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manahawkinrob 
Copper - Posts: 58
Copper spacespace
Joined: February 18, 2008
Location: New Jersey, United States
Posted: January 06, 2015 at 1:21 PM / IP Logged  
Hey Guys,
I was wondering if some of the pros on here can tell me what tools you guys use for your installs. I am by no means a pro, but I find the right tool for the job always makes things easier.
DMM? What/how do you use your DMM to test wires? I have the standard DMM but I find the probes are too big and I usually fashion a small wire into a probe. Is there a better way? Is there a probe that will test wires without penetration? I have seen them for VAC but not VDC.
Soldering iron. What brand and model? A special tip? I have the cheap 5 dollar special and it is difficult to say the least to properly heat the wire to get the solder to melt. I usually have to help it by melting a little on the tip of the iron.
Strip tool. Anything special? What one works for you best?
Any other cool tools in the box?
As always, thanks for your time. I really appreciate it.
markls 
Member - Posts: 20
Member spaceThis member has made a donation to the12volt.com. Click here for more info.spacespace
Joined: December 28, 2012
Location: Alberta, Canada
Posted: January 06, 2015 at 1:25 PM / IP Logged  
I bet you'll get lots of good replies to this post!
As for me, I paid extra for a Fluke probe set for my DMM. Some of the probes have *tiny* needle tips. You could never tell I poked & tested that wire.
Soldering iron -- my best investment was a butane iron. Wireless AND very high heat. I'll never go back. tools -- posted image.
markls 
Member - Posts: 20
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Joined: December 28, 2012
Location: Alberta, Canada
Posted: January 06, 2015 at 1:28 PM / IP Logged  
tools -- posted image.
This is the butane iron I use, the UT300. I find the right-angle (gun-style) design to be most convenient.
tedmond 
Gold - Posts: 4,610
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Joined: January 06, 2007
Location: Ontario, Canada
Posted: January 06, 2015 at 7:07 PM / IP Logged  
Meter: Fluke 179 + bed of nails probes + hook meter probes
Wire cutters: CHP cutters for wires, Xcelite cutters for zip ties
Wire strippers: CHP 28-20 gauge (good for toyota ignition wires/ civic door lock wires, Xcelite 18-12 gauge ignition wires on other vehicles. Xcelite self-adjusting wire strippers for bench prepping.
Soldering Iron - Mac Tools ST115
Solder - Kester low melting solder
Misc: NT Pro A-1 Red Dot knife, Dewalt 20V brushless impact + mac tool bits, Mac tools ratchet screwdriver kit SBDR123SA, 6-18mm sockets.
Always use 3M super 33+, 88 or Scotch 700 (home depot) when in a pinch.
thats all I have ever keep on hand for any install I've ever done. Mind you i haven't had to use my tools recently since starting med, but money well spent. Invest in your tools so you have them for a lifetime. I know many installers that use one self adjusting wire strippers; nothing wrong with that, you just need to find what works best for you. It took me years and various tools to find what worked best for my needs.
Ted
2nd Year Tier 1 Medical School
Still installing as a hobby...pays for groceries
Compustar Expert
yellow_cake 
Copper - Posts: 178
Copper spacespace
Joined: December 01, 2011
Location: Saskatchewan, Canada
Posted: January 06, 2015 at 8:30 PM / IP Logged  
I got a spare set of multimeter wires, cut off the leads & attached alligator clips. I use it regularly to clip onto the vehicle ground.
In a pinch you can use a utility razor knife to probe wires quickly... Like this:
tools -- posted image.
Here's the piercing probe I use to test wires, bought it from eBay several years ago! http://www.ebay.ca/itm/CP7865-NEW-SUNPRO-2-WAY-TEST-PIERCE-OR-PROBE-FOR-MULTI-METERS-USA-u-/191132688610
tools -- posted image.
Some trim-removal tools; assortment of non-marring on the left & push clip removal / general purpose tool on the right.
tools -- posted image.
This is more of a supply item rather than a tool, but I use a hefty (I think 18") zip tie for fishing wires.
tools -- posted image.
The rest are just basic everyday tools anyone would have.
shark mobile 
Copper - Posts: 83
Copper spacespace
Joined: November 22, 2014
Location: Ontario, Canada
Posted: January 06, 2015 at 8:33 PM / IP Logged  
I use a Fluke 77 meter...had it for years and it's auto ranging, min/max etc which comes in handy...but these meters are expensive and this is how I make a living...but most inexpensive meters will do the same thing.
Solder Iron - weller pro - s3 tip...it's adjusting temp and reasonably priced...
I have lots of tools, and this is because my shop does many different things...but I have to say that a good pair of mini side cutters and a decent electrical tape are your secret weapons...I was taught how to use side cutters to do everything strippers can do and they fit in my pocket...I use Temflex by 3M for tape still stretchy I. Cold weather...love it!
As for expensive screw drivers and such I don't bother anymore...I've lost more tools in customer cars than I care to think about...yes perhaps in absent minded or just really busy but it does happen!
Everyone is different but I recommend you find what works for you before go spending a ton of money...have fun!
Solder, tape, repeat!
tedmond 
Gold - Posts: 4,610
Gold spaceThis member has been recognized as an authority in Mobile Security and Convenience. Click here for more info.spacespace
Joined: January 06, 2007
Location: Ontario, Canada
Posted: January 06, 2015 at 10:33 PM / IP Logged  
Forgot to mention the large zip tie, pry tools that yellow cake mentioned. His trick with the knife works very well, used it a few times when i didn't want to switch back and forth between probes.
btw, shark mobile suggested Temflex. Unfortunately its not something that can be bought from big box stores. Only electronic places (in ontario) order this type of tape such as robert thibert, staub, automobility, importel etc. I've tried looking for it elsewhere, but no luck.
as I mentioned, tools can be used more than just installations, that's why I buy good tools that will last. Using a big beach towel ensures you loose no tools. Find what works for you. start with a good set of cutters and wire strippers, see what works best. I know among most installers, this is by far the most commonly used strippers. To each their own
tools -- posted image.
Ted
2nd Year Tier 1 Medical School
Still installing as a hobby...pays for groceries
Compustar Expert
prdjr165 
Copper - Posts: 293
Copper spacespace
Joined: October 31, 2002
Location: Illinois, United States
Posted: January 07, 2015 at 2:37 AM / IP Logged  
nothing fancy for me:
super 33 tape
weller soldering iron
LED shop light
panel removing tools
basic Fluke meter
chair on wheels !
good kneeling cushion !
plastic housing razor knife
good printer to print out wiring info
coat hanger to run wires through firewall
kreg357 
Platinum - Posts: 7,470
Platinum spaceThis member has made a donation to the12volt.com. Click here for more info.spaceThis member has been recognized as an authority in Electrical Theory. Click here for more info.spaceThis member has been recognized as an authority in Mobile Security and Convenience. Click here for more info.spacespace
Joined: January 30, 2009
Location: New York, United States
Posted: January 07, 2015 at 3:40 AM / IP Logged  

