Dirt Biker’s Review: The 2.5 Liter Ultrasonic Cleaner

Recently, a forum member on the Honda dirt bike site XR650RForum.com, calling himself Master_E, shared with his buddies his experience with the Chicago Electric 2.5 Liter Ultrasonic Cleaner.

“So I bought this thing because I took my carb to a buddies house the first time I was taking it apart and we used his. My carb had gunk all over and was generally dirty from being used. This ultrasonic gizzmo cleaned my carb to the point where it looked fresh out of a hot tank, inside and out. I was very impressed.”

When he took it home, he tried different cleaners with it. One different work. Another was so sotrong, it would tarnish. Finally, he found the perfect “solution”:

“I went back to Harbor Freight and bought a gallon of this business they use in their regular parts washers for only $9.99. I run a 50/50 mix with water and it cleans fantastically. Straight out of the jug is pretty concentrated stuff. I really recommend diluting it some.”

And once he figured out the formula, he threw everything he could find into the cleaner.

“Since, I’ve used it on all kinds of things. Most useful to me has been on fasteners but greasy nuts, bolts, washers, brackets, spacers, sprockets, clutch and brake perches, cleaning up my tools, my carburetor components, suspension components and even a whole chain. Yes, the whole chain.”

Besides motorcycle and automotive parts, the 2.5 Ultrasonic Cleaner is great for cleaning gun parts and brass, jewelry, coins, brasswind parts, pinball machine parts, e-cigarette tanks, medals, eyeglasses, tattoo tubes, grips and tips, bionic parts, coffee ground cups, and so much more! It works with our without heat, and is programmed for five cleaning cycles. At only $74.99, it’s a great machine at a great price.

Now, back to Master_E:

“So I thought I’d share a couple before and afters. I actually struggled to find things that needed cleaning, but I did find a couple things. These parts were never prep’d or polished after coming out of the cleaner. They went straight in, ran a cycle then brought out and dried off. Thats it. No scrubbing, no brushing, no scraping, no wiping down with a rag at all.”

(Click on the pics to enlarge)

Wheel Spacers: Before…

…and After!

 

 

Upper Triple Bearing: Before…

… and After…

… and More After!

 

 

Upper Triple Clamp: Before…

… in the Cleaner (didn’t quite fit)…

… and After…

… and After!

You can’t argue with the evidence. The Chicago Electric 2.5 Liter Ultrasonic Cleaner is a perfect addition to any workshop or home where parts  and pieces get dirty. Go get yours now– and don’t forget to take a 20% Off coupon!

To quote Master_E’s parting remark:

“Cheers! Now go clean some stuff!”

Firebird Restoration Tools: Harbor Freight vs. The Competition – Part 6

Painting the Car

One of the most time-consuming and important projects you’ll perform in the auto restoration process is to paint the sucker. Painting a classic car is more of an art than a mechanical procedure, and doing a good job means summoning patience and a bit of perfectionism from your normally “that’s good enough”-self. That new, glossy paint job will make the slightest blemish look pronounced and no matter how awesome the ride’s going to look, believe me, you’ll be staring at that blotch like my teenage daughter obsesses over a zit.

First, choosing the paint: Most likely you’ll be compromising between the quality and budget. Most paints nowadays do a pretty good job of protecting the underlying metal, but cheaper paints can be less tolerant to sun, and will fade quickly if the car sits outside for any length of time. Regardless of the type of paint you choose, remember you get what you pay for. More expensive paints will last longer and retain their pigment better than the “bargain” paints.

Just a couple more things to cover before we move on to the equipment: proper preparation. Especially if it’s assembled, the car first needs be taped off, using masking tape and paper. You might be thinking, heck, I’ll just use newspaper. But newspaper is porous and can let paints– especially clear coat– bleed through onto the glass and trim, leaving a time-consuming mess. It costs a little more, but using a less porous paper– making paper better still–will make the job a lot easier. Plastic can be used to bag the engine bay and other areas that won’t be painted, and wheel covers or trash bags can be used to cover the wheels and tires. Once taped, the car is prepared by wiping it down with a cleaner (Naphtha is usually the main ingredient) to eliminate any oils or foreign materials from the surface that could cause fish-eyes or other blemishes. Finally, the car is wiped down with a tack-cloth to remove any dust or debris that could affect the paint job.

If you don’t have a lot of experience painting cars, following the instructions on the MSDS will help you apply a good paint job. If done properly, your paint job should protect your car and look great for many years.

