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Accessories When you need it…

When you need it…

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

A history of airguns

This report covers:

  • US Army pocketknife
  • Supergrade safety installation tools
  • Crosman Pellgunoil
  • Pelican light
  • Midnight Manager
  • ATF Stop Leak
  • Scragging tool
  • Over to you

Before we begin I want to wish all of the United States a happy Memorial Day. This is the day in which we remember all those who have died for our country. I remember Grady Triplett, who died in Viet Nam far too soon. We were cadets together at San Jose State College in the 1960s. I have visited his name at the Viet Nam memorial several times, and I always think of the sacrifice he made.

Today’s report will be very different. I have wanted to do it for years and just never found the right way, but today I believe that I have. I am going to share with you a few (and I mean a very few) of the tools I use all the time. Then I want you to share with us those special tools you use and why they are so special. Once you read the report, I think you’ll get the idea.

US Army pocketknife

My most valuable tool is with me all the time. It’s a camp knife made for the U.S. Army and issued during World War II. It was made by Camillus and the USA on the escutcheon stands for US Army. There is also a Navy version that says USN.

My WWII camp knife was made for the US Army. When I started carrying it 30 years ago it looked like new.

I use it to tighten screws, ream holes, pry can lids open and cut things. I can’t imagine my life without it. I even bought an identical one from Ebay in case something happens to this one.

Supergrade safety installation tools

The safety on a Sheridan Supergrade is easy to install but you can’t hold it as you install it. And you need to. Somehow you have to hold on to a tip of the safety that’s about 1/16th of an inch long. I tried needlenosed pliers, but there isn’t enough to grab onto.

Then I found a small hollow bit of rubberized plastic that fit over the tip of the safety, and I had success on the first try. Sheridan Supergrade owners need a “tool” like this one! Jeff Cloud used painter’s tape, wrapped around the safety until it was strong enough to put slight downward pressure on the safety, which has to be done during the assembly. You don’t need a tool like this until you need it, and then nothing else will do.

Supergrade safety
So little of the safety button sticks up that a special tool is needed to hold it and push down slightly for installation.

Crosman Pellgunoil

You may not think of oil as a tool, but I have “fixed” more CO2 guns with Crosman Pellgunoil than I have by any other means. This stuff is magic! Buy some, don’t worry about the price and use it.

Crosman Pellgunoil
I harp on it all the time, because this stuff is good health for your gas guns!

Pelican light

I own over 50 flashlights, but the Pelican 1920 is my favorite. It runs on two AAA batteries, which I am converting to rechargeable. I have three of these because they are so great (small, bright and light) that they fit into spaces other flashlights won’t. I gave one to Otho that is now his favorite flashlight. Get one and see.

Pelican 1920
The Pelican 1920 is the handiest flashlight I own, and I own a bunch of them!

Midnight manager

This Swiss Army Knife has every tool I really need and it’s so small that I carry it all the time. It has a flashlight that I use all the time. It has a ballpoint pen! It has scissors. And, yes, it has a pen knife blade.

I have bought several of these used from Ebay and give them as gifts. Instead of $42, they cost me $10-20, and often look like new. As I tell everyone — I use the flashlight on my Midnight Manager to help me find my other flashlights!

Midnight Manager
The Swiss Army Midnight Manager has every tool I need — including a small light (press on the logo) to help me find my other lights!

ATF Stop Leak

This is my new Pellgunoil! It works in those older CO2 guns where the seals have hardened. When Pellgunoil won’t do the job, this often will. I bought 20 eye-droppers off Ebay, just to dispense this stuff!

stop leak
Automatic Transmission Fluid stoip leak fixes old hard seals.

Scragging tool

I made this simple tool 25 years ago for spring gun jobs and I still use it. Instead of me telling you about scragging, you can read about it here.

scragging tool
My mainspring scragging tool is easy enough to make…

scragging tool at work
…and, it works!

Tota light

I have used my Tota lights for more than 20 years. Tota lights are incandescent photographic lights that are so rugged the U.S. Navy used them to film the interior space in a submarine that was hit by the shock wave of a nuclear explosion. The sub was pushed 20 feet to the side but the Tota lights continued illuminating through the blast.

I use them to illuminate all indoor targets, plus the ceiling above my chronograph when I’m testing velocity. I also use them for photography, though the newer digital cameras don’t need much light like the older film cameras did. The bulbs last a very long time, despite burning with 500 to 750 watts of power.

