This month I have mostly been using

Been Using Issue 25

Been Using Issue 25
Summer is here! You can tell this because it’s belting with rain. It seemed like a good opportunity to test out a new product I’ve been sitting on for some time – Chipex Aquaphobic Rain-Repelling Screen Wash. These water-repellents have been around for a while, and the best known – which many people swear by – is Rain-X. This is the same sort of stuff, but it’s a concentrate that you just add to your screenwash. Every time you squirt your screen, it gives your glass another dose. And it works! I tried it just before driving up to the rain-washed Hot Rods & Hills event, and it really helped to clear the screen of even the most Cumbrian drenching. It’d be a bonus for any street machine with a chopped screen or, heaven forbid, vacuum wipers. A one-litre ...

Been Using Issue 23

Been Using Issue 23
If you’ve been following the on-going epic saga of Project Blue Meanie’s fuel system, you’ll know that it’s been giving me some headaches. Fortunately, this is one item that was smooth, pleasant sailing from the outset. I switched from braided rubber hose to three-eighth-inch ‘kunifer’ pipe for much of the length of the car between tank and bulkhead. This can be married up to the existing -AN fittings with the right unions and a decent flaring tool. If you’ve ever used one of those awful cheap flaring tools with a ‘stocks’ type clamp and a horseshoe-shaped flaring punch, you’ll know that you’ll get a really good flare about once every 20 tries… and that’ll be the one where you forgot to put the union nut on first. They’re dreadful. This, however, is Sealey’s PFT/02v3, and it’s a revelation. Put the pipe in the die clamp, ...

Been Using Issue 22

Been Using Issue 22
Last month, during the Blue Meanie’s alternator conversion job (or, as it turned out, half a job), I had to attach a circuit breaker to the inner wing. This normally means a nice, easy nut’n’bolt, but that means that, should I ever have cause to unfasten it, I have to remove the plastic arch liner to get to the nut. That arch liner is a real patience-tester; wouldn’t it be easier to have some sort of captive nut instead? Ta-dah! Enter Sealey’s AK3986 Threaded Nut Riveter, better known as a riv-nut gun. It’s simple enough to use – if you can use a pop-riveter, you can use this, and the principle’s the same, but instead of pulling the stalk through the rivet to compress it, you actually thread the riv-nut onto ...

Been Using Issue 21

Been Using Issue 21
Latex garage gloves are a great idea; at least they are for those of us who don’t wear our greasy fingernails, skinned knuckles and overspray-flecked hands as some sort of badge of honour. The only problem is that they’re not exactly the hardiest creatures – put a good twist on a screwdriver, or find the sharp tag-end of a Jubilee clip or cable tie, and you’re left wearing some rather comical limp rags. Don’t chuff about – get some of these Tiger Grip gloves. They offer the same level of ‘feel’ as a standard latex glove while offering much better grip, but they’re as tough as Marigolds, so one pair could last you all day. They’re not powdered, so they don’t dry your skin out, and they’re high-vis orange, so everyone can see what your hands are doing … which may or may ...

Been Using Issue 20

Been Using Issue 20
While I was changing the intake on the Blue Meanie, I found that the intake gaskets, despite having only been on the car for a couple of weeks and barely 20 minutes of running, were welded solid to the heads at the coolant passages. Gosh darn it, I said, or words to that effect, but at least it gave me chance to use this stuff. It’s called Get Yer Gas Kit Off, just one of a line of comedy-named workshop products from the Carry On CarPlan range. It’s simple, just spray it onto the gasket or gasket residue, leave it for “a short time” (I love precise instructions) until you spot the gasket beginning to bubble, then scrape it off. I tried it, and the gasket scraps that previously wouldn’t have yielded to a hammer and chisel now complied quite ...

