Next time you need a gift for a mechanic in your life (including yourself!), here’s what to look for. A big part of the fun of antique tractors is in fixing them, and the right tools can make the job fun and easy.
Whether you are working on a Ford or Farmall, Oliver or Moline, John Deere or Allis-Chalmers, the key tools are the same. Tractors were intended to be fixed by the farmer in his field or shed, and common shop tools can correct most problems. So be sure you have a good, basic set of wrenches, screwdrivers, sockets, locking pliers and hammers. With these core tools and an impact wrench, you can go far!
But once this basic set is complete, there are still a few more handy tools to add on. Next time your birthday (or any other gift-giving holiday!) rolls around, here’s what you should ask for:
12-Volt Tester: When it comes to troubleshooting and quickly diagnosing problems with a tractor, this tool can’t be beat. I love it so much I highlighted it on my recent Wrenching with Rachel video – click here to watch the tester in action.
Brake-Spring Tool. This tool has saved us so much time and frustration when getting a spring over a shoe. If you’ve never used one before, pick one up before your next brake job – it will be a real help!
Torch: When a bolt is rusted on, heat is often the only way to get it loose. Just be sure to follow proper safety precautions and get a thick pair of leather gloves.
Short Wrenches: These are handy under the dash or hood to get into tight places. They’ve saved me from lots of unnecessary disassembly. My favorite set has a rachet end – it was a Father’s Day present to my dad, but we share a shop so I get to use them too!
Rivet Tool: A rivet tool is essential for re-lining worn brake shoes. The right size tool will peen tightly over the brass hollow rivets.
Infrared Heat Thermometer: Use this high-tech tool to quickly diagnose engine trouble. Let the engine run for a few minutes to warm up, then take the temperature of the manifold. By testing the temperature of each part of the manifold, you can determine which cylinder isn’t firing correctly – if the temperature is even throughout, all cylinders are firing. It’s an easy way to diagnose problems without needing to disassemble the engine.
Cordless Impact Wrench: This was a Christmas gift for the shop last year. It’s definitely been worth the cost. Just like my first cordless phone, I never knew how convenient it was until I got one of my own.
Digital Caliper: The digital display makes it easy to take exact measurements of a bearing or shaft.
Die Grinder: I prefer an electric model over air powered. The electric version seems to have more power and runs a burr tip better.
How about you – what’s on your must-have tool list? Let me know in the comments below.