Hot on the Press

The Central Hydraulics 20-Ton Shop Press is a sweet addition to both the home shop and professional auto garage– and one of the best investments you can make if you restore, rebuild or all-around wrench on cars and trucks. It can press bearings and U-joints on and off like butter, come in handy for doing gear installs, press axles out of rims, and bushings from axles (to name just a few applications). If you work on cars or trucks occasionally, as I do, the money is well invested.

The 20-ton shop press can also be used for electric motor and armature repair, installation and removal of pressure-fitted parts and bending or straightening metal.

And not the least of it, it looks great in the garage and fits in easily!

But, as I like to tell people with any of the Harbor Freight Tools products, don’t take my word for it. Check out the customer reviews– they can sometimes give far more insight than a blog article. Here are a couple testimonials I plucked from the product page:

“This thing is awesome. It took about 3 minutes to set up, because it’s all welded together already. I was toying around with it moments later. I also bought the bushing/bearing set (#68971, ~$17.99), as well as the front wheel drive lock-nut socket set (#66988, ~$55) and press dies. In the first 30 minutes I owned it, I had pressed out 4 bushings for a car that would’ve cost me at least $60 from a shop. That following weekend, I did 2 complete suspension overhauls, pressing out/in 10 more bushings without breaking a sweat. This machine is a workhorse, and getting to know it and use it properly is tricky, but very easy. You just have to go slow. I would also highly recommend only using this with 2 people. This thing was a great value. It was on sale when I bought it, plus 20% off made it under $160. I paid it off in the money I saved in just the first weekend, not to mention how handy it was to fix a screwdriver I bent, just because I could! If you’re any kind of an automotive/tool guy, this is one to add to your collection. The possibilities are endless.”  John the Car Guy – Portland, OR

“I bought this press in the late 80’s and it still works as good as it did when new… I have straightened motorcycle forks, ATV rear axles, and have done motorcycle crankshaft work. The list goes on and on. Worth every penny!”  Brian F.

Apply tremendous pressure on parts, metals and machinery with just a little effort, for all sorts of applications. It won’t take long for the Central Pneumatic 20-ton shop press to pay for itself over and over, again.

Air Supremacy

Car Craft Tackles the Central Pneumatic Air Compressor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

’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!

’67 Firebird Restoration Project: Part 4 – Strip & Prime!

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

As we shared earlier, HFT invited Jeff Tann– car enthusiast and former Rod & Custom editor — to fully restore a legendary 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 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. 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 takes 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.  That done, he then laid down the primer like a rock star, using the efficient, low-price Central Pneumatic Professional HVLP Gravity Feed Spray Gun.

You might be asking, why is Harbor Freight doing this? Because they can! It’s their way of saying they have everything you need to complete this job– and do it like pro– for a fraction of the cost other tool stores would charge you!

So, keep watching. There’s lots more ahead!

 

’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.

Seismic Power In Your Hands

If you spend any time doing car repairs, restorations, mods or tire changes, you know by now that doing the work without air tools is like carrying an armoire upstairs by yourself. Sure, you’re man enough to do it (probably), but why? Get the pneumatic tools, Hercules– and the first one you should go pick up is the Central Pneumatic Earthquake 1/2” Air Impact Wrench at Harbor Freight.

As mentioned in Mopar Muscle, Hot Bike, Street Chopper and Baggers magazines, this pro-class impact wrench delivers more power with better weight distribution, lighter materials and a more compact housing. Its premium-grade components give this tool a longer lifespan, less vibration and a much lower price than the competition. What’s more, it’s the most powerful wrench in its class!

Visit Harbor Freight Tools for this and other powerful, quality Earthquake air tools and gear up your garage for any tough job that comes along.

The HFT ’67 Firebird Restoration Project: Part 2 – Disassembly!

