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A 1,000-hp Mustang, Cool Performance Parts, Tools, and Efficiency Highlight This Social Distance Shop Shelter

Diesel Power’s KJ Jones takes you on a journey through his small-but-mighty garage.

KJ JonesAuthor

At this point, it's very clear that society as a whole is in "another place" when it comes to the way we operate on a daily basis.

Here in the U.S. "shelter at home" and "maintain social distance" are now the rallying cries. And for gearheads—fans of cars, trucks, motorcycles, and all other things mechanical—heeding those recommendations (in some places, "orders") presents us with a pretty valuable opportunity.

Being proverbially stuck at home affords us a lot more time to work on projects and/or simply hang out in our garages and home shops, much more than we are able to during non-crisis times (because day-to-day life gets in the way of doing so).

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And, as a testament to this, Roadkill's David Freiburger is one of the MotorTrend personalities at the front of an experiment that quickly took off throughout the company's car and truck brands: producing reports and videos that bring readers into our garages, giving them a look at what we have going on, and presenting project ideas that can be done in our modest spaces (well, yes, some of us are fortunate enough to have colossal "Garage Majals," but for the most part, we're largely simplistic) while we all adhere to social restrictions.

"Shelter in Shop" is the concept, and Diesel Power's editor KJ Jones leads off for trucktrend.com with tours of two areas of his home that are perfect for his social distancing.

Big Enough to Park a Mustang

The subject of this first report is a simple, one-car space that primarily is the home for KJ's prized 1986 Ford Mustang LX, a rare T-top model that's powered by a supercharged, 1,000-hp 352ci Ford engine. The car was built during his tenure as senior technical editor for 5.0 Mustang & Super Fords magazine, and since completing the build it has occupied the lion's share of square footage in the room.

An interesting fast fact is that KJ's wife selected the house based on the garage being "big enough to park his Mustang." A novel consideration, and 1979-1993 Fox 'Stangs fit perfectly. However, it became clear very quickly that plenty of stuff goes along with being a car (or truck) guy, and plenty of room typically becomes close quarters in no time.

Work Smarter, Not Harder

Given the small area, the theme for KJ's space is efficiency. It's not uber glamorous, but it's a place where anything from working on cars (that fit) to doing projects on the workbench can be accomplished without too much strain and strife. A 175-psi air compressor is tucked out of the way, and copper tubing runs throughout the space, delivering air wherever it's needed.

Sufficient power and lighting are essential for any garage. KJ's electrical panel is updated so that there's plenty of 110- and 220-volt juice to support anything that needs to be plugged in (including heavy-draw tools such as Miller welding equipment, etc.) and a combination of fluorescent and LED lighting that really brightens the space.

A confessed "tool monger," KJ has Craftsman boxes sitting at the front and rear of the garage. The small chest up front holds very simple hand tools, shop rags. and a handy Snap-On jumper box, while the bigger box in the back is where all of the major pieces are stored.

On the Bench

A good, solid workbench is must-have equipment for sheltering in shop. Three-quarter-inch plywood is the simple, low-buck standard for bench tops, but stainless steel or the nice 1-inch-thick science lab tops like those in our colleague Christian Hazel's shop are awesome. KJ's bench is set up with two vices, soldering equipment, and plenty of power for plug-in items, and it can support most DIY-type jobs that require a good surface for assembling things, etc.

The bench area is also a place to display cool, unique parts and diecast models (the prototype Ford Cobra Jet intake manifold is one of only two that were made).

Liftoff!

When you don't have space for a full-on twin-post or drive-on hoist, a small chassis lift (typically used by tire shops) is the next best thing! Like most of the repurposed equipment in his garage, KJ scored a used lift at the Long Beach (California) High Performance Swap Meet, installed it, and had it functioning in about four hours. The total outlay was about $460, which includes the cost of having a new hydraulic line made, and sturdy Red Head anchor bolts used for securing the lift to the concrete floor. In addition to being convenient, the lift is a cool surprise to unknowing/unsuspecting friends who see it in action for the first time, especially when you have a small space.

Let's See Your Shelters

That's a synopsis of KJ's small-but-mighty garage, Part 1 of his Social Distance Shop Shelter tour. The accompanying video explains things further, and we hope you enjoy it. Stay tuned for Part 2, which offers a similar venture into a building that is referred to as "The Shop," which is located on KJ's property, just a short walk away from the garage.

Taking this message and instructions from our fourwheeler.com teammates: "We want to see how you shelter in shop. Send us a horizontal video of your space, approximately 60 seconds, and no longer than 4 minutes. Show us around! Tell us who you are and talk about some of the cool stuff that's going on in your work area, especially project vehicles.

"To submit the video, we recommend using a file-transfer service such as WeTransfer. It's free to use. Follow the directions on the website, and send to dieselpower@motortrend.com. And while you are at it, take a few overall photos and any cool details (at least two pics, please—or as many as you like) and add them to the WeTransfer file."