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4x4 Tool Time

Posted in Features on December 20, 2017
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A lot of things can ruin your day. Getting hugged by your sweaty, overweight uncle right after he comes inside from mowing the lawn without a shirt. Dropping the last donut on a filthy floor and having it land frosting-side down. Going to sit on that chair you thought was 18 inches closer to you and hearing snap! as you land on your tailbone. Anything like that is pretty much gonna stick with you in a negative way for at least part of the day.

By the same token, lots of good things can make you feel all warm and fuzzy for a long time. For me, one of the best ways to accomplish this is when I’m doing a project in the garage and remember that I’ve upgraded something simple that turns what’s usually a suckfest into a pleasure. Here are a few examples.

Tube With flare
Normally I’d rather eat a bag of frozen cat turds than flare hard tubing. Getting the right stick-out, fighting with clamps, getting the flaring die and crimp just right, and then having it all leak once it’s installed in the vehicle? Nope. Then Jason Scudellari, who runs our TEN workshop, introduced me to Eastwood’s Professional Brake Tubing Flaring Tool. It actually makes building 37- or 45-degree double, single, or bubble flared lines fun. No more cat turds for me!

Plasmatic
There’s nothing satisfying about using a sabre saw or cutoff wheel to remove brackets, but fire up a Miller plasma cutter and zapping off unwanted metal bits is a blast. Just add electricity and a source of compressed air and you’ll be slicing through metal like butter.

Hoist Ho!
I remember yanking a 396 big-block out of my buddy’s 1967 Chevelle using a chain hoist attached to a swing set. Not easy, smart, or safe. Now, whenever I use my Harbor Freight Tools engine hoist to yank an engine, move a transmission, or even lift the front of a chassis, it feels like cheating.

Open Storage
Keeping your tools in an old clothes dresser works, but, man, is dragging the drawers open once you get some weight in them hard. I have a couple nice tool boxes with roller bearing drawers that house all my tools. Well, they used to house all my tools. The Tool Fairy keeps making deliveries. Time for another box—if I can figure out where to put it.

That’s the Fact, Jack
I pooh-poohed buying a real transmission jack for a long time, but bench-pressing a TH400, 4L80E, or even SM465 into place is way, way less fun than simply chucking it on your tranny jack and letting the magic of hydraulics do the work for you. Mine is a Harbor Freight Tools unit like the rest of my jacks, and it works killer.

Passport Please
Welding in the garage? No problem. Welding remotely? Usually not a problem, but you gotta run flux-core wire. Yuck. The Miller Passport Plus has a little paintball-gun-sized internal CO2 cylinder so you can MIG in the field without dragging a bulky gas cylinder along, or you can switch to an external cylinder for larger welding jobs. It’s a dual-voltage (115/230) unit so you can use household or shop current. Leave the flux for DeLorean capacitors.

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