’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.

Welterweight Welder

Maybe you’ve been thinking about getting into welding. Perhaps you’ve had a run-in  or two with a home or car repair where you thought a welder would be just the thing. Or maybe a buddy recently modded a grill or trailer, or made a cool metal rack on the cheap with his handy-dandy welder, and you thought, ‘Dang… I’d like to do something like that.” Well, join the club. But before you go out and get the coolest, top-of-the-line welder, you need to hang on and know a few things.

  • Practice

Welding–like any craft– is a skill . It takes a lot of practice to get even close to being competent. When you first take hold of that welder, for heaven’s sake, don’t use it on something you don’t want ruined. Practice on LOTS of scrap metal– preferably around the same thickness as what your first project is going to be. You should be able to find some good stuff at your local metal or welding shop. Get used to the action and the way the metal reacts. Work on avoiding “bird poops” (the unsightly metal globs you sometimes see on rough welding jobs), and start feeling comfortable with your developing “technique.” Then, use some scrap to make something you don’t care about, like a homemade grill for a fire pit or bookends out of 350 engine pistons. Only after you’ve gotten a handle on that kind of stuff should you attempt a project that does matter.

  • Start Small

You wouldn’t learn how to ride a motorcycle on a Harley Fat Boy or start target shooting with a Tac-50. The same goes with your first welder. Welding is not a low-cost activity, so before you know you it’s something you want to get into, starting smaller and cheaper is the way to go. An ideal model with which to “get your feet wet” is the popular Chicago Electric 90 Amp Flux Wire Welder. It’s easy to set up, can weld metal up to 3/16″ thick and is perfect for small projects around the house and garage. A quick browse through the 90 amp’s customer reviews will give you an idea of what it’s capable of. Here are a few comments:

“I’m a former auto technician and have welded hundreds of times over the years using various machines. I was hesitant to purchase this item… but after doing so I am thoroughly pleased. It’s was very easy to set up. Made numerous repairs to an existing metal decorative fence. It handled the 12 ga metal without hesitation and I decided to attempt it on another project that was heavier metal. It worked flawlessly producing strong welds on 3/16 metal… Overall a great machine at a great price. I’m completely pleased!”  DennisF – Temple, TX

“Very easy and fun to use. Fabricate anything I need to my (on) trucks and machinery. Very happy!”  Landscape Designer – NJ

“Wow, this is nice. How could you go wrong with the price, well worth the money. I’m going to buy one for my boy who has never welded before. Thanks for a great product.”  Boonie – Mt. Vernon, IL

“I needed to do some light welding on my car. I figured it was either hire someone or get my own welder and teach myself. I bought this with a 25′ #12 gauge extension cord and an auto dark helmet. I had never used a welder before, I don’t even have a book except the book that came with this welder.”  Mike – Hollywood, FL

“It’s a awesome welder and works great, can’t ask for much more. I love it. I made prerunner bumpers and skid plates, also welded up a few exhausts. I even made a welding cart and welding table with welder. Overall, buy this welder and make stuff with it and sell the stuff you make well worth the money!”  T-Man – redneckville

Once you’ve mastered your 90 Amp Flux Wire Welder, you can expand to bigger projects and maybe move up to a Chicago Electric 170 Amp MIG/Flux Wire Welder or 180 Amp MIG/Flux Wire Feed Welder for more power and thicker metal.

  • Safety

Obviously, the foremost thing to keep in mind about welding is safety first. Most of it is common sense, but for the sake of health and property, keep in mind that welding can be dangerous. Welders throw sparks, they can cause fire. Be sure to remove anything flammable from the area you’re working in, and if you’re welding on the grass or near bushes, it’s probably a good idea to wet down the ground. Also, wear a long-sleeve shirt, pants without cuffs, and long Welders Gloves. Of course, also get yourself face and eye protection. I particularly like the Chicago Electric Auto-Darkening Helmet with Blue Flame Design.

Once you get the hang of it, working on welding projects can be a blast– for the home, the car and all kinds of hobby projects. And Harbor Freight’s got the perfect, low-cost way to start!

The HFT ’67 Firebird Restoration Project: Part 2 – Disassembly!

