Tools That Have Already Gone The Distance
There's value in knowing what's the latest and greatest on the market. There's also value in knowing what happens after you make that purchase. If there's a single equipment category that's routinely called on to go the distance and then some, it's garage and shop tools. A single wrench can potentially outlast several project vehicles, and sometimes can outlast a generation. In the family garage, we're still using grandad's bench vise, and we'd bet you may have a tool or two with a similar history.
To find tools with some history, we poked our noses around a couple of professional shops, and then brought the search to our own doorstep.
S.I. Motorsports was our first stop. Tom McKenzie, S.I.'s owner, first joined the off-road fabrication world as a 14-year-old. Today, Tom's expertise is well-known and well-respected in the world of high-speed desert trucks. That said, we've seen Tom at work on other stuff such as motorhome alignment, tubular Jeep fenders, and electric utility carts. He's got a pretty big bag of tricks.
Truck and Jeep
T&J Performance was our next stop. Owners Mike and Tom Barnett are second-generation off-roaders and employ a crew that does everything from light-bar installations to custom suspension design and fabrication. A visit to T&J Performance usually reveals an ultra-clean vintage CJ, and various YJs, TJs, and JKs. You're sure to see Jeepspeed machines there, too, as T&J Performance is a pioneer in the Jeepspeed series.
At the home garage, Seth Blumer is a recent graduate of automotive technology at Utah Valley University and is an entry-level mechanic. Seth's tool collection isn't as vast as those of established shops, but he's already found some favorites and given them a workout.
Finally, yours truly looked at his own tool collection. Read on to see tools that are tried and proven.