February '20

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6 THE SHOP FEBRUARY 2020 ools are important to anyone opening a new shop, but they are very important when that shop is going to be doing car building on specialty vehicles such as hot rods, customs and vintage cars. It's one thing to own a screwdriver or socket wrench to replace a worn-out part with an identical part that attaches the same way the old one did. It's a totally dif- ferent challenge to install a 3.5L EcoBoost twin-turbo V-6 crate engine into a 1966 Ford Bronco, especially if no one has ever done such an engine conversion before. Doing that engine swap might require special shears or a nibbler for cutting sheet metal and getting it out of the way of the turbos on the sides of the engine. Then, you would need tools for refinishing the panels, so the engine bay doesn't have a shade tree mechanic look to it. Special fac- tory wrenches or generic versions that do the same job might be required to attach the plumbing. The I-need-this-and-you'll-need-that list can get pretty long very quickly. A specialty shop that's been around for decades will probably have most of the required tools, but since we're talking about a shop that is just opening, it pays to think about what tools it'll need most and what tools come in handy for multiple tasks in a profes- sional environment. Let's focus more on specialty tools and less on the standard screwdriver sets, SAE and metric wrenches, hammers, mallets and pliers that are more-or-less standard for any garage. 'SPECIALTY' MEANS TOOLS TOO While it pays to start with a list of tools your new shop is going to need, keep in mind that specialty vehicle work will require a number of different tools than a typical fast lube, muffler shop or corner garage uses. So, you'll want to think about tools that will help you accomplish the projects your shop anticipates dealing with. That list will be unique to each shop, depending upon which niches (restoration, hot rod building, show car creation, etc.) you're serving. Your list will probably be quite different than that of a regular mechanic. My father used to kid me about a sign that said Plan Ahead where the D was squeezed in at the end because the sign painter did not leave enough room for it. Deciding on tools that your shop must have to succeed takes some good planning, so you can limit your early purchases to tools you'll need most and shop around for the best values. Remember that a low price doesn't always mean good value. Cheap tools are cheap for a reason, and a great-looking tool that doesn't last very long is not a good value in the long run. When shopping for tools today, the internet is a great place to get specifica- tions and compare prices. Learn what the specs mean and sort out the features and benefits that are important to have for the work you'll be doing. Don't buy on brand reputation alone, but consider it in your overall planning. At the same time, don't buy one tool simply because it has the same name on it as another one you like for a different job. The same company may have good and bad models. And don't overlook using the internet to network with other profes- sionals who can tell you which tools work well for them. When you open your shop, you'll prob- ably have reps from different tool com- panies stopping in to try to sell you their tools. In addition to getting their sales pitches, tool specs and prices, ask them two questions: • How does the quality of your tools compare to others? • If I buy from you, what kind of service plans do you offer on tools that wear out or break? If an important tool goes down your whole shop may go down—or at least slow up until it is fixed or replaced. So, you'll also want to know how long those things take. In general, the tools you'll be using break down into two categories: hand tools and power tools. If you think your shop is going to be doing a lot of extensive rebuilding (i.e. taking an old car apart down to the frame) then you are going to need more than just ordinary wrenches and screwdrivers. Chances are you'll need pullers and sepa- T Opening Up the Custom Shop Toolbox By John Gunnell Specialty items, tune-up machines & boards for newbies. You may need some specialty hand tools like this engine lifting pivot. A hand tool that comes in handy for body work is a flexible sandpaper holder. This door skin remover drill attachment is designed to work with a power tool. Yes, you will need common hand tools like screwdrivers and wrenches.

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