Old Tools - Blackbourn 390

By: Rob Blackbourn

Presented by

tools tools

According to Rob, there's no tool like an old tool. He should know...

From Unique Cars issue #390, July 2016

Comments posted on websites under features about interesting classic cars give an insight into what our game is all about.

"I had a similar experience. After 30 years effort we managed to find and buy back the actual TC MG that Dad hill-climbed in the 60s."

"Congratulations to the buyer. I’ve only seen one other Shelby as original and unmolested as that one. When I found it, I bought it."

"No names no pack-drill, but I’m finally close to doing a deal on one that actually transported the Queen during her 1970 visit."

So it seems that a classic-car-nut’s life can be seen as a quest, not exactly Holy Grail standard, but a quest nevertheless (or in the case of enthusiasts like fellow Unique Cars columnist, Jon Faine, a series of quests).

A recent response on a US site also showed that you don’t need a lazy hundred grand to play the quest-game. One guy’s response to the sale of a mega-bucks car was triggered by its immaculate set of original tools still in their lovely leather tool-roll.

Not at all overawed by the car’s ginormous price-tag, he wrote a post congratulating the buyer’s success while proudly sharing details of his own recent winning transaction. He had always wanted a Starrett dial gauge and he had finally scored one at a garage sale, in good nick, for $7.50. This was obviously one happy man. And I get that tool-quest thing.

When I stepped back from full-time magazine work a few years back, concern about the state of my home workshop (and my tools) jumped a few rungs up the priority list. There had been what seemed like a 24/7 job for over 10 years (time flies when you’re having fun – it did and I did). That had followed a number of house and job moves and a few years prior living overseas. So there had been quite a break between serious shed-stints – certainly long enough for some of my stuff to go AWOL. No doubt some gear was loaned out years ago, the loans now forgotten by both me and the borrowers. Some stuff stored in a mate’s garage and also at my daughter’s place was almost forgotten. This led to a bit of duplication from buying tools here and there to do particular jobs.

The end-result of my recent tool round-up and some gap-filling purchases is that things are now looking pretty damn good, if I do say so myself. There are still gaps like a missing pair of dial gauges with magnetic stands (can’t remember whether they were Starretts, though) and the ancient Morris block and tackle; there’s also the issue of the neatly packed oxy-set in the bench drawer. While it’s looking work-ready, there’s no gas – I surrendered the E-size bottles years ago when yet-another increase in bottle-rental charges made me ask myself how often I’d lit the torch in the previous 12 months. The answer was three. The bottles went...

As to the duplications, they include multimeters, welding rods, flaring tools, torque wrenches, impact drivers, 3/8-drive sockets, jemmy-bars and brake-shoe spring tools.
Two items, however, avoided capture during my tool round-up quest: One’s a little King Dick shifter that was part of my old Dad’s kit when he started teaching the very young me some DIY skills; he was still using it in his final years.

The other is an NOS (new-old-stock) ring compressor in a tastefully display-faded carton presented to me by former Unique Cars editor Greg Leech at a get-together toward the end of my time in corporate harness.

Excused from duty at the coal-face, they now rest alongside the 1934 Ford V8 roadster model on the desk in my study.

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