Tools; an all too often overlooked importance, if not necessity to Air-cooled Volkswagen Ownership. Unless you’re the kind of guy who sends their pride and joy into a premium mechanic for every single job, then chances are you’re going to get your hands dirty every once in a while!
Tools can often mean a huge investment in themselves though. There’s a great, vast market of companies offering professional quality equipment out there, but they inevitably carry a premium price tag! The piece of kit I’m focusing on here is the Air Impact Wrench. Often nick-named the Air Gun, this vital piece of kit enables super-stubborn nuts and bolts to be freed without so much as breaking a sweat.
Recently I swapped my ’67 bug onto a set of Fuch reps, from the 4×130 pattern O.G Sprintstars that were on it. So, swapping out the rear drums for Porsche pattern items meant the removal of the 36mm Castle nuts, which hold the rear drums onto the drive shafts. Cracking these off was a total nightmare involving scaffold tubes, tactically placed axle stands, blocks of wood, you name it! Sod that for a game.
So, when I saw that good old Aldi were stocking their range of air tools from Workzone again, I jumped at the chance! Now, bearing in mind that often air impact wrenches can command a price tag somewhere in the region of £500-600, the opportunity to pick up an impact wrench AND socket set, all in a neat carry case, with 3 years warranty for just £19.99 would seem almost too good to be true. Well, the only snag really is that you have to get them while you can in Aldi. See, the good humble supermarket likes to stock such things on their Special Buy deals (there’s an app to keep track on whats due in your local store), so on any given Thursday they may have these air tools, and usually that following Sunday they’re gone. Stadt. Totally. To be continued, when? no-one knows!
All well and good if you have a compressor, you may say, well Aldi even had those too! (bought one? why not tell us what you think?!) Fortunately i have access to a pretty decent compressor, so I intended to make full use of it!
The kit is very comprehensive, and what you have in the box is pretty much all you need to get going, well, apart from the hallowed 36mm socket. Not any socket will do though, so I invested £10 in a Laser deep impact socket, as a regular socket may well shatter and crack with use on an impact wrench. Its worth noting that these wrenches run on 1/2” drive, so subsequently I bought the new socket with the same drive.
A little assembly is required, and depending on whether you choose to use the supplied in-line oiler or not, its simply a case of hooking up either 1 or the 2 connections to your wrench, and if you’ve elected to use said oiler, topping up the reservoir with the supplied air line oil (again not any oil will do) and hey presto you’re away!
It is important, though, to familiarise yourself with any new piece of kit. These guns work on a maximum operating pressure of 90psi from your compressor, so do check this on your compressor gauge and adjust if necessary! The direction of the impact wrench’s drive is changed by the F and R button on the handle of the tool, so be sure this is set to either “undo” or “tighten” for your given application. As I needed this tool to re-torque the castle nuts back up on my bug (of course aligning the slots from the driveshafts, so as to re place the cottor pins securely), I needed this to drive clockwise, as both sides are luckily a right handed or ‘conventional’ thread. Do check if your particular task involves a Left handed thread. By their very nature they tighten in the opposite way to a conventional thread.
The impact wrench also has a variable torque setting, adjusted on the bottom of the handle. This dial is labelled 1 through 4, and number 4 setting gives the highest torque output, which considering the 360Nm of torque required on my castle nut task, this is the one I needed!
Complete with a good variety of sockets, extension bar, air line oil, oiling connection and quick release couplings this is a really great piece of kit, and a steal at £19.99 more than adequate for the occasional hobby mechanic! If you see them, get one!
words and photos by Edd Thorpe