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A Trail Use Tire Changer?

automotive tools automotive equipment 4x4 tools

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#1 biggman100

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Posted 25 August 2013 - 10:47 AM

Hi, guys. Today i had an unusual issue on my utility trailer. It was towing funny, and when i checked it, i found that rocks had somehow become embedded between the tire and the bead, dont ask me how, because i have no clue.

 

Anyway, i was going to take the tires to a shop and have them take care of it, but my neighbor said he could do it right in the bed of his truck, so i said ok, show me. We took the tires to his house, and he has a portable, easy to use and also somewhat easy to store hand tire changer that he attaches in the back of his truck using heavy duty hood pins, like Nascar cars use.

 

I asked him where he got it, and he said harbor freight for less than $50. We took the cores out of the valve stem, and he proceeded to pop the tires off the rims with almost no effort. We cleaned the rocks out, aired the tires back up, and they seem to be holding up just fine.

 

There are a couple of downsides i see to it, such as it has to be attached to something solid for it to work. Also, it does take a bit of muscle to get the tires off the rim, but, for the most part, i see where it could be very useful in an off road situation as long as you can find a place to attach it in the back of your vehicle or in a trailer.

 

It also has no provision for balancing tires, but, as a quick and easy way to get back on the trail, it looks to me like it might be a worthwhile idea to have one. You can always have the tires balanced once you are back at "civilization".

 

The changer has a built in bead breaker, and also a screw-down steel plate to hold the wheel securely to the changer while taking the tire off and putting it back on. I have enclosed a couple pics from harbor freight's website, so you can see what it looks like:

 

Attached File  changer 1.jpg   145.3KB   0 downloads Attached File  changer 2.jpg   126.9KB   0 downloads



#2 Moses Ludel

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Posted 25 August 2013 - 12:53 PM

Funny you discovered this tool, I've been using it with the additional "motorcycle wheel attachment" for years.  Did purchase it from Harbor Freight, and for the volume I do with just the motorcycle tires, it's more than paid off. 

 

Hadn't thought about this for off-road 4x4 use, but you're right—what a trail accessory!  As for mounting solidly, maybe some of us can work with a 2" receiver mount approach, making a support plate stand and braces to keep the device steady when in use.  Using the trailer hitch/receiver as the attachment, the changer could be stored when not in use...Any takers?

 

Moses



#3 joemac51

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Posted 26 August 2013 - 05:25 AM

Gentlemen,

 

A couple of concerns are weight of the tire changer itself (added to the trail rig) and a proper tied down and secured location for carrying it. 

 

Most Jeeps that wheel have space or carrying capacity "issues"! If you receiver mount this it needs to be tight to the vehicle and not be a point of impact on the trail? 

 

Also for wheelers who have very large tires - (ie my Toyo Open Country M/T LT315/75R16's on Mickey Thompson Classic II wheels are almost 100 lbs each) - can this machine handle such size?

 

Finally the managability of performing a tire change/reseating on a trail may be quite more challenging (when dealing with the weight and location) than simply putting on a spare? Reseat later at the home base, campground, etc.  

 

I would consider this as an excellent extra tool to bring in or on the trailer but not on the trail.

 

MHO ! 

 

All the best, Joe Mac



#4 Moses Ludel

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Posted 26 August 2013 - 11:12 AM

Good points, Joe Mac...First, we'd need to assume that you're on the trail with a trailer like RareCJ8's setup or have a pickup bed and the load/space capacity for stowing this tool.  It would not be left on the receiver when driving on- or off-highway!  It might be a trailside tool for extreme destination four-wheeling, likely carried by the support vehicle in a 4x4 caravan.

 

Your comment about breaking a bead on a big off-road tire is also well taken.  It remains to be seen whether this tool is up for that task, but here's a thought:  I've broken beads with a Hi-Lift jack and great care, using the vehicle's bumper as the ratcheting arm point and the jack's foot against the tire's sidewall on the ground.  This is very tricky, and keeping the wheel/tire flat is the challenge.  You must protect both the tire and the wheel rim in the process.

