Nirvana, Heaven, Valhalla, Disneyland, Wally World! Regardless of your beliefs or faith (or lack thereof), there is a place filled with wonder, excitement, new beginnings, re-birth, dirt, grease, and oil—and it’s probably just down the road! Sounds lovely doesn’t it? Well, we think so. And as the saying goes, “If we are wrong we don’t want to be right.” The truth is that going to the junkyard to scavenge someone else’s used parts is a great way to save a few bucks and end up building the Jeep of your dreams for literally pennies on the dollar compared with buying brand new parts. And although the junkyard can be a place of wonder that is a pleasure to visit, it can also be a nightmare of wasted money and time if you don’t know what you are doing. We here at Jp have spent more than our fair share getting down-and-dirty in junkyards across the country. Here are a few tips, tricks, and how-tos for the junkyard newbie as well as the experienced parts picker.
What To Bring?
Every self-service-style junkyard we have ever visited required customers to bring their own tools. Here is a list of “must haves” for any junkyard run where something fairly major is the goal. Think of pulling an axle, engine, tranny, or T-case. If you have something small in mind like an exhaust manifold or driveshaft, you can figure out what tools you need and shove them in your pocket for an easy trip to the yard.
• Ball-peen hammer
• Steel or brass drift
• Prybar and/or large screwdriver (that you don’t mind bending or damaging)
• Hand tools: ratchets, extensions, wobble joint, and box-end wrenches
• Large adjustable wrench
• Adjustable pliers
• Dikes (diagonal cutters) or cross-cut pliers
• Needle-nose pliers
• Medium to large locking pliers
• One number 2 Phillips and one flat-head screwdriver
• 3⁄8- or 1⁄2-inch breaker bar
• Length of 1-to-11⁄2-inch-diameter tubing (for added leverage on the breaker-bar or prybar)
• A tarp (to spread under the parts donor so you don’t get too dirty)
• Several rags
• A flashlight (a headlamp frees up your hands)
• Small flat-head screwdriver or pick for locking hubs
• Snap-ring pliers for T-cases or transmissions
• Specialty tools like a Dana 30/44/60 spindle-nut, pitman arm puller, pickle fork (for separating ball joint or tie rod ends)