50 Cool Things You Could Have Seen at SEMA

The show is big and required every bit of the space in all three halls of the Las Vegas convention center plus three outdoor parking lots.

At 8’ in diameter this Big Ass fan (it’s a brand) is one big ass fan. Designed to move a high volume of air at low speed, this AirGo model is the largest of three industrial mobile fans made by the company. Also available are wall and column mounted fans plus ceiling fans up to 24’ in diameter. I’ve seen their big ceiling fans in more than one tool factory; the blades are so long they put winglets (like you’d see on airplane wings) on the ends.

This is one of 12 Futureliners built by GM in 1939 and 1940. It caught my eye because of its bizarre streamlined shape and the giant bay on the side. The bay was being used to display a jet engine but all I could think was what a nice mobile shop it would make. The Futureliners were built for a cross country promotional tour called the Parade of Progress. The vehicle weighs 33,000 pounds and is more than 33 feet long. The driver climbs a narrow internal stairway to an airplane-like cockpit with one seat in front and room for maybe two or three passengers behind.

Tite-Reach extension wrenches have been around since 2009 but this is only the second time I have seen them. Designed to extend the reach of a socket wrench, they rely on a chain and two internal gears (1:1 ratio) to transfer power. There are currently three models. The older two (1/4” and 3/8” drive) sell have cast aluminum housings and sell for $42 and $60 respectively. The newest model (3/8” driver) has a plastic body and goes for $25.

Here’s a shot of a couple of Tite-Reach wrenches connected end-to-end and chucked to a drill. The inventor was at the show and he told me about selling these things to Iowa farmers (he’s from Iowa) who used them to access bolts in hard-to-reach spots on their farm equipment.

I wish I could say this was the result of a collision between a 1957 Chevy Bel Air and a 2008 Harley Davidson, but in fact it’s the result of 3,000 hours of labor by Lupo Racing, a car restoration company in France. Look closely and you’ll see there is more Bel Air to this bike than the fin, there’s the two-tone color scheme, the hood ornament on the fender and a piece from the bumper (the chrome cone) just forward of the motor. Can’t see it here, but the exhaust ports through a piece of the bumper—the same as it does on the car.

You’re looking at the Strati EV, the world’s first 3D printed electric car. Developed by Local Motors, the plans for the car are open source so anyone with a big enough 3D printer (big as in giant) can make one. It took 4 days to print the parts made from plastic: the chassis, body, and seats. Click here for a manufacturer’s video of the production process.

Here’s a closer look at the Strati EV’s body. They left the ridges to show how the material is put down in layers; in production models the ridges would be machined out. I have no desire to own or drive one of these but it was fun to see one being made in a giant 3D printer next to the car. Click here to see the printer in action.

Homak had a big display of tool storage cabinets, including this orange unit made by combining multiple components from their Big Dog series. I like everything about it, especially

This late 1940’s Dodge panel truck, done up as a Craftsman tool truck was one of the hundreds of vehicles parked in front of the convention center.

This Little Giant Extreme Series ladder has a brand new feature, adjustable ratcheting leg levelers. To extend the levelers, place your foot on the metal piece that sticks out from between the foot and the leg and then lift or tilt the ladder. The level will ratchet out up to 9 1/2”. Retracting the leg is a matter of pulling up on the D-ring across from the bottom rung. It’s a clever, mostly hands-free, system.

I’ve seen the Sand Guys do their thing at multiple tradeshows and it’s always something awesome. This time they sculpted a truck at the American Force (truck wheels and accessories) booth in one of the parking lots. If spending the day outdoors listening to music and making sand art is a job, I want to know why my high school guidance counselor didn’t tell me about it.

Now that’s a detailed sand sculpture, a cutaway that includes the radiator, cam shaft, engine block, and pistons!

Oh, and let’s not forget the interior of the cab.

The WD40 Company had an indoor booth and displays of all of its products—these are only half of them. It was a big booth but not as big as what comes next…

ITW Permatex had a display of its own outside. It included normal size stuff in the tent and a couple of biggies on top. If that container of cleaner was real it would be a lifetime supply for a couple of hundred gearheads.

This beautifully restored vehicle is an early 60’s Volkswagen 23 window (count ‘em) Deluxe Microbus.

GearWrench had a bunch of new tools at the show, including these 120XP Universal Spline Ratcheting Wrenches. A unique system of double pawls allows the user to get 120 positions (3-degree swing arc) out of a wrench with a sturdy 60-tooth gear. The beams are longer than earlier models and the ends are thin for better access to fasteners. The universal spline drive on the closed end works on 12-point, 6-point, rounded 6-point, spline, E-Torx and square fasteners.

Cargo-Ease makes 10 or 12 different bed slides, including the Extreme Sides model, which is made from powder-coated aluminum and is formed to go up and over the wheel wells.

