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Where to Start putting together a Land rover Tool Kit

One of the most frequently asked questions is "What tools do I need / are best?" So to start with the most important, have you got a jack & wheel brace in the car? Its all well and good having a spare wheel, but unless you have the tools to change it, its pretty pointless. And this brings up another FAQ "Are Hi-Lift jacks any good?" So, answering that one first; yes, they are. For lifting agricultural trailers, tractors and the like, or lifting a Land Rover out of a muddy morass so that you can get a waffle board under the wheel.

Normal Trolley Jack, doesn't reach the axle to liftFor changing a wheel - no. They are too unstable to even consider using one for a roadside wheel change or lifting your landy onto axle stands for some workshop activity. There are possibly people out there who do would use one for these things, in a similar manner to the fact that I know that there are people out there that use 125cc tree felling chain saws for cutting up hardboard in their loft.

Next question, "What about a trolley jack?" well these are the most common type of work shop jack, and you find them in every car accessory shop. They are the favoured bit of kit for lifting a car to do any work, because most saloon cars come with pretty horrendous scissors jacks.

Two things about trolley jacks. First, they are a 'low clearance' jack, designed to get under ordinary saloon cars low slung sills and suspension. Secondly, they are not the most portable of tools, and not the sort of thing you can just throw in the tool locker and cart around with you.

On a Land Rover, you will use up most of the jacks lifting reach, just trying to find something to jack up, and taking up that kind of clearance with blocks of wood or bricks etc, reduces the stability to something akin to that of a farm jack. The typical Halfords 2-Ton trolly shown here, under a Range Rover axle, couldn't actually lift the wheel off the ground.

There is only one type of jack that I recommend for a Land Rover, and that is a hydraulic bottle jack.

They don't have the low clearance of a trolley jack, but they are more stable, and more stowable. The fact that they are about six inches tall in the first place, doesn't matter with the clearances under a landy, and means that they are closer to what you want to jack against and don't need to resort to wedges to save lift height. Most also have some sort of threaded reach adjuster in the top to take up clearance too.

Best one I have come across is the original equipment Range Rover bottle jack. This has a two stage lift, and is really easy to use. If you can find one in a scrap Rangie, brilliant. If not, next best thing is a Clarke 4 ton bottle jack. This has the best lift height / weight capacity of the range, and as shown, easily gets a Rangie axle off the ground.

They cost about 15, which is about half what you would pay for a trolley jack, so get two - I did. One in the Landy for wheel changes, the other in the work-shop / under the stairs with the socket set, for when needed. Having two of them can be really helpful for a lot of jobs, as it is like having a third hand or a very strong work mate that doesn't stand criticising or making stupid comments the whole time!

Which brings me on to wheel braces. Most reckon that OE wheel braces are a waste of time & space, and get those long extendable things from Halfords. For a landy though, you will need a bigger socket than for most cars, which often means leaving a hole in your tool kit.

Any way, I reckon that for about a fiver, the standard Land Rover wheel brace is pretty good. Its not too short or bendy, and will undo nuts that haven't been over torqued. So start off by going around your wheels with a suitable socket on a breaker bar, and one by one, undoing each nut, lubing the threads and nuts with copper grease to stop them seizing, then doing them back up as tight as you can with the standard brace. You don't need to jack the car up if you only undo one nut at a time, and that bit of time & effort is really worth while if you get a flat.

Note: the jacking handle for the Clarke 4-ton bottle jack is a nice fit over the handle of the standard brace if you need a bit of extra leverage, so it is a good combination.

Any way, whilst we are talking about jacking, if you are going to do any work under your landy - get some axle stands. Usually under 10 a pair, get four.

This means that you can have both axles on stands, or can use them as stage props and alternate between pairs, lifting each one notch in turn if you are trying to lift over your jacks normal lift range.

Also means that you can have chassis on axle stands and axle on axle stands if you are working on the suspension, say.

DONT EVER work under a Land Rover supported only on Jacks - they are just NOT stable enough, and Land Rovers are too big & heavy to take those kind of chances with - believe me!

So spanners and the like.

Short of a fully kitted professional work-shop, you will struggle to buy every tool you are likely to need in advance.

BUT, Land Rovers are fairly good in this respect, most jobs don't need lots of specialist tools and you can do an awful lot with a pretty basic tool-kit. BUT........

First thing is that Land Rovers are BIG, and so a lot of their nuts and bolts are BIG. Most 'hobby' tool kits have spanners and sockets that go up to about 19mm, but for a Landy, you will regularly find you need spanners and sockets in the 1" (25mm) to 1 1/4" (32mm) range. Thankfully there aren't many, but having them to start with is useful. There are some bigger nuts you may come across like the wheel hub nuts, but you can worry about things like that if and when you get to them.

