John Blankenship Motorcycle Books – This seven-volume set is the best source for motorcycle information that you can get – period. I’m constantly amazed at the wealth of information that Blankenship has put together. The photography is excellent and the photos are done in close-up high resolution so you can see exactly what you need to see. The indexes in the books are well laid out and it only takes a moment to find what you are looking for. Each book is also available on disc in the PDF format so you can load it onto your computer or mobile device. I always stayed away from motorcycle work until I got these books; now I’m ready to tackle almost anything on two wheels!
The Framon IMMS001 Impressioning Tool – My old friend Frank Agius designed this tool specifically for Hank Spicer. Both of those guys were masters at their trade. Hank was a master at impressioning, and Frank was a master machinist. The Framon impressioning tool is simply the best tool of its type available. Sure, Vise-Grips™ work okay, but the Framon tool works a lot better, and it’s not made in China. (Yes, the Irwin tool company moved their production of Vise-Grip™ tools from Nebraska to China last year. It breaks my heart.)
Ford 10-Cut and 8-Cut Ignition Breakers– There are actually several different breakers out there for the different locks. I keep a breaker for the 10-cut, 8-cut sidebar, 8-cut non-sidebar, and the old Focus ignitions in my tool kit at all times. There are plenty of times when the most efficient way of solving a problem with a failed Ford ignition lock is to simply break the thing and replace it. This is especially true if speed is important, and since I find myself doing more and more work for auto auctions, I just don’t have time to waste on these relatively inexpensive locks. There are several different breakers out there for these locks and as far as I know, all of them work pretty well. Here are the four different breaker tools that I use:
Ford 10-cut ignitions – the “Sure Shot Bypass Key” part number 78
Ford 8-cut sidebar ignitions – the Aable 8-wafer Ignition Force Tool, part number F8FT01 (This tool will also allow you to drill a small hole and pick the lock if that is what you need to do.)
Ford 8-cut non-sidebar ignitions – the Aable “Ford 8 No Sidebar Force Tool” (The name of the tool is also the part number)
Focus Ignition (Huf locks only) - the “Focus Buster” tool part number LKM1126
The Gator Tool – The Gator Tool allows you to remove and replace the face caps on many automotive door and deck locks with no visible damage to the face cap after the lock has been re-installed on the vehicle. This is one clever tool and it is extremely well made. I only use it on vehicles where I either do not have a replacement face cap or no face cap is available. This tool can really get you out of a jam! I used it recently on an older Volvo, which apparently had a stainless steel face cap. Someone had deliberately broken off a key from some other car in the lock and I was unable to remove the twisted piece of key without disassembling the lock. If I had not had the tool, I probably would have had to order a replacement lock from Volvo. But with the Gator Tool, I had the problem solved in under an hour. One word of caution about the Gator Tool: If you get one, be sure to practice with it first on some old locks. I will absolutely guarantee that you will scratch the first couple of face caps you try to put back on until you get the hang of using the tool.
Tech-Train VATS Interrogator – This is the only full-featured interrogator on the market that offers a five-year warranty. Yes, this is one of my tools, and it has been out of production for a few years. Used ones were selling for several hundred dollars on the auction sites until Lockmasters, Inc. put it back into production last year. The revised version is almost identical to the original with two exceptions. The toggle switch was replaced with a rocker switch to make it more damage resistant, and the coiled cord was replaced with a non-coiled cord for better durability. This interrogator allows you to read both single and double-sided VATS keys, interrogate the vehicle by either hooking up under the dash or through the ignition lock. It also allows you to test the lock for bad contacts and / or broken wires without removing the lock from the column. Included with each Tech-Train Interrogator is my “VATS Made Simple” DVD, and the TT4002 VATS ByPass adaptor.