Working on machines over time inevitably leads to the acquisition of needed tools. At first, it is general tools that have a wide variety of uses such as a metric socket set, and wrenches. However, I was looking around the garage the other day, and I was suddenly surprised at how many special tools were laying around. Some pegboard had several special tools for machines I no longer owned. Others were for that one time when I needed to get to the one bolt that was inaccessible by using a conventional tool. A few of the toolbox draws had special variations as well. As usual, I thought that I should categorize the tools that are beyond the basic necessities, and why I needed them.
Special Sizes. This category contains my Whitworth wrenches. I can blame a few Norton motorcycles for these tools, which caused the need for both sockets and spanners. The bikes are gone, but the tools remain. A massive 26mm wrench is also in this category. I can’t even remember why I needed this. Lastly, I can add a few large standard sockets such as 1 1/16 used for steering nuts that are actually metric! Lastly, I need to add the five-point and other “star” wrenches that BMW has forced me to acquire. I am not sure what was wrong with allen head hardware, but there you have it.
Special Access. In this group, I include the deep metric sockets that I have, some of which are in 3/8″ and others in 1/2″ drive. By the way, shouldn’t metric sockets have metric drives ? This mixture of 3/8″ drive, and 17mm socket seems somehow incongruent. But I digest….Also present here are swivel socket extensions, super long screwdrivers, and drum brake adjusters. And I can’t forget miniature ratcheting screwdrivers and thin spanners, and circlip pliers.
Specific Jobs. If you need to keep the alternator fan pulley stationary while you loosen the nut on a Porsche engine, you need the wrench made for that job. You need half a day and a troupe of contortionists to get this done without it. You cannot loosen the oil filter on the newer BMW R1200 bikes without the filter wrench made for the cavity it lives in. Ever try to replace the clutch on a 911 without the alignment tool ? Ever try to remove a reluctant finned exhaust nut on a Norton, or on a BMW /2 or /5 ? Ever try to convince a ball joint to separate from its’ control arm without a pickle fork ?
I Made It. I have a number of wrenches, screwdrivers, and other instruments that I have bent, twisted, amputated, or otherwise altered so that they could perform a specific function, or fit in a specific space. I also have some soldered wiring pigtials, 6v test lights, a wooden front fork stand, pieces of axles used to drive out other axles, old bearings to seat new bearings, etc, etc, etc.
If you have ever spent hours doing something that would have taken a few minutes with the right tool, you can appreciate the need for some investment of your time or money to avoid doing that again. You often grimace at the cost of some piece of metal or plastic that you know you will only need once in a while, but when you are in the moment of need, the right tool is priceless.

5 Replies to “There’s A Tool For That”

  1. Wayne,

    Ah yes! The bane of not having the right tool for the job…AND the pain of knowing that you will probably NEVER EVER need that tool again! If only you could SHARE it with somebody else. Wouldn't it be nice if you could go to some site called and help out other people in the same predicament.

    Then again, the fact that you were able to MAKE that specialized tool to do the job….well, that give cred to your manifold abilities (pun intended)! I made it myself! Yes, and it didn't cost me a thing…well, we won't count the skeen-teen hours of trial and error to make it work just so.

    Necessity is truly the Mother of Invention.


    Ps I believe the word you desire to use is digress, and not divert…You use that word from time to time, so I thought I'd just bring it to your attention….(yeah, I was al most an English High School teacher)…

    /8" drive, and 17mm socket seems somehow incongruent. But I digest….Also present here are swivel socket extensions, super long screwdrivers, and

  2. Dear Bill, is a great idea. Sort of like netflix for gearheads. Mailing some of these tools though would have homeland security knocking on your door 😉

    ps: I am quite aware of the word digress. I use digest intentionally. It is sort of an inside joke that goes back a few years to my first online journal postings. A speaker at a medical conference said it in a slip up, and I have used it ever since tongue in cheek…..

  3. BMW made the new 1200 machines a different filter tool than the 1100/1150 for no good reason except to sell you another $40 tool !! BTW, I see that you have both. hehe 🙂

  4. Dear bmwed,

    That change to the filter really ticked me off !! They had plenty of room to leave the filter size and the fluting on the filter alone. I grudgingly bought the first one for $30, and then had to maddeningly pay $40 for the 1200 version. BMWs are not cheap bikes, so I know it seems trivial, but this seems like another change for no good reason. Don't get me started……

  5. Dear Wayne:

    I spent last Sunday in the company of DucDude, who is in the process of restoring a 1952 Vincent Black Shadow. He gave me a tour of his tools, which included about 50 Whitworth wrenches, which I had never heard of before. I bought at discount, a complete set of tools in a ten-drawer rolling toolbox, and have yet to specifically need something that was not in the stock K75 tool kit.

    I hope you had a great Thanksgiving.

    Fondest regards,
    Jack • reep • Toad
    Twisted Roads

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