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How many tools to do a car restoration?


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In some recent threads, there were discussions about needing things like special machine shop tools, taps and dies, etc.  I started to make a list of what I've accumulated over the years to rebuild some cars, make new bodies and sheet metal parts, and machine pieces from steel, aluminum, or brass.  I was amazed at the length of my list and its too long to put here, but here are a few:

     MIG, TIG, gas, and spot welders, MAPP and propane torches

     mill/drill and small lathe

     tubing roller, pipe bender, hydraulic press, bead roller, shrinker/stretcher

     English wheel, planishing hammer, slip roll/shear/brake, hydraulic press

     lots of air tools, electric grinders, drills plus a big air compressor

     wrenches and more wrenches, socket sets, Allen wrenches, US/metric sizes

     lots of hand tools

     an oak stump for forming, mallets, beater bags, dollies, and hammers

     many boxes and containers of bolts, nuts, cotter pins, screws, rivets - enough to open a hardware store

     3D printer for making casting patterns

     etc., etc., etc.

 

It seems that i have gotten to a certain point in various projects that required a special tool in order to make progress, so I bought it, and I've accumulated a lot of stuff.  It seems necessary and valuable to me, though my wife daughters will eventually have to dispose of it all.  What have you got in the garage or shop that makes life easier for you and you wouldn't do without?

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I have all kinds of tools I use for my business, but a lot of it gets used on my car restore project also.

Lots of hand tools, Hand drills (Air/electric)

Angle grinders (Air/electric), Mini belt sander

2 MIG's, TIG, OXY torch set, 2 Plasma cutters, CNC Plasma table

20" Drill press, Bridgeport vert mill, 14" x 40 Lathe, Machining tooling, Rotary table, 5C collet indexer/ tail stock 

CNC mini mill, Laser engraver, Vinyl cutter

80 gal Air compressor

Arbor press, 12" disc sander, 6" bench grinder, 6" pedestal buffer

4' Finger brake, 60" slip roll

I'm sure there's more that I'm forgetting. It all makes life easier and wouldn't do without any of it. ;)

 

 

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31 minutes ago, Gary_Ash said:

  What have you got in the garage or shop that makes life easier for you and you wouldn't do without?

 

A bottle opener?

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My 1954 Sun 506 Distributor Tester, my half gallon of Crown Royal Apple, and the three pound hammer. Life is good.

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After years of getting by with the most basic tools and doing almost everything I needed to do I now have accumulated several items that I would have killed for in the past.  60 gal compressor, large variety of air tools, acetylene torch, two tool boxes(rolling ones) packed full of all kinds of hand tools and specialty tools plus several smaller boxes with more tools in them. Big Crow bars, big hammers, body tools. Boggles what mind I have left. Of course I now hardly ever use very many of them but if I do need them, they are there.

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All of my air tools have made things so much easier when working on cars.

I often wonder how I ever did major work on cars before I got air tools.

 

For modern cars my scanner has made life much easier.  It reads all sorts of stuff including being able to reprogram new key fobs should one get lost or damaged.

And the email feature where it will email a full diagnostic report is great as well.

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Collecting tools is actually more fun than collecting cars.   I had to borrow a 24 inch breaker bar last week,  I've been canvasing eBay for my own and will probably never use it once.

 

Also, I'm in the process of replacing all my pneumatic/corded tools with 18V electrics.

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How many tools to do a restoration? I have a Snap On belt and work boots. Let’s just say my local Snap On dealer really likes me.😎

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I am a carpenter by trade so as far as woodworking I fit into the above category of most. More tools than I could ever need! Some stuff I may have needed for one job and bought it, but hey, I have it for the next time. As far as working/restoring my cars, being mid 70's models, I find that a couple of different size box wrenches and my sears (not even craftsman) socket set I got for Christmas in 1980 are my go to's. Not being a mechanic, I dont have a lot of specific type tools, and I am sure I would find some things go so much easier if I did. I have a large compressor for painting, but most of my power tools are electric or battery. My air tools collect dust.

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A lift.

Tend to avoid battery operated tools, do have a screwdriver drill and a small (80-100 lb-ft) impact but most are air or hand.

Been told I have enough tools to open a three bay shop. Some wrenches date to early '60s and been acquiring ever since. Even have some Sorenson and Penncraft.

Forget how many Oscillosopes and DVMs I have, must mean something.

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56 minutes ago, padgett said:

A lift.