Been Using Issue 19

Been Using Issue 19
Once the Blue Meanie’s engine was installed and finally ready to fire, job one is ignition timing, and for that you’ll need a decent quality strobe light. This Sealey TL85 fits the bill. It has an inductive pick-up that clips over the #1 spark plug lead, and decent crocodile clips that clip to the battery. This is where I immediately fell down – the battery is in the back of the passenger compartment – so I had to bodge a positive connection into one of the terminals on the alternator. There’s a handy rotary advance dial on the back for engines that only have a TDC mark on the crank pulley; if you want 20° of advance, set the dial to 20° and it’ll flash on the TDC mark. The only ...

Been Using Issue 18

Been Using Issue 18
It’s finally time to load the rebuilt engine and ‘box into the Blue Meanie! And one tool that makes the job a whole lot easier is a good load leveller, such as this Sealey LS501. It hooks onto your engine crane and uses either chains with bolt-able brackets to attach it your engine, or just straps slung through the D-hooks, as seen here. It’s a simple but brilliant concept; by adjusting the location of the main hook in a fore-and-aft plane, you can adjust whether the engine is tail-end-up or down. This means you can crane your engine and ‘box in as a unit without battering your bulkhead or having your ‘box tailshaft digging into the ground. The one problem I came across was that the adjusting handle fouled on the jib ...

Been Using Issue 17

Been Using Issue 17
As I said last month, I’m not exactly the most diligent when it comes to car care, but recently I found myself with a few minutes to kill, so I thought I’d try this new plastics cleaner. It’s called Dirtex Factory Finish Interior and Dashboard Cleaner, and supposedly works on all vinyl and hard plastic. I hoped it was gentle, because my dash hasn’t been cleaned in so long that I was worried it may go into shock. It says it’s a spray-on-wipe-off formula, so I grabbed a rag from the rag-bag (which turned out to be an old sock), sprayed and wiped. First impressions were that it wasn’t so much spray-on-wipe-off as spray-on-smear-around. Second impressions were that I could have achieved a similar result with another commonly available non-proprietary ...

Been Using Issue 16

Been Using Issue 16
I know many of you will have a car care, cleaning and detailing regime that involves an arsenal of cleaning products and a strictly timetabled process. I don’t; my cars are lucky if I bung a sponge at them twice a year. So, when this stuff crossed my desk it sounded like just the ticket – a way for the bone-idle detailer to achieve a day’s-worth of cleaning in 20 minutes. It’s called Chipex Factory Finish Uber Super Concentrate Shampoo. That’s a hell of a name to live up to; I mean, what sort of high-tech jungle juice must this be to deserve all those superlatives? Well, I rinsed the car off, chucked some of this in a bucket, and gave the old Lexus a good scrubbing. The results? Well, it was ...

Been Using Issue 15

Been Using Issue 15
This Month I Have Mostly Been Using… Elsewhere in this issue, you’ll read about my trip to France. Now, I truly hate what my mate James describes as “sat-nav zombies” – the sort of people who need a sat-nav to get from their bedroom to the bathroom, and place the sat-nav in the centre of the screen because they rely on what it says more than what they can see. The sort of people who, when you ask, “So which route did you take to get there?” reply, “Dunno…” However, travelling abroad, I got this Garmin Drive-Assist 51LMT-S and, frankly, I would have been knackered without it. We’d probably still be blundering around some back roads now. It’s a mightily clever little device, with a clear five-inch touch-screen, a strong suction-cup to ...

Been Using Issue 14

Been Using Issue 14
This Month I Have Mostly Been Using… Recently, I had to fit a new outer door handle to the old van’s passenger-side door. It’s only plastic, but has to operate a really complex series of levers, pivots and rods to actuate the door lock, so when I put the new (second-hand) handle on, I thought I’d dose everything with grease. PowerMaxed Copper Grease is copper grease in an aerosol, with added graphite, so it seemed like it should be just the job. It was – it flows really well, so it gets into all the joints and corners, but that also means it gets everywhere else as well. It’s quite liquid, but once it’s had a chance to set a bit, it looks like it’d stay put for a while. It would benefit ...