Welcome to the second installment of the Harbor Freight Tools 1967 Firebird Restoration Project. As previously noted, HFT invited Jeff Tann– car enthusiast and former Rod & Custom editor–to fully restore the legendary muscle car using only low-priced tools sold at 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 introduced to the vehicle, inside and out, and presented Jeff’s challenge. In this segment we watch the dismantling process. As Dr. Albert Hirsch had to break down David Webb before he could build Jason Bourne, so Jeff has to take apart the old, battle-weary Firebird before he can build… a classic, hotter Firebird!

To get the ball rolling, his garage was equipped with a U.S. General 700 lb. Capacity 5-Drawer Rolling Tool Cart, which was stocked with a Pittsburgh Professional 301-Piece Mechanic’s Tool Kit. Also used in this segment, the Central Pneumatic 3/8″ Professional Air Ratchet and 1/4″ Mini Air Ratchet Wrench.

During the display, it was suggested that you should keep the bolts, nuts, washers, etc., for each portion together in ziplock bags– and who doesn’t have a horror story that supports that?

Stay tuned… the best stuff’s still ahead!

What Kayak Canoe Put On a Utility Trailer?

Usually when you go to Harbor Freight for a trailer to haul your canoe or kayak, you’d probably look for the Haul-Master 600 lb. Capacity Boat Trailer. Makes sense, right? Not to everyone. It’s not that the boat trailer isn’t pretty great, itself– it IS, as the customer reviews can attest!– but what if you want something different,and still keep the price nice and low?

I recently found a slew of canoe/kayak mods made from Haul-Master utility trailers, and I thought they were so cool– and share-worthy– I decided to post them here:

On TexasKayakFisherman.com, a forum member who goes by the handle “G-Man” purchased a Haul-Master 1090-lb. Capacity 40-1/2″ x 48″ Mini Utility Trailer, extended the tongue and added two sets of bunkers for two kayaks–

– and then, shortly thereafter, he modified it again!

 

Florida resident “venice” also shared his solution using the 1090-lb. Mini, adding a 6-ft. 2′ x 2-1/2′ piece of steel and a couple of kayak carriers.

He offers a detailed account of his project, including multiple pictures.

“The eyebolt in front is used to use a “Dog holder Y” which we used with our Golden, two clips attach to front of kayaks and the third to the eye bolt… this forms the “Y” I mentioned, the point of it is fast stop, etc., this restrained any forward movement of the kayaks. Overkill, I know, but…”

No apologies, buddy. Overkill is underrated. You found a sweet solution!

 

And as a final example of the 1090 lb. Mini, … this is the best build using a Harbor Freight trailer as a base with no welding that I have seen so far! Check out MattD’s post, once again compliments of TexasKyakFisherman.com.

“It started as a Harbor Freight trailer, a pile of SuperStrut and some scrap steel from the dumpster. I added a couple of coats of spray-on bedliner coating and a recycled battery box for tie-down and tools. “

 

Also on TexasKayakFishing.com, “smitty24,” a Washington state resident, modified his 1720-lb. Capacity Super-Duty 4′x8′ Utility Trailer–

 “I welded some square stock to the side, slid a larger piece over it and mounted a flat piece of steel and the yakima carriers to that. I made the tongue movable, but I need to cut a foot or two off. I’m planning on adding a coffin type box in the middle so I can carry everything inside and keep it locked, but I want it to be removable too, so I can still use it as a regular trailer to haul stuff. It was actually pretty easy to do…”

You can click here to see additional photos of his work.

 

Finally, check out Marcel Rodriguez’ modification of the Haul-Master 870-lb Capacity 40″x49″ Heavy-Duty Utility Trailer:

Marcel replaced the tongue with a 14-ft. two-piece square steel tube, which he ran from the rear of the trailer, and created the rack from steel tube stock. The trailer can fit four boats comfortably and “could accommodate six.”  In the category of getting the most out of little space, this baby takes the prize! To really appreciate what he’s done, you need to go visit his site.

 

That’s it for now. But, explore the aforementioned sites, yourself– and Google others– for the awesome examples of kayak and canoe trailers made from Harbor Freight utility trailers. There’s no shortage of them– in probably every configuration imaginable– including the one that best matches your needs.

 

The HFT ’67 Firebird Restoration Project: Part 1

How good is Harbor Freight Tools, really? To find out, Jeff Tann– car enthusiast and former Rod & Custom editor–will fully restore a 1967 Pontiac Firebird using only tools sold at Harbor Freight. Starting today, we’ll follow his progress.

