It's not enough just to claim having the lowest prices around. A Scion is a lot cheaper than a Lexus, but, well... Now on the other hand, if you can claim lowest price AND the same quality (or better) than the high-priced brands, now we got ourselves a ball game.
In the April 2013 issue of Car Craft (not online yet... I guess it goes along with the whole "why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free" philosophy), in the Hands On section, I stumbled across an article entitled, "Testing Torque Wrenches", by Jeff Smith. The gist of it was to compare the performance of 1/2-inch drive click torque wrenches from Craftsman ($240), Snap-on ($323) and the Pittsburgh model (#239 - $19.99) from Harbor Freight.
"Then we discovered a digital torque adapter sold by Harbor Freight (#68283). This small unit fits in between a standard 1/2-inch drive breaker bar and the socket, and using a digital strain gauge, it converts the torque applied through the adapter into a digital readout. At a typical Harbor Freight price of $39.99, we decided to include it in our test. We frankly didn't expect this little unit to be very accurate. But the testing proved otherwise."
After running the torque adapter through five consecutive applications of 70-lb.-ft. of torque, the average came out to be an "amazing 70.1 lb.-ft. In fact, when they tested it against a Snap-On digital torque wrench "costing far more," the readings from the two tools were generally within 0.20 lb-ft.
As for the drive click torque wrench...
"... we also tested Harbor Freight's 1/2-inch clicker torque wrench, and it was also very close. It also has a range of 20 to 150 lb-ft and a lifetime warranty. Accuracy after five consecutive tests at 70 lb-ft ranged from 68.8 lb-ft (-1.2) to 70.3 (+0.3), with an average error of 0.30 ft-lb over five tests. It doesn't get much better than that for a mechanical torque wrench."
Bottom line: You don't have to pay an arm and a leg to get precision performance-- and with your 20% Off Coupon, you can have the drive click torque wrench for just $16! For so much less than the competition, Harbor Freight's 1/2-inch drive click torque wrench is the clear winner!
For a more detailed coverage of the tool test, get the April 2013 issue of Car Craft today.
Believe it or not, for the meatiest phase of the Firebird restoration project-- the engine rebuild-- the star of the show was the Pittsburgh Professional 1/2" Drive Click Stop Torque Wrench, a multipurpose tool utilized throughout the video (check out the great details and tips employed in this installment). A heavy-duty cam and pawl mechanism, this reversible 1/2" drive click type torque wrench is THE go-to tool when precise torque is needed. The click-type wrench design provides a torque range from 20 to 150 ft. lbs and is accurate to within +/- 4% ! Harbor Freight price: $19.99.
Judging by the reviews, we already know it's an awesome automotive hand tool. But how does it measure up cost-wise to the competition? Let's check it out:
- Sears - Performance Mechanics 1/2" Drive Click Torque Wrench #M200DB - $47.02
- Northern Tool - Northern Industrial 1/2" Torque Wrench #558266 - $29.99
- Home Depot - Husky 1/2" Drive Torque Wrench #39104T - $79.97
- Lowe's - Kobalt 1/2" Drive Click Torque Wrench #85601 - $94.97
- Grainger - Proto 1/2" Torque Wrench #J6016CX - $281.50
Next time we'll look at the tools used for painting the car and, as always, compare them to the competition's stuff. By now the pattern should be clear: Harbor Freight Tools offers, without a doubt, the best value on quality auto restoration tools. Don't forget to check out their weekly flyer and keep checking HarborFreight.com for sales, coupons and the best deals around!
See you next time!
While I've been posting the progress of the '67 Firebird's restoration these past weeks, it occurred to me some of you might be thinking, "Well, so what? That's what tools are for." This is true. But the proposition that Harbor Freight's tools are rugged, reliable and capable is beside the point. The purpose of this exercise (besides showing you a sexy car) is to demonstrate how someone can execute something as meaningful and professional as restore a classic car while spending a lot less money-- or getting a lot more value for the money-- for the tools to do it. That's a pretty big deal.
