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Old 07-02-2011, 10:22 PM   #1
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The strange pleasures of Northern Tool

Okay, I confess... I was a Northern Tool virgin before today. I just thought it was the same as Harbor Freight and never bothered. Today I was looking for a spare wheel, and was referred there by the parts guy at Camping World.

It seems to me that it's a lot like Harbor Freight, but where Harbor Freight is about 95% cheap junk, it seems like Northern Tool has a lot more depth to what they offer and is perhaps only 50% junky stuff.

What struck me today, though was one of their displays that was definitely a weirder combination of stuff than I've ever seen at Harbor Freight.



I apologize for the focus... apparently I didn't let my phone adjust before I snapped the shot. On the top rack are things like jumper cables, 2-packs of cheap measuring tape, steel cable for locking stuff up, off-brand circuit testers, etc. On the bottom rack, seriously, white socks and jockey shorts (among many other products.) In one store, Honda generators, tires and wheels, weed killer and tighty whities. I realize Wal-Mart sells a similar range of stuff, but usually they don't stack it all together like that!

I managed to get out for less than $50, and I don't think I bought anything I won't use, but I didn't get a spare wheel yet.
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Old 07-02-2011, 10:44 PM   #2
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Maybe if you have an accident with your new jumper cables, you will require a fresh pair of clean underware.. i follow their logic..
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Old 07-02-2011, 10:46 PM   #3
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We have a new store in Sioux Falls. I like it. Nice people there too.
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Old 07-02-2011, 10:49 PM   #4
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If Northern Tool only sold beer. Think of all the redneck fun you could have and never leave the store.
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Old 07-03-2011, 06:27 AM   #5
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HF is the home of "single-use tools". NT is a good deal better.
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Old 07-03-2011, 07:48 AM   #6
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If Northern Tool only sold beer. Think of all the redneck fun you could have and never leave the store.
The one across the street from where I work sells jerky, chips, and sodas. The gas station in the same parking lot sells the beer.
Let's see... You drop off the trailer to get it repaired, go across the street for snacks, come back, find out how much the bill is, go back across the street for clean underwear and beer in response. The perfect combination...

Now, for the OP's wheel problem. Try Redneck Trailers, they stock the correct wheels for Airstream trailers (6 on 5 1/2", proper load capacity).
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Old 07-03-2011, 07:54 AM   #7
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I go to Northern Tool at least once a week, but I live close to the original store. It used to be Northern Hydraulics. Originally they sold mostly welding, hydraulics, and trailer parts. Now they have their own line of generators.

They definitely are a guy's store, and proud of it. They're good to their employees. Here's a little story about the founder.
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Old 07-03-2011, 08:23 AM   #8
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hi, my name is ricky and i'm a northern tool addict :-) in florida i'm near both a NT and a HF!

if you sign up for the nt emails they'll send you in-store promotions. between the trailer and tool places i'm doing my part to stimulate the economy.
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Old 07-03-2011, 08:35 AM   #9
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They also have some nice cast aluminum wheel chocks if you're into all things aluminum for your Airstream. I bought a pair at the Sioux Falls store about 3 weeks ago.
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Old 07-03-2011, 09:14 AM   #10
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NT sells a better range of higher quality stuff. We used to buy a lot by mail order from them and were generally quite pleased with the tools/equipment.

BTW, over the years this included a MIG welder, tractor implements and various hand tools.
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Old 07-03-2011, 09:27 AM   #11
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They also have some nice cast aluminum wheel chocks if you're into all things aluminum for your Airstream. I bought a pair at the Sioux Falls store about 3 weeks ago.
Is Sioux Falls your home base? Or were you just passing through?
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Old 07-03-2011, 09:45 AM   #12
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There was an outlet NT store on the MN/WI line that occasionally had some good deals... BUT I've saw a crew of junior-mafia locals wheel top-rate merchandise out of the employee-only area, bumping into customers rudely, and then get whisked through check-out for little-or-no money. - but somehow the location was said to never make money. NT Corporate sent a trouble-shooter up to redesign layout, etc.. but in the end they simply shuttered the store.
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Old 07-03-2011, 10:19 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by overlander63 View Post
The one across the street from where I work sells jerky, chips, and sodas. The gas station in the same parking lot sells the beer.
Let's see... You drop off the trailer to get it repaired, go across the street for snacks, come back, find out how much the bill is, go back across the street for clean underwear and beer in response. The perfect combination...

Now, for the OP's wheel problem. Try Redneck Trailers, they stock the correct wheels for Airstream trailers (6 on 5 1/2", proper load capacity).
Great info, there's a location of Redneck Trailer Supply about 20 miles from me, and their catalog list what seem to be the right rims (15" rims w/ 6 on 5.5" lugs, black and designed to take hubcaps.) I rolled the dice on our first trip without a spare, but we weren't going far.
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Old 07-03-2011, 10:24 AM   #14
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HF is the home of "single-use tools". NT is a good deal better.
Yeah, Harbor Freight definitely seems to specialize in disposable merchandise. I bought a molded 7-pin connector with a 6' umbilical pigtail, a cheap level, a plug-in circuit tester so I don't have to dig out my multimeter all the time and a soldering iron. Hopefully at least the umbilical and the soldering iron will last a while.
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