Power To The New Tools
by Pat Goss
We’re seeing a big change in the types of power tools that are being used around repair shops. A lot of this could carry-over to do-it-yourself jobs as well. If you’re a traditionalist you probably have an air compressor in your garage at home. Well one thing about air compressors is that they need service just like the engine in your car; they need to have oil changes on a regular basis. Read the owner’s manual and never use any oil that isn’t recommended in the manual. Along with that the tools themselves need to be lubricated because these things produce a lot of moisture, so you use air tool oil in your air tools every time you use the tool.
Now along with that, to cut down on the moisture well you have to drain the compressor and that should be done weekly if you use it a lot, monthly if you don’t use it so much and you can also add an air dryer into the line to remove moisture and oils that you don’t want to get into various things that you’re working on.
This model is for do-it-yourself, the ones we use in the repair shop are about 20 times this size. In this case a bigger air dryer would be a better air dryer, and also you may find that you have limitations with some of the modern tools because they consume so much air that a lot of the do-it-yourself type compressors just can’t keep up. Then we have the issue of the impact wrenches and all of these things that operate off of air where you always have a tether so that you’re limited as to where you can go and what you can do.
Well here’s where we’re seeing the big change, a lot of stuff now is available in battery or electric power. Here we have a couple of impact wrenches, these happen to be from Snap-On, and there are a lot of different suppliers of these. Three-eights, half-inch, we have drills, we have saws, cut-off tools - just about anything that you can name that used to be only air-powered now can be air or electric. And if you’re using an impact wrench, always make sure that you use an impact socket because they are totally different than conventional sockets.
But here’s where you don’t want your impact wrench, and that’s around your engine. See, modern engines have a lot of aluminum in them and if you put steel bolts into aluminum, you wind up with a problem where they seize, and there’s an unfortunate thing about an impact tool: it has no feelings what-so-ever. When you use a hand tool you can tell if something doesn’t feel quite right and you can take evasive action to prevent breaking a bolt.
Also you don’t use impacts when you’re putting things back together for many of the same reasons because its real easy to damage the aluminum, but especially when it gets down to the final tightening. The final tightening on a modern engine is absolutely critical, so always tighten everything with a torque wrench, and tighten it to manufacturers specifications. Your jobs will turn out better and last longer if you do.
If you have a question or comment, write to me.
The address is MotorWeek, Owings Mills, MD, 21117.