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

 

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!

Harbor Freight for Halloween!

In the “Thinking Outside of the Box” category, Jennifer B. of Wilmington, NC wins for ingenuity and getting into the Halloween spirit. Recently, she purchased a Drill Master 80 Piece Rotary Tool Kit to carve her jack-o-lantern, and while this picture only shows a “pumpkin in progress”, it’s so amazing right now, we can tell it’s going to be epic when it’s done (beware pumpkin-kicking punks, Jen)!

 

It’s not too late to follow Jennifer’s example– run down to your local Harbor Freight and pick up your rotary tool kit today! Imagine the works of art you could make out of squash-genus vegetables. Not just for pumpkins, though, this awesome tool is great for cutting, grinding, polishing, sharpening, engraving and drilling for all kinds of crafts and hobbies. Works on metal, wood, rock, plastic… and your dog’s toenails. Seriously!

And at such a low price, it’s just downright SCARY to pass such a deal up!

’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.

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!

A Gun Gal’s Review of the Dual Rock Tumbler

Last month I compared different methods for cleaning used gun cartridges (“Cleaning Brass: Tumbler, Ultrasonic, or… Cement Mixer?” Jul 25, 2012)  that are practiced out there, and pretty much left it up to the reader to decide which one would be best for them. Well, I recently came across this video made by “GalsnGuns” that she admits is a “novice review of the Harbor Freight Dual Drum Rotary Rock Tumbler.”

I was really impressed by how she took us with her on her journey, experimenting with media, cleaner, different caliber shells and other things to get the best performance out of her tumbler. Her video– which is almost 8-1/2 minutes long– made a believer out of me that the Chicago Electric dual rock tumbler is a solid contender for cleaning gun brass.

A DIY reloader of .38, .357, 9 mm, .223, .556, .45 ACP, .44 magnum, 7.62 x 39 and 7.62 x 54, GalsnGuns has her work cut out for her, so– as she puts it, “first things first”– making sure she uses ready-clean shells is of the utmost imporatance.

Check out her video, and while you’re at it, take a look at the incredibly low-priced single and dual drum rock tumblers on HarborFreight.com, read the reviews and see if this sounds like just the ticket for you.

 

Harbor Freight does not endorse any other business or organization or any technique in any customer video or blog post. Always follow all of the instructions and warnings included with our products. Harbor Freight makes no representation or warranty of any kind by including the information on this website.

The Solar Toolman

I found Larry “The Solar Toolman” Taylor’s video recently on the Do-It-Yourself Solar Energy Forum site. In a quiet, confident tone—no script, no teleprompter– Larry gives “workshops,” demonstrating how someone can run multiple power tools, juiced by a solar panel kit and a cleverly assembled solar system, using hardware from Harbor Freight.

Click on the video’s YouTube link on the lower right, and it will take you to three more Solar Toolman videos, explaining how, with some low-cost modifications, a modest home solar system can power a swamp cooler, a refrigerator-freezer, a 5000 BTU air conditioner, TV, DVD, VCR, and more. For those who are looking to live more “green,” prepare for emergencies or just want to “get off the grid,” there are a lot of valuable tips to be gleaned from these few instructional videos.

When I showed this first video to a friend who’s really into DIY projects, he said, “If I decided to use solar power on my pool filter, these are the videos I’d watch to help me figure out what I needed to do it.”

While you’re at it, browse the rest of the Do-It-Yourself Solar Energy Forum and check out other interesting solar panel project videos and articles– contributed by innovative alternative-energy users! You’ll find a lot of them using the Harbor Freight 45 Watt Solar Panel Kit, 15 Watt Solar Panels, as well as the 100 Watt Solar Charge Regulator, the 30 Amp Charge Controller, power inverters and other Thunderbolt and Chicago Electric solar system hardware.

Great job, Larry! Keep those solar panel videos coming!

Mega Cool Tool Cabinet Project

When I was a kid, around the holidays, I always got excited for the Sears “Wish List” catalog. When it finally came, I would carry it off into my room and go over each page carefully, like a monk poring over the scriptures, carefully marking each treasure I really, really wanted (the BB gun and mini bike got circled every year… finally got the BB gun). That magic feeling’s faded over the years, and now that I’m an adult, I tend to harbor a more pragmatic view of what I can and can’t have. The tummy just doesn’t twitter anymore… until I saw a post last week in The Garage Journal:

A forum member with the moniker “blasto9000″ submitted pictures of a project he recently completed, bolting three US General 44″ 13-Drawer Roller Cabinets together– essentially building a 39-drawer supermax workbench!

