Saturday, November 30, 2013

Bike Tools

Using tools is fun. Any guy know that. But what many guys don't know is that the enjoyment of using that tool is increased if you built or modified that tool for your specific purpose. For my job I work with some guys that have some major skills. They are actually called "the toolmakers". I get to design for them and collaborate with them on some pretty neat stuff. Of course, I don't get to use any of those tools. Sure, I use them when we're developing them in tightly controlled test situations, but I don't actually use them to accomplish anything.

I have to do that in my garage.

Of course, the tools I make or modify in my garage are nowhere near the awesomeness of the tools they make at work, but that's to be expected. Sometimes at work we end up with tools that look shoddy, though. Due to time constraints, mistakes, or inexperience, sometimes the tool looks awful. I've jokingly said at those times that it looks like something an engineer would make in his garage.

Well, here's some more stuff that an engineer made in his garage.

These are two tools I've needed for doing some work on my mountain bike. They are, of course, commercially available, but they are also expensive. Being cost conscious, and willing to try many things at least once, I decided these were good candidates for home construction. They are a 1.5" crown race setting tool and a nipple driver. The crown race is part of the headset of the bike which is the bearing that lets you turn the handlebars. The setting tool is used when you change the headset or the fork. Nipples are those little nubs that connect the spokes of the wheel to the rim. This is used when you want to make bicycle wheels, something I've been considering attempting for some time.

Crown Race Setting Tool (~$65):

Nipple Driver ($30):

So that's $95 for tools. At that rate, I'm not saving much by doing myself rather than having the shop do it. But who am I kidding, I would still probably do it myself. 

For the crown race setting tool I started with a 1.5" piece of schedule 40 PVC pipe. The inside and outside diameters were good, I just needed to shape the end a little so it wouldn't damage the crown race as it was setting it. I set up a jig that would allow me to turn the pipe while holding the Dremel still. Unfortunately, I did not immortalize that with a picture for you all. But this is how it turned out.

You can see how the end was only slightly shaped. It would have turned out better if I had a lathe, which I would have if the government hadn't been so stupid this fall. Whatever. The bottom line is I have my crown race setting tool. Material: 1.5 feet of PVC pipe from Ace Hardware. Cost: ~$3. Savings: ~$62. 

The next one is a little trickier. As you can see the nipple driver can in no way be approximated by a length of pipe. Not to worry, our friends at Klein Tools make a nice little Rapi-Driv (tm) screw driver that looks like this:

Well that's 90% of the work. This little number is had for only $10 on Amazon. Again, I turned to my trusty Dremel. All that was left was to shape the end of the screwdriver to look like the nipple driver, thusly:

I'm sure my brothers and dad would consider this a brutal defilement of a perfectly pristine Klein tool. They would be right, but I think it's worth it. The great thing about Klein tools is you know they are likely to outlive you, so you don't worry about spending a little extra. My dad still uses many of his Klein tools that he bought before I came along. So there you go. Now I have my nipple driver. Material: Klein screwdriver. Cost: ~$10. Savings: ~$20.

So that's $13 payout for $95 worth of tools with an extra helping of satisfaction on the side. But like I said, it looks like something an engineer made in his garage. Because it is.


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