Motorcycle

6 garage hacks to unleash your project

I level with you. I’m not a professional mechanic.

But like many of you, I spend my free time in the garage repairing project bikes and daily machine maintenance. And if you’re someone like me, a significant amount of your garage time is spent on tasks that would probably have been completed about two hours ago. Or 2 days ago. Or a few weeks … (Please, God, please end this …)

Anyway, if the parentheses sound familiar, you’re probably also familiar with the euphoric moment that comes when you finally break the clogged bolt, screw, or case. Well, this post is dedicated to bringing you some of those sweet, sweet highs. Here are some garage hacks — some are well known, some are ambiguous — can help you get stuck in your project.

Even if your head comes off the bolt, you can easily pull it out. Photo by Spencer Row.

2-nut method of stud and snap bolt

The stud and its toxic cousin, the snap bolt, can be a nightmare to remove without the stud extraction socket. Or if you haven’t heard of the 2-nut method.

All you need for this trick is two nuts that fit the studs and two wrenches that fit the nuts.

First, twist one nut to about half of the stud or broken bolt. Then pick up the second nut and manually tighten it in approximately the same position so that the nuts are in contact. Grasp two properly sized wrenches and twist the inner nut to the left and the outer nut to the right to prevent them from tightening together.

Once the nuts were nicely fitted, I basically created a makeshift bolt. Place a wrench around the inner nut and loosen it. The inner nut cannot move down the thread while the outer nut is blocking it, so the stud or broken bolt will twist instead.

Engine head with valve
It may not be elegant, but you can use a mallet and a socket to remove the valve. Photo by Spencer Row.

Mallet and deep socket method for valve removal

Without the valve spring compression tool, removing the engine valve would not come off the table. All you need to do that is a few store rags, mallets or hammers, and deep sockets.

First, fold the rags and stack them in a rectangle the size of a cylinder head. Place your head on the rag. Now, cry right away about how it fell last year and a half or so. After releasing a little emotion, you feel better and get your head back.Lying down now Your cylinder head The spring is facing up on the rag.

Fill a deep socket with a cloth or paper towel and place the socket on the valve spring washer with the socket side down. You can also put a cloth on the socket to protect the tool.

Finally, hit the deep socket with a mallet or hammer. It requires one or two decent bangs. This impact compresses the washer and spring, popping out the valve spring retainer and releasing the washer and the entire valve. It may sound savage, but it works and I’ve never bent a valve using this method. If you are concerned about losing the retainer, place a small magnet somewhere in the socket.

To reinstall the valve, place the valve, spring, and washer on the cylinder head. Place the two halves of the retainer in place on the washer. Then combine a deep socket, weight, and a small piece of wood to compress the washer. If the spring can be compressed sufficiently, the retainer will fall into place. Release the spring slowly to ensure that the retainer is installed properly. You may need to try several times.

Old engine carburetor
Removing a bank of old carburetors can be a daunting task. Here is a hint. Photo by Spencer Row.

Fixing stuck carburetors

Carburetor boots swell over time. On older multi-carburetor bikes, this can make it very difficult to remove the carburetor assembly. If you check the service manual, the suggestion “Remove the carburetor” will be helpful. But in my experience, if the bike sits for a while, it’s not that simple.

What is not stated in the service manual is that three carburetor boots are much easier to remove than four. That one extra boot increases friction above a certain threshold and there is no way to get rid of them. Then what should I do?

Instead of removing all four carburetors on the carburetor side, remove the boot screws, hexagons, or bolts to remove the outer carburetor on the engine side. Releasing one boot from the engine reduces the friction that must be overcome and gives you a little extra power.

Now, pull the removed carbs back and the other three will pop out immediately. Always place a rag or towel on the frame to prevent impact on the carburetor assembly. Once the assembly comes off the bike, the other one boot should come off easily.

