BET­TER SAN­ITY THROUGH TOOLS

4 Wheel & Off Road - - 4XFORWARD - Chris­tian Hazel BY CHRIS­TIAN.HAZEL@4WOR.COM

ALOT 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 bench­press­ing 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 paint­ball­gun-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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