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  1. #1
    Redcoat
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    Tools are expensive, what's your work around.

    With good bike tools not being the cheapest thing on our planet, I wanted to see what others improvise with In the absence of specialized tools, home made or other.

    Personally I made my own chain whip out of a flat metal bar and an old bike chain.

    Obviously improvising can do more damage than good but sometimes they work just as well.


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  2. #2
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    I was taught from an early age, to use "the right tool for the job" In many cases there are no substitutes. But like in your case there are exceptions.
    One thing I do is that instead of washing my bike in a workstand and getting the workstand all nasty I will suspend my bike from a clothes pole in the back yard. The right tree branch would work too.

  3. #3
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    Right tool for the job, unless you can easily do the job with what you've got. Specialty tools that I would never try to jerry rig: spanner wrenches, bottom bracket tool, crankset remover, cassette removal tool, a quality set of metric allen wrenches.

    I set fork headset races with a 2x4, a rubber mallet, and a piece of CPVC pipe. Has worked fine on every headset race so far. Just have to make sure the end of the PVC pipe I put aggainst the race is nice and smooth.

    grease is just marine axle grease from harbor freight.

    bike stand made of 2x4s and my bike scale is an old fish scale.

  4. #4
    Birdman aka JMJ
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    I've used needle-nosed pliers as an impromptu pin-spanner, turning with a large adjustable wrench. It worked... just.

    I made my own headset remover (popular DIY with PVC pipe), and use a heavy brass bar to install and remove headset races.

    I use a blunted round toothpick to install spoke nipples in a double-walled rim when building wheels. Insert into the back end of the nipple. Makes it easy to line up the spoke with the nipple and impart a few spins to get the threads started.

    Ditto using fish scale (with rubber tubing over the hook) for weighing bikes.

    Old crimping-type or needle-nose pliers can be ground or filed to shape and used for removing master links. I've also heard that a section of cable can be used to compress the master link by looping it around the link and pulling the ends.

    Buy lots of good quality metric Allen wrenches since they do wear out. Use the worn ones as alignment pins (drifts), or sand (or carefully grind) them down past the worn part to use as emergency spares. I also cut-down old allen keys to get into hard-to-reach places.

    Don't overlook other brands - Pedro, Spin Doctor, Topeak, Minoura, Nashbar, etc. - as some of their basic tools will just as well as Park if they are not used daily.

    I buy more tools as they go on sale, otherwise I improvise or borrow tools. I'm at the point now where I have all the tools I need and have ones I don't use (Park BT-2 "4th Hand" cable stretcher... what was I thinking!?).

    JMJ
    Last edited by Birdman; 11-19-2013 at 07:09 AM.

  5. #5
    Plays with tools
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    I'm a tool junkie so I'm not shy about buying quality stuff if I feel it's worth it. If you're really on a budget there are some companies out there making what I feel are some really really cheap tools. There just isn't a good DIY way of the splined tools used for BB's and cassettes though. There are home grown ways for headset install/removal, workstands, wheel truing and various other things. The tooltime board should serve you well for those as some members have come up with some pretty good home made solutions for tools.

  6. #6
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    And zip strips around chainstay and fork for an impromptu truing stand. Just cut it at a 45 degree angle, and set it about 1mm away from the rim. Look at the reflection in the rim and you very can easily see where your rim is bent.

    Used a chunk of metal pipe and a manner to remove a headset. Can't help but think there are much better DIY tools for this.

  7. #7
    Redcoat
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    Tools are expensive, what's your work around.

    Anyone know alternate way to put a headset in without the 150 dollar clamp tool?


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  8. #8
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    Headset in is easy.
    Method 1 (risk damaging headset) - parts required: hammer, oil, block of wood. Put a small amount of oil on the headset, place it on/in the frame, put a block of wood over it and start tapping it in. Once it's in and level, hammer harder.

    Method 2 (better but slower). requires a long threaded bolt from hardware store, some washers, nuts and 2 blocks of wood with a hole drilled through them. put oil on the headset/frame. Assemble the installer in the order of: nut/washer/block/headset frame headset/block/washer/nut on the threaded bolt. Put a wrench on both sides and tighten it down.

  9. #9
    Redcoat
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    Tools are expensive, what's your work around.

    Quote Originally Posted by watts888 View Post
    Headset in is easy.
    Method 1 (risk damaging headset) - parts required: hammer, oil, block of wood. Put a small amount of oil on the headset, place it on/in the frame, put a block of wood over it and start tapping it in. Once it's in and level, hammer harder.

    Method 2 (better but slower). requires a long threaded bolt from hardware store, some washers, nuts and 2 blocks of wood with a hole drilled through them. put oil on the headset/frame. Assemble the installer in the order of: nut/washer/block/headset frame headset/block/washer/nut on the threaded bolt. Put a wrench on both sides and tighten it down.
    Method 2 nice. Simple but effective.


