Firebird Restoration Tools: Harbor Freight vs. The Competition – Part 4

The Underbody

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!

’67 Firebird Restoration Project: Part 8 – Assembly!

After all the hours, all the painstaking labor, all the fine details– not to mention the social hari kari– it does the heart good to see the fruits of the labor coming together. So, like Beethoven with an impact wrench, one man has labored to produce a pretty bitchin’ set of wheels.

And we’ve finally come to the eighth installment of the Harbor Freight Tools 1967 Firebird Restoration Project: Putting the car back together.

Recapping — HFT invited former Rod & Custom editor, Jeff Tann, to restore a First Generation Firebird using only products from Harbor Freight Tools. The car is all original with a 400/325-hp V8 engine, so he’s approaching the project from scratch.

We now come to the muscle car’s reassembly. For Part 8 we treat you to a slide show of all the parts coming together, until we have a beautifully restored ’67 Pontiac Firebird, better than it was when it came off the assembly line.

Whatever your labor of love, if it has to do with tools, Harbor Freight Tools has got what you need– and sends you home with extra cash in your pocket!

Next time– the final result, inside and out!

Enjoy!

Firebird Restoration Tools: Harbor Freight vs. The Competition – Pt. 3

Stripping & Priming Tools

Yesterday morning the fully-restored ’67 Firebird pulled into our office parking lot, transported by trailer, and let me tell you, it was a sight to see. Ever watch the Mecum Car Auctions on the Velocity Channel? This car would have commanded a pretty penny on that show. Before it was whisked away to who-knows-where, a handful of us slowly circumnavigated around it, transfixed, muttering “wows” and “oh yeahs” under our breaths. The original interior was pristine– black bucket seats and carpet looking like it just rolled off the assembly line. Under the hood, the same. In fact, the guy who did the restoration, Jeff Tann, said the ‘bird was better now than when it was new.  In a future installment, I’ll provide a thorough pictorial of the final results. For now, let’s talk tools:

Earlier this month I started a series illustrating how much could be saved buying products from Harbor Freight Tools– as opposed to the competition– for the ’67 Firebird Restoration project. Breaking it down phase by phase, we’re comparing the prices of tools used in the project with similar (if not exact) products that the competitors advertise. The competitors I chose were Sears, Northern Tool, Home Depot, Lowe’s and Grainger. It should be noted that exact matches weren’t always found, so I substituted the closest comparison 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 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’ll be looking at the tools employed in the stripping and priming process:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This sander’s orbital action allows swirl-free finishes to give your auto body, metalworking or woodworking project a professional appearance! The orbital sander is constructed with sturdy, lightweight aluminum housing and features a cushion-grip vinyl handle to provide comfortable yet firm control. A great orbital sander for edging, feathering and finishing projects for both pros and hobbyists!

  • Sears – Ingersoll Rand (IRT311A) Dual Action Air Sander – $69.76
  • Northern Tool – Northern Industrial 6″ Dual Action Air Sander – $34.99
  • Home Depot – Husky 6″ Pneumatic Dual Action Sander – $59.98
  • Lowe’s – Kobalt 6″ Dual Action Sander – $59.84
  • Grainger – Speedaire 3CRJ3 – $73.80

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This vibration-free air sander– at 9,400 orbits-per-minute– is perfect for auto body work or finish work on furniture (according to one customer, it’s also great on the aluminum wing surfaces of WWII aircraft). The orbital air sander features a compact palm grip that enables you to easily reach tight spots, a paddle trigger and a built-in regulator.

  • Sears – Mechanics Tools M569DB – $49.42
  • Northern Tool – Northern Industrial Orbital Air Sander – $39.99
  • Home Depot – EMAX Jitterbug Sander – $59.97
  • Lowe’s – N/A
  • Grainger – Ingersoll Rand 312A Orbital Air Sander – $179

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The high volume and low pressure on this spray gun reduces over-spray so that more paint goes on your mural, car, motorcycle, fence and whatever else you wish to paint! Restoring furniture? The Central Pneumatic HVLP spray gun sprays wood stain, clear-coat, etc., perfectly. The gravity feed and regulator allows paint to spray evenly on your project. This HVLP spray gun is a great tool for spraying lacquer on the deck, or priming or undercoating your car!

