Vertical Jump – The Central Pneumatic 2HP, 29 Gal, 125 PSI Cast Iron Vertical Air Compressor

Get the boost you need to fully power your pneumatic tools and equipment! The Central Pneumatic 2HP, 29-gal. Vertical Air Compressor (#69865) allows up to 125 PSI of air at your control. Features include an easy-access handle, smooth rolling wheels and a fully-shrouded pump and motor for protection. Woodworking, sand blasting and metalworking shops– or anywhere where pneumatic tools are used– can benefit from this powerful air compressor! Out of the box, the cast iron vertical air compressor comes with:
  • An oil-lubricated pump for reliable performance
  • Twin capacitor motor for easy start-up
  • Adjustable handle and semi-pneumatic tires for easy maneuvering
  • Thermal overload protection
  • Dual pressure gauges and a built-in quick coupler

Here’s what a couple of happy owners of the air compressor have to say:

 ”I’m using this for sandblasting small items and for normal home use. It can supply a steady 60 pounds of pressure indefinitely, and obviously a lot more for brief periods of time. The compressor is relatively quiet. It takes about 2 minutes to fill up and shut off. The tank seems to hold its full pressure indefinitely, and is ready to use anytime. After a month of use, it seems like a good quality product.”  newshirt – Colorado Springs, CO
“I find uses for it EVERY DAY. Blowing up balls, handheld palm & air nailers,staplers, impact wrenches… blowing off sawdust & ? after weed eating, cooling off, too! EASY to move, inside if it’s cold out for easier starting, it won’t trip breakers OR blow fuses that way! DARN good value for the money! H-F stands behind their products!”  Ugly Gene – Pinee Bush, NY
This sturdy, capable vertical air compressor, priced at the incredibly low $357.99,  is currently available only at Harbor Freight Tools  brick n’ mortar stores. Pick one up for your shop and never worry about having enough power again.

The Picasso of Airbrush Compressor and Sprayer Kits

It’s Pablo Picasso’s birthday!

Picasso was one of the most gifted painters of our time, no question. And yet, I can’t help but wonder how many more incredible works of art he could have given the world if he had a Central Pneumatic 1/6 Horsepower, 58 PSI Airbrush Compressor and Airbrush Kit.

airbrush compressor and kitThe pro-quality Central Pneumatic airbrush and compressor set (#69434) is a powerful tool, enabling you to get as creative as you want with the air brush. This airbrush compressor and kit works with lacquers, oil-based paints and latex-based paints. Here’s an airbrush kit with everything you need to make custom art– AND it’s easy to change colors, and easy to clean! For just $89.99 at Harbor Freight Tools, you can be the Picasso of the cul-de-sac!

While you’re picking one up, also consider tossing a Central Pneumatic Quick-Change Airbrush Kit #93506 (a mere $9.99) in the basket, so you can have five additional cups of paint ready with adjustable paint flow and spray patterns.

Here’s what just a few customers have to say about this great airbrush sprayer kit:

“This compressor is a fraction of the cost of the name brands, but works just as well. I’ve had complete success with it when used with acrylic or enamel model paint. It’s quiet, powerful and easy to operate. The water trap and pressure gauge are nice additions. I’d buy another one.”  Modeller – East Coast

“Great little unit for the price. I’ve had mine for a good 5-6 years. I use it for spraying glazes and underglazes on pottery with a dual action airbrush. It has been a great little workhorse for me!”  Steve the Potter – Philly area, PA

“Overall, best thing I’ve ever bought!”  Adam R – Atlanta, GA

OK, so maybe I was overreaching a bit. You probably won’t be as good as Picasso. Warhol, on the other hand…

Harbor Freight Tools Father’s Day Gift Guide

father's day butterfly

Ah, Dad… He’s the guy who taught you how to hammer a nail, ride a bike, catch a fish and belch like a man. When he came home from work, he’d give you that bear hug, smelling like cold air and Old Spice, his five o’clock shadow bristling against your baby-butt-smooth cheek, and you loved it. He was the soft touch when it was time to go to bed, but you needed just a little more TV time… and when you went to bed, he could throw you up in the air like you were flying! He knew how to make your mom laugh like no one else, and he knew how to make the perfect pancakes on Sunday morning.

