Ride Like the Wind with Predator Gas Engines

Get your motor runnin’ and head out on the highway!  Or the back yard, or lake, or wherever your powerful Harbor Freight Gas Engine takes you!  If you’re lookin’ for adventure, or maybe a reliable replacement motor, you’ve come to the right place.  With various displacements and many sizes available, we have an appropriate engine suited to fit your needs.  And, like a true nature’s child, we offer clean burning options to fit those tough California emissions laws.

It would take up a lot of space and time to go through all of our awesome Predator engines, so for now, we’ll just look at the range in sizes and power, starting with our smallest engine.  The 79cc gas engine is the ideal replacement engine for 3 HP motors.  What might you use this engine for?  Tons!

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“This little motor was a direct replacement for my old 2hp Briggs on my edger. True, the motor is no quieter or smoother running but, it starts very easy and makes good power. For the money, I give the little motor a 5 star rating…” – Jim in Sidell, LA

“I put one of these 79cc engines in a small mini bike-it will pull my 235 lb. frame along at over 30 mph!!!! When you first pull away, you will notice a definite vibration, but it goes away quickly and the little engine really pulls!!!!” – T-Bucket Timmy from Allison Park, PA

If you think that little engine pulls its weight, just wait til you see the 420cc motor!  This one, just like all the Predator engines, is both durable and easy-to-use with a variety of items from lawn mowers to log-splitters.

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“Used this to replace the blown engine in my OLD (1972) garden tractor. Works great. First real test was a blizzard (3 feet of snow fell, drifts over 5 feet in my driveway). Ran it for eight hours straight with no problems at all. Has at least as much torque as the 15hp engine it replaced.” – Gearheadengineering from Central CT

Whether you’re looking to replace a big engine or a small engine, or just looking for a new and reliable engine, the Predator gas engines are built for performance and longevity.  Just like Steppenwolf.  …?  Steppenwolf… Magic Carpet Ride?  No?  Born to Be Wild?  Okay, fine, the Predator engines are built to outlast and outperform Steppenwolf.  But, I say check out both and decide for yourself!

Happy Father-in-Law Day!

Surprise your Father-in-Law today by showing him that you care!  Your spouse’s dad might not be your real dad but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t deserve a little recognition, too.  In fact, let Harbor Freight Tools help you give the guy a hand.  Or even better, two!  With the Tire Rim Gear Clock for just $13.99, you can provide your father-in-law not only with the gift of a snazzy timepiece, but also with the knowledge that Father-in-Law Day actually exists!  Just imagine his confusion as you present him with a present for seemingly no reason whatsoever.  But, for at least a brief amount of time, you’ll know something he doesn’t.  And that can be your secret present to yourself.

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The Headless Horseman from York, PA says – “This clock caught my eye when I was shopping at HF. I immediately picked it up once I saw the price. It works great and keeps time very well. Looks awesome in the garage. I love mine!!”

Racing Steve from Winchester, CA quips – “For this price you can’t find a better deal. I put this clock in my kid’s race car themed room and he loves it. Very detailed and it really looks like a real tire and rim.”

So get a couple bonus points with the in-laws with this highly reliable Tire Rim Gear Clock.  It won’t give him his child back, and it might just serve to remind him of the inevitable passage of time, but hey, at least it’ll show you were thinking about him!

Polish and Buff Your Way to a Perfect Finish

Today is the 4th annual Collector Car Appreciation Day!  This event celebrates and raises awareness of how important automobile restoration and collection are to American society.  This relatively new holiday showcases vehicles in pristine condition from past decades to demonstrate American craftsmanship, ingenuity, and creativity over the years and to also commemorate the look and style of a variety of cars.  From antiques and hot rods to muscle cars and trucks, collector cars are a source of recreation and fun for thousands of automobile enthusiasts!  And with help from Harbor Freight Tools, you can get your ride in top condition before showing it off around the neighborhood.

