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!

Vertical Jump – The Central Pneumatic 2HP, 29 Gal, 125 PSI Cast Iron Vertical Air Compressor

Get the boost you need to fully power your pneumatic tools and equipment! The Central Pneumatic 2HP, 29-gal. Vertical Air Compressor (#69865) allows up to 125 PSI of air at your control. Features include an easy-access handle, smooth rolling wheels and a fully-shrouded pump and motor for protection. Woodworking, sand blasting and metalworking shops– or anywhere where pneumatic tools are used– can benefit from this powerful air compressor! Out of the box, the cast iron vertical air compressor comes with:
  • An oil-lubricated pump for reliable performance
  • Twin capacitor motor for easy start-up
  • Adjustable handle and semi-pneumatic tires for easy maneuvering
  • Thermal overload protection
  • Dual pressure gauges and a built-in quick coupler

Here’s what a couple of happy owners of the air compressor have to say:

 “I’m using this for sandblasting small items and for normal home use. It can supply a steady 60 pounds of pressure indefinitely, and obviously a lot more for brief periods of time. The compressor is relatively quiet. It takes about 2 minutes to fill up and shut off. The tank seems to hold its full pressure indefinitely, and is ready to use anytime. After a month of use, it seems like a good quality product.”  newshirt – Colorado Springs, CO
“I find uses for it EVERY DAY. Blowing up balls, handheld palm & air nailers,staplers, impact wrenches… blowing off sawdust & ? after weed eating, cooling off, too! EASY to move, inside if it’s cold out for easier starting, it won’t trip breakers OR blow fuses that way! DARN good value for the money! H-F stands behind their products!”  Ugly Gene – Pinee Bush, NY
This sturdy, capable vertical air compressor, priced at the incredibly low $357.99,  is currently available only at Harbor Freight Tools  brick n’ mortar stores. Pick one up for your shop and never worry about having enough power again.

Keep Tools and Machines Running with the 13 HP, 420cc Gas Engine

With a 13 Horsepower, 420cc Gas Engine, you’re getting a lot of power in one little machine.  And it’s perfect for replacing motors on a variety of tools, like pressure washers, compressors, log splitters, water pumps… the list goes on and on, just like this reliable and powerful Predator engine from Harbor Freight Tools.  If you’re still on the fence about it, check out what some actual users have to say…

image_22087

“I use these motors for powering various industrial equipment when the original motor quits. Very dependable! Install a good charged battery and you will have no problems starting.” – Thwack from Beaverton, OR

“Wow! This engine starts great and runs really strong. I mean really strong!” – Rich from St. Paul, MN

This motor is both handy and versatile, letting you replace the engine on several different tools but always getting the same great results.  If you’re replacing the motor on a tool, the 13 HP, 420cc Gas Engine has you covered.  There is also a model specifically designed to pass those tough California emissions laws so if you’re in the Golden State, be sure to pick up the California approved engine.   Either way, at just $349.99, these high powered engines are just what you need to keep your tools and machines running strong.

Super Streetbike Review: 1/5 HP Airbrush Compressor

When it comes to riding your motorcycle, it’s not enough that it just runs good– you gotta look good. So make sure you check out Super Streetbike’s April 2013 issue (no, not the cover, lug nut– I’m talking about YOU looking good).

On page 58 there’s a nifty article on “Helmet Painting”– a cool, inexpensive way to self-express on the road. But, as writer Brian Hatano points out, you need more than a creative idea to get your point across; it takes technique. So, he takes you through every step you probably don’t think about when  imagining that wicked skull with flames and roses… namely, preparation, detail, method and materials. To get the hang of the spray gun skills, though, Brian suggests we first get the feel of it with a practice helmet:

“For practice jobs, any helmet will work, but starting with a lid in good condition will require less initial prep and give you more time to think about designs and color combinations.”

He then breaks down the process of executing a successful paint job– from disassembling the helmet to applying the clear coat– in crystal, concise detail. Great intel to have for when you’re ready to go for it.

Interesting, however, is that even though Brian was working in a shop equipped with a large air compressor, he opted instead to go with the Central Pneumatic 1/5 HP, 58 PSI Airbrush Compressor.

“Although we had a full size compressor available, we tried out the Harbor Freight Central Pneumatic 1/5th HP Airbrush Compressor and it performed better than units costing twice as much. Zac noted the quiet motor with no pulsing in the air supply.”

