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Improving the DIY experience #5433251 05/19/20 11:47 AM
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agarb Offline OP
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Twenty years ago, I hated working on my stuff but did it because I was poor. Today, I have undertaken more and more work on my own. Mainly because I have a couple teenage boys who tear things up and I’m still not independently wealthy. However, along the way I’ve acquired some things that make the jobs so much easier and (sometimes) enjoyable. I thought it would be interesting to have a thread detailing what things I’ve done and what other people have found to make the DIY experience better.

1. A lift. $800 from Craigslist plus another a few hundred more in parts to repair and install it. This has made the biggest difference as I don’t have to roll around on the floor. Obviously not everyone can afford or has the space for one.
2. Alldata subscription. I don’t pay for this as the local library provides online access from the comfort of my home. I used to buy factory service manuals on DVD from ebay but I really prefer Alldata as it is easier to navigate and some of the DVDs didn’t include all the wiring diagrams, etc.
3. Better lighting. I installed eleven 4300 lumen led lights in my 40x60 building. Much nicer than the eleven 100 watt incandescent bulbs they replaced. About $10 per fixture from Rural King plus shipping because my store didn’t stock them. I also bought some small magnetic lights with swivel heads to use under the vehicle, etc.
4. Better air. I moved the air compressor to a far corner (less noise) and piped the air overhead to various places in the building. I bought a nice retractable hose reel and hung it on the ceiling. Bought some more air tools. 3/8 drive rachets, etc.
5. Bought a cheap cart from Harbor Freight to place tools and parts on. This keeps all my tools right next to me and I’ve stop laying them inside the engine where they might get lost or forgotten.

Wish list
1. Heat. It gets cold in my building during the winter. I doubt this will ever happen. I have thought about hanging some plastic around the lift to make a small “bay” that would be easier/cheaper to heat.
2. Welder & torch. I get tired of taking stuff to my dad’s shop to work on.
3. Hose clamp pliers. Seems like channel locks get the job done but frustrate me in the process.
4. Manual fluid evacuator.
5. More specialty tools. Serpentine belt tool, ball joint separators, etc. Hard to justify some of this stuff that I can rent from the parts store
6. Cordless tools. I see lots of people using cordless impact drivers now.
7. Better storage and organization. Since I put the lift in my barn, I need to build a workbench and move the rest of my stuff out of the garage. Too many trips walking between them to use a vise, etc.

Re: Improving the DIY experience [Re: agarb] #5433262 05/19/20 12:04 PM
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JHZR2 Offline
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I live in a house with a basement. And a detached garage. Selected this setup by choice, and it is preferred. The one downside is that if you keep your nice tools inside, you end up going up and down a lot.

So I got a nice Kennedy tool box, and keep a set of tools in it for the job Im going to do. Its a bigger box with fold out tops, so it holds a lot of stuff, but its still portable by me in/out or anyplace else I wish to go.

The list you have is great, but Ive found the biggest detriment to doing a DIY job is getting stalled. Having the job planned out, all the tools and parts plus some extras in one place, thought out for what you would need, and minimize the time wasted looking for some tool or other item halfway into the job, causing a stall and a lot of frustration.

Re: Improving the DIY experience [Re: agarb] #5433268 05/19/20 12:13 PM
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doitmyself Offline
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Autozone free tool loan is a great DIY feature for those rare jobs. Only convenient if they are nearby.

Re: Improving the DIY experience [Re: agarb] #5433272 05/19/20 12:17 PM
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Langanobob Offline
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Originally Posted by agarb
Twenty years ago, I hated working on my stuff but did it because I was poor. Today, I have undertaken more and more work on my own. Mainly because I have a couple teenage boys who tear things up and I’m still not independently wealthy. However, along the way I’ve acquired some things that make the jobs so much easier and (sometimes) enjoyable. I thought it would be interesting to have a thread detailing what things I’ve done and what other people have found to make the DIY experience better.

<snip...>



Great post, thanks for taking the time.

Re: Improving the DIY experience [Re: agarb] #5433288 05/19/20 12:35 PM
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Barkleymut Offline
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I wish i had a lift, good lighting, a rolling cart, and an air compressor. I enjoy working on my cars because it gets me out of the house!


09 Vue 2.4L 4spd AT/ 09 Flex 3.5L / 96 F150 5.0 5speed / 07 Mustang GT auto
Re: Improving the DIY experience [Re: agarb] #5433308 05/19/20 12:49 PM
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Kira Offline
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I agree. As above, "Great post, thanks for taking the time."

My "dream wrinkle" to the personalized shop is to include a hinged section of concrete floor and a pit beneath it into which my tool box descends.
The floor section hinges closed.

Robbers wouldn't even see it if they broke in and would take time and effort to lift if they knew it was there.

Re: Improving the DIY experience [Re: agarb] #5433318 05/19/20 12:59 PM
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Astro14 Offline
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For 13 years I’ve lived without a garage in which I can work. Car repairs took place in the weather, on a sloped driveway. This presented challenges of timing. Weather. Safety. Tool security.

