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Discussion Starter #1
I've been working for the last couple years in my brother's garage. It's great, with room for about 4 cars and tools if you're sufficiently skilled at tight parking. Big air compressor, air lines, huge toolboxes, three big work benches, jacks, jack stands, winch connected to ropes and pulleys from the ceiling, furnace, AC, etc., etc. etc.

Now he's living out of the country and renting his house out to someone else. Since I live in an apartment without a garage (but an attractive carport!), I need to set up shop somewhere else. I just got a storage shed (where they allow projects like mine, not just storage) on Saturday, 12'x26', about 13 or 15 feet high. Technically has power, but there's only one box with two outlets, and an overhead light wired through the same box. No idea how much capacity I'll have, but I should be able to run a 110v compressor, worklights, and a sound system.

I have good hand tools, but I need to buy a compressor, air tools, jack or lift, and various other things to set up shop.

My brother-in-law is selling a great, used commercial compressor, but it's 3 phase so that doesn't really work for me. Can you get 110v rotary screw compressors? Are they even vaguely affordable? I've used 1, 5, 20, and 35 gallon compressors of various brands and power, and none seem to keep up with air hogs like sanders or grinders. Any specific recommendations?

I like Harbor Freight for hand tools, but I hesitate to get any power tools from them. (Actually my grinder/polisher is great.) Their prices for compressors and air tools are great, but are any of them worth the money?

I also need a good tool box and workbench. I'd like a rolling toolbox with a good work surface, but if the price is right I'd go for a rolling work cart and more stationary toolbox.

Are the motorcycle jacks useful? They look great, but are there limitations? How about a motorcycle lift? Should I just build my own for cheaper?

Money is definitely an issue, but I don't want to buy something twice because I was too cheap the first time.

Thanks!


- Jon
 

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The compressor might be the tough one. I have a 10 year old 5 hp Campbell hausfeld with like a 20 gallon tank that will run a DA sander and so on. It's 110 volt so it might be ok on the power you have there. I don't know about harbor Freight compressors but Wal Mart used to sell the CH ones and I can attest to them working fairly well.

Bike jacks kinda depend on the bike. if it's flat underneath my craftsman works ok but won't work with my sportbike even with the fairing off without having wood blocks and so forth so i just use it for my ATVs.
 

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Compressor

Running a pair of roofing nailers takes a medium amount of air.The little twin tank air compressors that contain oil seem the best around when you are talking about air output without pulling so much power that you are tripping fuses in weak wiring situations. If you could find one or two used propane tanks in the 100 pound class,that may take care of using air tools for more extended time periods. I had to upgrade and repair my Rigid compressor last week due to crappy plastic hoses and a cheesey regulator. If I were buying new,the Craftsman has a better OEM regulator and piping.
Bigger is better with air compressors,but you are pretty limited with your wiring situation. Look closely at the amp draw on the compressor that you want,and get the biggest one you can for a given amp draw of maybe 12 or so
 

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Discussion Starter #4
I checked out the compressors at Walmart last night. (I'd already been to Home Depot, Lowes, and Harbor Freight recently.) They have a nice 30 gallon CH compressor KIT with a 1/2" impact gun and a 3/8" air ratchet, and fairly decent-looking blow gun and inflator with pressure gauge, all for $250. Didn't see the current rating on the box, but I was in a hurry.

I'm really concerned about tripping a fuse because I have NO IDEA where to find a fuse box. I need to remember to ask the manager about that the next time I'm there.

I have a dream of starting a business of small shop spaces, like storage units, but with really decent power to all the units (110v & 220v, maybe even a few with 3 phase), free compressed air (big commercial rotary screw unit with 1/2" or larger air lines running to all the units), and a central vac system. Think of how pleasant it would be to work in a shop like that where the compressor and vacuum systems are in another location, so you don't have to hear their noise. I don't know how feasible it is, as I've done zero due diligence on the idea, but it's a nice thought. I have extensive marketing ideas for it as well, but that's only relevant if the pricing model is realistic.

