Harbor Freight has come out with a new 24 karat gold-plated Icon ratchet.
Hand tool brands sometimes come out with special editions. For instance, Craftsman once had a selection of 80th anniversary ratchets, a rolling mechanics seat, and tool boxes, as well as blue titanium-coated socket sets, and more. Other brands have done similar.
And so, limited edition or special edition hand tools are not uncommon.
But a gold-plated ratchet??
The new Harbor Freight Icon 3/8″ ratchet is priced at $60, which is quite a bit higher than their standard Icon 3/8″ ratchet, which is regularly $38.
The ratchet has 90-tooth gearing for a 4° arc swing.
There’s no word as to whether this is a limited-time special edition, such as for 2021, or if there are limited quantities. Is this a one-off, or are more on the way?
I’m not sure how I feel about this. On one hand, it seems a little absurd. On the other hand, would I feel differently if this was any other brand? Craftsman has had gold-plated ratchets before. Looking online, some pro-grade mechanics tool brands also had gold-plated ratchets at one time or another.
With a different brand, I might feel that gold-plated ratchets aren’t for me, but for Harbor Freight and Icon, it’s ridiculous? Hmm, I guess my general impression about the company and its brands hasn’t evolved as much as I had thought.
This seems to be aimed at loyal Harbor Freight customers. Oh, and of course ebayers as well – there are already several listings for this “rare tool,” with inflated pricing.
Who’s in for one?
I grabbed two for my truck BECAUSE they’re goofy. (And also a decent ratchet to start)
Idk why but it entertains me and I’m not an HF/Icon fanatic.
The stocks do appear to be semi limited. Not sure if they’ll just start cranking them out because they sell well but I’d assume they do more.
I could have sworn this was an April Fools joke. They are actually selling them?
Yup – they’re appearing all over even what little social media I view these days.
Freaking ridiculous, but whatever floats someone’s boat.
I thought the Icon brand was supposed to be their high end offering. Why not celebrate it?
Skye A Cohen
Yeah i imagine it is part of their efforts to build some recognition for “high end” association with the Icon brand. If i only read it i would roll my eyes but i thought it looks kind of cool in the pic, still hard to imagine shedding enough of the trashyness we associate with H.F. in order for the “High End” association with Icon to actually inspire folks to spend high end dollars on it rather than the competition.
This is like the 90oz chicken fried steak Eat-It-In-An-Hour-And-It’s-Free promotions….not really about the product but all about the word of mouth marketing and unpaid media coverage.
I’ve seen gold-plated ratchets before, though those were Snap-On. They had a gold-plated tire pressure gauge too, and if I recall correctly you could even get the two in a velvet-lined presentation box. Not a bad idea if you need a gift for a mechanic.
I’m not sure how I feel about the gold-plated HF ratchet, however. I’ll be the first to admit that not all of their tools are junk and I haven’t used these ratchets so who knows, maybe they’re great. But when I picture a gold-plated tool I’m thinking it should be something special and high-end, and that’s not exactly what comes to mind when I think HF tools.
That’s what sprung to mind for me too – the Snap-On Dual 80 gold ratchets. Given HF’s typical “compare to” marketing, this might be aimed at sparking the comparison.
I think Snap-On’s gold ratchets were an anniversary edition, so that’s different. Unless HF is eager to celebrate their… year-and-a-half anniversary?
eBay has listing fo several gold-plated tools including this MAC ratchet:
and this Craftsman:
Mike (the other one)
Craftsman, MAC, Snap-On having gold plated tools as anniversary editions, etc. is somewhat understandable, as those are long established and trusted brands, (well Craftsman was until Sears flushed it down the toilet).
But the Icon ratchet seems pretentious, given that they are so new, and have constantly compared themselves to Snap-On. It’s a “look at how great we are gimmick” and nothing more. Tekton is better anyway.
Is our recent ex-president changing careers again? Tooling up?
No politics, even in jest.
Thank you, Stuart. I don’t want to have to stop coming to one of my only remaining bookmarks.
I love the no politics stance. It’s nice that Toolguyd is an escape from all that.
He has a long history of not paying his contractors, I think he needs to save every penny for his next bankruptcy lawsuit. Maybe shopping at HF is a smart move for him.
I don’t mind the idea. It should only be done to premium ratchets in my opinion (but it isn’t always, I’ve seen gold-colored cheap ratchets and sockets too). HF intends this to be a premium line, so why not?
It seems a little weird to do for no particular reason though.
Doesn’t gold have some anti-microbial properties or something? Maybe something to do with that?
Silver is anti-microbial.
I stand corrected.
I also wonder how well this would wear. Chrome is extremely hard, but gold certainly doesn’t have that reputation.
I am not anywhere near an expert on this topic, but I believe chrome is only one of the three layers used when referring to “chrome” items. For a ratchet, the three metals would be steel, then nickel plating, then chrome plating. The final chrome layer is clear and is used because it is very hard and protects the more delicate nickel layer underneath. The nickel plating is what gives the silver color, not chrome.
In the case of a gold ratchet, I suspect the same process is used but the nickel layer is replaced with gold. Then a chrome layer is applied on top of the gold to protect the gold from wearing away.
the good old chrome plating was copper,nickle them chrome
I have heard some describe chrome as translucent, but it’s certainly not clear.
Yes, the properties of nickel will show through, but that’s similar to white paint over a white wall vs. over a blue wall.
You can’t chrome over gold, or at least this isn’t commonly done.
Gold is very soft, and since tools like this typically get an extremely thin coating (often only a few molecules thick) I would expect the gold to wear very quickly if put into actual use.
