Author Topic: Harbor Freight Tire Changer - Mods  (Read 12085 times)

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Offline Stasch

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Harbor Freight Tire Changer - Mods
« on: June 12, 2014, 06:49:31 pm »
I bought a HF changer last fall - out the door for about $75 for everything including the motorcycle tire accessory.

It wasn't a turnkey solution and it needed some mods requiring another $175 to get it right.  Total cost was still cheaper than any other solution I found.  Here are the mods:

 - Added homemade brackets to bolt NoMar rim spools on to the standard HF rim 'holders'.  They won't hold a thing on the newer style HF changers.  At least the old style could grab a rim, but would scar it up.

 - The thumb wheel that's supposed to hold the motorcycle attachment in place on the spindle is useless.  The MC attachment wanted to keep spinning when trying to do ANYTHING.  My solution was to spin the attachment down tight on the spindle and drill a hole all the way through the both the attachment and spindle.  The drill bit was as close in size to the diameter of a pin I used to insert through the hole to keep things in place with no slop.

 - Drilled holes in the concrete floor, and installed redhead inserts flush to the floor.  The redheads receive 1/2" bolts that are 2.5" long and work great to securely attach the changer to the floor.  I first tried mounting the changer on a pallet but the height was wrong for working, the step up and down was in the wrong place all the time and it wasn't secure, especially when wrestling with tires for the Concours.

 - The HF tire changer bar was relegated to a red decoration in my humble workshop as I could see (and had heard) how it would mark up rims.  It wasn't even useful for an extension on the bead breaker as it was too long.  It was replaced with a NoMar bar which works great.

 - Had to get a thinner threaded rod to fit where HF Center bar was supposed to go as it doesn't fit through either the pre 94 or post 93 inner bearing races.

 - While the NoMar rim spools grab rims securely, they would still rotate when greater force was required.  A piece of fence post was cut to length to slide over the little keeper bar on the base, long enough to reach from there one of the MC attachment arms, forming a solid stop for the wheel no matter how much force was delivered in a clockwise direction.  A piece of bicycle inner tube was stretched over the pipe where it would contact the wheel spokes.

 - A custom rim protector was installed on the bead breaker arm using old inner tube and zip ties.  It isn't elegant but works.

 - The bead breaker area on the base also has inner tube and zip tie engineering applied.  The foot of the base is going to need a block of wood or other mod to raise rims up just a bit to keep them from being scratched by the bolt head mounting the changer to the floor.

Whether you are using tire irons, the NoMar or MoJo lever bar, it is imperative to push the bead of the tire that is directly across from where you are working, down into the inner valley of the rim.  Watch some of the videos at nomar.com to see what I mean. 

I also found I needed my longer Motion Pro tire iron to get enough space between the wheel rim and tire to insert either end of the NoMar bar.  The technique's they showed wouldn't work for me on the tires I was working with.  Maybe on wider sport bike tires?

It is much easier on you and the tire if you apply tire lube at the right places on both the tire and rim.  Makes a huge difference.  Again, see the NoMar videos. 

I finally just uninstalled an old set and installed a new set of tires with this setup in the last couple days.  I got better with each one and finally realized I didn't need the overhead 'L' shaped bar at all, just the threaded rod mod.
« Last Edit: June 12, 2014, 06:56:37 pm by Stasch »
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Offline Stasch

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Re: Harbor Freight Tire Changer - Mods
« Reply #1 on: June 12, 2014, 06:56:08 pm »
Pics of thinner threaded rod to replace HF Center Post.
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Offline jathkajoe

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Re: Harbor Freight Tire Changer - Mods
« Reply #2 on: June 12, 2014, 06:57:53 pm »
Stan:  Nice mods you've made to that unit.  I'm too cheap to buy the Nomar stuff.  i use some pieces of plastic milk jug and old leather gloves to pad the potential chafing points.  So far that's left no mar on my rims.

I mounted my HF tire changer to two 2'x4' pieces of plywood with the mount platw bolted over the seam.  With my tonnage standing on the plywood it doesn't move around during use.  Breaks down to not much storage space when I'm done.

JathkaJoe

Offline Stasch

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Re: Harbor Freight Tire Changer - Mods
« Reply #3 on: June 12, 2014, 07:00:11 pm »
Fenced Post rim stopper.  Note the unique storage of the mods with the use of a customized zip tie.

Bead breaker base rim protection.

Motion Pro Tire Lever.
« Last Edit: June 25, 2014, 10:34:44 am by Stasch »
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Offline Stasch

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Re: Harbor Freight Tire Changer - Mods
« Reply #4 on: June 12, 2014, 07:03:34 pm »
Stan:  Nice mods you've made to that unit.  I'm too cheap to buy the Nomar stuff.  i use some pieces of plastic milk jug and old leather gloves to pad the potential chafing points.  So far that's left no mar on my rims.

I mounted my HF tire changer to two 2'x4' pieces of plywood with the mount platw bolted over the seam.  With my tonnage standing on the plywood it doesn't move around during use.  Breaks down to not much storage space when I'm done.

JathkaJoe

JJ, I'm cheap, tightwad, skinflint FRUGAL too.  The NoMar lever is gold.  The most work is breaking the bead, securing the rim in the changer and applying the lube.  The lever makes the actual tire removal / installation pretty easy once you get the technique down.