Oh, and that's a good point, Landies are a bit wampie, in that they were built in the old days of imperial measurements, so most of the nuts and bolts need inch system spanners, like 1/4"; 3/8", 7/16"; 1/2"; 9/16"; 5/8"; etc. up to 1" or bigger.

So if you only have modern metric spanners, you had better start off buy investing in some imperial ones.

But, just to really annoy, confuse, confound and ultimately pizz you off when you are doing a job, you are more than likely to come across metric sized fastenings, and maybe even Whitworth ones as well. A lot of Land Rovers were made at a time when the UK factories were moving over to the metric system, so some assemblies get metric nuts and bolts as standard, and others have been replaced with metric equivalents by subsequent owners.

Any way, combination spanners, that have a ring at one end and open ended jaws at the other are the most useful, I find.

You don't need a huge number of spanners or a name brand, but they do need to be of a good quality.

Having two spanners in the most used sizes, probably 7/16", 1/2", 9/16" & 5/8"; 10mm, 11mm, 12mm, 13mm, 14mm & 15mm, is a boon too. Means that you can hold a bolt head while undoing the nut. You can use a socket set, but sometimes access means that two spanners are easier to get in.

Cheap or poor quality spanners are not necessarily always the right size, and can be a bit tight, or more often, a bit loose. Or, they aren't strong enough, or have as wide 'lands' to grip the fastener you are working on.

Either way, the results tend to be the same, the spanner wont grip, and will round off the head of the fastener.

Which is the same reason that I get palpitations when I see people trying to do EVERYTHING with a single adjustable spanner. BIG no-no in my book. The mark of a 'lazy' mechanic. Adjustable spanners do have their uses, but they are too big and unwieldy at the small end of their adjustment, and too weak and small at the larger end. And unless they are adjusted well, you are just asking to round fasteners or skin knuckles.

Ditto 'Mole' grips. These are not a 'tight' adjustable spanner. They are for gripping things that have no head, like a bolt head AFTER it has been rounded off, or the shank of a bolt that has snapped. Useful, but only if used right.

Sockets. This tends to be a bit of a minefield, and there are a lot of sets offered that try and give quantity rather than quality. But, poor quality sockets are a false economy.

There are three common sizes of 'drive'. That is the square that attached the ratchet or breaker to the socket itself. 1/4" is the smallest. 3/8" is the general purpose drive size, and 1/2" is for the bigger stuff.

There's usually quite a lot of overlap in the sizes of sockets that can be driven of any particular drive size, but the bigger the drive, the more room you need to use it.

The popular 'all round' choice is to start out with a 3/8" drive set, as it can cover the smallest up to some of the largest sockets 'normally' used, say about 17mm. But, on a Land Rover, you will need larger sockets too.

Assortment of Tools

For many years I have used a reasonably good 'Stanley' 3/8" drive socket set which goes up to 19mm in metric and 3/4" in imperial, and then bought larger size sockets in 1/2" drive where needed. But of course I have had to have a 1/2" drive breaker bar and ratchet, and a 'dropper' to use the 3/8" drive sockets on them.

Actually, the 1/2" drive ratchet I had was a pretty cheap one, and broke on a 3/4" socket,. So I put the Stanley 3/8" drive ratchet on it, which exemplifies how a 'Good' 3/8" drive set will take more force than a poor 1/2" one. But any way.

There is a lot of debate as to how to recognise a 'good' socket set, and what the best makes are, and I've never found any real rules, other than to avoid high street retail shops who are aimed primarily at the 'hobby' market. They tend to offer two grades of quality. The first is the bargain multi-piece kits, that are OK for occasional or light jobs, like taking the spark plug out of the lawn mower when spring comes round, but would crack at the first hint of a rusted Land Rover damper bolt. Then there are the 'Professional' grade sets, that are often sold with a 20 year or 'lifetime' guarantee. These are probably a lot better, and could probably cope with repeated heavy use, but, tend to be over-priced, compared to the places real 'professionals' would get their kit from.

As they advertise in EVERY magazine even remotely associated with DIY, and some, I will mention Machine Mart. And to be honest, you can do a lot worse than check out their catalogue. They aren't the cheapest, but they don't carry the really low grade tools that crack at the faintest whiff of torque. So you can be fairly confident that the stuff they have will do the job. As for price, well they do have a very big 'spend' with the manufacturers etc, so they are often pretty competitive.

