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
- Metal sculpting
- Signs and murals
- Cosmetic and Halloween makeup
- Spray tanning
- ...and so much more!
Also, of course, if you want to support the team at the big game.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.