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  1. #1
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    Simple, everyday items that make bike repair easier

    Quote Originally Posted by Chesterton View Post

    I am continually amused and enlightened by FBinNY's continuing series of "1001 Bike Shop Uses for a Dry Marker".
    This thread is inspired by the quote above. While many people here buy all sorts of specialized and expensive tools, others find that they can adapt everyday stuff into cheap (free?) tools to make the job go faster and easier.

    I've posted a number of these over the years, from using dry markers as indicators for wheel truing, to building an accurate wheel dishing gauge with 3 soup cans and a handful of quarters.

    So here it is guys. Post your useful adaptations of everyday stuff for bike repair.

    What's in your toolbox?
    Last edited by FBinNY; 03-31-14 at 03:15 PM.
    FB
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    An ounce of diagnosis is worth a pound of cure.

    “Never argue with an idiot. He will only bring you down to his level and beat you with experience.”, George Carlin

    “One accurate measurement is worth a thousand expert opinions” - Adm Grace Murray Hopper - USN

    WARNING, I'm from New York. Thin skinned people should maintain safe distance.

  2. #2
    Senior Member bikeman715's Avatar
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    a wooden dowel 1/8 - 1/4 " cut at a angle to use as a wedge when mounting a front derailleur , so you can line up the cage with the chainrings .
    bikeman715

  3. #3
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    The home-made tool that's netted the highest cost-savings for me, has gotta be the home-brewed press-fit bearing press I rigged up from the following bits and pieces:






    Although I can't take credit for coming up with the idear (I first heard about it on another forum) I feel I would be remiss if I didn't herald its thrift and effectiveness. I was on the verge of forking over big bucks for a Park Tools one. Successfully installed two PF-30 bottom brackets with it. It's on standby - as I type - for a third build I''m about to embark on in a few weeks.

  4. #4
    Senior Member SquidPuppet's Avatar
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    Parts Cleaning Submersion Tank.

    1. Five lb coffee can
    2. Five lb coffee can lid, removed
    3. Drill a few zillion tiny holes in lid
    4. Three long skinny bolts of any size
    5. Three nuts for above
    6. Fasten bolts and nuts to lid to create three legged table (drain pan)
    7. Wire coat hanger attached to drain pan at 12 and 6 o'clock as a handle

    Perfect for bearings and chains. Free, except for solvent, or if you don't drink coffee.
    Last edited by SquidPuppet; 03-31-14 at 04:49 PM.

  5. #5
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    Tie a rope around the frame and fork when changing thread-less stems, aloft on the repair stand.

    fender washers across the end of a steel steerer to pull a star nut apart to remove it

    Stamped steel Deep baking dish for same cleaning use , above .
    tilt the pan , hold the pieces on the high side to drain

  6. #6
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    Speaking of chains. Another real money saver I recently discovered is a home made Bain-marie (or "double boiler" for the untraveled ;-)) that I use to melt paraffin wax. I resorted to this after scouring every store within a 50 mile radius of me for one of those electric wax melting do-hickies- to no avail.

    I submerge my chain in the melted wax for about 30 mins. The best lubrication EVER! For me, a paraffin waxed chain is worth every bit of the 45-60 minutes it takes me every two months or so.




    The trick is to get the right sized bowl and sauce pan so that they fit snuggly together and form a seal as explained here.

  7. #7
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    A simple tool to keep the chain together when breaking it/installing it. Take a 5" piece of coat hanger and bend the last inch of each end to about a 60 degree angle. When installing the chain you put it over a roller about 2 inches from the break on each end. It holds the chain together while you put the removable link in or press the pin in. It holds the chain while breaking it also.

  8. #8
    Senior Member SquidPuppet's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by likebike23 View Post
    A simple tool to keep the chain together when breaking it/installing it. Take a 5" piece of coat hanger and bend the last inch of each end to about a 60 degree angle. When installing the chain you put it over a roller about 2 inches from the break on each end. It holds the chain together while you put the removable link in or press the pin in. It holds the chain while breaking it also.

    Thats awesome. You could make it a little longer and twist the ends together to achieve the desired/required tension for reassembly on a SS or FG.

  9. #9
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    Speaking of repair stands. I work out of town a lot and stay in hotels for long stretches. I always bring my commuter with me to travel from the hotel to work and back. Sometimes I might need to reindex my gears or tweak my brakes or something and would need to turn the pedals and sprockets as I shift up and down the drive train. From personal preference, I don't like to flip the bike upside down.

    What I do instead is take the two bungee cords that I always travel with, loop them over the 7' high elevated TV wall mount you find in most hotels, then loop the other end around either the seat post or top tube (whichever works for the given layout of the hotel room). The hooks of the bungee cord are hooked together to make a loop. Its rigged up high enough so that the back wheel is suspended about a foot and a half off the floor. The front wheel still touches the floor. I wrap a couple hotel-provided bath towels and maybe a pillow into a nice big ball. I then lodge that between the wall and the frame so that the non-drive side pedal is propped up far enough away from the wall to allow me to crank the drive train without any obstructions.

