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When you really need a 2-man post-hole auger.

Rent it . . . or other handy but expensive, infrequently used tools

You can get inspired walking through a rental yard. All those jobs at home that seem overwhelming, improbable, or too ambitious suddenly become possible when you spot the perfect tool and hear it calling out to you, "Rent me!"

Our photograph shows a small fraction of what's available at tool-rental yards. You probably wouldn't use many of these tools often enough to justify owning and storing them, but an auger that lets you run irrigation pipe under your walkway, or an iron that strips off old wallpaper, might be just what you need to tackle a big project with the methods of a pro.

Many rental yards pride themselves on service and on keeping their tools in top condition. It's worth frequenting these. If you can describe what you're trying to do, a good operator can usually suggest the right tool-and tell you who might have it, if he doesn't. Specialty items might require a telephone search.

If you know what you want, it still may pay to shop around. (For example, we found that daily rental fees for a rototiller varied by $30.) But remember, it can cost you extra to haul a tool across town instead of renting it close to home. And if you've had good service with one yard, it makes sense to stick with it.

To rent, you'll have to leave a deposit, or a blank credit-card slip that the yard will tear up when you return the item, When you sign the rental contract, you're essentially assuming all liability for the tool. You'll pay for everything you use up or wear out (sandpaper, paint filters, gasoline, saw blades, staples), but rarely will you pay for any damage to the machineunless you've misused it. Training on particular tools varies from yard to yard. Most will give you a detailed demonstration, some offer written instructions, but others will give you only minimal training unless you ask for more. Ask for it. Don't assume you can figure it out when you get home. When you're renting, time is money, and you can spend a lot of both changing a dull blade or trying to get a tricky engine to start.

Before you think about renting something sizable, make sure you can transport it; many newer cars have plastic bumpers that can't be rigged with temporary towing hitches. Most large tools can be pulled on trailers with a standard ball hitch, but some self-contained tools and trailers need a pintle hitch one that clamps into a ring instead of locking on a ball.

Also be prepared at the job site: have preliminary tasks done and help at hand, if needed. You may be able to finish a job fast enough to get an hourly rate.
COPYRIGHT 1988 Sunset Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1988 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Date:Aug 1, 1988
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