Tota light
This Tota light has been my friend for several decades.

Over to you

That’s my list. I left out my regular tools because everyone has tools like that. I gave you a few of the most indispensable tools I own.

Now it your turn. Tell us what you have and why it’s good.

author avatar
Tom Gaylord (B.B. Pelletier)
Tom Gaylord, also known as B.B. Pelletier, provides expert insights to airgunners all over the world on behalf of Pyramyd AIR. He has earned the title The Godfather of Airguns™ for his contributions to the industry, spending many years with AirForce Airguns and starting magazines dedicated to the sport such as Airgun Illustrated.

87 thoughts on “When you need it…”

  1. B.B.,

    Hemostats which are fine tipped surgical clamps are useful in grasping small items. A large magnifying glass that doesn’t give you a head ache as you use it. A strong magnet to help find those pesky small screws that fall to the floor.


    PS You forgot to link Scragging tool to the first paragraph second sentence last word to: /blog/2012/03/resizing-a-mainspring/

    Section Over to you
    That’s my list. I left out mt (my) regular tools because everyone has rtools (tools) like that. I gave you a few of the most indispensable tools O (I) own.

  2. BB
    I have had or may still have both knives you reported on today. The problem is I don’t know why I still don’t have them or where that might be or went.

    And scragging. Does anyone really do that anymore.

    Stop leak I always wish I really knew what that means and why I really need to use it. That means your trying to mend something that should be fixed by replacement parts. In other words do the job right

    And ok I get the filming light. Cool piece of equipment.

    And the AAA flashlights do perform. There’s like a mini war that goes on at work to has the best flashlight. And I should add who’s flashlight last the longest. From what I see the AAA batteries are winning so far.

    And lastly that’s my view on things. I’m guessing others can accomplish things as they like. And the beat goes on, and on, and on. But I can say I like tools that work…Right.

  3. These flashlights when they are under $1.50


    I have around 10 and have given away far more. Great little things with zoom to flood or take of the lens for maximum flood. Be careful when buying clones from different sellers because they can be awful i.e. take out of packaging — put in battery — turn on — take out battery — throw flashlight in garbage.

      • Rambler if it was the same seller then it was me. I hope you got them for a good price and spread the word. Do you use any without the lens? Most of mine are in that configuration.

        • Sean,

          If you see those at that price again give a shout out here please. That looks like an incredible bargain and if you leave a comment here I will see it for sure as I am a constant reader of this blog. I’ll be watching for it myself but just in case….


            • Seantheaussie,

              Didn’t realize it was an auction. Thought it might be a “buy it now” price. I put in a bid and now I’ll watch. Thanks for the heads up.


          • Rambler it didn’t occur to me until I was looking at headlamps and came across zebralight, they don’t concentrate the beam and it works great at short distances.

            For night fishing I just clip it to the collar of my jacket pointing down and I have a pool of light right where my hands are.

  4. Thanks, B.B.; I need to get one of those WWII camp knives…too cool!
    I have over 60 knives, about 50 of them are pocket knives, and I switch out which ones I carry all the time.
    But no matter what else I carry, I always have my Leatherman PST, their original tool.
    I know they make others now that have more features, but as with your camp knife,
    I have carried this thing for over 30 years and used it on countless jobs…it’s an old friend.

    Wishing a blessed Memorial Day to all, with a big thank you to all who have served our great country, especially all those who gave their lives for the freedoms we enjoy today!

    • I just looked at a video and the Picquic screwdriver is very cool and much faster than my cheap ratchet multi screwdriver which involves a lot of swearing when trying to store the bits in the handle.

      I still generally grab my swiss army knife when I need a screwdriver though.

    • Mercury sorry I didn’t address my previous reply to you. I don’t post here enough to always remember the etiquette. On reddit you just reply.

  5. I have made a wooden rifle caddy/stand to store my rifle when not shooting it also holds
    my pellets,hex tools and screwdrivers plus gloves. When I mount and setup
    my scopes or clean the rifle it keeps it steady.

  6. I have Weihrauch and Walther at the momement , used for target shooting at the shooting range, belong to an HFT club but only attend social shoots, same vintage as BB. Hw30s with open sights great for 10m target and spinner targets at 15m.