    It's way simpler to rig up than my wordy explanation might have made it sound. And its remarkably practical - if I must say so myself

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by likebike23 View Post
    A simple tool to keep the chain together when breaking it/installing it. Take a 5" piece of coat hanger and bend the last inch of each end to about a 60 degree angle. When installing the chain you put it over a roller about 2 inches from the break on each end. It holds the chain together while you put the removable link in or press the pin in. It holds the chain while breaking it also.
    Yeah, I use a paper clip to do the same thing. I thought I was a genius coming up with this, but I see there are photos on the Internet of folks doing the exact same thing:

    paperclip.jpg

    My Topeak chain tool comes with one pre-bent perfectly, but I always keep a few paperclips in my saddlebag just in case I lose it.

    -Warr

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by nirVELOvana View Post
    Speaking of repair stands. I work out of town a lot and stay in hotels for long stretches. I always bring my commuter with me to travel from the hotel to work and back. Sometimes I might need to reindex my gears or tweak my brakes or something and would need to turn the pedals and sprockets as I shift up and down the drive train. From personal preference, I don't like to flip the bike upside down.

    What I do instead is take the two bungee cords that I always travel with, loop them over the 7' high elevated TV wall mount you find in most hotels, then loop the other end around either the seat post or top tube (whichever works for the given layout of the hotel room). The hooks of the bungee cord are hooked together to make a loop. Its rigged up high enough so that the back wheel is suspended about a foot and a half off the floor. The front wheel still touches the floor. I wrap a couple hotel-provided bath towels and maybe a pillow into a nice big ball. I then lodge that between the wall and the frame so that the non-drive side pedal is propped up far enough away from the wall to allow me to crank the drive train without any obstructions.
    When the hotel maid finds this contraption she's gonna think you've been having some kind of weird $ex.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Al1943 View Post
    When the hotel maid finds this contraption she's gonna think you've been having some kind of weird $ex.
    does $ex imply he's paying for it?
    FB
    Chain-L site

    An ounce of diagnosis is worth a pound of cure.

    “Never argue with an idiot. He will only bring you down to his level and beat you with experience.”, George Carlin

    “One accurate measurement is worth a thousand expert opinions” - Adm Grace Murray Hopper - USN

    WARNING, I'm from New York. Thin skinned people should maintain safe distance.

  13. #13
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Chain cleaning tank: A 20 oz wide mouth Gatorade bottle. Put in a cup of mineral spirits, feed the chain through the top, cap, shake vigorously for 30 seconds or so. You can make a hook from an old coat hanger and fish the chain out so you can use the tank again or you can cut the top off the bottle and remove the chain.

    Pokey tool: Take an old spoke and bend the end into a handle. Sharpen the end of the spoke. It's handy for poking through the plastic inner liner on brake and derailer housing so that you don't fray the end of the cable. For a larger pokey tool, use an old quick release skewer. Remove the cam and sharpen the threaded end.

    Tire boot 1: Carry around Nature Valley Granola bars. Don't eat them unless you have nothing else. Seriously, eat your tires first, eat your dead friends first or try and chew through the metal of your frame but don't try to gag down the bars. The wrapper has a layer of paper on the outside, a layer of foil on the inside and a layer of plastic sandwiched between. It almost tough enough to run directly on the pavement for a few hundred miles.

    Tire boot 2: Tyvek mailing envelopes from the US Postal Service. The Express mail ones are free.

    Fixed cup removal tool: For those of you who still clinging to your loose bearing bottom brackets like a Titanic survivor on a floating headboard or for those of you who are updating a old bike with one of these abominations, removing the fixed cup is a sure way to bust knuckles. The wrench flats don't hold onto the cup considering how much torque you have to use to remove one. It is guaranteed to slip off. I'll try to get a picture of the tool but until then a description will have to suffice. You will need

    -a left hand cup
    -a threaded axle long enough to go through the bottom bracket shell with (roughly) 20mm on each side or all thread with the same thread pitch as an axle nut
    -two axle nuts
    -2 large fender washer for 1/2" bolts
    Optional

    -the tops from a couple of kickstands (just remove the kickstand from your bike...you don't need it)

    Thread the left cup into the bottom bracket and then thread the axle nut onto the axle, put on one fender washer and then slide it all the way through the bottom bracket. Put the tool over the fix cup and slide the fender washer on to hold it in place. Thread on the other axle nut. You can add the kickstand tops now to spread the load out a little more before you thread on the axle nut. Now you can turn the removal tool while it is held in place.
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  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Al1943 View Post
    When the hotel maid finds this contraption she's gonna think you've been having some kind of weird $ex.
    That's right at the point when she asks me if she could help me blow up on my inner tube You'd be surprised how many maids I've made with my $ex machine
    Last edited by nirVELOvana; 03-31-14 at 05:56 PM.