Halfords, well, often mentioned, and you either love them or hate them. Personally I wouldn't buy my tools there, unless I had to - not because they are no good, but simply because most of what Halfords sell is over priced. Like the other high street retailers, be warned that the 'budget' tools they hold in stock are usually aimed at the hobby market and might be good enough for Kevin-The-Boy-Racer, who wants to fit a set of them aircraft aluminium pedal plates, but not for some-one who wants to take the head of a twenty five year old diesel engine.

Best places tend to be back alley or industrial estate specialists to the trade. Most towns will have a fastener specialist who sells nuts & bolts, cable ties, rivets and that sort of thing, and they are worth searching out if you are keen to do much work on your Landy. They often sell a lot of basic tools of 'professional' standard. But better still are dedicated tool suppliers, who specialise in tools alone. Anything from a 3mm drill bit to a three phase lathe or a four pillar workshop lift, will be available. They won't be cheap, as they will rarely bother stocking low quality kit, but the tools they do offer will be good value for the quality you get. You'll probably find that they also do the sort of stuff you get in 'kwik-packs' at Halfords and in petrol stations, in bulk for about as much as a kwick pak. Take note, and if you have change, get some cable ties, and spade connectors and the like for future use.

'1001 Tool' Suitcase

The Tool kit pictured right is a '1001 Piece' took kit, of the kind commonly advertised in the Argos catalogue.

It is positively heaving with tools and sockets and all manner of screwdrivers and pliers and stuff like that.

Actually this is one of the 'better' ones as most of the pieces are actually quite 'useful'. Note that some ready made kits count up each individual screw driver bit or blade of feeler gauge and count that as a piece in the tool kit!

Any way, note the number of holes in the set. This is where stuff has broken or bent of given up the ghost.

The Mole grips don't fit either, as they were one of the first things that broke.

And while the 1/4 and 3/8 drive sockets aren't too bad, the 1/2 drive sockets in the larger sizes just aren't up to the job. Neither for that matter are the ratchets. The 1/2 inch drive ratchet is completely stripped, and the only reason that the 3/8 one isn't is because like the bendy screwdriver, I don't use it!

This is the 3/4" socket from the set on the above.

Notice that the socket has six sided jaws so it should give full contact on all sides of a nut or bolt, and so grip as securely as is possible.

Trouble, as you can see is that the wall of the socket and the strength of the metal just wasn't up to the job, and rather than transferring some torque onto the bolt I was trying to undo, the socket just split open.

This kind of thing is not helpful.

Apart from the fact that its pointless having a tool if it wont do the job, when the socket went, that released all resistance to the force I was applying to the breaker bar trying to turn it.

Queue, skinned knuckles and a bloody nose!

And, this isn't the first time it's happened!

This was a long 'T' handles box spanner that I bought for retrieving spark plugs from their deeply recessed location in an Over Head Cam Peugeot engine.

Trouble was, that when the cylinder head went, which they frequently did, the recess filled up with water and the plugs corroded themselves in extremely rapidly.

So, the T-bar box spanner designed for the job, proved not to be strong enough, and the knuckle joint between the handle and the spanner head sheared. Which was not useful.

Except, applying a bit of lateral thinking, I took a cracked 1/2" drive socket like the one above, ground the chrome plating off it, then ground the chrome plating of the plug spanner, and welded the two together!

It isn't pretty, but it worked. Point is, tools are there to do a job. In this case, I got the job done, so it's a good tool.

Ground Down Plug socketLike wise another plug socket. This time from 1001 piece set from before. Trouble was that the socket was just a little too wide to fit into the recess where the spark plug sits. This may be of note, as the engine in question was a Rover V8 from an early two door model, with a low compression cylinder head. The later engines seem to have a bit more clearance around the plug, and this particular socket fitted, but it wouldn't go in on the earlier engine. But, this is not a problem.

With the trusty angle grinder and the socket on an extension, I merely ground it down half a millimetre or so, until it went in the gap. By thinning the socket wall, I did weaken it a bit, but overall, the amount I needed was so small that it shouldn't matter.

Which is all to detract a little, but the point is, not to be too precious about tools. Remember, they are there to do a job. Some look prettier than others, some are more sophisticated. Some are nicer or easier to use. But if they do the job, then they are a good tool. If they don't, then they are a waste of time.

Oh - and don't throw away broken tools, they can be pressed into service in new and useful ways after they have broken and wont do the job intended. Like the two broken tools I welded together to make something more useful. Though that's pretty unique. More likely, and involving less work - cracked sockets can be used as sleeve drifts, but I'll come to that in a minute.

So back to my trusty old 3/8" drive socket set. I advise something similar as a starting point to any-one putting together a serious tool kit.

3/8" drive is a good compromise for most work, and a 'good' 3/8" drive set will often take more torque than cheap 1/2" sets. The smaller drive also tends to give better access in a lot of cases.

