The Many Lives of the Motorcycle Lift

Harbor Freight’s made a decent name for itself for, among other things, its motorcycle and ATV/motorcycle lifts. A quick glance at the customer reviews– not to mention independent bike forums– will show Harley, Goldwing, dirt and Big Dog Chopper (to name a few) wrenchers across the country doling out praise for the garage equipment they’ve come to rely on.

Look deeper, though, and you’ll find ATVs and motorcycles are not the only things Harbor Freight’s motorcycle lifts are being used for…

Recently, on an auto parts forum, a member shared how he used a Central Hydraulics Lightweight Aluminum Motorcycle Lift as a drivetrain jack for his 914.

Coincidentally, on a different site, another guy was asking advice on employing the lift for removing his Porsche 914 engine. But then, as a twist, a very different idea was offered in a product review:

This is about the perfect tool for working on clinical equipment and gurney wheels. It is easy to keep clean which is very important. Safer than makeshift methods using levers, work progresses better and it has paid for itself in time saved.

On Lumberjocks, a woodworkers’ site, a member told of how he bought a table saw, but as his wife needed the garage space for her car, he had to find a mobile base. Due to high costs and lackluster reviews for what was out there, though, he suddenly had a stroke of necessary genius, and…

…instead,  got a Central Hydraulics 1500 lb. Capacity ATV/Motorcycle Lift for the job. More than enough for the task, the lift easily maneuvers the shop equipment into a corner with plenty of room for the Mrs.’ ride.

The ingenuity doesn’t stop there. Another guy used his 1500 lb. lift to spruce up the office:

I bought this to lift and/or move office furniture so I could get carpet tile under the furniture. It worked beautifully and an incredible bargain compared to the alternatives. It allowed me to work by myself, saving me the cost of hiring a grunt. It lately has been used in a garage that I store materials in. Makes a dandy little pallet jack for my homemade pallets. Roll them under the shelving, drop in place, doesn’t take up much room. Someday, I may try it on my bike. A very versatile investment. And unlike the grunt, it’s still with me.

Last (but certainly not least), is the Central Hydraulics High-Position Motorcycle Lift

which not only lifts furniture—it becomes furniture! In fact. TWO product reviewers discovered this to be the case—one using it as an adjustable work welding table and the other, a great portable workbench (“I have a table top that easily clamps to the arms. Extremely stable and very strong”). That’s not to say it doesn’t carry its weight. After a quick review, I found the affordable high-position lift is used for boosting riding mowers and lawn tractors, pressure washers, and snow blowers. And did we mention, it’s great for lifting bikes and ATVs?

“This is a very handy lift,” noted one happy wrencher. “I easily give it 5 stars.”

Whether you own a motorcycle or ATV– or don’t– check out the product reviews and all the great ways you can use an affordable, heavy-duty motorcycle lifts from Harbor Freight.

Seriously, don’t get a grunt.

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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.

Grand Opening in Indio, CA!

July 31, 2012– On Wednesday, August 1st at 8:00 a.m., the doors of the newest Harbor Freight — located at 82123 US Highway 111 in the city of Indio– will burst open to a special Grand Opening Sale, with merchandise discounted at up to 80%. Later, at 11:00 a.m., a ribbon-cutting ceremony will be hosted there by The Indio Chamber of Commerce.

“Harbor Freight Tools is a valued new member to our Chamber and are proud they have chosen the City of Indio as one of their newest locations. We look forward to a long and exciting working relationship with one of the nation’s largest tool and equipment retailer” states Joyce Donaldson, President/CEO of the Indio Chamber of Commerce. “We wish them great success and will make every effort to make them prosper and grow in our community.”

Come join the celebration, browse the huge selection of quality tools and hardware, take advantage of the incredible specials and savings, or just come by and say “Hello!”

Store hours are MON-SAT 8:00AM-9:00PM and SUN 9:00AM-6:00PM.

See you there!

