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- Two wrenches together for extra leverage – If you hook the closed “box” end of a combination wrench to the opened side, you suddenly have a wrench that is twice as long for instant extra torque. Slip one half of the “C” through the closed end so the center rests against the closed end near the shaft. When turned, the top of the closed end presses against the shaft of the open end like one solid, longer tool.
- Improvised breaker bar with a length of pipe – Alternately, sliding a pipe over a wrench or ratchet handle acts as a perfect breaker bar for difficult nuts. The longer the pipe, the more leverage you have. Use caution though, many fasteners have been broken this way.
- Pencil as lubrication – The lead in a pencil is actually graphite, which is the preferred lubricant for delicate mechanisms like lock tumblers. Even light oils can cause problems in these mechanisms by collecting dust. Rub the pencil on the key to lubricate locks, or the threads of bolts to make them turn easier.
- 4-way screwdriver and drill for hard to reach screws – If you have a 4-way screwdrivers, with interchangeable bits and a shaft that pulls out of the handle, chuck it up in your drill to reach screws you can’t get otherwise. Clamp the drill to one end of the shaft, and you can drive screws with the other end.
- Wrench as a screwdriver – If there just isn’t room for a screwdriver, you may be able to cheat with a screwdriver bit turned by a small wrench. This is such a handy trick that several companies began making small ratchet handles for screw bits.
- Rubber bands help grip a stripped screw head – A strong rubber band can help remove screws when the head has started to strip. Press the rubber band into the head of the screw with the screwdriver, and the rubber will help grip.
- Magnet in your pocket – For small jobs, you can keep from losing any steel screws by popping a magnet in a shirt pocket. Now screws will stay in your pocket for easy retrieval when you are finishing the job.
- WD-40 can clean oil off concrete – WD-40 has hundreds of uses, but did you know is removes oil stains on your garage or driveway? Spray stain with WD-40, than rinse with water. Be careful though, it can make polished concrete slippery.
- Pipe wrench to remove rounded nuts – Rusty old bolts that have already had the heads rounded can sometimes be gripped by using a plumbers pipe wrench – the jaws dig in and grab as you apply pressure, unlike a normal wrench.
- Pinpoint lubrication with a screwdriver – Oil and other fluids will cling to a smooth shaft or a length of string. You can use that fact to pour a few drops of oil on linkages, or hinge pins. You may even use this to pour oil into the engine filler: hold the shaft vertical and pour your oil down the screwdriver.
- Remove screws with a welder – If you have enough room to weld, another way to get difficult screws out is to tack weld a small hex head bolt to the stripped head. Between the heat of the welding, and the extra leverage of a wrench, this method seldom fails.
One Man Brake Bleeding
- Gravity Bleed – With patience and time to kill, the force of gravity will do the bleeding for you. As long as the master cylinder is up high on the firewall, fluid will displace the air eventually. Starting at the wheel furthest away, loosen the bleed screw on that brake caliper/cylinder. 30 minutes later, close bleeder screw and top off the master cylinder. Repeat on the other rear brake, then the passenger’s side front, then the driver’s side front. With all the bleeders closed, pump the brake pedal and you should be done.
- Bleed Bottle – Any clean jar or bottle with a lid, plus a length of hose that fits the brake bleeder nipple can make a one man brake bleeder. Or, you can buy one for $5 at most auto parts stores. Drill a hole in the lid of the jar for the hose to squeeze through. Drill a small air hole in the lid. Add brake fluid to the jar to cover the end of the hose so no air can get in. With the hose connected to the bleeder, no air can be sucked back into the system.
- Vacuum Bleeder – The fast way to bleed brakes without a partner is with a vacuum pump. These pumps are about $25 and can also be used for like testing EGR valves and other things. Instead of forcing air and fluid out of the lines by pumping the master cylinder, you suck it out with the vacuum pump. Fill the master cylinder, suck out the old fluid and any air, and close the bleeder.