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  1. #1
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    Mother of Innovation - Cone Wrenches

    Alright, I am a self-proclaimed impatient tight-wad (rather, I refer to it as thrifty). That said, I need(ed) cone wrenches so I could overhaul and adjust the hubs. I didn't want to fork over $8/wrench for the Park Tools wrenches, which is all that is carried locally, so I found a set online which were double size and double ended. Each of the two wrenches had 13-14-15-16mm cone wrenches. I could order them from Performance Bike for $5.09 + $5.75 shipping, but I don't like paying more for shipping than I do for the item itself! I could have ordered them through Amazon and bought other tools to get the free shipping, but the cone wrenches specifically said that they usually ship in 3-6 weeks. Fact of the matter is, the reason I wanted them is that I f00bared my MTB front wheel by taking the axle out before having the cone wrenches. Noob mistake.

    So, my choices were $$$, $$ and waiting, or $ and waiting even longer. I opted for $0.00 and 20 minutes of waiting. Ladies and gentlemen I present to you the adjustable cone wrench:





    No, this idea is not new. I've read of recommendations to do this with normal wrenches, but that seemed like too much work - and I didn't have a spare set laying around to work on. Then I saw a page on Instructables suggesting that it be done to an adjustable wrench. I had just purchased a 4-pack of adjustable wrenches from Harbor Freight for the 10" wrench when I needed to replace my cassette and had a spare 8" in the pack. With no bench vice in my arsenal, I bribed my brother to stand on the wrench whilst I went to down with the angle grinder.

    It ain't pretty, but I'll be danged if it doesn't do the job. A minute after it was done and hosed off, I had the front wheel of my MTB back in commission and 10 minutes later, the rear one was repacked as well Now I can take care of my folks' bikes when I go home next weekend. Now I just need a good source of bearings (any ideas other than hitting up the LBS?).

    So, while necessity may be the mother of invention, cheapness and impatience are the final two members of the relationship that brought about this contraption!

  2. #2
    Senior Member CACycling's Avatar
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    I can't fault you as I am still using the cone wrenches that were part of a cheesey bike tool kit I bought in the mid-70s. As for bearings, the LBS will be probably the best cost once you factor in shipping unless you have a good industrial parts house near you.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by tekknoschtev View Post
    Alright, I am a self-proclaimed impatient tight-wad (rather, I refer to it as thrifty). That said, I need(ed) cone wrenches so I could overhaul and adjust the hubs. I didn't want to fork over $8/wrench for the Park Tools wrenches, which is all that is carried locally, so I found a set online which were double size and double ended. Each of the two wrenches had 13-14-15-16mm cone wrenches. I could order them from Performance Bike for $5.09 + $5.75 shipping, but I don't like paying more for shipping than I do for the item itself! I could have ordered them through Amazon and bought other tools to get the free shipping, but the cone wrenches specifically said that they usually ship in 3-6 weeks. Fact of the matter is, the reason I wanted them is that I f00bared my MTB front wheel by taking the axle out before having the cone wrenches. Noob mistake.

    So, my choices were $$$, $$ and waiting, or $ and waiting even longer. I opted for $0.00 and 20 minutes of waiting. Ladies and gentlemen I present to you the adjustable cone wrench:





    No, this idea is not new. I've read of recommendations to do this with normal wrenches, but that seemed like too much work - and I didn't have a spare set laying around to work on. Then I saw a page on Instructables suggesting that it be done to an adjustable wrench. I had just purchased a 4-pack of adjustable wrenches from Harbor Freight for the 10" wrench when I needed to replace my cassette and had a spare 8" in the pack. With no bench vice in my arsenal, I bribed my brother to stand on the wrench whilst I went to down with the angle grinder.

    It ain't pretty, but I'll be danged if it doesn't do the job. A minute after it was done and hosed off, I had the front wheel of my MTB back in commission and 10 minutes later, the rear one was repacked as well Now I can take care of my folks' bikes when I go home next weekend. Now I just need a good source of bearings (any ideas other than hitting up the LBS?).