  7. Seantheaussie
    I have had many other types of storage screwdriver but I like the Picquic the best, safe to use on your air rifle screws.
    I also carry a Victorinox swiss army knife the Hunter model and for heavy duty work a Leatherman core built like a tank

  8. I’m not sure this fits todays topic but my p-38 is always on my key chain. The only time I’ve used it for is intended purpose was when I got it 30 plus years ago just to see if it would open a can. Since then is has acted as an impromptu knife ,screwdriver ,finger nail cleaner, and scraper. Sometimes when I’m bored I just get it out and marvel at the ingenious simplicity of the design.

    • Carl,

      I almost mentioned my P38, but I wanted to keep my remarks to airgun tools. I have opened thousands of cans with it in the 40 years I have owned it. I can open a can faster than some people can connect their fancy electric can openers to the can, and mine works when the power is out.


  9. Well, there is always the standard tool kit: coat hanger, duct tape, WD40, a large hammer and a pair of Vice Grips. 🙂

    My modern additions to the standard kit would include…

    Useful products…
    – Naphtha as a cleaner/degreaser
    – CA glue for repairs
    – UV cure resin (Bondic)
    – TIAT grease (Lucas Red & Tacky) to hold small parts in place during assemble and as a lubricant.

    For use where big fingers won’t reach…
    – a bodkin (a large sewing needle mounted in a 5″ dowel handle)
    – a fine pair of quality tweezers
    – hemostats
    – a rare-earth magnet mounted in the end of an 18″ long dowel
    – wooden dowels with notches/barbs filed into one end (to hold a cloth for cleaning inside tubes)
    …and don’t forget that coat hanger can be easily flattened, filed, bent and twisted into special tools

    Some other stuff…
    – a pair of jewelers glasses or drugstore “reading glasses” (about 1.5 diopter)
    – a good light on a swivel base
    – a digital camera and a note pad to record disassembly details (so that reassembly is possible 🙂 )
    – a piece of low-pile carpet to protect stocks and blued metal from scratches
    – a couple of pieces of thick leather to protect items that need to be clamped in a vise
    – a large cookie sheet or cafeteria food tray to work in so small parts aren’t lost
    – a muffin tin or egg carton for temporary storage of small parts

    I like to make a kit for each rifle that contains the screwdriver bits, allen keys, custom/special tools, spare hardware, O-rings and other stuff that is needed for maintenance work. A labeled “freezer” quality ZIP-Loc bag keeps it all together. I keep my notes and a list of the large tools (like wrenches) that I will also need in the bag for reference.

    Whew! The list is longer than I thought!

    Happy Monday all!!


  10. My own EDC knife is the Victorinox Midnight MiniChamp — adds a few more tools to your Midnight Manager and is still quite small. In particular, the light, ballpoint pen and scissors have bailed me out many times.

  11. Some of the best tools are dental pics. My daughter-in-law is a dentist hygienist so I can get the tools she no longer can use. Great for removing 0-rings, reaching inside an action to get the small spring you dropped inside and many other uses. Ask your dentist for any he can no longer use. Also, dental drills will work in your Dremel when they are too dull to drill teeth. I’ve given several dental pics to friends from my stock of them.

  12. Happy Memorial day folks! The first tool to have is probably the Victorinox.
    I wouldnt go backpacking with out one.There’s usually one in the car, and near the coffee table.
    So, wouldn’t a small pellet gauge be a nice pull out tool on one? Or, on the Leatherman. I used one of those for electrical work for a long time too. Never got zapped, but wondered about insulated handles. If it opened as fast
    as one of those butterfly knives, id get another one! Best,R

  13. B.B.

    What a great idea for a blog!
    Mine are a small swiss army knife like yours. Their scissors are invaluable! I wish they would make one with a scissors AND a cork screw.
    Reading glasses, for the fine print you know.
    Kitchen shears I find are the most often used.
    Wallet full of at least $300. Without fun tickets, you are lost.


    • Yogi,

      I use my kitchen shears all the time, too. Mine are made of titanium and come apart quickly for cleaning. Edith bought five pair several years ago and I have them scattered around the house — including a pair in my center desk drawer. They are essential for opening clamshell packaging!


    • Yogi,

      I agree with many of your choices especially your fun tickets!

      The S.A.K. you might want to look at is the Victorinox Champion with cork screw and sissors and lots more!
      You could also upgrade your kitchen shears to a pair of Titanium First Responder Shears. They will cut through almost anything you don’t need Tin Snips for.


      • The Victorinox Champion is to big to carry around. I have one somewhere…


        PS For my HS graduation, almost 40 years ago, a family friend gave me something similar, 10 years ago the plastic handles were destroyed. I contacted Victorinox and they sent me the Champion at no charge.

