THE SHOP

February '20

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8 THE SHOP FEBRUARY 2020 rators, for instance, to disassemble rusty parts and rebuild brake and suspension parts. Drivers will be needed to install bushings and seals. If you're going to be working on old British cars, you may need a set of Whitworth wrenches in addition to your SAE and metric sizes. One of the best mechanics we had working on old cars in our shop would never use a power tool to do a job a hand tool could do. Maybe he thought there was an increased chance of ruining hard- to-get obsolete parts by using power tools to separate or reassemble them. He was fussy about his hand tools, too. He always checked sockets to make sure they weren't worn or distorted, and he religiously cleaned his tools before putting them away. We knew another man who restored wood-bodied cars, such as the classic Chrysler Town & Country, and also did custom convertible tops and upholstery. He needed many unique tools for his spe- cialty applications and he actually preferred some low-priced hand tools that were made offshore and sold in big-box tool stores. He found that if he replaced the cheap foreign fasteners used to assemble these tools with higher-quality U.S.-made hard- ware, the tools worked better and gave much longer service. POWER PLAY No matter how much you like and use your hand tools, there's going to come those jobs that are simply better to do with a power tool. Both electric and pneumatic power tools are readily available today and we've noticed that some hardware or tool stores are expanding their lines of pneumatics and reducing the number of electric tools they offer. That seems to be the trend and to use air tools you'll need a compressor and possibly a plumbing system to get air to different parts of your shop. Power tools can be expensive and usually the higher-priced brands will give you the best quality. Be sure to compare features, benefits and prices. When you accumulate an assortment of quality power tools, you'll also need to give them periodic maintenance. Electric tools that have unpluggable cords are easier to store without fraying or slicing the cords. Air tools need to be cleaned well and oiled according to manufacturer recommendations. Start off buying the power tools you think you'll be using a lot, such as a 1/2- inch drive impact wrench. As your new shop makes more and more profit, you can add new power tools that you probably won't be utilizing as much but can use to expand the types of specialty work your shop can handle. Don't worry, you won't run out of needed new tools! Another tool that a specialty shop is going to use a lot is a torque wrench. Again, if you're doing authentic restorations of classics you don't want to be over-tight- ening fasteners that have a unique look that can't be replicated with modern hardware. The designs of even common nuts and bolts have changed a lot over the decades and judges at classic car shows will deduct points for easily spotted improper hard- ware. If your customer's car loses points, don't expect him to come back to your shop smiling. With a factory shop manual and a quality torque wrench, there will be less of a chance that you'll break those old bolts or round off those obsolete nuts. Of course, this won't be as big a problem if you're working on muscle cars that have close-to-modern bolt designs, but you'll still need a torque wrench to get all fasteners torqued properly. PROFESSIONAL DIAGNOSIS We have a collection of Sun Diagnos- tics machines from the 1950s-'70s in our shops. In the old days, these were sold to garagemen who had first purchased a cabinet, scope and frame. Then the shop owner could buy different electronic tools and bolt them into the frame. With tools mounted these machines were over 6 feet high and weighed hundreds of pounds. Today, shops use small handheld scan tools to do the same jobs. If your shop is going to be working on hot rods, other modified vehicles and modern muscle cars, you will need the best scan tools available. On the other hand, if you're going to be restoring 1920s-'70s cars back to original condition, you might be better off searching for an old Sun machine or something similar that still works well (see sidebar article). These machines do a really good job of tuning up old cars and making them run strong and smoothly. When you purchase tools for your shop, you'll need places to keep them. Today, even big-box stores sell nice-looking garage furniture that works fine in a new shop that's on a budget. Before you buy new, take a glance at what might be available on Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace or eBay. Mechanics retire every day and sell their toolboxes. Also, keep in mind that your tool col- lection might be small to start with and grow over the years. You might want to start with smaller toolboxes and grow into larger ones later. We use tool boards in our commercial shop and even our collector-car shop at home. These are often used in industries or schools where tools are shared. Each tool has its own space on a tool board, which makes it easy to tell when a tool is either being used or among the missing. In some cases, the shape of the tool will be traced onto the board to make it even easier to return each tool to its proper spot. The drawback with this is that replacement tools may not be the same exact shape, but this can be overcome by doing the tracings with a medium that can be removed or by refinishing the board occasionally (see sidebar article). Sometimes a tool doesn't get put back properly because it's been borrowed. This is a fairly common problem and the solution is not to loan out tools. If you have to loan something to someone— say another shop that's helped you out in the past—there's nothing wrong with asking for a deposit that you'll return when the tool is returned. If a cash deposit is a problem, that's enough to be worried about by itself. But if you still feel you need to loan the tool out, get a check or something of value to hold as a guarantee the tool will be returned. Hopefully, this advice will help you with your planning for your shop, whether it's a brand-new business or a long-established one. Now, it's time for the fun part— buying those tools. JOHN GUNNELL has been writing about classic cars since 1972. He is also the owner of Gunner's Great Garage in Manawa, Wisconsin. He owns 11 cars and seven motorcycles Opening Up the Custom Shop Toolbox The SEMA Show is a good place to see new tools like this electric random orbital polisher.

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