Low Cost Auto Restoration Tools

dazed chevelle Remember back, driving your parents’ station wagon or sensible Buick, dreaming of the cool wheels beyond your reach? Cherry Bomb and header and 4-barrel carb were part of our vernacular, just not part of our lives. It’s funny how, now as we get older, we can do all the cool stuff we wanted to do when we were punk teenagers. We were car crazy, man, and many’s the time I envied the guys in the neighborhood who were out on their front lawns, working on their Dodge Challengers or GTO “Goats”—

—not just because they HAD them (which would have been enough), but because they WORKED on them. They probably borrowed their dads’ tools, saved up working shit jobs to get parts and supplies, and spent Satyurdays doing whatever it took to keep their wheels “cherry.” Nowadays, though, when you hear (and feel) a carb-powered 426 Hemi thundering down the road, it’s a geezer you’re more likely to see behind the wheel than a punk. And chances are, that geezer is one of us. Classic car restoration is more popular than ever, and with the help of online parts stores, chat forums and YouTube videos, guys who thought they’d never get to rebuild their favorite classic rides are now living the dream– in their garages (and on their lawns), doing just that. If you’ve decided to restore a vehicle yourself, I salute you. Not only will you save thousands of dollars, you’ll be embarking on a long, challenging– even therapeutic– journey that will reap rewards for years to come. But before we start doing that victory lap, to “Eye of the Tiger,” let me suggest some basic tools you’ll want right out of the gate to make the dream a reality (unless, of course, you like repeatedly going back & forth to the store when you’re in the middle of doing something): The Must-Have Tool The Air Compressor will quickly become your best friend over the course of your restoration. It’s the first thing you’ll need for your arsenal. Between the Die GrinderPaint Sprayer and Impact Wrench, you’ll get a lot of use out of it and, believe me, you’ll thank yourself every time you facea big chore that you don’t have to do manually. It needs to have a decent enough CFM—at least 5-6 CFM per minute at 90 psi– so that the long bursts of sanding, buffing or cutting won’t wear too hard on the compressor. You could get the job done with a 29-Gallon Tank Unit, but if you can swing it, go for a 60-Gallon Compressor, with power to spare. By the way, the Die Grinder is great for polishing the inside of the head ports, cleaning up metal and using with a cut-off wheel to repair panels. Air power, man… it’s a bacon-saver.

Engine Work Compression Tester will help diagnose vital motor issues, such as worn piston rings, burnt valves and bad head gaskets.  This is a great first tool to use when you get your new project car home. You can even take it with you to test a car before you buy it! While it’s not vital for the project, you may want to consider picking up a “cherry-picker” Engine Hoist, especially if you’re planning to restore more than one vehicle. A good 2-Ton Shop Crane should be sufficient, and will more than pay for itself in the long run. Most likely, you should have the cylinders re-bored. A cylinder bore gauge is needed to check for taper, out-of-round and oversize on the cylinders if you are rebuilding the motor yourself. Any critical wear on the cylinder can be reached with this gauge. An Engine Cylinder Hone will de-glaze the cylinder walls and give them a nice, smooth finish. Next, you’ll want a Valve Spring Compressor to remove the valves for a rebuild. Also a cheap valve lapping tool, with grinding compound, helps reseat the valves. Piston Ring Pliers will help you remove and replace the rings on the pistons without breaking them. A Piston Ring Compressor is needed for the installation of the pistons. Also, a piston groove cleaner will remove the carbon crud from the piston grooves. A Dial Indicator is used to measure run-out on things like the flywheel, and endplay on the crankshaft. While there are various types of mounts, including magnetic base and screw mounts, I recommend the clamping mount because it’s faster and easier to work with. Next, a Stud Puller is necessary for removing stripped, rusted and otherwise stubborn head studs, as well as exhaust & intake manifold studs. Another tool you cannot live without is the Torque Wrench—two, actually. Get both a 1/2″ drive and 3/8″ drive for your tool cabinet. These are essential to torque all your bolts to factory specs. Have a complete Tap and Die Set on hand, preferably with both SAE & metric. You’ll find this invaluable for cleaning up old bolts and restoring rusted holes. A good Digital Micrometer is needed to precisely measure anything.

