Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Specialty Tools

A late finish to my rebuilding post:

Specialty tools are the hallmark of the Harley Repair Manual. On any given page, for every given repair or maintenance item the use of a special tool is noted. Checking into these tools finds them all to be quite expensive, especially when they may only be used once. So, what is a shade tree, or garage, mechanic to do to get around these special tools?

Simple……the Internet. It appears you can find just about anything on the Web.

First issue was going to be the cir clips on the piston wrist pins. The original ones were easy to remove with a screwdriver, but the new ones were almost twice as thick. I tried to put them in on the bench, but that wasn’t going to happen. Looking online a cir clip installation tool was in the near $200 range. I kept looking for a cheaper solution when I discovered a mention about the copper trick. It took awhile, but I finally found it. It was as simple as going into the garage, finding a bucket of old, almost forgotten plumbing parts and I had the solution. A three-quarter inch copper coupling and a five-eights inch deep socket? Really? I tried it and it worked like a dream. Even when installing the outside clip on the bike, it was like the copper coupling was made for this job. 

Next came the installation of the jugs over the pistons. I needed a ring compressor that was narrow and would come apart to allow removal from between the head bolts. Had a talk with Dr. Wrench who explained about using a hose clamp.  Was going to give it a try, but couldn’t find a clamp that would cover all three rings. Next option was to buy a cheap, $8.99, O’Reilly special ring compressor. That was a waste of time and money. So, back to the Internet. Search, search, and search some more and then there it was! The answer I was looking for. At first I was skeptical, but the answer came from S&S machine works. Popsicle sticks were the answer to my problem. The video said it took less than a minute to complete a cylinder. On the rear cylinder it really took less than a minute. The front one took about three minutes because of the rear cylinder being in the way of my fat fingers.

So, there it is. My foray into the internal workings of a Harley engine was completed with a copper coupling and a couple of popsicle sticks. Specialty tools indeed. 


  1. Nice job finding what we Uralisti call WWID solutions to tasks which "require special tools". WWID: What would Ivan Do?"

  2. Excellent! As nice as it is to have proper tools, making do with things you've already got around the house in satisfying in its own right.

  3. McGyver is alive and well in the garages of the nation. With a little ingenuity (and Google) you can find a way to replace almost any specialty tool.

  4. Paul:

    It's good that you managed to find less expensive options. I think that the Internet has all the answers, you just have to find where they are.

    Next time if you need popsicle sticks let some of us know. It would be nice to have a popsicle on a hot day (and give you the sticks)

    Riding the Wet Coast

  5. Dom: Ivan would have used a crescent wrench and a hammer. Them damn Russkies, as it were.

    Lucky: It was lucky I had things at home to complete the project. However the ex asked, "Why didn't yo just go get a popsicle?" I did have to go get the sticks.

    Canajan: Indeed, but with the help of the internet. McGyver wouldn't have used the internet. He would have found a twig and used that.

    bobskoot: The grandwonderfuls were upset that I didn't enlist their help with the popsicle sicks. Just a word to the wise!

  6. YAY1 excellent azhd! the www and friends always seem to bring what we need...