Whether you’re taking part in a Collector Car Appreciation Day event or just cruising down the highway in your favorite vehicle, you’ll want to keep your car looking its best.  For that, you have to have the right tools and the best cleaning solutions.  And if you haven’t found out already, Harbor Freight is your one stop shop for all your vehicle upkeep requirements.

polisher 92623polisher 69924One of the most important parts of vehicle restoration is maintaining the body paint and keeping the finish shiny.  In order to ensure a look that will impress your friends and fellow car buffs, you’ll need a high quality buffer/polisher.  With the 7” Variable Speed Polisher/Sander or the 6” Variable Speed Dual Action Polisher ($40 and $60 respectively), you’ll be able to achieve swirl-free, glass smooth finishes on large surfaces quickly.  But that’s not to say you can’t reach into smaller spots as well.  Just ask some of our customers:

“Used this dual action buffer right out of the box. User friendly. Fast action. Exceeded my expectations all around. Small enough to get into every spot. Large enough to repeat process multiple coats of polish in no time.” – 2002 Jeep Wrangler TJ

“Harbor Freight you did it, this buffer is a winner. I, a retired Bodyman/Painter, am doing many side jobs now at home and this buffer works and works. I couldn’t believe how quiet it is.  Great balance and really light, lighter than my old expensive buffer.  Just a nice overall buffer and it does not slow down when pressure is applied.” – Jojo

Nu Finish Car Polishimage_16046Of course, there is more to car restoration and upkeep than just a good polishing.  You need the proper formulas to get that perfect finish that will blind the competition.  Or… the friendly display of vehicles, that is.  Regardless, if you want your car to stand out, you need an outstanding finish.  With the help of Nu Finish Car Polish and Nu Finish Scratch Doctor, you’ll be a step ahead and your car will be turning heads.  The Nu Finish Car Polish calls itself the Once a Year Car Polish which is a bold statement, especially at only $7 a bottle.  But our customers have a couple statements of their own:

“This polish is easy to apply and remove, and cleans very well. I have been using this polish for years and it’s one of the best for cleaning dirty car finishes. We have a white car and NuFinish removes all of the soot and grime.” – Saturday Mechanic

“Quick and easy to use. Just follow directions. Got rid of my swirls and minor surface scratches. Looks good too!” – Kujo

And how about that Nu Finish Scratch Doctor?  You can’t have a smooth finish if there are any nicks and scratches lurking around, no matter how small they might be.  Well, this handy formula not only removes scratches but also paint scrapes, scuffs, haze and swirl marks!  For just $12 a bottle, you can’t beat this incredibly effective cleaning solution.

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Any car owner or collector will tell you that there’s a difference between washing your vehicle and restoring the finish.  For general washing needs, you won’t need to look any further than Meguiar’s Deep Crystal Car Wash.  Before you even worry about waxing and polishing, you’ll want to get rid of any dirt and grime on your vehicle.  The Deep Crystal Car Wash gets a deep clean on your car and produces extra long-lasting suds to safely remove any contaminates.  In other words, it gets your car just about as fresh and clean as it can get right in the comfort of your own driveway.  And at just $6 a bottle, this stuff pays for itself and will save you heaps of time.

towels

While you’re at it, it never hurts to have some decent polishing cloths around.  Especially ones that are clear coat safe like the 2 Piece Microfiber Spa Polishing Towels.  These are the perfect way to finish off polishing your car to remove any lingering dust, wax, or polish and to ensure that like-new sheen.  I mean, when you’re showing off at a Collector Car Appreciation Day event, anything less than perfect is unacceptable!  Which is one reason so many Harbor Freight customers seem to be so happy with these towels:

“I’m a snob as well when it comes to my show car/bikes. I look far and wide for soft (I mean non-swirl causing soft) towels to use at every store.  I was blown away by these especially for the price.” – Ducati_Guy

“I am a car nut and do not like swirls in my paint. I am a bit of a microfiber snob and I was blown away when I found these.” – Jason-S

And that price that everyone is “blown away” by?  Just $2.59 for two of these great towels!  With reviews like that and a price that low, you really can’t go wrong with these incredible soft towels.

Individually, each of these products can help take your car restoration or upkeep to the next level.  With all these items together, you’ll have an entire set-up for keeping your vehicle bright, clean, and ready for showing off.  And even including the polisher, you’re still coming out at under $90 total for the whole shebang!  If you’re a real car collector or car restoration buff, you know it’s essential to have the right tools in your repertoire and with one quick trip to your local Harbor Freight Tools, or a couple clicks through harborfreight.com, you can stock up on these items and stay prepared for Collector Car Appreciation events or just cruising down the highway any day of the year!

