Going shopping

Last week I attended three different tool shows, Mac, Matco and Cornwell, all in 10 days.

For a tool junkie (something you simply can’t hide about yourself), this was close to sensory overload. Even on the last day of this sojourn, I still found tools that I would buy just to know I have some really cool tools if I ever need them. Fortunately, danger was averted because the vendors were only doing business with professional tool distributors. But I made careful notes and expect to buy several new toys…tools…this coming year.

One of them I will actually use; a replacement for my old optical boroscope. I used to take a quick look into the cylinder every time I pulled a spark plug, mostly just to educate myself about what things look like inside a known-good engine. But the scope hasn’t been used much lately. I could say it’s because the tool is hard to use, that the view requires a lot of interpretation while constantly adjusting the focus on the eye piece. But the real reason is that combustion chambers aren’t very interesting unless there’s something wrong, and since the range on my optical boroscope is only a few inches, its utility is severely limited.

In recent years, boroscopes have been replaced by video boroscopes. Although I’ve seen them at the local home center store, the tool show was the first time I had a chance to use one. Actually I tried several at each show, but the one that impressed me the most has a 9mm lens with a threaded housing for attaching an extension, or a magnet. Like most of the others, its viewing range goes from less than one inch to several feet. It will store snap shots, video recordings and even voice recordings on a secure data (SD) card. This one also has a USB port for downloading files and uploading software updates. But the most amazing thing about this extremely capable tool (and some of the others too) is that it costs about the same as my old optical boroscope. The fact that it can be used for so many different jobs means that I’ll have no trouble getting this purchase approved by the family financial officer (she likes tools too).

The video boroscope is just one example of the innovations made possible by ongoing advances in electronics. I saw a 10-mode scan tool with enhanced information and bi-directional capability, plus Bluetooth and Internet capabilities and 8 hours of flight recording, and it’s about the same size as a smart phone. Imagine carrying a complete scan tool everywhere you go. Tempting, but I can’t justify the cost for something I’ll only need a few times a year.

I would have no trouble justifying a new box. It’s been 20 years since I left the shop and the top and bottom boxes were full then, but (of course) I’ve continued to accumulate tools. They’re scattered around the garage in various cabinets and smaller toolboxes, and it would be nice to have them all in one secure place, with one key. A 60" roll cab with a butcher block top in British Racing Green would be perfect.

This could really get out of hand.