The Ten Best Tools of All Time


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Forget the Snap-On Tools truck; it's never there when you need it.
Besides, there are only ten things in this world you need to fix any
car, any place, any time.

1. DUCT TAPE: Not just a tool, a veritable Swiss Army knife in
stickum and plastic. It's safety wire, body material, radiator
hose, upholstery, insulation, tow rope, and more in one
easy-to-carry package. Sure, there's a prejudice surrounding duct
tape in concourse competitions, but in the real world everything
from LeMans - winning Porsches to Atlas rockets - uses it by the
yard. The only thing that can get you out of more scrapes is a
quarter and a phone booth.

2. VICE-GRIPS: Equally adept as a wrench, hammer, pliers, baling
wire twister, breaker-off of frozen bolts, and
wiggle-it-till-it-falls-off tool. The heavy artillery of your
toolbox, Vice Grips are the only tool designed expressly to fix
things screwed up beyond repair.

3. SPRAY LUBRICANTS: A considerably cheaper alternative to new
doors, alternators, and other squeaky items. Slicker than pig
phlegm. Repeated soakings of WD-40 will allow the main hull bolts
of the Andrea Dora to be removed by hand. Strangely enough, an
integral part of these sprays is the infamous little red tube
that flies out of the nozzle if you look at it cross-eyed, one of
the ten worst tools of all time.

4. MARGARINE TUBS WITH CLEAR LIDS: If you spend all your time under
the hood looking for a frendle pin that caromed off the peedle
valve when you knocked both off the air cleaner, it's because you
eat butter. Real mechanics consume pounds of tasteless vegetable
oil replicas, just so they can use the empty tubs for parts
containers afterward. (Some, of course, chuck the butter-colored
goo altogether or use it to repack wheel bearings.) Unlike air
cleaners and radiator lips, margarine tubs aren't connected by a
time/space wormhole to the Parallel Universe of Lost Frendle
Pins.

5. BIG ROCK AT THE SIDE OF THE ROAD: Block up a tire. Smack corroded
battery terminals. Pound out a dent. Bop nosy know-it-all types
on the noodle. Scientists have yet to develop a hammer that packs
the raw banging power of granite or limestone. This is the only
tool with which a "made in India" emblem is not synonymous with
the user's maiming.

6. PLASTIC ZIP TIES: After twenty years of lashing down stray hoses
and wires with old bread ties, some genius brought a slightly
slicked up version to the auto parts market. Fifteen zip ties can
transform a hulking mass of amateur-quality rewiring from a
working model of the Brazilian rain forest into something
remotely resembling a wiring harness. Of course, it works both
ways. When buying used cars, subtract $100.00 for each zip tie
under the hood.

7. RIDICULOUSLY LARGE STANDARD SCREWDRIVER WITH LIFETIME GUARANTEE:
Let's admit it. There's nothing better for prying, chiseling,
lifting, breaking, splitting, or mutilating than a huge
flat-bladed screwdriver, particularly when wielded with gusto and
a big hammer. This is also the tool of choice for oil filters so
insanely located they can only be removed by driving a stake in
one side and out the other. If you break the screwdriver - and
you will, just like Dad or your shop teacher said - who cares?
It's guaranteed.

8. BAILING WIRE: Commonly known as MG muffler brackets, bailing wire
holds anything that's too hot for tape or ties. Like duct tape,
it's not recommended for concourse contenders since it works so
well you'll never replace it with the right thing again. Bailing
wire is a sentimental favorite in some circles, particularly with
MG, Triumph, and flathead Ford set.

9. BONKING STICK: This monstrous tuning fork with devilishly pointy
ends is technically known as a tie-rod- end separator, but how
often do you separate tie-ends? Once every decade, if you're
lucky. Other than medieval combat, its real use is the all
purpose application of undue force, not unlike that of the huge
flat-bladed screwdriver. Nature doesn't know the bent metal panel
or frozen exhaust pipe that can stand up to a good bonking stick.
(Can also be used to separate tie-rod ends in a pinch, of course,
but does a lousy job of it).

10. A QUARTER (now its $0.35) AND A PHONE BOOTH: (See #1 above.)







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