Mechanic's tools

I work in a diesel repair shop for a construction company. My boss is close to retirement and I am the person who is being looked at to replace him. Mostly we hire inexperienced people with no tools and put them with experienced mechanics to teach them. My question is when, if there should be a deadline when they should have their own tools. I was thinking around 2-3 months and be able to change oil in most of trucks and equipment.

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That’s tough because you know as well as I do how expensive the tools trucks are. But yes after a few months you should have your own basic tools. Obviously you won’t be able to have all the specialty tools in a few months. But basic tools wrenches sockets ratchets is totally feasible in a few months.

might be worth making a list of what you think are the basics they need, vs experienced leads need.

and I hate to say this but - it might even be worth a decent bonus to the position where you provide them. I almost hate to say that but I could see that being a good perk. here is your loaner kit of _________ made by _______, and after 3 months (or some time) of gainful employment, they are yours.

anyway perhaps make a list and give that to them with a few suggestions just to help them not get rolled on tool prices. and say that by month ____ you should have this kit of your own.

Diesel repair uses some pretty heavy tools too so they aren’t cheap - maybe add an impact wrench to the list as a basic tool need. I don’t know how deep your work involves, but I could see that being handy.

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I was a partner in several businesses over my working life. The first one (plumbing business) that I cut my teeth on had the policy of buying/owning the tools needed to do the job. This may have in part been a result of local union contracts. As my partners and I expanded our footprint then ventured into other areas we adopted this practice to other businesses as well. I recognize that this is certainly not the norm for the automotive maintenance and repair business or even the GC/Remodeling business that we expanded into. We also acquired a metal/pipe fabrication business - which because of the need for specialty tools and machinery was not a good fit for worker tool ownership, When the tool trucks would wander onto one of our workout sites or our shops - If I were on site I’d shoo them away - explaining to them how we preferred to source our MRO or worker’s tools.

I know that there are pros and cons - and different levels of costs for both approaches - but just offering a different perspective. BTW I think that we had much better than average employee retention as part of our policy. We also found that most employees took ownership for the tools that they were assigned and seemed to care for and secure them as if they were their own. Naturally if an employee wanted some tool that seemed outside our norm (e.g. a $200 hammer) they were free to buy one themselves. We also had a thing about giving a Lie-Nielsen block plane (of choice) as a gift to an employee that we elevated to or brought on as lead carpenter - as an encouragement for fine craftsmanship.

thanks for your input, company does supply any tool over 1/2 drive and wrenches larger than 1 1/8 . I guess that will be my starting point. I’m not against truck brands I have a lot myself but will try to steer them away at least at first

I’ve worked with a few mechanics and one of my good friends and an old college housemate of mine is a pro diesel mechanic. All of them operated under the expectation that the mechanics themselves are expected to have all the basic tools, but 3/4" drive and larger, or expensive specialty tools like borescopes, large pullers, hydraulic press, etc, belonged to the business they worked for.

Plenty of companies offer tools over 1/2" drive. All the standard tool truck brands do, so do the industrial brands like Proto. Tool truck brands get mighty expensive at this size so I’d look at others like Gearwrench, Sunex, Tekton, EZRed, etc.

thanks everybody I’ll start thinking about what I think they should have by around 3 months and post and see if y’all think I asking too much or if there’s anything I should add

any update on this I’m curious as to the result.

sorry been busy few months

I agree Timothy but right now with the company I’m with it’s they’ll replace if it doesn’t have a warranty. I’ve been talking about a tool allowance for 20 years but no luck.

I think I have a pretty good list going but with 1/2 sockets, how big do I go. I would prefer all the way up to 1 1/2 and 36m. Is that too high?

personally I think so. in 1/2 inch I only have to 30mm and I never use it either. I mean I suppose you need some overlap but once you get past 1-1/8 or 27mm you’re able to have more torque than a 1/2 inch square anvil can take. ANSI rating wise.

But I know some kits go all the way to 36mm - but that’s a drive axel socket too. and those come off with an impact wrench and are impact sockets IMO. I guess I certainly wouldn’t go above that.

Sorry for taking so long but I think I have a pretty good list. There are no specialty tools on it y’all let me know if there’s any that should be on it or any basic tools I missed.
Sockets- all sizes listed need to be shallow & deep. The way I have mine is shallow are 12 point and deep are 6 point and that would be my recommendation for new hires.
1/2 drive up to 1 1/2 and up to 36mm. These should also be impact rated.
3/8 drive up to 3/4 and 19mm. I use 3/8 drive a lot more in the last few years so wouldn’t hurt to be impact rated.
1/4 drive to the smallest you can find haven’t used my smallest but have come close.
Extensions 1" 3" 6" 12" for all drive sizes should do. 1/2 again should be impact rated.
Ratchets normal lengths with maybe a 18" or 24" in 1/2 drive

Wrenches- 1/4" to 1" and 6mm to 30mm should have 2 of each. If to do over I would have xl combination and normal length ratcheting.
Stubby wrenches in above sizes.
From 1 1/16 to 1 1/2 should just need 1 of each.