  14. Everyone loves their Swiss Army knives but I got tired of re-sharpening the blade. The steel the two companies use doesn’t hold an edge as long as I would like. I discovered the Leatherman Juice C2 about two years ago. It’s slightly larger than the standard pocket sized Swiss Army knife, a lot heavier but it has all the tools plus a nice pair of pliers as opposed to the Swiss product. It’s my pocket knife of choice these days and the blade holds an edge much longer.

    Fred formerly of the DPRoNJ now in GA

    • Fred,

      Have you tried Wenger instead of Victorinox? Nowadays there is little difference between them, but 25 years ago I had a Wenger Camper that held an edge forever. A nice vintage Wenger is nice, and it, too, is a genuine Swiss army knife.


  15. B.B.,

    My grandpa had a Buck locker (110? 120?130?) in his toolbox, but when his arthritis advanced, he put an Opinel in with his tools and retired Bucky. Back when I water-skied all summer, we kept a boatswain knife in the glove box of the ski boat. We kept it in there for its marlin spike, but it wouldn’t keep an edge for more than half a summer, so we threw an Opinel in there to join it.

    On my keychain I have a tiny disposable pinch light which I love because it is not super bright. (Sometimes you want a dim little light.)

    Also on my keychain, and I use it all the time, is the $6 SWISS+TECH UTILI-KEY.

    Seriously, get one if these and put it on your keychain, extra ring required–it’s quick-detach. It’s basically weightless, and the blade is sharp and stays sharp. You can open it to 180 degrees without breaking it if you’re careful.


  16. Happy Memorial Day!

    First a word about the controversial use of HAPP Memorial Day! I have been to more in memorium services for individual service members than most. I know for a fact that virtually all of them would wish that we celebrated their lives and ultimate sacrifice with, rememberance, happiness and joy.

    My current Swis Army knife of choice is the Victorinox Champion with way to many functions; but the magnifyer, sissors, metal file/saw, soft material saw, fish scaler…etc. are all fequently useful. It does require a reinforced pocket!

    My most used tool however is my LASER boresighter. It has a green LASER and allows me to adjust (infreuently) or check the ZERO frequently on my Quackenbush pistols and rifles. I have found that the DAQ barrel adjustment system makes it a lifesaver for getting that first shot on target, both paper and critters.


  17. Hi, my first post here.

    I am one of the designers of the Tota-Light you mentioned above, and the one who actually put it into production back in 1975, with all the hassles of bringing an idea into a realized product. Lots of interesting details. For instance, the rivets that hold it together are not pop rivets, but instead are Chobert rivets by Avdel. (The Chobert rivet gun was my first airgun.) The clips that hold the doors were originally meant to clamp wires. I pressed them into service when the original method for holding the doors, as conceived by Ross Lowell, didn’t work out.

    Now, at 79, I am newly into airguns, mostly CO2 match grade pistols, shooting at home.

    • Welcome to the blog!

      I have been using your Tota lights since the mid 1990s, when the lead photographer from the National Archives introduced me to them. They are wonderful!

      If you haven’t seen this, here is a nice CO2 target pistol:



      • Hi B.B.

        I have a thank you for you. I’ve spent a lot of time reading back and forth through your postings and much of what I know today, I learned from your writing. And also from the other commenters here.

        I’ve been at this since last September and my current collection includes:

        Three Tau 7 pistols. It’s like having three horses. They’re all different, even to the noise they make. (I think of the Tau as a ’68 VW.)
        Two Hammerli Masters. (One working, one needs rebuilding)
        One Hammerli Single – Model D (Lange) which is like the Master.
        One FWB C25, currently awaiting shipment.

        I shoot these pistols in rotation. Keeps me from getting bored.

        I also have a couple of Daisy 777s, and a Zoraki HP-01 Ultra (from Constantinople). Too much work for an old man like me. The CO2 guns are more fun.

        • Tkinva,

          Welcome too! 🙂 It is always great to hear from air gun shooters from other parts of the World.

          I am always touting the benefit of having a air gun Blue Book,…. and for those of you that are wondering where a Tau or Zoraki hails from,… get a Blue Book,… it is in there! 😉

          Welcome again and hope to hear more from you.


            • Tkinva,

              As is only fair. After all, anyone who chose to live that close to D.C. is obviously nuts. 🙂

              Let me extend my welcome as well and ask what you feed your 777s. They weren’t around long but I have one and they never get much attention here.


