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!

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 3 – Engine Removal!

Welcome to the third installment of the Harbor Freight Tools 1967 Firebird Restoration Project.

For first-time readers: HFT invited Jeff Tann– car enthusiast and former Rod & Custom editor — to fully restore the legendary muscle car using only discount tools from Harbor Freight. The car is all original, with a 400/325-hp V8 engine, so he’s basically tackling 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.

This time we follow Jeff as he lifts the engine, using a 2-Ton Capacity Foldable Shop Crane. It’s probably the first time the 45-year-old engine’s been taken out since it was on the assembly line, so it’s not gonna be pretty. Jeff then removes the tranny from the engine with a Central Pneumatic 1/2″ Twin Hammer Air Impact Wrench before he mounts it on the Central Machinery 1000 Lb. Engine Stand, and proceeds to take it apart.

The Affordable, Rugged Pickup Truck Crane

A Central Hydraulics Pickup Truck Crane is like a smartphone (girlfriend? TiVo?): For years you’ve managed without one, but once it came into your life, you can’t imagine going on without it.

This brute lifter mounts to your truck bed– or other solid base– swivels 360 degrees and can lift up to 1,000 lbs! Lift scrap metal, firewood, motors, heavy machinery, beehives and more. It’s a favorite tool among Harbor Freight customers and, rather than me going on pitching the sucker, I’ll let them tell you how awesome it is:

“Bought it and put it in my Dodge to make it easier to load scrap… does a very good job lifting motors and scrap metal, in and out of my truck.”

How about for at the dock?

“I mounted this to the stern of my boat to lift my dingy and motor out of the water. It is perfect for this job. I also had it powder coated for corrosion.This is the best buy I’ve made in a long time. Thanks Harbor Freight.”

Or transporting heavy equipment?

“Bought this crane and mounted it to my welding trailer about two or three years ago, and about a month ago I used it for the first time to lift my engine-driven welder off the trailer. The crane works very well. Very happy with it.”

A common modification is to switch out the manual winch with an electric one, such as the Badlands 12-Volt 2,000 lb. model

“This works great on my log splitter. Put an electric winch on it and makes job much easier. Also made base for trailer to load big wood on it.”

…or adding an electric hoist, like the Best Value Chicago Electric 1,300 lb. Electric Hoist:

“I  bought this truck crane & mounted it to my 9′ deck behind my house to raise loads of firewood off the ground. Reconfigured it with an electric hoist and built 2 wooden boxes for the lift. The crane mounts through the floor near the deck railing & with the proper angle swivels out and clears the rail. My wife operates the winch from above. While I’m loading the lower box from the woodpile she’s unloading & stacking the other load to the deck woodpile. What a backsaver. Great product for the money!!!”

Whatever your load, the Central Hydraulics Pickup Truck Crane at Harbor Freight will make your life a whole lot easier.

The Many Lives of the Motorcycle Lift

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Seriously, don’t get a grunt.

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Harbor Freight does not endorse any other business or organization or any technique in any customer video or blog post. Always follow all of the instructions and warnings included with our products. Harbor Freight makes no representation or warranty of any kind by including the information on this website.

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!

Lift Up to 20 Tons with this Central Hydraulics Bottle Jack

20 ton hydraulic jack

Our hydraulic bottle jack lifts up to 20 tons and lifts from 10-1/4" to 20" high.

Whether you’re performing automotive, agricultural, industrial, or construction work, this Central Hydraulics 20 Ton Air/Over Hydraulic Jack (SKU 95553) from Harbor Freight Tools handles a lot! Using either air or manual power, this hydraulic jack makes it easy to lift up to 20 tons from 10-1/4” to 20” high! With that lift capacity and range, it’s the perfect hydraulic jack for car or truck repair and maintenance.But this bottle hydraulic jack doesn’t have a jacked up price like other units.

For a fraction of what you’d pay at other retailers, you get a hydraulic jack bottle unit that includes a 48” air hose with fittings and the same high quality craftsmanship you’ve come to expect from Harbor Freight for over 40 years! And with the manual or air operation option, you have the ability to use this amazing bottle jack practically anywhere you need it! Lift work pieces while connected to an air supply in your garage or use the jack manually in the field. Either way, you’ll be able to power through lifting applications like never before. And without powering through your tool budget!

And don’t forget, as with any jack hydraulic oil is essential to maintaining your unit’s longevity and performance. Pick some up along with a 20 Ton Air/Over Hydraulic Jack today and start lifting!

Straighten, Stamp, and Bend with This Impressive 20 Ton Shop Press

20 ton shop press

20 Ton Hydraulic Press straightens, stamps, bends and does bearing work right in your shop!

This Central Hydraulics 20 Ton Shop Press from Harbor Freight Tools (Central Hydraulics 32879) will make a great impression on even the most seasoned automotive specialist or metalworker.  The H-frame workshop press can be used for electric motor and armature repair, installation and removal of pressure-fitted parts, and bending or straightening metal, right in your own shop!  With this 20 ton hydraulic shop press unit, you get tremendous pressure with very little effort.  And for a low cost that won’t weigh on your tool budget!

You’ll be hard pressed to find another high quality shop press that’s this affordable.  Other 20 ton hydraulic shop press units are priced at double what you’ll pay at Harbor Freight!  With this incredible shop press, you get all the features you’d expect:

  • Spring return ram that speeds up your work
  • Adjustable table to lower or raise for best working distance
  • Open side heavy duty construction that allows work on long pieces

And of course, with this incredible shop press 20 ton, you can install or remove bearings, gears, U-joints, bushings, ball joints and pulleys quicker and easier too!  Be sure to check out our 12 Ton Shop Press for smaller jobs and our power-packed 50 Ton Hydraulic Shop Press for bigger jobs!

Get a Lift From This 1/4 Ton Capacity Hydraulic Lift Table

1/4 Ton Capacity Hydraulic Lift Table

This hydraulic Lift table (Central Hydraulics 94822) can raise 500 lbs. up to 27-1/4", putting your workpiece within easy reach.

This Central Hydraulics 1/4 Ton Capacity Hydraulic Lifting Table (Central Hydraulics 94822) from Harbor Freight Tools can raise up to 500 lbs. It can lift the load up to a 27-1/4” height to put your work piece within easy reach. And when not raised, the lift table is a slim 9 inches tall. The heavy duty lifting table makes loading and unloading easy and your work pieces stay in place thanks to the slip-resistant surface on the table top.  The convenient foot pedal makes it simple to raise and position your project for optimum access.  Lowering the table is simple and easy. Just squeeze the release handle for a slow controlled drop.

Getting the most out of a hydraulic lift table requires sturdy construction combined with smooth operation.  This cart from Harbor Freight has both and at a ridiculously low price! If you find a hydraulic lift tables sale elsewhere, it will still probably be for double or even triple what you’ll pay at Harbor Freight.

A Lift Table That Rises to the Occasion!

If you need a little bit more hydraulic lift capacity for your project, check out the 1000 lb. capacity Hydraulic Scissor Table Cart also from Harbor Freight Tools.  Both the 1/4 Ton and 1/2 Ton Tables are easy to use, reliable and are a perfect addition to any shop or garage!