Celebrity Chef Tim Love and his build team turned this 2014 Toyota Tundra into a mobile barbeque and entertainment center. Like so many SEMA show vehicles this one is over the top and features: a 27” 24,000 BTU grill, cold storage coolers, three TVs, a play station, a Rockford Fosgate audio system (with more speakers than you can count), and of course—a pair of taps for beer or wine.

All the big tire companies were at the show, along with a whole bunch of overseas outfits I’d never heard of—like this company from China.

I was having a good time checking out this fully restored 1963 Willys Jeep until I found out it was for sale. Only $50,000! Gulp, I think I’ll pass.

There are three kinds of trucks at SEMA. The first kind is the lowest of lowriders…

The second kind of truck at SEMA is extremely high off the ground…

And the third kind of truck at SEMA is so RIDICULOUSLY high you need a ladder to get in.

More slide out extensions; this one is from CargoGlide and has 70% extension and a 2,000 pound weight capacity. There are five more models including some with 100% extension.

What’s this old bicycle doing here? It was behind the booth of a company that sells airbrushing supplies and had been done up in a WWII theme that included fighter planes, bombers, and a pair of attractive WACs…

On the front fender of the bike was this depiction of the most famous of photos from the end of WWII.

I’ve been trying to come up with ways to use this piece of equipment from Nomad Manufacturing in construction. It’s called the Elevator and it’s a creeper that allows you to hover above the work area. The mechanic climbs up from the step, pulls a lock handle, and then pivots the bed forward so he can lie horizontally out over the engine. Check out the next photo and you’ll see what I mean.

The “bed” on the Elevator is referred to as the “flying platform”—which is a good description because when the mechanic is on it he’s in the Superman flying position. If you’ve ever had to work on a part of the engine back near the firewall then you’ll understand how cool this product is. It’s adjustable for height, can support 350 pounds, and easily tilts back to the vertical position.

Harley Davidson fans—look away because you won’t be able to un-see this. Yes, this 1915 Harley Davidson Factory Racer is a moped.

What does this car have to do with construction? Absolutely nothing. But it no doubt took plenty of tools to build the thing and as you will see in the next photo it has a very unusual hood.

Yep, the engine just busted right through.

Warn makes winches, hoists and other kinds of vehicle equipment. Most of their winches mount on the front of a truck. But they also make smaller models; we reviewed their Pullzall, a 1,000 pound cordless model, a couple of months back. The Drill Winch (shown here) is set to come out in January 2015. It has a 500-pound capacity, 30’ of wire cable, and can be powered by almost any cordless drill.

Somehow I came home with just this one photo of spot-welding equipment—which is odd given that there was a whole lot of it at the show.

This Supercharged Ironhead was custom-built by Hazan Motorworks. It was at the booth of some company that makes rust remover. Do I remember what company that is? No way—who’s going to look at jugs of rust remover when they could look at this instead? I don’t know anything about this machine other than that it’s an awesome combination of retro and super-modern.

Here’s a closer look from the left. Oh, I see whose booth this is now—the sticker on the floor says Workshop Hero.

I spotted these humanoids at the Red Kap Workwear booth.

Red Kap makes a wide assortment or workwear and uniforms for the automotive and construction trades and just about any industrial or service industry you can think of. What I like about their stuff is that it does not look dorky.

The light gray diagonal pieces look like diamond plate. I must have this shirt!

Ford introduced the Econoline pickup in 1961 and thought it would be a big seller. But it never caught on and was discontinued in 1967. Here’s your chance to see one that’s probably better than new.

That thing your brother-in-law drives is not a crew cab. THIS is a crew cab!

Contractors are accustomed to seeing the DIY grade of Campbell Hausfeld compressors; these are the commercial ones that would be used in an auto repair or fabrication shop.

One of many racing trucks at the show burns rubber (REALLY burns rubber) on the main lot in front of the convention center. Click here for video.

In June 2013 19 members of the Granite Mountain Hotshots died fighting a wild fire near Yarnell, Arizona. One of them was named Jesse Steed and he was in the process of restoring this 1957 GMC truck. With the help of numerous donors a Phoenix auto shop finished the project as a way to memorialize the hotshots. Rebuilt from the ground up, many of the mechanical parts were modernized and the interior was upholstered in Nomex, a flame-resistant fabric used to make firefighting gear. The names of the 19 hotshots are painted on the side of the bed.

This was shot from an escalator in the South Hall of the convention center and should give you some idea of how crowded the SEMA show was. Someone told me that this year more than 150,000 people attended.

Yep, it’s just what you think it is. I kept looking for the owner but there were a lot of folks at the show and I didn’t see him.

Rousseau Metal makes tool cabinets, shelving, storage racks, and the like. The bike a Rocketeer model from Brass Balls Cycles, an Oklahoma City company that custom makes motorcycles.

Some vehicles need backup cameras; this one needs a forward camera. How else could you see around that engine?

Next year’s SEMA show will be held November 3-6 in Las Vegas.

Close X