Body Work MIG Welder. You won’t get through a restoration job without it. Why a MIG welder, as opposed to another type? Well, for starters, if you’re new to this kind of project, the MIG is the easiest to learn. Also, they work with the most common types of metals, overhead welding is easier, and the MIG welder works fast. You’ll also want a Hammer & Dolly Set, otherwise known as a “Body & Fender Set.” These tools go a long way in repairing and straightening steel panels, and all-around custom fab work. This one, made by Pittsburgh, probably has the best price you’re going to find, and one look at the customer reviews should convince you there’s no need to keep looking. A Step Drill is essential to make quick, clean work out of drilling large diameter holes for auto-body jobs such as installing chrome trim, and for firewall holes. A Spot Weld Cutter works great in restoration projects and does just what its name implies. Also, a Plumber’s Torch is great for softening and shaping metal. As you work on your project, you’ll find a Bench Grinder and Drill Press are extremely helpful in the auto restoration process.  Plus, a Wire Wheel on the grinder is a must and makes cleaning up parts quick and simple.

Additional Work Make sure you include various Brake Tools, a Tubing Bender and brake flare tool. Finally, get a CreeperPaint StripperTransmission JackDent Repair Kit, and a Comprehensive Mechanics Tool Kit, and you’ll be equipped to tackle most everything involved in your car restoration, as well as many other future projects. Of course, you’ll inevitably be needing cleaners, sealants, lubricants and the odd part along the way, but consider yourself the proud owner of an equipped auto restoration garage.

gremlin Now, get out there and make that Gremlin Funny Car a reality!

Amaze Your Friends with the Disappearing Shop Crane!

Not all garages have the room for a heavy duty crane designed to lift up to 2,000 lbs.  So what’s a do-it-yourselfer supposed to do when he or she needs to move heavy equipment?  Well, with the 1 Ton Capacity Foldable Shop Crane, space is no longer an issue!  This durable shop crane from Harbor Freight Tools folds down to make storage easy so you can open up space in your shop or garage when you need it.  Plus, with double bearing swivel casters, the crane is easily maneuverable to wherever the job is!  And with enough lifting capacity to get most jobs done quickly and safely, this handy tool is the perfect combination of functionality and compact storage.

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In fact, everyone from home handymen to professionals are raving about how easy and convenient this foldable shop crane is!

“I got this in November of 2012 to work on one of my car’s engine mounts.  Since then I have pulled 4 engines and have had no issues with it at all, great buy!” – car_guy719 from Colorado Springs, CO

“This crane is awesome. I am doing a frame up build of a jeep wrangler. I just pulled the engine and tranny to put in a new frame. The crane was wonderful. I left the tranny bolted to a straight 6. I did the transplant myself. The crane was shipped to my house. I had it assembled in a 1/2 hour. I would highly recommend this crane.” – Brachilius from Pittsburgh, PA

“You cannot get anything better at this price. If you were to rent one for use, and needed it for more than a weekend, you could’ve already bought a crane like this. Took me roughly an hour to piece it together when I got it. It just takes time because of all the small 4 bolts that holds all the wheels to the frame and legs. Straightforward instructions and anyone literate can put it together no problem.  So far I have used it to pull two engines, both successfully and smoothly.” – egress from Bay Area, CA

This top notch shop crane comes in at just $184.99 and, like egress says, this is a great crane to purchase, even for limited or infrequent use!  You’d save money in the long run by always having a dependable, sturdy crane at your fingertips.  And when you’re not using it, no one will even know it’s there as it’s safely stored away in your shop.

