Comment of the Day: So That's What Those Brushes Are For Edition

Photos: Raphael Orlove

One of the fun things about working on cars is you get to assemble a tool kit. You never knew you needed a circuit tester, but once you realize it can let you do static timing off the coil, it’s a fun thing to have around. One tool it took me a while to realize I needed was a bit less obvious.

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That was, of course, a fingernail brush.

When I was first driving and wrenching on my Baja Bug, most of my trips were A-to-A kinds of journeys. Go out for a rip, come on home. Go out to a rallycross, rip, come one home. It didn’t really matter how dirty I got, as I was always either alone, surrounded by other car people who were helping me replace my clutch cable or something, or coming home to a hot shower anyway.

But I have a nicer Volkswagen now, one that (somewhat) reliably can get me from A to B. As such, I have realized I need certain things to keep me from arriving at Point B not looking like I had just come from a Peanuts convention cosplaying as Pigpen. Included among these items:

  • Coveralls
  • Disposable gloves
  • Shop towels
  • Fast Orange
  • My personal favorite, a fingernail brush

What a joy it is to get to arrive somewhere in a 1974 Volkswagen and come out with clean fingernails.

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This all came to mind when I was reading the comments on my coworker David Tracy’s great explainer on Why Tires Are Black:

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The explanation isn’t exactly simple, involving different technologies reaching maturity around the same time, as well as a world war, but the color itself is easy to ID. It’s all thanks to a manufactured soot called Carbon Black, something that reader ISoldMySplittieFor1500BucksDoh is familiar with:

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So I have apparently been underestimating the utility of my fingernail brush. Soon not only will my fingernails be clean, so too will my face. And well exfoliated, too.

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About the author

Raphael Orlove

Raphael Orlove is features editor for Jalopnik.