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  10. #10
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    I used to sell tools and worked in the trades. Nothing worse than a cheaply made or improvised tool. I just pick them up task by task as I need them. The Park stuff is really pretty solid.

    If you have no other choice, fine, but if you do, tools are money and an investment.

    Having just done my first work on a cassette recently the freewheel tool and chain whip worked exactly as they should. I also picked up a torque wrench for all the various hex head screws and it was enlightening to learn how far off my gorilla hands have been. I likely paid for the torque wrench vs stripped out parts already.

  11. #11
    Redcoat
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    Tools are expensive, what's your work around.

    In the op I wasn't referring to doing botch jobs with shitty homemade tools. I did state that also.

    I refer to another post. Why pay 150+ dollars for a headset clamp to only use once or twice when you can do the same by using two pieces of wood a bolt and a nut.

    I agree you can't beat the actual specifically made tool for efficiency but there are ways to get the same quality of outcome for certain jobs. Of course this doesn't apply to everything.


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  12. #12
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    I did use a very long PVC pipe to get a lower bearing race installed on my new fork recently. It worked extremely well.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Birdman View Post
    I use a blunted round toothpick to install spoke nipples in a double-walled rim when building wheels. Insert into the back end of the nipple. Makes it easy to line up the spoke with the nipple and impart a few spins to get the threads started.

    JMJ
    I just use a piece of old spoke with a nipple threaded on backwards as a stop. You bend the spoke 90 degrees to give yourself a little leverage. I have a few of these and my kids fight to see which one gets to "load up" the nipple for Dad.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by nbwallace View Post
    I just use a piece of old spoke with a nipple threaded on backwards as a stop. You bend the spoke 90 degrees to give yourself a little leverage. I have a few of these and my kids fight to see which one gets to "load up" the nipple for Dad.
    straight pick is faster and more durable

  15. #15
    Fat-tired Roadie
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    For headsets, two blocks of wood and a C-clamp is easier and still gives even pressure.

    My favorite workaround isn't a workaround - membership or paying for time at a coop.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  16. #16
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    Tools are expensive, what's your work around.

    Two pieces of 1/2" or 5/8" all thread, nuts, and heavy duty flat washers make a nice rear dropout alignment tool. Not as easy to use as the Park model, but just as effective and a lot less expensive. Some tools like this example are ok for infrequent use, but there really is no substitute for quality specialty tools.

  17. #17
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    By looking at my garage you would see that I have a serious tool fetish. I will buy the correct tool to do the job if it's something I will use fairly often. When it's not, that's when it pays to be a regular at a good LBS. I have more than once gone in, bought the part and been allowed to use their tools to install it. I realize not everyone is that lucky, but it sure is nice!

  18. #18
    Birdman aka JMJ
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    Quote Originally Posted by nbwallace View Post
    I just use a piece of old spoke with a nipple threaded on backwards as a stop. You bend the spoke 90 degrees to give yourself a little leverage. I have a few of these and my kids fight to see which one gets to "load up" the nipple for Dad.
    Interesting ideas. I'll have to try that. Bonuses of the toothpick - free, plentiful, and you can pull it straight out once your spoke is started.

    JMJ

  19. #19
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    I pressed in a headset with a woodworking pipe clamp, it worked pretty well.

  20. #20
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    4 X 4 drill out with 1 1/2 or 1/38 bit, cut in half makes a good suspension fork clamp when rebuilding suspension forks. Grinded spoke end for fishing cables out of internal cable guides and taking seals off. Can also bend them and make a ring to hold headsets together to keep them togehter and not get mixed up if you have multiple headsets sitting around. Long bolt with several different size washers for holding BB remover on cups to keep from slipping, also works on some old freewheels. Blind hole puller for puller sealed bearings on BB & hubs. Can get one off Ebay or Harbor Freight for $50 to $70 that does metric ID 8mm to 32mm.

  21. #21
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    I use the local bike coop for expensive bike tools. I have a mix of Sears and Harbor Freight tools for all the basics. Sockets, deep sockets, Allen sockets, a rachet, a breaker bar, a large crescent, straight rule, large vise and my favorite bike tools the RUBBER MALLET and my Bosch li-ion driver

    Then, I have a mix of Park, Lenzyne, Icetoolz, Spin Doctor and MTBiker4life (eBay seller) for specialized tools that I've purchased as needed. Pedal wrench(buy a pro model for this), cone wrenches, various BB tools, various cassette removers, I need 2 chain whips for vintage bikes so I bought cheap here, the blue Park truing stand, a Park tensiometer, dish tool, nipple wrenches, fork seal installer, Boca bike bearing installer, truing stand adapter for 20, 10 and 12 mm hubs, derailleur alignment gauge and a couple of used work stands I got off Craigslist. My favorite purpose made bike tool is the Park Y allen wrench. Love it.

    The last thing on my list is a bearing extractor that Ive seen from eBay for 40 bucks shipped. I'll but that when I get to it.

