Our love affair with things mechanical can sometimes drift over the threshold to a “Love / Hate” relationship when things go awry. Most of us who drive trucks and SUV’s also enjoy “tweaking” them for more power, durability, and style.
Like so many of us, I look forward to the end of the workweek, so I can spend some time in my garage. I’m usually adding something to, or modifying my truck or street rod. Opening the toolbox and getting out the fender covers is a weekend or off-time ritual for many enthusiasts. Making a project work, or completing a tough installation can be fun and satisfying. Here’s where the “Love / Hate” aspect can rear its ugly head when the unexpected roadblock pops up.
Most of these DIY roadblocks are related to tools. The “right tool” for the job can make all the difference in the world. I’ve been turning wrenches professionally for a long, long time, and I’ve been fortunate enough to build up a sizeable tool collection. Hopefully I can help make your life easier and your projects more fun by showcasing some of my favorite “work savers” and some specialized tools.
I’d like to begin with a staple of the toolbox, the combination wrench. Everyone should own at least one set. The combination wrench is probably the most reached for tool in the box. About 6 years ago I discovered the “GearWrench”. It’s a ratcheting combination wrench that works so well; I almost never reach for the standard combination wrenches in my toolbox anymore.
General Tech International, a division of the Danaher Tool group, manufactures the Original GearWrench. GearWrenches are sold in Sears, Ace Hardware, and NAPA stores, as well as most quality tool retailers. These tools are top quality, warranted for life, and work so well, you’ll wish you had a size for every fastener you turn.
As usual, there are knock-offs and cheap copies around, but the Original GearWrench exceeds all ANSI and DIN specs for a “fixed box end wrench”. The fine tooth ratchet requires only 5 degrees of sweep to turn the fastener, and uses a 12-point “Surface Drive” box end that drives on the flanks of the nut or bolt to avoid rounding the corners off.
I’m lucky enough to own both SAE and Metric sets in standard lengths, as well as the “Stubby” sets for tight places. I even have a set of the new “Flex-Head” GearWrenches that flex up to 90 degrees. Trust me on this one; you’ll love these wrenches when you see how much work they save you, and how fast they make the job go.
The box ends fit into places that the old “Dog Bone” style ratchet box wrenches never dreamed of getting into. If you are a weekend warrior, and want to treat yourself to a great set of wrenches, stop by your local Sears, NAPA, or Ace Hardware and pick up a few sets.
They are very affordable, and GearWrench has many different styles to suit any of your needs. My favorite is the original GearWrench that is flat, and just flips over to reverse direction. There are the reversible GearWrenches with a small lever to switch their direction, and they have a 30-degree angle.
GearWrench sets are also great gift ideas for those times when you have to subtly drop a hint to those who might just want to surprise you on your birthday or any other occasion.
Next we’ll talk about ways to protect those expensive wheels, fasteners, and those polished billet aluminum brackets and accessories so popular on street rods, custom and classic cars.
“Protec Tools” offers sockets that are steel on the outside with a composite core inside. These are right out of the Aerospace industry. The composite core protects those shiny lug nuts and wheels from scars during wheel / tire service, or when tightening chrome or billet aluminum brackets and accessories.
Protec Tools offers a lifetime free replacement warranty. These are not inexpensive, but if they save you one 20 or 22 inch wheel, or a $ 200.00 set of polished brackets, they’ll pay for themselves quickly.
You can order them from Protec by calling 860-749-1862 or order online at www.protectools.com. If you work on “nice machinery”, Protec sockets are a must for your toolbox!
I hope these two items will make you life easier, and help solidify your love relationship with your favorite mode of transportation.
I’ll be back again with some highly specialized tools to solve some of the day to day problems you’re bound to run into.
Till next time,