Tech Tips by the Dozen V

Now is the perfect time to get your ride ready for the open road. To help it, John Gunnell offers another set of 12 for your garaging pleasure.

  • Missing a chisel and hitting your hand with a hammer hurts. Use a chisel and punch-holding tool instead. A screwdriver-like handle threads into a metal loop that the chisel or punch fits in. Tighten against the square corner of loop and the chisel is held with no hands in the way.
  • Department stores are happy to give out plastic hangers with clips on both ends. These clips can cut off or sawed off and used in your home restoration shop to hold parts together before assembly or to clip soft trim parts in position before stapling.
  • When disassembling a car, keep food bags on hand. Put parts and related fasteners in one bag, write reassembly notes on an index card, number the card, put it in the bag and seal. When reassembling, reverse number order of bags and follow re-assembly notes.
  • If your open-end wrench slips on a nut because the corners have been rounded, you may be able to still take it off by wedging the tip of a screwdriver between the flat on the nut and the jaw of the wrench. This will take up the slack and allow normal removal.
  • To test whether your paint-spraying gun is working properly, get an old piece of glass and spray some test patterns on it. When the paint is dry, hold the glass up to the light. You’ll be able to look through the test spray and see paint patterns and thicknesses.
  • If you’re interested in keeping your shop as clean as possible, plan to put tools, equipment, workbenches, cars and other restoration aids on dollies or casters so they can easily be moved for cleaning. This also avoids items “piling up” in corners.
  • To check for a clogged PCV valve, locate the valve and the rubber hose running to the valve cover or crankcase that attaches to it. Pinch the hose with needle-nose pliers. The engine idle should drop 60-100 rpm. If there’s no drop, the PCV valve is probably bad.
  • 1950s and earlier cars require maintenance steps that many modern lube shops miss today. The generator probably has oil cups on each end. The carburetor may have oiling provisions. When greasing and oiling, be sure to follow the shop manual instructions.
  • To replace a full-circle lip seal in the timing cover, around the front of the crankshaft, grease the seal. Then find a pipe, tube or large wrench socket with an outside diameter slightly smaller than the seal. Use this to drive the seal in place. Be careful not to cock it.
  • Use an anti-seize compound on the treads of your car’s brake bleeder screws, as they have a high potential of rusting due to exposure to road salt and grime. Also, a light coat of grease on rubber brake hoses will keep them from drying out and cracking.
  • Check swap meets and old garage sales for beam-type torque wrenches that may be out of calibration and cheap. They still make a fine tool for removing bolts that are over-tight or stuck. (Never use a good torque wrench for this purpose, as it will ruin the calibration).
  • Check the latest Sears Craftsman tool catalog for neat ideas. For example, sockets with a solid hex back that fit into a ratching wrench, which then turns into a low-profile socket wrench. Also, visit to join their tool club offering member discounts on their tools.

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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