in the comments.

Street Pricing [Google Products]
1/4″ Drive Via Amazon [What’s This?]
3/8″ Drive Via Amazon [What’s This?]


25 Responses to Gearless Right-Angle Socket Adapter

  1. Jason says:

    I’ve never seen one of these before, but here’s my guess:
    The outside does not move, just the inside. There are two inner “L”s shown in the picture. Though they look like different sizes, I imagine that they are not. The inner pieces at the ends, which spin, have holes these Ls sit in. They can freely spin in these holes and can also move in and out of them. So, as you spin one end, the inner L moves around the outer L, becoming the outer L. Again, this is all conjecture.

  2. A1cntrler says:

    The “Two inner L’s” you see in the picture are really a reflection I believe. I have no clue, unless it is cable driven?? If so, can’t last but so long…

  3. Eliot says:

    I’m guessing the outside housing and the large center shaft are stationary and the two small L’s rotate around the center to transfer the work.

  4. Michael says:

    I think there are at least six “inner L’s” (hidden behind each other), but I otherwise agree with Jason. Each of the cylinders probably looks like cylinder of a revolver (you know, the gun). In each “chamber” of the cylinder, you have the end of one “L”. As you rotate one cylinder, the L’s slide in and out of it but also rotate around. It’d be cool to watch a video.

  5. clueless says:

    Mike is correct, that is how it works.

  6. Rob says:

    This is almost the same thing, an elbow engine.


  7. Doug says:

    Anybody ever used one? The mechanical loss involved must be huge. No grunting a fastener down with this puppy.

  8. Old Donn says:

    Guess I don’t get out much, but I don’t see a practical application for this thing. It’s shape alone makes it awkward and seems to me, would limit access, not enhance it. Yet another gimmick that’s destined to wind up at the bottom of the toolbox with the Gator Grip and Metrinch set.

  9. Frank Townend says:

    I could find sellers, but not the manufacturer’s Website. My ‘guess’ is as A1cntrler’s in that it is cable driven with the innermost “L” a tube with a cable in it. The outermost “Ls” are for support.

  10. _Jon says:

    My concern is the size.
    If I have that much room to put that in, why won’t the head of a normal drive wrench fit?
    It would be a very rarely used item.
    I’ve worked on a lot of cars and made quite a few specialty tools during a job.
    I can only think of one situation where is useful – if the entrance to the vertical line allows for absolutely no swing of wrench. In which case, good luck getting the bolt / nut back in place for assembly.

    • chakri says:

      Min pins required for this mechanism is 3only.so that we can modify the tool as we wish.and as some one said above there is much friction losses compare to gear.bcoz pins will be slide and make cylinders to rotate in 90 deg.

  11. fred says:

    The principle for this dates back to the ancient Greeks – perhaps Archimedes.
    There are 6 L-Shaped pins. The center pin serves as the axis of rotation and does not move. The 5 outer pins move in and out (they do not rotate) along 2 spiral ramps housed at each end. As you turn the drive end (and hence its ramp the motion of the pins forcer the ramp at the other end to turn.

  12. Mike lee says:

    There are lot of ratchets that do the same thing. I brought a sidewinder about 10 years ago. You just turn the top part of the handle and it will turn the socket. I paid about 30 dollars. The next one I brought was made by stanley. You just twist the handle and it turns the socket. I paid around 19 dollars. They do come in handy when you are working on cars.

  13. Sam says:

    I sell these and they work great, the mechanical loss is very minimal. Mike and Eliot did a good job describing them but you really gotta play with one to see how they work. I’d definitely recommend getting one if you ever drive a nut around a 90 degree bend. They turn much more smootly than a u-joint type driver.

  14. charlie says:

    i had one worked great on a ratchet but please god dont pull a tim tayler and throw it on a impact gun .you better have your safety glasses it will come apart big time

  15. dave says:

    look up[elbow engine]to see how it works

  16. Greg palmer says:

    I own a commercial / security fencing company ,i purchassed one to make it easier to snap of security bolts on the bottom rail of railings when close to the ground ,it works fine.