Welcome to the second installment of the Harbor Freight Tools 1967 Firebird Restoration Project. As previously noted, HFT invited Jeff Tann– car enthusiast and former Rod & Custom editor–to fully restore the legendary muscle car using only low-priced tools sold at 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 introduced to the vehicle, inside and out, and presented Jeff’s challenge. In this segment we watch the dismantling process. As Dr. Albert Hirsch had to break down David Webb before he could build Jason Bourne, so Jeff has to take apart the old, battle-weary Firebird before he can build… a classic, hotter Firebird!

To get the ball rolling, his garage was equipped with a U.S. General 700 lb. Capacity 5-Drawer Rolling Tool Cart, which was stocked with a Pittsburgh Professional 301-Piece Mechanic’s Tool Kit. Also used in this segment, the Central Pneumatic 3/8″ Professional Air Ratchet and 1/4″ Mini Air Ratchet Wrench.

During the display, it was suggested that you should keep the bolts, nuts, washers, etc., for each portion together in ziplock bags– and who doesn’t have a horror story that supports that?

Stay tuned… the best stuff’s still ahead!

Rod & Custom “Kustomizers” Employ the HF Cut-Off Tool

Cutting 2 inches from the door’s edge with the Central Pneumatic cutoff tool.

Ardent car customizers are extreme when it comes to modifying their rods– and there’s no custom work more complicated and drastic than sectioning.

In the November 2012 issue of Rod & Custom, the “kustomizers” at Star Kustom Shop go all-guns with sectioning a ’51 Chevy hardtop-turned-roadster.

“The owner of the car is after a section that doesn’t just downsize the car and keep factory proportions, Instead, he’s after something that will downplay the bulkiness of the body while accentuating other features. What we came up with is a section that will do just that.”

Without giving anything away, let me just say this baby took a LOT of amazing work– and one of the “stars” in the sectioning process was the Central Pneumatic 3″ High Speed Cut-Off Tool.

The little, mighty cut-off tool reaches a max speed of 18,000 RPM and, besides car bodies, can rip through heavy straps, exhaust systems and sheet metal. One customer told us:

“I bought this to remove rusted bolts on my boat trailer from launching in salt water. This thing is ARE YOU KIDDING PERFECT!! I had 6 bolts cut off in mins. I used 80 pounds of air, with a 20-gallon tank, and it worked perfect. VERY IMPRESSED!” (caps included)

Another added:

“I bought this a few years ago to work on getting an exhaust system apart. Like a hot knife through butter.”

Pick yourself up a copy of the November Rod & Custom and check out the article, entitled, “Weight Watchers.” It’s filled with great detail and multiple photos to follow the sectioning process. And while you’re at it, get your cutoff tool at Harbor Freight– at only $9.99 it’ll be one of the best investments in your garage!

That’s the Gift That Keeps on Giving the Whole Year, Clark

Once again, we see how Harbor Freight is a favorite toy store for tool heads.

Recently on The Garage Journal forum, a member wrote how his boss gave him a $200 Harbor Freight gift card for his birthday, and asked what he should get with it. The replies, of course, were all over the place: 44” rolling cabinet, swivel-head ratchet, composite ratchet, and other Pittsburgh PRO ratchets, 1” belt & 5″ disc combination sander, 2-ton engine hoist, 20-ton shop press, 4”x6” horizontal/vertical metal-cutting band saw, blast cabinet3/8″ Central Pneumatic Earthquake air ratchet, cutoff discs, grinding wheels, welding gloves, dead blow hammers, cable ties, sandpaper, rip and claw hammers, magnetic LED palm-sized light, shrink tubing

It reminded me of when my Aunt Anita sent me $5 and the guys were all telling me how to blow it (“Hot Wheels!” “GI Joe!” “Silly Putty!”).

The lucky birthday boy ended up getting the US General 700 Lbs. Capacity Five Drawer Tool Cart–which has a 4.5-star rating with 112 reviews and, by the way, costs exactly $199.99! Then he created a dead-serious custom welder cart with it (and did a damn fine job)!

How would you spend YOUR $200 Harbor Freight gift card?

 

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!