by Peter Egan,
Road & Track
HAMMER: Originally employed as a weapon
of war, the hammer nowadays is used as a kind of divining rod
to locate expensive car parts not far from the object we are
trying to hit.
Used to open and slice through the contents of cardboard cartons
delivered to your front door; works particularly well on boxes
containing convertible tops or tonneau covers.
Normally used for spinning steel Pop rivets in their holes until
you die of old age, but it also works great for drilling rollbar
mounting holes in the floor of a sports car just above the brake
line that goes to the rear axle.
HACKSAW: One of a family of cutting tools
built on the Ouija board principle. It transforms human energy
into a crooked, unpredictable motion, and the more you attempt
to influence its course, the more dismal your future becomes.
VISE-GRIPS: Used to round off bolt heads.
If nothing else is available, they can also be used to transfer
intense welding heat to the palm of your hand.
Used almost entirely for lighting those stale garage cigarettes
you keep hidden in the back of the Whitworth socket drawer (What
wife would think to look in there?) because you can never remember
to buy lighter fluid for the Zippo lighter you got from the PX
at Fort Campbell.
WHITWORTH SOCKETS: Once used for working on older
British cars and motorcycles, they are now used mainly for hiding
six-month old Salems from the sort of person who would throw
them away for no good reason.
DRILL PRESS: A tall upright machine useful for suddenly snatching
flat metal bar stock out of your hands so that it smacks you
in the chest and flings your beer across the room, splattering
it against the Rolling Stones poster over the bench grinder.
WIRE WHEEL: Cleans rust off old bolts and
then throws them somewhere under the workbench with the speed
of light. Also removes fingerprint whorls and hard-earned guitar
callouses in about the time it takes you to say "Django
Used for lowering a Mustang to the ground after you have installed
a set of Ford Motorsports lowered road springs, trapping the
jack handle firmly under the front air dam.
LONG DOUGLAS FIR 2X4:
Used for levering a car upward off a hydraulic jack.
TWEEZERS: A tool for removing wood splinters.
PHONE: Tool for calling your neighbor
to see if he has another hydraulic floor jack.
Theoretically useful as a sandwich tool for spreading mayonnaise;
used mainly for getting dog-doo off your boot.
E-Z OUT BOLT
AND STUD EXTRACTOR: A tool that snaps off in bolt holes and is ten
times harder than any known drill bit.
TIMING LIGHT: A stroboscopic instrument for
illuminating grease buildup on crankshaft pulleys.
ENGINE HOIST: A handy tool for testing the
tensile strength of ground straps and hydraulic clutch lines
you may have forgotten to disconnect.
x 16-INCH SCREWDRIVER: A large motor mount prying tool that inexplicably
has an accurately machined screwdriver tip on the end without
A handy tool for transferring sulfuric acid from car battery
to the inside of your toolbox after determining that your battery
is dead as a doornail, just as you thought.
TROUBLE LIGHT: The mechanic's own tanning booth.
Sometimes called a drop light, it is a good source of vitamin
D, "the sunshine vitamin", which is not otherwise found
under cars at night. Health benefits aside, its main purpose
is to consume 40-watt light bulbs at about the same rate that
105-mm howitzer shells might be used during, say, the first few
hours of the Battle of the Bulge. More often dark than light,
its name is somewhat misleading.
PHILLIPS SCREWDRIVER: Normally used to stab the lids
of old-style paper-and-tin oil cans and splash oil on your shirt;
can also be used, as the name implies, to round off Phillips
AIR COMPRESSOR: A machine that takes energy
produced in a coal-burning power plant 200 miles away and transforms
it into compressed air that travels by hose to a Chicago Pneumatic
impact wrench that grips rusty suspension bolts last tightened
40 years ago by someone in Abingdon, Oxfordshire, and rounds
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