need tool advice

Odd question here: My nephew is going to school to be a professional auto mechanic. He hasn't really begun to amass his tools, and I'd
like to buy him something for Christmas.
Criteria:
$50-$75 price limt
A tool that he will use throughout his career
Something that can be "excellent quality" within my price range, not necessarily "the best", but something suitable for beginning professional auto mechanic and would be good enough to be appreciated later in the career as well.
Something that one COULD skimp on if he wanted to (and my nephew will tend to do that at first), but where a "$50" tool is much better than say, a $15 one.
Ideas that have been given to me are a good (e.g. Fluke) electrical meter and a dial or digital caliper or micrometer. Unfortunately, even "moderately priced examples of these things seem to be $100 or more.
Any ideas for a $50 tool that a beginning pro mechanic would appreciate?
Thanks much!
Cam
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Torque wrench, fuel pressure test set, flare nut or crowfoot flare nut wrench set.
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I agree about the flare nut wrench set, but where in God's name do you find a decent torque wrench for $50? --scott
--
"C'est un Nagra. C'est suisse, et tres, tres precis."

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What HAS he got so far?
--
Tegger


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I'm not totally sure, but he doesn't have much and almost anything would be welcome, I think.
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Is this meant to be a Christmas gift?
Unfortunately, $50-$75 won't buy a whole lot on its own for somebody who has nothing to begin with. Sears Craftsman is a good beginning; they're pretty good value for the money.
He should start with a set of 3/8" Metric and SAE sockets from 10mm/3/8" to maybe 25mm/1". Plus a 3/8" ratchet with a swivel head and a few extensions. Sears has combination extensions that double as fixed and "wobble" types.
If he's already got all that, a set of combo wrenches, both in Metric and SAE.
If all of those already exist, then a Sears Craftsman click-type torque wrench in foot-pounds (probably a bit over your cost limit).
For pro use, stay away from no-name tools (or Harbor-Freight-type) unless money is really a very big factor. There is such a thing as false economy.
You can get often "suitcase" sets of sockets and the like on sale. Those sales can amount to /really/ big savings and give you an excellent collection of tools. My sister (a mechanical engineer, believe it or not) recently picked up a genuine Dremel set in a wooden case. Originally $100, on sale for $25. It had about a hundred pieces in it, plus a two-speed Dremel tool.
It might be better to simply give your nephew the cash, and tell him to watch for the sales at Sears.
--
Tegger


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Another oddity here is a timing light. People hardly ever need timing lights these days, but when you need one, you really really need one. And it's something nobody else will give him.
You can never go wrong with socket kits, though. And really, really good screwdrivers. --scott
--
"C'est un Nagra. C'est suisse, et tres, tres precis."

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Dad gave me a Craftsman one maybe 30 years ago and I still use it, even though most of my cars these days have a computer that will take over the timing as soon as I remove the jumper. (I also count some inherited wrenches from the Diamond Calk Horseshoe Co. that are older than I am as being among my favorites.)
Anyway, as others have alluded, (a) Craftsman is usually good enough for most purposes, and will certainly hold him until he develops personal tastes in tools and sources thereof; and (b) the art of shopping at Sears is to keep what you need in the back of your mind, know what it usually sells for, and wait for them to put it on a big sale. There are also certain Craftsman tools that are of interesting and useful outside-the-box design.
You could do worse than the Crescent or Channellock homeowner set from the big-box stores, actually, for a kid just starting on a long road that never really ends. Even if the mainstream of what he buys, on and for the job, turns out to be a certain brand that a franchisee brings around on a truck, everything has its niche. I have some tools that have zero snob value -- a few aren't even objectively very good -- but which occasionally turn out to be the only thing that fits in some godforsaken snake burrow that constitutes maintenance access in the computer-addled imagination of some soft-handed clean-suited "engineer" (don't get me started!).
Happy holidays, --Joe
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Ad absurdum per aspera wrote:

You mean you have some of those ground down, bent with the hot wrench and cut off wrenches too???
How about that set of cheap sockets that you grab when you find a half rotted off nut/bolt head that NOTHING fits. You know, the ones you drive on with a BFH then throw the entire thing away....
--
Steve W.

