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
- Metal sculpting
- Signs and murals
- Cosmetic and Halloween makeup
- Spray tanning
- ...and so much more!
Also, of course, if you want to support the team at the big game.
Now that the weather's getting nicer, step outside and take inventory of your outdoor toys: lawn mower, ATVs, bikes, motorcycles, dirt bikes... not a pretty picture, is it? The tires are flat, they're dead as doornails and they've got a film of filth accumulated from four months of neglect (and maybe even some left over from last year's use).
Time to get in gear, son. Here are a few tools from Harbor Freight that'll jump start your spring and summer, and get your wheels back on track:
First of all, let's put some air back in those tires. For that-- as well as other light air tool jobs around the garage-- I recommend the Central Pneumatic 3-Gall Oilless Air Compressor #95275. Equipped in a compact 1/3-gallon tank, the compressor puts out a capable 100 PSI, plenty for brad nailing, stapling, inflating or air brushing. It includes a quick connect coupler, and features easy-to-read gauges and thermal overload protection. Easily stored in the trunk of any vehicle, this compressor is a portable and hassle-free light duty air supply. And at $59.99 ($49.99 with coupon 'til the end of March!), it will have paid for itself, saving you from all those trips to the gas station where they charge you a buck a pop!
Next, blast the dirt, dust and grime off your mower, ATVs and bicycles with the Pacific Hydrostar 1650 PSI Electric Pressure Washer #69488. This is a great pressure cleaner for any auto garage or shop. Capable of up to 1,650 PSI, it can be employed to power-clean your walls, yard equipment, RV, boat, and vehicles easily. We like using it on the exterior siding, molding and getting rid of wasp nests. Lightweight and portable, it features a 13' pressure hose that can reach the tougher areas, and 5" diameter wheels for smooth transport. The nozzle is also adjustable for wide spraying or tight, concentrated streams, which is great when you need lighter or harder pressure. Add Harbor Freight's powerful Degreaser Concentrate and use it to power wash your greasy, grimy, cobweb-covered BBQ grill as well. Normally priced at $99.99, but now 'til the end of March, you can pick up one of these babies for just $89.99 with coupon!
Chances are, after being dormant for several months, some of your engines will need defibrillation. This is where the Chicago Electric Battery Charger and Engine Starter #66783 comes in. Imagine the rush of godlike power as you connect the positive and negative clamps to your dead mower, and with a maniacal laugh, yell "Clear!" and hit the ignition, bringing your creature back to life. The 10-amp charger setting on this unit recharges vehicle batteries in just 3-5 hours. The 2-amp trickle function maintains the charge when the battery is not being used, while the 55-amp setting provides a boost of added cranking power for autos in emergency situations. The battery charger includes battery leads and clamps to help you get back on the lawn, water, dirt and road quickly. Priced at $49.99, the battery charger and engine starter will pay for itself over and over again!
Now that you've finished moving all your machines outside and ready for action, it's time to turn your attention to the garage itself. Tune in next time when we address getting the garage/shop cleaned, organized and ready for all your projects in 2013!
In their upcoming May, 2013 issue, Lowrider magazine will feature a Project HellDorado installment, covering the creation of a custom dashboard and console for a '68 Cadillac El Dorado (say that three times real fast). After the factory dash was removed, the top of the new dash was made in sections and then, using a Central Machinery English Wheel Kit With Stand from Harbor Freight Tools, the auto artisan sculpted the contours to precision.
Great choice! The 28" throat capacity on Harbor Freight's English wheel kit offers plenty of room to fabricate compound curves on large pieces with ease and efficiency. It's also great for shaping, fabrication, and smoothing dents and welding seams in fenders, hoods and trunk panels. The 4” all-steel frame is more than capable for handling sheet steel to 16 gauge as well as copper and aluminum to 14 gauge. It's easy to level and easy to use. And at $299.99-- $239.99 with a 20% Off Coupon!-- it'll do what the expensive units will do at half the price!
Whether your fashioning your ride to be a lowrider, a hot rod or just a customized thing of beauty, the Central Machinery English Wheel Kit is the perfect companion in your shop.
It's not enough just to claim having the lowest prices around. A Scion is a lot cheaper than a Lexus, but, well... Now on the other hand, if you can claim lowest price AND the same quality (or better) than the high-priced brands, now we got ourselves a ball game.