  • Sears – Tooluxe HVLP Spray Gun – $39.99
  • Northern Tool – Ingersoll Rand Performance 210G Spray Gun – $79.99
  • Home Depot – Husky Gravity Freed HVLP Spray Gun – $49.98
  • Lowe’s – Kobalt Large Gravity Spray Gun – $89.96
  • Grainger – Speedaire 4XP65 Spray Gun – $139.75

Check out The Video to see the tools in action during the stripping and priming process!

In the next installment, we’ll take a look at the tools used for undercoating the car, and compare them to the competition’s. Until then!

Custom Classic Trucks: Central Pneumatic Gasket Scraper

As Rotten Rodney Bauman points out in his article, “Strippin’ Tips” (Custom Classic Trucks, Dec. 2012), when it comes to restoring an old truck, “the ‘fun’ begins with the initial teardown.” The latest project being a “tired” ’55 Chevy 1/2-ton, he and his right hand, Mrs. Rotten, removed the cab and soon determined that before they could send it to be abrasive blasted, they’d need to remove some old greasy goo and ancient undercoating. Rotten Rodney had just the tool:

“At times like these, it’s good to have a Central Pneumatic gasket scraper in the bottom drawer. I’d actually forgotten I had this little jewel.”

As an added tip, he suggests that if you intend on tackling such a formidable project, you should first heat the scraping blade.

“Heating the scraper helps. You could also aim the flame directly to the undercoating, but we prefer to heat the tool only, which creates much less smoke to inhale.”

Currently at Harbor Freight Tools, the gasket scraper comes as part of a 6-Piece Pneumatic Scraper Kit, complete with a set of blades that also removes paint, rust, glue and other materials without damaging metal surfaces. A built-in regulator adjusts the scraper’s force of impact and provides the control and precision needed for just the right performance.  It works great at removing baked-on valve, front cover and oil pan gaskets, etc., as well as welding spatter, wet-bed mortar, flooring adhesive… a whole slew of stuff that other solutions just can’t deal with. Saves time and busted knuckles, too!

Rotten Rodney is still working on his project– and as with all projects, he’ll probably run into a speed bump or two– but, at least he’s got the undercoating gunk licked. As he said:

“This tool has proved invaluable for ribbed and/or channeled areas like the bottom of these rocker panels,” and added, “Here eye protection is a must to avoid injuries associated with airborne undercoating projectiles.”

Second that. Sometimes I’m so focused on having all the materials needed to get something done, I totally forget the eye and hand gear. It just isn’t smart.

Next time you’re at Harbor Freight, grab a scraper kit to keep in the bottom of your drawer. Dollars to donuts, the day will come you’ll be happy you did.

Firebird Restoration Tools: Harbor Freight vs. the Competition – Pt. 2

Engine Removal Tools

Last week I started a series illustrating how much could be saved buying products from Harbor Freight Tools– as opposed to the competition– for the ’67 Firebird Restoration project. Breaking it down phase by phase, we’re comparing the prices of tools used in the project with similar (if not exact) products that the competitors advertise. The competitors I chose were Craftsman, Northern Tool, Home Depot, Lowe’s and Grainger. It should be noted that exact matches weren’t always found, so I substituted the closest comparison available. As I suggested last week, I don’t think this compromises the test because we’re only talking about differences in size and shape, not function. It should also be pointed out that not all the listed competitors carry all the tools used in the project.

In the first segment, we looked at Harbor Freight’s tools used in the vehicle’s disassembly video. This week we’ll be exploring price differences on the engine removal phase:

 

This powerful shop crane delivers the lifting power you need to easily hoist engines and transmissions, move heavy machinery and load equipment. And when you’re done, it just folds vertically up against the wall or in a corner, taking up very little space. Made of heavy-duty steel, Harbor Freight’s rock solid and sturdy shop crane is an invaluable, cost-effective addition to the garage.

  • Sears – Dragway Tools 2-Ton Engine Motor Hoist Cherry Picker Shop Crane Lift – $279.99
  • Northern Tool – Torin Big Red Folding Shop Crane – $279.99
  • Home Depot – N/A
  • Lowe’s – N/A
  • Grainger – Shop Crane, 4400 lb. Cap. – $517.50

 

An excellent addition to your home or shop, this all-steel stand employs an “I”-shaped design to keep even complete big block engines from tipping. Heavy-duty casters enable you to move the engine around easily and smoothly, and its four adjustable arms allow you to easily mount the engine. Check out the reviews and see why Harbor Freight Tools customers love this engine stand!
  • Sears – Black Bull 1000 lb. Four Wheel Engine Stand – $69.99
  • Northern Tool – Torin Big Red 1250 lb. Engine Stand – $109.99
  • Home Depot – 750 lb. Engine Stand – $104.16
  • Lowe’s – N/A
  • Grainger – Automotive Engine Stand 750 lb. – $186.25

