FOR THE AMATEUR The Owner’s Worksho
THE owner of a sports car is, in the matter of repairs and upkeep, somewhat of a ” special case.” Unlike the ordinary private owner, whose tuning consists chiefly of an occasional and usually belated attack with a grease gun on the noisiest parts of his chassis, he wishes to tackle every repair himself, that is within his capabilities. Having given the working of a motorcar’s internals some considerable attention, he is apt to consider that there is nothing he cannot personally carry out in the way of overhauls. Naturally, owners vary so much in their mechanical skill, that it is impossible to lay down any rules as to what an amateur should, or should not, attempt.
One man may exceed in skill many professional mechanics, whereas another, equally enthusiastic, may be incapable of making a satisfactory job of the simplest adjustment. There is, however, one thing which causes many owners to fail over a job unnecessarily, and that is through attempting it without proper equipment.
Many readers will at once conjure up visions of being recommended to buy costly equipment of all sorts to do simple jobs, but I may as well say at once that this is not necessary.
The large garage which does extensive repair work has to be prepared for every emergency, and for work on every size of vehicle. The private owner has probably but one motor, and though he may not always intend keeping to it, it is very likely that his next model will be, if not the same make, at least of similar size. Therefore such weapons as he may instal to cope with it, need not be elaborately devised, and can in many cases be homemade.
I am assuming for a start that the owner has something of his own that may, without too much exaggeration, be called a garage, in which there is room to work on a car in reasonable comfort. Without this, naturally, anything in the way of workshop equipment becomes out of the question. The first point to be attended to, before any movable equipment, such as engine-stands or similar gadgets are obtained, is the equipment of the building itself. Firstly it must be decently lighted, both by day and night, especially the latter, as many owners can only work in the evenings. Given electric light the matter becomes fairly simple, and most people will be able to add points for themselves where required, and, if not, the cost of getting this done is not great. A light directly over the bench, or where it is to be fitted, is essential. The main light in the centre of the average work shop is only useful for general illumination, and useless for work at the bench. An inspection lamp, with enough flex to enable it to be used in any corner of the
The First Article of a Series Dealing with Equipnzent and Methods for Home Tuning and Repairs
garage, and occasionally outside, will be more used than practically any other piece of equipment, and the type that incorporates a spring clip for fixing it to odd parts of the chassis is the best. The inspection lamp should be led from its own plug or adapter, and not as is sometimes done, from one of the holders already in use. The removal of the bulb to fit the
hammering, and also the strains due to the use of the vice. These are probably the greatest, as the most popular method of bending anything, whether some portion of the vehicle, or some metal being used in making one of the various fittings so often required, is to put it in the vice and heave on the end. If this does not do it some gas pipe or a 31t. Stinson is usually added to the end to attain the desired leverage ! Correctly brought up readers may say that this sort of thing is neither fair nor good mechanics. The answer is that if any device can be made to do a job, whether it should or not, it will sooner or later be used for that purpose. Also when making some new exhaust pipe clips,
adapter from the lamp, will soon cost far more in inconvenience and broken bulbs, than the provision of an additional lighting point.
If it can possibly be managed, a power plug should be installed, as there are so many things for which it can be used that the saving in cost of current is well worth the fitting of an additional meter if necessary. The actual purposes for which it can be used will be dealt with later. Having arranged for illumination at all hours, the next thing is to prepare for work, and the first and most obvious requirement, is a good work bench and vice. The great thing about the bench is to have it as solid and heavily built as possible, so that it will stand any strain to which it will be subjected. It need not be large, in fact in many cases there will only be room for a small one, but this does not mean that the work required of it will be any less. The top of the bench should be of planks at least 21n. thick, as this gives adequate support for a vice, without which little work can be done. Apart from the heavy objects, such as cylinder blocks, which will be dumped on the bench, it must be rigid enough to stand
in a great hurry, drastic methods are frequently employed by a blasphemous and perspiring owner, with more regard to its convenience than to its correctness ! For these reasons have the bench strong, and fasten it to the wall.
