Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Sears Craftsman Hand Tools

When I was younger, I liked to work on cars. This meant I needed tools. For just about any job that is done, there is some kind of tool that is needed to do that job. Even a computer could be considered a tool.

Because of their reputation, and lifetime warranty, I bought my first set of tools from Sears. Their Craftsman line was considered one of the best, and had a lifetime warranty. Some people have preferences for tools, for example, they will only buy from one brand name, like Makita.

Those who don't know anything about tools, should always ask questions about what they want from the tools they buy. How is it made and what materials are used? Is it accurate? What kind of warranty comes with the tool?

Tools are made using different materials and specifications. Some lower cost tools can break, due to the type of material/metal/plastic used and it's thickness. And the size of the tool may not be accurate. For example, a 3/8 wrench may not be 3/8 of an inch, it could be +/- some small fraction of an inch.

Tools with Lifetime warranties are made better with stronger materials and tolerances as close to 100% as possible. There are many tools that have Lifetime warranties. One of the better known companies with a Lifetime warranty on their tools is Snap-on.

Sometimes people want to know the difference between expensive Snap-on tools and less expensive Craftsman tools.

If you want to remove a 1/2 inch nut, you would need a 1/2 inch wrench. Both companies make 1/2 inch wrenches in various lengths. If you compare the two, you will see that the Snap-on wrench is thinner and has less material near where the opening is where you would use the wrench on a bolt. Even the shaft is thinner. This means that the metal they use has to be stronger than the metal that the Craftsman brand uses, or else it will fail and break. Also it is obvious that the Snap-on tool is smooth and shiny. That means that after it is cast, it is polished to a mirror shine. This process is time consuming and expensive. These are the reasons why Snap-on tools and others like it, cost more than the Craftsman brand. Craftsman tools are more affordable, and most of the time, they do just as good a job as more expensive "shiny" tools, in my opinion.

Well, I've owned my Craftsman set for over 25 years, adding on more tools here and there. I finally decided to upgrade my wrench and socket sets. There are complete sets of wrenches and sockets available from Sears and I recently ordered them separately. I could use extra wrenches and get sizes that I didn't already have by buying a new set, and the same goes for the sockets. The newer sockets also have special easy-to-read markings.

All was well with ordering the 43 piece standard and metric size wrench set. The socket set cost a lot more, so that was my deterrent to buy it right away. Then, the set was increased from a 299 piece standard and metric socket set to a 311 piece set. Then, it went on sale with free shipping! I placed my order on December 16, 2010.

On December 18,2010, I received an e-mail from Sears, stating that the item I ordered was SHIPPED with a delivery date between December 22-24, and I was given a tracking number for UPS.

On December 20, 2010, my credit card was charged.

I kept checking the UPS tracking number and it said the same thing, “A label for this shipment has been created, but UPS does not yet have possession of this shipment. Once we receive the shipment, the tracking status will be updated.”

After 10 days I contacted Sears about this shipment and was told that it was shipped to me.

I responded by telling Sears that I am aware of that, but I did not receive the shipment, and that there was no Tracking information available for it.

I was sent a follow-up e-mail telling me that the shipment was shipped "from the Warehouse to the store and will take 2-3 more business days before it is shipped to you."

I kept checking the UPS tracking info and nothing changed.

On January 19, 2011, one month after I was told the item was shipped to me, I re-contacted Sears telling them that I still had not received the order but that I still wanted it, even though it now appeared to be out of stock according to the Sears website, and would wait for it to be in stock. I wanted to make sure that they were aware that it was not yet shipped to me.

Sears replied that they would look into it, and see what happened to my order. Another department of Sears wrote back to me stating that I returned the item and they canceled my order right then.

I replied and explained to them what happened, that I never received the item, and therefore never returned it, and that I want my order fulfilled, not canceled.

Their next reply addressed me as “Nasal," mistaking it for my name. And they told me to just re-order it.

I got angry about being called "Nasal," and said that I would not re-order it because it was on sale with free shipping when I bought it, and vow never to buy another Craftsman or Sears product.

They replied explaining to me how sometimes items that show that they are in stock, are not really in stock, due to inventory errors.

However, that point was moot because the item was shipped to me, and upon the first investigation, it was supposedly at a Sears store, being readied to ship to me.

During this time I researched Craftsman tools and found out that Craftsman tools from when I originally purchased them, were made by a company that was replaced in 1994 by another company. The tools that I own were manufactured by the old company, and they now make tools for Home Depot.

So, I no longer need to buy Craftsman tools, as the Home Depot brand also with a Lifetime warranty is made by the same company that made the tools that I currently own.

In fact, I no longer need Sears for anything. No wonder Sears is not doing well.

As a parting note, I wrote this to Sears.

"Good luck staying in business,


Their last reply to me, addressed me as "Nasal" again.

Test Driving a Prius

I got into a car accident at the beginning of the year. It wasn't my fault, and no one was injured. However, my Truck was no longer drivable, due to the damage. More on this in another post after it is all settled.

So, I needed a car to drive. I called my brother, who, due to the death of his Father-in-law, had an extra car. This car happened to be a second generation Toyota Prius. I have never driven a Prius before. It is "different."