              • Hi Half,

                I have two 777s, one that I rebuilt without killing it. My pumpers don’t see much action as I mainly use my CO2 guns. But after shooting the 777 for a while I think that the manufacturer’s instructions for loading and shooting it are wrong.

                Since I shoot indoors, and there are children around, I shoot non-lead pellets. The advantage is that everything is a lot cleaner. The disadvantage is that they’re lighter and more expensive.

                I’m shooting H&N Match Green wadcutters, 5.25gr and Sig Sauer Match Ballistic Alloy, also 5.25gr.

                • Tk,

                  Do your kids really prefer to be shot with lead free pellets? 😉

                  I may try those someday just to see how they do, but I doubt that I will use them on a regular basis because of the cost. What sequence do you use when firing your 777? I’m not sure how I do it without having the gun in hand.


                  • Hi Half,

                    The manual says: Open the bolt, pump the weapon, load the pellet, close the bolt. This requires a lot of juggling between both hands.

                    My method: Open the bolt, load the pellet, close the bolt, pump the weapon.

                    Another thing I found was to push the bolt handle straight forward until it seats the pellet, then press the handle down to lock. I was trying to push it forward and down at the same time. Ouch!

                    As for the non-lead pellets, I suspect they are cleaner. I keep a bunch of pellets in my pocket while I’m shooting and I wouldn’t try that with lead.

                  • Tk,

                    I use the same sequence that you do with my 717 and 777. I got them out and checked before you posted your answer. I’m sure you have noticed that the gun won’t pump unless you cock it first. I think Daisy recommends the sequence that they do mainly to avoid an accidental discharge. An inexperienced shooter might make a fist around the grip, including inserting his index finger into the trigger guard, it does provide a really nice handle, after all, as he prepares to pump. The way we do it the gun is loaded and once it is charged with air it would fire with a little pressure on the poorly placed index finger. Additionally, that same shooter might not have good situational awareness as regards where the barrel is pointed while he is pumping. One can be trained to do it safely the way we do it, but some folks only know what they see in the movies, on TV and in video games and those sources will not lead them to safe gun handling. Daisy was showing an abundance of caution I believe and I don’t blame them.


            • Tkinva,

              My mistake. Sorry. We get few people dropping in from around the world from time to time and with your handle and some of your odd named guns,… I assumed,…. and you know what they say about that? Even so,… hope to hear more from you. Chris

                • Tkinva,

                  Easy does it there! Your getting me all confused with those big/strange words. 😉

                  Good to hear from you,…. Chris

                  P.S.,….Just got it,… T.K.,… in,…. VA. Hey,… I may not be the sharpest knife in the drawer, but I am not the dullest either. 😉 Very well disguised.

  18. More and more I find my smart phone to be an invaluable tool. I use it all the time now for Chairgun and all the conversion tools and calculators that are available from Pyramyd’s website. I photograph ( and sometimes videotape) the disassembly of a gun. I use the voice recorder to take notes as I go. I use a lighted magnifier app to help me see tiny stuff and, when charting the shot curve vs pressure on a new gun, that magnifier lets me capture a temporary or permanent image of the gauge that is much larger than life sized. That allows me to get my readings down to about 50 psi increments, even on the smallest gauges. It also keeps my face safely off to the side when trying to view a gauge mounted out by the muzzle.

    I also have a multi tool that I have had for many years. The steel isn’t the greatest and the tools aren’t the highest quality, but they each work and have saved me many trips to the tool box. It’s made by a company call Coast. They are known for cheap LED flashlights. I think this knife was actually part of a knife/flashlight gift pack.I wanted it because it had a removable flashlight and bubble level but it also has many other tools that are just handy.


  19. This day I remember,
    Edward J Hogan, died in Viet Nam assisting a fallen Brother in Arms. Friends since birth. Our mothers were life long friends.

    When I get up in the morning I usually ask myself, “What should I fix today?” Keeping that in mind I need a lot of tools at hand all the time. A 4’W x 5’H Sears rollaway in my living room, one in the garage, two small 3 draw carry boxes ( One metric ) and a few tools in just about every car. A lot of the most used tools can be found laying around on any table or shelf. Although I live with my ex, I’m still single and own the house!

    A P38 can opener was on my key chain for many years and carried the flat sided U.S. camping knife, then a TL29 electricians knife, a Leatherman and finally a Kobalt multi-tool in a belt pouch. That Leatherman seems lost and may be flying around the world in some aircraft bilge?