Now on to the equipment. The primer is already on, so our designated restoration artisan turns to the…

Central Pneumatic 2-pc. Professional Automotive HVLP Spray Gun Kit $49.99

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The HVLP spray gun’s material transfer gives you better, more consistent coverage than conventional spray guns, and with minimal messy over-spray. It comes with a 20 oz. gravity feed gun that operates at 30-35 PSI and detail gun that performs 25-30 PSI, and comes with stainless steel needles and tips on both guns. Our technician used this, along with a 33 Oz. Gravity Feed Paint Cup to spray two coats of red paint and three coats of clear. After which, he color-sanded the body with dish soap & water,  1200 Grit Sandpaper, using a 4-7/8″ Soft Rubber Sanding Block to knock off the “orange peel.” How does our spray gun kit compare to the competition’s?

  • Sears – US Freight Neiko Pro 2.0mm HVLP Gravity Speed Spray Gun w/Gauge #9924G – $59.99
  • Northern Tool – Wagner Double-Duty HVLP Sprayer #0518050 – $94.99
  • Home Depot – Husky HVLP & Conventional Spray Gun Kit #HDK00600AV – $79.99
  • Lowe’s – Kobalt Large Gravity Feed Spray Gun #SGY-AIR88 – $54.96
  • Grainger – BINKS HVLP Gravity Spray Gun Kit #98-3170 – $204.25

 

 

 

 

 

 

Following the pain job, Jeff buffed, using this polisher/sander and then, with the waxing, delivered the classic car to an incredible mirror gloss finish!

The polisher gives you all the power and control you need for a wide variety of applications. It generates between 1000-3500 RPM for a pretty nice polish. The LCD display shows the speed and the textured grip side handle provides comfortable handling. The polisher comes with foam and polishing bonnets as well as an 80 grip sanding disc. It’s also great for boats, travel trailers, stairs, etc– all at a great price. Now here’s the competition:

  • Sears – Wen Variable Speed 7″ Polisher/Sander #946 – $59.99
  • Northern Tool – Makita 7″ Sander & Polisher 3000 RPM #9227CX3 – $239.99
  • Home Depot – Wen 7″ Pro Sander/Polisher #946 – $59.99
  • Lowes – Porter Cable 4.5 Amp Ros Power Sander/Polisher # 7346SP – $119.00
  • Grainger – Makita 7″ Variable Speed Sander/Polisher #9227CY – $284.75

 

Once again, Harbor Freight Tools proves you get what you pay for– and more! Visit the homepage and Coupons Page, and check out other great deals the store has going.

Happy New Year! Now Get Down to Zihuatanejo

I hope everyone had as nice and relaxing holiday as I did. Besides getting lots of badly needed downtime, we managed to see old friends, family and haunts, and accumulated new memories to add to the ol’ mental scrapbook.

Over the last few days, as I was dreading the end of my vacation and return to the real world, I pondered resolutions for 2013– both the realistic ones and the “not-a-snowball’s-chance-in-hell-but-I-should-probably-make-them-anyway” ones. Typically, these goals are exercises in futility. This time, though, it occurred to me that it isn’t so much what you resolve to do as much as how you plan to make it happen. As I’m sure many of you are, I’m a big fan of The Shawshank Redemption. That whole “get busy living, or get busy dying” rant impressed me like, “yeah… that’s it. That’s how it is.” In the movie, Andy Dufresne determined his “get busy living” was finding a way out of Shawshank and escaping to a little Mexican village called Zihuatanejo. It’s the perfect metaphor for anything we truly want.

So you need to first ask yourself, what more than anything would you like to do. It could be turning the garage into a man cave or craft studio, fixing all the broken things around the house, restoring your dad’s dead Olds 442 or finally overhauling the backyard. But, before getting lost in your fantasy and dreaming of neat that would be…

…immediately follow up with, okay… how do I make it happen? In other words, you can’t just think about what you need to start doing– do it. Do it now. Even if you just devote 10 minutes a day, moving boxes or trimming hedges or removing engine parts, the very act of doing something motivates you to get moving, add more time and effort. and get it done. This year for me, it’s not just about losing weight (yeah, I’m original), it’s about walking, power-walking, doing stairs or hiking every day. NOT jumping into a gym membership– that’s just setting myself up for disaster (not to mention thwarting my budgetary resolutions). Also, choosing the types of food I eat by imagining what kind of hell my body goes through processing what I feed it (reality check: sweet potato fries is NOT a healthy alternative to regular potato fries). Again, not what you do, but how you do it.

On a sort-of related note, but not really, I have a brother-in-law who’s a total Tim Taylor (Home Improvement), grunts and all, and whose name I had for Christmas. I gave him a Harbor Freight gift card (of course), but, for me, just giving a gift card’s a cop out; it has to at least be accompanied by something that requires personal thought and consideration. So, I gave him a copy of Sequoia Publishing’s Pocket Ref.