This set is fairly extensive; it has both imperial and metric sockets from 5mm to 18mm, which covers the most used range for most jobs, though as said, Landies often need bigger sizes.

Having metric and imperial is useful, but not essential. If you are on a budget, sets are often the most economical way to buy sockets, rather than individually, but if pushed, go for a set with just one good ratchet and a good range of sockets, either in both imperial and metric, or just one or the other, as your starting point. You can add breaker bars, droppers and extensions later.

Next most economical way to buy sockets, is as 'rail sets'; usually five or six sockets in a range, on a clip rail. As you find you need deep reach sockets, or double hex sockets or just more sizes.

So, onto the matter of 'torque Wrenches'. Lore would have you believe that they are an essential bit of garage equipment. Personally I have had one in my tool box for twenty odd years, and it has been used about a dozen times. Most memorably, by a friend of mine who borrowed it, brought it back, sheepishly asking what he had done wrong, having sheared a 3/8" screw holding his oil pump on. Meticulously following the torque settings in the Haynes manual, he dialled in the appropriate torque figure given in imperial ftlb on the metric Nm scale.

This serves to show that any tool is only as useful as the person wielding it. Myself, and I guess a lot of 'practised' mechanics, only actually use a Torque wrench on critical flange joints, like cylinder heads or small fastenings going into soft metal, like aluminium.

So the moral is, yes they are useful, but they are a precision finishing tool. Do nuts & bolts up by hand or spanner to 'finger tight', then use a torque wrench just to 'set' them the last half turn or so. DON'T use a torque wrench as a big ratchet.

As shown here, fitting the big end bearing caps in the V8 rebuild; left, tightening the retaining nuts with a regular ratchet, then, right, setting the torque with the torque wrench.

Think of a Torque wrench as measuring instrument, not a tool, and you will use it more wisely.

As for type, go for a 'cassette' one with a setting dial or screw on the end, and a break head to remove torque from head once desired setting has been reached. They aren't the most accurate, but they are the easiest to use. Dial & scale sets rely on you being able to see the dial or scale to set the required torque, and if you are working in a confined space this isn't always possible.

Torque Wrenches and Impact DriveTreated as a measuring implement, not a tool, and the make & model aren't so critical either. Most applications demand that the torque be even across all the fasteners on a flange, rather than a precise 'yield' setting. The one I had in my tool box for twenty years was a cheap & nasty one that cost about a tenner. Just make sure that you set the torque setting back to zero after each use, so that the spring that they work on isn't compressed for long periods and loosing its tension. If you envisage using it a lot, good ones are more accurate, and have a nicer action, but this is not essential.

Pictured are my two torque wrenches and an impact driver. The one in the box is a fancy Teng Tools torque wrench that is both accurate, easy to use and expensive. The one below it lying on the bench is the cheepo one I've had for years. Note that the setting scale is out to preserve the spring tension; It's taken some abuse over the last 20 years but calibrated against the new Teng it was within 2ft-lb! And that'll be close enough for most jobs.

Also in the picture on the last page is an impact drive. A useful 'gizmo' for stubborn nuts & bolts. It's a big cylinder of iron, with a socket drive on the end. Idea is that you attach a socket and then hit the impact driver with a hammer. Impact driver takes the axial force from the hammer and turns it into a torque, applying a radial shock to the fastener. It wont undo a nut & bolt, but if its rusted or seized, it may loosen it off enough that you can undo it with a regular socket drive.

This is something I recommend for a 'newbie'. Given limited tool kit and or experience, this is probably the last chance removal tool for a stubborn fastening, before resorting to drastic measures like drilling or cutting it out.

Any way, more important in your tool kit, and more likely to see a lot of heavy and repeated work, a breaker bar. Get a good one, at least professional grade. You will reach for it when things are getting stubborn, and there is a lot of force being applied, resisted and contained. And you do NOT want the pin in your breaker bar to break when you are straining with arms and legs against the weight of the vehicle to try and get a nut to move.

I suggest a 1/2" drive, and a dropper to 3/8" drive , and a handle length of about 3-foot. If you get a good one, you can often put a length of steam pipe over the end to stretch it out to six or eight foot for really stubborn bolts if you want. As Archimedes said "Give me a long enough lever and I can move the world!.

What I DON'T recommend are those telescopic wheel braces. They have a long swan neck to get inside the dish of a wheel, and are cranked so that you are not lifting into a cars body work. This means that the force you apply at the handle is trying to create a torque in three axis at once. Means that you are fighting against the nut, not the thread, are more likely for something to slip, and less likely to get useful effect. Extension tubes also not usually as capable of taking serious force like a proper breaker.