 

I'm old enough to know how to break apart a tire with a tire pick/hammer and hand spoons, too.  In the day ('sixties to early 'eighties), I worked with split rim wheels and tires plenty, all work done by hand with rubber soap solution, hefty tire hammers and bars.  This works, too, if you know what you're doing.  In the case of split rims, if you don't know what you're doing, like the need to place the assembled wheel and tire under the lube room's chassis hoist arms or inside a safety tire cage during inflation, you can, literally, lose part of your head if a split rim's locking ring dislodges and blows off while you apply air pressure!  Many severe, permanent injuries and deaths have been caused by split rim accidents. 

 

So, this said, you could dismount a tire from a modern one-piece, drop center wheel rim and remount the tire using the right hand tools.  I found a standalone bead breaker at the Harbor Freight website that could work in the field if you have the space to tote it around:  http://www.harborfreight.com/bead-breaker-92961.html.  Add to the bead breaker a pair of tire bead spoons for automotive size tires, some liquid dish detergent and clean water for making a solution of bead rubber "lube".  Find a clean granite or basaltic rock slab alongside the trail.

image_13700.jpg

 

Photo courtesy of Harbor Freight, see the Harbor Freight website for further details.

.

Once you break the beads down, you could place a Hi-Lift jack between the vehicle's bumper and the center of the wheel rim and use just enough pressure to hold the wheel/tire assembly flat against the ground.  The tire can be disassembled with the spoons, using the rim's drop center for clearance and to prevent bead damage.  

 

After assembly, a tubeless tire needs a tire rim band (inflatable type works well, there are also quick-release straps) to pinch the tire's tread circumference and spread the beads for seating.  Seating beads requires an air compressor with an air tank reservoir and good air volume to pop the tire beads evenly onto the rim!  You may need to raise the bottom of the rim from the ground with a block of wood or similar spacer to allow room for both sidewalls to seat...or if the beads are evenly spread, try standing the tire on its tread while applying air.  In either case, release the band strap as soon as the tire beads seal air and the tire begins to inflate.

 

If there's enough interest, I'd pursue an HD video how-to of this process.  I think this can be done on the trail with a minimal amount of equipment:  the tools mentioned plus a kit with both tire puncture and carcass repair patches.  A tire tube of the correct size could also be an emergency backup if the valve stem will fit through the rim hole.  

 

If just a nail hole on a tubeless tire, a cord or plug repair, without dismounting the tire, can get you home.  This is not my idea of a permanent fix, and I would likely make this either a spare tire or toss the tire out when back at civilization...Filing steel belt material and pushing a cord tool or plug through the tire's carcass can damage the structure and integrity of the tire's steel and other plies.

 

Moses



#5 biggman100

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Posted 26 August 2013 - 11:37 AM

Joe Mac, according to my neighbor, he used this to break the bead on a Kubota BX2660 tractor, and the rear tires on that are 13-24, and are pretty heavy. The one thing he did say though, is that he had to start to break the bead, and then rotate the tire a bit to get it to break completely.

 

Moses, i did the same thing you did with a Hi-Lift with an old 1980's bumper jack years ago, and it didn't always work out so well.



#6 Moses Ludel

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Posted 26 August 2013 - 01:14 PM

Agreed, biggman100, bead breaking with either a Hi-Lift jack or bumper jack can be dicey.  Angles are critical, this is a balancing act, and the wheel/tire assembly wants to flip upright or slip from beneath the jack's foot.  The wheel/tire needs to stay parallel with the ground and kept safely there for the jack foot to work. 

 

I wedged a tire edge against the Jeep's rear tire tread (at the ground) and angled the Hi-Lift's foot toward the opposite sidewall's bead and the rim.  It was a juggling act to find the correct jack angle and apply the right pressure.  I'll demonstrate this if helpful.

 

RareCJ8, with his beefy off-road trailer and room for spare wheel/tire assemblies might ask the question: What are we doing this for?  In my case, we had picked up a nail at an old mine site, mounted the only spare tire and were in the middle of nowhere with a flat tire for a spare.  Good reason to carry two spares at remote desert? 

 

I'd like to try the "hand" approach, using the Hi-Lift strictly to hold down the center of the rim...I'll also fiddle with my Harbor Freight tire changer, I've only used it for motorcycle tires with the available adapter...The pedestal floor brackets are not the beefiest, and Joe Mac has a point about supporting a big tire. 

