One Piece At a Time

| December 12, 2008

Necessary hand tools also include standard and needle-nose pliers, vise grips, Allen wrenches and filter band wrenches. Small wrenches will handle fuel filters, larger ones the big combination full flow and bypass oil filters. Make sure to get a good set of screwdrivers of various sizes with standard, Phillips and Torx heads, Bow says. Screwdrivers will help you replace incandescent and LED lamps, which will help keep inspectors off your back, Harring says.

Torque wrenches are critical for certain component work, for example replacing water pumps, where correct bolt torque helps gaskets to seal. Harring’s shop has both 75- and 250-pounds-feet torque wrenches. The larger size, which can cost $230 to $275, is needed for major engine work, such as head gasket replacement.

Compressed air power will help you do the big jobs when a number of large bolts need loosening and tightening. Evans recommends a 5-hp air compressor with a rating of 16 cubic feet per minute and a 60- to 80-gallon storage tank, the same size Harring used in his early days. Such compressors typically sell for $600 to $700.

Bow spec’d his Detroit Diesel 14-liter Series 60 with a two-cylinder, 27-cfm airbrake compressor that allows him to use air tools on the road with the engine idling at 1,100 rpm.

Like many owner-operators, Harring started his do-it-yourself career by changing his own oil. Changing oil, changing filters -fuel, coolant and oil – and greasing make up the most basic maintenance. This is when you’ll use those filter band wrenches, but you’ll also need to add drain pans and some sort of used oil storage.

Evans suggests a 4- to 7-quart pan for the coolant filter and a 5-gallon galvanized drum for draining transmission and axle lubes. For coolant, he uses a plastic pan rather than metal because coolant is often drained and held while replacing a heater core or water pump. The plastic pan won’t rust, helping guarantee the coolant will stay clean. Evans recommends keeping containers upside down and covered when not in use.

He drains his oil into a large pan on rollers, easily moved under the engine. You’ll need one of 50- to 60-quart capacity for a 14- to 16-liter engine. Evans installed a Fumoto quick-open drain valve onto his Caterpillar engine. It accepts a hose so the hot oil can safely be channeled into the drain pan.

Disposing of oil is an issue because you’ll need to pick it up. Such businesses prefer larger quantities, so a smart move would be to do what Evans did and get a 250-gallon waste oil tank. At that quantity, businesses may even take it away without charging you. Evans’ drain pan is sealed so he can use air pressure to force the oil into his storage tank.

Bow, Evans and Harring all buy their oil in 55-gallon drums. The oil costs much less per quart, and there’s little waste. Draining 10 or 11 one-gallon containers, on the other hand, leaves a measurable amount of oil in each bottle, Bow says.

You’ll need a pump driven by a rotating crank. Harring’s shop uses an air-powered pump to ease the delivery of those 50-plus quarts to the sump. Evans uses a $22 five-gallon “bucket pump,” complete with delivery hose, to get gearbox and axle lubes from their containers into the truck.

Doing your own greasing requires a heavy-duty grease gun for the standard zerk fittings to provide enough pressure. One of the larger hand-held units will hold enough No. 2 to prevent reloading too often. Hand grease guns easily can be filled very gradually, so that you feel increasing pressure when the reservoir gets full.

Bow prefers his air-powered unit that fits on top of a drum. He recommends having a hand free to guide the grease supply hose and fitting and hold them in place. Air power also saves a lot of elbow grease, Bow says.

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