In the April 2013 issue of Car Craft (not online yet... I guess it goes along with the whole "why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free" philosophy), in the Hands On section, I stumbled across an article entitled, "Testing Torque Wrenches", by Jeff Smith. The gist of it was to compare the performance of 1/2-inch drive click torque wrenches from Craftsman ($240), Snap-on ($323) and the Pittsburgh model (#239 - $19.99) from Harbor Freight.
"Then we discovered a digital torque adapter sold by Harbor Freight (#68283). This small unit fits in between a standard 1/2-inch drive breaker bar and the socket, and using a digital strain gauge, it converts the torque applied through the adapter into a digital readout. At a typical Harbor Freight price of $39.99, we decided to include it in our test. We frankly didn't expect this little unit to be very accurate. But the testing proved otherwise."
After running the torque adapter through five consecutive applications of 70-lb.-ft. of torque, the average came out to be an "amazing 70.1 lb.-ft. In fact, when they tested it against a Snap-On digital torque wrench "costing far more," the readings from the two tools were generally within 0.20 lb-ft.
As for the drive click torque wrench...
"... we also tested Harbor Freight's 1/2-inch clicker torque wrench, and it was also very close. It also has a range of 20 to 150 lb-ft and a lifetime warranty. Accuracy after five consecutive tests at 70 lb-ft ranged from 68.8 lb-ft (-1.2) to 70.3 (+0.3), with an average error of 0.30 ft-lb over five tests. It doesn't get much better than that for a mechanical torque wrench."
Bottom line: You don't have to pay an arm and a leg to get precision performance-- and with your 20% Off Coupon, you can have the drive click torque wrench for just $16! For so much less than the competition, Harbor Freight's 1/2-inch drive click torque wrench is the clear winner!
For a more detailed coverage of the tool test, get the April 2013 issue of Car Craft today.
Hot Rod magazine gave generous props to the Central Pneumatic Earthquake 1/2" Impact Wrench (#68424) in the Parts & Stuff section of their January 2013 issue:
"This is the Cadillac of ½-inch impact wrenches. From Harbor Freight, known for great tools and cheap prices, the Central Pneumatic Earthquake ½-inch Impact Wrench is rated at 700 lb-ft and has three forward speeds plus reverse. It has twin hammers inside that help to make more torque easier. It has less vibration than the competition and, according to Harbor Freight, is the most powerful wrench in its class. One other cool feature is that the exhaust port is pointed away from the user, so no more blowing air in your face when using the tool."
While I do love Hot Rod for being a renowned mag, full of informative articles, how-to's, showcases, etc., they'll have to go to the back of the line on this one. Harbor Freight's Earthquake 1/2" impact wrench is already a well-documented legend for, not only its power, durability and performance, but also the great price-- just $94.99 (around $76 with a 20% off coupon)!
"Do we really need any excuse to go buy new tools for the garage? Of course we don't, but the new Earthquake air tool from Harbor Freight gives you 700 reasons to pick one up when you need to get those stubborn, rusty fasteners off your Mustang!
"This professional class wrench (Item# 68424) delivers more power with better weight distribution, lighter materials and a more compact housing. Premium grade components with close tolerances give this tool a longer lifespan than conventional air wrenches."
"Harbor Freight returns with another price-conscious tool that should be in every garage: the Central Pneumatic Earthquake half-inch impact wrench. You may not need this tool for everyday wrenching on the bike, but when upgrading or replacing worn out sprockets requires the removal of a countershaft sprocket nut that will not loosen by hand, you’ll appreciate this tool’s power. The Earthquake Impact Wrench is an affordable way to get the job done with a torque range of 50-500 LBS.-FT., a working pressure of 90 PSI and three forward speeds. Make dropping a tooth or two with an aftermarket front sprocket easier with this tool."