Harbor Freight Tools Father’s Day Gift Guide

father's day butterfly

Ah, Dad… He’s the guy who taught you how to hammer a nail, ride a bike, catch a fish and belch like a man. When he came home from work, he’d give you that bear hug, smelling like cold air and Old Spice, his five o’clock shadow bristling against your baby-butt-smooth cheek, and you loved it. He was the soft touch when it was time to go to bed, but you needed just a little more TV time… and when you went to bed, he could throw you up in the air like you were flying! He knew how to make your mom laugh like no one else, and he knew how to make the perfect pancakes on Sunday morning.

Father’s Day is the day we get to thank Dad for all of it– for making our childhood more magical, and for making us feel special when he took the time to do things with us. Harbor Freight understands what dads like, and he knows how you can thank them, too. All you have to do is visit the website and you’ll know why it’s their favorite toy store. So to help make the decision of what to get him easier, here are 10 popular items currently on sale at Harbor Freight Tools, any of which that will make him smile:

 

1. Drill Master 3/8″ 18 Volt Cordless Drill/Driver with Keyless Chuck #68239

Drill Master 3/8" Cordless Drill/Driver

This Harbor Freight favorite is a great general-purpose drill; home use, furniture building, etc. The keyless chuck is tight, the power is strong, and users love the LED light! This high performance cordless drill driver has 21 torque clutch settings to handle a variety of chores around the house and garage. It includes an electric brake and the battery is interchangeable with other 18-volt Drill Master tools. For sale at $18.99, it would cost more to buy a new battery for any other drill! In fact, pick up a Drill Master 18V NiCd Replacement Battery along with it, so when Dad’s on a roll, he’ll never have to stop to charge!

 

2. Pittsburgh Automotive Pneumatic Adjustable Roller Seat #46319

adjustable roller seat

What a great idea to save the back and knees! With a thick cushion, integrated easy-to-reach storage tray and a 15″ to 20″ lift range, this pneumatic adjustable roller seat is as practical as it is comfortable. Non-marring casters allows for smooth mobility while the 360 degree swivel seat and one-hand height adjustment lever let Dad get into the perfect position for whatever he’s doing. Whether it’s working on a bicycle, motorcycle, washing and waxing the car, lug nuts, changing brakes, wheel bearings, painting low cabinets, etc., he’ll be quietly thanking you again and again while he’s relaxing on his roller seat. At just $22.99, this is the ticket!

 

3. Pittsburgh 22-Piece Fully-Polished SAE and Metric Combination Wrench Set #47467

22 pc wrench set

The legendary Pittsburgh 22-piece combination wrench set from Harbor Freight includes 11 of the most widely used SAE wrench sizes and 11 of the most popular metric sizes to accommodate almost any wrenching moment. Fully polished, they’re made of chrome vanadium steel and a chrome plate finish for added durability, and come with an organized portable storage rack for quick access. This wrench set is great for everything from around the house to auto work– even working on trucks, trailers, tractors and farm equipment! And at just $16.99, everyone should have a set of these! And did I mention the lifetime warranty? This set of wrenches is awesome!

 

4. Pittsburgh 21 Piece High Visibility 3/8″ Drive SAE/Metric Socket Set #67900

21 pc SAE metric socket set

A good socket set makes your life so much easier. How about a great socket set? Well, now you’re talking! The wrenches in the Pittsburgh professional-quality set are constructed of rugged chrome vanadium are triple-chrome-plated. They also come with high visibility markings for quick and easy socket selection, a quick-release ratchet with reversible 72-tooth gearing and a comfy cushion grip. An awesome set, believe me, and it beats paying hundreds for those big name brand sets off the tool trucks. And, of course, it’s got that lifetime warranty! Pick up a set (or two!) for just $14.99.