Mega Cool Tool Cabinet Project

When I was a kid, around the holidays, I always got excited for the Sears “Wish List” catalog. When it finally came, I would carry it off into my room and go over each page carefully, like a monk poring over the scriptures, carefully marking each treasure I really, really wanted (the BB gun and mini bike got circled every year… finally got the BB gun). That magic feeling’s faded over the years, and now that I’m an adult, I tend to harbor a more pragmatic view of what I can and can’t have. The tummy just doesn’t twitter anymore… until I saw a post last week in The Garage Journal:

A forum member with the moniker “blasto9000″ submitted pictures of a project he recently completed, bolting three US General 44″ 13-Drawer Roller Cabinets together– essentially building a 39-drawer supermax workbench!

I Want!

Since the uneven floor in his garage was an unsuitable spot for the rolling cabinets, he first removed the casters, cut various-lengthed legs and capped them with leveling feet to match the floor’s contour. To bring the tool cabinets together, he left the side handles off and bolted the cabinets together with cut lengths of T-slot.

The original idea was to build the rack out of hot-roll steel, but as 80/20 is around the same price, and a lot easier to work with (plus, if you make a mistake, you can just unbolt it and re-do), he chose that instead.All the cuts were done with a cutoff saw, much like the Chicago Electric 3-1/2 HP 14″ Cut-Off Saw.

Here’s a list of the materials used:

1010 extrusion, 96″, 8 pcs.
1030 extrusion, 36″, 1 pc.
6-hole joining plate p/n 4166, 6 pcs.
End fastener p/n 3681, 12 pcs.
Leveling foot p/n 2192, 12 pcs.
1/4-20 x 0.5″ BHSCP, (a lot)
Economy tee nuts (a lot)
M6x1.0 cap screw, 12 pcs.
M6 nuts and washers, 12 pcs.
1/4-20 plug tap (2 flute), 1 ea.

It’s impressive how this guy kept the parts at a minimum– clean and efficient!

The construction is basically three 42×18″ rectangular hoops that the tool cabs sit on, held together using end fasteners. The hoops sit on the legs, which are 1030 extrusion (1×3″ cross section), and then the hoops have screws going through them radially, and attach to axially drilled/tapped holes in the legs. The hoops are 1″ extrusion– two of them each– sitting on 3″ extrusion, which leaves 1″ in the middle. This is where the vertical members are joined and covered by the 6-hole joining plate.

Here is the suggested order of assembly:

Build 42×18″ hoops, cut legs, drill/tap legs, and assemble into the base frame.
Install rear (wall facing) uprights with M6 studs protruding.
Level rack to the floor.
Take a leak, so you don’t piss your pants during the next maneuver.
Empty tool cab and lay on the frame using armstrong method.
Slide tool cab onto the M6 studs.
Install front vertical member.
Rinse, repeat.

“The HF tool cabs are very well-made and easily the best value in tool storage,” he said. “When I built the 80/20 framing I cut all members to precise length.  I was afraid there would be some variance in the size of the tool cabs, but they are all EXACTLY the same size, and the hole locations (for the handles) are in the exact same place. That made the job go a lot easier.”

The remarkably talented Blasto9000 came up with the original design while sitting in his car, stuck in Los Angeles traffic.

 

Cleaning Brass: Tumbler, Ultrasonic, or… Concrete Mixer?

As I mentioned in a previous entry, I like going to the shooting range whenever I have the time. Unfortunately, two of my favorite guns—a .custom 358 Win. rifle and a .327 Ruger single-action revolver—use hard-to-find ammo, and I spend hours online looking for new sources when the others dry up. This usually results in a lot of special ordering, backordering and premium prices. So I’ve recently decided to take up another hobby– reloading.

I knew I’d be going this direction for some time, and have been saving all my spent brass. Now, as I go about assembling my little ammo-making factory, I have to decide how I want to clean it. After initially looking around, I soon realized there are 1,005 different mickey-mouse ways people clean their brass, all of them involving washing and drying (warning: don’t dry your brass in the oven), nasty chemicals, labor-intensive manual putzing, or a combination of these. One approach I found interesting was putting bullet casings in old socks and tossing them in the washer with a little soap. If you and your wife aren’t concerned about getting toxic primer residue in your underwear, then have at it. Also, the idea of feeling “accomplished” by hand-cleaning your own brass gets old real fast. The time, vapors, cleaning up after the chemicals… forget it.

