Powerhouse is the place to go for hard-core engine tools. They are a part of the COMP Performance Group that includes COMP Cams, TCI, and FAST, and have some really neat tools that fit the PHR reader's toolbox perfectly.
LS Valvespring Compressor
The GM LS engine has taken over, but like the small-blocks before it, changing valvesprings can be a real pain in the butt. Powerhouse's spring compressor for the LS makes it as easy as possible, allowing you to remove one or two springs at a time without the hassle of having to remove the rocker stands or any other installed rocker arms. It works on all Gen III and IV engines with the heads on or off the engine, and is small enough that it works in tight spaces like an engine compartment. Price: $103.96
Harmonic balancers and their timing marks can never be fully trusted when trying to find top dead center (TDC) on a cylinder. Use Powerhouse's TDC stop to find true TDC. Screw it into the No. 1 cylinder spark plug hole and manually (do not use the starter!) turn the engine over until the No. 1 piston hits the stop and mark the balancer. Then, turn the motor the other direction until it hits again and mark the balancer; the midpoint between your marks is true TDC. Price: $11.14
Trans Tailshaft Plug
This seems stupid to include here, but it's such an inexpensive no-brainer that we had to. A universal tailshaft plug should always be around when removing or installing a trans, since it keeps the fluid in the trans and not all over your arm, face, and garage floor. Price: $6.34
Summit Racing is to the automotive world what Wal-Mart or Costco is to regular life; you can get anything you want, usually for much less than other stores. We put together some of Summit's most useful and affordable items from their tool catalog.
Spot Weld Cutting Bits
These Blair ⅜-inch double-end spot weld cutter bits are the professional's choice for removing spot welds. By cutting around a spot weld and leaving the underlying panel undamaged, the damaged panel can be quickly removed. Then, just repair the panel and replace it, or install a new one using the spot weld cutters to make plug holes for welding. An adjustable depth rod protects the underlying panel and best of all, when one end of the cutter bit dulls, you can simply flip it over and keep working. The bits are used in standard handheld drills. Price: $13.95 each
Quickie Paint Booth
Another product we have personal experience with is Summit's ZipWall system that uses four 12-foot-tall (maximum height) telescoping poles and all the necessary attachments to quickly turn your garage or covered patio (in our case) into a paint booth. Just add clear plastic sheeting (also available from Summit or any big hardware store) and a vent fan and you're good to go on that home paint project. Price: $259.97
Roll-About Engine Cradle
Don't sit an engine on an old tire or, worse yet, its oil pan for storage because you know that's just wrong, and it makes it hard to move around. Instead, bolt it to one of Summit's cradles with wheels to get it off the floor and allow you to roll it around much easier. The cradles are available for all popular engines and are made from 14-gauge square tubing with a black powdercoated finish. They will hold up to 1,000 pounds, so unless you have an all-iron big-block Chevy with an 8-71 blower, you won't come close to maxing it out. Price: $33.97
Most of us have two-car garages, if we're lucky, and moving a car in and out when it doesn't run is a pain. Summit's car dollies from Merrick Machine make it a piece of cake. They are made of ⅓-inch steel plate with non-marring, poly ball bearing casters, and the standard-duty set can support a 6,000-pound car. A heavy-duty version supports 10,000 pounds, but if you need those, what in the world are you working on? Price: $154.95 (set of four)
Tabletop Sandblasting Cabinet
A sandblast cabinet makes quick work of stripping old paint, grease, and grime from parts, but if you don't have room in the garage for a big stand-alone cabinet, check out Summit's tabletop unit that feature a 23-inch wide, 19-inch high, 19.25-inch deep work area and a 20x15.50-inch viewing window. You supply the compressor. Price: $144.95