Father’s Day is the day we get to thank Dad for all of it– for making our childhood more magical, and for making us feel special when he took the time to do things with us. Harbor Freight understands what dads like, and he knows how you can thank them, too. All you have to do is visit the website and you’ll know why it’s their favorite toy store. So to help make the decision of what to get him easier, here are 10 popular items currently on sale at Harbor Freight Tools, any of which that will make him smile:

 

1. Drill Master 3/8″ 18 Volt Cordless Drill/Driver with Keyless Chuck #68239

Drill Master 3/8" Cordless Drill/Driver

This Harbor Freight favorite is a great general-purpose drill; home use, furniture building, etc. The keyless chuck is tight, the power is strong, and users love the LED light! This high performance cordless drill driver has 21 torque clutch settings to handle a variety of chores around the house and garage. It includes an electric brake and the battery is interchangeable with other 18-volt Drill Master tools. For sale at $18.99, it would cost more to buy a new battery for any other drill! In fact, pick up a Drill Master 18V NiCd Replacement Battery along with it, so when Dad’s on a roll, he’ll never have to stop to charge!

 

2. Pittsburgh Automotive Pneumatic Adjustable Roller Seat #46319

adjustable roller seat

What a great idea to save the back and knees! With a thick cushion, integrated easy-to-reach storage tray and a 15″ to 20″ lift range, this pneumatic adjustable roller seat is as practical as it is comfortable. Non-marring casters allows for smooth mobility while the 360 degree swivel seat and one-hand height adjustment lever let Dad get into the perfect position for whatever he’s doing. Whether it’s working on a bicycle, motorcycle, washing and waxing the car, lug nuts, changing brakes, wheel bearings, painting low cabinets, etc., he’ll be quietly thanking you again and again while he’s relaxing on his roller seat. At just $22.99, this is the ticket!

 

3. Pittsburgh 22-Piece Fully-Polished SAE and Metric Combination Wrench Set #47467

22 pc wrench set

The legendary Pittsburgh 22-piece combination wrench set from Harbor Freight includes 11 of the most widely used SAE wrench sizes and 11 of the most popular metric sizes to accommodate almost any wrenching moment. Fully polished, they’re made of chrome vanadium steel and a chrome plate finish for added durability, and come with an organized portable storage rack for quick access. This wrench set is great for everything from around the house to auto work– even working on trucks, trailers, tractors and farm equipment! And at just $16.99, everyone should have a set of these! And did I mention the lifetime warranty? This set of wrenches is awesome!

 

4. Pittsburgh 21 Piece High Visibility 3/8″ Drive SAE/Metric Socket Set #67900

21 pc SAE metric socket set

A good socket set makes your life so much easier. How about a great socket set? Well, now you’re talking! The wrenches in the Pittsburgh professional-quality set are constructed of rugged chrome vanadium are triple-chrome-plated. They also come with high visibility markings for quick and easy socket selection, a quick-release ratchet with reversible 72-tooth gearing and a comfy cushion grip. An awesome set, believe me, and it beats paying hundreds for those big name brand sets off the tool trucks. And, of course, it’s got that lifetime warranty! Pick up a set (or two!) for just $14.99.

 

5. Pittsburgh 60 Piece Alloy Steel SAE/Metric Tap & Die Set #35407

60-pc tap and die set

And while we’re talking about incredible deals on hand tools, what do you get the man who’s got all the wrenches and sockets he’ll ever need (like that’s going to happen)? Why, a Pittsburgh 60-pc. SAE-metric tap & die set, of course! Thread and bore taps like a pro with this tap and die set!  This tap and die set will perform– and out-perform!– other tool & die sets that cost ten times as much. Each tap and die is constructed of long-lasting alloy steel and the sizes are embedded in, not printed on, the surfaces. This set will cover most all Dad’s tap and die needs and, in no time, it’ll become his go-to tool for creating and repairing his own screws and bolts. For the home workshop and auto shop; thread plastic, wood, brass, and even plate steel– everything from an aluminum frame to a hardened steel bumper! Tell Dad to keep them oiled and they’ll last him a lifetime– which, it just so happens, is how long the warranty lasts. Only $29.99 at Harbor Freight.

 

6. Chicago Electric 4″ Angle Grinder #91222

4-inch grinder

Dad will save time and hacksaw blades with this angle grinder. This lightweight grinder is powerful and easy to operate while he’s cutting or shaping a brick walkway, cutting steel bolts, rebar, masonry, plaster, copper or galvanized pipe. or grinding welds, removing rust, removing bolts, sharpening sections on blades like sickle bars, etc. This grinder’s 4.5 amp ball-bearing mount motor delivers 11,000 RPMs for fast stock removal. It also has a spindle lock for fast and easy wheel changes, easy access brushes, a removable side handle, an easy-to-replace carbon brush and aluminum gear housing.  Included with the grider are a 4″ grinding wheel, arbor wrenches and a 7/8″ arbor adapter. Other cutting blades sold separately. An incredible price at $19.99!

