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Angle of the Dangle: How to Use Torque Angle Gauges & Adapters

(Image/Wayne Scraba)

It should come as no surprise that Torque Angle is the measurement of choice for some engine components (the main example being connecting rods). When tightening fasteners by way of the torque angle method, the fastener is first preloaded to a specific torque. Next, a torque angle gauge (meter) is used to tighten the fastener to a specific angle. You can either use a specific torque angle gauge (similar to a torque wrench) or you can use a torque angle gauge attached to a breaker bar.

What makes torque angle superior to good old fashioned torque is that it is not affected by friction. Fellow OnAllCylinders contributor Jeff Smith provides an excellent overview of both torque angle and the use of the basic gauges, you can click here to read it.

Meanwhile, you can check out this video with Summit Racing’s Brian Nutter on how to use a dedicated torque angle gauge here:

When it comes to torque angle gauges, you’ve got several different options. Included in the mix are dedicated digital torque wrenches that also read torque angle, as well as adapters that simply attach between your breaker bar and the applicable socket.

The digital torque wrenches are a bit more expensive than the adapter style gauges—but the basic takeaway, is anyone can afford one of these tools.

Here’s the rundown on what’s available, starting with a couple of the more expensive electronic torque wrenches:

Summit Racing carries a digital half-inch drive torque wrench from ACDelco Tools, part number ARM303-4A340. As mentioned above, this torque wrench can also determine torque angle. The readout is LCD, and because of that, the wrench requires a battery. In addition to the digital display, there’s a built in buzzer that provides audible confirmation of the reading. The torque wrench will read up to 720 degrees when set as an angle measurement device.

Another ACDelco Tool is part number ARM315-3A. This torque wrench is similar to the above wrench, except it is a 3/8-inch drive model.

Fair enough. But what if you don’t have deep pockets or you don’t perform torque angle measurements on a regular basis? You’re covered there too. There are several different torque angle adapters available. In no particular order, here are a few examples :

OTC Tools has a half-inch drive torque angle gauge with a 360 degree scale (all of the adapters here have the same style of gauge face). In this case, the face is marked in 360 degree increments. This particular tool makes use of a L-shaped stop arm. The part number is OTC-4554.

Next up is the Performance Tool torque angle gauge, part number WMR-M205. It is similar to the OTC tool.

Another option is the Lisle Torque Angle Meter, part number LIL-28100. It too comes with a 360 degree face, with increments of two degrees. Where it differs is the method used to stop or “anchor” the tool for use. It incorporates a cable and clamp setup instead of an L-shaped stop arm. This makes it a bit more user friendly for some applications. This tool is a little bit more costly than the others, but it’s still a bargain when compared to the digital torque wrenches.

As you can see, there are plenty of options when it comes to torque angle gauges (meters). Picking the right one for your toolbox depends upon your application and how often you need to use the tool.

For a closer look, check out the pics below:

This is the torque angle gauge from the writer’s toolbox. Torque angle meter or gauge adapters such as this are set up by sandwiching an appropriately sized socket on the backside, as shown here. (Image/Wayne Scraba)
On the topside, you simply add a breaker bar or, if the fastener is small, a ratchet. As you see the gauge is visible beneath the breaker bar. (Image/Wayne Scraba)
In most cases, the stop can be installed in either direction (long or short), depending upon where you’re using the gauge and what is convenient. (Image/Wayne Scraba)
Before using the meter, the fastener in question must first be tightened to a specific torque. After that point you use the torque angle meter to determine how many degrees the fastener is turned. Because of this, you’ll still need a torque wrench. (Image/Wayne Scraba)
Here’s a look at the half-inch drive ACDelco Tool combination torque wrench/angle meter we talked about above. Basically, this tool performs both tasks. There’s also an ACDelco combination tool in a 3/8-inch drive. It works the same as the half-inch model, and displays the readout via a digital LCD screen. (Image/Summit Racing)
This is the low buck Performance Tool torque angle adapter. It’s definitely inexpensive, but if you only use it occasionally, it might be right up your alley. (Image/Summit Racing)

Another option is the OTC Tool mentioned in the text. It follows the same layout pattern as most the other adapter style torque angle meters. By the way, it’s a half-inch drive example. (Image/Summit Racing)
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