By Hal Jones
Xtreme Access Sockets and Ratchets, Swiss Knife Utility Comes to Socket Sets
If you have ever switched from a box end wrench to a socket when removing nuts from threaded rods you will appreciate Kobalt’s new line of tools and accessories under the Xtreme Access group. Using pass through technology, the user simply slides the socket and ratchet over the fastener and the fastener’s shaft can pass through the opening of the socket and ratchet. Think of a box end wrench, but with ratcheting ability and the ability to change sockets on the ratchet for the various sizes. Some asked why choose the Xtreme Access Socket Set when ratcheting box end sets have been available for some period of time? The answer is simply, flexibility, cost and smaller area required to store the tools.
Whereas I keep a ratcheting box wrench set in my shop for both metric and SAE, I have put the 27 piece Xtreme Access Socket Set in my car’s trunk for emergency use or for use when I am away from my shop tools. The universal spline system used in the 27 piece set, allows one socket to fit both metric and SAE fasteners. I am still getting accustomed to using the same socket for both SAE and metric, but for occasional use and non-technical applications they work fine. Maybe I am behind the curve here, but in the shop I still prefer metric sockets for metric fasteners and SAE sockets for SAE bolts. Backing a gummed up grade 8 cap screw out of a bearing cap is not something I would suggest doing with anything other than the correct socket. However I can see adjusting throttle linkages and brake adjustment brackets on old motorcycles as a great application for the universal spline and pass through ratchet.
Attachments for Kobalt’s Xtreme Access Tool Sets
The other up side to a socket set in place of ratcheting box end wrenches is the available sockets and attachments that can be chucked up to the ratchet. The Kobalt 27 Pc Xtreme Access even includes an adapter for insert bits to be used with the ratchet. I am not quite sure why insert bits need to be included with a socket set, but with the way I lose inserts when working away from home or even in the yard on bikes, mowers,etc. more insert bits means fewer trips to the store to replace the popular insert bits I always seem to be losing. One ratchet may take up the same amount of space as one box end wrench, but I can stack 10 sockets in the same space as one box end wrench, so these sets are very compact.
For the hardcore mechanic who values trunk space, this would be a good set to keep in the trunk, it does a lot of tasks with just a few items. For the homeowner who may not have a shop, the 27 piece set from Xtreme Access is a good starter kit for all around use. It’s small enough to fit in a kitchen drawer and there are enough sizes of sockets included that it will handle most of your tasks. Think Christmas Eve gift assembly nightmare, and you will appreciate the universal spline. Maybe I should ping Kobalt’s team and suggest including one of its cool Double Drive screwdrivers and make this a 28 piece set. The Kobalt Double Drive would make the included insert bits a more functional part of this kit.
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