Tech Tips by the Dozen XI

  • When hoisting an engine, a leveling device (like the Eastwood model pictured here) eases the job. Use a socket wrench to adjust the lifting point so the engine lifts out at different angles for better clearance. Don’t scrimp; cheap levelers tend to bend under weight. 
  • Ever wonder if there’s a use for the gray lids on black plastic film canisters? If you’re painting an engine and want to leave the freeze plugs unpainted (for clear-coating later), the lids can be trimmed and snapped in over the freeze plugs to keep off paint.
  • Use a plastic electrical tie to hold a bolt-on part removed from your car during restoration. After disassembly, place the bolt back in the hole on removed part and fasten a short electrical tie tightly around the shank of the bolt on other side of the hole. That way nothing gets lost.
    If you need a five-inch electrical tie and only have two three-inch ones, put the end of one three-inch into the “buckle” of the other one and pull it tight. Now you have a six-inch tie that will fit nicely around your five-inch diameter part.
  • When taking parts off a car, place in boxes grouped by system (engine, brakes, wipers) and label boxes. Then enter part name on a list on your computer (or a notepad). You can then find which box a needed part is in by doing a computer “search” for the part by name. Or by looking at your notes if you don’t have a computer.
  • If your roadster has side curtains, clean with soap and water or a soft cloth only – no brushes! Side curtains should be thoroughly dried before being put away or mold will start forming on them. Treat them as you do your top.
  • Have you checked the condition of your fan belt lately? We just had one lose a couple chunks of rubber during a 140-mile trip. Replace the fan belt if it’s worn or frayed. Always carry a spare or an adjustable “temporary” fan belt in the car.
  • When checking the thickness of bonded brake linings on your collector car, make sure you have a Mastercard and Visa card along, but not for payment. Bonded linings should be no thinner than 1/16-inch, the thickness of two credit cards stacked on one another.
  • A new tool for removing damaged nuts is a wrench with the features of both an adjustable crescent wrench and Vise-Grip pliers. Use the thumbscrew to tighten the wrench on the nut; then use Vise-Grip type ever to make the wrench jaws even tighter.
  • To remove a worn, loose or damaged rocker arm stud, place a thin wall socket and a flat washer over the stud. Then turn the stud nut against the washer until the stud pulls free of the cylinder head. Unless the stud was loose, use a standard replacement stud.
  • If a rocker arm stud is loose in the head, use a reamer and oversize stud as a fix. While cleaning/reconditioning the hole, chill the new stud in you fridge. Warm the engine to running temperature, and then lightly tap the chilled stud into the hot hole.
  • When shopping for car hose clamps in a discount department store, always check plumbing supplies. We bought nice stainless steel plumbing clamps on sale for 50 cents less than the price of lower-quality mild steel clamps in the auto parts aisle.
  • Ever drop small parts in your engine bay? Buy a tin cake pan to hold the parts. Drill a hole in the center. Remove the wing nut on your air cleaner. Run the air cleaner bolt through the hole in the cake pan and reinstall the wing nut to clamp the pan tight.

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.


  • 1
  • /
  • 3


Share Leave comment
Read next Up next: Keep It Covered