A new breed of ratcheting wrenches came onto the market several years ago and have since revolutionized my toolbox. As opposed to the older ratcheting wrenches that were made up of sheets of steel riveted together, and were primitive at best, these look more like high-quality hand wrenches. There are two kinds.  

The original GearWrench type has a straight head and ratchets in only one direction. You flip the wrench over to change directions. I really like the slim feel of the original.

The other variety, sold under many tool brands, has a reversible ratchet mechanism with a pawl lever, and an angled head, as on a standard combination wrench.  I have a set of these by Blue Point, Snap-On's import brand. Sometimes the angled head is just what you need.

Sears is selling a version under their Craftsman brand that looks an awful lot like my Blue Point wrenches, but has a ridge on the upper edge of the driving ring so that the fastener cannot slip through the tool.  This is rather neat, except where you are in a cramped location and want to run the wrench "backwards" for handle clearance, with the direction pawl facing the work.  No-can-do with the Craftsman version.  You win some, you lose some.

I use both kinds for different applications and honestly cannot recommend one over the other.  Notice that the straight ones have smaller heads and can get into tighter places, but the lack of offset is sometimes rough on the knuckles.  The offset ones give a bit more handle clearance, but the larger head might not fit into tight spots. In most cases, either one will get the job done. 

A perfect example for Gearwrench application is the removal of an MGB windscreen from behind padded dashboards. If you try to go in there with a ratchet and socket, you simply cannot fit the tool in there, requiring removal of the entire dash.  You can get at the fasteners with an open-end, but you will be at it for what seems like hours.  A GearWrench can get in there and, 9 times out of 10, remove the four bolts from the windscreen post without leaving a mark on the dash. Of course, there is that 10th dash that just won't clear, but that's just the kind of thing that makes our LBCs that much more endearing, isn't it?

Bradley Restoration

Andrew Bradley, Proprietor

14093 Riverbend Rd.

Mount Vernon, WA 98273

(360) 848-6279