 

7.  Cen-Tech 3-In-1 Jump Starter and Power Supply #38391

3-in-1 power supply 38391

The car battery on Dad’s old Crown Vic been dead for months? No problem! This jump starter will easily jump-start nearly any weak or dead 12-volt car battery. Tell him to throw it in the trunk and never worry about getting stuck somewhere again. The #4 industrial copper booster cables include durable alligator clips that can easily attach to any car battery, and the jumper’s got a built-in 3.6 watt light to illuminate his sight under the hood, making this a perfect jump companion to have on the road! It also comes with an invaluable power supply for electrical equipment in case of an emergency, such as a C-PAP, spotlight, air pump, etc. The Cen-Tech jump starter/power supply has an automatic cutoff to prevent overcharging, a charge/battery level indicator, and an easy-to-read battery indicator. And before he can say, “What are you, a Rockefeller?” tell him, “Dad, relax. It was only $42.99 at Harbor Freight!”

 

8. Central Machinery 1-Ton Chain Hoist #996

1 ton chain hoist

This hoist lifts loads up to 10 feet high easily, thanks to its sturdy, hardened steel chain. The strength of this hoist can lift up to 2,000 lbs. hassle-free and includes a mechanical load brake to give operator more control when lifting or spotting. Works wonderfully with a gantry or I-beam. Dad can use it for lifting and swapping out engines and trannies like they’re not even there– for a lot less than an engine lift!– hoist motorcycles for chain and other maintenance, lift the front of a tractor or heavy-duty truck for tire repair, etc. Rugged and reliable, this chain hoist is ideal for heavy loads at the auto repair shop or industrial warehouse. This jewel works as smooth as silk., and for only $44.99, is worth every penny. He’ll love it!

 

9. Predator 420cc, 5500 Watts Max/5500 Watts Rated Portable Generator #68529, #68526

5500 watt generator

Powered with a reliable Predator engine, this portable generator is ideal for emergencies, job-site use, recreation, family reunions, heating and cooling. The generator features a 420cc air-cooled OHV gas engine, a low oil indicator, UL-listed circuit breaker and 11 hours run-time at 50% capacity. With a heavy-duty steel roll cage for protection, this is the ideal portable generator for powering countless electronics, appliances and tools! And if Dad’s left without power after a storm or other occurrence, this will keep him going with whatever he needs to power. On sale for Father’s Day at $469.99, the 5500 watt generator comes in a standard and California-certified model.

 

10. Harbor Freight Tools Gift Cards

gift card

The ultimate go-to Father’s Day present when you don’t know WHAT’S going on in Dad’s head!  He’ll appreciate this ’cause he gets to choose exactly what’s he’s had his eye on. You can even have it sent directly to him if you order online; just enter his mailing information on the Shipping Address page. Harbor Freight has gift cards for $10, $25, $50, $75, $100 and $500!

So, take some time and check out these and other tremendous Father’s Day deals at Harbor Freight Tools. And when you give your gift to your dad, mention something about those childhood memories, and thank him. Chances are, that’s the best present you could have given him. The tools don’t hurt, though.

Super Streetbike Review: 1/5 HP Airbrush Compressor

When it comes to riding your motorcycle, it’s not enough that it just runs good– you gotta look good. So make sure you check out Super Streetbike’s April 2013 issue (no, not the cover, lug nut– I’m talking about YOU looking good).

On page 58 there’s a nifty article on “Helmet Painting”– a cool, inexpensive way to self-express on the road. But, as writer Brian Hatano points out, you need more than a creative idea to get your point across; it takes technique. So, he takes you through every step you probably don’t think about when  imagining that wicked skull with flames and roses… namely, preparation, detail, method and materials. To get the hang of the spray gun skills, though, Brian suggests we first get the feel of it with a practice helmet:

“For practice jobs, any helmet will work, but starting with a lid in good condition will require less initial prep and give you more time to think about designs and color combinations.”

He then breaks down the process of executing a successful paint job– from disassembling the helmet to applying the clear coat– in crystal, concise detail. Great intel to have for when you’re ready to go for it.

Interesting, however, is that even though Brian was working in a shop equipped with a large air compressor, he opted instead to go with the Central Pneumatic 1/5 HP, 58 PSI Airbrush Compressor.

“Although we had a full size compressor available, we tried out the Harbor Freight Central Pneumatic 1/5th HP Airbrush Compressor and it performed better than units costing twice as much. Zac noted the quiet motor with no pulsing in the air supply.”

Constructed of sturdy anodized aluminum, the airbrush compressor is easy to clean and operate, and changing colors is a cinch. The airbrush kit works with lacquers, oils and latex-based paints to create pro-quality designs only limited by your imagination! It comes with a 22cc glass jar, 5cc metal cop and 5-ft. air hose– and, at a low $88.99, it’ll pay for itself over and over again!

