The Garage Journal Just another WordPress weblog Fri, 05 Feb 2016 15:53:45 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Spotless Rinse… That actually works… Fri, 05 Feb 2016 15:53:23 +0000

I’ve always been enamored by the “spot free rinse” offered at my local DIY car wash places. It’s something I ponder every time I wave that rented wand around – water barely flowing as if it was only a half hearted attempt to piss after a single beer. Am I wasting my money and time with this thing? Does spot free rinsing actually work or is this some Jedi mind trick fostered by the marketing department at an evil car wash manufacturing plant located somewhere in Poughkeepsie?

At some places, I swear it’s the former… By the time I’ve driven home, the car is dry from the wash and water spots present themselves everywhere. And yet at other establishments in my area, I’m almost positive it works to a degree and I’m left with a car that is almost spot free. In both cases, I end up going over the car at least one time with something like Ammo Spit or Speed Shine to get perfection.

A few months ago however, I actually met the owner of a number of car wash joints at my local bar. After a few, I brought up my theory and asked him for the truth of the matter.

“Some spot free rinses,” he said, “are absolutely bullshit. It’s simply low pressure water from the well. Others use some type of a silicon additive that is somewhat effective. More high-end places these days, however, offer de-ionized water and these systems actually work quite well if the filters are up to spec.”

So armed with this education, I hit Google and started searching around for home solutions. That lead me to Spotless Water Systems and John Fernandez. After a few emails back and forth, I talked John into sending me one of his units under the guise of a review for The Garage Journal and here we are…

John sent me the DIC-20 High Output Rolling System. Essentially, this is a roll around unit that places two large de-ionizing filters between your water source and the end of your hose. It costs around $450 and is good for somewhere around 300 gallons of water. The filters, of course, are rechargeable and each recharge runs around $90. So, all in all you are looking at about thirty cents per gallon of water you use.

Pretty expensive, right? But let’s get into this thing.

It’s made like a brick shit house. Seriously. The cart is powdercoated with some hammer-toned variation of powder that would be just as appropriate on a 1940’s era Craftsman power tool. And the filter housings are that super thick plastic you would expect someone like NASA to use – light and strong. There’s also a gauge of sorts – it’s a digital read out that tells you the condition of the filters and how much time left in them. All together it’s a pretty damned stout package.

But, does it work?

Yesterday, I pulled out my model-a coupe that has been stuck behind an uninstalled lift in my shop for about a month. It was covered in dust, grinding flash, and all sorts of other grime. First, I rinsed the car with the filter in place. Then, I used a car wash solution from Griots and lathered the car up nice and thick. Then, I simply rinsed the car from top to bottom. The entire process took about 15 minutes and when I was done, I just went back in the shop and got back to work while the car dried in the shade.

Now, keep in my mind that my coupe isn’t in finish paint yet. In fact, it’s in ten year old DP90 primer. Take it from me, NOTHING in this world spots as badly as DP90. Nothing. But the frame as well as a few other bits on the car are in finish paint – nice and shiny. So, I felt this car was the perfect torture test.

After about an hour, I went outside to judge the results. Frankly, I was shocked… so stoked… The car looked as if it had been hand dried and followed with a spray detailer. There simply were not any water spots to be found – either on the primered surfaces or the shiny. The damn thing looked detailed after a 15 minute car wash.

I have no way of knowing how many gallons I used, but if I’m reading the digital gauge correctly I used around 6% of the filter during the wash (or about 20 gallons or so). Given that, I have about 14 washes left in the filters. So if you do the numbers, the wash itself cost me around $6. I typically spend around $8 at my local joint…

Full disclosure. John sent this unit to me without charge so that I could review it. Even so, I would never sell you guys out and recommend something that I don’t believe in and I would 100% put my name behind this thing. I realize the market for a $450 car wash aid is small fellas, but if you are one of those guys that really enjoys washing your car then this thing is a pretty great value. John’s gonna get his money back from me in filter purchases alone as I plan to use the hell out of this thing.

Editor’s Note: As I mentioned, I used the DIC-20 unit – the largest and most expensive unit John offers. There are smaller and cheaper options available as well. You can see them all here.

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Vintage Jack Stands Fri, 29 Jan 2016 18:11:24 +0000

I’ve decided we don’t have nearly enough images of vintage jack stands on this site… So, post em if you got em. Here’s a quick selection to get us going:

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A Mexican Palace Mon, 11 Jan 2016 16:34:22 +0000

Somewhere in Mexico a man started to built a shop and then decided he needed a house too… Things gat crazy. Things got nuts. You can follow the whole thing in progress here. And trust me, you will be glad ya did.

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Let’s Make a Chisel… Wed, 30 Dec 2015 14:53:51 +0000

Damn the gloves or any form of hand protection at all, let’s make a chisel!