Get On Your Bikes and Ride!

stingray

Coveting my ride, aren’t you? It’s been with me since ’72, and I still get looks… especially when I do my wicked jumps and wheelies. That’s right, kid, the classics never die.

It’s National Bike Week! Which means… what? It’s time to kick a stand! Get out on the open road, weave around and startle pedestrians, water pistol chasing dogs, you know… good times! So, get your home “bike-friendly” with some  cool deals from Harbor Freight Tools:

air compressor - portable

First, the bike’s been sitting there for a long time, the tires are probably low. Forget those ripoff artist gas station bozos who want to charge a buck for some air– air!–here’s a great, little compressor that’ll keep you on the road: The Pittsburgh Automotive 12 Volt, 100 PSI High Volume Air Compressor. You’ll get all the air you need when you need it with this little, high-volume compressor. It’ll fully inflate your bike tires quickly– as well as ATV, mower rider, motorcycle and car– and its lightweight, portable design and handy carry bag make it easy to use at home or store in your vehicle. Features include rubber feet for less vibration, a gearless direct drive for reduced noise, and a cast alloy air pump casing with cooling fins. For only $25.99, you can afford to salute the gas station any way you’d like as you coast by.


bike rack

When in pursuit of distant bike paths (where nobody knows you– who picked out those bike shorts, anyway?), you’ll need a sturdy, reliable bike rack. Harbor Freight’s got a worthy one, a Two-Bike Rack That you Mount to Your Hitch. This type is really the ideal way to get your bike around with ease and safety. This rack includes thermoplastic bike holders with four hook-and-loop straps, and a pinch hitch pin to keep your bikes safe and not bouncing and swaying around like Jack Sparrow in a sword fight. Also, the handy swing-down feature gives hassle-free access to any rear hatch or tailgate. The bike rack will fit both 1-1/4″ and 2″ hitch mount receivers. Just $39.99 at Harbor Freight.

bike taillight

One of the first rules of the road you learn is that the streets are full of boneheads. Which means, it pays to be extra careful and make sure everybody knows you’re there. Be smart and pick up a couple of Red LED Bicycle Taillights for you and your riding companion. This taillight’s got FOUR attention-getting LEDs for high visibility on those crazy roads. The compact light also has three different flashing modes and can adjust up and down 160 degrees. It’s spray resistant and includes two AAA batteries. At $4.99 a pop, I can’t believe I’m still here pitching you.

At the end of the day, when it’s time to stable your stallion, don’t just lean it against the wall– put it away proper, out of the way of clumsy, stumbling feet. Harbor Freight’s got a couple of solutions for that, too:

bicycle lift

 Probably the best return for $8.99 you’ll ever spend on your bike is on the innovative Bicycle Lift at HFT. Using a unique pulley-locking mechanism, the bicycle lift quickly hoists your bike for easy storage, giving you extra space in your garage, apartment or dorm. Mounting hardware and a 46 ft. nylon rope are included, and setting this thing up couldn’t be easier. Perfect for saving your bike from scratches!

bike tree

 Or, if you’ve got a sizable brood to accommodate, check out the nifty Cycle Tree Compact Bike Storage. You can store up to six bikes in only four feet of space! The cycle tree is made of durable, yet lightweight, steel construction and rides on swivel casters for easy maneuverability around the garage. This is the perfect bike storage for every member of the family without taking up a lot space in your garage!  On sale for $39.99 at Harbor Freight.

And don’t forget  to clip your Harbor Freight Tools 20% Off Coupon, where the ridiculous savings get really absurd!

In the meantime, have a great National Bike Week. Have fun, ride smart, be safe… and don’t forget the water pistols!

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.

 

Auto Enthusiast: Harbor Freight Transmission Jack

In their October 2012 issue, Auto Enthusiast magazine featured a transmission upgrade for a ’68 Camaro. The new tranny, a modified T56 Magnum– called a “Tranzilla”– was converted by Rockland Standard Gear. As AE reported:

“What they do is take the Magnum from Tremec, upgrade to carbon rings on gears one through four, and slap on a Viper tail shaft.”

This conversion allows the car to run up to 1,000 lbs-ft. and 1,200 horsepower.