 

Here's the Harbor Freight listing for the changer, they claim tire sizes 8" to "light truck" tires, including flotation type:  http://www.harborfreight.com/portable-tire-changer-69686.htmlNote that to break the bead, the changer should be on the floor, as the tire/wheel rests on the lower floor brace, parallel to the floor/ground.  See biggman100's initial topic post for illustrations of the tire changer and bead breaking with this changer.

 

Note: My idea of a hitch receiver mount for the changer would require that the receiver tube be welded or pinned far enough up the side of the changer's post to place the floor braces at the ground level when the changer is attached to the receiver hitch. 

 

While at the Harbor Freight site, I also discovered this simple home or small shop bead breaker that might work well in the field if you have a trailer or pickup bed to tote it around:  http://www.harborfreight.com/bead-breaker-92961.html.  This equipment breaks down for storage, and before we "reinvent the wheel", these two pieces of equipment might be worth a look.  Harbor Freight and other tool suppliers have a variety of home, field service and small shop tire tools.

 

Let's continue the discussion, flat tires can be a real issue in the middle of nowhere.  Others with thoughts?  Join us.

 

Moses



#7 biggman100

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Posted 26 August 2013 - 03:07 PM

Moses, a bit of real world info on the portable bead breaker. I do have one of those, although it is in my garage, and is only used around home. Although it does work pretty well for breaking the bead, and will even hold the tire sidewall down to help get the tire off the wheel, the handle is the weak point. After using it to break the bead on a few stubborn tires, the handle bent a couple times, and then eventually broke, and i had only had it a couple months. My brother welded me a solid handle for it, which has worked well for the last 4 years, but also made the whole unit a bit heavier. It is also somewhat long at the base, so about the only place trail wise it would work is on the ground, or in the bed of a pick up, the cargo area of a jeep would be too small to carry it around in.

 

When i used the bumper jack, it was on the front bumper of a 2 wheel drive 1986 dodge pick up, and if the truck was on any kind of incline, the jack would want to tip sideways.



#8 biggman100

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Posted 26 August 2013 - 03:18 PM

A point of caution about using quick release straps to help seat the bead of a tire, as i learned first hand a few years ago. Once the beads are seated on both sides of the tires, remove the straps before you air up the tire the rest of the way. Luckily, i am the over cautious type, and have my air chuck for tires set up through a foot pedal a ways from the tire (i learned that trick from my step dad, who does tractor trailer split rim tires quite a bit), because i had a strap break and go flying across the garage while airing up a tire a few years ago. The inflatable type are much safer, in that they have some stretch and give to them before they break.



#9 Moses Ludel

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Posted 27 August 2013 - 02:31 PM

Good points, all...I've always used the air strap at commercial shops.  The quick release straps are in catalogs, sounds like "quick" release better be "quick enough"!  Always begin the release as soon as the beads begin to seal air and there is an indication that the tire will accept air and continue to inflate.

 

Thanks for the comments about the bead breaker, too.  There are things we buy from Harbor Freight that work really well, like the Pittsburgh impact sockets and such, but sometimes you need to step up and find the commercial grade product elsewhere.  Also, it's not uncommon to find that Harbor Freight products like the bead breaker can be a "place to start", that for the price, if you can upgrade a tool like your brother has done, it works.  When high volume use is the plan, I opt for the commercial grade product in the first place.

 

Moses



#10 biggman100

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Posted 12 November 2014 - 03:47 PM

A quick addition to this, about the yellow and chrome bead breaker Moses posted. If the tire is a smaller one, such as for a small car, or smaller truck rims, and the rim doesnt fit on it perfectly, or takes a bit of force to remove the bead, you can actually bend the bead breaker. I borrowed one from a friend, to use on my sisters 2000 dakota front tires, and bent the base of the bead breaker, and didnt get the bead on the wheel to break loose.



#11 Moses Ludel

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Posted 13 November 2014 - 11:33 AM

I wondered about the stamina of these products.  Thanks for clarifying, Biggman.  Maybe we need to look at true commercial grade equipment...Anyone have experience with a cost-effective, stronger bead breaker that is portable enough for field use?  Do we need to make a prototype and share the dimensions and materials?  Winter is coming, a good time for welding projects!  I'm willing...

 

Moses





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