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Fixing up the Mom Van

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Pit Crew in training.

Now for something completely different. It’s one thing to be totally immersed in your project car. You can plan and experiment with how and what you want to change and improve. Daily transportation is a whole other movie. Especially when you’ve got a project car completely dismantled in your garage, lean-to or carport. Naturally, that’s when one of the daily drivers needs attention.

I don’t want you to get the wrong impression about this installment. I’m not going to walk you through the step-by-step rebuilding of a Chrysler Town & Country front suspension. This article is written in homage to all the folks out there who invariably, end up doing this kind of work in their driveway. Under the mid-day sun and on your back under the stars (if things don’t go as planned)

It’s not like a guy chooses to lay his auto repair out for the whole neighborhood to see, but in your standard suburban 2-car garage, there’s really not enough room to work on two cars at once. There’s barely room for one car that’s a more involved project. Which brings me to my point. When you have to work in the driveway, I have some tips and tools that can help make life a little bit easier.

1. Get a decent creeper

This might seem like an elementary point but I’m serious. Most creepers will work fine on a smooth and clean concrete floor. Of which, mine is neither. Years ago, my wife bought me a Bone-ster creeper. This thing has large, well-shaped casters and a very rigid design. Perfect for rolling over the cracks and uneven sections of concrete in your driveway.

Keep the casters clean and tight and you too will see decades of faithful service from it.

2. Don't kneel directly on the ground

Get yourself a decent mat or pad instead. It may not seem like a big deal until you reach 40. Then it still doesn’t seem like THAT big a deal, until you try to throw your legs over the edge of the bed the next morning. I sure wish I’d been kinder to my knees over the years.

I use a variety of different ground cover when I have to work on the floor. Some old interlocking playmats are a quick and easy cushion. However, the oversized Speedway Race Mat has the added bonus by being large enough to stack your tools on and drag them to the other side of the car, or toolbox when the job is through. Let me tell you, I’m a thinking man ;)

3. Don't work in the dark

I know what you’re going to say.

“I’ve already got a really good drop light.”

So do I, it hangs in the middle of the shop, it’s bright as day, has a retractable 50’ cord and is as impractical as it gets to drag out into the driveway only to constantly run over or dance with the cord.

As inexpensive as our NEBO light assortment is, there’s no excuse to hate you work light anymore. I use a cordless LED light for almost everything that’s not under hood work. They’re tough too. Unofficially, I’ve given mine swimming lessons, it’s taken flight and may or may not have been used a time or two as a blunt percussion tool. Still works. Still my go-to.

Oh yeah, no sweat babe, it'll be fixed by morning.
4. Don't leave a mess

There was a time that I didn’t really care that the driveway in front of my garage looked like an environmental disaster. I’m still not sure at what point in my life that changed, actually. I can remember rolling around under cars at my old house and having to change my t-shirt afterward because it had soaked up some of the nasty that was caked to the pavement.

I discovered quite by accident that the newer biodegradable engine degreasers have a nice side-effect. After degreasing and power washing an engine bay I noticed that I’d also made a clean spot in the driveway. Naturally, that led to spraying, scrubbing with a push-broom, and power washing the rest of the soiled areas.

Not only will this extra step help prepare your workspace for the next un-planned mechanical adventure, but your wife will be happier about not having to look at a grease spot every time she pulls in to park.

In the driveway. Outside. Because the garage is full of hot rod stuff. As it should be. (Don’t tell her I said that.)

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