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DIY Carriage Doors Fri, 18 Dec 2015 19:02:18 +0000

By a large margin, the most often asked question I get in my inbox is, “Where can I find plans for a set of DIY carriage doors?” And you know what? I don’t know of a single place to find such a thing. There are various threads on the forum about such things, but there isn’t a complete how to from anyone…

So, I’m calling y’all out! Post your DIY carriage doors and the method of their construction here!

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The SK X-Frame Ratcheting Wrench Fri, 04 Dec 2015 16:23:59 +0000

In our shop, we have zero brand loyalty. Tools aren’t held on a pedestal and brands aren’t cheered for in any way, shape or form. About the only lean we have is towards American made stuff… but even then, if a paycheck is depending on it we would use a tool made in North Korea if we absolutely had too. At the end of the day, the pride in our shop comes from the cars that leave it – not the tools that enter it.

That being said, we were recently approached by SK and asked if we would be interested in using a set of their new X-Frame ratcheting wrenches for a while. I agreed with two conditions:

1. Whatever SK sent could be abused and sent back in pieces without charge.

2. Our review would be unedited and completely honest with no strings attached.

SK never answered my email. Instead, they blindly sent us a set of their new wrenches. We set them in the box next to two other sets of ratcheting wrenches – a Craftsman set bought at the store five or six years ago and a Snap-On set bought off the truck about a year ago. Then, we just used them as we normally would…

But before I get into that, let’s get into the technical side of the wrench. Like any new wrench on the market, the X-Frames come with all kinds of “ground breaking” marketing terms that will supposedly change your life in the shop. Here’s a short list:

– 6 Pawl Technology – Essentially, this is SK’s way of saying that these wrenches have a super fine mechanism. A 1.7-degree swing to be more specific. This is achieved by using 6 dual-opposing pawls rather than the more traditional single pawl. Yeah… I have no idea what a pawl is either…

– The mechanism is also strong. In fact, it can handle five times the ANSI spec for toque.

– SK SureGrip – This is what SK calls the design of the open end side of the wrench. It’s relieved in areas and kind of knurled in others in an effort to keep you from stripping bolt heads.

– SK I-Beam Handles – This one is obvious. The wrenches have an I-Beam design that supposedly makes the wrenches more balanced in the hand and ensures more evenly distributed forces when torque is applied.

There’s more, but I’m tired of re-typing the product page. And frankly, I don’t care about any of the above. All I literally care about is usability and durability.

So, how have the SK wrenches done in our real world work environment?

Honestly, these are the best wrenches we’ve ever used… And I say that for a few different reasons. First, is the swing. Remember that “6-pawl technology” mumbo jumbo? Well, whatever the hell that marketing refers to, works and works in a big way. These are absolutely the finest geared ratchets we have in the shop and this is huge when working on bolts in restricted areas and tight spaces.  Put plainly and simply, this feature alone is worth the cost of admission. No doubt.

Second, these are 6-point wrenches. I prefer 6-point wrenches because I just like the security of them, but at times they can be a pain the ass when trying to lock onto a bolt in a tight space. With the 1.7-degree swing this just isn’t an issue. It’s like have the best of both worlds.

Third, was something that kind of surprised me. Before I used the X-Frames I never really considered wrench balance all that much. I mean, I have a set of Snap-On open ends that feel really tactile in my hand and I love them. But these wrenches literally feel shaped for the hand. They just feel good.

And, it’s hard to argue against the look of the I-Beam. They are gorgeous if only for a  little while… as ours will be beat to shit in no time I’m sure. BUT, given that these are made in the USA and given the build quality that is obvious when you use them, I’m fairly confident that these are going to be in the tool box for a longtime to come.

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Anyway, you can pick up a set for around $225 at just about any place that carries SK. From what I understand, they’ve been pretty hard to get for the past few months, but I noticed Amazon has a few here.

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30% Off At Zoro Mon, 30 Nov 2015 14:25:16 +0000

One of the better cyber Monday sales… Last year, I bought a Millermatic 211 and saved quite a chunk of change.

Details here.

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American Made Trash Cans Fri, 20 Nov 2015 15:32:38 +0000

Finding an american made trash can isn’t all that easy these days… Finding one that looks half way decent is even harder. My pal Steve at Garage Art is trying to do something about that.

Check it out.

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Bosch GLM 15 Fri, 13 Nov 2015 21:08:15 +0000

I bought one of these about 6 months ago for around $50. It’s tiny. It has a range of over 50-feet. It rules. And now, Bosch is selling the damned thing for $35. If you don’t have one, just buy it. Seriously.

Check it out.

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Gowanus Garage Thu, 05 Nov 2015 14:54:28 +0000

This is a short video about an eccentric guy with a car collection in New York City. The collection is interesting enough, but what amazed me is that this guy has the square footage in NYC to host a 58-car field. Admittedly, the footage is short on shop details… But I thought you guys would dig it anyway.

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