    For airguns, a lot of allen wrenches, magnifier, a cheep 120lumens i-Zoom SWAT flashlight, 3AAA or rechargeable and some jewelers tools. The kind that fit through small holes in trigger guards. 😉 and fit the small stuff inside pistols.

    I’m a sucker for odd ball multi tools to keep in center consoles.
    Bob M

    • Bob m,

      I live with my wife of 35 years and I arrange and store all the tools that I have collected over a 42 year career in industrial maintenance in much the same way you described. It is always a point of contention and a frequently offered reason for why we may not make 36 years. 🙂

      I also am a sucker for multitools as well as LED flashlights. I seldom have fewer than 3 of either on me at all times. I have been the butt of many jokes among my friends and co-workers since I carried my first Victorinox Swiss Champ back in the late 70s. I kept it and an assortment of miniature hand tools like 4″ ChannelLock pliers, 4″ adjustable wrench, folding Allen key set, and a pocket protector full of scales and screwdrivers. I got my laughs when I worked with them on some call. I would let them climb down the 60′ ladder or walk back 100s of yards of catwalk climbing over and under steam pipes and wire ways to get the tools to make an easy fix. While they were gone I would fix it with the “Tiny Tool Kit” that I carried in my pockets. When they returned I would proudly display the fruits of my labor. 🙂


  20. Besides many of the things already listed,… I like these,….


    Good for making notes on targets.

    My “rule’s”, 1) try to make something,…. 2) modify something if I can spare it,….. 3) and finally buy it if 1 and 2 do not work out.

    Oh yea,… rule 4,….. don’t mess it up by short cutting. It may end up costing you mare than if you had just gone and bought it in the first place. Being a shade tree mechanic can be harder than being a regular one. At the very least it requires one to think outside the box and to show some genuine ingenuity.

    That is my 2 cent pearl of wisdom for the day ya’ all,…… 😉

    • Chris
      My shade tree mechanic days are fading away. Power Control Modules and Body Control Modules and all the other control modules with all the sensors are getting hard to deal with without specialized equipment only shops can afford.
      The old, Air?… Fuel?…. Spark? days are over. They take control and use of the vehicle away. No wonder there are so many fine looking cars in the junk yards.

      Considering a 4BBL 360ci crate engine for my Dodge 4×4. Enough is enough! Screw the gas mileage !
      Bob M

      • Bob,

        Yes, that is very true. Me? 2 years JVS auto mechanics, 2 years auto/diesel mechanics and many years there after in industrial mechanics. Even the big 2 story diesels.

        You might?,… get a kick out of this,….. got a Jeep Liberty a few years back. ’04. I thought that I would like to change the spark plugs. Opened the hood,….. where are they? I did not know that each had their own coil with very fine wires and were buried between the heads. V-6. 🙁

        I have a RAV4 now and do not even change the oil myself. My days of working on cars is long past.

        • Chris & Bob,

          I totally agree with you guys. Growing up my dad owned an auto repair shop / gas station. I started working on cars and trucks with my dad when I was about 14 years old. This was in the 50s and early 60s…when cars were a lot easier to work on. I learned a lot about cars and how they should be maintained during those years. I’ve worked on my own cars my whole life and never really could trust anyone else to do work on my vehicles. My last repair project was a timing belt change on my wife’s 2008 Volvo S40 a couple of years ago. I asked the Volvo dealer what it would cost to do the timing belt change and they told me $800 to $1000! Well, I found I could buy all the parts, plus all the other serpentine belts and pulleys, and a set of spark plugs for about $300 from RockAuto. I ordered the parts and began the job. The engine mount had be removed and the engine jacked down to access the end of the Volvo 5-cylinder dual overhead cam engine. I had also ordered a cam locking tool to stabilize the cams. The inner fender liner had to be removed to access the end of the engine too. I had read that the timing belt could be removed without removing the crank pulley but when I got down to it there was no way it would come off without removing the pulley. I had to order a special socket and spanner tool to remove the crank pulley and to re-torque it when reassembled. I had to leave the job for a couple of days waiting for the tools to arrive. Then when I attempted to remove the pulley, which I really did not plan on doing, my air impact wrench did not have enough torque to loosen the nut. I borrowed a friend’s impact and was finally able to get the pulley nut loose.