 

5. Pittsburgh 60 Piece Alloy Steel SAE/Metric Tap & Die Set #35407

60-pc tap and die set

And while we’re talking about incredible deals on hand tools, what do you get the man who’s got all the wrenches and sockets he’ll ever need (like that’s going to happen)? Why, a Pittsburgh 60-pc. SAE-metric tap & die set, of course! Thread and bore taps like a pro with this tap and die set!  This tap and die set will perform– and out-perform!– other tool & die sets that cost ten times as much. Each tap and die is constructed of long-lasting alloy steel and the sizes are embedded in, not printed on, the surfaces. This set will cover most all Dad’s tap and die needs and, in no time, it’ll become his go-to tool for creating and repairing his own screws and bolts. For the home workshop and auto shop; thread plastic, wood, brass, and even plate steel– everything from an aluminum frame to a hardened steel bumper! Tell Dad to keep them oiled and they’ll last him a lifetime– which, it just so happens, is how long the warranty lasts. Only $29.99 at Harbor Freight.

 

6. Chicago Electric 4″ Angle Grinder #91222

4-inch grinder

Dad will save time and hacksaw blades with this angle grinder. This lightweight grinder is powerful and easy to operate while he’s cutting or shaping a brick walkway, cutting steel bolts, rebar, masonry, plaster, copper or galvanized pipe. or grinding welds, removing rust, removing bolts, sharpening sections on blades like sickle bars, etc. This grinder’s 4.5 amp ball-bearing mount motor delivers 11,000 RPMs for fast stock removal. It also has a spindle lock for fast and easy wheel changes, easy access brushes, a removable side handle, an easy-to-replace carbon brush and aluminum gear housing.  Included with the grider are a 4″ grinding wheel, arbor wrenches and a 7/8″ arbor adapter. Other cutting blades sold separately. An incredible price at $19.99!

 

7.  Cen-Tech 3-In-1 Jump Starter and Power Supply #38391

3-in-1 power supply 38391

The car battery on Dad’s old Crown Vic been dead for months? No problem! This jump starter will easily jump-start nearly any weak or dead 12-volt car battery. Tell him to throw it in the trunk and never worry about getting stuck somewhere again. The #4 industrial copper booster cables include durable alligator clips that can easily attach to any car battery, and the jumper’s got a built-in 3.6 watt light to illuminate his sight under the hood, making this a perfect jump companion to have on the road! It also comes with an invaluable power supply for electrical equipment in case of an emergency, such as a C-PAP, spotlight, air pump, etc. The Cen-Tech jump starter/power supply has an automatic cutoff to prevent overcharging, a charge/battery level indicator, and an easy-to-read battery indicator. And before he can say, “What are you, a Rockefeller?” tell him, “Dad, relax. It was only $42.99 at Harbor Freight!”

 

8. Central Machinery 1-Ton Chain Hoist #996

1 ton chain hoist

This hoist lifts loads up to 10 feet high easily, thanks to its sturdy, hardened steel chain. The strength of this hoist can lift up to 2,000 lbs. hassle-free and includes a mechanical load brake to give operator more control when lifting or spotting. Works wonderfully with a gantry or I-beam. Dad can use it for lifting and swapping out engines and trannies like they’re not even there– for a lot less than an engine lift!– hoist motorcycles for chain and other maintenance, lift the front of a tractor or heavy-duty truck for tire repair, etc. Rugged and reliable, this chain hoist is ideal for heavy loads at the auto repair shop or industrial warehouse. This jewel works as smooth as silk., and for only $44.99, is worth every penny. He’ll love it!

 

9. Predator 420cc, 5500 Watts Max/5500 Watts Rated Portable Generator #68529, #68526

5500 watt generator

Powered with a reliable Predator engine, this portable generator is ideal for emergencies, job-site use, recreation, family reunions, heating and cooling. The generator features a 420cc air-cooled OHV gas engine, a low oil indicator, UL-listed circuit breaker and 11 hours run-time at 50% capacity. With a heavy-duty steel roll cage for protection, this is the ideal portable generator for powering countless electronics, appliances and tools! And if Dad’s left without power after a storm or other occurrence, this will keep him going with whatever he needs to power. On sale for Father’s Day at $469.99, the 5500 watt generator comes in a standard and California-certified model.