Constructed of sturdy anodized aluminum, the airbrush compressor is easy to clean and operate, and changing colors is a cinch. The airbrush kit works with lacquers, oils and latex-based paints to create pro-quality designs only limited by your imagination! It comes with a 22cc glass jar, 5cc metal cop and 5-ft. air hose– and, at a low $88.99, it’ll pay for itself over and over again!

While you’re shopping, also be sure to pick up the Central Pneumatic Quick-Change Airbrush Kit for just $11.99. This enables you to switch out paints in a flash with next-to-no downtime.

This awesome setup would also be perfect for custom painting:

  • Bike frames
  • R/C and other models
  • Auto body detail art
  • Tool boxes or cabinets
  • Furniture
  • Pottery
  • Metal sculpting
  • Signs and murals
  • Crafts
  • Toys
  • Cosmetic and Halloween makeup
  • Spray tanning
  • …and so much more!

Also, of course, if you want to support the team at the big game.

 

Get Charged– and Pumped!– for 2013

As we watch winter getting smaller in the rear-view mirror, it’s time to start thinking about prepping all the warm weather toys for the coming months. I’m talking about the ATVs, the boat and water toys, the motorcycles, RV, lawn tractor, etc. — the stuff that’s been just sitting for the past five or so months. Unless you’ve been keeping them on life support with a battery float charger (which, by the way, would have been the forward-thinking thing to do, but if you’re like me, thoughts like that usually come late), they be dead, Jim.

Cen-Tech Battery Float Charger #42292

But l’d rather light a candle than curse your darkness. As it just so happens, Harbor Freight’s 3-in-1 Jump Starter & Power Supply is the perfect tool for just such a challenge.  This popular unit is a lifesaver when you’re stuck. Fully charged, it will jump 12-volt batteries ordinary jumper cables will fail. It provides a whopping 400 amp boost rate and comes a 3.6 watt light so you can see what you’re doing under the hood.

Cen-Tech Jump Starter & Power Supply

 

And as proud owners can attest, the Cen-Tech jump starter is a veritable bacon saver:

“I bought this Jump Box on Friday, charged it over night and set out for parades on Saturday morning. During the course of the day, I used it to jump 2 SUV’s and a pickup (all big V-8′s) that had dead batteries. It handled them all off of a single charge and according to the meter, it still had plenty of juice left. Very impressed. Also includes a cigarette lighter adapter that would let you charge/ recharge it from your boat/ car in an emergency.”  Jake S. – Slidell, IA

“Just emergency boosting two stranded cars made the unit pay for itself. Loaded with features that are sorely missing from more expensive “brand name” units; such as the excellent analog volt meter. Brand name units usually have lights instead of an actual volt meter. And the built-in A/C adapter, brand names usually have a wall brick adapter that is easily damaged or lost. The battery is a standard size AGM battery that can be easily accessed and replaced if needed. The flat back panel is great for modifications, I bolted a small DC to AC inverter to use as a mobile power supply for very light duty AC devices, I use mine to run a cd boombox on picnics, better than investing on pricey D cell batteries . The mods make my booster pack a little bit of a mutant, but they have come very handy when the power goes out, at a fraction of what an all in one unit would have cost. The molded plastic really takes the bumps well, and the battery charge lasts a long time, great tool.”  Jose Jiminez

The Cen-Tech 3-in-1 Jump Starter & Power Supply sells for a low $49.99 just $39.99 with a 20% coupon!– and is available on Harbor Freight’s website or in the store.

As the resuscitative process often involves inflating tires as well, you might want to dole out just a few more bucks and get the Chicago Electric Jump Starter with Air Compressor.

Chicago Electric Jump Starter-Air Compressor

This model has the same awesome power and features as the Cen-Tech, but also comes with an invaluable 260 psi air compressor. Think that’s overkill? Think again!

“Pumped up 5 tires from a dead flat. Jump-started more than 20 cars ‘n trucks.  Still running strong. Even used in power outtage, hooked up a converter to the cig outlet and had light and TV to watch, lasted about 9 hours .”  hueyhotdogg2000 – Bula, OH

“This unit has been a great addition to my travel gear. It has been able to jump start a diesel pickup truck in the winter and the compressor has kept everything from my kids’ bicycle tires to a flat on a friend’s SUV inflated. I also found that by using the 12-V outlet with my inverter, I can use items like my TV while camping and not run down my vehicle’s battery nor keep the engine running.”  Jeff G.

