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Dan Anderson: 5 Shop Treasures to Never Throw Away

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Hoarding is unacceptable behavior in most shops. If every mechanic saves leftover parts and salvaged treasures, before long the shop and grounds look like a salvage yard. The general rule is, if you won’t use it in 30 days, don’t keep it. But every mechanic has an illicit stash of salvaged treasures. My stash of “gotta keep“ stuff includes:  

1. Screw-In Plastic Caps

These come in the ports on hydraulic cylinders and valves, and I’ve got a coffee can full of various sizes and designs. They are handy when capping off hydraulic lines to keep dirt out during repairs.

2. Hose Clamps

A hose clamp has to be pretty well destroyed and unsalvageable before I’ll let it escape into a trash barrel.

3. Hydraulic Fittings (including flat-face, flare and o-ring)

I never junk a valve block, hydraulic cylinder or hydraulic line without scavenging every fitting. I have 5-gal. buckets designated for specific types of fittings. Nothing frustrates me more than having to sort through unsimilar fittings when I’m in a rush to repair something.

4. Chunks of Pipe (from 2″ in diameter up to 5″ in diameter)

I cut them off in lengths ranging from 2″ to 12″ and use them for seal and bearing drivers.

5. Empty 5-gal. Buckets

The goal is to keep two or three empty buckets, but I’ll be darned if I can throw away any good 5-gal. bucket. Especially after I saw empty 5-gal. buckets selling at box stores to city folks for $3.50 each.

Never Turn Down a Cheap Wrench

Some people resist buying extra tools. I take a different view, and never turn down a chance to acquire more wrenches. Whether it’s a farm sale or hardware store close-out, I grab all the cheap wrenches. And I mean CHEAP. I’ll take wrenches with mold marks or graphics in Chinese, Bulgarian or Romulan. Then when I’m working on something that requires a wrench with a weird bend in its handle, or needs to be very short, I have no guilt in cutting, bending or altering it to fit the job. Have I ever cut an “expensive“ wrench? Yes, but only because I didn’t have a cheap wrench on hand.

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