A socket-wrench set, was a kit of tools containing a socket-wrench and assorted sockets. The socket-wrench, more commonly referred to as a ratchet-wrench, was a type of wrench, or tightening tool, that used separate, removable sockets to fit many different sizes of fittings and fasteners, most commonly nuts and bolts. The socket-wrench included a ratcheting mechanism that allowed the nut to be tightened or loosened with a reciprocating motion, without requiring that the wrench be removed and refitted after each turn. Typically, a small lever behind the socket switches the wrench between tightening and loosening mode. The sockets were attached to the ratchet through a square fitting that contains a spring loaded ball detent mechanism to keep the sockets in place. The advantage of the socket-wrench system was speed - it was much faster than a conventional wrench, especially in repetitive bolt-on or bolt-off usage.

A breaker bar was often included in a socket-wrench set. A breaker bar was a long non-ratcheting bar that was used with socket-wrench style sockets. Breaker bars were used to 'break loose' very tight fasteners because their additional length allowed the same amount of force to generate significantly more torque than a standard length socket-wrench. The use of a breaker bar also prevented damage to the ratcheting mechanism of a socket-wrench.


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