    I also used a 10g solvent tank for restorations.

    I fix bikes on the side which has paid for my tools and a few bikes

  22. #22
    Cycle Psycho
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brockwan View Post
    With good bike tools not being the cheapest thing on our planet, I wanted to see what others improvise with In the absence of specialized tools, home made or other.

    Personally I made my own chain whip out of a flat metal bar and an old bike chain.
    For the bicycle-specific tools, that's a tall order. I've seen some improvised ways to remove cranks, and they've made me cringe. I've been guilty of the same kinds of things though, but investing in the actual tools has been mentally rewarding. I can't prove if the actual results are better in the end, but it makes things more fun, fast, and easy, that's for sure. I get a happy feeling when I get to use a bike-specific tool.

    I used to get my star-fangled-nuts in pretty straight, (by using a "hex-socket" small enough to go inside the threads and keep it centered so the socket's shoulders are the point of driven presser, on an extension, then hammering on the extension - instead of hammering on a bolt that is riding on the threads), but using the TNS-4 Deluxe Threadless Nut Setter just makes me all giddy, and makes it perfect. I even use the HMR-4 Shop Hammer on it, just because it makes it even more awesome.

    That's just one example, but things like the splined cassette tool, or BB tools and even crank removers are almost mandatory.

    I say, "mentally" but that's huge (for me). Like just the simple pedal wrench. I used a regular automotive (thicker headed) 15mm for years, and it was a tight fit, usually scratching the crank arm in the process. You can grind it thinner, but it's pretty ghetto and still doesn't work as well as the real thing. When I ran into clearance issues, I improvised by using a cone wrench, which is completely whack. I have Park's flagship "shop" version, and their smaller "home" version now, and love them both.

    When they're not bike-specific, like hex drivers, or ratchets, I usually go with non-bicycle brands (that shop hammer is an exception - I have other hammers, but that's the only one I use with bicycles).

    I trued my rotors with an adjustable wrench before I bought this silly little piece of metal with slots, but that "rotor wrench" really does it a lot better and faster and with more control (and can go "deeper" down towards the hub).

    I went without a "cable cutter" for years. I'd cut it with side cutters, but they were high quality and cut the inner cables extremely cleanly without any fraying, so it was hard to justify the bicycle version. I would smash my housing with the same side cutters (diagonal cutters, dykes, sharp pliers) and smash the housing flat in the process. Then, I would work it round again and then take it over to my bench grinder to clean it up and make it super sweet. Then I got some "real" cable cutters and the whole process now takes like one second. (I still clean up my cuts on the housing with the bench grinder, 'cause I'm OCD and old habits, but it only takes a quick pass, 'cause it's much cleaner to begin with.)

    I could go on, but my ghetto-rigging days are over, for the most part. I'm a tool addict and I'd never go back to those earlier days by choice.

  23. #23
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    Yeah, I love Park stuff and tools in general too and usually won't hesitate to spend money if it solves the problem and there is no good and easy homemade solution.

    A Dremel tool with those little ceramic disks makes a great cable cutter. I have a roadie friend who said I could borrow his, but said it was rather difficult to use, so I tried the Dremel before driving over there. I couldn't be more pleased with it.

    I use Crank Bros pedals which use a regular old 8mm Allen wrench. For regular pedals, all of the ones I have run into have been dept. store grade, and a regular 15mm wrench works fine -- the lands are more than wide enough so it doesn't scratch the crank arm.

    I too have made my own chain whip wrench. Easy to do, ugly, but cheap and indestructible!

    Tools are expensive, what's your work around.-chain-whip.jpg

    I made my own BB bearing press (which I suppose would work with headset bearings?).
    Tools are expensive, what's your work around.-20131130_113951.jpg
    The rod is 1' x 1/2" from Tractor Supply.

    Those aluminum disks are from my automotive race and seal driver set. I used them just in case the washers were too small or fragile. However, they apparently prevent the bearings from going in crooked. Drilled blocks of hardwood would actually work better and of course would be cheaper if you don't have a race driver set already. The race driver hole is a little too large and there is a small amount of side-to-side slop on the rod.

    The black things are my old bearing assemblies to prevent pressing on the center of the new bearings -- I position them to press on the outer shells of the new bearings.

    I "made" the socket I use for removing the top nuts on my Fox fork. 26mm, not a common size, but available from Auto Zone. I had to grind the the skirt off, so total investment was about $7 and 10 minutes. It's not something that can be readily purchased.
    Tools are expensive, what's your work around.-forksocket.jpg

    I have been aligning rear derailleur hangers with a straightedge and ruler. It works, but is tedious. The Park solution is worth the $65 or whatever IMO.

    BTW, Park's valve core remover will not work on Bontrager cores. The thumbnut is too large to go in the hole. I dremeled it out under the lands and it works fine now. My son got Stans tool. It works flawlessly and costs about the same.

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