Carrying

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

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

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

 

Truckin’ Magazine: The Ultimate Work Truck– with Harbor Freight Tools

The Ultimate Work Truck Stocks Up on Harbor Freight Tools

If you thought “ultimate work truck,” how do you envision it might be outfitted? The staff at Truckin’ magazine recently took up that challenge, and in their October and November 2012 issues ran a 2-part series on creating the “Ultimate Ford F-150 Work Truck”– with a little help from Harbor Freight Tools!

Taking a 2012 F-150 SuperCab in Part 1, they installed a cool bed slide, a monster ladder rack (capable of holding 1,000 lbs) and a sweet commercial-grade diamond-plate toolbox.

In Part 2, they went on a shopping spree at Harbor Freight Tools and picked up a Predator 4000 Watt Portable Generator– to which they installed a shock/motion-activated alarm in the back of the truck, lest any covetous individuals think bad thoughts– a 17 Ft. Type 1A Multi-Task Ladder as well as a full stock of tools for the toolbox:

Then to fortify their heavily-equipped new rig, they installed a ladder lock, and secured the toolbox and everything else with a myriad of cables and locks, including the hitch. The end result: a “certifiable worksite on wheels.”

Take a peek at Truckin’ magazine’s drool-inducing articles– with lots of pics– and while you’re at it, check out the low prices and great reviews of the aforementioned tools on Harbor Freight’s website!

Tools for a Good Marriage

Ah, young love. My 21-year-old nephew just got married last weekend to his girlfriend of 3 years. It was a nice affair: the cake was delicious, the decor tasteful, the gift tables stacked high with juicers, crock pots, cookware, towels, bedding, crepe makers, dishes, salad tongs, fondue pots– the usual. My opinion, the kids are never going to use a lot of that stuff. It’s a pity, they don’t know what they really need. And let’s face it, the bride put the registry together. No offense, she’s not the one who’ll be going to the hardware store a dozen time later on to get tools for putting the home together.

May I make a suggestion? The next wedding you attend for a young couple (or even a not-so-young couple), go rogue on the registry and give them a tool kit. For less than $100 with a coupon, you can put together a complete set that they’ll use  all the time, maybe even for the rest of their lives. At least longer than the kettle corn maker they got.

Here are some basic tools to throw in the kit. It’ll make their lives a whole lot easier:

 

 

  1. Hammer – Nothing fancy, just a simple, sturdy claw hammer. This one from Pittsburgh has a shock-absorbent fiberglass handle that won’t splinter or split.
  2. Screwdriver Set – As you know, if you don’t have the correct-sized screwdriver, it can be a bad experience. It keeps slipping out of the slot, stripping the slot, etc. That’s why getting a set of comprehensive slot and Phillips screwdrivers is the way to go– and this 32-piece screwdriver set is perfect for whatever household job comes up.
  3. Wrench Set – Just as a screwdriver, you need just the right fitting wrench. That means you’ll want both SAE and metric on hand. This low-price 22-piece combination wrench set accommodates the most widely-used sizes and comes with a handy rack for quick access.
  4. Tape Measure – When putting up pictures and wall decor, measuring for furniture space or executing most any home improvement, you’ve got to have a tape measure on hand. Like this 30-ft. one from Harbor Freight, they’re cheap but they’re invaluable!
  5. Level – Got to make sure the family portraits are up for when the relatives come over– but you can’t do it right without a level. At $6.00, the 9″ Magnetic Torpedo Level will save you a lot of headache for vertical, horizontal and 45-degree leveling.
  6. Socket Set – A wrench set is great to have, but for some jobs a socket set is so much sweeter. Pittsburgh makes a good, long-lasting 64-piece set at a low price, which includes both SAE and metric, with 1/4″, 3/8″ and 1/2″ drive. It comes with a rugged custom carrying case for storage and transport.
  7. Screws, Nuts & Bolts – Hey, it’s at least one less trip to the store, right? Probably a number of trips– a 1,001-piece set with wood screws, sheet metal screws, nuts, bolts, washers, lock washers and cotter pins. Definitely worth the 12 bucks.
  8. Tool Box -You’ve got to get one– the ready-made gift box that keeps on giving. The 20″ Stainless Steel Toolbox from Storehouse is a Harbor Freight best buy, with a dent-proof, high-impact base, heavy-duty tray and strong rubber-grip handle. With a full-length piano hinge, two sturdy latches and a brushed steel finish, this toolbox is built to last.
  9. Cordless Drill – OK, so this isn’t going into the toolbox, but it certainly completes the set. If there’s any power tool the new couple’s going to need, it’s a cordless drill, and the low-cost Drill Master 18 Volt Cordless 3/8″ Drill With Keyless Chuck is a rugged, reliable addition to the arsenal.

So, when the top tier of the cake disappears in the freezer under some ground chuck, all the returns and re-gifting’s been done and those crazy kids go one with their lives, they’ll remember you every time there’s an outlet plate to replace or a bicycle to build, an armoire to secure to a wall or a tiki mask to hang in the bathroom… the wedding guest who had the good sense to ignore their registry.

Essential Tools for Your First Apartment

 

It’s June– and as with every June, a new herd of college grads is cut loose into the world. This means new apartments, new (or new old) furniture, new roomies, and a whole slew of new domestic responsibilities. Something every grad should consider getting is a decent tool set. Yes, you’ll probably have a landlord that takes care of that kind of stuff. But landlords are not your parents and they sure won’t always be around when you need them. Sometimes you’ll have to take care of things yourself –and wouldn’t it be great if you could? That’s where Harbor Freight Tools comes in.

Here’s a list of just the most essential tools you’ll be wanting:

Design – Decorating is the most likely thing you’ll be doing on your own. Here are some tools that’ll help with that:

Plumbing – this should really be left to the professionals, but sometimes things happen and help is nowhere to be found. When you have nowhere to turn these items can help prevent a disaster.

All Around Necessities – some tools are just plain useful to have around. You never know when you may need to screw a doorknob back on or put together a new piece of furniture.

Lastly, you’ll need a nice toolbox or tool bag to store the stuff in so you can find them when you need them!

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!