Tape measure
Feeler gauge straight and 45 degree

Torque measuring
1/2 drive up to 250 ftlbs
3/8 drive around 100 ftlbs
1/4 drive around 200 inlbs
Torque screwdriver around 5 inlbs
Dial type up to 50 inlbs for rolling torque

Multi meter
Test light ( I prefer a dedicated 12v and 24v but a 24v will do both.

Filter wrenches
Strap wrench

Prybars prefer a set but at least a 18" or 24" 1.
Rolling head prybars again a set is preferred but a 12" or 18" will do
Hammers assorted up to 3lbs
Punch and chisel set

Flat, Phillips, and torx.
Hex keys in standard and metric

Slip joint
Tongue and groove normal and large
Parrot head
Cutting (lineman or diagonal)
Needle nose
Wire crimping

1/2 impact

Looking at the list it looks like maybe a place to be after about a year. For the 3 month mark like I said in my original post I’d like to be able to go to the new hire and have them to things like oil change without taking my experienced people off their work. So I was thinking early on concentrate on 1/2 drive tools (some large drain plugs on some of the equipment), one set of standard and metric wrenches, filter wrenches, and strap wrench.

I would like some ideas for alternatives to the tool trucks. For wrenches and sockets I’m comfortable recommending Tekton, Gearwrench, and Sunnex. For just sockets I like GP. For punches and prybars Mayhew. Any suggestions for torque wrenches?

I like the idea of a work to own set of tools. Don’t know if I can pitch it but I like the idea. Any suggestions on this.
I appreciate all your input and patience.

first pass it seems like alot.

do you have alot of 12 point on commercial trucks? I’m not sure is why I asked. I don’t know I’d do 12 point in 1/2 drive unless there are some. I play with airplanes and 12 point is all over the airplane - but special nuts also. (weight optimized, etc etc)

So if there is alot of 12 point then I could see it. I highly recommend 1/4 drive only in 12 point. (inch or metric) and then you have coverage. I like the idea of having all the 1/2 sockets being impact.

One think you might need is flare nut wrenches - not sure thats a beginner thing but for fuel and hydraulic lines etc. Also I like Tekton for alot of that including the punches these days. They make punches and chisels and I think they are US made - so if cheaper than mayhew.

One other question locking pliers?

It’s amazing how much investment it really becomes once you put it down.

That looks like a great list to me. A few things I’d suggest:

  1. regarding the two sets of wrenches. I say go with a long-pattern combination set and a ratcheting flex-head set for starters. They are both essential, IMHO. And if you can afford it, a set of deep offset box end wrenches is well worth the money, and so are the recent extra-long double-flex ratcheting box end wrenches from a variety of vendors (EZred, Carlyle/NAPA, Mountain, Platinum, etc).

  2. A 3/8" cordless impact wrench and 3/8" swivel impact sockets in both SAE and Metric. These are the most commonly used tools for every mechanic I know.

  3. A long-handle, bent, flex head, 3/8" ratchet. Spring for a good one since you will use it a lot. For example, Snap-On FBF80A. There are good lower-priced ones out there.

  4. EZRed 3/4 drive extendable ratchet and a good quality 3/4 to 1/2" drive adapter. At some point you will need to use 3/4 drive sockets, and in the meantime it is the ultimate breaker bar.

12 point is getting more common compared to when I first started in the late 90s. Then it was just starter bolts that were 12 point now especially on Mitsubishi and Hino diesel engines that in a lot of our cranes, seams like every bolt is 12 point.

Flare nut is not something I use enough to on heavy truck & equipment to put on list for the time frame I have in mind but if they end up in our truck shop or assigned to a mechanics truck it would good thing to have.

Locking pliers I don’t know l went a lot of years without getting them and still not used very often

Something I forgot is seal picks and storage

Good suggestions I didn’t put swivel sockets on the list because that’s something I think they should be the judge if they need or not. And the bent flex head ratchet didn’t come to mind because I don’t have 1

Napalm do you think shallow should include 12 and 6 point sockets?

so I don’t in 1/4 drive. all my 1/4 drive is 12 point. a quality 12 point flat grabs both pretty well and the torque is low. never rounded one off yet. knocks on wood.

But in 3/8 I have both 12 and 6. but only 6 point deeps. but I guess I would consider what sizes of 12 point you end up with. I find very few on cars but I’m also finding external torx and other stuff to add in - which might not be an issue for you guys.

the locking plier thing is a oddity - I know some swear by having them. I have them but don’t use often.

I will say I’ve thought about getting that extending handle ez red device too - and if I didn’t have other stuff I like that idea. save some space - and have a solid useful item.

Also I don’t know if it’s an issue but I find I use my locking flex head 3/8 drive nearly all the time now - and it’s a gearwrench clone. which I would suggest for a beginner - until they can front the money for SK/MAC/Snap op etc. I will say ratchets are certainly a preference thing so maybe give the guy some suggestions - let them decide but they must have at least one. sort of thing.

picks are a need for certain.

I don’t have any ratcheting wrenches at home and I plan to getting those double box end flex head ratcheting devices too. I love the idea. 8-19mm in one set of 5. while I have a full compliment of combo wrenches for everything. For a diesel only thing I might see an issue is that you need something bigger than 19 but how often? I don’t have a feel for that so I could see wanting/needing ratchet combo wrench for 21-28mm say. OH another question do you have a lot of SAE sizes?