Screwdrivers. Before you buy screwdrivers, go get a chisel & punch set. They are not expensive, and are designed to be hammered into cracks, crevices and holes, which screw drivers are NOT.

Most useful I find is a large punch, a medium size punch and a small centre punch. I then have a small engineers cold chisel, a medium sized engineers cold chisel, and a couple of masonry chisels for really tough mutilation exercises.

A few carpentry chisels are useful too. I keep a couple for odd jobs. One is blunt and I use it to hammer between cases and stuff to open the gap wide enough to get a cold chisel or pry bar in. The other is kept razor sharp, and is used for removing old gasket material & gasket 'gloop' from surfaces before re-assembly.

As I've mentioned them, I often use a small carpenters pry bar and have a couple of smallish car tyre levers, that have a multitude of uses. I also have a box full of old bar, rod & tube that I use for drifting in or out bearings etc. A lot of this is luxury, but worth noting, as you can pick this kind of stuff up as you go along..

Essential kit is a basic chisel & punch kit, kit of about six parts, should do OK for most work. Make sure that the chisels are hard though. Nothing worse than trying to bite into a stubborn screw with a cold chisel only to find that the chisel deforms, not the screw!

A decent screwdriver set is invaluable. Forget those 1001 piece screwdriver sets that have a two way ratchet action and a squillion interchangeable bits for every known type of screw or fastener, and a flexible drive adapter. They are useless.

Best of the Best, is the one by 'Snap-On', and I have one - but I have given up on trying to catch the Snap-On-man-in-a-van, to get new screwdriver bits off him for it, and I think he is avoiding me now! They are crap. They twist like toffee, shown anything vaguely stubborn. Cheaper bits just crack and crumble. I have a tub full of old interchangeable screwdriver bits in consequence, which I find occasionally useful for grinding down to make screw extractors out of. If you have one, save yourself the effort now and stick it in a cupboard draw in the kitchen for next time the fuse goes in the kettle plug, because that is about all they are useful for. The only multi-bits I have found that are ANY good are Brittool, but these are an expensive convenience to be able to use a compromised tool.

For proper mechanics, get a set of proper screwdrivers. The heads should be the right shape so that they don't round out the screws, and the spindle should be narrow enough to get in to where the fastener is, unlike the multi-bit ones which have to be wider than the bit.

About eight screwdrivers should be enough. Four plain or 'flat head' and four 'phillips' or cross-head. A small dumpy, fine electrical, a medium and a large. When I say large I mean large, as in big enough to undo drum brake screws.

Keep the heads in good condition, and don't use them for opening tins of paint, levering apart casings or knocking bolts out of long holes, and even a mediocre set of screwdrivers will give long and trouble free service. Abuse them and you will have hours of fun skinning knuckles and deforming screw heads - you have been warned.

Pliers; You need about three or four pairs as basics:

Bull-Nosed or general purpose pliers. These tend to have a flat jaw at the front, a round jaw behind and a cutting jaw behind that. They often also have two sizes of wire scissors in the head near the spindle.

Pin nosed pliers, which are often like bull nosed pliers, except that they have a longer tapering nose to the flat section of the jaw, and a round reverse. A large pair and a small pair are worth while.

A Pair of side cutters.

There are plenty more types and sizes, and pincer cutters can be useful, as can a selection of smaller pliers.

But as you'll probably want to use them most for retrieving dropped nuts or washers from tight corners, a telescopic magnet wand is a useful addition to the tool kit, in stead!

Circlip pliers are handy to have, especially if you intend diving into your engine or gear-box. There are a few different types for internal clips, external, and cranked nose for side access, but with a Land Rover you will want small and large sizes, so probably best to wait until you need them and decide which are best then. Draper do a set that has interchangeable heads, that seem fairly common now. I haven't tried them, but the opinion I've had on them is mixed. Personally I prefer the plain type and have a range of sizes

Last, on the spanners side of things are a selection of hammers. You don't want a claw hammer working on cars, so ball end hammers are best. A small ball peen hammer or glazing hammer is useful, then a larger one, about 12oz or so. Then a 2lb lump for when you need to give something some persuasion.

Two more hammers worth looking at are a rubber mallet and a copper mallet. Rubber is softer and lighter, but is good for knocking things you don't want to damage. Copper head hammer is heavier, but still with a soft head, so you can hammer things you don't want to damage TOO much. But again, these aren't essential, you can use an ordinary hammer and a lump of wood or aluminium between it and what your hammering, if you need to improvise.