Been Using Issue 13

Been Using Issue 13
This Month I Have Mostly Been Using… Having finally reached the stage of assembling the stroker motor for the Blue Meanie, I needed something to pre-lube the friction surfaces that wouldn’t run or dry out during the extended period of engine building. So, I reached for the Lucas Oils High Performance Semi-Synthetic Assembly Lube. This stuff comes in a nice, handy dispensing bottle, and the contents are bright green so it’s easy to see whether you’ve got coverage. The lube itself is as thick and viscous as honey, so it stays where you put it, and – an odd but pleasant surprise – it smells minty, like toothpaste! The bottle says it contains everything you need in an assembly lube, such as zinc and molybdenum, and I’ll take their word for it. The ...

Been Using Issue 12

Been Using Issue  12
This Month I Have Mostly Been Using… Remember the Holey Toledo project? It’s dropped off the radar a bit over the past few months, but don’t worry, it’s still here and still occasionally gets worked on! Most recently, we were trying to get the bootlid finished – we welded a new corner piece to it, and while stripping the old paint off, we found a big clod of filler in the lower edge. Fortunately, this was covering a dent, not rust, but when you hit an old patch of filler with a wire brush at 3,000rpm, you’re apt to mar the finish a little… So, out came the new filler, in this case some Tetrosyl Fast 20. They describe it as an ‘ultra lightweight body filler’, and it is light, easy to ...

Been Using Issue 10

Been Using Issue  10
This Month I Have Mostly Been Using… “Here, test this.” “What is it?” “It’s a sheet of bendy, rubbery stuff.” “Oh, gee, thanks, triffic.” Ah, little did I know. What I’d just been handed was a Form-A-Funnel and, yes, it’s a sheet of bendy, rubbery stuff in an odd shape, a foot or so long and six inches or so across. But, when you bend it, it stays in the shape you bend it to – you literally form your own funnel. You know when you’re topping your oil up, and you tip the oil bottle until the oil starts flowing, then it goes ‘bloop’ and overshoots the filler cap? No problem. Or when you’re trying to top off your screenwash through the inch-diameter hole in the top of the tank, or, better still, the auto ...

Been Using Issue 9

Been Using Issue  9
This Month I Have Mostly Been Using… Well, strictly speaking, I haven’t used it. Lucas Oils gave me a can of their latest super-spray – Diesel EGR & Turbo Cleaner – to test, but I don’t have a turbo car, and the only diesel in the household is an old Transit Banana motor in an ageing LDV van. Those Bananas aren’t exactly prone to EGR issues the way today’s extra-sensitive turbo-diesels are, so I handed the can to Ben across the way, a mechanic who regularly deals with rough-running diesels with those charmingly blinky ‘check engine’ lights. Ben used it on a couple of jobs, and his verdict was that “it’s actually pretty good, and dissolves the crap very well. The pressure in the can is strong, too, which is useful. It ...

Been Using Issue 8

This Month I Have Mostly Been Using… Last Autumn, my old torque wrench finally gave up the ghost, when the bit that actually sets the torque came unscrewed and various bits and widgets pinged across the workshop, never to be seen again. The remainder of the wrench was destined for a future as a breaker bar, and I got a new Stag Tools wrench. Stag Tools are a budget range under the huge Tetrosyl banner, and are pretty widely available. This half-inch drive unit has some heft to it, and while I’m not expecting laboratory-standard precision from a budget torque wrench, the ratcheting mechanism was solid and it gave a sound clunk-click when it reached the pre-set torque. But this isn’t so much a product review as a general rant, and it’s not ...