          This turned out to be a much bigger job than I had anticipated. Working on newer cars is no longer fun! After completing this job I sold those specialty tools on ebay and determined to never do that job again. Now at 71 years of age I no longer like crawling around under a car, and have surrendered the mechanical work and oil changes to the professionals. I will not use Walmart or any quickie oil change outfits though. I am a fanatic when it comes to maintaining my vehicles and lawn equipment and it’s very difficult to give up doing my own work. Recently I had to chastise the service department at a Chevy dealership for not torquing my lug nuts to spec on my Equinox. When I checked them they had been torqued to 80 ft-lbs, and the spec is 140 ft-lbs! So, there you go.

          • GEORGE,

            My awakening came when I was 45 and under a VW van. I got an eyeful of gasoline and resolved then and there not to do that any longer. I had been maintaining my cars up to that point, but it suddenly became un-fun.


            • B.B.,

              That sounds like no fun at all! Gasoline doesn’t taste good either .

              My worst experience working on cars was when I was about 16 and working in my dad’s shop. I learned a valuable lesson. ALWAYS unplug or power down a battery charger before disconnecting the cables. A battery exploded when I removed the cable, blowing battery acid all over me. The Lord was watching over me apparently because I had absolutely NO burns on my hands or face from the explosion. I was wearing a hooded sweat shirt at the time and the next day that shirt was shredded from the acid. I could have very easily have been blinded when that battery blew. Electricity can be a harsh taskmaster.

        • Chris USA,

          I haven’t changed the oil on my truck(trucks) in years, but I got tired of telling the Valvoline guy to leave my tires alone, they were right where I wanted them and don’t put anything in my wiper fluid tank because you’ll just dilute the RainX solution that I use in there and the air filter checked OK a week ago and doesn’t need to be replaced and I paid $17.00 apiece for those wiper blades 6 months ago so they better not be worn out and on and on. In short, “Change my oil. All the ” above the bumper ” stuff has been taken care of and I’m in a hurry. That’s why I’m here.”

          So before a recent trip to Georgia to steal some of their huge and excellent tasting early spring Crappie, I decided to change my own oil. I have to say that I have been a fool. Even with my ever expanding waistline I was able to slip right under my truck without even jacking it up. A 2 1/2 gallon mop bucket fit right under the oil pan with plenty of room to remove the plug. The really sweet spot in the whole operation was the oil filter location. The previous owner has installed a remote filter kit that, now that I know where it is, will allow me to remove the filter on my knees by reaching just under front bumper.

          Easiest oil change I’ve done in the 45 years I’ve been maintaining my vehicles.

          I also diagnosed and replaced a low voltage cable with a bent copper end connector going to a coil pack, as you described, because I got tired of paying garages to replace the # 3 coil pack every 6 months. They all came up with the same problem because they all had a brainless machine telling them the same thing. #3 misfire. Let me tell you, it was a pain in the ask to actually put an eyeball on that connector to identify the real problem and an even bigger pain to replace it, but it cost $12.00 and I had spent $ 1800.00 over 3 occasions with no joy to show for it.

          I’m with ya ,Chris. I HATE workin’ on cars! But what do ya do when you can’t even pay somebody to do it right the first time.

          Anyone out there, in any part of the country, that has a garage that fixes the problem right the first time or reimburses you for their mistaken diagnoses, please give me your location. I want to relocate my family there. 😉

          Doggonit, Chris, you done rubbed up against my sore spot!!


          • half,

            Yup, on the oil change places. I run good wiper fluid too. They topped it off one time and charged me a buck. That never happened again. Having a RAV4, it runs 0-20 full synthetic, so I buy my own and filter. 24$ is what it cost to have it changed. Apparently they feel justified in charging 10$+ per quart for full synthetic that they are not really sure of what the actual brand is. Don’t get me started on wipers. They still only last a year. In Ohio, I run winter and summer tires. Last tires I got I bought from a local shop and they will swap them on and off the rims for 40$ since I am a customer. Most place are 17.99+ and do mean plus. Rotation is 10. They have my tire business for life.

            Monroe was good for a few, if you had a mailed coupon. I apparently used too many as I do not get them anymore. Then, last I checked, their “good” specials are only good if you sign up for/have their brand credit card. That was the last straw.

            Monroe and Firestone are the only Sunday options and I will use them as only a last resort. Walmart will NOT put another tire size on your car other that what came with it. So I have heard anyways,… more than once. I run 2″ taller (1″ lift) and a bit wider in the winter. Blizzaks. Really nice on/in snow and even ice.