So, onto specialist kit. First thing worth having in your tool box is an electrical tester. Multi-meters are most versatile. You want one that reads up to about 25v DC. You can find alternators that will make close on 19v, even though most of the system will be at regulation 12v. A resistance meter or setting is also useful. Its unlikely that you will find anything that you might want to know that actual resistance of, but it will tell you if you have continuity (zero resistance) between tow points in a circuit, or if you have something causing a high resistance like a duff joint, or even no continuity, and the circuit is broken.

There are also little auto electricians test 'pens', that have an LED array on the side to measure up to 15v, have a continuity test feature and often an HT test to see if there is voltage on spark plug leads. These aren't as versatile as a multi-meter, but are cheap and good enough for a lot of jobs, and are worth getting if just to keep in the car for roadside fixes or checking bulbs and the like.

After that, a pair of wire strippers / crimping pliers are useful, along with some crimp connections. Personally I don't think that they make a very reliable joint, even when the person making it is experienced & proficient - but they seem to be universally used these days, so what the heck.

Invest in a soldering iron, and get some practice tinning old wire though, and you can make much more reliable joints, often just as fast - especially on old & oxidised old wire. Usual problem with soldering irons is that most are intended for electronics, and rarely get hot enough for soldering heavy copper cable. Let alone heavy copper cable, outside in freezing winds. I bought a small butane powered soldering iron a few years back, and haven't looked back. No messing around with extension cables or spreading the solder like butter, without it flowing.

As far as more 'specialist' tools are concerned, there are a few worth thinking about. A good drill is a worthwhile investment. For the most part, forget cordless ones. A simple electric drill is all you need, and the smaller and more compact it is the easier it will tend to be to wield accurately.

Of course you will need drill bits to go with it. Get a good selection of HSS bits, but don't waste your effort with the cheap blackspur ones or 101 drill bit sets. They are too brittle and tend to wear out faster than what you are trying to drill. Individual drill bits from your local hardware store, motor-factors or Machine Mart are better, and last.

In the smaller sizes, buy in bulk. Especially 3mm, 4mm & 5mm. These are the normal 'pilot' size that you will use to get a hole that you can enlarge with bigger bits after getting the centre started accurately. So they are the ones that will get most use, are most easily broken, and most frequently lost.

The inverse of Murphy's Law states that if you have one, you will break it. If you have two, you will break both of them. If you have a dozen, you won't break any!

Angle Grinder Also, once you have a drill, its probably worth while getting a couple of rotary wire brushes for it, and maybe a flap wheel for cleaning things up etc. Pictured is a cheap cordless drill. The battery rarely lasts more than a few holes, but it is easy to use and quick and simple for bunging in a quick pilot hole for a self tapper or whatever. I have a much bigger more powerful corded drill for serious use.

Files. A small round file and a flat file are very good for de-burring the edges of holes so that you don't cut yourself on the sharp corners. They also have a multitude of other uses, when it comes to making things fit, and are pretty handy to have about the place. As is a Hack-Saw. But the favourite Land Rover tool is the trusty angle grinder. I think that that one in the picture is a 'Black-Spur' branded example. Cheap and nasty, but it gets the job done. Angle grinders have a habit of self destructing, and as far as I can tell there's not a lot more life in a brand make than a cheapo one. So I buy the cheapo ones for about ten or fifteen quid instead of thirty or forty, and just buy two, so that I have a spare for when the first one breaks!

They are a ferocious tool, though, and will rip through metal at a rate of knots. We tend to reach for them as soon as we even suspect that a fastener might not want to come out, and will cut it. For a novice though, its very easy to end up cutting all manner of things you probably didn't want to. An old engineering tutor once told me power-tools save the skilled time, but merely let the inept make mistakes more quickly! Worth thinking about. But Angry Grinder, Very handy, but use with caution. Buy a truck load of cutting disks to go with it though, as the only thing worse than not having an angle grinder, is having one, but no disk. And wield with caution! Goggles essential.

Hub Puller Another tool worth thinking about is a two or three leg puller. These are used for pulling hubs or bearings or gears off shafts, and are dead useful. With a landy though you need to make sure you get one big enough for the hub you want to pull, so you may be best off waiting till you need one before buying.

The one pictured on the left is a two leg puller, being used to take the drive pulley off a Range Rover power steering pump so that it can be unbolted from the engine.

The job could possibly have been done with a copper mallet, provided the pulley wasn't rusted on too tight, and the pulley didn't shatter or crack. So the puller is more reliable and safer to use. Loads of different styles and sizes about, but a medium sized general purpose one is a good a place to start as any.