Been Using Issue 7

Sealey Cleaning & Decarbonising Brush Set Recently, I finally stripped my 302 block down to its bare bones. I was planning on having it hot-tanked anyway, but though that I might be as well to run a brush through some of the oil passages beforehand. For that, I got this handy Sealey pack of brushes, that come in an equally handy folding wallet. There’s a selection of brushes of various sizes, in steel wire, brass wire and nylon bristle, all of which clip into a screwdriver-type handle. This doesn’t give you a great reach, but there is an extension piece that goes with it, and that helps, assuming that what you need to clean is in a straight line. I was using the stiff nylon brushes, and they really did attack the burnt-on ...

Been Using Issue 4

Been Using Issue  4
This Month I Have Mostly Been Using… … Sealey’s AK7112 Disc Brake Pad Spreader Tool. Recently I had to do the rear pads on the U1K Lexus. I removed the calliper, praying that it wasn’t going to be one of those daft wind-back pistons, and thankfully it wasn’t, but that still left me wondering how to push the piston back into the calliper. Previously I’ve used everything from G-clamps to Stillsons to crowbars to try to shift sticky brake pistons, always wondering how much damage I’m doing and whether or not I’m overstretching the brake flexi-pipe in the process. Then I got this simple, scissor-action tool from Sealey. Leaving the old pads in the calliper for the tool to work against, I slipped the tongs in, twisted the thumbscrew, and watched the ...

Been Using Issue 2

Been Using Issue  2
This Month, I have mostly been using… Carlube Absorbent Granules I’ve used sand or sawdust for such spillages. Sand really doesn’t soak up oil, and all that happens is that you end up trying to sweep up oily sand. Naturally, you’ll get some on your boots and the only thing that’ll remove it effectively is a nice, clean carpet… Sawdust is slightly better, but still crap. These granules are a vast improvement. They do actually wick up the oily guff from cracks and crevices in the floor and even out of porous concrete itself. Then, when it’s done its job, you can actually sweep it up and chuck it. As I said at the beginning, it’s a pain in the nipsy to have around, but worth every penny when you’re not leaving oily boot-prints ...

Been Using Issue 1

Been Using Issue  1
This month I have mostly been using… A rather beautiful 3M pot-gun paint system. This glorious professional gravity-fed gun uses an ingenious system of interchangeable pots so you can switch between paints or colours with the minimum of bus and fother. Mix the paint you need in one of the disposable plastic cups, drop it into the clear plastic pot, seal it together, then clip it to the top of the gun. Clip one of the clipon-clip-off nozzles on and you’re ready to spray. Or you would be, if you’re properly set up for the job. This gun uses a tiny pressure – around 20psi – but a massive volume of air. My little 50-litre compressor was running at full chat and the best I got was a few half-hearted splats out ...

Been Using Issue 6

Been Using Issue  6
This month, I have mostly been using… BSealey Spark Plug Installation/Removal Tool VS1591 As I mentioned last issue, I recently changed the spark plugs on the U1K Lexus, and, on the 1UZ-FE V8, the spark plugs live down long tubes in the heads. That’s where a simple tool like this comes in handy. It’s just a rubber tube with a bulb on one end, with the other end shaped to grip a spark plug just tight enough that you can fiddle it into place and thread it in the first few turns without the risk of cross-threading it. One of the chaps in the neighbouring units suggested that it looks like something you might get buggered with (which, I think, says far more about him than about the tool in question), ...

Been Using Issue 5

Been Using Issue  5
This month, I have mostly been using…   CarPlan Bright Spark Last month, I mentioned that I’d changed the rotor arms in the U1K Lexus’s dual distributors, and that the engine appears to have been built to discourage such actions… Anyway, with the dizzy caps off I thought I’d better give them a quick spit’n’polish. Bright Spark is one of CarPlan’s range of garage aerosols with comedy names, this one being one of the less Carry On names. It’s a simple electrical contact cleaner, a spray-on solvent that cleans dirty and burnt contacts, then evaporates. The aerosol can chucks it out at a fair old pressure and in considerable volume; great if you’re cleaning a dizzy cap, probably not so great if you’re doing something requiring delicacy or precision. It floated the majority of ...