There are two things at a premium in my garage: space and light. While I can't do much about the former, Craftsman has come to the rescue for the latter.
For more than a decade I've tried to hold a flash light in one hand while working on a car with the other...or hang a trouble light where there was no place to do so. I finally got tired of it. I ponied up for a pair of adjustable 1000w worklights that come with stands so that I can set them up where ever I need to.
I can't tell you how happy I am now.
Not only do they free my hands up so I can work efficiently, but they also stay where I put them. Another great advantage of these lights is that they are both inexpensive (at the time of this writing, they were $29.99 a piece online) and versatile.
With four different levels of light intensity (250w/500w/750w/1000w) you can choose to save a little on the electric bill or really light an area up depending on your needs. To make them even more useful, the light mount swivels on the tripod, as do the lights on the mount itself. The lights also tilt and can be set on the floor without the tripod as well as raised or lowered on the tripod from about 36"-70".
They're also easy to set up.
If you take your time and don't cut any corners, it could conceivably take you as long as an hour (although it took me about 45 minutes the first time I set one of these up counting both reading the instruction booklet and taking photos). If you know what you are doing, it may take as little as 10-15 minutes for the initial assembly.
Once they are assembled, set up and take down are quick and easy, allowing for portability and compact storage.
To give you an idea of what you are getting into before you decide whether or not you want to own one or more of these, I photo'd the entire assembly procedure as well as the worklight's effectiveness lighting up a rear wheel well on my '93 Mustang. Please refer to the instruction booklet included with your worklight for proper assembly instructions.
Before you begin unpacking the parts of the worklight, be prepared to read the instruction booklet. Reading the short list of instructions before hand will definitely speed up the process unless you are already familiar with the assembly procedures and safety information. The booklet's sections include warranty information, safety instructions, a description of the parts, assembly instructions, bulb installation, worklight operation, maintenance, storage, and troubleshooting. Photo: Ryan King, 2006.Click image to enlarge.
Unpacking the Worklight
To start, unpack the worklight parts and find the instruction booklet. I personally read the entire instruction booklet before I get started. It keeps me from making costly and/or time consuming mistakes or injuring myself because I didn't read the safety information. Photo: Ryan King, 2006.Click image to enlarge.
Worklight Parts Laid Out
I've found it's a good idea to lay out, take inventory, and compare all of the parts to the parts list before getting started to make sure I either don't waste time partially assembling something that I will need to breakdown and return, get stalled and be forced to store it away while I wait for the needed piece (and potentially forget where I am in the process), or, worst case scenario, screw up a part of a procedure that is time sensitive (this mostly relates to other types of assembly which require adhesives or paints, but I find it is sound practice to consider this factor and how it relates to whatever process or project I am working on before I start). At the beginning of this assembly, I'm greeted by a good omen: All of the components are present and I am ready to move forward. Photo: Ryan King, 2006.Click image to enlarge.
Portable Stand Base Disassembled
The first step is to take the portable stand from the parts you've laid out and remove the light adjustment knobs from the bottom of the stand. Photo: Ryan King, 2006.Click image to enlarge.
Portable Stand Handle, Lights and Junction Box
Place the stand base on a flat surface with the stabilizer bars supporting the stand. Lay out the lights, handle/junction box assembly and cords so that they do not restrict movement of the handle during assembly. Now, using the stop washers as reference for the back of the stand, put the portable stand handle/junction box assembly on the base by inserting the portable stand attachment fitting through the center hole in the base. Photo: Ryan King, 2006.Click image to enlarge.
Portable Stand Handle Assembly Attachment
Locate the portable stand handle attaching screws and put them in the holes in the flange and stand base then screw them into the threaded bosses on the underside of the stand base. Three screws are pictured but only two are used (this package came with three). Photo: Ryan King, 2006.Click image to enlarge.
Light Adjustment Knobs
Next, grab the light adjustment knobs you removed from the bottom of the portable stand base. One at a time, place the individual lights, brackets down, on the base, aligning the hole in the bracket with the hole in the base. The knob will fit through the hole in the bracket and the top of the base, threading into the boss you removed them from in the bottom of the base. Repeat for the other light. These knobs allow you to easily loosen the lights so that they can be twisted a limited amount on the stand and retightened to keep them in place. Photo: Ryan King, 2006.Click image to enlarge.
Portable Stand Base Stop Washers
Make sure when you install the lights, that they are pointed the opposite direction in relation to these riveted washers on the stand. The washers are attached to the back of the stand (as referenced above during the handle installation). These washers keep you from twisting the lights into each other or the handle during use. Photo: Ryan King, 2006.Click image to enlarge.
Wire Lens Guard Installation
Locate the tangs on the wire lens guards that go into the cutouts on the lens cover and locate the cutouts on the lens covers. Insert two tangs on one side of the lens guard into the bottom two cutouts in the lens cover. Lightly compress the wire guard to allow enough clearance to get the other two tangs into the top two cutouts of the lens cover. Repeat for the other light. A note of caution: The wire of the guards are not very sturdy and the wires may break loose during compression (I had to return one worklight because of this problem). Photo: Ryan King, 2006.Click image to enlarge.
Here's the portable light stand as it was when I finished with this portion of the assembly. The blue boxes in the lights themselves are the bulbs which I installed later on in the assembly process as per the instruction booklet. Photo: Ryan King, 2006.Click image to enlarge.