All of my ratchets are covered in black gold.
Black Gold as in “Texas Tea” aka Permian Basin Ooze or used motor oil?
But if you play around with a Femto second laser – you might be able to get this Icon gold plated ratchet to turn black – as I think they do with some gold jewelry to give it that je ne sais quoi.
The iPhone for mechanics
I prefer stainless steel myself. These are in the same category as the Packout couch.
Great, now I have to look up Packout couch. I wonder if it could be put together with golden wrenches?
The category of things I’ll never own.
Lol my buddy sent me that couch link, I’m a Dewalt guy but I still think that’d be a great garage couch
is it still ok to say “like putting lipstick on a pig”?
I am going to wait for the 20% coupon.
On a HF note. I have stopped by four HF in the past two months, in two states for a small necessity here or there ( and learned that not all HF carry the same newly expanded product selection ) It was like a ghost town and people in the store were buying very little. Including an otherwise always busy one on a major thoroughfare in FL, which one drives past every time you leave the neighborhood a family member lives at.
I wonder how HF is doing and at what point they may adjust course.
That may just be in your area. The Harbor Freight near me is always busy. Even right after they open.
HF where I live (Oregon) seems to be doing very well. A new store just opened up, and the one I go to is always busy.
You should be able to get it engraved at least. Kobalt did that a few years back.
I saw this in an image search, I thought it was a titanium pvd type coating. I didn’t click on it and read that it was 24k gold until today. I think it would have been better as a titanium coating.
I feel like making a HF tool more conductive just increases the odds of Murphy’s Law coming into play when disconnecting a battery.
It could have been worse with either silver or copper plating. In one of our businesses, we had some Ampco bronze ratchets and sockets for working where explosion risks needed to be considered. They were probably more conductive than a chrome-plated steel equivalent – but neither tool would be what you wanted to use around live electrical circuits.
In that pipe fabrication business we got to work mostly on systems for mundane fluids and gasses – but sometimes for some really dangerous materials. Once it was triethylaluminum for a chemical industry customer. If you fabricate a system to pipe things like that – any leak would be immediately apparent.
Bronze is used because it won’t create sparks, e.g. have to use bronze tools to work on oxygen systems.
Chrome is pretty conductive, too – at least, the last chrome item I measured was. Gold is used in industrial connectors because it is a reasonably good conductor that won’t corrode.
In order of conductivity – common metals stack up with silver on top. Copper has about 95% of the electrical conductivity of silver; gold about 71% and aluminum about 59%. Silver is also one of the best conductors of heat – just try holding onto a sterling silver teaspoon immersed in a cup of hot liquid compared to one of stainless steel. Then you can look up their relative thermal conductivity (about 28 to 1) and see why you said ouch with the silver spoon. Stuart with his PhD in material science – would probably be able to explain why silver is such a good conductor compared to other metals.
Yeah, airport linemen who fuel aircraft from 100LL and Jet A trucks use bronze spikes for ice and snow traction for similar reasons.
Why not? The rachets are probably better than 90% of the gimmick items available for Fathers Day this year. The market will eventually pass judgement. Hopefully this will be a sign of things for the future. Gold wrenches, a gold hand plane, gold screwdrivers and torque wrenches? A set of gold micrometers for your desk? The possiblities are endless.
Koko The Talking Ape
If it doesn’t have even one rhinestone, then I’m not interested. Plain gold? Basic.
There’s no harbor freight in Canada, to my knowledge, and I wouldn’t shop there even if there was… But I see this and I think one of two things:
1) Yes, since Gold doesn’t rust, corrode, or react to Acid, this does actually make some minor amount of sense.
2) Gold is one of the most Conductive materials known to exist… so… at the same time… one exposed wire touches this, and you’re wondering why you’re making out with a paramedic, and staring at the sky, with a ratchet that has fused itself to your skin… that appears to have turned into bacon… You vaguely remember you were tightening a bolt, and the rest is a blur.
The specs… appear?… to make it a pretty standard, high-spec’d ratchet? I imagine the actual mechanical function is pretty good? I don’t think it says anything important, or worth mentioning, about the rest of the company, or the store it is sold in… Might as well be the front cashier display filled with chocolate bars and gum for impulse buys… What does that have to do with, say, a Home Depot? Nothing, it’s just there for when you’re in line and feeling you need it. Same for this ratchet. It’s the gold plated one. Does nothing and says nothing about other Icon tools, or harbour freight. It’s just the Gold Plated Icon Ratchet. Nothing more, nothing less.
Just make a comment about your first sentence. Do you know at least 60% of CTC tool supplier is same as Harbor Freight Tools?
I think I figured it out. The federal government is going to start buying them but the regular ones don’t cost enough. They’ll be issued to the plumbers in special kits necessary for maintaining the gold-plated toilets. Soon to follow is a release of gold-plated sockets so as not to risk marring up the gold finish with unsightly chrome.
It’s just for fun I don’t see nothing wrong with it. I think it’d be neat to have a display of all the different brand gold plated tools.
I don’t know what to think of their ICON brand. The packaging is attractive but I just can’t bring myself to believe these tools are considered “premium”. I don’t know what their mission is. If you’re bottom of the barrel and over the years known as such, it seems like a really steep climb to respectability for their tools.
Funny how easily this could be done in the aftermarket. Chrome finish is usually pretty easy to strip electrically, then the gold will electroplate over the nickel easily and relatively inexpensively.
Personally, if I wanted a gold colored tool, I’d rather have a TiN coated tool.
For another twenty dollars on top I can get a tool truck brand American made ratchet.. No thanks Icon