In the first installment of this 12-part series, let’s look at the muscle car as it was originally presented to Jeff. As you can see, the Firebird– all original– isn’t in terrible shape, but definitely has seen the wear of time and use. Even so, we’re looking at an American classic, and wouldn’t it be awesome to see it return to its 100% perfection?


Each week we’ll cover another phase of the project, until we see it through to its completion. Starting next week, we’ll start with removing the engine.

Follow with us and witness firsthand how the affordable, quality tools at Harbor Freight perform in this most challenging exercise.

Rod & Custom “Kustomizers” Employ the HF Cut-Off Tool

Cutting 2 inches from the door’s edge with the Central Pneumatic cutoff tool.

Ardent car customizers are extreme when it comes to modifying their rods– and there’s no custom work more complicated and drastic than sectioning.

In the November 2012 issue of Rod & Custom, the “kustomizers” at Star Kustom Shop go all-guns with sectioning a ’51 Chevy hardtop-turned-roadster.

“The owner of the car is after a section that doesn’t just downsize the car and keep factory proportions, Instead, he’s after something that will downplay the bulkiness of the body while accentuating other features. What we came up with is a section that will do just that.”

Without giving anything away, let me just say this baby took a LOT of amazing work– and one of the “stars” in the sectioning process was the Central Pneumatic 3″ High Speed Cut-Off Tool.

The little, mighty cut-off tool reaches a max speed of 18,000 RPM and, besides car bodies, can rip through heavy straps, exhaust systems and sheet metal. One customer told us:

“I bought this to remove rusted bolts on my boat trailer from launching in salt water. This thing is ARE YOU KIDDING PERFECT!! I had 6 bolts cut off in mins. I used 80 pounds of air, with a 20-gallon tank, and it worked perfect. VERY IMPRESSED!” (caps included)

Another added:

“I bought this a few years ago to work on getting an exhaust system apart. Like a hot knife through butter.”

Pick yourself up a copy of the November Rod & Custom and check out the article, entitled, “Weight Watchers.” It’s filled with great detail and multiple photos to follow the sectioning process. And while you’re at it, get your cutoff tool at Harbor Freight– at only $9.99 it’ll be one of the best investments in your garage!

A Gun Gal’s Review of the Dual Rock Tumbler

Last month I compared different methods for cleaning used gun cartridges (“Cleaning Brass: Tumbler, Ultrasonic, or… Cement Mixer?” Jul 25, 2012)  that are practiced out there, and pretty much left it up to the reader to decide which one would be best for them. Well, I recently came across this video made by “GalsnGuns” that she admits is a “novice review of the Harbor Freight Dual Drum Rotary Rock Tumbler.”

I was really impressed by how she took us with her on her journey, experimenting with media, cleaner, different caliber shells and other things to get the best performance out of her tumbler. Her video– which is almost 8-1/2 minutes long– made a believer out of me that the Chicago Electric dual rock tumbler is a solid contender for cleaning gun brass.

A DIY reloader of .38, .357, 9 mm, .223, .556, .45 ACP, .44 magnum, 7.62 x 39 and 7.62 x 54, GalsnGuns has her work cut out for her, so– as she puts it, “first things first”– making sure she uses ready-clean shells is of the utmost imporatance.

Check out her video, and while you’re at it, take a look at the incredibly low-priced single and dual drum rock tumblers on HarborFreight.com, read the reviews and see if this sounds like just the ticket for you.

 

Harbor Freight does not endorse any other business or organization or any technique in any customer video or blog post. Always follow all of the instructions and warnings included with our products. Harbor Freight makes no representation or warranty of any kind by including the information on this website.

JP Magazine: Axle Upgrade with Harbor Freight Tools

If you like to play hard in your Jeep, you’ll definitely want to soup up your front axle– not exactly a light-duty job. Nevertheless, JP magazine shows us how to do just that– affordably and professionally– using tools from Harbor Freight! In an article entitled “Straight and Narrow,” in the Sep 2012 issue, JP editor Cole Quinnell takes us through the steps of getting it done in a weekend and be ready for work Monday morning. To do the job, however, Cole advises that you first need to collect a few special tools:

“In addition to the normal selection of hand tools, you’ll also need a Pickle Fork, a Ball Joint Press and a 35mm Socket to fit a spindle nut, all of which we picked up at Harbor Freight.” (capitalization added)

He added that you’ll need a decent MIG welder capable of welding 1/4″ steel. The Chicago Electric 170 Amp MIG/Flux Wire Welder would be a quality, affordable tool for the job. Of course, gearheads across the country already know, when you’re looking to do a  heavy project, Harbor Freight’s your tool headquarters.

