What are Your Favorite Laundromat Tools

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What are Your Favorite Laundromat Tools? (Conclusion)

Pointers from Paulie B: Don’t forget gloves, goggle and mask to protect yourself

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Having the right tools can make a world of difference for repairs, maintenance and any other project you might tackle in your laundromat. Using the wrong tools will not only make your job longer and harder, in some cases it can lead to damage, failure or even personal injury.

We all know and should have the basic tools: pliers, screwdrivers, drills, etc. But there are many other tools that will make your life a lot easier.

I accumulated and used many tools over my career. In this column, I’ll tell you about the ones that stand out in my mind. I hope you’ll see that they can make your life a lot easier. In Part 1, I listed some diagnostics aids and more. Allow me to conclude:

Telescoping Pickup ToolYou’ll thank me every time you drop something behind a washer. Get one claw type and one magnetic. You may be able to find a pickup tool that has both magnets and a claw combined in one unit.

Heat Gun — It’s hotter than a hair dryer but cooler than a torch. Heat guns come in handy for everything from loosening VCT tiles to heating up a pulley on a motor shaft to make it easy to slide off the shaft.

Heating frozen locks is a breeze. Try heat-shrinking tubing, softening up those 2 1/8-inch plastic drain hoses, or other tasks.

Grease Gun — Aside from water getting inside a bearing in a washer, bearings mostly fail due to the grease drying out. 

If the grease dries out of a dryer bearing (it’s usually the one closest to the heat), the bearing will seize up while the drum keeps turning. This will quickly grind a groove in the trunnion shaft and the basket will get looser and looser. 

If you have equipment that has bearings with “zerk” grease nipples, you can keep bearings greased almost indefinitely by shooting in a couple of shots of grease once a year.

Note: Some bearing housings will not have the zerk fitting, but if you’re lucky, they may have the screw hole for you to install your own.

Magnetic Flashlight with Flexible Shaft — It will stick to a machine, and you can shine the flexible light where you need it. I also kept a pair of 4.0 reading glasses for doing close-up work.

Repairing equipment safely and more easily requires good illumination and visualization of your work.

Fish Hook and Fishing Line — If customers are overloading your top loaders to the point that socks and other small items go over the basket and down into the tub, this tool provides an easy solution. No need to pull the tub out.

Tie a nice, strong 3-inch line to a small treble fishhook with a weight. Drop the fishhook over the side and just swirl it around the tub to hook and pull out the “overboard” item.

Wire Nuts — A set of wire nuts in various sizes is always handy to have. There are newer ways to splice wires but wire nuts are the old standby.

Spade Wire Crimp Terminal Assortment Kit Just like the wire nuts, you’ll be looking for these a few times a year. Make sure you also get a good crimper for them.

Gear Pullers — Used for more advanced repairs such as tub bearing jobs, they can also be indispensable for pulling a dryer basket, or even just to remove a pulley. 

A good gear puller can make it easier to change motor bearings, which is one of the most cost-effective repairs you can do. So, $40 for two bearings, or $400 for a rebuilt washer motor?

I kept both 2-jaw and 3-jaw versions, and in two sizes: big and small. If you want to push out a dryer basket, you’ll need a big puller with a long reach.

Tweezers Set, Mini File Set, or a Hook and Pick Set — Any of these will be useful in clearing lint-stuffed keyholes. Think “dental pick” for your locks.

Sanders and Grinders — You may already have some nice hand files and rasps, but every now and then, you’ll need to do some aggressive grinding or cutting. This is where a belt sander or an angle sander/cutter can really help you make quick work of hard projects.

Workbench — If you have enough room at your location, install a sturdy workbench. Add a good vise, lighting and power outlet. Such a setup makes for good ergonomics, which will make things easier on you.

Now, I used a lot of other tools over the years I owned laundromats, including reciprocating saws, hammer drills and ratcheting box wrenches, but the tools I’ve listed here were the most handy. (But let’s not forget gloves, goggles and masks to protect yourself.)

And finally, my No. 1 laundromat tool was …

Bill Counter — Assuming your store receives paper money, a nice bill counter can be quite useful if/when you have too many bills to count by hand. Many models now cost less than $100. They can do batch counts and automatically detect counterfeit bills.

Have a question or comment? E-mail our editor Bruce Beggs at [email protected].