    So, while necessity may be the mother of invention, cheapness and impatience are the final two members of the relationship that brought about this contraption!
    And then people learn why

    1) You should have cone wrenches in pairs
    2) Opportunity cost
    Mes compaingnons cui j'amoie et cui j'aim,... Me di, chanson.

  4. #4
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    operator, can I ask why I should have them in pairs? I was able to adjust the cones just fine with this setup. No, this is not the be-all, end-all of cone wrenches, but versus paying a small fortune for a set, spending more on shipping than the tool, waiting 3-6 weeks, all the while my beater bike being out of commission, or having the LBS do it leaving me in the same position as I was in, not having the know-how or tools to do it myself. And, the opportunity cost was low on this. The time calling and then maybe running around town and spending $8+/wrench or waiting for shipping far outweighs the cost of the 20 minutes my brother and I spent working on it - and again it meant that I could have my bike back in service now rather than later.

    Yes, I do intend on eventually getting a set of the double ended wrenches, but I don't really see why its required or how it'd even save me time/effort. This, coupled with a normal box open wrench worked fine for what I needed.

    (This probably came off more defensive and argumentative than I intend. I really don't mean for it to sound that way.)

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    I have never needed a pair of the same size cone wrenches. One properly sized cone wrench and a good box end wrench has always done the job.

    I like the adjustable cone wrench; I might make one to use for adjusting old side pull brakes.

  6. #6
    Bicycle Repair Man !!! Sixty Fiver's Avatar
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    Bearings should be readily available at any industrial supply house and I do like your ingenuity.

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    i like it. i am curious how many cutting wheels you went through though. i would expect that if that it was a good wrench, you could have eaten up two. but if it was from harbor freight, i would guess you could have gotten by with 1.

  8. #8
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    You'd like two for the last bit of hub adjustery, where you have the locknuts on and (mostly) tightened, and the quick release clamped down, and you say to yourself, 'this needs to be just a tenth of a turn looser/tighter.' If you said 'tighter', put a wrench on each locknut and tighten both against the cones -- they'll give just enough to give you that last bit. if you said 'looser', put a wrench on each cone and loosen them against the locknuts -- that's where two come in. Much quicker & more accurate than loosening the locknut, backing out the cone, trying to tighten again without moving the cone, etc. Actually it's probably one of those things where a home mechanic won't really care but a shop guy who needs to service a dozen in a day would.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Bill Kapaun's Avatar
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    Park has the double ended cone wrenches for $5-6.

  10. #10
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    I have belittled myself to respond to this over-use of the grinder:
    get a proper set of cone wrenches--- why are you proud of your cheapness.
    I am very willing to accept your ingenuity and ability to adapt to any situation; however,
    cone wrenches are important, they should be sharp, well tempered-- and you are never touching anything I own with those things you made, while you stir your Ketchup soup with the screwdriver you found in the dumpster............................................

  11. #11
    Sometimes knows stuff. rmfnla's Avatar
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    Yeah.
    Today, I believe my jurisdiction ends here...

  12. #12
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    G_piny_parnas - did I ask to fix your bike with my inferior tools that will undoubtedly lead to the end of the world because I didn't spend good money on a whole set of some name brand wrenches so I can assist my folks with their old bikes as well as work on mine? Apparently calling myself cheap wasn't as sarcastic as I had hoped. I am thrifty. I pride myself in the fact that I am pretty good at determining what is worth spending a little more on and what isn't. Obviously a garbage picked screwdriver is a poor decision for me given the excess of spoons in my cupboard.

    Quick cost-benefit analysis. Cost = $0.00 + 20 minutes of my time. That means (if I was getting paid my current hourly rate) the total cost is $3.61. Benefit = I had it now, I could fix my bike without forking over the $10 the bike shop charges just to adjust the cones, or $20 for a complete overhaul with new grease and bearings. Per wheel. I did both wheels in less than an hour, and can be much faster now that I know what I'm doing. So if you want to count that time as well, including grinding the wrench which I'll never have to do again - its still less than $12.