And it's not just the magazines. Tool hounds at home also like the Earthquake impact wrench. For example, on this thread in GarageJournal.com's forum, several members admitted their fondness for the air tool:
"I've had one for a bit over a year and have used it quite a bit. I have yet to come across something that I was unable to get off with it..." strizzy
"I bought one a couple of years ago and couldn't be happier with it. Incredible power and comfortable grip.... It's been used and abused and just keeps on going. I'm sure keeping it lubed properly helps too. With an adapter and a Budd socket it even removed nuts from a truck that someone had swaged on with a cold chisel to make sure they NEVER came off. This thing had enough power to take them off right through the bunged up threads. I like it so much I'm thinking of buying their 3/8" Earthquake..." Curmudgeon
"I got the 1/2" one too. I use it every once in a while to remove some rusty hardware on my 20 year old sports car (read: bolts that have not been touched in a long time) and the Earthquake does it without any trouble. Its a great purchase even if it was double the price. But since its not...stop typing and go buy one!" sunshineFC3s
I couldn't have said it better myself. The Earthquake impact wrench comes with:
+Precision machined to master-mechanic standards
+Most powerful wrench in its class
+Variable speed reversible
+Less vibration and lighter than the competition
+Handle-vented to direct exhaust away from user
+Twin-hammer delivers more torque to the anvil
+Three forward speeds
I know... you're heading out the door. Don't forget your 20% OFF COUPON!!
"So I bought this thing because I took my carb to a buddies house the first time I was taking it apart and we used his. My carb had gunk all over and was generally dirty from being used. This ultrasonic gizzmo cleaned my carb to the point where it looked fresh out of a hot tank, inside and out. I was very impressed."
When he took it home, he tried different cleaners with it. One different work. Another was so sotrong, it would tarnish. Finally, he found the perfect "solution":
"I went back to Harbor Freight and bought a gallon of this business they use in their regular parts washers for only $9.99. I run a 50/50 mix with water and it cleans fantastically. Straight out of the jug is pretty concentrated stuff. I really recommend diluting it some."
And once he figured out the formula, he threw everything he could find into the cleaner.
"Since, I've used it on all kinds of things. Most useful to me has been on fasteners but greasy nuts, bolts, washers, brackets, spacers, sprockets, clutch and brake perches, cleaning up my tools, my carburetor components, suspension components and even a whole chain. Yes, the whole chain."
Besides motorcycle and automotive parts, the 2.5 Ultrasonic Cleaner is great for cleaning gun parts and brass, jewelry, coins, brasswind parts, pinball machine parts, e-cigarette tanks, medals, eyeglasses, tattoo tubes, grips and tips, bionic parts, coffee ground cups, and so much more! It works with our without heat, and is programmed for five cleaning cycles. At only $74.99, it's a great machine at a great price.
Now, back to Master_E:
"So I thought I'd share a couple before and afters. I actually struggled to find things that needed cleaning, but I did find a couple things. These parts were never prep'd or polished after coming out of the cleaner. They went straight in, ran a cycle then brought out and dried off. Thats it. No scrubbing, no brushing, no scraping, no wiping down with a rag at all."
(Click on the pics to enlarge)
You can't argue with the evidence. The Chicago Electric 2.5 Liter Ultrasonic Cleaner is a perfect addition to any workshop or home where parts and pieces get dirty. Go get yours now-- and don't forget to take a 20% Off coupon!
To quote Master_E's parting remark:
"Cheers! Now go clean some stuff!"
Painting the Car
One of the most time-consuming and important projects you'll perform in the auto restoration process is to paint the sucker. Painting a classic car is more of an art than a mechanical procedure, and doing a good job means summoning patience and a bit of perfectionism from your normally "that's good enough"-self. That new, glossy paint job will make the slightest blemish look pronounced and no matter how awesome the ride's going to look, believe me, you'll be staring at that blotch like my teenage daughter obsesses over a zit.
First, choosing the paint: Most likely you'll be compromising between the quality and budget. Most paints nowadays do a pretty good job of protecting the underlying metal, but cheaper paints can be less tolerant to sun, and will fade quickly if the car sits outside for any length of time. Regardless of the type of paint you choose, remember you get what you pay for. More expensive paints will last longer and retain their pigment better than the "bargain" paints.
Just a couple more things to cover before we move on to the equipment: proper preparation. Especially if it's assembled, the car first needs be taped off, using masking tape and paper. You might be thinking, heck, I'll just use newspaper. But newspaper is porous and can let paints-- especially clear coat-- bleed through onto the glass and trim, leaving a time-consuming mess. It costs a little more, but using a less porous paper-- making paper better still--will make the job a lot easier. Plastic can be used to bag the engine bay and other areas that won't be painted, and wheel covers or trash bags can be used to cover the wheels and tires. Once taped, the car is prepared by wiping it down with a cleaner (Naphtha is usually the main ingredient) to eliminate any oils or foreign materials from the surface that could cause fish-eyes or other blemishes. Finally, the car is wiped down with a tack-cloth to remove any dust or debris that could affect the paint job.