For the garage, barn, car, boat and more– the Chicago Electric jump starter/air compressor can be had for a mere $60.99 ($48.79 with 20% coupon)! For that, you can buy two!

Just remember where you heard about this. You’re welcome.

 

Air Supremacy

Car Craft Tackles the Central Pneumatic Air Compressor

Air tools are convenient time-savers, and can be fun when performing tasks like whizzing off lug nuts with an impact wrench. But, when doing bodywork, it’s not just convenient to have an air compressor on hand, it’s essential.

In the November 2012 issue of Car Craft, John McGann shared how, while working on a past project, his team’s home air compressor couldn’t keep up the air demands of their spray gun.

“We could spray for about a minute before the air pressure began to drop, and when that happens, the spray pattern changes and becomes inconsistent, and we’d have to stop and wait for the compressor to charge back up. When spraying a solid color enamel, painting the car panel-by-panel is possible, but metallics and pearls need to cover the car all in one coat. If not, the pattern of the effects will vary from one panel to the other.”

John concluded that, to do the job right, get the biggest air compressor you can afford.

“Compressor horsepower ratings and tank volume are good selling points, but the real spec to be concerned with is the CFM rating. This rating refers to the volume of air the compressor can deliver at a given pressure, usually 90 psi.”

Although the compressor he was using had a 9 CFM rating, it wasn’t able to maintain enough air volume and pressure to power a sander or grinder for more than 30 seconds. Because it couldn’t keep up, the pressure dropped to around 60 psi and the motor continuously kept running. Consequently, moisture from the air got into the tank and water began to spray out of the air line.

“You don’t have to know a thing about painting cars to know that water in the paint will will ruin the paint job.”

After careful research, the team decided upon the Central Pneumatic 5 Horsepower, 60 Gallon, 165 PSI Two Stage Air Compressor (the manufacturer recently changed its name from U.S. General). With a 15.8 CFM rating at 90 psi, this reliable two-piston compressor’s got capacity to spare for a pro auto paint job, where the spray gun (the most demanding air tool) usually requires 12 CFM at 45 psi for proper performance.

The Car Craft team also installed a Central Pneumatic Industrial Air Filter Regulator, which manages air pressure and separates foreign matter and water, maintaining a steady 90 psi of dry, clean air, as well as Central Pneumatic 3′ Lead Air Hose, capable of 200 psi working pressure.

Now the latest of a long list of car enthusiast magazines, Car Craft affirms the value and performance of the products at Harbor Freight Tools.

 

Car Restoration Tools Every Garage Needs

It’s funny how, as you get older, you start doing all the cool stuff you wanted to do when you were a punk teenager. Back in the 70’s we were all car crazy, 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 could actually work on them. Somehow, they managed to have the tools and supplies 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 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 dividends for years to come. But before we start doing that victory lap to “We Are the Champions,” 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 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 to get for your arsenal. Between the Die Grinder, Paint Sprayer and Impact Wrench, you’re going to get a lot of use out of it and, believe me, you’ll thank yourself every time you’ve got a 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.

Engine Work

A 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 a must 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 Creeper, Paint Stripper, Transmission Jack, Dent 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.

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

Save 28% on this 3 Gallon, 100 psi Oilless Air Compressor!

This week, we’re highlighting the 1/3 HP, 3 Gallon, 100 PSI Oilless Air Compressor (SKU 97080) from Central Pneumatic.

oilless air compressorThis air compressor is great for brad nailing, stapling, inflating, or air brushing. Here are some key features:

  • Low maintenance oilless design
  • Air delivery: 0.6 SCFM at 90 PSI, 1 SCFM at 40 PSI
  • Cut-in pressure: 85 PSI, Cut-out pressure: 100 PSI
  • Easy-to-read gauges
  • Thermal overload protection
  • Includes quick connect coupler

So use code 42329329 when you check out with the oilless air compressor in your online cart or just click on the coupon below. You will get 28% off this item* from the Harbor Freight website! This offer lasts through September 5, 2011.

*Online quantity limit: 1. For other limitations, please see coupon below.

oilless air compressor coupon