 

This industrial-quality impact wrench is a must for the home garage or shop. The twin hammer delivers a max torque of 425 ft. lbs. and the impact wrench features a forward/reverse regulator with five speeds, allowing you total control. With a free speed of 6,500 RPM, this impact wrench is a powerhouse for tightening or loosening nuts and bolts!
  • Sears – Eastwood 1/2″ Drive Twin Hammer Air Impact Wrench – $59.99
  • Northern Tool – Wel-Bilt Air Twin Impact Wrench – $79.99
  • Home Depot – PowRyte 1/2″ Heavy Duty Air Impact Wrench – $69.99
  • Lowe’s – Kobalt 1/2″ 500 ft.-lbs. Air Impact Wrench – $79.94
  • Grainger – Chicago Pneumatic Impact Wrench 1/2″ Drive – $334.25

Check out The Video to see the tools in action during the engine removal process!

In the next installment, we’ll take a look at the tools used for stripping and priming the car, and compare them to the competition’s. Until then!

A New Polisher Outshines the Competition

New Product Alert!

Always known for finding a great solution at a better price, Harbor Freight Tools recently introduced  its new Chicago Electric Platinum 6″ Variable Speed Polisher #69924. This dual-action, random-orbit dynamo delivers the same professional mirror finish as the machines used by car dealerships and detailers– but at a fraction of what the competitors are asking for while on sale at $59.99!

The 6″ Chicago Electric Platinum polisher has six variable speed settings, a two-position side handle for optimal control, a hook-and-loop pad attachment, and powers up to 6400 OPM for supreme performance. It includes a 6″ backing pad, spindle wrench and carbon brushes.

To fully arm this bad boy for all contingencies, add a Warrior Compound/Cutting Foam Pad #60311 for applying polishing and rubbing compound for deep scratches, a Polishing Foam Pad #60309 for applying polishes and cleaners to remove swirls, marks and water spots, and a Finishing Foam Pad #60310 for the final step, applying waxes and sealants.

Destined to be a Harbor Freight Tools bestseller, the Chicago Electric Platinum 6″ dual action polisher is already getting accolades from customers:

“This was nothing short of amazing. I have been buying harbor freight for a year now. I can’t believe what I have been missing before! I was shopping for a good DA Polisher for about 3 months online and everywhere else. Out of nowhere I thought of Harbor Freight. I could not believe they had one. Unless you are willing to spend over $300 on a German-made polisher, this is the best money can buy, hands down!” NickyG- Scottsdale, AZ

“This tool is great– especially for the price! Porter Cable has this same style of tool in their line up, but it’s $129+ and the body is really big and not very comfortable to hold. I have pretty big hands and it’s still big for me. This one has a much smaller gripping area that makes it easy to hold on to. It doesn’t have forced rotation of the disc so it works more like a regular random orbit but it has a much larger orbit diameter so it cuts pretty fast when sanding. When using for polishing, it spins really nice and makes buffing out finishes really easy. I used it to restore the headlights on my car. Got some of that headlight restore compound and it worked great in conjunction with this tool and the buffing pads… Buy this tool!!!”  Ronnie Ron- Seattle, WA

“This thing rocks! Polished my motorcycle and an acrylic aquarium… looks like glass!”  Pleaser- Phoenix, AZ

“This thing took the water spots off of my truck, quick and in a hurry… this works just as good as the expensive ones for the fraction of the price!”  Paul- DeRidder, LA

You don’t have to do hard math in your head to realize you’ll be saving $100′s by staying away from the auto spas and getting professional swirl-free finishes on all your vehicles at home. Add the new heavy-duty Chicago Electric Platinum 6″ variable-speed dual-action polisher to your tool arsenal while this low price holds!

’67 Firebird Restoration Project: Part 7 – Painting the Car

After all the hours, all the work, all the details– not to mention the social hari kari– it does the heart good to see the fruits of the labor coming together.

We’re now at the seventh installment of the Harbor Freight Tools 1967 Firebird Restoration Project.

Recapping — HFT invited former Rod & Custom editor, Jeff Tann, to restore a First Generation Firebird using only products from Harbor Freight Tools. The car is all original with a 400/325-hp V8 engine, so he’s approaching the project from scratch.