So to better illustrate the point, I'll compare the prices of the tools used on the project with similar (if not exact) products the competitors advertise. The competitors I chose were Craftsman, 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. I don't think this compromises the test, however, because we're only talking about differences in size and shape, not function.
In the first segment, we'll be looking at the Harbor Freight tools used in the vehicle's disassembly video:
This solidly-built, steel tool cart is the perfect rolling workstation for wrenchers, able to hold 700 lbs of tools and easily roll around the garage. Standing at over 41" high and 37" wide, there's tons of space, and with 5 drawers, a bottom shelf, a covered tray on top, side slots and more, it will keep you fully armed at your spot without having to go "fetch" a tool.
- Craftsman - 3-Drawer GRIPLATCH Utility Cart - $349.99
- Northern Tool Excel - 5-Drawer Rolling Metal Tool Cart - $399.99
- Home Depot - Excel 600 lb. 4-Drawer Steel Tool Cart - $369.99
- Lowe's - Task Force 400 lb. 6-Drawer Steel Tool Chest - $189.00
- Grainger - Westward 250 lb. 4-Drawer Utility Cart - $572.50
The huge, industrial-quality tool set contains a comprehensive collection of the most used automotive and mechanic's tools, including adjustable wrenches, ratchets, breaker bars, pliers, sockets in SAE and metric, extensions and universal joint adapters. This treasure trove of tools is built to last!
- Craftsman - 309-pc. Mechanics Tool Set - $249.99
- Northern Tool - 305-pc. Mechanics Tool Set - $299.99
- Home Depot - Husky 264-pc. Mechanics Tool Set - $198.00
- Lowe's - Kobalt 227-pc. Mechanics Tool Set - $199.98
- Grainger - Craftsman Industrial 273-pc. Mechanics Tool Set - $985.00
- Craftsman - 3/8" Ratchet Wrench - $34.99
- Northern Tool - Northern Industrial 3/8" Air Ratchet Wrench - $29.99
- Home Depot - Campbell Hausfeld 3/8" Air Ratchet Wrench - $32.68
- Lowe's - Campbell Hausfeld 3/8" Air Ratchet Wrench - $48.38
- Grainger - Westward 3/8" Air Ratchet Wrench - $79.00
- Craftsman - 1/4" Mini Air Ratchet - $49.99
- Northern Tool - AirCat Mini 1/4" Air Ratchet - $99.99
- Home Depot - Black Bull 1/4" Air Ratchet - $21.97
- Lowe's - N/A
- Grainger - Westward 1/4" Air Ratchet - $69.75
So as you can see, when you buy at Harbor Freight Tools, you really are getting the best of both worlds-- great tools at ridiculously low prices!
Join us next week when we'll review the tools employed to remove the engine!
As you may or may not be aware, we've been following the restoration of a '67 Firebird where only Harbor Freight Tools are being employed, and are documenting it in a video series. While I've been editing footage for the blog, I couldn't help but notice that the Pittsburgh Pro 1/2" Drive Click Stop Torque Wrench was used throughout the project. In fact, in the sixth installment, where the engine gets rebuilt, this tool was the star of the show-- doing about 80% of the work!
Don't let the price fool you. The reversible 1/2" torque wrench is up to the task, whether you're a weekend warrior or professional practitioner, in the home or under the hood. And as a friend pointed out to me, it's the primo tool to keep in the car as a lug wrench. Accurate to within plus-or-minus 4%, the Pittsburgh torque wrench features a click-stop design with a range of 20-150 ft. lbs. It also comes with a heavy-duty cam and pawl mechanism that delivers the necessary precision required for jobs that require specificity. It's the go-to tool for engines, suspension and a long list of projects.
So, when you're looking to start or fortify your auto and/or shop tool arsenal. just remember One Thing:
The Pittsburgh Pro 1/2" drive click-stop torque wrench.
We're now up to the sixth 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.
- 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.
- In Part 3, Jeff lifted the engine using a 1-Ton Capacity Foldable Shop Crane and then removed the tranny from it with a Central Pneumatic 1/2" Twin Hammer Air Impact Wrench before he mounted it on the Central Machinery 1000 Lb. Engine Stand, and proceeded to take it apart.
