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Thread: Unique Favorite Tools of ours

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    Supporting Member nevetslab's Avatar
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    Unique Favorite Tools of ours

    I've been buying tools since I was ten years old. I grew up in a house with a basement, where my dad had his work shop, and my brother and I were eventually given shop space, our own work bench, and a basic set of wood working tools. My hands were smaller than my brothers, and were able to fit between the underside of Dad's work bench and the drawer that was always locked, but also had a hook accessible which had the key that opened the steamer trunk that was the motherlode of tools. We just had to be bloody sure he wasn't home, and that whatever we fetched, it got put back where it was in the same condition.

    I've always taken shop classes thru school, well into the late 90's where that gave access to a wonderful cabinet building wood shop at El Camino College in Torrance, CA. Los Angeles has been one of those places where Swap Meets have specialty forms, such as Old Tools Swap Meets four times a year, which covered wood working and machining tools of all sorts and vintages. The TRW Radio Amateur Technical Swap Meet that happened the last Saturday of the month in Redondo Beach, along with the General Dynamic Swap Meet out in Pomona on the 2nd Saturday of the month were wonderful places to find specialty tools for Electronics, along with fabulous assortments of Test Gear....the good stuff....HP, Tektronix, Fluke, Marconi, General Radio, etc; Test Leads & adapters, parts, you name it. Saturdays were, for years, an adventure in searching out stuff to add to your shop, when you had money to spend. Eventually Ebay appeared, and not long afterwards, the swap meets no longer had the premium sellers, as they had all moved their activities to ebay and the internet. The Old Tools swap meets still happen, though I haven't been to one in years now.

    Not much else is needed these days, though every so often, I come upon another great tool and somehow come up with the funds for it if it's something I really want/can't live without.

    Here's some of the unique tools I've come across over the decades of acquiring tools:

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    The Plierench I inherited from my great uncle...came in a canvas pouch with additional jaws that I have someplace. The Clauss Flipper is a unique scissors tool, great for use with lacing tape and other such tasks. The Erem 71AE 45 Degree Flush cutting pliers get used for many non-lead-cutting operations. They work great for prying open the covers of pots for cleaning, breaking the solder bond between freshly-unsoldered & folded leads onto solder pads of a PCB, then allowing the lead to be pried up without damaging the pad, or gripping a component lead while unsoldering it, when you have to cut off an IC, leaving their leads still soldered in to the IC solder pads. The Optima 504 IC Puller was a 16-pin IC puller, which I cut down to 8-pin Dip size, and works great for folding the tabs back into place on pots whose covers I had removed to clean them. The Utica 1300-8 are gas pliers, which besides the serrated jaws for side entry, have similar serrated jaws on the tip of the tool. They get used for lots of tasks. The Erem 508 is an IC lead straightener tool that always comes in handy. And, that tiny machinist vise....one of the best tools I ever bought at the Old Tools swap meets. It does need a good cleaning again.

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  2. #2
    Old Timer Leo_Gnardo's Avatar
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    There was a tool I should have picked up just for its macabre purpose. It was in a jumble store in Metropolis Illinois just a hop & a skip from Paducah Kentucky. It had a scissor like mechanism, with a spoon on one side, and sort of a miniature hatchet that fit lengthwise into the spoon as you closed the scissor handles.

    What the **** was it ????

    A chicken killer, said the proprietor. Comes "harvest" day, get chicken's head on the spoon & squeeze the handle.

    Not much use in the electronics workshop.

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    Got this a few years ago. When I need extra pressure.

    https://music-electronics-forum.com/...1&d=1582324960
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    This one isn't so much unique as indispensable to me as I have not been able to find another:

    The old Utilux "NO. 14". It does uninsulated terminals like a pro. There must be something out there like it...

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    I can't even pick one, though I've tried. Being an auto mechanic-turned-race engine machinist, I have a lot of very specialized this-only-does-one-thing tools.

    Probably if I was forced to pick one my favorite though is not that specialized at all - it's a 3/8" ratchet.
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    What's so great about it? The angled handle is very ergonomic and makes it very comfortable to apply torque. The swivel head speaks for itself. The combination of the two features makes for an extremely versatile, strong, high leverage ratchet that can do anything. This aint your dad's basic craftsman ratchet.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Greg_L View Post
    I can't even pick one, though I've tried. Being an auto mechanic-turned-race engine machinist, I have a lot of very specialized this-only-does-one-thing tools.

    Probably if I was forced to pick one my favorite though is not that specialized at all - it's a 3/8" ratchet.
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    What's so great about it? The angled handle is very ergonomic and makes it very comfortable to apply torque. The swivel head speaks for itself. The combination of the two features makes for an extremely versatile, strong, high leverage ratchet that can do anything. This aint your dad's basic craftsman ratchet.
    That curved handle looks... handy.

