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Choosing an air compressor is not a light subject. This can be an expensive purchase, and an unwise choice is costly and frustrating. This is not an item for "cutting corners" or bargain shopping. You will get what you pay for... When I needed an air compressor for the magazine's shop/studio, my thoughts were about air tool operation. My previous shop was well served by a DeVilbiss 80 gallon upright compressor and a quality black pipe system. That compressor was a two-stage (not "twin stage", avoid these!) iron compressor model that ran on 230V. Bought it in 1995-96 timeframe from Costco for $800. Our new, smaller scale shop/studio, I thought, could get by with a 20-gallon upright portable compressor and an iron, two-cylinder unit compressor head (two-stage, of course). The Ingersoll-Rand 'Garage Mate' fit the specifications I wanted, and that purchase proved wise—initially. There are jobs that require high volumes of air, and one in particular is bead blasting. The smaller compressors, you will discover, often make higher output ratings by running the compressor's rpm up the scale, to the point that service life becomes an issue. The DeVilbiss unit, in fairness, held up in this category with its 7.5 HP motor. (The I-R Garage Mate gets used so little that it should also last "forever".) Horror stories about sucking a reed valve on the DeVilbiss never happened, and that unit served faithfully for fourteen years—it was still working fine when we sold the shop property and the complete air system stayed at the shop. When I discovered the need for another bead blaster (had one at the previous shop, a very nice T-P Equipment unit), I thought a smaller unit would work fine with the Garage Mate compressor. It didn't. After much research and study, I realized that volume is everything for blasters, and my quest turned up a terrific solution: a used commercial compressor with a huge, slow speed Champion R-15 compressor head, 120 gallon horizontal tank, and a 5-horsepower, industrial strength Baldor 220V motor with magnetic starter. If you'd like to know more about this compressor, and perhaps what amounts to my sense of humor, read this account at the magazine: http://www.4wdmechanix.com/Downsizing-and-Air-Compressors!.html. For $250 less than the new I-R Garage Mate cost, I'm in business and so is the bead blaster! There are values like this around if you'll look and be patient. The Garage Mate works fine for quick, shorter burst air tool chores or inflating tires. I'll keep it, as the resale price is ridiculously low, and the unit is in "as new" condition. Moses
In the article "How-to: Rebuilding a Jeep AX15 Transmission—Disassembly & Inspection" in the magazine, what are the dimensions of the angle iron that you used in the hydraulic press to remove and install bearings? I'm guessing 3" x 13" long and 1/4" thick from the photos? I'm rebuilding a R-154 Toyota transmission. Some of the techniques are similar. Miller makes a rectangular box shaped fixture but they want a whole bunch of money for it. (Miller tool 8227.) Bru
In your How-to: Rebuilding a Jeep AX15 Transmission—Disassembly & Inspection you have a bench top jaw vise that’s holding the trans up off the table for better access. What is the proper name of this holding vise and would you know where something like that can be purchased?
Many of my current hand tools date to the 'sixties. The oldest, to my recollection, is a Craftsman beam-bar 1/2-inch torque wrench that I bought in 1965—for $7.39 out of the Sears catalog! My most recent acquisition is a deep set, Pittsburgh axle nut set from Harbor Freight, intended for occasional use. Tools have various functions and purposes, and their price and quality can range accordingly. When I first worked professionally as a light- and medium-duty truck mechanic, Proto tools were popular. By today's standards, that would be Craftsman or S&K quality. I ran a motorcycle repair shop at Carson City in the early 'seventies and discovered Snap-On and Mac Tools. Craftsman tools at the time offered an extraordinary lifetime warranty, and I have Craftsman sockets, ratchets and extensions still in my boxes to this day. I did, however, migrate to Snap-On for box ended wrenches, screwdrivers and a 3/8" tilting head ratchet. A Champion spark plug offset handle, swivel head ratchet wrench carries forth from the late 'sixties, pre-dating the Snap-On tools. The Champion 3/8" spark plug ratchet was a private label tool, likely built by Proto. It has weathered extremes of use and, in hindsight, abuse from excessive torque application on some occasions. Yet it survives. When picking tools, the quality and warranty are important. So is the "feel" of a tool if you're working with it professionally, day in and day out. Cost aside, my best ratchets have been Craftsman, not Snap-On. The reverse levers on the Craftsman tools fit my fingers and hands much better than the ratchets I bought from Snap-On years ago. In fairness, Snap-On may have improved this design, or your hands may be happier with one design over the other. Some hand tools are simply better quality. I mentioned Snap-On screwdrivers, their tips are exceptional and long lasting, handles feel right, and they prove superior. That said, however, the newer Craftsman "Professional" line of hand tools have come a long way for both fit and durability. Tool boxes are another story altogether. Boxes often get purchased on the basis of brand names that carry cache. When I worked at a GMC truck dealership as a line mechanic, Snap-On tools, and especially its boxes, stood for a true professional investment. Since I believe a mechanic's worth is his or her work quality, boxes are not the end all for me. I like Craftsman professional series boxes and have a shop full of them. Weight being a factor, if you want "big", you'll pay by the load capacity. Even the Harbor Freight U.S. General big boxes have a high load capacity and unloaded weight. On that note, don't dismiss Harbor Freight—just be selective and know the "line" names. I've done very well with the black, six-point Pittsburgh impact sockets and knockoff tools like the ball-joint removal and installation kits. Pittsburgh brand often means something. For torque wrenches, however, I opt for contemporary high-end electronic types and quality, known brands like Mac, MATCO, Snap-On and such. It just depends on your intent and plans for the tools. If day in and out use is the plan, buy better. When it's a one-shot or rare project and everything appears acceptable with the tool, consider an inexpensive item. Harbor Freight's heavy steel products tend to be the best buy on this side of the ocean, especially at the price, though these products all come from the other side of the big water! I'd be happy to elaborate on any aspect of tools, welding equipment or automotive testing/diagnostic equipment. I've been at this professionally for forty-six years and can cast a broad light. When time permits, I'm planning a tool box walk-through for the magazine's HD Video Network. The tour will cover all of my hand tools, air and impact tools, specialty tools and pullers, welding tools and diagnostic equipment. I'll watch for your posts and reply! Ask away... Moses