 

10. Harbor Freight Tools Gift Cards

gift card

The ultimate go-to Father’s Day present when you don’t know WHAT’S going on in Dad’s head!  He’ll appreciate this ’cause he gets to choose exactly what’s he’s had his eye on. You can even have it sent directly to him if you order online; just enter his mailing information on the Shipping Address page. Harbor Freight has gift cards for $10, $25, $50, $75, $100 and $500!

So, take some time and check out these and other tremendous Father’s Day deals at Harbor Freight Tools. And when you give your gift to your dad, mention something about those childhood memories, and thank him. Chances are, that’s the best present you could have given him. The tools don’t hurt, though.

’67 Firebird Restoration Project: Part 3 – Engine Removal!

Welcome to the third installment of the Harbor Freight Tools 1967 Firebird Restoration Project.

For first-time readers: HFT invited Jeff Tann– car enthusiast and former Rod & Custom editor — to fully restore the legendary muscle car using only discount tools from Harbor Freight. The car is all original, with a 400/325-hp V8 engine, so he’s basically tackling the project “from scratch.”

In Part 1, we were given a tour of the original vehicle, inside and out, and presented Jeff’s challenge. In Part 2, we followed the body-dismantling process and introduced the U.S. General 700 lb. Capacity 5-Drawer Rolling Tool Cart, which housed the Pittsburgh Professional 301-Piece Mechanic’s Tool Kit. Also in this segment, we saw how Jeff made quick business of the job with a Central Pneumatic 3/8″ Professional Air Ratchet and 1/4″ Mini Air Ratchet Wrench.

This time we follow Jeff as he lifts the engine, using a 2-Ton Capacity Foldable Shop Crane. It’s probably the first time the 45-year-old engine’s been taken out since it was on the assembly line, so it’s not gonna be pretty. Jeff then removes the tranny from the engine with a Central Pneumatic 1/2″ Twin Hammer Air Impact Wrench before he mounts it on the Central Machinery 1000 Lb. Engine Stand, and proceeds to take it apart.

The Affordable, Rugged Pickup Truck Crane

A Central Hydraulics Pickup Truck Crane is like a smartphone (girlfriend? TiVo?): For years you’ve managed without one, but once it came into your life, you can’t imagine going on without it.

This brute lifter mounts to your truck bed– or other solid base– swivels 360 degrees and can lift up to 1,000 lbs! Lift scrap metal, firewood, motors, heavy machinery, beehives and more. It’s a favorite tool among Harbor Freight customers and, rather than me going on pitching the sucker, I’ll let them tell you how awesome it is:

“Bought it and put it in my Dodge to make it easier to load scrap… does a very good job lifting motors and scrap metal, in and out of my truck.”

How about for at the dock?

“I mounted this to the stern of my boat to lift my dingy and motor out of the water. It is perfect for this job. I also had it powder coated for corrosion.This is the best buy I’ve made in a long time. Thanks Harbor Freight.”

Or transporting heavy equipment?

“Bought this crane and mounted it to my welding trailer about two or three years ago, and about a month ago I used it for the first time to lift my engine-driven welder off the trailer. The crane works very well. Very happy with it.”

A common modification is to switch out the manual winch with an electric one, such as the Badlands 12-Volt 2,000 lb. model

“This works great on my log splitter. Put an electric winch on it and makes job much easier. Also made base for trailer to load big wood on it.”

…or adding an electric hoist, like the Best Value Chicago Electric 1,300 lb. Electric Hoist:

“I  bought this truck crane & mounted it to my 9′ deck behind my house to raise loads of firewood off the ground. Reconfigured it with an electric hoist and built 2 wooden boxes for the lift. The crane mounts through the floor near the deck railing & with the proper angle swivels out and clears the rail. My wife operates the winch from above. While I’m loading the lower box from the woodpile she’s unloading & stacking the other load to the deck woodpile. What a backsaver. Great product for the money!!!”

Whatever your load, the Central Hydraulics Pickup Truck Crane at Harbor Freight will make your life a whole lot easier.