In the Shop
By: Dan Anderson
, Farm Journal
As a farm machinery mechanic and writer, Dan brings a hands-on approach that only a pro can muster. Along with his In the Shop blog, Dan writes a column by the same name as well as the Shop Series for Farm Journal magazine. Always providing practical information, he is a master at tackling technical topics and making them easy for all of our readers to understand. He and his wife, Becky, live near Bouton, Iowa.
Dec 19, 2008
I added another custom wrench to my toolbox last week, a one-of-a-kind tool you can't buy anywhere in the world. After fighting a stubborn nut in an awkward position for "too long" I purchased a brand new wrench from a tool set on our dealership's showroom, then cut and bent and welded until I had a short little 24 mm open end/closed end wrench with just the right angle on the ends to reach that troublesome nut.
That wrench will join dozens of other wrenches and tools in my tool box that I've either customized or fabricated to make repairs easier. There's a 9/16-inch wrench with two right-angle bends in the handle to hold the heads of bolts when replacing old-style rasp bars. It lies alongside a deep, deep, deep-well 1 1/16-inch socket I made to install or remove the old clamp-on dual-wheel bolts on tractors back in the '70s. In fact, there are a number of super-deep sockets I made by cutting in half sockets and welding them back together with lengths of pipe in the middle.
Some of those super-deep sockets are works of art, carefully welded then ground, then hand-filed, then sanded before painting to give a near-factory appearance. Others are ugly, off-center abominations with gobby welds, hurriedly concocted out of necessity during frenzied field repairs. The same applies to other oddball wrenches, wheel pullers and tools I've altered or fabricated. A coworker once described the junk drawer in my toolbox as "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly." But I've noticed that when he needs an odd wrench or unusual tool, I often find him rooting around that drawer in hope one of my homemade special tools will solve a problem for him.
One of the uglies in that drawer is a T-bar-type gear puller made from two scrap metal bars, with a big hex nut welded between them. Is it as durable as the fancy chrome puller advertised in tool catalogs? No, but it's not as expensive, either. And it's cut and sized to fit in a particularly tight spot that no commercial puller will reach.
I admit that I've written in stories for Farm Journal,"The right tool for the right job." Whenever possible, that's my motto and my practice. But when the right tool isn't available and the job has to be done...point me to the scrap iron pile and hand me my acetylene torch.
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