Saturday, October 31, 2009

Beaterblog Product Review: Harbor Freight 105 Piece Tool Kit

There's nothing worse than being stranded on the side of the road because of something completely fixable but you just don't have the right wrench to reattach your generator. Every beater should be equipped with a good but cheap emergency tool kit for both roadside rigging and last minute junkyard exploration. Harbor Freight offers a 105 piece tool kit listed at $64.95, but often can be found on sale for around $45. This satisfies the 'cheap' requirement, but is it comprehensive and reliable enough to be useful?

I bought this set in a last minute panic on my way to debate the purchase of the Simca in Muscoda, Wisconsin, a roughly 8 hour drive from my house if nothing goes wrong. Although my relatively trusty Nissan hardbody was most likely up to the task, it doesn't have a perfect record so I figured that any tool kit that I could find would be better than nothing.

Why You Would

This kit comes in a plastic case with four sliding drawers that are packed with an assortment of screwdrivers, sockets, pliers, and wrenches that all neatly snap into place. The sockets, although shallow, are provided in most standard and metric sizes that you would generally find in a 1/4" and 3/8" combination set. The sizes range from 1/4" up to 13/16" with metric equivalents. The screwdrivers, 3 Phillips and 3 slotted, are magnetic tipped with rubberized handles. Unlike Craftsman screwdrivers, these seem to not strip themselves and everything they come into contact with. Also unlike most Harbor Freight screwdrivers, the shafts don't rotate independently of the handles in high torque situations. The pliers set is fairly complete, containing two different vice grips, channel locks, dikes, needle nose, and 'normal' pliers with grippy rubber handles and a nice finish. There's even a wire stripper and connector kit but you'd really only want to use it in an emergency.

Why You Wouldn't

The first negative of this kit was realized when I was pulling out of the parking lot and all of the drawers slid out, not having a detent holding them into the box. I now keep this box in the back of the truck bed with a bungee cord tired around it to keep the drawers in. Maybe it's my fault for leaving it exposed to the elements, but this box doesn't just leak, it absorbs water through the top and contains it like a big sponge full of Chinese tools.

On the tool front, the socket set is the major fault of the kit, with the wrenches coming in a close second. For starters, the ratchet fragmented itself the first time I tried to use it on something on my truck that wasn't already loose. The sockets are all really shallow so it doesn't really work on most fasteners. Many commonly sized nuts and bolts on my vehicles conveniently do not match the sizes of the included wrenches, as it would probably round them off with the open end that is apparently composed of the melted and repurposed coil springs of American sedans.

Verdict

So, my new tool kit really only works on 66% of the things I try to fix with it. Am I being a little critical of a $65 tool set? Maybe, but if I had to do it again and had a bit more time to plan my purchase, I'd probably find an old toolbox at a yard sale, buy the Allen wrenches, pliers, vice grips from Harbor Freight, and get any other wrench and ratchet set. It may be a little more trouble to put together, but for roughly the same amount of money you could have a much nicer set that wouldn't be too nice to take to the junkyard or have in all of your beaters.

2 comments:

  1. That's great information. Thanks for sharing this blog. I did a search and found your blog and glowing review. It's been a big help! Thanx!
    Everything I fully expected of these tools. Great review!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Great information! I will buy it for my house. Thank you for sharing!

    ReplyDelete