Tech Tips – Redneck Workshop

Tech Tips – Redneck Workshop

, , , , , , , ,  Backwoods engineering.  Cobbling.  Call it what you want… at some point we’ve all encountered a situation where we’ve had to improvise and come up with a solution that isn’t exactly ideal.  We’ve had some real doozies that make us practically hear Larry the Cable Guy yelling, “Git-R-Done!”   For moral and legal reasons, we won’t publish some of the real hum-dingers, but here are a few of our favorites that don’t involve explosions or imminent trips to the emergency room.  As with any other garage project, make sure to wear your safety glasses and any other personal protective equipment that may be necessary!  Nobody wants to accidently kill themselves in an idiotic manner, thus earning a “Darwin Award.”

Backyard Bead Breaker – In A Pinch

Sure, it would be nice to have a top-notch tire machine, but chances are you don’t.  Neither do we!  Rather than paying the local tire shop to break the bead on your ATV tires, give this trick a try.  Remove the valve stem from the tire you’re trying to break down.  Position it on its side, and put the end of a sturdy plank of wood on the sidewall of the tire as close to the bead as possible.  Roll your truck, car, or another wheeled vehicle slowly up the plank.   It may take some patience and sometimes a few tries, but this will push the tire off the bead about 90% of the time!  Tip:  a light application of silicone spray where the bead meets the rim will help it come off

Poor Boy’s Easy-Out – All Broken Up

There comes a time in life when you encounter a broken-off bolt that’s flush with the surface, and if you know our own Johnny-9, you may have had more of these experiences than you do fingers to count – especially his!  We don’t call him Johnny-9 for no reason!  Most people won’t have an actual easy-out, but there is a reasonably good chance that this trick will work for you.  You’ll need to drill a hole into the broken bolt, and a good rule of thumb is that it should be around half of the size of the diameter of the bolt.  The bigger the hole, the more tension you’ll remove, but be careful not to get it so big that you’ll get into the threads if you don’t drill it perfectly straight (chances are that you won’t).  Once you have the hole drilled, find a TORX driver or socket that’s slightly larger than the hole.  You want it just large enough that the splines will engage the hole firmly but not have to be hammered in too hard!  Tap it into the hole you just drilled.  Once it’s tapped into place, hold the handle firmly and gently try to remove the broken fastener.  Odds are that if this won’t take the bolt out, then you were headed for a lot more work (and probably a heli-coil) in the first place!  Tip:  Use a torx driver that is warranted against breakage so you can get a new one if you gnarl up the blade splines.

Cheater Impact Driver – Your Cheatin’ Part

If you’ve been around this sport for as long as we have, you’ve probably had a few stubborn Phillips-head screws that don’t want to come loose.  An impact driver is the preferred tool for the job, but a good regular Phillips screwdriver and a hammer may just get you moving again.  You want the best screwdriver in the box for maximum bite.  While applying a steady, firm counter-clockwise torque on the screwdriver, firmly tap (note that we didn’t say SMACK) on the handle of the screwdriver with a hammer.  The pressure and vibrations from tapping on the screwdriver are often enough to get the threads to relax and loosen up.  Tip:  Once again… a lifetime warranty screwdriver is the best option, and don’t be afraid to return it when the blades start to lose their sharp edges.  That’s what the warranty is for!

Makeshift Coil Compressor – Tension Headache

Sometimes you have to compress a shock spring for adjustment, or remove the spring from a shock during a rebuild.  It’s about impossible to hold the spring compressed and remove the spring retainer at the same time.  If Santa keeps forgetting to bring you that spring compressor you’ve always wanted but were too cheap to buy, you might still be able to get yourself out of the jam.  We have a pair of customized ratcheting tie downs just for this purpose.  Cut the hook off from the end of the tie down that has the ratchet attached (Use a lighter to melt and seal the loose threads after cutting).  Feed the cut-off end of the tie down behind the spring to capture as many coils as possible, and loop it back around to the ratchet.  ALWAYS use two of these placed 180 degrees from each other to keep the tension even!  Going only one or two clicks at a time, alternately tighten each ratchet until there is just enough tension on them so that the retainer is loose enough to remove.  Don’t go crazy because every click of tension just adds to the “pop” when you have to release the ratchets.  When it comes time to reinstall the spring, use a little bit of duct tape to hold the retainer to the spring, and make sure to keep your fingers out of the way of any pinch areas!  Tip:  Use high quality tie downs because the ratchets are much less prone to bending.  Also… use the shocks preload adjuster to take up any gap in between the spring and the retainer before you release the ratchets.  This will eliminate or reduce the “pop” when you release the ratchets.

Let’s See Your Ideas (or X-rays)

Do you have an alternative or a tech tip that you’d like to share?  Send us a description and a picture or sketch.  We’ll review your tip for plausibility and safety.  If your tip meets the criteria, we’ll publish it in a future issue and hook you up with some ATV&SXS schwag!  Send your tips to

February 21, 2013