Setting up a small repair/chop shop need tool advice.

Discussion in 'The Garage' started by Ponies ate my Bagel, May 8, 2013.

  1. Ponies ate my Bagel

    Ponies ate my Bagel Bisexual Bandit

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    My wife and I are looking at turning my hobby into some extra cash. I've been buying and repairing/parting out bikes for awhile. I usually only do 1 or 2 a year at the most. She's really into working on bikes and mentioned that she wouldn't mind doing something like that herself. She's unemployed and has severe social phobia so she isn't able to work a normal job. Going to the mailbox just to ship out parts is pretty hard on her, but she does it about 2-3 times a week. She's got a bad back, so one of my big issues is making the shop a bit more "cripple friendly"

    Right now I have a decent shop in my 1 car garage, roughly 600-700 sq. feet and I have a pretty good selection of tools. All your basic hand tools, wrenches, sockets, tons of screwdrivers and some more motorcycle specific stuff. I would like some opinions on other tools that I may need.

    right now I'm looking at:

    • A motorcycle lift - The harbor freight lift has good reviews, but I'm hesitant to drop more than $100 on anything HF makes.
    • A parts washer - same as above, HF has a 20 gallon washer for $89. It's water based cleaners only, which isn't a big issue for me.
    • Some kind of low impact/cushy mats - standing sucks, so does dropping bolts etc. on concrete. I'd like some decently thick mats to provide comfort.
    • A comfortable mid-height rolling stool - I've been considering an office chair, but I'd really like something with a tool/parts tray on it.
    • Rolling shelving units - I have to have somewhere to store all the parts.

    I'm totally open to suggestions on the above as well as anything else you might have to add. We're going to play around with this some through winter and see how we do. If we make any cash I may consider actually turning it into a business, otherwise it will stay a small time hobby. I mainly just want my wife to feel like she's helping out, she enjoys the work and is really good at it. If she could be comfortable out there then we could get a lot done.
    #1
  2. bomber60015

    bomber60015 Anatomically Correct

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    HF lift and parts washers have been serving me well in my hobby environment . . . . hobby = fairly heavy use in my case.

    Rolling seat/stool/chair . . . . .I've got a stool with a tool/part tray, and an office chair . . . . their heights don't overlap much, but, to be honest, the stool's tray isn't used much -- can't see what's there when you sit, and it will put a strain on your wife's back to view/retreive objects from it.

    Mats . . . livestock matts are tougher'n hell, affordable, and work very nicely . . . farm n fleet, tractor supply, like that

    Rolling shelves . . . .why rolling? extra expense for a feature yuo may not use (unless you envision something like the office file storage facilities where the cabninets slide back and forth, allow access to only one at a time . . . . . )

    Best of luck with your endevor.
    #2
  3. Ponies ate my Bagel

    Ponies ate my Bagel Bisexual Bandit

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    I'm looking at rolling shelves so I can line 4 up in tight quarters and pull them out as needed to access parts. Space will be limited and I think that will make the best use of it.

    Good advice on the tool tray, I'll keep that in mind. I'm considering picking up a small rolling tool cart, that might be easier than dealing with a tray on a stool.
    #3
  4. HapHazard

    HapHazard Waiting for Gudenov

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    If $100 is your comfort/price point, how about the motorcycle jack instead?
    [​IMG]

    http://www.harborfreight.com/1500-lb-capacity-atv-motorcycle-lift-2792.html

    I have a similar Asian jack that works great on my HDs. If you are stripping down bikes, just pull off the exhausts first, then lift them up. They take up less room in a small workspace and are storable (you can even move a bike on the jack if you have to).

    I also have an office chair and a rolling work stool, and use the stool quite a bit more, but the chair is probably more "bad back friendly".

    Best of luck with your endeavor!
    #4
  5. Ponies ate my Bagel

    Ponies ate my Bagel Bisexual Bandit

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    I actually have one of these already. My big concern is that they aren't always stable when you're wrenching on a bike. I've almost knocked a few off of mine trying to break bolts that were torqued down by gorillas with impact guns. I can catch them, so it wasn't an issue, but my wife would either get hurt or drop the bike. I like the idea of a lift where I can install a wheel chock and strap the bike down to it. It's not that I don't want to spend more than $100 on it, it's just I want to make sure I'm spending my money on something that isn't going to fall apart in a year.
    #5
  6. disston

    disston ShadeTreeExpert

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    Start getting into air tools. I think it's OK to start with cheap Harbor Freight stuff. I have some of their tools and the air tools are often pretty good for the use I give them. But learn about the better ones so you can replace the HF stuff when it breaks.

    Grinders, sanders, impact and rotary ratchets. There are a good dozen things you will have a use for right away.

    You are going to have to have a good quality air compressor that puts out volume and over 100psi. Don't scrimp on the compressor. You don't need a portable unit. They are not big enough. A shop compressor is big and you use longer hoses when needed. If you are in a residential neighborhood this starts to be a problem. Compressors usually make some noise. Don't get the home owner Sears Oil Less unit. They are junk. Get the real thing.

