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  #1 (permalink)  
Old 08-06-2009, 03:03 AM
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a question for the professional mechanics

I am starting the diesel mechanics program at the community college in a few weeks. To start I have to buy about $1200 worth of tools and bring in my own box. I know this will be just a start when I get out of school and working. I am wondering how much on average a mechanic has in tools after about 10 years or so. I have a friend who is a mechanic and I believe he has about $50000 in tools. I am wondering how deep in tools I'll be. lol

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Old 08-06-2009, 04:45 AM
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That depends on how fancy you want to get. I know mechanics who work pretty much to just pay the tool man every week. Good tools are expensive, but some people go ACD over brand names.

Vince
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Old 08-06-2009, 10:15 AM
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I was asked one time how much I had in tools. Said I didn't really know, but was sure I could have bought a Ferrari and a couple of Jags for the same money.
Professionaly, you'll need good tools, but don't buy what you don't need till you need them. Eventually, you will have all the tools you need to do anything just in time to retire and have some fun with them.
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Old 08-06-2009, 11:29 AM
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I for one have been recommending some of the cheaper tools, even some Harbor Freight stuff , for the "weekend warrior" mechanics but for someone setting out to become a professional just the opposite is true. Buy the very best tools you can afford and don't try to scrimp here, remember making your living is going to depend on them. Now you are going to start hearing that this brand of tool or that has a great life-time warranty, they are so easy to get replaced, etc but it is NOT how good a warranty is it is how often you might need it that matter the most! A good warranty don't mean squat when a badly needed tool breaks on the job because you obviously can not just drop everything and run off to where ever it is you may need to go to exchange the broken tool, the warranty does not pay for time (money) lost when the tool breaks. The warranty also does not cover rounded fasteners or other failures because the tool was not up to the job nor will it ease the pain busted knuckles when that wrench or socket slips! Most any tool has a good warranty anymore so that honestly is not much of a concern when shopping for tools, far more important is to look at what a tool is capable of doing under pressure and how well they are going to work. For example both Craftsman (I am not picking on any brand just making an example) and Snap-On have excellent warranties but bear down on that rusted or frozen bolt with both brands of socket and see which one breaks first! I know from personal experience just how frustrating it is to be on a job losing time because of lack of a badly need tool and I can honestly say that cheap tools will get very expensive! Buy the very best you can and you will never regret it.
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Old 08-06-2009, 11:33 AM
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A hell of a lot of tools are broken, not because the tool was or was not up to a task, but because the tool USER didn't know what they were doing. A LOT can be done if you know how to properly select and use a tool in the first place.

Just because a tool will fit a fastener does not make it the correct tool. There's a reason there are 6- and 12-point tools, why there are offsets, why there are 1/4" to 3/4" and up drive socket/drivers, etc.
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Old 08-09-2009, 11:23 AM
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When I started as a mechanic an oldtimer tild me to buy the best that I could afford, he wasn't wrong. I still have my origional set of combonation wrenches that I bought from snap-on back in 1972 Ithink I have bought a tool from every manufacturer in the last 35 yrs. Buy what you need as you can. That old timer told me if you haveto borrow a tool more than twice you need it.

Lee
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Old 08-09-2009, 11:30 AM
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When I started as a mechanic an oldtimer told me to buy the best that I could afford, he wasn't wrong. I still have my origional set of combination wrenches that I bought from snap-on back in 1972 I think I have bought a tool from every manufacturer in the last 35 yrs. Buy what you need as you can. That old timer told me if you have to borrow a tool more than twice you need it. I started fresh out of the USN with a bunch of tools that I got from the sqaudron I was in when it decomissioned. I started to buy from Snap-on at my first job at $10.00 dollers a week, I made 400.00 a month as a starting wage. Boy that was a long time ago. LOL Snap-on was the only tool truck that would show up at the shop.

Lee
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Old 08-09-2009, 05:27 PM
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Since you mention being in diesel, if you plan on doing any field service or road service work, DO NOT SKIMP ON TOOLS i learned this the hard way with a craftsman torque wrench. With that said I'm in the process of upgrading my stuff I use for field service work, I still use my craftsman for shop work but when I am 75 miles from the shop in the mountains working on a genset a broken tool just does not cut it.
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Old 08-09-2009, 05:56 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by oldschoolrods
but when I am 75 miles from the shop in the mountains working on a genset a broken tool just does not cut it.

EXACTLY the point I was trying to make! It does happen and I have seen it too many times, when that tool breaks or ruins a fastener and you are out in the boonies that warranty won't mean squat! It is easy to lose far more than the difference in price of any tool when the chips get down and you need it but it's broken. Just try telling a job foreman or operator that you need to stop and go get a tool replaced so you can finish the job or just simply take too long to complete a job because a tool fails. For hobby work or just general maintenance tools like Craftsman, etc are just fine and are a good compromise between cost and reliability, for this kind of work it really makes little sense to spend the big bucks for pro quality tools. When your income depends on them however get the best you can and you will never regret it, after you have been in the business for a while you will see what happens when other guys try to cut costs on tools.
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Old 08-09-2009, 09:07 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by oldred
... For example both Craftsman (I am not picking on any brand just making an example) and Snap-On have excellent warranties but bear down on that rusted or frozen bolt with both brands of socket and see which one breaks first! I know from personal experience just how frustrating it is to be on a job losing time because of lack of a badly need tool and I can honestly say that cheap tools will get very expensive! Buy the very best you can and you will never regret it.
If you think Craftsman is bad- you should see the carnage I made out of some cheap china tool set my parents got me when I was 17. POS, and the clearances are off too. I don't think I have a lot of stuff left from that. I'm 23.

I'm a 'weekend warrior' type, I do all my own work unless a shop can do it better (and I have funds to pay them), and craftsman works well for almost everything. Much less $$ than snap-on. But- if I were a professional, I'd step up and buy Matco/Snap On/Mac/etc.
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Old 08-10-2009, 05:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ChevelleSS_LS6
I'm a 'weekend warrior' type, I do all my own work unless a shop can do it better (and I have funds to pay them), and craftsman works well for almost everything. Much less $$ than snap-on. But- if I were a professional, I'd step up and buy Matco/Snap On/Mac/etc.

Again exactly my point, If you are making your living with your tools then don't scrimp BUT does it really make sense to spend big bucks on Snap-On, Proto etc for home mechanic work? If you break something it's no big deal just trot on down to Sears and exchange whatever it is, you don't have to apologize to anyone for having to wait. Some things however may still be a good idea to spend the big money on, such as maybe a torque wrench?
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Old 08-11-2009, 07:29 AM
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My father was a diesel mechanic for years, bought the best. He said time is money. If he had to borrow or get something replaced under warranty he lost money and maybe a customer. I have inherited his tools about 50K worth of stuff. There is stuff that I have no idea what its for but I have them. There is no way I will ever part with his tools that is something I will cherish for the rest of my life.
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