Sent:23 June 1999
The list seems a bit quiet at the moment. Although a couple of people have prompted me for an update on my Austin 7 project, I thought the following might be more enjoyable:
THE MECHANIC'S TOOL GUIDE
HAMMER: Originally employed as a weapon of war, the hammer nowadays is used as a kind of divining rod to locate expensive parts not far from the object we are trying to hit.
MECHANIC'S KNIFE: Used to open and slice through the contents of cardboard cartons delivered to your front door; works particularly well on boxes containing newly trimmed seats and motorcycle jackets.
ELECTRIC HAND DRILL: Normally used for spinning steel Pop rivets in their holes until you die of old age, but it also works well for drilling mounting holes in floor pans just above fuel tanks.
PLIERS: Used to round off bolt heads.
HACKSAW: One of a family of cutting tools built on the Ouija board principle. It transforms human energy into a crooked, unpredictable motion, and the more you attempt to influence its course, the more dismal your future becomes.
WATER PUMP PLIERS: Used to round off bolt heads. If nothing else is available, they can also be used to transfer intense welding heat to the palm of your hand.
OXYACETYLENE TORCH: Used almost entirely for setting various flammable objects in your garage on fire. Also handy for igniting the grease inside a brake drum you're trying to get the bearing race out of.
WHITWORTH SOCKETS: Useful for working on pre war cars and motorcycles, but mainly for impersonating that 9/16 or 1/2 socket you've been searching for the last 15 minutes.
DRILL PRESS: A tall upright machine useful for suddenly snatching flat metal bar stock out of your hands so that it smacks you in the chest and flings your drink across the room, splattering it against that freshly painted part you were drying.
WIRE WHEEL: Cleans rust off old bolts and then throws them somewhere under the workbench at the speed of light. Also removes fingerprint whorls in about the time it takes you to say, "Ouc...."
HYDRAULIC FLOOR JACK: Used for lowering an Austin 7 to the ground after you have installed your rebuilt brake cross shaft, trapping the jack handle firmly under the front axle.
EIGHT-FOOT LONG 2X4: Used for levering a Austin 7 upwards off a hydraulic jack.
TWEEZERS: A tool for removing wood splinters.
PHONE: Tool for calling your neighbour to see if he has another hydraulic floor jack.
BODY FILLER SPATULA: Theoretically useful as a sandwich tool for spreading mayonnaise; used mainly for getting dog-doo off your boot.
BOLT AND STUD EXTRACTOR: A tool that snaps off in stud holes in Austin 7 engine blocks and is ten times harder than any known drill bit.
TIMING LIGHT: A stroboscopic instrument for illuminating grease build-up.
TWO-TON HYDRAULIC ENGINE HOIST: A handy tool for testing the tensile strength of ground straps and throttle linkages you may have forgotten to disconnect.
1/2 x 16-INCH SCREWDRIVER: A large engine mounting prying tool that inexplicably has an accurately machined screwdriver tip on the end without the handle.
BATTERY ELECTROLYTE TESTER: A handy tool for transferring sulphuric acid from a battery to the inside of your toolbox after determining that your battery is dead as a doornail, just as you thought.
AVIATION METAL SNIPS: See hacksaw.
INSPECTION LIGHT: The mechanic's own tanning booth, it is a good source of vitamin D, "the sunshine vitamin," which is not otherwise found under Austin 7s at night. Health benefits aside, its main purpose is to consume 40-watt light bulbs at about the same rate that 105 mm howitzer shells might be used during, say, the first few hours of the Battle of the Bulge. More often dark than light, its name is somewhat misleading.
PHILLIPS SCREWDRIVER: Normally used to stab the lids of old style paper-and-tin oil cans and splash oil on your shirt; can also be used, as the name implies, to round off Phillips screw heads.
AIR COMPRESSOR: A machine that takes energy produced in a coal burning power station 100 miles away and transforms it into compressed air that travels by hose to a Pneumatic impact wrench that grips rusty bolts last tightened years ago and rounds them off.
CROWBAR: A tool used to crumple the metal surrounding that clip or bracket you needed to remove in order to replace a 50 pence part.
HOSE CUTTER: A tool used to cut hoses 1/2 inch too short.
1927 Austin 7 now with a painted body tub