Jack and 2×4 way to split the engine case

Older engines, especially high displacement engines, tend to fit very tightly over time. This is especially true if the case has not been disassembled since the widespread use of non-stick gaskets in the early 1990s.

This hack shown in the video below (skip until 5:45 for basics) works very well with the flat engine commonly found on BMW and Gold Wing. I don’t need to test it with other types of engines yet, but I’m sure I can do a similar trick if I run into problems.

To quickly split a stacked engine, you need two jacks or a large vise, two 2×4, a drill, and a large bit. The 2 x 4 should be about 1 foot longer in the front and back than the engine.

First, mark the positions of the two engine case bolt holes on the 2 x 4 “2” side. Two of the cylinder head bolts on both sides tend to work best, but as long as the 2×4 are parallel, that’s okay. Make a hole in the board with markings. Make sure the holes are wide enough for the threads of the bolt, but not wide enough for the head of the bolt to pass through.

Then attach 2 x 4 to both sides of the engine case. Pass the bolt through the hole in the tree, put it in the case, and tighten it.

Once the board is installed, place a jack or large vise between the boards on either side so that it is pushed outwards against the board when the board opens. Now you are ready to split the stacked engine case.

Slowly turn the jack or vise control to open it all at once or in very small increments. Be careful with this procedure as overdoing one jack at a time can bend the mounting dowels. Expanding the jack makes it easy to split the engine.

Damaged Philips head fastener
Yes, that Philips head fastener is often and really eavesdropped. Fortunately, we have Plan B. Photo by Spencer Lowe.

Hammer and flat-blade screwdriver to restore the peeled Philips head

If you work on an old bike, you probably unscrewed one or two on your day. Before getting into the method of fixing peeled screws, I will explain JIS screws, which is one of the main causes of peeling. To the naked eye, JIS (Japanese Industrial Standards) screws look and feel like Phillips screws, but using the wrong tool can cause your head to come off. When working on a Japanese motorcycle, you need to purchase a JIS bit or a set of screwdrivers to prevent peeling.

If that reminder is too slow and you have already unscrewed it, of course, there are several options (highly recommended) to deal with it, such as an extractor set or a pair of locking pliers. But even if you don’t have either, there are more brutal options.

First, grab an old flat-blade screwdriver and some bits. I was also fortunate with a chipped woodworking flea that I no longer need to keep sharp.

You’re probably already guessing your next step. Use a Philips head that is larger than the screws you originally needed to see how much space you need to fit a large bit well. From there, use an old bit or chisel to increase the shape of the small peeled Philips head. Hit the smooth end of the bit with a hammer strong enough to sharpen or compress soft screws, then rotate the flat head 90 degrees and repeat. You may need to step through this process with a slightly larger flat head each time. With care, the hammer acts like an impact screwdriver, releasing some of the tighter, rusted, or corroded parts of the thread.

As you work, keep checking to see if the large Philips head fits snugly. It’s better to be too small than too big. When it’s almost fitted, tap the Philips headbit or screwdriver against the screw with a hammer for a very snug fit. You can now unscrew as usual or combine this trick with your next hack to earn bonus points.

Once the screws come off, you can take them to almost any hardware store and look for a replacement. If you are not 100% sure, ask for help in matching the thread sizes.

Socket and screwdriver bit
Here’s how to take advantage of stubborn screws: Photo by Spencer Row.

Use ratchets to make better use of screws

If the screws aren’t peeled off and you still don’t have enough torque to crack them, you can use a ratchet and a 6.5 mm socket to get the force you need to get the job done. All you need is a ratchet wrench, socket, and adapter. Connect these parts as shown in the picture above.

Then bring the wrench and bit to the screw and use your non-dominant hand to apply pressure to the back of the ratchet wrench. With your dominant hand, use the ratchet as usual. The wrench acts as a lever, providing the additional torque power needed to easily break a jammed screw.

I hope these hacks will help someone complete the project bike. If you have any garage tips, let us know in the comments!



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