In the process of switching out the transmissions, the techs at Auto Enthusiast noted how pleased they were with the Central Hydraulics 450 Lb. Capacity Low Lift Transmission Jack:

“We have to wrench on our stuff just like everyone else, on the ground. We found this helpful scissor transmission jack at Harbor Freight for $65. Trust us, it was the best $65 we ever spent. It made this job almost too easy.” (from slide #4 on the article)

It should be noted that the $65 price came with the use of a Harbor Freight 20% coupon– so make sure to clip one of those before you shop!

The 450 lb. transmission jack is perfect for removing trannies on small-to-mid vehicles. Riding on smooth, easily-maneuverable 3″ swivel casters, this tough jack was forged for rough, long-term use in the shop or garage. The saddle tilts for easy positioning during repair, making it the right tool for any professional auto garage or hobbyist.

And while you’re at it, pick up your copy of the October 2012 Auto Enthusiast and check out that great article, Bang, Shift, Zoom about the transmission switch.

’67 Firebird Restoration Project: Part 5 – The Underbody

Welcome to the fifth 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.

In Part 1, we were given a tour of the original vehicle, inside and out, and presented Jeff’s challenge. In Part 2, we followed the body-dismantling process and introduced the U.S. General 700 lb. Capacity 5-Drawer Rolling Tool Cart, which housed the Pittsburgh Professional 301-Piece Mechanic’s Tool Kit. Also in this segment, we saw how Jeff made quick business of the job with a Central Pneumatic 3/8″ Professional Air Ratchet and 1/4″ Mini Air Ratchet Wrench. In Part 3, Jeff lifted the engine using a 1-Ton Capacity Foldable Shop Crane and then removed the tranny from it with a Central Pneumatic 1/2″ Twin Hammer Air Impact Wrench before he mounted it on the Central Machinery 1000 Lb. Engine Stand, and proceeded to take it apart. Part 4 took us to the exciting first step of transformation– sanding and priming the car. For the stripping, Jeff used a Central Pneumatic 6″ Dual Action Air Sander and the Jitterbug Orbital Air Sander.  He then laid down the primer like a rock star, using the Central Pneumatic Professional HVLP Gravity Feed Spray Gun.

We now come to Part 5, which involves the pressure-washing, sandblasting and undercoating of the Firebird. Using a Pacific Hydrostar 4 HP 2000 PSI Gas Pressure Washer and a generous amount of heavy-duty degreaser, he heavily coated the underbody to break down over 45 years of grease, oil and dirt, and then washed it off with water using a high-pressure nozzle. Once the underbody was scrubbed clean, he sandblasted the rust spots with a Central Pneumatic Portable Abrasive Blaster Kit, using highly effective Medium Grade Armex Soda Blast Media, and as a finishing touch, covered the surface with Rustoleum Professional Undercoating Spray.

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!

Keep watching. There’s still a lot more ahead!

Truckin’ Review: 2-Ton Low-Profile Floor Jack

High praise was served up in the September 2012 issue of Truckin’ magazine for the Pittsburgh Automotive 2-Ton Low-Profile Rapid-Pump Floor Jack from Harbor Freight. Calling it a “feature-packed jack perfect for custom trucks,” editor Dan Ward counted off the reasons why he liked the jack so much:

“With a minimum saddle height of 2 5⁄8 inches, the jack easily slides under lowered and airbagged trucks, while it lifts to 23¾ inches tall. Thanks to rapid-pump technology, the jack can be quickly raised tall enough to set jackstands under the frame in just four to five pumps. We were able to use the long handle and wide saddle to lift a truck from the rear axle while not needing to climb underneath the truck for positioning. When working with floor jacks, we like heavy, sturdy items, and this Pittsburgh jack is all-steel, tipping the scales at 93 pounds. The solid, welded construction adds confidence when working on our pride and joys. High-end features such as the easy-to-use foot pedal, long, extended T-handle, and smooth pressure release helped this floor jack exceed our expectations. The best part of this heavy-duty jack is the price. At $129.99, we’ve seen comparable jacks cost upwards of $1,000 from other brands.”

Glowing reviews like that don’t grow on trees, especially for a low-priced jack. But, Truckin’ is the authoritative source for the latest and hottest– and one quick look at the across-the-board 5-star customer reviews will tell you, the magazine was right on. As one happy owner observed:

“This jack is the best tool I’ve bought in a long time. The design is perfect for me – the saddle is low AND long enough to reach frame points well under my race car, and lifts high enough to outreach most jack stands. The foot pedal is key for raising the saddle quickly when you’re on your knees positioning the jack. The release knob is excellent – really easy to finely control lowering.”

