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Old 05-29-2005, 11:33 AM
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Brian Martin,Freelance adviser
 
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Spot weld driller Shoot out!

Spot weld driller Shoot out.


Spot weld drilling comes up on the forums quite often. Being I had the opportunity to use a couple of the best tools for the job I thought it would be a good thing to report on.

I have a very nice tool, the “Dentfix” Spitznagle spot annihilator, but it is out of the average hobbyists price range at about $400.00, with the two optional “clamps” it is about $540.00.
I have seen a cheaper version of the tool under the Astro name and had wondered if it did the job. Well, today one of my co-workers came to work with one. I had a pair of quarters to replace on a 2002 Chevy pickup. So, I used the Astro on one side and the Spitznagle on the other.

Astro


http://search.cartserver.com/search/...ords=AP%201756

Spitznagle


http://www.toolsource.com/ost/produc...ASVVDEQCBEDSL3

(I have no affiliation and do not recommend these companies, use at your own risk, posted for example only)

I found that the Astro is a pretty good tool for the money. It works very similar to the Spiznagle and will “do the job”.

The first thing you have to understand is that using one of these tools is SOOOOOOOO much better than any other way to remove spot welds you are floored the first time you use one. So either tool will seem REALLY nice the first use, you will be very surprised how valuable a tool it is if you do this for a living. After a few jobs you want to bend over and let someone kick you in the butt for being so cheap and not buying one the first time you saw it. It is nearly effortless to use. It is sort of like a hand held drill press. Only the drill press requires you to pull down on the handle to apply pressure for the drill to go into the metal. These spot weld drills actually apply the pressure for you. Just place the tool into position and pull the trigger, the bit goes forward while it is spinning and applies the pressure needed to send it into the metal. Not only that, the depth of the hole is determined by how deep you told it to drill! This is a very cool tool. It is not “needed” as a regular hand drill will to do the job, but it is very welcome that I will tell you.

I have to say the Astro is miles from the Spitznagle in ease and quality of operation. One of the good things about the Spitznagle is that the bit turns very slowly with lots of torque. This really lets the bits last a long time. The Astro spins almost as fast as a high speed drill, it will likely burn up bits. It didn’t cut nearly as fast, not even close. It seemed that the bit would burn up before it would get the cut done. However, it did seem to cut about as well at the last weld as the first, so that may be more illusion than anything. I did put the more expensive Spitznagle bit in the Astro to see if that would improve the cutting, it didn’t.

The biggest draw back to the Astro is that it only came with one medium sized clamp. I do not know of the others are available, if they are not, this is a problem. I use the three different clamps (the tool only comes with one just as the Astro) I have for my Spiznagle on most all big jobs. You need the different depths of access for the different welds all the time. The bigger clamps are too clumsy for many places and you can’t even get in there. The smaller ones are of course too short to get the bit back to the weld to drill it without hitting on something preventing you from reaching the weld. Without the clamps the Astro has a serious disadvantage, if the clamps are available it would be a fair replacement for the higher priced Spiznagle for someone on a budget. Remember with the Spiznagle the clamps are extra, about $60.00 and $80.00 apiece as I remember. So the price for everything I used in the test was about $540.00, quite a jump from the $200.00 for the Astro. It wasn’t fair that I had the extra clamps for the Spitznagle while doing the test. But I wasn’t going to torture myself for this test and not use them. The point is the clamps make a BIG difference. If they are available for the Astro that would move the Astro up quite a bit.
Understand, you don’t have to use the clamps, you can remove them and use the tool like a normal drill. That is how I removed the welds with the Astro that I couldn’t do with the clamp in place.

The Astro also has a strange way they hold the clamp on, it is a pin sticking out of the drill and a slot in the clamp. You slide the clamp over the end of the drill and then rotate it to lock in behind the pin. The Spitznagle has a spring loaded clamp that clips over a ring on the tool. You can rotate it anywhere you want at any time to position the drill over the weld. This is the problem with the Astro; You need to rotate this clamp all over to gain access to different welds. The Astro clamp would fall off once in a while as I was rotating it into position. Now, if I was using the tool every day, I am certain I would get use to where this would happen and avoid it. But I think it would limit where you may be able to put the clamp and that of course means the tool is limited.

Ok, that is an unbiased observation of my test. By the way, I not only did the test myself, I asked others who tried the tool for their feedback. One in particular thought nothing of my complaints with the Astro and felt it to be nearly equal to the Spitznagle.
However, this is my opinion; you don’t have to have one of these tools. If you are a home hobbyist it is a pure out and out luxury. Don’t buy either, save the money for more needed tools. If you are a pro, for goodness sakes buy the Spiznagle, it is well worth the money. By the way, I started writing this about three weeks ago. Since that time, the guy who brought the Astro has found it unsatisfactory and returned it in exchange for a Spitznagle.

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Old 05-29-2005, 04:02 PM
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Brian Martin,Freelance adviser
 
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I often get asked "How to you get welds in a floor or other place with where the clamp can't reach"?

I use my Spitznagle with one of the three clamps on about 95% of my welds. You would be surprised at how many you can get access to by simply cutting away the junk you are removing anyway with the air chisel.

I do floors all the time on late model cars. I run a cut with the air chisel about an inch from the frame rail (unibody cars) and remove the whole center of the floor. Then I will cut a portion out on the out side of the rail to the quarter lip, even if it is only an inch of metal I am cutting out, it is enough to stick the clamp around the back of the spot weld.

In the photo below you can see where I have cut out the majority of the forward inner fender on this car. I then can reach all the spot welds. Some times I will drill them from the back when I can't get the tool in to drill from the correct side. On this very inner fender I remember on the lower rail I couldn't get it from the side of the panel being removed because of engine componants. I pulled the wheel off and drilled the spot weld out thru the rail. I then put the new part up there with no hole to plug weld (as at the other points) and plug welded the whole from the frame rail side INTO the new panel, worked like a charm.



The photo below is an example of now nice the spot welds look once drilled. I call it "unbolting" the panel it leaves such a nice base for reinstalling a part.



Brian
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Old 05-30-2005, 05:39 AM
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Brian,

That was excellent!

I have owned a PBE rep agency for years and years back Dent fix sent me one of those as they wanted us to rep the line but we could not as we had another line that had stud guns and they had a stud gun so it was a conflict.

One of my salesmen wanted to play with the the unit so he carried it with a jobber to 4 shops. All four ordered it from the jobber.

To this day, I think that is the only jobber in the SE that has ever sold any of those units (or seen them) and he has sold a lot of them. Great quality unit.

Like you said the biggest thing is the TORQUE VS just RPMS.

When it comes to tools air or electric, I just think you get what you pay for
especially if your doing it everyday for a living.
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Old 05-30-2005, 07:44 AM
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Good stuff Brian, The Spitznagle hit this area about 5 or 6 years ago and I was lucky enough to be working in a shop that didn't mind purchasing it for all to use, any kind of specialty tool the shop would buy. It sure saved time on large panels, roofs, boxsides, quarters. Never tried the Astro version, now I know.
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Old 05-30-2005, 07:51 AM
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That looks like an outstanding tool for restoration shops as well. With the stratospheric prices on 60's iron these days more restos are coming out. I always used sheetmetal cutters or even hand held Whitney punches. That tool would pay for itself on one car. Thanx for the input.
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Old 05-30-2005, 05:46 PM
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spot weld driller shoot out

I havent tried either the spitznagle or the astro,but I did have a chance to use a blue point (snap on ) tool of a similar design.I used it while changing a core support on a late model gm car.I would definately have one of these in my tool box if I did much panel replacement. the tool would certainly pay for itself in time saved.
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