    You haven't given me any reason that this is inferior to name brand tools. The faces that touch the adjusting nut are still sharp and square as the grinder never touched them. I can't vouch for the wrench being tempered but I believe it is, and it was kept cool through the entire grinding process - only a small amount of discoloration.

    Sorry I don't mean to get so worked up about this, and nor did I intend to get only positive advice but you've offered nothing other than a cynical "it can't work because you didn't buy name brand crap" view. You tell me that my tool is sub-par and that you'd never let me in the same room as your bike with it, yet I never intended on fixing your bike, yet you never tell me why. Like I said, there are definitely things where I know its worth spending a little more money - and perhaps one day I'll learn that this was a terrible idea and that I wasted all of 20 minutes doing something that served its purpose at least once, but until then - I'll tool along blissfully ignorant to the demise and destruction that I am causing by using some homemade tool.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by zzyzx_xyzzy View Post
    You'd like two for the last bit of hub adjustery, where you have the locknuts on and (mostly) tightened, and the quick release clamped down, and you say to yourself, 'this needs to be just a tenth of a turn looser/tighter.' If you said 'tighter', put a wrench on each locknut and tighten both against the cones -- they'll give just enough to give you that last bit. if you said 'looser', put a wrench on each cone and loosen them against the locknuts -- that's where two come in. Much quicker & more accurate than loosening the locknut, backing out the cone, trying to tighten again without moving the cone, etc. Actually it's probably one of those things where a home mechanic won't really care but a shop guy who needs to service a dozen in a day would.
    That makes sense. Thanks!

  14. #14
    Senior Member Joshua A.C. New's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by G piny parnas View Post
    I have belittled myself to respond to this over-use of the grinder:
    get a proper set of cone wrenches--- why are you proud of your cheapness.
    I am very willing to accept your ingenuity and ability to adapt to any situation; however,
    cone wrenches are important, they should be sharp, well tempered-- and you are never touching anything I own with those things you made, while you stir your Ketchup soup with the screwdriver you found in the dumpster............................................
    Joshua A.C. Newman,
    Passionate lover of construction

  15. #15
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    youth is wasted.............................. on the young.

  16. #16
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    nothing ever wrong with coming up with a new tool or improvising when you can't afford the correct tool. still looks a bit thick, but if it works for you then life is good. right?

  17. #17
    Senior Member BCRider's Avatar
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    Well, I for one commend you on your resourcefullness.

    I'd probably have done it with some bargain bin fixed size wrenches from the local tool store but if you keep the jaws closed down on the flats there's no reason not to work and work well.

    I've never needed two either. I just work the one end by easing off the locknut a 1/8 turn, turn both together to adjust and then snug the locknut back down. So only one thin cone wrench and one locknut standard wrench.
    Model airplanes are cool too!.....

  18. #18
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    Why is it that tight-wads always use words like frugal and thrifty to describe themselves? It doesn't sound any better than tight-wad. Why bother? bk

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by sfclearwater View Post
    I have never needed a pair of the same size cone wrenches. One properly sized cone wrench and a good box end wrench has always done the job.
    I have 9-speed era Dura Ace hubs and the rear requires two 14 mm cone wrenches. Both the cone and the locknut are 14 mm and the locknut has very thin, narrow wrench flats just like the cone. You need two 14 mm cone wrenches on these.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by HillRider View Post
    I have 9-speed era Dura Ace hubs and the rear requires two 14 mm cone wrenches. Both the cone and the locknut are 14 mm and the locknut has very thin, narrow wrench flats just like the cone. You need two 14 mm cone wrenches on these.
    Yeah I could see requiring two cone wrenches for some hubs. My youngest bike is a 1991 Schwinn Paramount Series 70 MTB, so I am a little behind.

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