The most perfect tool on earth

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Okay, that might be a bit of an overstatement. But every now and then you come across a tool that does exactly one thing, but does it so perfectly that you wonder how you got along without it.

In this case, the one thing to which I'm referring involves a fastener found, among many other places, on Land Cruiser carburetors. It's a near-microscopic springy bit known generally as a hair-pin clip, or colloquially as a Jesus clip (is it sacrilegious to use a capital there?)—either because some of them are shaped like the letter J, or because of the epithet used when one flies out of your grasp. On carburetors they're used to secure linkage rods by popping into a groove at the end of the rod. Removing and replacing them has always been a dicey proposition with needle-nose pliers or, slightly better, hemostats. Dicey because if one of these things pops out of whatever you're using to hold it, it's gone.

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A few months ago, our master Toyota mechanic friend Bill Lee was visiting, and while he was here he addressed some issues on the FJ40's carb. When he started disassembling the linkage he pulled this out of his kit: a simple plunger-activated rod with a tiny hook in the end of a tiny tube.

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The hook grabbed each Jesus clip and popped it off (and back on again) with effortless security. A groove in the end of the tube ensured the clip stayed straight, even when pushing it back into place.

OMG. I had to have one.

Except it turns out the company that made them, Lisle, discontinued part #46500. Little demand for fiendishly clever carburetor tools these days, I guess. I haunted eBay for weeks but failed to find a used one—until Bill visited again, and handed me one a mechanic friend, Jeff Bell, had given him. I'm going to be rebuilding my carburetor every six months just to employ this thing. Brilliant.

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