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  #1  
Old 4 Jul 2006
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Question Tool advice from the experienced wrenchers

Hi,
I need some advice from people with much experience working on bikes, both in the garage and out in the feild.
Having just come back from a big trip where I took an extremely heavy pouch full of tools (apart from the ones I needed!) I am now looking at reducing the weight and size of said pouch without affecting the overall usefulness of the tools inside. For example, as I don't really know how to use most of the functions on my multimeter, I have made a wee test lamp from a dashboard warning light to use instead.
I have two basic questions:

1: I am thinking of replacing my ring/open jaw spanner set with the type where you get two open jaws of different sizes on one spanner, thus reducing the weight/size of the spanner roll by half. I wonder if this will give me grief I haven't foreseen? Would I be better keeping the ring spanners?

2: Are there any ideas you guys have had which has helped reduce the size of your tool kit (no 'join the AA' jokes please!)?

I apologise if this seems geeky.
Matt
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*Disclaimer* - I am not saying my bike is better than your bike. I am not saying my way is better than your way. I am not mocking your religion/politics/other belief system. When reading my post imagine me sitting behind a frothing pint of ale, smiling and offering you a bag of peanuts. This is the sentiment in which my post is made. Please accept it as such!
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  #2  
Old 5 Jul 2006
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The only negative I can think of concerning trading out to all open-end would be if there is a bolt on your bike that has such limited access where only a 12pt box-end or socket can turn it. It's also nice being able to use the box-end hooked to another wrench for quick added leverage, but this is a minor thing.

Carrying set sockets and wrenches that are not needed for your bike makes no sense, as you know.

Basic work-around tools like adjustable wrench, vise grips, pliers, etc becomes a personal choice. There's both 'comfort food' and 'comfort tools'...
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  #3  
Old 5 Jul 2006
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Adjustable spaners weigh a fair bit - much better with the correct open end spanner.

You can get tools that do more than one job - e.g.
http://www.sopgear.com/new_page_4.htm Tire irons with large box end spanners

Look at what came in the original tool kit. Those sises are the minimum to carry. You may need more for oil changes, tuning and fixing falts...
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  #4  
Old 5 Jul 2006
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It depends largely on your ability and the complexity of the bike. You only need what's required to fix what you're capable of, if the breakdown's in the middle of nowhere. If it's beyond your capability you're going to have to get help to the bike, or the bike to help. Either way, the help will have its own tools.

Regards, Mick
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  #5  
Old 6 Jul 2006
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toolkit

Matt:
I've read about your unforseen and unlucky (but wise) change of plans. This gives you a unique change of doing it right (or better) this time or better said, finetune and reconsider everything you take with you. Something you are obviously doing now.
When you returned home did you do all the necensary maintance and maybe even setup changes yet ?
If not, try to perform these with only what's in your toolbox/pouch or what your intending to take now. Try to take care (keep track) of which tool you use, and why (b'cause it's just there or you really need it) and certainly what you miss, although I understand that wouldn't be the point.
As an understatement you definetly need quality tools (not saying expensive) 'cheap' open-arms spanners easily seize which damage your nuts and bolts very easy which start a 'chainreaction'. Ring-shape spanners do not have this problem (so quikly), you can 'sling' a nut along a long bolt easily (try that with a forkshaped spanner!) and you can abuse them like mentioned before by hooking them together although this can seize the open-arms etc...
Does leaving say 5 spanners at home really clear so much weight and space ?

Mick (Squidbrain):
... If it's beyond your capability you're going to have to get help to the bike, or the bike to help. Either way, the help will have its own tools...
Maybe that's not the kind of tools you really would like to be used, bented and welded ancien spanners and 'refurbished' wrenches, a 'handmade' hamer and not a 'philips' screwdriver in sight only flathead not even speaking of model related special tools. My 'Africa experience' which BTW has nothing to do with the skills of those mechanics.
IMHO there is nothing wrong with sometimes presenting a proper sized 10 spanner at the right moment (as if your a fully trained assistance knowing what your doing and what he's doing), it breaks the ice, is good for conversation and can come in handy as negociations start (agreed price + 'special' parts + whatever / - you got your hands dirty too - he used your tools = lots of laughs and a price you both can life with)


To be totally honest I must say I travelled on 4 wheels, thus having tons of space and loading capabilities comparing to you guys. Which brings me to the point I discovered I even had to carrie two sets of spanners cause some essential parts are fitted with a nut on a bolt of the same size! At leats at our old hj60, don't know if that's original (also found lots of size 13 nuts and bolts, that's certainly not Japanese!).