While you’re shopping, also be sure to pick up the Central Pneumatic Quick-Change Airbrush Kit for just $11.99. This enables you to switch out paints in a flash with next-to-no downtime.

This awesome setup would also be perfect for custom painting:

  • Bike frames
  • R/C and other models
  • Auto body detail art
  • Tool boxes or cabinets
  • Furniture
  • Pottery
  • Metal sculpting
  • Signs and murals
  • Crafts
  • Toys
  • Cosmetic and Halloween makeup
  • Spray tanning
  • …and so much more!

Also, of course, if you want to support the team at the big game.

 

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!

Firebird Restoration Tools: Harbor Freight vs. The Competition – Pt. 3

Stripping & Priming Tools

Yesterday morning the fully-restored ’67 Firebird pulled into our office parking lot, transported by trailer, and let me tell you, it was a sight to see. Ever watch the Mecum Car Auctions on the Velocity Channel? This car would have commanded a pretty penny on that show. Before it was whisked away to who-knows-where, a handful of us slowly circumnavigated around it, transfixed, muttering “wows” and “oh yeahs” under our breaths. The original interior was pristine– black bucket seats and carpet looking like it just rolled off the assembly line. Under the hood, the same. In fact, the guy who did the restoration, Jeff Tann, said the ‘bird was better now than when it was new.  In a future installment, I’ll provide a thorough pictorial of the final results. For now, let’s talk tools:

Earlier this month 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 Sears, 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’ve said before, I don’t think this compromises the test because we’re only talking about differences in size and shape, not 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’ll be looking at the tools employed in the stripping and priming process:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This sander’s orbital action allows swirl-free finishes to give your auto body, metalworking or woodworking project a professional appearance! The orbital sander is constructed with sturdy, lightweight aluminum housing and features a cushion-grip vinyl handle to provide comfortable yet firm control. A great orbital sander for edging, feathering and finishing projects for both pros and hobbyists!

  • Sears – Ingersoll Rand (IRT311A) Dual Action Air Sander – $69.76
  • Northern Tool – Northern Industrial 6″ Dual Action Air Sander – $34.99
  • Home Depot – Husky 6″ Pneumatic Dual Action Sander – $59.98
  • Lowe’s – Kobalt 6″ Dual Action Sander – $59.84
  • Grainger – Speedaire 3CRJ3 – $73.80

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This vibration-free air sander– at 9,400 orbits-per-minute– is perfect for auto body work or finish work on furniture (according to one customer, it’s also great on the aluminum wing surfaces of WWII aircraft). The orbital air sander features a compact palm grip that enables you to easily reach tight spots, a paddle trigger and a built-in regulator.

  • Sears – Mechanics Tools M569DB – $49.42
  • Northern Tool – Northern Industrial Orbital Air Sander – $39.99
  • Home Depot – EMAX Jitterbug Sander – $59.97
  • Lowe’s – N/A
  • Grainger – Ingersoll Rand 312A Orbital Air Sander – $179

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The high volume and low pressure on this spray gun reduces over-spray so that more paint goes on your mural, car, motorcycle, fence and whatever else you wish to paint! Restoring furniture? The Central Pneumatic HVLP spray gun sprays wood stain, clear-coat, etc., perfectly. The gravity feed and regulator allows paint to spray evenly on your project. This HVLP spray gun is a great tool for spraying lacquer on the deck, or priming or undercoating your car!

  • Sears – Tooluxe HVLP Spray Gun – $39.99
  • Northern Tool – Ingersoll Rand Performance 210G Spray Gun – $79.99
  • Home Depot – Husky Gravity Freed HVLP Spray Gun – $49.98
  • Lowe’s – Kobalt Large Gravity Spray Gun – $89.96
  • Grainger – Speedaire 4XP65 Spray Gun – $139.75

Check out The Video to see the tools in action during the stripping and priming process!

In the next installment, we’ll take a look at the tools used for undercoating the car, and compare them to the competition’s. Until then!

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.

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!

Save Time with this Pneumatic Scraper Kit

This heavy duty 6 piece pneumatic scraper kit includes everything you need to quickly and easily remove gaskets, paint, rust, glue and other materials without damaging metal surfaces. Complete with 5 scraping blades, the pneumatic scraper requires 4 CFM @ 90 PSI of compressed air and delivers up to 3500 blows per minute. This high quality scraper also includes a built-in regulator to adjust the force of impact. Learn how to safely and effectively use a pneumatic scraper with this instructional video. You can save yourself a ton of effort next time you have to scrape off gasket material from an engine or prep metal for paint with this air scraper tool.