Now in Part 7, Jeff has advanced to the painting stage. The primer is already on, so our designated restoration artisan turns to the Central Pneumatic 2-pc. Professional Automotive HVLP Spray Gun Kit, 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.” Following this, Jeff buffed, using a Chicago Electric 7″ Electronic Polisher/Sander With Digital Display, and then with the waxing, delivered the classic car to an incredible mirror gloss finish!

Whatever your labor of love, if it has to do with tools, Harbor Freight Tools has got what you need– and sends you home with extra cash in your pocket!

Stay in touch: There’s still more to come!

The One Thing

Curly: Do you know what the secret of life is?
(holds up one finger)  This.
Mitch: Your finger?
Curly: One thing. Just one thing. You stick to that and the rest don’t mean (squat).
City Slickers, 1991

As you may or may not be aware, we’ve been following the restoration of a ’67 Firebird where only Harbor Freight Tools are being employed, and are documenting it in a video series. While I’ve been editing footage for the blog, I couldn’t help but notice that the Pittsburgh Pro 1/2″ Drive Click Stop Torque Wrench was used throughout the project. In fact, in the sixth installment, where the engine gets rebuilt, this tool was the star of the show– doing about 80% of the work!

Don’t let the price fool you. The reversible 1/2″ torque wrench is up to the task, whether you’re a weekend warrior or professional practitioner, in the home or under the hood. And as a friend pointed out to me, it’s the primo tool to keep in the car as a lug wrench. Accurate to within plus-or-minus 4%, the Pittsburgh torque wrench features a click-stop design with a range of 20-150 ft. lbs. It also comes with a heavy-duty cam and pawl mechanism that delivers the necessary precision required for jobs that require specificity. It’s the go-to tool for engines, suspension and a long list of projects.

So, when you’re looking to start or fortify your auto and/or shop tool arsenal. just remember One Thing:

The Pittsburgh Pro 1/2″ drive click-stop torque wrench.

 

Carrying

Last Fathers Day,  I bought myself an old ’72 GMC long bed pickup. A friend of mine who runs an auto parts store told me one of his regular customers– the original owner– had to sell it because he couldn’t drive anymore. The truck was in great shape; perfect body, clean interior, bulletproof 402 cu. in. V8 with a Turbo 400 transmission. It’s my “man cave on wheels.” I put in a new stereo, gutted a dead CB radio that came with it and now hide a small .38 in it when driving cross-country. I also added a cooler with a cup holder lid as kind of a “center console.” However, the vehiclewas still missing the one thing every pre-computer-age car has got to have– a tool kit. Nothing super fancy, just something reliable and sturdy enough to deal with the off-chance mechanical mishap. So, the next time Harbor Freight had a coupon sale, I picked one up:

The Pittsburgh 105 Piece Tool Kit With 4-Drawer Chest goes above-and-beyond any other basic tool kit, for the home, auto and for the price. A dramatically thorough collection of sockets, bits, wrenches, screwdrivers, pliers, hex keys, utility knife and more, the only things I had to add to complete the package were duct tape, galvanized wire and fuses. It also comes with a sturdy 4-drawer case, which is extremely convenient… for anyone else. I threw all my tools in a canvas bag which I tucked under the bench seat.

A lesser-known bonus: Harbor Freight Tools guarantees their hand tools for life! So if you’re the kinda guy that needs reassurance, there ya go.

 

’67 Firebird Restoration Project: Part 6 – Engine Rebuild

We’re now up to the sixth installment of the Harbor Freight Tools 1967 Firebird Restoration Project.

Recapping — HFT invited former Rod & Custom editor, Jeff Tann, to restore a First Generation Firebird using only products from Harbor Freight Tools. The car is all original with a 400/325-hp V8 engine, so he’s approaching the project from scratch.

Now in Part 6, we come to the meatiest phase of the Firebird restoration to date– the engine rebuild. The Pittsburgh Professional 1/2″ Drive Click Stop Torque Wrench is pretty much the star of the show, a multipurpose tool utilized throughout the footage. That said, check out the great details and tips employed in this installment. Chances are you’ll see a thing or two you’d like to adopt for your next project.

Whatever your labor of love, if it has to do with tools, Harbor Freight Tools has got what you need– and sends you home with extra cash in your pocket!

Enjoy– and stay tuned! There’s still tons more to come!