  17. DrewElicker says:

    This is an old right-angle drive design. It can actually be made to transmit power thru any angle–the angle of the L-pins (in this case 90 degrees–any other angled pin wouldn’t be called a L-pin, I guess) determines the angle. That is, if the pins were bent to 60 degrees, it would be a 60 degree drive. It is useful when the angle of power transmissions does not change, in which case a standard U-joint would be called for. The L-pins (there can be any number over five) are free to slide in the holes, which are drilled parallel to the shafts. (Early descriptions of this coupler call for small holes drilled at the ends of the holes, if they are drilled blind, to let the air pressure in and out as the pins move in the holes). The angle which the pins are bent to must precisely the same for each one, and the holes in the shafts must be accurately drilled, both radially and tangentially. All parts of this coupler move when the shafts rotate. There is no center pin or shaft. This is a very smooth-acting device, and the power loss is minimal. It can be run at nearly any speed, even at high speed, and is very quiet. It is fascinating to watch in action, with the pins sliding in and out as it rotates. Each of the L-pins seems to shrink as it slides into the shaft and to grow as it pulls out. I have constructed several of these drives for use in kinetic artwork, and they always get a reaction. You could make a model of one in a few hours with a coat hanger, two wooden spools and a few scrap dowels. You can read about this drive in ‘Ingenious Mechanisms for Designers & Inventors’ by Horton and Newell, or in ‘1800 Mechanical Movements, Devices & Appliances’ by Hiscox.

  18. Dan I. says:

    Hi everyone, I am amazed at the responses this little tool is getting … good and bad. My dad and I had no idea this thing would even work when we came up with it in our garage in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan , Canada. That’s right ! The little tool you all are talking about was born out of necessity in our garage when we were working on my Volkswagen. There was a tough to reach spot and my dad said that there has to be something better than putting tape on a standard universal socket to hold it at an angle. So he puttered around with spare parts from broken sockets and his drill press and this is what we came up with. I am kind of biased but I think it is a wonderful and handy complement to any tool box. Cheers, Dan from Saskatoon.

  19. Gary says:

    Dan, congratulations to your father on a great idea! I really LOVE this little tool. I’m going to buy one just to play with it.

  20. John Moore says:

    Actually, the Youtube video that you point to is the engine I made from a set of plans from somewhere in distant times past. I think, first published in the mid 50’s or early 60’s.

    I did do a little research on it, not much about it I’m afraid, and found that it was devised by a chappie called Hobson, and the original concept was to change the direction of line shafting, for driving machinery from a central steam engine in old time factories, without the use of beveled gears.

    Imagine the input ‘cylinder’ having a central driving shaft, the elbows are then driven in a circular motion, but because the ‘elbows’ are also supported on the other end in another cylinder, again with a central drive shaft (the power out of the coupling), the elbows just slide in and out of each cylinder in unison, and so transmit the power around the corner. There is also another advantage with this coupling, the 90 degree power can also be swung a full 360 degrees around the input shaft centre line while everything is still turning.

    Very difficult to explain, but the concept certainly works, and works very well indeed.

  21. Roger Finch says:

    I am surprised that this received a Patent # 5,967,004 issued to Isbister. Oct.19,1999. The mechanism was well known, described in detail and documented in “Ingenious Mechanisms” by Franklin D. Jones, Vol #2 copyright 1936. Page 349. I believe it was actually invented long before the 1936 book. The only difference I can see is the application of the Gearless Transmission to a drive tool and the method of securing the central pin to the barrels. Maybe that’s enough to get a Patent. I have made many of the Gearless Transmissions and found that it is not necessary for the pin holes to be equally spaced in the barrel. It IS necessary that the holes in each barrel be in the same location. When I make one, I drill all the holes in a barrel that is twice the length, then cut it in half to create the individual barrels. I am not making them for mass production so I am free to experiment.

  22. browndog77 says:

    Central pin? How can there be a central pin? That would render the thing immobile!

  23. Jayson says:

    If you work airplanes, this thing is an absolute godsend. The outside pins rotate around the central pin and the move in and out. If you have ever seen the internal workings of a Constant Displacement hydraulic pump, it is somewhat/kind of similar in concept. Think of the pins as the pistons in the pump. This thing is great.

  24. Cliff says:

    Here’s a YouTube video that shows the tool in action:


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