Now, I’ve got nearly all of what you list. Took me long enough. But very happy to have security, a roof, lighting, compressor, quickjack lift, tools, space.

And a beer fridge.

[Linked Image]
[Linked Image]
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32 Packard 15W40
01 Volvo V70 T5 0W30 AMSOIL SS
02 Volvo V70 T5 0W30 Edge
02 Volvo V70 XC 0W40 Edge
05 MB S600 0W40 M1
16 Tundra 1794 5W30 Pennzoil Ultra
Re: Improving the DIY experience [Re: agarb] #5433319 05/19/20 12:59 PM
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spavel6 Offline
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To me, the cordless high-torque impact has been the best improvement to my DIY experience. I think a lift is probably out of the typical DIY-ers budget (both in terms of cost and space required), but having an impact that pulls off virtually any rusty bolt is a godsend. It's now ~$200 so economical, and easy to store, over an air setup.


2003 VW Jetta Wagon TDI 198k M1 5W40 TDT
2001 VW GTI VR6 250k T6 5W40
2001 VW Passat Wagon V6 4motion 110k PP 5W30
Re: Improving the DIY experience [Re: agarb] #5433370 05/19/20 01:59 PM
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Trav Offline
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A decent size compressor, torch set w/cutting tip also and gas/mig welder (not flux core) are indispensable and IMHO a must for more in depth work especially in the rust belt.
Something like this will work fine and is cheap enough for DIY.

https://www.northerntool.com/shop/tools/product_200342921_200342921


ASE L1, Master. Deutsch Meisterbrief.
Re: Improving the DIY experience [Re: agarb] #5433400 05/19/20 02:30 PM
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A divorce; hide


“It took untold generations to get you where you are. A little gratitude might be in order. If you’re going to insist on bending the world to your way, you better have your reasons.”

435i
Re: Improving the DIY experience [Re: Trav] #5433438 05/19/20 03:20 PM
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agarb Offline OP
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Originally Posted by Trav
A decent size compressor, torch set w/cutting tip also and gas/mig welder (not flux core) are indispensable and IMHO a must for more in depth work especially in the rust belt.
Something like this will work fine and is cheap enough for DIY.

https://www.northerntool.com/shop/tools/product_200342921_200342921


Thanks for posting that link. What does it cost to have a set of bottles filled?

The other thing that I'm really glad to have purchased was a set of racheting wrenches. Relatively inexpensive. Should have bought them years ago. They are my go-to set now and especially great in those tight spaces.

Re: Improving the DIY experience [Re: agarb] #5433443 05/19/20 03:35 PM
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Trav Offline
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Its not much but I cant say exactly as I have larger bottles, they do not refill yours but exchange for full ones. Call airgas, I think its probably around $30ea for that size.


ASE L1, Master. Deutsch Meisterbrief.
Re: Improving the DIY experience [Re: agarb] #5433487 05/19/20 04:30 PM
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spasm3 Offline
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Nice Astro! I envy the room you have there. I also spotted a nice sjobergs workbench in one of your earlier posts. wink


13 elantra 84k 5w30 synpwr
03 chevy avalanche 83k synpwr 5w30
17 mazda cx-5 19000 miles m1 0w30
Re: Improving the DIY experience [Re: agarb] #5433603 05/19/20 06:45 PM
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walterjay Offline
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Thanks for listing the many things that make for a good work space. This July I am finally getting a garage. Two car 24x32. I can't wait. I have been working in the weather for years. I am right now in the planning stages for how I am going to set everything up. Lots of fun just figuring all this out.

Re: Improving the DIY experience [Re: spasm3] #5433605 05/19/20 06:50 PM
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Astro14 Offline
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Thanks! - The "Shop" as I call it, is a 42x20 storage unit with a 20x20 loft. Lots of room.

I'm finally able to work indoors and take on car projects, in this case, a bunch of work on a friend's 1975 450SL (which shows up in one picture). The intent of that much space was storage above, room to work below and storage for the 1932 Packard. For nearly 15 years, I had no real place to work. I had to work outside, which presents a huge number of challenges. It, frankly, sucked, and not just because of things like weather, but because I had to take extra steps to get at every tool, slowing down my productivity.

The Sjobergs bench is in my garage, a tight one-car affair at my house. In which are a workbench, cabinets, the Sjobergs woodworking bench, tablesaw, drill press, jointer, planer, 220v dust collection system, clamp rack and indoor wood rack.

Ideally, all that stuff, wood shop and car shop, would be co-located at the house. But there is no way to accomplish that in our present house, so the "Shop" is an interim solution to that.


32 Packard 15W40
01 Volvo V70 T5 0W30 AMSOIL SS
02 Volvo V70 T5 0W30 Edge
02 Volvo V70 XC 0W40 Edge
05 MB S600 0W40 M1
16 Tundra 1794 5W30 Pennzoil Ultra
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