In the end, I narrowed my options down to three of the more endorsed methods: tumbler, ultrasonic washer and cement mixer.

The tumbler actually falls into two categories: rotary & vibrating. Both work well and have strong followings, although there are distinct differences. The rotary tumbler, originally created for polishing rocks, turns a barrel in which the cleaning media (such as walnut shell or corn cob) clean and polish the brass as they tumble together. Because the drum is water-tight, a cleaning solution or polish can also be added. A favorite method of cleaning in a rotary tumbler is throwing the brass in a tumbler with stainless steel media and some dish soap, liquid detergent or a specially-made cleaner. More so than some other methods, with stainless steel the cartridges turn “like-new” bright & shiny, inside and out. Reloaders who have tried this method claim that they’ll never go back to walnut or corn cob media again. The downside is that stainless steel is a lot more expensive, about $50 for 5 lbs. compared to $23 for 25 lbs. It should be noted, though. the stainless steel does last longer, too.

Two examples of rotary tumblers are:

 

 

 

…the Chicago Electric 3 lb. Rotary Rock Tumbler

 

 

 

 

…and the Chicago Electric Dual Drum Rotary Rock Tumbler.

 

Rotary tumblers are generally less expensive and run quieter than the vibrating models. Also, FWIW, they create less dust than the vibrating models. However, they’re vastly slower and there’s also extra time invested in separating the brass from the media.

The vibrating tumbler, as was already mentioned, is a lot faster—even by several hours—so you can get through a lot more brass in the same amount of time Also, it’s a dry-cleaning process, so you don’t have to worry that the brass is thoroughly dry. A downside to consider, though, is the vibratory tumbler doesn’t get the inside of the casings as clean as the rotary. This isn’t really considered a problem; it doesn’t affect the performance of the ammo, or have any adverse affect on the gun, if the inside of the shell isn’t as clean and bright as the outside. Just be aware, that will be the result. Two tumblers you can find at great prices are:

 

 

 

 

the 5 lb. Metal Vibrator/Tumbler and…

 

 

 

 

the 18 lb. Vibratory Bowl with Liquid Drain Hose.

 

The foremost praise given to the ultrasonic cleaner is how fast it works. Plus, it will clean the entire case, inside and out, including the primer pocket, without getting media stuck in the flash holes (as with other methods, when they need to be picked out). You also don’t get the dust all over the casings like with the other methods, and you’re spared having to breathe the lead dust when separating the brass from the cob or walnut media. The downsides are, it cleans but doesn’t polish the brass, you have to dry the cases after you clean them, and the hardware is slightly more expensive. That being said, Harbor Freight has one at a great price.

 

 

 

Chicago Electric 2.5 Liter Ultrasonic Cleaner

 

Which leads me to most out-there, but surprisingly popular method of cleaning brass: the cement mixer. This is the go-to device when you’ve got a lot of brass to clean– like thousands of casings. Indeed, a number of reloaders point to Harbor Freight’s cement mixers as the “ultimate wet or dry tumblers,” not only for their effectiveness, but also their cheap prices and reliability. In order to make their cement mixer work as a “tumbler,” they leave out the paddles when assembling it, leaving the round tub empty. To keep the brass from banging against the steel tub, some spray the interior with a rubber coating, but that’s more for the noise than any concern for the brass getting dinged. All sorts of media can be used in them, but crushed walnut seems to be a favorite, with possibly a brass polish additive. Harbor Freight carries two models made by Central Machinery, both of them used by reloaders:

 

 

 

1-1/4 Cubic Ft. Cement Mixer

 

 

 

 

 

 

3-1/2 Cubic Ft. Cement Mixer

By sharing all these methods, it’s not my intent to try to sway you in any direction. Everyone’s needs and preferences are different. Before you do make a decision, though, google terms like “tumbler vs. ultrasonic cleaner” and “cleaning brass cement mixer,” and see what they’re saying in the blogs and forums– and ask questions! I think you’ll find the methods I’ve listed here are the best.

See you at the range!

 

 

 

Solar-Powered Kiddie Car Mod


I keep stumbling on wicked mods created with something from the wide-ranging Harbor Freight catalog– everything from the outrageous to the sublime. This time I’m just going to call it “cool!”