Similarly there is a special type of puller for removing ball joints. If you come to overhaul your steering, these can be dead handy. The ball joint on the end of the rods and links that work the steering have a taper going through whatever they bolt to, then a nut on the end to tighten the taper into its socket. As it is a friction grip, they tend to seize, and after removing the nut you can waste a lot of effort trying to hammer it out doing little more than deforming the threads. A ball-joint puller will press them out in minutes with very little effort. Well worth the money if you are going to do this job. But again, probably better to wait until you need it, and as you wont need it very often, possibly more economical to see if you can borrow one then.

Engine Crane If you are doing a chassis up rebuild on a Land Rover, things like axles and gearbox, engine and chassis itself are all very heavy. An engine crane is a very useful bit of lifting equipment, and while most of the time it will only be used if you are pulling out the engine or gear-box, it can make life a lot easier if you have one for a variety of lifting applications.

This is another of those tools that makes life a lot easier if you have one, but if you don't, see if you can borrow or hire one, unless you are sure you will give it a fair amount of use.

Welding equipment. There is a variety of types. Gas welding uses an Oxy-Acetylene torch to heat the metal to molten, while you make the weld with a steel rod. Arc welding, uses a metal rod attached to the positive side of a high voltage electrical transformer, while the negative side is attached to whatever you want to weld. Electric current 'arcs' between the rod and the artefact when they are in close proximity, and the heat from that spark melts the metal to make the weld. Carbon Arc, is similar, but the current isn't passed into the artefact to be welded. Instead the arc is produced between two carbon rods to produce a heat generating arc, that can be used like an Oxy-Torch, with a metal rod to make the weld.

Most common these days though is MIG welding equipment. This stands for 'Metal Inert Gas'. Most often the gas is carbon Di-Oxide, which strictly isn't an inert gas, but is close enough for welding purposes. Essentially, this is arc welding, but with the gas pumped down the welding torch and over the rod, so that it prevents oxygen in the air oxidising the molten metal as you weld. Its a lot easier and more controllable than plain arc welding. Lastly there is TIG welding, which is 'Tungsten-Inert Gas', in this case the metal is tungsten, and the inert gas usually Argon, used most for welding Aluminium which is notorious for how quickly it will oxidise.

Now, I rarely suggest people get welding kit and start doing it for themselves. There are a lot of electric welding sets out there in garages around the country, bought with the idea that it would be a good idea to save money and learn a new skill, to do it yourself on a car restoration. In most cases the welding equipment has lasted longer than the car they were bought to fix. Which ends up unceremonially carted to the knackers yard with more holes blown through its seams with a welding torch than eaten by tin worm.

Welding is an art. If you are good at it, you can work wonders. Few though are, and you need practice to 'keep your eye in' and be able to consistently draw good joints.

Engine StandPersonally, I had access to Oxy, Arc & Mig, in a shared workshop, before I got married. I haven't bothered to get any welding kit since I lost the immediate use of these facilities. I can weld, but by the time I have drawn enough practice joints to get my eye back in, I'll have wasted more quids worth of materials than if I'd given the job to a professional to start with.

If you want to learn how to weld, by all means get the kit, but get yourself enrolled on a local college night class and learn how to do it properly, and on stuff that you don't expect to drive, before tackling any work on your Land Rover Chassis.

Engine stand. This is one of those dedicated pieces of equipment that you really only ought to think about getting if and when you come to do an engine rebuild. You can live without one, but it does make life easier having the motor at a working height and able to get al the way around it.

And they are reasonably cheap. This one was about 30. *f you are going to take an engine completely to bits, then you are probably going to need some specialist tools any way, and all costed, the price of the engine stand is pretty insignificant, when you are looking at having cylinder heads and crank-shafts and stuff machined.

A couple off odds and ends; A pop rivet gun is quite useful. This puts a deformeable aluminium fastener in a hole then expands the head to make a permanent joint.

It is great in as much as you CAN only work from one side to make blind joints.

Pop Rivit GunOn the other hand the rivets are hollow so don't seal the joint.Main use is for joining plate, and a lot of rivets are used in the construction of the Land Rover body to start with.

But you will need a selection of rivets to go with it. Again, one of those tools handy to have, but probably not worth getting until you need it.

A good set of jump leads are something you ought to have in the car, and a battery charger is something you should have in house or workshop. The big 'booster' packs that have their own internal battery that you can jump start a car off are worth thinking about, but a cheap 4A charger will suffice if you have jump leads and a neighbour who can offer you their battery when you are stuck

Pots and tubs to keep removed or spare parts in are handy. Old ice cream tubs work well. And bigger receptacles like stacka boxes have a multitude of uses from storing bigger bits and pieces to acting as a degreasing tank. On which subject its worth mentioning that while proprietary degreasers like 'Gunk' are pretty good, cheap 'big box' biological washing powder is a lot cheaper and just as effective. And degreasing any area or parts you intend to work on is a very good idea. A wire brush, and a selection of smaller wire and nylon brushes are useful here too. Black-Spur do a cheap brush set that's handy to have, but old tooth brushes and paint brushes work well too.