Super handy info for tool hounds, craftsmen, landscapers, mechanics, technicians, cooks, stagehands, maintenance workers, carpenters, installers, fabricators, testers, designers, rodeo clowns– anyone who works with tools or does general troubleshooting– this comprehensive, pocket-sized reference book is for anyone who does anything. It’s perfect for when you use a math formula infrequently enough to forget it– and it’s better than the Internet ’cause it goes places where you get no bars! The little book is 768 pages of charts, tables, conversions, constants, facts and figures on everything you’d want to know. Covers air and gasses, automotive, carpentry and construction, chemistry and physics, computers, general science, geology, electrical circuits, electronics, drilling, cutting, adhesives, bolts, fasteners, pipes, ropes, tools, weather, welding, time zones, bunches of tables. and tons more– AND it fits in a pocket, glove box or tool box! Excluding Taco Bell, I can’t think of a better way to spend $9.99.

My brother-in-law flipped after he scanned through it for the first time. “Hell,” he said, “I can see myself just sitting and reading this for fun.” I recommended the bathroom.

Not for nothing, but an interesting aside,  Jamie and Adam on MythBusters whip this book out from time to time and use formulas from it. Well… I was impressed.

 

Firebird Restoration Project Part 9 – Finale

Well, it’s been a long road, but we’ve finally come to the end of our journey. Behold the final video installment of the ’67 Firebird Restoration Project, executed exclusively with Harbor Freight Tools.

As I shared last week, the fully-restored ’67 Firebird pulled into our office parking lot, and let me tell you, it was a sight to see. Ever watch the Mecum Car Auctions on the Velocity Channel? (love that show!) This car would have summoned a pretty penny on their auction block. Before it was whisked away to who-knows-where, a handful of us slowly circled around it, transfixed, muttering “wows” and “oh yeahs” under our breaths. The original interior was pristine– black bucket seats and carpet looking like new. Under the hood, the same. In fact, the guy who did the restoration, Jeff Tann, said the ‘bird’s engine was better now than when it was new.

Imagine the same kind of results with your favorite Mopar or Mustang… maybe an old Apache pickup or Landcruiser. Whatever your poison, Harbor Freight Tools has got the power, air and hand tools you need for a lot less moolah than the other guys– and they’ve got the fans to prove it! Get their catalog, shop their deals, clip their coupons… you won’t be able to help grinning with all the cool stuff you’ll be taking home for so little.

So, what’s to become of the Firebird? The rumors abound. A Saudi now sheikh has it. It’s in the next Bourne movie. Elvis was seen in it at a drive-through in Lubbock, Texas. No one can say for sure… I only know I offered to take it off their hands, but haven’t heard back yet.

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!

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.

’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!

Boy Scout Does His Eagle Project the Harbor Freight Way

Boy Scout Jack Rickelmann of Westlake Village, CA needed to perform a community service project to qualify for his Eagle Scout Award, so when an opportunity came to restore three benches and build planters for St. Maximilian Kolbe Catholic Church’s preschool, Koble’s Korner, he jumped on it.

As required of the Eagle process, Jack managed the entire project. The first thing he did was employ the help of some fellow scouts and adults, after which he approached Harbor Freight Tools, asking if they would contribute products and supplies for the venture.

The benches were sorely weather-beaten…

 

…so Jack had his crew disassemble, sand and stain them. The metal parts were prepared using wire brushes (#40401) and spray painted black using precision can guns (#94815).

 

The finished benches looked like new!

 

The planters were to be used by the preschool students to plant flowers and vegetables for educational purposes.

The wood planters were stained with paint rollers (#90182) and brushes (#4183) provided by HFT, which gave them a smooth finish.

The assembly was coordinated by Jack as the units were screwed together with guidance from the adults using power drills.

Jack presents a finished planter

One requirement the school principal had was mobility to move the planters so all children could have access.  Jack used two 3″ Cast Iron/Molded Rubber Swivel Casters and two 3″ Cast Iron/Molded Rubber Stationary Casters on each planter.   The sturdy construction of the casters provided by Harbor Freight allowed a fully-loaded planter to move around easily.

Other Harbor Freight Tools items used for Jack’s project included: 100-pack 5 Mil Powder-Free Nitrile Gloves, 50-pack Dust And Particle Masks, and 3-pack 9″ Paint Roller Covers.

Thanks to the enthusiastic help and quality tools and supplies, Jack was able to complete his project ahead of schedule!

The principal was extremely jazzed about the planters and benches. Classes had just started and she couldn’t wait to put them to use. Jack’s remaining project funds were given to the school to purchase flower and vegetable seeds for the planters. All in all, the activity was a resounding success!

If there’s a project you need to do, be it for the Scouts, your church, school, community, or for a particular fundraiser, remember Harbor Freight Tools for your tools and supplies– HFT will keep you on track and under budget!

 

 

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.