    You will need the blow gun. This is the hand trigger unit that allows you to spray air at dirt and stuff. It is used to clean stuff up and blow the debris away. At my house we use a blow gun with a 4 foot end on it to rake the leaves. The blow gun is the most used tool when I'm around. :lol3 (I get teased about this sometimes.) The best blow gun is made by Milton and in general you should find a source for Milton and get the rubber tipped blow gun and an assortment of accessories. BTW. The style of hose tip to use is "M"

    Other professional tools that you will find a use for are welders. You should have an oxy-acetaline torch for cutting at least and later you can learn to braze and weld with it. I have an antique unit that still works fine. Although I don't use it much any more. If you have more use for welders the electric units are next. But the oxy-acetaline is sort of the general use, shop requirement.

    Build a solid work bench anchored to the wall and at one end mount a large vise.

    [​IMG]

    This is my favorite type and brand of large or small vise. There are many others. Research on the web will teach you all you need to know. If you are good at flea markets and such you can still find these for less than $50 or no more than $100 but the dealers will want $300 for the one pictured. Don't pay retail. You can find wholesale.

    The vise should be one that rotates. Some models don't rotate.

    Just one other item concerning vises. The best ones are used and old.

    I've probably gone on too long. I would love to be able to do what you are doing. Good luck with it. I hope this works well for you and your wife.
    #6
  7. Ponies ate my Bagel

    Ponies ate my Bagel Bisexual Bandit

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    Good advice! I've already got a large old-school vice, you can't call it a shop without one!

    I'm on the fence about air tools. I am living in a residential area, I've got a small portable that I got for $20 right now. I was considering just buying an electric impact. The cost of a good air compressor is a little more than I want to spend right this moment, but I'd love to have one.

    As far as welding goes, it's something I've always wanted to do, but I've been told by my optometrist that it would be a bad idea. I'm pretty light sensitive and even looking through a super dark mask I see colors for a few hours. I've been considering shopping any welding out to a buddy with 40+ years of experience. I'm not sure I trust myself with an oxy/acetyline torch...
    #7
  8. HapHazard

    HapHazard Waiting for Gudenov

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    Do you run tiedowns from the handlebar ends to the bolts under the jack pads? It's very stable for me that way (maybe your gorillas have stronger impact guns?:lol3). But I can see the table lift being superior in that respect, and in height (but heavier and more in the way when not in use).
    #8
  9. disston

    disston ShadeTreeExpert

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    Yes the residential neighborhood usually has to come first. So the smaller compressors that aren't running all the time will see use for stuff that really can't be done by electric tools. But you can get almost everything in electric tools these days. They have impact drivers and ratchets in electric in the pit stops of NASCAR racing these days. We use some of that stuff too.
    #9
  10. Ponies ate my Bagel

    Ponies ate my Bagel Bisexual Bandit

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    I do use tie downs on it, but trying to break a rear axle nut loose I just about flipped it over jack & all. I don't think the lift being in the way will be an issue. All our garage is used for is bikes & laundry. I'm hoping to have room for 4 sets of shelves, the lift, both of my toolboxes, a rolling work bench and 5-6 bikes. I actually have out of sight storage for another 4 bikes outside, but I'd like to contain this to the garage unless I'm making enough to justify moving bikes outside. I'm still trying to figure out how I'm going to ogranize everything. I'm thinking numbered boxes that I can put into a spread-sheet to manage the inventory.

    Yeah, I just don't see us needing air tools right away. I do want a nice compressor, but with the price and power of electrics now I don't necessarily need it.


    I'm mostly going to be either stripping bikes down or fixing minor things and servicing them to resell. I'm in a college area so there are a ton of bikes being bought/sold/wrecked all the time. This area also has year round riding so the season is almost never ending.
    #10
  11. Unstable Rider

    Unstable Rider Moto Fartografist

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    Great post and I will include that I am familiar shall we say with the social anxiety thing that you mention regarding your wife. That type of thing as crippling to some people as to someone who has physical impairments. Having both makes for a tough road. Hats off to your wife for having the interest in something you no doubt would both enjoy as a hobby or side business, etc.

    Back to the topic.

    Up till recently, I worked in a full service bike shop and really enjoyed having a lift table. That being said, while at work, the one thing I missed that I had at home was my big yellow Craftsman bike lift/jack thing. Handy as hell, about $180 bucks (dont get the cheap one).

    The other thing I will include is, at the shop where I worked we had an I beam and a rolling pulley/electric wench thing overhead that any of us could grab to lift a bike a couple inches, or a couple feet. Used it constantly during initial bike assemblies from the crate, the lift table does you little good if the bike doesn't have wheels on it yet or you want to take the wheels off. Pretty easy to to rig a hundred dollar Harbor Freight 12 volt wench to a car battery in the garage so you could lift things or hang things on occasion.

    Most consumers would freak if they knew many new bikes get hung up by their handlebars like a piñata during assembly sometimes.