    Any big names using your engines? I'm a bit of a petrol-head though it's mostly F1 these days.

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    Quote Originally Posted by minim View Post
    That curved handle looks... handy.

    Any big names using your engines? I'm a bit of a petrol-head though it's mostly F1 these days.
    Not anymore. I left that game around 2008. I was mostly doing drag racing engines and offshore powerboat stuff. And of course the usual wannabe street racer jobs.

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    ToneOholic! big_teee's Avatar
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    I have a similar ratchet made for changing spark plugs.
    My dad gave it to me over 50 years ago, and it is a Blackhawk brand ratchet.
    It is still in my ratchet, and sockets drawer in the tool chest.
    T

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    Last edited by big_teee; 02-23-2020 at 07:18 AM.


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    Extractable telescope inspection mirror.

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    Tools to re-align preamp tube pins.

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    I once saw a tube pin aligner in an old magazine ad where you placed the pins something that looked like a ZIF socket. You squeezed the handles and every pin got straightened. The same company also made a pin cleaner that cleaned all the pins at once. I've been looking for these for a very long time - more out of curiosity than necessity.

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    Tube pins can be cleaned/scraped by these (actually strippers/scrapers for enamelled wire):

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    Lifetime Member Enzo's Avatar
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    A lot of tube testers had pin straightener sockets. A machined metal socket, you shoved a tube into and it bent the pins back straight and helped unkink them.

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    Bent Member Chuck H's Avatar
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    I was going to post two things, but Helmholtz already posted the dental mirror.

    One I wasn't going to mention, but why not? I use a nut pick to straighten and smooth out component leads after soldering for eyelet and turret construction. Because it's pointy, curved and tapered it's the perfect tool for the job and makes my mediocre work look a little prettier. You can hook a component lead from almost any angle and run it up and back from the solder joint to the component body to make it smooth and evenly curved.

    One of my favorite bench tools though, without a doubt, is rubber bands. I don't have a lead wire dispenser rack so I just keep a rubber band on each spool so the leads don't unwind and dangle all over. My favorite use for rubber bands is to wrap one around a plier handle for a little clamping pressure without having to hold it. I can often use that rig as a third hand when I need one. I have one of those weighted, three arm alligator clip jimmy doo's with the magnifying glass on it, but most of the time a pair of the right pliers with a rubber band on the handle is more convenient. It's also gentler than even the first click on a pair of hemostats and the pliers have more anchoring weight than hemostats which is often useful.

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    Another kind of "tool":

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    Rohde & Schwarz analog real power wattmeter (max. 500W) and true RMS voltmeter (30Hz..10kHz). Principle: electrodynamic cross field dynamometer.

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    This is a set of 1/4" deep sockets I put together, inch and metric. Very handy.

    https://music-electronics-forum.com/...1&d=1582509477
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    Don't forget the joker g1's Avatar
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    A thing I find very handy is a pick up tool. When you drop a piece of hardware in a tight spot, or even a solder blob, they come in very handy. I have one that is telescoping like Helmholtz inspection mirror above, only it has a small magnet on the end.
    But the one I usually go for is the generic automotive claw type (flexible). Cheap and indispensable.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    "Everything is better with a tube. I have a customer with an all-tube pacemaker. His heartbeat is steady, reassuring and dependable, not like a modern heartbeat. And if it goes wrong he can fix it himself. You can't do that with SMD." - Mick Bailey

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    The magnet pick-up tool gets a lot of use when I'm working on the car, though there are still a couple of sockets lost down there somewhere.

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    Bent Member Chuck H's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dmeek View Post
    The magnet pick-up tool gets a lot of use when I'm working on the car, though there are still a couple of sockets lost down there somewhere.
    My brother and I use to joke that Murphy's law states "When working on your engine and you drop a socket it will roll to exact center underneath the car."

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    "Take two placebos, works twice as well." Enzo

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    "Being born on third base and thinking that you must have hit a triple is pure delusion!" Steve A

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    Old Timer Leo_Gnardo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chuck H View Post
    My brother and I use to joke that Murphy's law states "When working on your engine and you drop a socket it will roll to exact center underneath the car."
    And right into that gooey pool of oil.

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    ToneOholic! big_teee's Avatar
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    With Sockets and extensions?
    You can't get the socket off, unless you want to keep it on?
    Then it will fall off.
    With 4x4 vehicles with skid plates?
    The socket when it falls, doesn't hit the ground, it hides on top of the skid plate!
    T

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    Lifetime Member Enzo's Avatar
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    Any dropped screw will go straight down the carburetor. Remember carburetors?