It is designed as a "futuristic" car, with many displays and controls that are digital, electronic, and/or computerized. This can be a hassle to deal with. For example, instead of moving a lever or turning a knob to adjust the heater, you have to press the "Climate" button, look for the temperature adjustment on the computer screen, then press the up or down button and set the temperature to whatever degree you want. That in itself is a hassle. What's better, 72 degrees? 73 degrees? 74 degrees? You get the picture. How much easier it is to just turn a knob. Hotter? Turn the knob to the right. Cooler? Turn the knob to the left.

Then there's the "Speedometer." It is digital, and more or less in the left center of the dash board. All this information, engine temperature, oil pressure, fuel level, and speed should be right in front of the Driver's eyes, not towards the center of the car. And the center touch screen for the Climate, Audio, etc, controls is in the center of the car, below the dash.

This means that the Driver is constantly taking his eyes off the road in front of him, to look left or center and down, to make adjustments to his speed, temperature, radio stations, etc. This is dangerous. You have to "learn" how to disregard all of this and keep your eyes on the road. A friend of mine has said that she always sees Prius drivers in accidents. Personally, I haven't seen an increase in accidents involving Prius Drivers, but if it does happen, I wouldn't doubt it.

But, I did consider buying one to replace my wrecked truck. So I rented the newer 3rd generation Prius. The Dash board info center is even closer to center than the 2nd generation! It is better that they put it deep inside a "hole" in the dash to help with sun glare, but more to the center? They should have moved it more to the Driver's side.

Some of the controls were made more in tune with conventional cars, as the climate control is now separate buttons NOT on a computer touch screen.

The radio in the cheaper models are also separate manual buttons not on the computer touch screen.

The one I rented had the Navigation option which had all the radio controls on the computer touch screen. And it came with a GPS navigation system. This too was a distracting device, but it can be turned off, and since it includes a back-up camera when you put the car in reverse, it is a good option for safety.

Performance wise, the engine has more "Pep" than the 2nd generation. It also can be placed in 3 different modes, Electric, Evo, and Power. Electric means it will run only on the electric motor up to a certain speed, about 20 mph. Evo means it is in "normal" mode, and drives much like the 2nd generation. Power mode makes noticeable "OOMPH." In this mode, the car uses more of the gasoline engine to power the car and thus gets less miles per gallon.

As I drove this car for 2 days, it impressed me for what it does best, save gas. I got over 50 miles per gallon in a combination of City and Highway driving. I did notice a drop when in power mode.

But it did not impress me as the kind of car I need for my everyday duties. For me, it would be a great second car, just to go to work, IF I had a long commute, which I don't.

And also, it does not make sense to me, but the older 2nd generation one seems to be better than the new one. The newer one has better controls and comforts, even more power. But the older one seems to do it's job better, even though I got less miles per gallon.

If you're interested in a Prius, it is a comfortable roomy car and gets excellent gas mileage. And with gasoline prices set to rise over 4 dollars per gallon in the United States, it may be the hot car to have. I may regret not buying one, but we'll see what happens.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

My First Post of 2011

Well, sorry if you've been waiting but I have not had many experiences that I wished to write about. Though I have written about Political things, I really don't like to, and am considering erasing all of my Political posts. Anyway, I recently got into a car accident and thought I'd share something.

I grew up near Downtown LA. It was a great lower class neighborhood that had lots of hard working people, as well as poor unemployed people.

It was a safe area, though there were some street gangs. Things did get a little rough in the early 80's to 90's, but no one in my family was ever hurt or felt scared. But we all developed "Street Smarts" or so, I thought we all did.

All of my brothers and sisters moved out of the area and now live in better neighborhoods. I now work in the area. We all visit our Mother often.

As I was coming over one night, Another driver hit my truck and caused damage to my rear axle, making my car undrivable. I had it towed to my Mother's house and left it there.

The only one I told about my accident was my brother because I had to borrow his car. But it is pretty obvious that I was involved in a car accident, as the damage to my rear axle is obvious.

I was sure that my sister could figure this out, as she came over to the house the next day, and would wonder why my truck was in the yard when I was supposed to be at work.

A few days later, while I was working, an Insurance adjuster came over to assess the damage. I let him in, then had to leave and go on a call. While he was doing his job looking over my truck, my sister came over again to visit our Mother.

When she saw a stranger in our yard looking at my truck, she panicked. "WHAT IS A STRANGE MAN DOING IN THERE!" she was probably thinking. She then called me, left a voicemail AND a text telling me what was happening in the yard.

Obviously, though we all grew-up here and have some “Street Smarts,” my sister has lost some "Street cred." When witnessing someone doing something unusual, one could come to the conclusion that someone dressed like a gang member, with a gun, knife, bat, stick, and/or screwdriver, etc, and sneaking around looking for things COULD be a criminal, and the situation could be dangerous.

However, a short man, thin build, wearing glasses, a pullover sweater, dress pants and dress shoes, taking pictures and measurements of my truck, and writing things down on a pad, doesn't really fall into the category of a threat.

At my sister's expense, I'm still laughing over this.