Last fall, Ingersoll Rand launched the 1211MAX Series High Speed Ratchet, a slim but sturdy pneumatic tool available in 3/8” and ½” drive models perfect for wrestling bolts free from engine block and other tight fits under the hood.
The company touted gaudy power stats including 80 lb.-ft. of torque and 625 rpm for a much faster operating speed than competitors or previous models. Two Internal innovations, the twin hammer and true ratchet mechanisms, were also supposedly designed to keep that power contained to the tool, so only bolt are ripped free, not a technician’s skin.
In theory, that all sounds great. But how does it fare in the real world? I asked one of the most brutally honest people I know, John O’Brien, a master diagnostic technician at a Toyota dealership in the Cleveland area. He’s been a tech for 25 years and he tried the 1211MAX-D3 (3/8”) for two months.
“I think that it’s absolutely incredible,” O’Brien started, “It takes bolts out two or three times faster than anything I’ve used before.”
He explained how convenient the slim profile is to get to water pumps and timing covers, while the speed and power make the tool “just faster and more reliable than a normal impact gun.”
He said the ratchet impacts the bolt loose “without compromising your fulcrum point,” which means that torque focus does not travel up the handle and take your arm with bolt. O’Brien noted the smooth operation will also prevent future knuckle dings. “It’s very effortless when you pull trigger,” he said.
There’s only one problem the master tech has: He let other shop technicians try it out and now it is more often than not somewhere in their bay. One even personalized the 1211 by attaching a hinged fitting to the air connector to prevent air hose tangles.
“I often have to dig through his tool box to find it anytime I need it,” O’Brien joked.
In the late 1990s, impact ratchets could be found in most toolboxes, O’Brien explained, but they fell out of favor as impact guns and battery-powered tools rose in popularity.
After using the 1211Max and seeing how it reduces time per job, he is convinced air ratchets like this “will become a part of everybody’s toolbox again.”