I Want!

Since the uneven floor in his garage was an unsuitable spot for the rolling cabinets, he first removed the casters, cut various-lengthed legs and capped them with leveling feet to match the floor’s contour. To bring the tool cabinets together, he left the side handles off and bolted the cabinets together with cut lengths of T-slot.

The original idea was to build the rack out of hot-roll steel, but as 80/20 is around the same price, and a lot easier to work with (plus, if you make a mistake, you can just unbolt it and re-do), he chose that instead.All the cuts were done with a cutoff saw, much like the Chicago Electric 3-1/2 HP 14″ Cut-Off Saw.

Here’s a list of the materials used:

1010 extrusion, 96″, 8 pcs.
1030 extrusion, 36″, 1 pc.
6-hole joining plate p/n 4166, 6 pcs.
End fastener p/n 3681, 12 pcs.
Leveling foot p/n 2192, 12 pcs.
1/4-20 x 0.5″ BHSCP, (a lot)
Economy tee nuts (a lot)
M6x1.0 cap screw, 12 pcs.
M6 nuts and washers, 12 pcs.
1/4-20 plug tap (2 flute), 1 ea.

It’s impressive how this guy kept the parts at a minimum– clean and efficient!

The construction is basically three 42×18″ rectangular hoops that the tool cabs sit on, held together using end fasteners. The hoops sit on the legs, which are 1030 extrusion (1×3″ cross section), and then the hoops have screws going through them radially, and attach to axially drilled/tapped holes in the legs. The hoops are 1″ extrusion– two of them each– sitting on 3″ extrusion, which leaves 1″ in the middle. This is where the vertical members are joined and covered by the 6-hole joining plate.

Here is the suggested order of assembly:

Build 42×18″ hoops, cut legs, drill/tap legs, and assemble into the base frame.
Install rear (wall facing) uprights with M6 studs protruding.
Level rack to the floor.
Take a leak, so you don’t piss your pants during the next maneuver.
Empty tool cab and lay on the frame using armstrong method.
Slide tool cab onto the M6 studs.
Install front vertical member.
Rinse, repeat.

“The HF tool cabs are very well-made and easily the best value in tool storage,” he said. “When I built the 80/20 framing I cut all members to precise length.  I was afraid there would be some variance in the size of the tool cabs, but they are all EXACTLY the same size, and the hole locations (for the handles) are in the exact same place. That made the job go a lot easier.”

The remarkably talented Blasto9000 came up with the original design while sitting in his car, stuck in Los Angeles traffic.

 

Solar-Powered Kiddie Car Mod


I keep stumbling on wicked mods created with something from the wide-ranging Harbor Freight catalog– everything from the outrageous to the sublime. This time I’m just going to call it “cool!”

Ben Nelson’s little girl is just about old enough to start driving her tyke-sized electric jeep. There’s only two problems: there’s no battery and no charger. A lesser man would have hauled the carcass to the curb, but not Ben. With a couple of spare 15 Watt 12 Volt Solar Panels and a 30 Amp Solar Charge Controller that he happened to have– along with some conduit and a 12-volt battery– the kid’s now free-wheelin’ it with clean, free energy.

Check it out!

 

The Domesticated Tool Cart

I was puttering around the house last Saturday, when I heard my wife in the other room suddenly burst out, “That’s CUTE!” I assumed she found another pair of shoes or a purse on sale, or maybe one of those Cape Cod beach houses only a Kennedy could afford. But then she hurried in, gripping a magazine. “Isn’t that CUTE??!” she asked (rhetorically, I hoped), holding the mag open in my face. And there it was…

In their June 2012 issue, Better Homes & Gardens featured the U.S. General 350 lb. Locking Drawer Tool Cart as an addition for a home organization project:

“A tool cart is a good home for bulky items, plus you can use it as a service station or bar.”

Not to mention that it’s a good-looking and affordable alternative to organizers at those shi shi “home” stores. Huh… using a Harbor Freight tool cabinet for kitchen design, or a design idea for any room in the house. I get it.

And the wife got it.