If you don't have a lot of experience painting cars, following the instructions on the MSDS will help you apply a good paint job. If done properly, your paint job should protect your car and look great for many years.
Now on to the equipment. The primer is already on, so our designated restoration artisan turns to the...
The HVLP spray gun's material transfer gives you better, more consistent coverage than conventional spray guns, and with minimal messy over-spray. It comes with a 20 oz. gravity feed gun that operates at 30-35 PSI and detail gun that performs 25-30 PSI, and comes with stainless steel needles and tips on both guns. Our technician used this, along with a 33 Oz. Gravity Feed Paint Cup to spray two coats of red paint and three coats of clear. After which, he color-sanded the body with dish soap & water, 1200 Grit Sandpaper, using a 4-7/8" Soft Rubber Sanding Block to knock off the "orange peel." How does our spray gun kit compare to the competition's?
- Sears - US Freight Neiko Pro 2.0mm HVLP Gravity Speed Spray Gun w/Gauge #9924G - $59.99
- Northern Tool - Wagner Double-Duty HVLP Sprayer #0518050 - $94.99
- Home Depot - Husky HVLP & Conventional Spray Gun Kit #HDK00600AV - $79.99
- Lowe's - Kobalt Large Gravity Feed Spray Gun #SGY-AIR88 - $54.96
- Grainger - BINKS HVLP Gravity Spray Gun Kit #98-3170 - $204.25
Following the pain job, Jeff buffed, using this polisher/sander and then, with the waxing, delivered the classic car to an incredible mirror gloss finish!
The polisher gives you all the power and control you need for a wide variety of applications. It generates between 1000-3500 RPM for a pretty nice polish. The LCD display shows the speed and the textured grip side handle provides comfortable handling. The polisher comes with foam and polishing bonnets as well as an 80 grip sanding disc. It's also great for boats, travel trailers, stairs, etc-- all at a great price. Now here's the competition:
- Sears - Wen Variable Speed 7" Polisher/Sander #946 - $59.99
- Northern Tool - Makita 7" Sander & Polisher 3000 RPM #9227CX3 - $239.99
- Home Depot - Wen 7" Pro Sander/Polisher #946 - $59.99
- Lowes - Porter Cable 4.5 Amp Ros Power Sander/Polisher # 7346SP - $119.00
- Grainger - Makita 7" Variable Speed Sander/Polisher #9227CY - $284.75
Believe it or not, for the meatiest phase of the Firebird restoration project-- the engine rebuild-- the star of the show was the Pittsburgh Professional 1/2" Drive Click Stop Torque Wrench, a multipurpose tool utilized throughout the video (check out the great details and tips employed in this installment). A heavy-duty cam and pawl mechanism, this reversible 1/2" drive click type torque wrench is THE go-to tool when precise torque is needed. The click-type wrench design provides a torque range from 20 to 150 ft. lbs and is accurate to within +/- 4% ! Harbor Freight price: $19.99.
Judging by the reviews, we already know it's an awesome automotive hand tool. But how does it measure up cost-wise to the competition? Let's check it out:
- Sears - Performance Mechanics 1/2" Drive Click Torque Wrench #M200DB - $47.02
- Northern Tool - Northern Industrial 1/2" Torque Wrench #558266 - $29.99
- Home Depot - Husky 1/2" Drive Torque Wrench #39104T - $79.97
- Lowe's - Kobalt 1/2" Drive Click Torque Wrench #85601 - $94.97
- Grainger - Proto 1/2" Torque Wrench #J6016CX - $281.50
Next time we'll look at the tools used for painting the car and, as always, compare them to the competition's stuff. By now the pattern should be clear: Harbor Freight Tools offers, without a doubt, the best value on quality auto restoration tools. Don't forget to check out their weekly flyer and keep checking HarborFreight.com for sales, coupons and the best deals around!
See you next time!
Well, it's been a long road, but we've finally come to the end of our journey. Behold the final video installment of the '67 Firebird Restoration Project, executed exclusively with Harbor Freight Tools.
