Jerry Thurston

What would you do if some­one stole the en­tire con­tents of your work­shop? Jerry won­ders how he’d re­place all the es­sen­tials – and de­cides to take out some in­sur­ance

LRO (UK) - - Contents - JERRY THURSTON Jerry Thurston pre­sented Sal­vage Squad in 2002-03. He’s still a writer and show com­pere, still squeez­ing in the oc­ca­sional TV ap­pear­ance. He’s owned and re­built sev­eral Land Rovers, in­clud­ing many Se­ries ve­hi­cles and a 90.

The cost of be­ing un­der-in­sured

Sun­day night, cup of tea and the lo­cal pa­per, read­ing a re­port about a chap who had his work­shop com­pletely cleared by bur­glars. I know worse things hap­pen but this hit home be­cause my work­shop is such a per­sonal thing. There wasn’t much de­tail in the story but it was suf­fi­cient to get me think­ing... Heaven for­bid this should hap­pen, but what if I had to start all over again with an empty shed? What would I choose to re­place first?

Be­fore I even started con­sid­er­ing tools, I reckon I would start with mod­i­fi­ca­tions to the shed it­self. For ex­am­ple, I’ve al­ways re­gret­ted not build­ing what I term a ‘dirty area’. Into this would go a blast cab­i­net and a strip bench, some­where that ini­tial dis­as­sem­bly and clean­ing could be done with­out spread­ing all the dust, filth and oily de­tri­tus into the rest of the shed, in­evitably cov­er­ing what has al­ready been re­stored with a fine layer of nas­ti­ness.

Hand tools would be a given. At the very min­i­mum, I’d plump for a nice set of com­bi­na­tion span­ners in all the im­pe­rial and met­ric sizes, ide­ally two of each of the more use­ful ones, plus top-qual­ity sock­ets to match. Jacks and axle stands, ob­vi­ously, and an en­gine hoist goes with­out say­ing.

What I couldn’t live with­out Af­ter 20 or so years of own­ing one, I would be un­able to live with­out a lathe. I re­sort to mine three evenings out of five, mak­ing ev­ery­thing from one-off bolts to sim­ple spac­ers. This would need to be di­rectly re­placed.

While I was at it, a friend of mine owns a milling ma­chine of the same make as the lathe. I’ve been gen­tly hint­ing to him that it needs to be re-homed, so my en­forced shed re­plen­ish­ment would be the ideal op­por­tu­nity to pile on the pres­sure and get it into my lair.

Over the years, I’ve also ac­cu­mu­lated a load of air tools, ev­ery­thing from air-screw­drivers through im­pact wrenches to grinders. On re­flec­tion, I wouldn’t be re­plac­ing anything other than the grinders and the right-an­gle drill, which is an awe­some piece of kit. I find the rest just a bit too bru­tal.

My imag­ined re-equip would also be the ideal op­por­tu­nity to re­duce some of the clut­ter. I do won­der if I would bother re­plac­ing some of the larger items that have found their way into the shed. My 25-ton shop-press is use­ful when it’s needed, but it’s not used of­ten enough. The same goes for my tool cab­i­nets. I have two, one of which is filled with most of the use­ful tools while the other con­tains ev­ery­thing else, mostly in the wrong draw­ers (yes, I can do some­thing about this!).

I started this col­umn think­ing that while it would un­doubt­edly be a hor­ri­ble thing to have the con­tents of one’s work­shop stolen, pro­vided you were ad­e­quately in­sured (and there is the rub) it would be some­thing from which you could re­cover; maybe even an op­por­tu­nity to change and im­prove.

But as I con­tin­ued to write I started to re­alise that for me, and prob­a­bly most oth­ers, it would be a dis­as­ter of epic pro­por­tions, es­pe­cially when I con­sider all the stuff that’s taken for granted and not thought about un­til needed; things that I could prob­a­bly never af­ford to re­place. Take my lathe (ac­tu­ally, please don’t take it). It has loads of associated gear like a big rack of col­lets. Th­ese came with it but to re­place even sec­ond­hand they cost more than £5 each and I’ve got 48 of them! Then there’s the extra gear­ing to con­vert from im­pe­rial to met­ric and things like stead­ies. The list goes on and on.

Extra se­cu­rity mea­sures

What about all the spe­cial tools, bought or made? I reckon that if I had to start again to­day I would have to spend at least five years try­ing to re­place the es­sen­tials I used to own. The re­al­ity has dawned that I could never ad­e­quately re­place all the con­tents of a work­shop that’s taken 35 years to build up. And now I’m scared.

Prompted by this, I’ve had a think about a few things. First, my se­cu­rity ar­range­ments. Big locks are all very well – but, if a bur­glar is de­ter­mined, they’re not much of an ob­sta­cle. So I’ve gone out and spent some cash on an alarm sys­tem that’s both mains-pow­ered and has a bat­tery back-up. It’s sen­si­tive enough to de­tect a hu­man be­ing but not so sen­si­tive that shed mice would set it off.

Sec­ond, I’m go­ing to take out a proper stand­alone in­sur­ance pol­icy for the work­shop. I’d be will­ing to wa­ger that most of us are woe­fully un­der­in­sured when it comes to the con­tents of our garages and work­shops.

The con­tents of my house are ad­e­quately cov­ered, but I let my work­shop fend for it­self un­der some half-imag­ined clause on that home and con­tents pol­icy. For a few quid ev­ery month I could be­come one of the small per­cent­age of Land Rover tin­ker­ers who are prop­erly cov­ered. Con­sid­er­ing that I have agreed value poli­cies for my ve­hi­cles and noth­ing on the work­shop it­self when its con­tents are worth al­most as much as the ve­hi­cles in it, I must have been mad!

‘The con­tents of my house are cov­ered by in­sur­ance, but I let my work­shop fend for it­self. I must have been mad!’

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