[edit]
BTW why did you put this question here (Travellers' questions that don't fit anywhere else) instead of Equipping the Bike - what's the best gear? ?
[/edit]
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Last edited by Sophie-Bart; 6 Jul 2006 at 10:52.
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  #6  
Old 6 Jul 2006
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Cheers guys,
Good points, and definately something to mull over. I totally agree about good quality spanners, I managed to snap a cheap Draper spanner the other day which started this whole "I need some new spanners" thing!
Matt
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*Disclaimer* - I am not saying my bike is better than your bike. I am not saying my way is better than your way. I am not mocking your religion/politics/other belief system. When reading my post imagine me sitting behind a frothing pint of ale, smiling and offering you a bag of peanuts. This is the sentiment in which my post is made. Please accept it as such!
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  #7  
Old 7 Jul 2006
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sophie-Bart
To be totally honest I must say I travelled on 4 wheels, thus having tons of space and loading capabilities comparing to you guys. Which brings me to the point I discovered I even had to carrie two sets of spanners cause some essential parts are fitted with a nut on a bolt of the same size! At leats at our old hj60, don't know if that's original (also found lots of size 13 nuts and bolts, that's certainly not Japanese!).
I envey your space, but like my fuel consumption..

As for the nut spanner being the same size as the bolt spanner .. happens with the 10 mm (6mm thread) sises, but 'they' look to make the larger sizes with different spanners on the nuts and bolts .. 12mm nuts and 13mm bolts for 8mm threads for example. In my tool kit I have a ring spanner - 10 and 12 mm ... open end spanners 7 and 8, 10 and 11, 12 and 13, ... loosing track of sizes from there ...
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  #8  
Old 10 Jul 2006
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Spanners

G'day Matt,
One small way of curing your "too many spanners" problems is to take a set of sockets, a ratchet, and a small universal joint. I'm from a 4WD background where you would think it doesn't matter much whether you carry a lot of weight, but all the same rules apply, it's just a matter of scale. Take the time to go around your bike, find out all the sizes you need, buy just the sockets you need, a small ratchet, and a unversal joint. That will cover most problems, is A LOT less weight than spanners, and is easier to pack. There are going to be one or two that you can't get at with a socket so just take spanners for those. Even better if you can change the hex head bolts for stainless steel Allen bolts. Then you just carry a set of Allen keys. You're not going to be changing an engine out on the road, so you're not going to need to cater for every possibility. Just carry enough for all the jobs you can do yourself.



Quote:
Originally Posted by Matt Cartney
Hi,
I need some advice from people with much experience working on bikes, both in the garage and out in the feild.
Having just come back from a big trip where I took an extremely heavy pouch full of tools (apart from the ones I needed!) I am now looking at reducing the weight and size of said pouch without affecting the overall usefulness of the tools inside. For example, as I don't really know how to use most of the functions on my multimeter, I have made a wee test lamp from a dashboard warning light to use instead.
I have two basic questions:

1: I am thinking of replacing my ring/open jaw spanner set with the type where you get two open jaws of different sizes on one spanner, thus reducing the weight/size of the spanner roll by half. I wonder if this will give me grief I haven't foreseen? Would I be better keeping the ring spanners?

2: Are there any ideas you guys have had which has helped reduce the size of your tool kit (no 'join the AA' jokes please!)?

I apologise if this seems geeky.
Matt
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And he sees the vision splendid, of the sunlit plains extended,
And at night the wondrous glory of the everlasting stars.
(A. B. Paterson)
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  #9  
Old 11 Jul 2006
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I just rode a classic Vespa scooter 6000 km from Cape Town to Nairobi with numerous brakedowns and service needs. These scooters give me a predicament as they on the one hand are extremely unreliable, and on the other hand can carry very little before performance and handling is seriously affected. I needed to be able to deal with a vast number of problems often but didn't want to carry lots of weight. I still ended up carrying more than the bare minimum as I expected to do a lot of wrenching. Although lots of improvisations can be made, the right tool makes for hell of a lot easier job... but many compromises were made.

