SHOP: Chuck's Auto Repair LOCATION: 2 (Seattle and Shoreline, Wash.) OWNER/S: Chris Galbraith SIZE: 5,000 square feet; AVERAGE MONTHLY CAR COUNT: 400 (combined) ANNUAL REVENUE: $2 million (combined)
In February, a customer came into the shop with a European vehicle. The vehicle’s crankshaft pulley needed to be replaced and Chuck’s Auto Repair—which has two locations in the Seattle metro area—did not have the necessary tool to remove and replace this part.
“When you need a specialty tool for a car, you can’t buy it from a shop,” owner Chris Galbraith says. “The dealership, their mechanic may have it, but independent shops don’t have these tools. Trying to get a tool like that, you’ll usually have to turn away customers because you can’t find these tools.”
The shop did not want to lose this job to a dealer service center, so Nick Snowdon, the lead technician at this location, took on the task and created the tool in-house.
What It Is
A modified wheel bearing case with six fingers ground in to grip the crankshaft.
What It Does
Snowdon’s specialty tool helps him remove or loosen the bolt in the crankshaft pulley. The specialty tool holds the crankshaft in place, while the technician tries to remove the bolt holding on the pulley.
How It’s Made
According to Galbraith, Snowdon took a spare wheel bearing case from a front-wheel drive car that the shop had in a parts bin and used the bench grinder to grind into the casing to make fingers that would fit and hold the pulley. Once he made those fingers, he used a ratchet to hold it. He then took one of his sockets and welded it onto the wheel bearing case.
Since the parts and equipment used to make this tool were already in the shop, Galbraith says that there was no monetary cost that went into the making of this makeshift crankshaft.
“The only cost I see is that it took about half an hour of Nick’s work time to make the tool,” Galbraith says. “The customer was billed for two hours of labor, including the time Nick took to put the tool together and the cost of the pulley.”
Creating this specialty tool helped Chuck’s Auto Repair take on a $500 job, something that would not have been possible without Snowdon’s ingenuity.
“None of the parts shops had the tool and probably won’t ever. Only European dealer shops may have it,” Galbraith says. “And, even then, the specialty tool would have cost at least half the price of the total job.”
Although the tool has only been used for the one job thus far, the shop saved a job and gained a return customer in the process. And they now have a tool that helps set them apart from other shops in the area.