One of the most important aspects of almost any job in a modern auto workshop is getting the area that you are working on as clean as possible. Removing dirt and debris from the area where you want to carry out a repair makes finding and isolating the problem much easier, and makes fixing it simple. While it is possible under certain circumstances to use solvents and other cleaning agents to get an area ready to work in, the best air tool to properly prepare an area and remove the dirt that can compromise your repair is a needle scaler.
Needle scalers are one of the most important air tools in a modern mechanic’s armory, and have literally hundreds of different uses in the workshop. These are simple but effective air tools that are amongst the most efficient method of clearing debris from an area to prepare it for work.
A needle scaler is an air tool that replies on a supply of compressed air that forces a piston backwards and forwards. This piston is connected to a number of very fine chisels that resemble needles. By pushing the needles forward at a very high speed – up to around 5000 times per second – the needle scaler is able to rapidly chip away at any debris in an area and clear it back to bare clean metal in a matter of seconds without the need for any expensive and messy solvents or other cleaning products.
The secret of the success of a needle scaler is the fact that it works at such high speeds. Because the chisels move so fast, they only need to move a small distance, which means that the tool is incredible accurate and precise when used. Someone who is experienced in using a needle scaler will find that it is an excellent way of removing paint, rust, and other things from a surface with a minimum of fuss.
The air tool can be held in a similar manner to a large pen, and gradually used to clean a surface to a very high standard quickly. Different products are available that offer different numbers of needle points, or work at higher or lower power speeds. When choosing a needle scaler for your workshop, there are a number of factors to consider including the price you are willing to pay, and how much you are going to use the tool. If you are likely to use needle scalers a lot – and most mechanics find that they are – it makes sense to buy one that will go the distance, and will clean effectively to reduce the amount of time a job takes.
Ingersoll Rand needle scaler, one of the top names in air powered tools produce a standard duty needle scaler that Red Hill Supply has on sale at around $165, which is a real bargain considering that the recommended price is more than $300. This tool has 19 needles and pumps out at 4600 cycles per minute, making it very effective at cleaning even the hardest contamination from an area.
Florida Pneumatic offers a similarly priced needle scaler which has been designed with a pistol style grip to make it more comfortable in use, and easier to poke into confined areas. The FPT 1050 offers lower levels of power than the Ingersoll Rand product, with a maximum speed of 2700 cycles per minute in normal use. The tool weighs around 4 ½ pounds, which means that it is still light enough to use for short jobs, but you may find it tiring to clean larger areas using it.
If you don’t yet require the power of one of the high end needle scalers from Ingersoll Rand, then it is probably still worth considering something like the lightweight pneumatic scraper kit from Astro Pneumatic. At less than $45, this tool is perfectly adequate for light surface cleaning, and can even remove spot welds with a little effort. While it may not have the effectiveness of a more powerful needle scaler, it will still give acceptable results in most cases.