Tool Of The Month: Summit Racing Dead-Blow Piston Hammer

One of the things we do when we visit shops, is take note of the tools they use. One of the tools that keeps popping up over and over, is a specific style of dead-blow hammer made specifically to install pistons. The unique design is hard to miss. So recently, we went on the hunt for one. After our usual scouring of the internet, the model in the clear lead was the SL32 piston hammer from Summit Racing.

While we’ve used the handle of a standard 24-ounce dead blow hammer to install pistons for ages, when you use a handle, you lose all the benefits of a dead-blow hammer. However, with a traditional dead-blow hammer, it’s the only option to give you enough reach with deep-set pistons. This unique dead-blow head design is specifically for getting pistons deep in the bore, while maintaining the benefits of a dead-blow hammer.

Summit SL32 Piston Hammer

The Summit SL32 piston hammer is a 32-ounce dead-blow hammer designed specifically to install pistons into a cylinder.

We came to the Summit SUM-SL32 hammer in our search after finding piston hammers ranging from $29.99 (the MSRP of the SL32) all the way up to a cool C-note from a certain tool truck brand known for their hefty price tag. The Summit SL32 has all of the same features as the rest of the hammers, but at a third of the price. Made in the USA, the SL32 has a hot-cast polyurethane body, which makes for a strong, durable hammer face that won’t mar the face of aluminum pistons.

As the name implies, it’s a 32-ounce dead-blow design, providing a hefty whack with all the energy being delivered into the piston, and the “SL” indicates the slim head design, measuring in at 1.75 inches wide. The 12-inch handle allows for leverage, while the molded-in texture gives solid purchase on the handle, even when your hands are covered in oil and/or assembly lube.

So while some might say, “It’s just a hammer,” looking in our toolbox, we have all sorts of specialized tools designed to make a specific task slightly easier, which this hammer does admirably. And now, there’s a specialized piston installation hammer taking up the last bit of empty space in our hammer drawer. That means it’s time for a new toolbox.

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Greg Acosta

Greg has spent nineteen years and counting in automotive publishing, with most of his work having a very technical focus. Always interested in how things work, he enjoys sharing his passion for automotive technology with the reader.
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