Visiting a wholesale plumbing supply recently (it was a Friday and they had free hot dogs, chips galore and salads), a tool vendor had a display table set up. (That’s how these things work: The vendor foots the grocery bill and the supply house provides the venue and the plumbers are their ‘mark’. Some tools and widgets are bought by the plumbers and the plumbers get a free lunch.) This happens invariably on Fridays, most often during the summer months. But, sometimes an impromptu event goes live at an unpredictable date.
On this particular pig-out (PtP has a hella appetite), the Ridgid Tool Rep was displaying. The author has always trusted Ridgid brand tools. They’re tough stuff. I prefer their pipe wrenches over all others. This day my eye was snagged by two items, a copper tubing deburring tool and a new ‘version’ of their famous and industry best, basin wrench, model #2017 (Photo 1, below left).
The author has owned the original version wrench (Photo 2, below right) for 30 years or more. It’s indestructible and it’s the best one out there. Of course my curiosity was instantly piqued. For 40 years yours truly has been installing new, and replacing existing faucets.
The “re-invented” Ridgid #2017 “LED” Basin Wrench on display that day, (Photo 1, above left) had two features which differentiated itself from the original #1017 that had served yours truly, faithfully, for decades: 1) an LED light, and 2) a ⅜” socket at the handle base which hosts a “gimbaled” slide-bar handle. (PLUS: the ability to remove this handle and attach a ⅜” ratchet or breaker bar.)
PtP confesses that when extra leverage was required to unthread “stubborn” valve “lock/mounting nuts” and an adjustable Crescent™ wrench was applied to the bottom of the SQUARE shaft of the original #1017 telescoping basin wrench, getting the adjustable wrench installed WITHOUT losing the purchase of the spring-loaded ‘claw’ (Photo 3, below) of the original #1017 on the valve’s (usually lavatory or kitchen sink) lock/mounting nuts, sometimes required more than one or two attempts at this task.
Did my original #1017 ever fail me? I can’t remember one “specific” case. (Though PtP DOES recall several occasions where he had to grind the teeth (on one side) of a good quality reciprocating saw blade (Lennox) so he could “saw off” a faucet body (and not harm the vitreous surface of the bowl) when the lock/mounting nuts of the defunct valve were too corroded (majority cases: ‘pot metal’ see “Brass Is Best” article) to allow conventional removal of the valve. (This also extended to valves on legged tubs.)
After this late opportune ‘feast’, PtP sent an ‘inquiry’ to Ridgid Tool Company asking if they would provide yours truly with a “loaner” so he could use their new offering in ‘real world’ situations. The company ignored PtP. Surprising? Not really. How many individual plumbers can get the attention of these big, major league manufacturers? (The author DID recommend them however in his best selling, original Taunton, “Plumbing A House” book.) (Home Depot, Borders, Barnes & Noble, etc.)
PtP DOES, though, have a few comments to make on this new tool offering:
P.S. The cost twixt the LED #2017 and the original #1017 is a good time in a Berkeley bistro. But, if you are so endowed ($$$) the author, trusting in Ridgid Tools, would say: Go For It!
Until Next Time,
Peter Hemp is a San Francisco East Bay residential plumber and plumbing author and former R & D steam vehicle plumber. His hobbies are ocean kayaking and touring the Left Coast by bicycle.
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