Tend to avoid battery operated tools, do have a screwdriver drill and a small (80-100 lb-ft) impact but most are air or hand.

Been told I have enough tools to open a three bay shop. Some wrenches date to early '60s and been acquiring ever since. Even have some Sorenson and Penncraft.

Forget how many Oscillosopes and DVMs I have, must mean something.

 

Agreed on the lift.

 

I killed myself trying to get wheels off a snowmobile trailer using a MAC Impact wrench and pancake compressor at 130lbs.    I needed to use a 24 inch breaker on one of the wheels to get the lugs off,  the entire way because the impact wouldn't do it.

 

I have a 18V battery impact gun showing up today for the reinstall of new wheels and lugs.

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Bought some battery operated impacts, grinder and boy have they came in handy. I never pull a trailer without having my impact with me. Changing tires is a matter of minutes! 

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Sometimes you have all the wrenches and devices and gagets possible and you think all you need is a BIGGER hammer but it is better to use more brain power.and ingenuity. If that doesn't resolve it find that hammer. 

Edited by SC38DLS (see edit history)
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Great tools are only expensive once, and continue to pay you back every time you use them. I bought my first Snap On tools at age 12, and I still have every single one..........my tool box at home is five times the size of the one at the shop here. I have never regretted my decision to have so much money tied up in my tools and equipment. Look at my White project.......I had everything I needed on hand to take the car from the grave to running in just a few weeks. More return on my investment. I still keep buying and adding to my shop tools. I will stop the day I die. My new inductive heating tool is a favorite........

Edited by edinmass (see edit history)
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I have said it before, but the full kit necessary to restore cars ; right property, shop building , tools , equipment etc. is far more costly , takes longer to put together than at least 75% of the cars themselves. It really is hard to get there in one generation unless there are significant money resources in play. Especially in the context of wages vs costs over the last 30 years. Assuming we are talking about a strictly hobby shop as opposed to an off shoot of a persons business. If you can write off

a substantial amount of the overall cost as a legitimate business expense then it's a different story.

 

Greg

Edited by 1912Staver (see edit history)
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Have seen an inductive heater in action, makes sense for a frozen bolt. I usually just soak in PB Blaster and let sit for a day. Have both air and battery impacts but nothing beats a breaker bar with a 4 foot extension you can stand on.

 

Once bought a trailer with 1/2" studs that someone with a bigger gun than IQ torques 12mm nuts down. Broke three studs getting them off but no big, also have a press.

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I just picked up a forty inch long 3/4" drive breaker bar and 2" dia. socket this morning for my REO 4 cyl. engine flywheel nuts.  One skinned knuckle with a pipe wrench was all it took to remind me daddy didn't raise no dummy.  

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also depends on what type (make/model) of vehicle you are rebuilding. there are always those 'special' tools that you either need or have to fabricate to do certain tasks. of course you could probably figure out another way to do it, but they do make life so much easier. i know for my 1929 Chevrolet i have the Brake Aligning tool for the dual brake cross shafts, the u-joint tool to hold it so i can assemble it easier, spline tool to line up clutch and such, prime tool to spin oil pump and prime engine, also used to spin oil pump to line up the shaft to match the distributor when installing, guide pins to line up oil pan when servicing that, guide pins for transmission assembly when installing to engine. plus a few more i am missing, but will remember when i need them again 🙂

 

eight point sockets for those square nuts !!

valve adjusting tool, allows one hand adjustment of valves, has socket with internal screw driver

hub puller

20ton shop press

 

all the machining work and paint and interior are all farmed out... 

 

i have limited space, and knowledge of certain things, and i know my limits, and when to ask for help. plus small garage and room to put it all for a one maybe 2 time affair.

 

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Edited by BearsFan315 (see edit history)
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3 hours ago, Roger Walling said:

 I don't know how many tools that I have but it seems that anytime I do a small job, I have to put  away about 39 tools.     🤬

This is a fact, one 20 min simple job turns into three hours and every tool you own is out. 

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I too have been accumulating tools all my life. I don't have all that I desire, but I do ok. Shop space and infrastructure limit my expansion. I'd like a large, compressor. I have an oil-less Devillebiss 25 gallon. I get by, but not ideal. If I come into some money and slow down aging, I'd probably move ahead and build the shop I really want.  A full car hoist. Central plumbed-in compressed air. 240V for a MIG welder. A separate bay for tear down, cleaning and pressure washing. We get ice and snow up here for several months a year. A clean warm pressure-washing bay would sure be nice!