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    ToneOholic! big_teee's Avatar
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    Remember carburetors?
    What's a carburetor?
    The two main things that really innovated autos?
    Electronic ignition, and Closed loop fuel injection.
    T

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    "If Wishes Were Horses, Beggars Would Ride!" Scottish Proverb 1600s
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    Lifetime Member Enzo's Avatar
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    What's a carburetor?
    It is a calibrated port designed to allow small screws direct access into your cylinders.


    Many years ago in the hobby mags like Popular Electronics, electronic ignitions were a popular project. Of course nothing like today's computerized ones.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Enzo View Post
    Remember carburetors?
    like quadrajunk... jet

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    Here's another one. A tape measure with memo recorder. I bought this many years ago thinking it would be great for those times when
    I get down from a 30ft ladder and suddenly forget the measurement I made at the top.
    Never used it once. I guess I'm overloaded with gadgets.

    https://music-electronics-forum.com/...1&d=1582583823
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    Bent Member Chuck H's Avatar
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    Regarding carburetors...

    Not as bad as people think. But they have to be designed right to be efficient. My old Ford F100 had an 8cyl 302 and a 'three on the tree' transmission (I loved that truck). I wasn't happy getting 10mi. per gallon like every other V8 truck owner. And they always complained about it. So I modified my carburetor by drilling and swedging in my own main AND accelerator pump jets. Then I cut out the drip tray and polished the ports there. I beveled the edges of the butterfly flaps in the ports. A little more port polishing on that end too. I shaved the gasket material so it wouldn't impede the atomized fuel and cause it to condense there. Then I changed the springs in my mechanical advance system and put an adjustable vacuum advance in to replace the stock one. It took months to get everything just right (I was younger ) but when I was done the truck had more power than ever and got fully 15mpg city and 15.5mpg hwy. Not making this up. I drove that truck for a decade.

    I did all this because I read a report about a guy who invented a standard carburetor that was so efficient that Firestone poured money on him until he sold them the patent. After which they locked it away in a closet so that no one could use it. And now we have fuel injection so we don't need the efficient carburetor. But it CAN be done.

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    Yep, FI is easily controlled by the car computer and blows carbs away.

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    Supporting Member nevetslab's Avatar
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    I've always admired the swivel-head Snap-On Socket Wrenches, though I've never bought one. What I did find I absolutely love is the Snap-On TM67A 1/4" In-Line Ratchet head. Armed with an older Craftsman Sliding T-Handle which has a center detent. I first began using this tool when I was a bicycle mechanic back in 1968, with a Snap-on 1/4" bladed socket for installing Weinmann Brake handles onto the handlebars, when assembling new bikes. The first one wasn't a Snap-On......forget who the mfgr was, but then found Snap-On also made them.

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    Erem 504 Wire Strippers

    While I've had this Erem 504 Wire Stripper tool in my machinist chest for decades, having bought it at C & H Sales (surplus store) out in Pasadena back in the early 80's, I never did put it to use until recently, having seen one again and pulled it out to have a look at this. After lubricating the joint, and buying some foam handles from McMaster-Carr, I've since tuned it up, and find I like it alot, though my cheap Yellow Handled Miller Tool stripper gets used alot, as does my Paladin and Ideal strippers.

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    KANT-TWIST clamp

    While I have a good collection of Machinist Clamps, which are like small versions of the Jorgensen Wood Clamps which I love, I came upon this small KANT-TWIST clamp on ebay years ago, and bought a number of them. Quite small, and though it's throat size is limited by the arms, it's always in use when I pull Fender Amp's front panel PCB off from the chassis, using one to hold the escutcheon in place next to the Normal Input jacks, and sometimes at the opposite end by the Pilot Light, if that lamp assembly isn't properly holding that end in place. These are available in a number of sizes.

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    Supporting Member nevetslab's Avatar
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    Stainless Steel Surgical Needle Nose Pliers

    I think I came upon these Stainless Steel Surgical Needle Nose Pliers at a TRW Radio Amateur's Technical Swap Meet decades ago, and picked them up for under $10. Overall length is a touch over 8", and they do come in really handy at times when the other larger needle nose pliers aren't quite up to the task at hand. I will confess they've pinched my skin every so often from being a little careless, but an excellent tool.

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  33. #33
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    While this is my all time favorite self-adjusting wire stripper:
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    ..nothing beats these (see post #30) with Teflon insulation:
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  34. #34
    Lifetime Member Enzo's Avatar
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    That identical Weldmuller stripper is sold here as a Paladin brand. I have had one for decades, and dearly love it.

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  35. #35
    Old Timer olddawg's Avatar
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    I still have a bunch of weird tools from my vcr days. Eccentricity gauges, head pullers, tentilometers... also have stuff for R to R and cassette tools and gauges, test tapes. Alignment discs.. etc.. It will all be tossed soon..

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