Hi, I'm Jon, and I come up with a new business model at least once a week. I can't turn it off.


- Jon
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Forgot to mention, it would also involve certain units dedicated as spray booths & such, which can be rented (with the associated equipment) on an hourly basis. Same with a unit with an in-ground vehicle lift. I've already talked to my business insurance agent and he says the liability issues are actually much simpler than one would assume at first glance.


- Jon
 

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Sounds like a cool idea Jon. Especially great for city dwellers that like to wrench on their stuff!! What kind of price point per month do you think guys would pay for such a service. I've been spoiled with having a garage for the last 17 yrs, so I have no idea what kind of value that would have...
As far as the cycle lift goes, I'm holding out until I can get a full lift. I saw some plans on-line that I got and then priced out all the raw steel. (This was 5 yrs ago) The steel alone was over $500!!!:eek: And that was using the discount that my employer gets!! Harbor freight has the exact same style right now for less than $350. Pretty good deal. I also saw a new style lift that was basically a rail (instead of a table) that the wheels roll onto and then it lifts. That one was $270. Keep us updated as to how you make out!
 

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Discussion Starter #7
My brother mentioned that getting a spray booth requires complicated city permit processes that I wouldn't want to mess with for this business. So forget that.

But I figure a unit dedicated to sanding, for instance, or welding might be a good idea. I am very hesitant to want to provide the equipment for that because I don't want to deal with the liability issues, but you wouldn't have to mess up your own unit (or maybe you don't have enough room) by doing that in yours.

The price point is always the big issue. From what I've seen looking around the difference between an apartment with and an apartment without a garage is $300 or more. The local rate for 10x20 to 12x26 size storage units with very limited power is $100 to $150. Again, I haven't done the due diligence, but I think I could make it profitable at $200 a month, which would both save people money and provide a considerable convenience.

Marketing would have to be guerilla/bootstrap in order to operate at such a low margin, but I have specific and extensive ideas for that as well. Don't want to give away all my ideas for free though. :)


My own shop should be all set up today, other than a few more tools I'd like to buy when I can. I'm running on my dad's 15 year old Craftsman 20 gallon compressor. It's cute, but it can't keep up with air hogs like sanders and grinders, and it leaks a bit. And the drain valve on the bottom is rusted solid. I have a Harbor Freight water trap inline, and that helps, but there's still way too much water in the lines to paint.

Not that I actually have anywhere to paint. The property is gravel & dirt, so I can't just do it out in the open area without significant setup to avoid contamination. Even then it would be risky. I'd like to find a sturdy canvas tent for cheap that I can set up as a portable paint booth. My parents tossed one (donated to a thrift store I think?) just a few years ago. Too bad because it was perfect for this.

I decided that I don't have room for a regular lift at this point. I'll have to just do it the old-fashioned way with jackstands that store out of the way. I do have a 12v winch that could be rigged up with a pulley system, but I would really need to get something well off the ground before I'd want to try that. I've used it in the past to hoist an engine for painting, but not for a whole bike.


- Jon
 

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For an air compressor I advise Sears Craftsman or Wal-Marts Campbell Hausfeld. Since you (like me) are stuck with 110V system you're going to want the biggest tank size you can get probably an upright system.

Not much call for air tools doing motorcycle work...most stuff is done with wrenches and sockets. For electrical work you need a multi-meter, a continuity tester but the most important tool will be your compression tester. You need a 12mm adapter for most motorcycles. It's crazy to put time and money into a machine if you haven't done a compression check on each cylinder. Seems to have good compression ain't good enough. If a cylinder measures below 100 lbs or more, put oil down the spark plug hole...if compression goes up it's the rings, if it doesn't go up it's valves. Find out what the compression for your particular engine should be. And that's another thing every shop needs...reference books for every bike you have...good lighting invest in lot's of fluorescent shop lights, grinder, dremel, sand blaster $20 but can make an old engine look new. I ran a shop for years and it was a blast. Just might get back into it when I retire.
 