As I shared last week, the fully-restored '67 Firebird pulled into our office parking lot, and let me tell you, it was a sight to see. Ever watch the Mecum Car Auctions on the Velocity Channel? (love that show!) This car would have summoned a pretty penny on their auction block. Before it was whisked away to who-knows-where, a handful of us slowly circled around it, transfixed, muttering "wows" and "oh yeahs" under our breaths. The original interior was pristine-- black bucket seats and carpet looking like new. Under the hood, the same. In fact, the guy who did the restoration, Jeff Tann, said the 'bird's engine was better now than when it was new.
Imagine the same kind of results with your favorite Mopar or Mustang... maybe an old Apache pickup or Landcruiser. Whatever your poison, Harbor Freight Tools has got the power, air and hand tools you need for a lot less moolah than the other guys-- and they've got the fans to prove it! Get their catalog, shop their deals, clip their coupons... you won't be able to help grinning with all the cool stuff you'll be taking home for so little.
So, what's to become of the Firebird? The rumors abound. A Saudi now sheikh has it. It's in the next Bourne movie. Elvis was seen in it at a drive-through in Lubbock, Texas. No one can say for sure... I only know I offered to take it off their hands, but haven't heard back yet.
If it's going to be done right, every phase of restoring a vehicle is important. I mean, you wouldn't just rebuild or replace the carb, throw on some new paint and upholstery, and call it done (although, that's exactly what a lot of guys do). That thinking will bite you in the butt down the road-- literally. That's why the underbody gets the same attention as everything else. So... let's talk tools:
Last month I started a series illustrating how much more bang for the buck a wrencher can get from Harbor Freight Tools than they could the competition. Using the '67 Firebird Restoration project as my example, I've been breaking it down phase by phase, comparing the prices of tools used in the project with similar (if not exact) products that the competition advertises. The competitors I chose were Sears, Northern Tool, Home Depot, Lowe's and Grainger. Exact matches weren't always found, so I substituted the closest product available. As I've said before, I don't think this compromises the test because we're only talking about differences in size and shape, not power or function.
In the first segment, we looked at Harbor Freight's tools used in the vehicle's disassembly video. In the second, we explored price differences on the engine removal phase. In the third installment, we featured the tools employed in the stripping and priming process. This time we're only featuring two tools for the underbody:
Using a heavy-duty industrial de-greaser, this powerful 2000 PSI gas pressure washer is unstoppable against old, caked-on grease, oil and dirt that's accumulated on your vehicle's underbelly. Pumping out 1.6 gallons a minute, the machine is EPA-certified and easily portable on two rubber wheels. It's got a mighty four-stroke 4 HP gas engine with a cast-iron cylinder for maximum durability, pump-overheat protection, overload protection and low-oil shutdown for extra safety.
- Sears - Craftsman 2200 PSI Gas-Powered Pressure Washer - $249.99
- Northern Tool - Wel-bilt 2500 PSI Gas-Powered Pressure Washer - $249.99
- Home Depot - Simpson MegaShot 2200 PSI Gas-Powered Pressure Washer - $269.99
- Lowe's - Simpson MegaShot 2200 PSI Gas Pressure Washer - $269.99
- Grainger - Generac #5987 2500 PSI Cold Water Gas Pressure Washer - $499.25
You can't beat the quality and value of this great, little blaster! In the video they used it for blasting rust from the undercarriage, but that's just one of a zillion things you can use this tool on. Car restoration, firearm parts, tool cabinets, barbecues, metal beams, aluminum wheels, tools, to name a few. Use slag media, silica, walnut or pecan shells, sand, glass bead, steel grit and more. The portable abrasive blaster kit comes with a blast gun, 15-ft. material hose and a hopper than can hold up to 50 lbs. of abrasive media. Just hook it up to a 1 HP or larger compressor and easily remove paint, rust, graffiti, corrosion and scale.
- Sears - Sears Portable Sand Blaster - $119
- Northern Tool - ALC Suction Abrasive Blaster - $49.99
- Home Depot - Powermate Air Sand Blaster - $55.99
- Lowe's - N/A
- Grainger - ALC Siphon Blaster - $171
Check out The Video to see the tools in action during the underbody stripping procedure.
In the next installment, we'll take a look at the tools used for the Engine Rebuild, and compare them to the competition's. Until then!