  15. #15
    Senior Member Spld cyclist's Avatar
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    Painter's masking tape. Several layers stuck to a bike rim makes it easier to properly set brake pad toe-in. I cut it long enough to cover both brake tracks at once. It's adjustable (just add or remove layers) and doesn't fall out like other shims when you're adjusting the brakes.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by FBinNY View Post
    does $ex imply he's paying for it?
    Of course I'm paying for it! You telling me maids work for free in NYC (Hey! That rhymed! )

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by nirVELOvana View Post
    ...You telling me maids work for free in NYC...
    Note to self: Beg boss to send me to The Empire State for my next gig. Or do they call it The Thick-skinned State these days?

    Know any good maids I should hook up with while I'm there FBinNY?

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by nirVELOvana View Post
    Note to self: Beg boss to send me to The Empire State for my next gig. Or do they call it The Thick-skinned State these days?

    Know any good maids I should hook up with while I'm there FBinNY?
    You don't need referrals. There are plenty available to those willing to pay.
    FB
    Chain-L site

    An ounce of diagnosis is worth a pound of cure.

    “Never argue with an idiot. He will only bring you down to his level and beat you with experience.”, George Carlin

    “One accurate measurement is worth a thousand expert opinions” - Adm Grace Murray Hopper - USN

    WARNING, I'm from New York. Thin skinned people should maintain safe distance.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by FBinNY View Post
    You don't need referrals. There are plenty available to those willing to pay.
    Of course you would know that first hand. Am I right?

    No need to be ashamed of your vices FBinNY. We're all thicked-skinned men of the world here. Ain't we?

  20. #20
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    I made a fixed cup tool clamp pretty much like the one cyccommute describes except I used a 4" 5/8"NC hex head bolt for the shaft along with a matching nut and two fender washers. All of these are standard hardware store items.

    I use the bottom bracket's own adjustable cup on nds side and one fender washer on each side, one to distribute the load on the adjustable cup and one to hold the fixed cup tool in place. I've never needed any further reinforcement. A rubber mallet on the fixed cup tool can be a real help in breaking the cup free. Just remember which direction to pound it.

    A pair of 5" to 6" tweezers with moderately wide serrated tip is a tremendous help in removing and inserting individual bearing balls from hubs, bottom brackets and headset races.

    A Dremel with a fiber reinforced cut off wheel can be used to rejuvenate worn Allen keys. Cutting a 1/16" to 1/8" slice off of the worn tip will reestablishing the sharp corners needed to prevent damaging bolts. The same Dremel can be used to cut 1" long sections from Allen keys that can be super glued into sockets to form square drive hex bits. Acetone will dissolve the glue when you want to turn the bit over to expose a fresh end or replace it with another hex section.

  21. #21
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    I use a 60 year old ice pick to round out the inside of cable housing that I've cut with my Park cable cutter tool. The point's worn down on the ice pick, that makes it better and safer.

  22. #22
    Senior Member woodcraft's Avatar
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    Spray bottle containing rubbing alcohol.

    Computer to look at how-to videos on u-tube.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Al1943 View Post
    I use a 60 year old ice pick to round out the inside of cable housing that I've cut with my Park cable cutter tool. The point's worn down on the ice pick, that makes it better and safer.
    Finally we're getting back to the kind of SIMPLE, EVERYDAY items I had in mind.

    Here's another. I use wooden kebab skewers to pick up and feed nipples into deep rims (non eyeleted) and spin them onto spokes. They're $1.00 for a bunch, and work as well or better than anything I've tried. Even if they cost more they'd still beat shaking a dropped nipple out of a rim.
    FB
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    An ounce of diagnosis is worth a pound of cure.

    “Never argue with an idiot. He will only bring you down to his level and beat you with experience.”, George Carlin

    “One accurate measurement is worth a thousand expert opinions” - Adm Grace Murray Hopper - USN

    WARNING, I'm from New York. Thin skinned people should maintain safe distance.

  24. #24
    Senior Member Homebrew01's Avatar
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    And when it's time to clean your hands after working on your bike: A teaspoon of kitchen vegetable oil will loosen it up nicely, then wash with regular soap. No need for nasty stuff on your hands. Works great cleaning oil based paint too (I was working on the house last summer).

    I have a stash of old toothbrushes that come in handy for getting under the fingernails.
    Bikes: Old steel race bikes, old Cannondale race bikes, less old Cannondale race bike, crappy old mtn bike

  25. #25
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    Great thread!

    Let's see...

    I use old worn out t-shirts and toothbrushes for cleaning my bikes.
    Tweezers were pretty much essential when replacing the 1/8" bearing balls in my pedals.
    An old ballpoint pen can be helpful for tracing bearing surfaces to feel for pitting.
    Painter's tape doesn't leave any residue and is great for marking the current extension of seat posts and stems before removing them for service.
    Zip ties have quite a number of uses.

    There was a nice suggestion in another thread for using talc when inserting inner tubes and mounting tires. I had not heard that one before.

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