I like PRDjr165's list.  tools -- posted image.  He just mentioned the most important item.  A good kneeling pad.  For the amount of time you spend on your knees working under the dash, it's probably the most important tool. 

A few things not mentioned :

A vehicle Check-In sheet.  While not a tool, it could save you some headaches with unscrupulous customers.

A Scan Tool / Code reader & reset.  Can be used during vehicle check-in and just in case a code pops up...

A hi-LUM "headlight".   Leaves your hands free and provides plenty of light to differentiate wire colors under the dash.  Here's a in-expensive one.

http://www./itm/Bright-300-Lumen-LED-3-Mode-Zoomable-Headlight-Headlamp-Head-Torch-Lamp-Light-/360962333979?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item540b081d1b

Soldering is fun!
tedmond 
Gold - Posts: 4,610
Gold spaceThis member has been recognized as an authority in Mobile Security and Convenience. Click here for more info.spacespace
Joined: January 06, 2007
Location: Ontario, Canada
Posted: January 07, 2015 at 8:31 AM / IP Logged  
Try using a milk carton as an alternative to the kneeling pad. a carton is just the right height to comfortably sit/work.
kreg, i should send you my seats tools -- posted image. It's hard to find actual free time, but somehow I use my downtime on the12volt when in the emerg haha. Could only imagine the cost of shipping a seat tools -- posted image.
Ted
2nd Year Tier 1 Medical School
Still installing as a hobby...pays for groceries
Compustar Expert
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