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Again, for the air compressor, avoid the oil less kind.. I have a 20 gal oil less in my garage and it scares the living crap out of me every time it fires up.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Thanks for the tips. I've wondered about oilless vs oiled. My brother-in-law is selling a huge 3-phase piston unit from his cabinet shop because he upgraded to a screw drive with computerized control. He upgraded because the old one was going through a quart of oil every few weeks. After the first couple weeks on the new compressor one of his nail guns jammed on me. I asked if that ever happened to him and he said, "No. My old compressor oiled my tools for me."

Yeah, running a sander or other high air consuming tools was a mess with his old compressor. It put out a lot of air, but you had to hold the sander with a grease rag to catch all the crap it spit out, even with a semi-decent centrifugal separator inline.

Obviously that's an extreme example, but it seemed like running an oilless would minimize the amount of crap that might get into the line. Since I'm planning on painting with the same air I want it clean. I'll get a dual stage air dryer and disposable desiccant filters for the guns, but again it seems like oilless might be a cleaner option.

Anyone have any experience with that? I know I can build an insulated, vented cabinet for the compressor so the noise isn't as much of a concern anymore. Or just wheel it outside when I'm working.

Other than the noise, what are the differences/benefits of the different types of (110v) compressors?


My wife got a call yesterday from her cousin in South Carolina. (We're in Utah; her family is spread all over the country.) She wants us to move out there so my wife, a massage therapist, can work for their family's bed & breakfast with spa. Apparently the cousin can't keep up with the demand, and they both graduated from the same massage school. My wife's uncle is looking for help with his construction company there as well. I'm unemployed (which is why I was getting this shop up & running; too many months without an interview meant it was time to get creative), and my wife is underemployed.

With any luck this current shop setup will become irrelevant. With even more luck there will be room there for me to set up a little shop to work on my own bikes. And with actual, steady income I could probably afford to buy some decent tools to replace the sketchy ones I've been using. (Harbor Freight is fine for wrenches & screwdrivers; a few bolts I've come across didn't even fit with my brother's Snap-On or my father's Craftsman sets, but did with the Harbor Freight. But impact guns, paint guns, nail guns, and basically everything else from HF that's powered by air or electricity tends to suck.)

I just looked up the area we're talking about (Georgetown, SC). It's a couple hours to the closest Harbor Freight. :) Sears is around an hour away. Honda dealership about 45 minutes (actually 4 or 5 within 2 hours; that's a foreign concept to me; we only have 2 within 2 hours that actually have parts counters). Beach is about 2 minutes. This might be doable...


- Jon
 

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Whatever you do, DONT cheap out on your tools. They can either make your "working-on" life heaven or hell. Why cheap out on them anyway are you going to use them once and toss em'? Heckno! They will be used again and again. I usually buy Craftsman stuff because of the xchange warranty but have recently been finding Snap-On tools at a scrapyard I visit bi-daily. If its a little rusty or broken, just go visit a Snap-On truck and xchange it.

I have 2 sets of the screwdrivers I use the most. One set for nice new fasteners and another set that I can use for stuff thats a little boogered and I can also use the flats for scraping and prying and the philips for poking or cleaning out the heads to use the new ones for better bite.

I never buy anything electrical at harbor freight. Or those "travel around the country" tool trucks. They may be cheap but theyre the throw away type of tool usually.
 

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Whatever you do, DONT cheap out on your tools. They can either make your "working-on" life heaven or hell. Why cheap out on them anyway are you going to use them once and toss em'? Heckno! They will be used again and again. I usually buy Craftsman stuff because of the xchange warranty but have recently been finding Snap-On tools at a scrapyard I visit bi-daily. If its a little rusty or broken, just go visit a Snap-On truck and xchange it.

I have 2 sets of the screwdrivers I use the most. One set for nice new fasteners and another set that I can use for stuff thats a little boogered and I can also use the flats for scraping and prying and the philips for poking or cleaning out the heads to use the new ones for better bite.

