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Vintage Toolbox Restoration

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Old 01-22-2010, 07:10 PM   #1
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Vintage Toolbox Restoration

My uncle recently sold the garage that he used to own. When he got out of the business, he split up some of his tools with the mechanics that worked for him, and took some home with him. The rest he gave to me, with the toolboxes! The boxes are ones that he bought shortly after he became a professional mechanic. The top box is a Mac Tool that he bought in 1971, and the bottom rolling box is a Craftsman Commercial that he bought in or around 1973. I'm in the process of cleaning and degreasing everything and getting them looking nicer. I think I'm going to leave it kinda beat up unless the rust starts to get worse. It's neat that all the dents and scrapes were put there by my uncle over the course of his career up until he bought the place, at which point they stopped seeing daily use.

I figure there are a bunch of tacoma build threads on here, so I'll throw up a restoration thread of a different type. So far I've soaked all the sockets in WD40 and gotten the grime off of them. No pics of that yet, but when I get some more progress I'll post an update.













Anyone ever tackled anything like this and know what a good thing to clean some of the rust and grime it would be? I've heard foaming degreaser might work well. The WD40 worked well on the sockets, but not as well on the toolbox.
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Old 01-22-2010, 07:19 PM   #2
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That's a great set of tools. Maybe try spraying the toolbox with some simple green degreaser and then powerwashing it. I agree, it looks good with some scrapes and dents from a lifetime of use.
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Old 01-22-2010, 07:34 PM   #3
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Yeah it was a super generous gift. I'm really pumped about it.
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Old 01-22-2010, 07:43 PM   #4
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I really like older tools and the quality you find in them. I think just some good scrubbing and some nice drawer liners would be nice. Personally I would not paint it as I like the look the way it is! Also I would clean and regrease the slides.
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Old 01-22-2010, 08:06 PM   #5
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Yeah that's what I'm planning on. I'm getting all the tools cleaned up first. When I get done with that I'm going to disassemble the cabinets and do them. I agree, I think some non-skid drawer liners and new slide lube and I'll be good to go.
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Old 01-24-2010, 05:36 PM   #6
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I didn't have a whole lot of time this weekend, but I managed to make some progress on this. I got the impact sockets cleaned up and looking nearly as good as the non impact sockets. I also got the drawers removed from the bottom roller cabinet and took a closer look at the slide hardware. It was missing one slide retaining clip on the bottom drawer. There are 2 slides on either side, so I'm hoping missing one of four won't be too bad. I'm going to try to find another clip if I can though.



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Old 01-24-2010, 05:49 PM   #7
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subscribed. cool project
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Old 02-03-2010, 09:14 PM   #8
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The rust is a little bit more pervasive than I thought, and I'm really strongly considering getting it sandblasted and repainting them so they'll last another 30+ years. (hopefully)

I've talked to a couple of places about sandblasting, one of which does powder coating. One guy wanted $150 to blast the lower rolling cabinet and all drawers, and the powder coating place said $250 to blast it and powder coat it. I'm kinda leaning towards getting it powder coated now since it's only $100 more, and in the long run I think that it will be a much more durable finish than me rattle canning the whole thing with rustoleum. It's also cheaper than me buying a dryer and spray setup for my compressor and doing it. Of course, I'd have the equip if I ever need to spray something else, but for now I think the powder coat seems like the best bet.

The top has nowhere near the rust like the bottom, so we'll see how it cleans up. I think if I get the bottom powder coated it's going to bug me that it looks brand new and the top doesn't, so I'm still on the fence about it.
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Old 02-03-2010, 09:26 PM   #9
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Nice Tool Box

[quote=xodeuce;1390526]
This sounds like a good fun project and looks like your doing good so far. For my tools that I have purchased over the yrs that are rusted I soak them in Diesel for awhile. That helps of gettin the rust off.
Powdercoating would be a great way to go for the tool box. it will last much longer and more durable. Ive sprayed mine with rustoleum and its ok but still chips with use.
Nice collection of some old tools there. Enjoy
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Old 05-05-2010, 01:14 PM   #10
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any updates? I like the look of the older toolboxes like that. Too bad they are all friction slides. I was looking to see if i can pick up a small vintage 1970s mac/matco/snap-on box and refinish it as a side project.
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Old 05-13-2010, 08:26 AM   #11
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Yeah. I decided to go w/o powdercoating for the moment, mainly just because I want to wait until I can do both boxes and all the drawers in their original colors. It's just a little more than I want to spend on this project at the moment. However, I've cleaned up the bottom box with some simple green and a pressure washer and got it as clean as it's going to be. I put some white lithium grease on the friction slides to get them moving a little better, and cut new drawer liner for all of the drawers. It looks a lot better. I need to get some pics posted of it.

The thing is still rock solid and a beast. I'd highly recommend an older toolbox if you can find one on craigslist. If you check out www.garagejournal.com they have some awesome resources and pics of guys that have refinished vintage boxes. Craigslist seems to be the place to find things like this though. But, even the older ones go for a pretty good price just because they still have a lot of life left in them.

I actually found a brochure / catalog page for the sears box at that garage journal site. Apparently it was a big deal at the time that the box was "electronically welded" which was kinda funny to me.
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Old 05-13-2010, 08:28 AM   #12
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Yea, I'm on garagejournal as well. Great forum to learn about tools, just sort of gets you in trouble when you start buying tools you don't really need.
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Old 05-13-2010, 08:32 AM   #13
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lol yeah. I have managed to not really buy anything totally superfluous since I've joined that site. Some of those guys have a serious tool addiction though. I guess a fair amount are professional mechanics though. The part that kills me are the insane garages. Some day... some day...
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Old 05-20-2010, 01:53 PM   #14
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Did you find any stampings on your top box? I am looking at a box similar to yours, juts with the flat handles. Was wondering where I might be able to find the model/date info on it. People on GarageJournal mention it is on the box, just not exactly sure where.
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