In the picture along side the pop rivit gun is a big magnet. Actually salvaged that one from a cracked speaker from a car door. I have a few of them knocking about actually. Any way, Idea is that steel parts like nuts bolts and washers stick to it. Where you are working in tight access, they can be used like a pot to keep nuts and bolts to hand, plus they can often be stuck to panels or chassis or whatever. Also useful for finding lost nuts or washers on your drive!

And lastly, the MOST worthwhile think to have in your tool kit - a big pot of copper grease. Use EVERY where, on threads and non sealed joints. It repels moisture and stops rust. Which means that the next mug to have to work in that area, which will probably be you, will have a lot less hassle getting things undone. And dont be fooled into thinking, that it doesn't matter, because it will be a LONG time before things rust solid. Enough rust can build up on a bolt in a year to make it impossible to shift, but it might take another twenty for the rust to eat through enough of it that it will shear off nice and easy to save you cutting.


A Tap and Die set is a useful thing to have in your tool box. Probably wont see much use a lot of the time, but invaluable when you need it.

Basically, taps cut threads into holes, and dies cut threads onto rod.

But, you can also use them to clean up existing threads where they might have got full of crud or rust.

On something like a Land Rover this is dead handy, and saves loads of skinned knuckles, stripped threads and rounded fastener heads, as you only have to apply force to tighten the fastener, not compress rust or muck.

Also useful for repair operations. You can drill out old stud holes and tap them the next size up to use a bigger bolt, when they get stripped.

One of those things that once you've got one, you'll wonder how you managed without it.

Which brings me to the stuff in the picture below. Bit of an odd assortment here. The big hexagonal box in the top left is a hub spanner. 5ish and essential if you want to change Land Rover Wheel bearings. Leave it till you are going to do the job and just cost it in with the bearings themselves.

Assortment of Tools

Box on the top right is an aged socket set. Not a brilliant one. The ratchet gave out within a few months, the breaker bar a little after, and most of the larger sockets cracked. But I kept the bits that survived and use them as drifts and things and use the box to keep the large 'special' sockets I buy for odd jobs together.

Also in the box are some bits of bar or rod and pipe and stuff that I've found a use for, usually as a drift of some description, over the years.

I think that there's a badly mangled Series 3 Land Rover reverse idler gear shaft in there some-where. Its about four inches long and about 1 1/2" in diameter with a step down to about 3/4" about an inch from the end, that's quite handy for drifting bearings into cases.

Sockets on a strip on the left are actually Allen key sockets. Again, not an essential item, and not always as easy to use depending on access, but when you need to keep the key in the head and apply a lot of force these things do the job where a bent bit of hex rod wont.

Old Tupperware contains standard Allan keys of various sizes, collected over the years. If I cant find one the right size, I grind a bigger one down. Also cut them down and hammer them in to chewed up screw heads as a screw extractor, sometimes.

Strobe, Compression Tester

Black thing at the top is a strobe light. Idea is that you take the spark plug cap for number one cylinder off, and connect this thing between the plug cap and plug.

Then when the engine fires the lamp flashes.

If you have a timing mark of the crank pulley, the lamp should flash every other time that mark passes a pointer, so the mark should look stationary in the flashing light.

You can then use that mark to set the ignition timing against the scale or pointer attached to the timing case cover.

Bottom of the picture are two electrical multi meters. The one on the left in an analogue, or AVO meter, the one on the right a Digital Multimiter, or DVM.

I prefer the old fasioned analogue needle one, as it's quicker and easier to use - you dont have to wait for the display to stop blinking through numbers to see where you are, but they both do the same job.

I dont think that either of these cost more than a tenner, to be honest, and the Analogue on is donkeys years old - I think it was something like 3.

Compression Tester The round dial guage thing, is a cylinder compression tester. Basically like a tyre pressure guage, but going up to a higher pressure

Idea is that you screw the brass bit into a hole where the spark plug should be and turn the engine over.

The guage then reads how much compression the engine gave, and you can work out from this if you have a blown head gasket, a burned out valve or badly worn piston rings or something.

And that's about it. Choose your tools with care. You don't need EVERYTHING straight away, but spending what you can afford on good basics is better than trying to get as much as you can in one go.

Spare a thought for storage too, and what kind of tool boxes are going to be most useful. Most 'sets' will come in their own cases, but a good tool box that you can throw spanners and pliers and the like in is a good buy.

Its might also be worth thinking about what you want to keep in the car and what you want to keep in the garage too.


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