24 August 2006

Tech Tips by the Dozen X

Here’s an update to a previous tip on using inexpensive cupcake tins to store/organize small parts during disassembly: Line the cupcake tin with paper baking cups. Write parts descriptions on the liners. When finished, toss out liners and the tin is clean.

 Ever need a longer plastic electrical tie to go around a large-diameter heating duct? Use two electrical ties. Pass pointed end of second one through “buckle” on first one and run it up to end. Then use the two ties as if they’re one tie that’s twice as long.

 A tool (about $30) to extract rounded-head bolts is called a stud puller. It’s round with a wheel inside an offset hole and a socket. Cut off rounded bolt head. Put shank of bolt through hole in tool. Ribbed edge of wheel grabs bolt, and then loosen bolt with socket wrench.

Small plastic clip-type hangers used to display clothing at department stores can usually be had for the asking. You can usually cut off just the clips and use them around your shop. Use a bolt cutter to snip off the clips or cut them off with a Dremel tool.

If the ammeter in your early-’50s British car discharges all the time but the battery stays up, try reversing the connections. These positive-ground cars operate fine with negative-ground but the amps read backwards. Years ago, many were switched to negative ground for radio installation.

Be careful if your car has a long, narrow Group 2E six-volt battery and a metal battery cover. Modern 2E batteries have the posts located further outward than the originals. Sometimes the repositioned post hits the metal covers, causing a short and even fire.

Use shaving cream to find vacuum leaks in lines and around the bases of carburetors. Spray a line of shaving cream around the mating surface. Any leaks present will suck in the foam and reveal their location.

To form a repair panel with a curved or rounded edge, just clamp a pipe of the correct radius to the edge of your work bench. Then you can form the curve you need in the panel around the pipe.

You can use oven cleaner to get baked-on oil off an old engine. Spray it on and let it set for a few hours. You should see good results. But keep oven cleaner off aluminum or soft metal parts. Remember to use rubber gloves and goggles.

Use Scotch-Brite cleaning pads to clean pistons. The soft abrasive cleans effectively without the need for a lot of pressure. These pads are also good for use on cleaned metal parts that have developed light surface rust after being stripped or sanded.

If you need to install piston pins and don’t have a press, try this: Warm the small end of the connecting rod with gentle heat. Then chill the “wrist” pins in your refrigerator. They should just slip in. Mark the spot where you want the rod to seize into the pin with a felt pen.

When temporarily test-fitting an intake manifold to match up the ports, don’t let the gasket stick to the manifold and get ruined. To avoid this, dust the gasket with baby powder. This will keep it from sticking to the manifold.

John “Gunner” Gunnell is the automotive books editor at Krause Publications in Iola, Wis., and former editor of Old Cars Weekly and Old Cars Price Guide.

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