We don't often do tool reviews in this column, but occasionally we come across an item that deserves mentioning simply because it makes working on our trail rig that much easier. Such is the case with this new 4-1/2-inch angle grinder from Ryobi.
We were recently installing a set of lower control arm skidplates on our Cherokee, and, as usual, we figured it would be a quick half-hour job. Well, the frontend of our XJ has been banged around a lot, and the lower control arm mounts that these skidplates are designed to protect were a little tweaked. We quickly found that the plates were not going to sit correctly.
It was obvious that we were going to have to grind the sides of the mounts flat so the skidplates would fit. Bear in mind that we don't have a lift in our garage, so we do most of our work flat on our backs, which means powerful, lightweight tools make these jobs a lot easier.
Enter the Ryobi grinder. This little tool only weighs 3-3/4 pounds, but its 6.6-amp motor puts out an incredible 11,000 rpm. The handle can flip left or right, or be removed altogether, which we preferred because the area between the outside control arm mount and the knuckle was pretty tight. The lock-on switch meant we didn't have to keep a finger on the trigger, which allowed us greater freedom of movement while working. After 15 minutes of grinding away, the mounts had been smoothed out and the skidplates sat perfectly. We've since used the grinder on other of our XJ projects, and for around $60, it's hard to beat.
Further Facts: Ryobi American Corporation can be contacted at 1424 Pearman Dairy Rd., Anderson, SC 29625, (800) 525-2579, www.ryobi.com.