A pro mechanic in Colorado had this to add:

“I purchased this jack to fit under the nose of Corvettes, lowered Subarus, race cars, etc. and it was everything I wanted in a low-clearance floor jack. The extra long body lets it get under virtually any car. Its T-handle, release knob, & foot pump are all great bonus features…but the price is just incredible! I should have picked up one of these a long time ago.”

Of course, you don’t have to have a lowered vehicle to love the Pittsburgh Automotive 2-ton rapid-pump jack– but it is safe to say, you won’t need the other ones anymore. After all, what Truckin’ said to its readers could be said to any pro or DIY mechanic:

“Say goodbye to the cheap and unsafe little jacks, and say hello to a jack that can handle a custom truck owner’s needs.”

 

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!

A Marriage Made on Wheels

In the March/April 1939 issue of Popular Homecraft a story ran, along with detailed plans, for something that was dubbed the “Honeymoon House Trailer…”

…designed and built by Louis Rogers of Pasadena, California. He had literally saved his dimes and built this little gem back in the 30’s, to take his new bride on their wedding trip. The 8’x4’ floor plan was had tongue-and-groove flooring on a pine chassis, and Rogers used a Chevy front axle with 28” wheels and 1926 rear fenders.  The odd little trailer slept two and had a raise-up deck lid for a rear kitchenette, with ice box and stove. A curtain-enclosure outside the starboard entry served at the “dressing room.” The teardrop trailer was born.

DIYers went crazy. They used Rogers’ plans, and soon added touches of their own. After World War II, the trailer evolved with models sporting Jeep wheels and exterior skins made from bombers’ wings. After the 50’s, their popularity started dropping when larger RVs appeared, but then returned with a vengeance. Today you can find a number of websites for plans (some free!), photo galleries, forums and clubs. Teardrop trailer enthusiasts believe that creating, renovating and modifying their own models are what give the little campers their timelessness—and the most rewarding way to own a teardrop!

I first noticed the teardrop trailer when surfing for a tent trailer to take on road trips. From time to time, “teardrop trailer” results would pop up, and eventually I started clicking on them. My first impressions: These critters are small… they’re cute… wow, they’re equipped… oh wow, they’re cool! The best of the bunch, IMHO, were the homemade models. They remind me of the Pinewood Derby race cars we made as kids—there were always a couple that hijacked the event, they were so amazing.

I also saw that the Harbor Freight utility trailer was a favorite for the frame, particularly the Haul-Master 1195 lb. 4’x8’ foldable trailer

Harbor Freight Utility Trailer

…and 1720 lb 4’x8’ Super Duty model.


Harbor Freight 4 x 8 Utility Trailer

There seems to be a controversy over whether or not a foldable utility trailer should be used, but as is shown in the above photo, they’ve proven to be very capable. This model


–aptly named “Woody,” is a simple, classic example of the DIY teardrop trailer. When I asked Steve Edling, the site owner, to use a picture of Woody for this article, he graciously consented and added that a number of Harbor Freight tools were also used in its creation. Indeed, Kuffel Kreek, a provider of teardrop trailer plans, lists several must-have Harbor Freight tools one should get before starting, including a brad nailer, air shears and angle grinder.

Type in phrases like “teardrop trailer harbor freight” on Google and you’ll get tons of sites—including a few YouTube videos—that talk about using Harbor Freight’s utility trailers in their projects. This isn’t just because the trailers are inexpensive—it’s because they’re rugged, reliable, durable AND inexpensive. I mean, if you’re going to invest all that time, sweat, and money (and probably a pint or two of blood) in this labor of love, would you risk the integrity of its frame? Neither would I.

The American-born DIY teardrop trailer is more than just a cool, little camper. It’s a gratifying project of personal expression, something you can climb into and go to sleep knowing, you built this! It’s not an easy project—as noted on Kuffel Kreek, “Anything that bounces down the highway at 65 MPH isn’t easy”—and if you’ve never built anything before, forget it (I should probably hone my skills a tad more before I attempt it), It also takes space and time. But the payoff is awesome, and your teardrop trailer will retain its value much longer than any other RV on the road.

Check out this great photo gallery which includes several teardrop trailers!