- Part 4 took us to the exciting first step of transformation-- sanding and priming the car. For the stripping, Jeff used a Central Pneumatic 6" Dual Action Air Sander and the Jitterbug Orbital Air Sander. He then laid down the primer like a rock star, using the Central Pneumatic Professional HVLP Gravity Feed Spray Gun.
- In Part 5, which involves the pressure-washing, sandblasting and undercoating of the Firebird. Using a Pacific Hydrostar 4 HP 2000 PSI Gas Pressure Washer and a generous amount of heavy-duty degreaser, he heavily coated the underbody to break down over 45 years of grease, oil and dirt, and then washed it off with water using a high-pressure nozzle. Once the underbody was scrubbed clean, he sandblasted the rust spots with a Central Pneumatic Portable Abrasive Blaster Kit, using highly efficient Medium Grade Armex Soda Blast Media and, as a finishing touch, covered the surface with Rustoleum Professional Undercoating Spray.
Now in Part 6, we come to the meatiest phase of the Firebird restoration to date-- the engine rebuild. The Pittsburgh Professional 1/2" Drive Click Stop Torque Wrench is pretty much the star of the show, a multipurpose tool utilized throughout the footage. That said, check out the great details and tips employed in this installment. Chances are you'll see a thing or two you'd like to adopt for your next project.
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!
Enjoy-- and stay tuned! There's still tons more to come!
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:
- Central Forge 6" Swivel Vise with Anvil
- Chicago Electric 12V Cordless 3/8" Lithium Ion Drill
- Pittsburgh 6-piece Plier Set
- Pittsburgh 7-piece Screwdriver Set
- Pittsburgh 4-piece Adjustable Wrench Set
- Pittsburgh Professional Rip Hammer
- Hard Cap Gel Knee Pads
- Work Gloves
- 50-ft. x 12-ga. Extension Cord
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!
Welcome to the second installment of the Harbor Freight Tools 1967 Firebird Restoration Project. As previously noted, HFT invited Jeff Tann-- car enthusiast and former Rod & Custom editor--to fully restore the legendary muscle car using only low-priced tools sold at 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 introduced to the vehicle, inside and out, and presented Jeff's challenge. In this segment we watch the dismantling process. As Dr. Albert Hirsch had to break down David Webb before he could build Jason Bourne, so Jeff has to take apart the old, battle-weary Firebird before he can build... a classic, hotter Firebird!
To get the ball rolling, his garage was equipped with a U.S. General 700 lb. Capacity 5-Drawer Rolling Tool Cart, which was stocked with a Pittsburgh Professional 301-Piece Mechanic's Tool Kit. Also used in this segment, the Central Pneumatic 3/8" Professional Air Ratchet and 1/4" Mini Air Ratchet Wrench.
During the display, it was suggested that you should keep the bolts, nuts, washers, etc., for each portion together in ziplock bags-- and who doesn't have a horror story that supports that?
Stay tuned... the best stuff's still ahead!
If you like to play hard in your Jeep, you'll definitely want to soup up your front axle-- not exactly a light-duty job. Nevertheless, JP magazine shows us how to do just that-- affordably and professionally-- using tools from Harbor Freight! In an article entitled "Straight and Narrow," in the Sep 2012 issue, JP editor Cole Quinnell takes us through the steps of getting it done in a weekend and be ready for work Monday morning. To do the job, however, Cole advises that you first need to collect a few special tools:
"In addition to the normal selection of hand tools, you'll also need a Pickle Fork, a Ball Joint Press and a 35mm Socket to fit a spindle nut, all of which we picked up at Harbor Freight." (capitalization added)
He added that you'll need a decent MIG welder capable of welding 1/4" steel. The Chicago Electric 170 Amp MIG/Flux Wire Welder would be a quality, affordable tool for the job. Of course, gearheads across the country already know, when you're looking to do a heavy project, Harbor Freight's your tool headquarters.
This is a great article for prepping your Jeep to "handle all but the most abusive off-roading on 35-inch tires"-- and no one knows their stuff like JP. So get yourself a copy of their September issue and check it out!
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.