Sounds like the Ford dealership jerk who replaced the starter on the 69
LTD. One loose bolt, one dropped on top of the starter and one
completely missing. He was partially right, it ran for a couple of
I'd rather trust the guys in the lab coats who aren't demanding
I can't count the number of times I've seen someone use a screwdriver as a
prybar on, say, plastic twist-off hubcaps, or who used a pair of pliers
instead of a socket, or who used an adjustable wrench instead of a socket.
The only time I use a screwdriver, is as a screwdriver.
The only time I use pliers on hex nuts is when simply holding down one end.
The only time I use an adjustable wrench is ... well ... almost never.
(I can't imagine what an adjustable wrench does that the properly sized
wrench doesn't do, unless you're climbing a lighthouse tower or something
where you just can't come down to get the right tool for the bolt.)
Now vise grips. They're useful. But for different reasons.
But the point is that many mechanics use the fastest method.
Not the right method.
Hence, that's why I think we always do a better job at home.
Up to a point, I agree with you. Where I disagree is that most people
use them incorrectly (backwards) or size them inappropriately. They are
no different to an open end spanner when used correctly and, need it be
said, they are of a decent quality. When working on earthmoving
equipment, the most common adjustables I used were 15". 18" and 24". You
have no idea how many different spanners those three adjustables
replaced. In field work you need to cart *all your tools* with you. You
always look to minimise that load.
I should have made it clear that I was just kidding about making them
I fully understand the *need* for the adustable wrenches, and I have a
Craftsman 3-piece set myself, which I almost never use.
I've probably used one about twenty times in forty years.
My beef is when people use them on "my stuff" when they have a perfectly
good socket wrench in the truck just 100 feet away.
I don't have any crescent wrenches, and would never buy one.
I used them as kid on my bicycles.
The last time I used one was when I was working for a plumber 35 years ago, and that's what
he used for valve compression fittings. I couldn't fault him for that, but if I carried my
own tools on that job I would have brought some open end wrenches with me.
Yup. The ones I see using them are the fix-it guys that come to the house,
less and less lately, as I do more and more since I have all the time in
the world now.
I taught my kids and grandkids to use the right tool for the right job.
For example, a screwdriver is for screws. Nothing else.
A pair of pliers is for things that you don't have wrenches for.
And I can't think of any good reason most of the time for an adjustable
wrench, although it's valid if you're hanging upside down out of a hotair
balloon where the correct socket or open-end or box wrench is down on the
ground next to the parts truck.
The only one I haven't done is tires just because I do not have the
machine. It is too easy to just pay the guy for the few times you need
it done. Usually tires are mounted when you buy them anyway.
Alignment can be done "old school" but again, it is easier to pay the
guy if you are at the tire store. I did do it once after replacing
idler arms and ball joints using the stick method. I ended up
replacing the tires and getting a professional alignment after I was
sure my ball joint job was OK but the guy said I had it pretty close.
I did a pretty good job painting the roof of a van with rattle cans
and I painted my boat with a gun.
I don't know anyone who does their own tires but when I watch the guys, I
wish I had that equipment, especially the air equipment, to just remove it
and put it back and spin it in between.
They look pretty bored when they do it, so I think it can't be all that
hard to do if I had that power equipment to do it.
When I replaced the pitman arm and idler arm and tie rod ends and ball
joints, I remember purchasing a set of pickle forks which I still have.
Maybe I can use them for BBQ?
I also bought a grease gun at the time, which came in handy over the years,
but I haven't seen a zerk fitting in decades. Have you?
I aligned the toe by turning the tierod ends, measuring with a stick with
two sticks sticking up and with nails lined up on a tire centerline chalk,
so I too "got close".
I took it in for alignment and they said the toe was spot on but changed as
they messed with the other things that I couldn't do at home.
I think with digital tools in the shop, alignment MEASURING should be a
piece of cake. I think the problem is supporting the vehicle on its weight
so that you can change things without having to drive the vehicle.
Also, I think the biggest problem with alignment (as opposed to those other
jobs) is MENTAL. You have to translate inches to degrees and vice versa and
you have to find the centerline and you have to THINK more for alignment
than for any of the other jobs.
Spray cans for a roof? Interesting. If it works, it works! (that's my motto
when my wife asks me "Is that the way it's _supposed_ to be done?".
I just realized that this sentence above that MEASURING alignment should be
easier now than ever before might be misconstrued.
Everyone thinks you need a nuclear bomb to do alignment, but sometimes a
single grenade is good enough for two guys in a foxhole.
What I would do, were I ever to tackle alignment, would be to buy the
digital measuring tools for camber and caster, and I would get the toe
plates so the wheels could still turn on the vehicle's weight.
That way I could measure caster, camber, and toe.
I do realize there are many more items to measure, such as kingpin angle
and steering axis inclination and front-to-rear alignment and the
straightness of the tracking and more than I can remember from my 1960's
high school auto mechanic shop elective.
But if you own the car, you already know all those things are ok if you
haven't had a major accident and even if you didn't know it, you can do one
alignment at the shop which will prove it.
The good thing about alignment is that digital measuring tools are cheap
nowadays (a couple hundred bucks) and accurate enough for the tolerances
specified by the manufacturer. Another good thing about alignment nowadays
is that most cars only allow a small subset to be changed without bolting
in camber plates and other widgets.
So it's pretty much not even caster, camber, and toe nowadays for most
cars, although you still need to measure all three (or maybe two, and
calculate the third).
I think the biggest problem with alignment isn't that you need a couple
hundred dollars of tools (realizing that a shop's TV-camera alignment tool
and toe-plates is nuclear overkill for what we need at home).
I am pretty sure my biggest hurdle is that alignment takes KNOWLEDGE where
you have to convert degrees and inches using trig and measure a lot of
things to an imaginary centerpoint and to each other.
A couple sheets of tin with grease between works in a pinch for slip
plates - and for camber a simple square and calculator works just
fine. Toe in with a few sticks and a tape measure - or a simple laser
level (bubble level with a laser built into the one end - used to
"extend" the wheel angle instead of using sticks) works pretty good.
Calculating caster is a bit more difficult without the proper tools,
but a mathematical genius (that's not me) could figure it out with the
same square, ruler, and calculator.
The laser level will do the tracking just fine, and a digital
protactor or electronic level would make things easier.
The most important thing - from having done alignments
professionally, using sophisticated equipment, is MNOWING what the
effects of different adjustments are - just because a car is "within
spec" doesn't mean it will go straight down the road and won't wear
tires. Tayloring the caster and camber leads is part science, and
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