Worth every penny to me after wrestling for years down on the floor with tire irons.

You using tire irons or the HF bar?  If HF bar how do you get the padding to stay with the bar as you spin around?

My installation breaks out pretty quickly for storage by removing the 4 bolts holding it to the floor.  Power drill makes it quick.
« Last Edit: June 12, 2014, 07:07:10 pm by Stasch »
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Offline jathkajoe

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Re: Harbor Freight Tire Changer - Mods
« Reply #5 on: June 13, 2014, 03:17:46 am »
Stan:  Using the HF bar and/or tire irons.  I wrapped the milk jug plastic around the end of the bar, heated it a bit so it would conform to the shape.  After that came loose I just used several pieces of milk jug and kept moving them lapping them under each other like fish scales or roof shingles.  Not as fast as the Nomar bar but it worked.

For breaking the bead I used a large socket under a long 2x4 with one end under the frame of the car.  That worked for the front but not the back tire.  Used a C-clamp on the back tire along with a short handled sledge applied to the end of a judiciously placed old piece of 2x3 oak that tapers to 2x2 that I use for various tasks that might need some gentle persuasion.

I didn't want to put bolt anchors in my shop floor so I went with the two pieces of plywood.  Anchors would be a better way to do it.

JathkaJoe

Offline Stasch

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Re: Harbor Freight Tire Changer - Mods
« Reply #6 on: June 13, 2014, 04:39:00 pm »
Hi Joe, Thanks for the info.  Neat process.  Wish I had heard of it before - would've saved some $$ on the mount / demount bar.

It does work sweet though.

I can see how your process would take a little more time than the NoMar, but most of the time is involved in getting the wheels off the bike, on the changer and back on the bike, so it probably wouldn't make that much difference.

I will try your process with the HF bar.  Think I can find some milk jugs around. 

If I can make it work I could always sell the NoMar bar.

I take it your HF base come with a bead breaker?

I used to use something similar to this:  http://www.homemadetools.net/tire-bead-breaker-5

but mine attached to a garage wall stud with the short 2 x 4 attached to the longer so it could pivot and stay as 1 unit.
« Last Edit: June 13, 2014, 04:51:38 pm by Stasch »
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Offline mellow yellow

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Re: Harbor Freight Tire Changer - Mods
« Reply #7 on: June 14, 2014, 12:45:58 am »
thanks stash for all the info and pics. I'll stop at home depot and pick up some redhead drop anchors and make sure I can secure the tire changer base first before ordering the mojoblocks. after changing several tires with tire irons I just want to make this an easier job. in fact I've got to change the rear tire on my wife's sporster this weekend. If I can get it secured to the floor, I'll use straps to hold the wheel to the arms. thanks again for the info.
05 connie

Offline jathkajoe

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Re: Harbor Freight Tire Changer - Mods
« Reply #8 on: June 14, 2014, 01:12:59 am »
Stan:  Yup, the HF changer I have came with the bead breaker.  I haven't used that function yet though.  I'd seen the wall mounted 2x4 bead breaker, that's what gave me the idea to try a 2x4 under the car's frame with a socket pushing down on the bead; wanted to see if it would work.

JathkaJoe

Offline Stasch

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Re: Harbor Freight Tire Changer - Mods
« Reply #9 on: June 14, 2014, 01:52:10 am »
Quote
I'll use straps to hold the wheel to the arms. thanks again for the info.

Another good idea.

Joe, the HF bead breaker on the changer works pretty well.  An extension makes it much easier. 

You do need to protect the rim from angled point and the bolt that will be underneath IMO.
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Offline jathkajoe

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Re: Harbor Freight Tire Changer - Mods
« Reply #10 on: June 14, 2014, 03:22:19 am »
Stan:  I'll try that on the next tire change.  Thanks for the tip.

JathkaJoe

Offline mellow yellow

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Re: Harbor Freight Tire Changer - Mods
« Reply #11 on: June 15, 2014, 12:41:53 am »
thanks stasch. was able to mount the tire changer to the concrete floor after several attempts. I messed up a couple of the holes and the redhead anchors kept spinning. love the bead breaker. will be ordering the mojo blocks. will be doing other mods that you have done. I had to use a step stool because it was a little too high, but it beats having to work on the floor. was able to change my wife's tire. but I used tire irons to dismount and mount the tire. sorry for the messy garage. here's a pic. 
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Offline Stasch

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Re: Harbor Freight Tire Changer - Mods
« Reply #12 on: June 15, 2014, 01:03:15 am »
If you use the right sized drill the redheads should work.  Once you drill the hole and tap the redhead in so its flush with the top of the hole, you have to punch the center of the redhead so it expands the insert to secure it in the hole.  They make a special redhead punch tool with a flange so you know when you have punched in the proper depth.
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Offline mellow yellow

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Re: Harbor Freight Tire Changer - Mods
« Reply #13 on: June 15, 2014, 05:09:37 am »
I had previously drilled holes for lag shields, anyway got it done by jamming some material in there. thanks for your help again.
05 connie

Offline Stasch

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Re: Harbor Freight Tire Changer - Mods
« Reply #14 on: June 15, 2014, 10:09:30 am »
Cool.  Now go change some tires already !   :))
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