I never buy anything electrical at harbor freight. Or those "travel around the country" tool trucks. They may be cheap but theyre the throw away type of tool usually.
Ditto on this comment.
If you have to buy a tool twice, even at half the price it's more trouble than it's worth. For my garage shop, I only buy high quality stuff (Motion Pro, Craftsman, Snap-On, Mac, etc) and I'm never disappointed.
 

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I checked out the compressors at Walmart last night. (I'd already been to Home Depot, Lowes, and Harbor Freight recently.) They have a nice 30 gallon CH compressor KIT with a 1/2" impact gun and a 3/8" air ratchet, and fairly decent-looking blow gun and inflator with pressure gauge, all for $250. Didn't see the current rating on the box, but I was in a hurry.

I'm really concerned about tripping a fuse because I have NO IDEA where to find a fuse box. I need to remember to ask the manager about that the next time I'm there.

I have a dream of starting a business of small shop spaces, like storage units, but with really decent power to all the units (110v & 220v, maybe even a few with 3 phase), free compressed air (big commercial rotary screw unit with 1/2" or larger air lines running to all the units), and a central vac system. Think of how pleasant it would be to work in a shop like that where the compressor and vacuum systems are in another location, so you don't have to hear their noise. I don't know how feasible it is, as I've done zero due diligence on the idea, but it's a nice thought. I have extensive marketing ideas for it as well, but that's only relevant if the pricing model is realistic.

Hi, I'm Jon, and I come up with a new business model at least once a week. I can't turn it off.


- Jon
The idea is out there, but very few and far between. I've thought about this too as its a great way to meet other gear heads, and its a lot cheaper than building a shop.

This is just one I've found:
http://selfservegarage.com/
 

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12x26 is a really small shop that will fill up fast, mostly with mechanic, and parts. You need to build storage for your tools, and keep them clean what ever ones you buy. cheap is good for all things as a start. If this is your personal shop, and you have lots of money. then buy what you want. there are a few things you need in one box. hammers, saws, punches, files, and pliers. add knives of different sizes, razors and a few multi-function sets, and you have the necessity for screw drivers. You will always need some tool, so forget making a complete shop with everything in a 26x12 space!!!
 

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Check local swap and shops for compressors, and estate sales. For tools, harbor freight is good for SOME stuff, for other stuff check your local napa, auto value etc and get some good warrantied tawainese tools....snap on is just to expensive for some people. Get good jack stands though......remember you will be crawling under stuff and those stands depend on your life possibly. Dont skimp on them.
 

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Perhaps I spend too much time watching "Shark Tank" (I LOVE that show!!) but it has become eminently clear to me, that those who "don't have much money" are going to have a harder time getting rolling (without a generous backer/benefactor) than those like Donald Trump, who can throw $100,000.00 at a start up, without even batting an eye!

So "money" plays a big role here. I'd be looking for financial backing for my venture, first, AFTER I had a completed plan for size, tooling, location, advertisement, etc..

Then go get it man!! It make take you YEARS to earn back more than you are putting out, but that's the life of a start up. There are no "get rich quick" answers (not that you were asking for that; just sayin).

It would seem that most business owners need the time to devote to getting their idea rolling; the financial backing to get it off the ground, and a convenient and fully equipped location to attract customers (and KEEP them).

-Soupy
 

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You might consider a portable welder. It will give you the option of 220 which would allow you a larger stand up compressor for your air hogs. Kill two birds with one stone. My Hobart came with a way to mount wheels. I put a solid axle with 6 inch wheels on one end and found some 4 inch swivels for the other end.
 

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Pssssssssst........ Kids, this thread is 5 years old.


I don't think he's listening. ;)
 

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Man I never even see the dates.:D That New Posts button gets me every time. The suggestions are still good for those that find themselves in similar circumstances. Now go back to work ODE.:D
 
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