      • Bob M,

        I love fixin’ stuff, but cars have not been included in that for a long time. Too many interconnected systems that you simply can’t gather enough info on to trouble shoot. I have never been one to just throw parts at something until the right one fixes it, but that’s about where I am with modern cars and trucks. I am disheartened to find that many of the shops that I have had to deal with in recent years are apparently in the same place, in spite of all their sophisticated gadgetry. I still am paying for more parts than I actually need.

        • Guys,

          Seems like we all have been there and done that trying to fix car problems. Last time I asked for a starter Bendix drive the counter kid had no idea what I was talking about. ” Bet you know where the pink windshield wipers are”.
          The world has moved on. May have to resurrect my old ’69 Mustangs. I have kept old cars going and never had anything with a key fob door lock control and trying to trouble shoot my daughters GMC Envoy and my Dodge Ram really opened my eyes to todays reality. Who knew repairing a shorted out glove box light would repair an engine misfire? Evidently it “Upset” the engine power control module.
          Now where did I put that dwell meter?
          Bob M

          • Bob,

            I still have my dwell meter and timing light…but have not used either in forty years.

            My son had a Chevy Cavalier and was having a problem with the starter catching. I knew exactly what caused that problem…I thought. I removed the starter and took it to Autozone to have it tested. They found no problem with it so I took it back home and installed it back into the engine. Same problem, starter would not catch the timing gear. So I removed it again and then went back to Autozone and bought a new bendix for it. When I opened the starter case to put in the new bendix I saw the problem right away. The fork that engages the bendix was made of plastic and one side of the fork had broken off. I made a third trip back to Autozone and bought a rebuilt starter. When I examined the new (rebuilt) starter I could see that it had the same plastic shift fork. I installed the new starter and he was good to go again…for a while. Six months or so later the starter had the very same problem engaging. This time it was on Autozone’s dollar though.

            Bottom line, nothing good comes from Mexico. I’ll take a Chinese product any day over one made in Mexico.

            • Geo
              That’s pathetic. Probably no need for longevity anymore. Save weight and money for profit and mileage. If you have the time Rock Auto rules. Option to pick your price and product with in depth description. Actually everything is cheaper on line. Too much competition.

              Have a ’79 Jeep Cherokee that misfired and stalled after driving it for awhile, but everything always checked good and it started right back up but kept reoccurring. Drove me crazy. Eventually caught it by carrying a multi-meter. The ‘plastic’ pickup sensor that replaced the points would heat up and spread a crack that caused an open circuit. It would return to back to normally after a few minutes of cooling down. A Ford part is always less costly. Jeeps were mutts !

              I just got lucky. My daughter has a very good friend who holds the worlds speed record for a front wheel drive car …. that he built !…. and is partners in a professional repair shop. My other daughter knows the first American to win the Ile of Man motorcycle race.
              Bob M

    • John,

      I find the Coast brand to be very good. It survived holy H and still kept on ticking. Finally, the tail switch went out, I still had the card it came on and sent it back with 5$. They sent a brand new one. The old one was 55$ at the time. I also have an LED Lenser, which I think is the same brand.

    • John,

      That is the main failure mode on every brand I’ve tried and I have tried many. To the point of being a fetish, if you put any stock in what my wife professes.


  21. BB
    Can I advise you to use Energizer Lithium AAA batteries in your Pelican 1920 flashlight !
    They have a said 20 year shelf life. I use them in everything I need batteries for.
    My camera uses AA and is always ready for use with the lithium. They just last and last, months into years. I stopped using recyclables a long time ago. “Don’t worry about the price, just get them.”
    One of my tools is a Defiant long stem light, 17″,with led on the end to see inside of compression tubes.

  22. I am late to the party but I want to mention a few things.
    1. Leatherman Wave -It’s my favorite multi tool. I use it a dozen times every day.
    2. i-Phone. Besides a phone, it is my instruction manual for anything, has videos of how to fix anything, has the Chairgun Ballistics Program with charts for my guns, contains 6 versions of the Bible plus several useful commentaries and other aids, has copies of books I am reading, maps, etc.
    3. My tool key chain containing a 4″ long adjustable wrench, whistle, 3″ pry bar, fingernail clippers, sliver getter tweezers and a mini lighter.
    David Enoch

    • David,

      Regarding the i-phone, it sounds like it does everything…EXCEPT MAKE A PHONE CALL!

      I am not a fan of “smart” phones and that’s the comment I make to people using them. 🙂

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