    Best of luck to you and your wife with this idea.

    :clap
    #11
  12. Ponies ate my Bagel

    Ponies ate my Bagel Bisexual Bandit

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    Off topic:
    My wife and I met online and it was about 4 years before we ever met in person. About 3 months after that she left her home in CA and moved to GA to be with me. It was a lot for her to go through and about a year later we moved to CA together. She's never stopped looking for work or trying to help out, but she just can't seem to find something that works for her. Either she's to scared/nervous or she can't physically do the work because of her back.

    She loves bikes, I wasn't riding when we first got together and when I brought my first one home she flipped out. It wasn't a week before I was buying women's riding gear and taking her on small trips. We're actually about to fly to GA from CA to pick up a Concours 14 and will be riding it back over about 2 weeks. She's always been into working on bikes/cars/trucks/boats so I know she enjoys it. I just got sick of people treating her like shit and not understanding her disability. I figured she could do something she loves and maybe we'd bring in some extra cash at the same time.

    On topic:
    Thanks for the advice, I was considering going with an engine hoist (grew up calling them a one-armed bandit). I'm not sure the garage would support much weight internally, so I'm not sure a winch lift would work.
    #12
  13. Ponies ate my Bagel

    Ponies ate my Bagel Bisexual Bandit

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    I'm trying to find a trailer so that I can haul bikes a bit easier than loading them in my rangers bed. I'm looking at this one from HF if I can't find a used one.

    http://www.harborfreight.com/1195-l...iMjQ5Ljk5IiwicHJvZHVjdF9p ZCI6IjIxNzUifQ==

    Does anyone have this trailer? I need to know if I'll have to add tie down points or if I can just run it over the edge of the trailer. I figured I could get a single 4x8 sheet of plywood, prime it, paint it and bolt it down pretty easily.

    I want to add wheel chocks as well and was looking at doing 2 of these: http://www.harborfreight.com/automo...tands/motorcycle-stand-wheel-chock-97841.html
    #13
  14. MikeinEugene

    MikeinEugene Long timer

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    I have a HF trailer similar to the one you posted. I kept an eye out on CL for several months until I found it for $120 assembled & only used a couple of times :clap

    I built sides for it & we use it for yard debris/gravel/bark etc. No problems with it in the past 3 or 4 years.

    For hauling bikes on there, the wheel chocks or just regular tie-downs through frame holes would work.
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  15. HapHazard

    HapHazard Waiting for Gudenov

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  16. qkenf4u

    qkenf4u Been here awhile

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  17. gatorgrizz27

    gatorgrizz27 Been here awhile

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    I have the trailer you posted, it works great. I use their $40 wheel chock which is also awesome, and just hook straps on the frame of the trailer outside the stake pockets. FWIW, getting two bikes that you care about damage to will be tough on that trailer, dirt bikes are no problem, and I have fit 5 bikes that made a trip to the scrapyard on mine, strapped across the top.

    You really want an impact wrench. For parting bikes out it is a massive time saver, I can have a bike stripped and the engine out in 30 minutes. You don't really have much need for a large compressor so an electric one could be fine, but they are heavy. A cordless impact driver is also awesome for body panels and side covers, but they don't have enough grunt for chassis bolts typically.

    When I was parting out bikes heavily, I just used a dedicated shelf for each bike, that way you don't have to tag and label every single part. I would tear one bike down completely, photograph every part, then toss it on a shelf and do another one. Put parts on ebay for what you want for 30 days, reduce it by half if they don't sell for another 30 days, then it's off to the scrapyard or trash.

    If you have a large enough shop you can keep inventory longer, but I just wanted them in and out.
    #17
  18. Prior

    Prior Been here awhile

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    Best of luck! I've done a few 'roller' Buells that became choppers (I bought the bikes less engine) and enjoyed doing the same thing you are. I just haven't found many lately and an not the expert in some other brands to really make this a viable thing to do. Perhaps I need to start looking more...

    Great suggestions on the tools, particularly the air tools. I don't yet have a lift, but do have a tire changer and a pile of hand tools from being an engineer. Pick things up as you need them and with some of the proceeds from your sales and your collection will grow quickly.
    #18
  19. tire joe

    tire joe Been here awhile

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    I have a 18 volt snap on cordless impact, it will take the lug nuts off a ton truck.
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  20. jdrocks

    jdrocks Gravel Runner

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    the best tool that you can put your hands on at this point is a professional business adviser, most often provided free-of-charge through the business development agency of your city, county, or state.

    when you complete a business plan and find out what it takes these days to operate a legitimate small business, complete with incorporation, insurance, license(s), accountant, tax ID, zoning permits, and so on, then you can decide if this is what you really want to do.

    of course, you can try to operate gray market and stay under the radar as many do, but the risk is great. on any given day, someone may drop a dime on your operation, or worse, you start getting certified mail from some law firm, the IRS, or (fill in the blank here). when that day comes, every asset you have and every dollar you may earn will be fair game.
    #20