Community Question: Tools that make your work more professional?
I ask this question because, over the years, I learned to do jobs more complex than oil changes, tune ups, etc. and my cars had different needs as they matured. Needs that required specialized tools, and a smarter owner. 🙂
One of the bigger needs is to replace the battery terminals and/or upgrade the wiring to and from the battery. And while I could use a bench vise, a hammer, etc. to crimp a new end on a power/ground cable, a physical condition at the time encouraged me to bite the bullet and buy a hydraulic wire crimping tool. It allows for a perfect crimp, with little effort on my part.
This tool became invaluable when I used it on applications with tight spaces and complex wiring. I don't need to remove an otherwise sound negative battery cable from the chassis anymore!
The end result? I used RV battery terminal connectors, 0 gauge battery cable ends, and my hand saving hydraulic crimper to perform a quick upgrade without needing to remove the cable. I didn't zoom in on purpose, just because I wanted to show how subtle the change is.
With all the old cars I work on (and aftermarket stereos I install) this tool has been a life saver.
So, tell me, what tools make your work more professional?
That’s a cool tool…and it looks like something even I could learn how to use.
I’ve used cable ends just like that to add strategic grounds to my RX7. But instead of crimping I put it hollow side up in a vise and filled the hollow about 2/3 with molten solder using a heat gun. Then I stick the pre-stripped wire in and after a few seconds letting the solder cool I can’t pull it out. Slide some heat-shrink, or wrap with self-fusing silicone tape and it looks really finished too.
Of course this is with the wire out of the car. Your tool would be invaluable when that’s not possible or practical… which is giving me an idea. 🤔
I bought one of those battery cable crimping tools last year. I was redoing the entire wiring system on my C4 Corvette, including a remote battery in the rear, a remote kill switch, a gear-reduction starter, and a high-output alternator. The tool, I bought from Harbor Freight. The wire, I bought from a wire manufacturer who sells on eBay (100% copper). That tool came in so nice!! I was making perfect cable ends real quick, and used my wife's hair dryer to shrink wrap them. Because the new alternator (228 Amp top end vs. 90A) is the one-wire type, versus the 1984 factory type, I needed a alternator relay between it and the emergency kill switch, so if you use the switch while the engine is running, you won't instantly burn out the very expensive alternator. Moroso makes a very nice alternator relay. The remote kill switch is required by most race tracks in case of an accident, but the Flaming River one I got also has a lock-out feature, you can padlock when the car is not running, which should help deter car thieves. Another tool I bought at the same time is a fancy, heavy duty wire stripper/crimper, for normal sized wires. For years, I always just twisted wires or used one of those cheap crimpers you often see in the $5 bargain bin at the parts store. This one does what the cheap ones are supposed to do, but is so much more sure, and much easier to make perfect crimps every time. Another tool I bought last year that paid for itself, was a nice OBD II scanner. I had a weird problem going on in our 2005 Trailblazer, that could have been VERY expensive to just guess-diagnose. The scanner instantly told me I needed a new coil pack (and which one), and saved me a chunk of money. It has since saved me even more on two other vehicles. Lastly, I tracked down a electrical multi-meter that will read up to 20 Amps. You'd be surprised at how few will do that. Usually, they are limited in the milli-amp range. Most cars will have 20A and 30A circuits, so checking current flow becomes more problematic. That multimeter has paid for itself already too. Good tools are worth the extra money you spend on them!
Practically every electrical or electronic connector has its own dedicated terminal, and needs a special crimper and insertion or removal tool. You'd need a separate tool box just for them, but it's impossible to do a professional looking job without them.
If corrosion could be a problem, there is mil spec wire that is pre tinned. Soldering is supposed to be suboptimal, since it stiffens the wire. A bit of dielectric gel after crimping, like D 10 is also good to prevent corrosion.
Fantastic work! I have done the same alternator/gear reduction starter upgrade on my Fox Bodies, but have been lucky/lazy because they often come as an easy to install kit with fresh wire cut and crimped to perfection. I've had to learn on cars that don't have kits to install them, and after looking at the quality of your work, I have a lot more to learn! Nice job!
Several years back I bit the bullet and purchased a brake line flaring tool from Eastwood. We are talking the $160 version. I previously used the cheap hand twist with the 'lay the die on the tube' feature when I rebuilt my 1959 Austin Healey 100-6. Some of the initial attempts could have been used in a dictionary along side of the word ugly. I was successful in getting a decent flare, but I was never really happy with them.
When I was rebuilding the brake system on my '56 T-Bird (it sat for 12 years), I decided I really shouldn't have to work that hard at making a flare, so I bought the tool. I later bought the 37-degree die so I could do aircraft flares so much easier. An aircraft mechanic believes that someday - no matter how deep in the aircraft it is located - someone - someday - will see your work and state "What a lousy flare."
The other professional look that I like is shrink tubing over a crimp connector. I pull the colored plastic off of the connector, crimp and solder it, and slide the shrink tube over the wire connection. For me - looking under the hood at cars shows and seeing blue, red and yellow crimps seems to say "Well - it works."
Having a custom wood shop and restoring antiques including repairing old and sometimes missing hardware, I create a ton of jigs from wood and ply scraps. I turned a brake line bending tool on a lathe. Just 3 descending diameters with a half round groove cut in for line support. Seeing how it doesn't have a protruding handle, I can use it in tight spaces. On the hardware repair side, I have a melt-able rubber like substance from the hobbie shop for making molds to copy things like missing carvings. You heat it up in the microwave till it flows and then pour into a mold with the part to copy. Once it cools all the details are reproduced. Then fill with plaster of paris to make as many copies you want. Speaking of plaster I made 2 half molds to replicate a missing finial from a furniture hinge pin. Then I put the halves together, preheated the mold and poured melted fishing sinkers into it. Once attached to the hinge pin it was a perfect match. The other perk of having a full wood shop is having wood and furniture supplies that can lend themselves to car repair. I once used a shelf pin to repair the high/low switch on my Harley. It was the exact diameter of the broken toggle pin.
My three most useful tools are my lift, bench vice, and air compressor. My lift is a 12,000 lb chain 4-post lift. It has two rolling air bag jacks along with it. I keep a car permanently on top. I am too old to roll around under a car any more.
My compressor is a Champion rotary vane compressor. Substantially quieter than my last compressor. A conversation can actually take place next to it. I can work in my garage when it is on.
Good old Craftsman 5" bench vice.
All kind of other tools, but these three make things much easier.
Yep Sajeev need one of those I have been just soldering on terminals for years I like the idea of factory style crimp,for my shop the compressor is king I own three two portables and a compressor as old as Iam its a Brunner upright hardly a day goes by that one of them is not in use from doing valve seals to building construction airing up the bike tires of local kids.Cheers