Hand tools for truck travel, assembling a new kit.

It’s time to assemble a new traveling tool kit for the 2014 Dodge Ram Cummins crew cab.

Not so fast…changed directions before I got too far.

Starting with this. More to Come.

Copyright James Langan/RoadTraveler All Rights Reserved 




Armstrong Ratcheting Wrenches and Customer Service Part 2

As detailed in my first post about Armstrong Ratcheting Wrenches Customer Service I purchased a new, surplus tool kit that included a good selection of Armstrong reversible ratcheting wrenches. The 15 mm wrench was missing its guts, making it only an open-end wrench.

The surplus USMC tray pieces (NSN # 5180-01-553-6556).

These tools were purchased when I learned of a good deal, and except for the cursory initial inspection, they sat in their shipping box for a few months in my garage. When I continued working on organizing the new kit, I found more defects as I laid out the tools for photographs.

Armstrong obviously has a problem with quality control. In this one tool set I received one wrench with no ratcheting parts, and this 1/2-inch wrench with a substantial bow in the tool. The 5/8 wrench had much less bow, but also was not flat. (I didn’t ask for the 5/8-inch wrench to be replaced.)

Look at the arc in that defective 1/2-inch Armstrong wrench?

Again I called Armstrong’s customer service phone number and explained the situation. Not only had I purchased these tools from a surplus retailer, but also a few months had passed. I offered to return the defective tool, or take it to a local outlet, but apparently I don’t sound like a person trying to get something for nothing. The customer service lady said she would send out a replacement without asking me to return the bent tool. It took more than a week, but little padded envelope arrived in the mail containing a new and flat 1/2-inch ratcheting wrench.

Slightly bowed 5/8-inch Armstrong wrench.

Kudos to Armstrong Tool for being very reasonable and helpful. Though the quality of the tool kit left something to be desired, their response was good, even generous, compared to what one might receive from other companies. It’s also worth noting, that while assembling this new tool kit, I was trying to purchase made-in-USA tools when practical and affordable. Aside from the possible benefits of buying American made tools, I’ve been pleased that every time I called Armstrong I spoke to someone in the USA, working directly for Armstrong/Apex Tool Group.

Copyright © 2012 James Langan

Armstrong Ratcheting Wrenches and Customer Service

As part of my goal to put together a complete, high-quality tool kit for my Tundra, I purchased a set of SK 3/8-inch sockets (SK 3/8″ tool set). As handy as sockets can be, combination wrenches are often more practical and it’s easy to have a need for both when away from home. I considered reallocating a big set of Craftsman wrenches from my shop, not finding any made-in-USA wrenches I could afford, when a friend on the Expedition Portal Forum shared a link to a set of surplus combination wrenches from Uncle Sam’s Retail Outlet.

I rarely buy anything surplus, a couple small shovels are the only items in recent memory, but these were new, made-in-USA Armstrong brand ratcheting combination wrenches, both SAE and metric. The surplus USMC Tray (NSN # 5180-01-553-6556) also included a few screwdrivers and a rack of 1/2-inch drive SAE deep sockets, but it was the the reversible combination wrenches I wanted. The kit was only $135, although with tax and shipping from the east to the west, the price jumped $176. When compared to the retail prices for the wrenches alone, $176 was still a very good value.

Armstrong Tools & Ratcheting Wrenches. NSN# 5108-01-553-6556

A week passed, the tools arrived, and I opened the box to inspect them. They were scattered, but everything appeared to be in the box. Looking closer it was appearant there was something missing. The 15 mm combination wrench was there, but was missing all of the guts that make it a box-end wrench. A round hole was not going to turn 15 mm fasteners.

Armstrong 54-815 missing something.

Uncle Sam’s is a surplus retailer, the kit I purchased is not a normal Armstrong kit sold to the general public, and Uncle Sam’s was now “sold out”, so I went straight to Armstrong/Apex Tool Group for warranty service.

I called the customer service number on Armstrong’s site, and explained what I had purchased and from where. The lady’s initial instructions were to return the set to the retailer and have it replaced. I explained how that was not an option, the product was new, but was a special military set from a surplus vendor. We went back-and-forth a few times, the conversation was polite and professional, but it wasn’t looking good…

The customer service representative asked me for a part number on the kit, I gave her something off the Uncle Sam’s invoice that didn’t help, later giving her the NSN number (National/NATO Stock Number) on the box which she could cross reference. I restated that I didn’t need a complete replacement kit, just the 15 mm wrench was missing its ratcheting parts. Then she asked for the part number off the wrench. Easy.

“One of these things is not like the other.”

Of course she had that part number in her computer system and said she was going to ask her supervisor’s permission to send out a single 15 mm wrench, she didn’t think it would be a problem. I thanked her!

Although I had to argue a little to get the lady off her regular routine of “return to the retailer”, she was eventually quite helpful. I was very polite (“yes ma’am”) the whole time, but for Armstrong to send me a knew wrench without the old one first was huge. Thanks Armstrong Tools.

Copyright © 2012 James Langan