Ben Nelson’s little girl is just about old enough to start driving her tyke-sized electric jeep. There’s only two problems: there’s no battery and no charger. A lesser man would have hauled the carcass to the curb, but not Ben. With a couple of spare 15 Watt 12 Volt Solar Panels and a 30 Amp Solar Charge Controller that he happened to have– along with some conduit and a 12-volt battery– the kid’s now free-wheelin’ it with clean, free energy.

Check it out!

 

Tools to Help Your Garden Grow

So you want to start a garden, eh? You’ve waited years for that moment where you have the space in your yard to do it. Or maybe you’ve just volunteered for a community garden but you haven’t a garden tool to your name? Well Harbor Freight Tools is here to help!

Gnomes to Help Your Garden Grow

The Harbor Freight Tools Garden Gnomes are here to help your garden grow (ok, not really, but you can buy them for only $7.99 and they make your garden super cute.)

Garden tools can be broken down into two basic categories: tools for working the soil / planting and tools for maintaining your plants.

Soil and Planting Tools:

Round Point ShovelRound-point shovel – this shovel is made for loosening and moving soil and digging planting holes

 

 

Garden ForkManure fork - the name is a bit daunting but historically speaking manure was fertilizer and something was needed to move this around. This tool is also useful for aerating your compost pile

 

 

Leaf RakeGarden rake – this is great fro breaking up smaller clumps of dirt and working soil amendment / fertilizer into the top of a garden bed

 

 

Garden Maintenance Tools:

Bypass PrunerBypass pruner - you need at least one good bypass pruner for routine plant maintenance such as deadheading roses, shaping shrubs, or cutting off that annoying branch growing in exactly the wrong spot. It’s nice to have to them in several sizes for larger or smaller jobs, but an 8-inch pruner should suffice most of the time

 

Garden SnipsSnips - these are necessary for reaching into tight spaces to snip off tiny twigs

 

 

LoppersLoppers - these are used for removing  branches

 

 

Rope Chain SawPruning saws - when branches are too big for loppers you’ll need a pruning saw to take them down

 

 

Garden SprayerGarden sprayer - the best way to disseminate plant food or pest control (organic of chemical)

 

 

Gardening GlovesGloves - of course! Don’t forget these. You’ll need to protect your hands from thorns and insects an other things that might be lurking in the soil

 

 

As you continue to work on your garden, you’ll get a feel for these tools and may find other nifty gadgets that will help you out. But for now you’ve got a good starter kit to get you going and all at the ridiculously low prices that you can only find at Harbor Freight Tools.

Home Auto Shop: The Noble Gantry


Working in the garage is always therapeutic—until you find yourself with a three-person job, and the only guy who answers to you is… you. And, more often than not, that usually involves lifting something heavy. I can give you three reasons why a 1-Ton Telescopic Gantry Crane is a lifesaver in the restorer’s—and any project man’s– garage:

  1. It provides a strong, stable lifting platform.
  2. The I-beam height adjusts from 8’ to 12-1/2’, ensuring its capability in various situations.
  3. It’s got your back (literally) when you’re trying to single-handedly lift, load or unload heavy objects.


 Add a 1-Ton Push Beam Trolley, and the Telescopic Gantry Crane is one of the best investments a lone hobbyist or gear head can make. 

 What heavy stuff do you deal with for your projects?

New Combination Wrench Set @ Harbor Freight Tools!

7 Piece Metric Universal Combination Wrench Set

This Universal Combination wrench set handles both metric and SAE fasteners

New at Harbor Freight Tools is our Pittsburgh 7 Piece Metric Universal Combination Wrench Set. This sturdy and practical set makes life easier by giving you more options while making your toolbox lighter.  It also handles odd sizes and round fasteners.The set includes:

  • Splined box end handles 6-point,12-point, square, E-Torx® and rounded fasteners
  • Speedy open end for fast ratchet-like action
  • Raised panel
  • Offset angle: 15°
  • Chrome vanadium steel
  • Black phosphate finish

Now on SALE for $14.99, this set is priced way below the competition and features a lifetime guarantee. This introductory sale price may not last long so get it while it lasts!