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Can I Borrow $1000 For Ten Minutes?

August 5, 2020

I’m back to working on cars.

One of the fun things about working on cars, is the opportunity to collect new tools. Of course I have a collection of regular tools; sockets, screwdrivers, hammers, ect.

I recently got a set of tools that I have wanted for a long time. I had to buy it over severals months.

It’s a 21 gallon compressor, a 50 foot retractable air hose, and most importantly a 1/2″ impact driver.

This is important to me. An impact driver is like a really, really powerful electric drill.

All of these tools were from Harbor Freight. Harbor Freight is a discount tool supplier. Their tools are generally cheaper made and therefore less expensive. But, I only use some of my specialized tools occasionally. I’m not going to be using these tools daily.

It’s worth it to me to have that occasional access to a special tool.

The impact driver is a very specialized tool. It has a lot of uses. It’s great for taking lug nuts off a car. I used it to drive 5/8″ 10″ bolts through 4×4 posts.

But, what I really wanted the impact driver for was for removing pulley bolts. They are on engines. And they are really, really hard to get off.

A few years ago I had an old Lexus. In trying to work on the engine, we couldn’t get the pulley bolt out. Nothing worked. I didn’t have an impact driver, well not a very good one. And there are other techniques. Nothing worked. And that was the end of that engine rebuild.

But, next time I needed to do a similar repair I wanted to be ready. And now I am. And now I needed it. My daughter’s car needs a new timing belt.

Well, I think she needs a new timing belt. I hope she needs a new timing belt. Her car wouldn’t go faster than 45 MPH. That could be several different things, a blown head gasket, a clogged fuel filter, a misaligned piston. Or a bad timing belt. The list is almost endless.

Yesterday I was testing the compression in her cylinders when the timing belt failed completely. So, we are going to replace the timing belt and the tensioner pullies.

And you have to remove several other pullies, one of which is accessible with an impact driver. Finally I could use my new setup. I was like a kid at christmas. Except I’d already opened my presents and now I got to use it.

The pulley bolt is 22mm. I put a nice black impact socket on, stuck my impact driver on it, pulled the trigger and. . .nothing happened.

Well, not exactly nothing. The impact driver makes a load “knocking” noise when it’s working on loosening a bolt. It was knocking it’s brains out, but the bolt wasn’t moving. I kept the driver on there until the pressure in the compressor dropped too low and the compressor kicked on.

This was not how I thought this would go. While I was waiting for the compressor to build up pressure again I noticed that I had my driver set on the “Medium” setting. Ah, that was probably the reason. I switched it over the “High” as the compressor finally quieted down.

Again, I put the driver to the bolt and confidently pulled the trigger. Lots of knocking, but no progress.

There’s another way to loosen a pulley bolt. You put a large socket on it, brace it against the axle and then Try to start the car. The starter should kick it over with enough force to break the bolt loose. We call it, “Don’t be a wimp,” because you have to commit to letting the engine turn the wrench. We committed, but all the engine did was bang the wrench handle against the axle. We added additional battery power with jumper cables. Still no go.

Well, now what?

I’d bought a tool, in fact a whole set of tools for just this moment. And even at Harbor Freight prices they weren’t cheap. About $500 total for the set up.

I have this neighbor. He’s a Snap On salesman. He literally has a big truck full of tools. I try not to ask his help too much, but this time I was desperate.

I described the issue and my neighbor disappeared into his van. From the depths of the van I heard, “What size is the bolt?”

“Twenty-two millimeter.”

He emerged with a ray gun. It was large. It was heavy. And it was red. It had a 22mm socket on the end of it and the word DEMO engraved on the side.

“Here. This will take it off.”

He literally lives across the street from me. So, I took this ray gun and walked back to my garage. After the disappointments with my own impact driver, I didn’t have high hopes. And my neighbors DEMO tool was battery driven, not pneumatic.

So, I was surprised shocked even, when not only did the bright red ray gun take my bolt off, it did it as if it wasn’t even hard.

Tools make the difference. Good tools make a good difference.

I walked back across the street where my neighbor was still packing up his trailer for a summer vacation.

Thanks for letting me use this.

How did it go?

Amazing. Came right off. How much is this, by the way?

You don’t want to know.

No, really.

About a thousand dollars. $936 to be exact.

I’m glad I have neighbors who will lend me a $1000 tool for ten minutes.

Stay safe

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

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(c) 2020 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

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