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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Apple Valley, California

    Default HF 'Mini' Tire Changer Review

    Harbor Freight 'Mini' tire changer review (Part One)

    After deciding to change my new tires, on the StreetRunner build, myself, I looked into buying,
    one of those inexpensive tire changers from Harbor Freight.

    I'm not out to change all the tires in the world, so how could it hurt to try something inexpensive.
    Something that will get used very infrequent, but saves money in the long run. To have it done at one of the many local garages,
    tire stores, etc. was going to cost me at least 50 %, the cost of buying the changer. So now I have a new tool.

    While looking into the standard size changer I found they have a 'mini' changer.
    Actually it was the same price as the larger standard one, but was better suited (and adaptable) to my work pedestal.

    Out of the Box

    Right out of the box, all parts are 'ready to go'.
    The quality doesn't appear to be, 'too cheap', but what you might expect from HF and Pittsburgh Automotive.
    Used properly, in should do the light tire changes, it was built for, but we will see.

    At this point the first thing I noticed, was the center hole of the wheel, and the outer diameter of the changer 'body',
    were virtually the same size. I was initially concerned whether or not the wheel would hold true, with the supplied centering cone. I got it tightened up and continued, without further thought.

    This body was capped with rubber, I guess to facilitate gripping, which would minimize rotation. (See picture 1)
    I found, I still had to press against the tire to help it from rotating. I may have not tightened the center nut, at that point, well enough.

    Mounting to Work Pedestal

    Top Row, Left to right, Pictures 1 & 2

    Instead of drilling four holes, requiring four bolts/pins, to secure it to the top plate on my work pedestal, I decided it would be easier to drill two holes in the pipe, and not use the red base that comes with the changer.

    I was successful in getting the two holes lined up, pic 1(sorta) with minimal adjusting to secure the changer to my pedestal.
    Works like a champ at this point.

    Bottom Row, Left to right, Pictures 1 & 2
    Bead breaker handles; mount/demount tool

    Pictures 3 & 4, off with the old, on with the new.

    After applying 'slip'em', I was able to demount the old tire with virtually no problem.
    I'm feeling good about my purchase at this point.
    I did fight mounting the new tire, but quickly overcame the problems...learned something.

    So far so good, but look at Part Two ....FOR THE REST OF THE STORY !
    You are never to old to set another goal, or to dream a new dream.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Apple Valley, California

    Default Re: HF 'Mini' Tire Changer Review

    Harbor Freight 'Mini' tire changer review (Part Two)

    Two things wrong here.

    First, do you remember that black rubber ring around the top of the changer body?

    Well, because of the diameters of the wheels center hole, and the changer body being virtually the same, I ended up cutting the rubber into two pieces.
    The reason was I kept tightening the locking nut for the centering cone, and it just sliced the rubber in two.
    So, a fix/modification to the hold down point is in the future.

    Number two ---- Near disaster

    Aluminum is softer than steel

    While trying to mount the second tire, I ran into a block. I got about 3/4 around, and then it just wouldn't go any further.
    I thought it was just my technique, and a very stubborn tire. Not so much, as I discovered the 'large burr',
    that was created by the new mounting tool. I examined the tool and found the leading edges were quite sharp,
    thus gouging the aluminum, which resulted in the burr.

    I took a file to those edges, to round them just a bit. Seemed to work just fine after that.
    I did learn that there has to be somewhat, of an upward pull, of the mounting bar to keep the 'business end' inside the tire while, rotating around the tire.
    That additional upward force may be a contributing factor, in the gouging.

    Luckily, the learning curve for this wasn't very steep.

    Except for the 'cutting of the rubber issue', and having to file down the sharp edges, this changer worked well for my use.
    For a total of $46.32 USD, I believe it will continue to work well, for me. At least the light tire changes (up to 12 ").
    You are never to old to set another goal, or to dream a new dream.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2017
    Oxford, NY

    Default Re: HF 'Mini' Tire Changer Review

    Nice write up! Amazingly simple, but to make all this from scratch and to keep experimenting on what shapes work best, etc. it is better to spend the money and buy one just like you did. Well done.
    K.I.S.S. - Keep It Simple Stupid
    Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without

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