A satisfactory bench is so easily made, that it is not worth buying, in fact, I doubt if the sort of thing I would like can be bought ! Those who are born carpenters will of course, make a nice job with all joints mortised, etc., but those who are better with metal than wood will find that quite a crude type of joint for the frames will be, if anything, better. The ordinary overlapping joint is excellent, and ordinary iron coach bolts make a very strong job of it. The actual dimensions of the bench depend entirely on the space available, and the best thing is to make it as large as space allows. There is no such thing as too large a bench when a whole motor car is in pieces. The only dimension remaining standard is the height, and this should be lured so that when. the vice is bolted down the top of it is the same height from the ground as the worker’s elbow. This will mean that objects being filed will be in the correcc.
position, and will therefore stand some small chance of being filed flat, a feat which few amateurs ever attempt, and incidentally, fewer still do properly.
With regard to the vice, similar advice applies. It must be large and a good one. Naturally the price is affected by the size, but anything with smaller than 4in.
jaws is a false economy, while the occasions on which a 6th.. vice will save time and make a job easier are legion. Again, a vice will not, in average hands be kept for the strictly normal purposes for which it was designed, and unless it is well up to its work the screw may easily be strained, with consequent stiffness of working. Vices of the quick release variety certainly save a certain amount of time, but they are not, in general, so robust as the normal variety, and if only one is being installed, let it be without gadgets. Make up a set of copper and a set of lead, jaws for the vice for gripping objects of varying hardness and which will be liable to damage. Another substance which makes remarkably useful vice jaws is Perodo brake lining. It is extremely
tough, and will enable the vice to grip glass hard objects; such as gudgeon pins or hard shafts, without damage, and often more effectively than lead. The bench should be fitted with a shelf at about half its own height, which is useful for heavy objects not requiring immediate attention, as this economises
floor space, and saves many hard words and damaged shins, ever present if large components are left about the floor of a small workshop.
Having borrowed, made, or otherwise acquired a sound bench, the great thing to do is to keep it absolutely clear of tools and bits, other than those actually being used on the job. The only way to do this is to have shelves and more shelves. You cannot have too many shelves in a workshop, and rarely can you fit in enough. The only hope of being able quickly to find various components, tools, bolts, etc., is to have them arrayed on shelves. They are easily fixed, and if one is too lazy to make wooden brackets for them, the black enamelled brackets dispensed in various sizes by the house of Woolworth at an average cost of about twopence, make admirable substitutes. A further advantage of these is that by using them fairly close together much lighter planks
can be used for the shelves. Personally I never now put up a shelf by any other method.
The toolkit supplied with a car is sometimes adequate but usually only just, as the Scotchnum said as he counted his change. and to work on a car in comfort a supplementary set of spanners is essential. Another point is, that if the car’s own tool kit is always in use in the garage, sooner or later most of it will remain there, usually at a time when it is vitally needed on the road. It is therefore advisable to keep the car’s own tool kit on the same, and. get a good set of spanners for workshop use. Adjustable spanners are things whose use is studiously avoided by a decent mechanic except in the rare cases when they are really necessary. The price of a
good adjustable spanner will obtain quite a complete set of good set spanners, which are far better and quicker to work with, and leave the nuts their original shape instead of almost circular. In all sizes up to inch, it is as well to have two spanners of each size, as it will often be necessary to hold a nut and bolt simultaneously, especially on chassis parts which are liable to rust. Box spanners are often invaluable and there are some very good makes of these cut from the solid which will last for ever and whose only disadvantage is the comparatively high first cost. The ordinary pressed tubular box spanners are good enough for ugh. work, but are liable to spread if used hardt Nor are they usually fitted with heavy enough tommy bars. The strength of spanners is very important, as if a car is to be fastened together in such a manner that nothing will come loose under hardest driving conditions, nuts will have to be locked tight, and in consequence may give trouble in undoing unless the right tools are available.
It is quite often that one finds an owner with some quite expensive and elaborate tools and equipment, and yet to be hopelessly lacking in the simpler items such as hammers and screwdrivers. Hammers are cheap enough, and it is worth having a selection of, say four sizes from a light rivetting hammer for brake lining rivets, to one about 4 lbs.
A bench drill will save much valuable time, and the hand operated variety, with an automatic feed, only costs a pound or so, and is capable of tackling any work which the ordinary owner is likely to require in the making of clips and other fittings.
When the nucleus of a workshop has been put up, all the ordinary routine adjustments and incidental repairs which before had to be done elsewhere, can now be easily tackled by the owner, and the small cost of the above mentioned tools and fittings will very soon be saved.
Once the habit of carrying out repairs has been acquired, the desire to start on the more ambitious sides of tuning will follow, and in subsequent articles the installation and use of electrical and other special tools suitable for the small workshop will be dealt with.—B.
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