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I have an open end wrench I ground down a bunch of years ago, so I could make it fit into a tight spot.Another one, a box end wrench, I cut in half, I don't remember why.Needle nose pliers I heated up and bent the jaws into a right angle.I have quite a few times before had to beat a wrench with whatever was handy to make it fit on a bolt or net.
Some Craftsman wrenches are manufactured at a factory in Arkansas,,, I Say that is Good enough for anybody. cuhulin
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Done exactly that myself. That was the only way, for instance, of adjusting the master cylinder pushrod on my Honda without pulling the entire booster.
Plus I had to make my own suspension-spring compressor tool when I could not find a usable one on the market. (Remember that some generations of older Hondas did NOT have Macpherson strut suspensions!)

Living in the Rust Belt, I've faced this problem more times than I can count, and have used the same solution! I've also had to use a Dremel to make a new hex on rusted bolts because they were /so/ rounded-off that nothing would even stay on them, let alone fit.
--
Tegger


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Tegger wrote:

Same here. I have a couple sets of the Erwin bolt-out extractors. They work very well for the chewed up bolts/nuts. http://www.irwin.com/irwin/consumer/jhtml/browse.jhtml?catId=IrwinCat100511 One great tool for the rusty crap.
--
Steve W.

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Roger that. I forgot about those; I bought a set of the Crapsman- branded version of that tool, and they absolutely saved the day for me. Was trying to remove a supercharger bracket from a VW G60 engine, and it was held onto the block by socket head cap screws, with rounded off sockets. (Thank you previous hamfist, I mean mechanic.) Of course they were recessed into holes in the brackets, so no chance to try vice-grips on them. If those hadn't worked, I would have had to pull the radiator for clearance to drill the heads off, not something that I was looking forward to doing. (and worst case, I might have had to destroy the bracket, and finding parts for a G60 isn't easy these days.) Not a tool you use every day, but when you need it, it's a lifesaver.
nate
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And that's partly why I don't begrudge the expense of the tools I end up buying. When I do buy a tool, it's often because I'm in dire need of its specific functions. And if I was in dire need once, I could be in dire need again.
And speaking of which... In the spring I need to rebuild my rear calipers. This means I need a set of snap-ring pliers with a 90-degree tip that has a reach of at least 1.75". Seems to be non-existent in my neck of the woods, but then I also haven't checked the tool trucks yet.
--
Tegger


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Proto makes (or used to make) one. --scott
--
"C'est un Nagra. C'est suisse, et tres, tres precis."

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Another on my list of tools to buy eventually...
--
Tegger


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Tegger wrote:

Put them up top of the list. They are a BIG time saver.
--
Steve W.

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I did get some money for Christmas from the in-laws (early because they're going out west this weekend).
I was planning on the snap-ring pliers mentioned in another post (if I can find them), plus something else that I wasn't sure of yet. Maybe I'll get these too.
I replaced a bunch of regularly-removed bolts this past summer (with new OEM! how stupid am I?), but there are still more that will surely cause grief next time I have to tackle them.
--
Tegger


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I have a bunch of snap ring pliers. Irwin makes great tools, I reckon I will add some of those Irwin extractors to my tool collection.Recently, at the Lowe's store I bought two Irwin laser light devices which fit on to chop saws.One for a Christmas present for my brother inlaw and one for my chop saw.
I bought a new small electric Hitachi right angle grinder at the Lowe's store today, because my old Makita right angle grinder finally kicked the bucket.Right angle grinders are another handy tool for working on cars and trucks, sometimes anyway. cuhulin
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On Fri, 18 Dec 2009 18:10:50 -0600, snipped-for-privacy@webtv.net wrote:

Reminds me I want some kind of right-angle drill or flex attachment. My son and I put a new water pump on the '93 Grand Am a few days ago, and he pulled out a hard-rubber or some synthetic bristled brush for cleaning the gasket surface. Never saw one before. He uses it at work and says it works real good, not scratching the metal. Problem was it's designed so the bristles are in line with the drill shaft, so there wasn't enough room in the engine bay to get them onto the gasket surface well. Put it in my smallest drill, a 3/8" but it was too tight in there. Ended up using a razor blade, like always.
--Vic
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