The socket wrench typically is of the ratchet type. The ratcheting mechanism allows the nut to be tightened or loosened with a reciprocating motion, without requiring that the wrench be removed and refitted after each turn. Typically, a small lever on the ratchet head switches the wrench between tightening and loosening mode. The sockets are attached to the ratchet through a square fitting that contains a spring-loaded ball detent mechanism to keep the sockets in place. These drive fittings come in four common sizes: 1/4 inch, 3/8 inch, 1/2 inch, and 3/4 inch (referred to as drives, as in "3/8 drive"). Despite being denominated in inches, these are international standards and no metric counterparts exist. Larger drive sizes such as 1 inch and above are usually reserved for use on fasteners of larger industrial equipment, such as tractor-trailers (articulated lorries), large cargo aircraft and passenger airliners, and marine work (merchant fleets, navies, shipyards). The sockets themselves come in a full range of inch and metric sizes. ("SAE" is often used as a blanket term for the nonmetric sizes, despite the technical inaccuracy of that usage.) The advantages of the system of a ratchet wrench with indexable sockets are speed of wrenching (it is much faster than a conventional wrench, especially in repetitive bolt-on or bolt-off usage) and efficiency of tooling cost and portability (it is much more efficient than a set of nonratcheting wrenches, with every size head having its own handle).
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