 

I struggle a bit with guilt sometimes. It seems the older I get, the more I think about minimizing and getting rid of some stuff that I have accumulated over my lifetime. Tools no, I have no desire to dispose of. I am still accumulating tools. Perhaps these feelings stem from life's experience. I have seen my desires and interests change over the years. When an earlier hobby comes and goes, the "stuff" accumulated and tied to the hobby becomes stale. No longer used. That's the kind of stuff I like to get rid of.

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33 minutes ago, keithb7 said:

Tools no, I have no desire to dispose of. I am still accumulating tools. 

 I just went out and bought a second floor jack, this one goes up 2', and I also bought a second plasma cutter, this one is just for sheet metal. And a new self darkening welding helmet.

 All this after I said that I was no longer going to build another car in the spring. (I am now modifying one of my cars onto something that is hard to describe, a Fiero with a SB in the back seat)

                         🛠️

 

 Ps, I keep looking at my 76 El Camino, I think that could use a freshening up in the next summer.

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This is great!  I worried that I might have everything that I would ever need, but I see from the list above that a plasma cutter, laser engraver, 3/4" sockets and breaker bar, car lift, inductive heater, etc. could be added to the letter I'm writing to Santa.  Can Santa raise the roof on my garage so I can actually use a lift?  Or, maybe he can just provide me with another 3-bay garage with a 12 ft ceiling.  Make it 4 bays, maybe 6...

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Hi,

Here's a tool that I inherited. Marked "Cole Tool MFG, Chicago Heights, ILL".

Have only one clue as to what it's supposed to do. It looks like something I might use to take out the screws that hold the field windings in a starter or generator.

Have it for over 30 rears and never used it yet.

Any other guesses?

IMG_1998[1].JPG

Edited by Bill Boudway
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On 11/19/2020 at 10:22 PM, Gary_Ash said:

It seems necessary and valuable to me, though my wife daughters will eventually have to dispose of it all. 

I am thinking about buying a small backhoe to build a berm across the front yard. Just to slow them down from putting my stuff at the curb while my body cools. The backhoe would be handy for other things, too.

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It seems that every time that I've restored a car, I've always needed at least one more tool than I had. 

 

One might think that after completely restoring a car, a guy would have every tool needed and if you always restored the same make, model and year, it might just work out that way. 

 

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34 minutes ago, Bill Boudway said:

Hi,

Here's a tool that I inherited. Marked "Cole Tool MFG, Chicago Heights, ILL".

Have only one clue as to what it's supposed to do. It looks like something I might use to take out the screws that hold the field windings in a starter or generator.

Have it for over 30 rears and never used it yet.

Any other guesses?

IMG_1998[1].JPG


You are correct as to its use.  A useful tool the one or two times in your life you might need it. We let ours go to a guy putting together an “old time” repair shop display.... the cars we play with now don’t have starters or generators!

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On 11/20/2020 at 6:34 AM, Bhigdog said:

No one mentioned an anvil. The bigger the better. I have 8. Down from 9. I just sold one.....bob

 

When we travel cross-country, or even on a drive with one of our vintage cars, I try to have every tool and reasonably required spare part potentially needed (Yeah, I get kidded about that a lot),

but never thought to bring along nine anvils - 

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Usually one will suffice, Marty. Over the years whenever I stumbled on a decent anvil at a fair price, usually <$1 per pound, I'd pick it up. Up here they are now trading at about $5 per pound. I'm starting to unencumber my life and the anvils, save for my 22 stone weight Peter Wright, are being sold off..........Bob

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Have a small one on the back of my big vise. Has been enough for me, don't do cosmetics.

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I have lots of friends.  Not sure if they like me or just like all my tools that they borrow.  Some tools I spend hours hunting for when needed first then spend hours trying to remember who may of borrowed them.  I wonder sometimes how often something borrowed gets returned after the lender dies.  

 

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7 minutes ago, padgett said:

Have a small one on the back of my big vise. Has been enough for me, don't do cosmetics.

 

If you have the room you will find your self using a good anvil more than you think. Good for everything from cutting gaskets, seating rivets, driving stubborn things apart, general peining, center punching, bending, forming, ad infinitum. Most any thing being stuck by a hammer yields far easier if it's backed by a solid weight.

Other than common hand tools my anvil is actually one of the tools I turn to most.

And if you have a forge you might find beating red hot iron or steel into whatever shape you need rewarding in it's own right..........Bob

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