This is a great article for prepping your Jeep to “handle all but the most abusive off-roading on 35-inch tires”– and no one knows their stuff like JP.  So get yourself a copy of their September issue and check it out!

Sol Train

Great Caesar’s ghost– what IS that?!

It all started when Michael Jordan a.k.a. “Big Moe” decided to power his barn. He’d been using it as a workshop for his cars and other projects, and he wanted to get juice over there without having it tied to the grid. The barn did, in fact, have its own meter, but Big Moe opted to keep it turned off. Instead, he started clipping Harbor Freight coupons and bought 45 Watt Solar Panel Kits. After a year, he had purchased 45 kits– that’s 135 solar panels!

“I could have purchased larger panels from other sources, but I felt that the affordability and flexibility of buying from HF was better for my budget.”

Big Moe then created an on-roof rack system and installed all of the solar panels to it. Once the system was built and all the bugs were worked out of the inverters and battery banks, he found he had a lot more power than he needed in the barn. But, he made sure none of it went to waste.

“At that point I decided to also power my house. I now power my home and my barn from the HF panels. To be fair, I do not power the home 100%. I still run all of the 220v appliances from the grid, but all other aspects are run from my solar arrays.”

 

How Big Moe Did It

  • The solar system consists of two arrays with a total of 135 HF 15w panels (75 panels on array #1, 60 panels on array #2).
  • 2 @ 80 amp solar charge controllers
  • 12 @ 2v batteries in a single battery bank that holds 2220 AH of power.
  • 1 @ 5000w pure sine inverter for the barn.
  • 2 @ 3000w pure sine inverters for the house.
  • 1 @ Chicago Electric 400W Continuous Power Inverter for an outside security light
  • The panels are wired in series/parallel in sets of 3. This allows for a 43v input at load and 62v open circuit voltage. The controllers drop the voltage and up the amperage for the 12v battery bank.
  • 2/0 welding cable for wiring and the battery bank is connected to each other using copper bus bars.
  • 2 @ wind generators to help diversify for wind and solar. They are a 600w and a 800w wind & solar unit.
  • The wind generators are connected to one wind and solar charge controller.
  • The power to the home is fed through service wire to a breaker box that is located in the home, but is seperate from the standard breaker box.

He can feed any circuit in the home with either grid power or his own alternative power. So if the battery bank is running lower he is able to selectively change circuits from alternative to grid power.

Been thinking about adding a power source to your property, campsite or other location? Consider Harbor Freight’s solar panel kits, individual 15 Watt Solar Panels and other Chicago Electric solar power equipment for your project!

You can visit Big Moe’s page on the DIY Solar Energy Forum for more information, or if you have questions.

 

The Solar Toolman

I found Larry “The Solar Toolman” Taylor’s video recently on the Do-It-Yourself Solar Energy Forum site. In a quiet, confident tone—no script, no teleprompter– Larry gives “workshops,” demonstrating how someone can run multiple power tools, juiced by a solar panel kit and a cleverly assembled solar system, using hardware from Harbor Freight.

Click on the video’s YouTube link on the lower right, and it will take you to three more Solar Toolman videos, explaining how, with some low-cost modifications, a modest home solar system can power a swamp cooler, a refrigerator-freezer, a 5000 BTU air conditioner, TV, DVD, VCR, and more. For those who are looking to live more “green,” prepare for emergencies or just want to “get off the grid,” there are a lot of valuable tips to be gleaned from these few instructional videos.

When I showed this first video to a friend who’s really into DIY projects, he said, “If I decided to use solar power on my pool filter, these are the videos I’d watch to help me figure out what I needed to do it.”

While you’re at it, browse the rest of the Do-It-Yourself Solar Energy Forum and check out other interesting solar panel project videos and articles– contributed by innovative alternative-energy users! You’ll find a lot of them using the Harbor Freight 45 Watt Solar Panel Kit, 15 Watt Solar Panels, as well as the 100 Watt Solar Charge Regulator, the 30 Amp Charge Controller, power inverters and other Thunderbolt and Chicago Electric solar system hardware.

Great job, Larry! Keep those solar panel videos coming!