With the tripod completely collapsed as it came in the box, the knob that loosens the three tripod legs is at the head of the tripod. Loosen the knob and lower the legs until the support brackets are parallel with the floor. I find it easiest to do this if I start by pulling each of the legs away from the mainshaft. I then rest the bottom of the tripod against the floor and press down on the leg bracket/clamp with both hands. When the legs contact the floor and stop moving, I lift the tripod and hold the base of the mainshaft with one hand and press the leg bracket/clamp down with the other hand. Be sure to tighten the knob once you have the legs adjusted correctly. Photo: Ryan King, 2006.Click image to enlarge.
Tripod Base Adjustment
When I purchased my worklights, there were decals on the mainshafts of the tripods that give correct height adjustment as well as a warning to set the tripod legs at that height or risk instability and the possibility of the light tipping over. Photo: Ryan King, 2006.Click image to enlarge.
Tripod Set Up
Here is the tripod set up correctly. The next step is to extend the mainshaft by loosening the black pole collars (loosen them by twisting), pulling the shaft up to the desired height and tightening the collars back down. Photo: Ryan King, 2006.Click image to enlarge.
Tripod Light Mount
As you can see, the mounting flange for the portable light stand is a square u-shape that coincides with the shape of the base of the portable light stand. The knob on the "back" of the mounting flange is actually pull actuated not twisted as the knob shape might indicate and is the locking mechanism for the portable light stand attachment fitting. You have to pull it out and keep it pulled to allow the light stand to be installed. The same is true to remove it. Photo: Ryan King, 2006.Click image to enlarge.
Portable Light Stand Attachment Fitting
This is a shot of the attachment fitting I have eluded to. The machined groove in the fitting allows the locking mechanism in the tripod stand to get a secure grip on the stand. Photo: Ryan King, 2006.Click image to enlarge.
Lens Cover Screw
Before going any further, it's important to read the warnings at the beginning of the halogen bulb installation section of the instruction booklet. This is a shot of the lens cover retaining screw which you will need to undo to allow the lens cover to swing down on its hinge. I have two warnings before you move to open up the lenses on these lights. First, the lens cover on the worklights I purchased are clamped down under some pressure which may act to pop the lens cover open. Second, at this point, the bulbs are loose (although in boxes) inside the lights and may fall out if you don't stop them (but make sure the lens cover doesn't pop open forcibly at the same time). Photo: Ryan King, 2006.Click image to enlarge.
Once you've opened the light and retrieved the boxed halogen bulb from inside the light you will need to unwrap it from the box and bubble wrap. Warning: Do not touch the bulb with your fingers. See next image for more details.Photo: Ryan King, 2006.Click image to enlarge.
Proper Bulb Handling
It's important not to touch the bulb with your bare hands or get any contaminants on the bulb surface as the oils from your hands or other contaminants can cause heat build up which can burn out the bulb. Halogen bulbs work at very high temperatures. By leaving contamination such as oil residue that can hold heat, it will cause that area of the bulb surface to get too hot. If you get contamination on the bulb, be sure to clean the bulb with a non-residue leaving, non-caustic cleaner such as alcohol, to remove the contamination before installation. I personally just use a paper towel to hold the bulb, so long as it doesn't soak through with oils or sweat from my hand. The instructions recommend using either the bulb wrapper or a cloth. Photo: Ryan King, 2006.Click image to enlarge.
With the cover down, you can see one of the bulb receptacles in this photo. There is one on each side of the housing. I carefully inserted one end of the lamp into the receptacle marked "INSERT LAMP IN THIS LAMPHOLDER FIRST" as stated in the instruction booklet, then carefully inserted the other end of the bulb into the other receptacle. Photo: Ryan King, 2006.Click image to enlarge.
Once the bulb is installed, make certain that the bulb is firmly in place with no forward and back movement. Next, carefully lift the lens cover into position and with the cover aligned on the light correctly, apply enough pressure to allow the center screw on the light to be tightened back down. Be careful that you don't get the threads crossed due to misalignment (this is easy to do with the cover trying to push away from the screw because of the pressure necessary to fit the lens into position), the pot metal used for the lens cover is very soft and the threads in the hole can strip very easily. Repeat for the other light. Photo: Ryan King, 2006.Click image to enlarge.
That's it. Now the worklight is fully assembled. At this point, it's important to read the worklight operation section of the instruction booklet and the warnings at the beginning of that section before using the worklight. Photo: Ryan King, 2006.Click image to enlarge.
'93 Mustang without Light
Here's a shot of my '93 Mustang in the garage under the dim fluorescent lighting sitting only a couple of feet overhead. Obviously with as dark as it is under the car, it makes it difficult to see what I'm doing under there. Especially when I get hunkered down in the wheel opening effectively blocking what little light is getting under there to begin with. Photo: Ryan King, 2006.Click image to enlarge.
'93 Mustang Under Half Power
At a few feet away and at half power (each light has two settings and can be turned on independently of one another) the lighting is drastically improved. What's great is that if I need to be in the wheel well and I am blocking the light, I can unhook the portable light stand from the tripod and set it down on the floor next to me to shine where I need it. Photo: Ryan King, 2006.Click image to enlarge.
'93 Mustang Under Full Power
Here are both lights at full power (500w each reaching the worklight's 1000w capacity). At the same distance as the photo at half power, it's easy to see this light's ability to light up an area. At full power, it's almost too bright for me to work and you definitely don't want to look into the light (purposefully or accidentally). Photo: Ryan King, 2006.Click image to enlarge.
Worklight Broken Down
When you're finished using it, the light breaks down for convenient, compact storage. The tripod fits neatly between the feet of the light base and the lights themselves. I even carry the whole assembly that way by the handle only. Although you will probably want to secure the tripod on the portable light base to make certain it doesn't fall and get damaged while you move the assembly around. Photo: Ryan King, 2006.Click image to enlarge.