My reccomendations are as follows:

Spanners:
Buy inexpensive chrome vanadium steel open ended spanners with a 10 year warranty. Buy the ones with different sizes at each end, and only the sizes that are used on your bike. If one spanner has one size you need and one that you don't, swap it for one that has both the ring and open end in the size you need as it is more versatile. Make sure that the material is not too thick as it will get you into trouble in tight spots.

On the opposite side of every bolt there is usually a nut of the same size, meaning you ideally should have two spanners of every size you need. Instead, buy two adjustable spanners of differet sizes (Medium and Large). These things brake easily and should preferably not be used with a lot of torque. Hold the nut/bolt in place with the adjustable spanner and use all the torque on the fixed open ended spanner. I'd use a little more money on the adjustable spanners than your fixed ones.

A pipe wrench may replace one or both of your adjustables for emergency purposes and may save you some aditional weight. A leatherman may even replace the pipe wrench as well as the adjustable spanners. A leather man may also replace your miniature side cutter, your small nose pliers, your regular pliers and your metal file... I still brought all of the above, this because I did not only anticipate numerous emergency repairs, but also to carry out all regular servicing myself, etc.

Ratchet and Sockets
The minimalist will only bring the sockets for nuts and bolts which are axcessible by no other means on the bike, such as for instance the spark plug. The minimalist may even drop the ratchet in favour of using an open ended spanner attached to a socket extension or dowel for torque. Personally I find that sockets and ratchets are so immensely useful that I bring all the sizes covered on the bike. I do howerver reduce the weight somewhat by dropping the medium sized ratchet and extension (3/8") and only bringing the small 1/4" and large 1/2" pluss extensions for each. In place of the 3/8" I bring reduction/enlargement dowels. I could reduce the weight even more by dropping the 1/4" and bringing suitable dowels instead, but I'd risk putting way too much torque on small fasteners using the big ratchet.
As for sockets I prefer deep ones over short ones as they are more versatile, but a minimalist would only bring short ones except for fasteners which absolutely required deep ones.

Circlip pliers:
Buy ones with a reversable head for inner/outer rings.

Screw drivers:
Flat head: S, M, XL (or whatever sizes is most appropriate for your bike)
Philips: S, L (or whatever sizes is most appropriate for your bike)
Screwdriver with changeable bits and bit kit.

A minimalist would only bring the XL flat head screw driver and the screw driver with the bit kit in the sizes he would need. The extreme minimalist might even solely rely on the Leather man to get out of trouble.

Other itmes:
Files: small round plus small half roundTire pumpTire repair kitEmery cloth: Fine grain, medium grain, in photo canisterWire, 5 mElectrical tapeDuct tapeWD 40Grease, in photo canisterLoc titeMultimeter plus aligator clips (or make shift tool)Aluminum tapeTeflon tapeEpoxy glueSuper glueNon hardening gasket compoundNithril rubber glovesRepair manual, Haynes (or favourite)Hack sawSyringe, xtra large pluss needle (great for adding grease in tight spots, for adding oil to gear box, etc).Air pressure gaugeFeeler guages, appropriate sizes for bikeAllen wrench, appropriate sizes for bikeTy wraps, largeString, 5mElectrical wire, 5mPatent band, 5mFasteners, assorted sizes
Lucky rag
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  #10  
Old 3 Aug 2006
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Iv always replaced nuts & bolts on the bike so they all run as many as the same head as possible...

I usually try to replace Hex fittings to bolt standard bolt heads etc or vice versa. Standardised fitting reduce the amount of tools you need. I dont see the point of manufactures mix n' matching just to save a few pence or to aid cosmetic appearance.

Remove all fittings, nuts & bolts you can and copper slip them up and then tighten properly (or replace if they're worn or rusted). Imagine being stuck in the middle of nowhere trying to undo a seizes caliper bolt or brake pad pin or maybe finding you've got a stripped thread.

I replace cheesehead screwhead bolts (ones on switchgear, brake fluid resevoir) with allen key bolts too. They're much more substantial.
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  #11  
Old 4 Aug 2006
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I would take a good quality adjustable spanner for the larger nuts and bolts, like spindle nuts , fork caps etc , I stress good quality .Some of the better ones have jaws that open very wide ,check them out .
Also some very handy spanners are the ring spanners that have a flat profile and are quite short. They have 2 sizes per spanner ,ie 8mm and 9mm ,the next up would be 10mm and 11mm -etc .
You will find that these are the most useful type of spanner . You can back them up with combination spanners that have an open and a ring end of one size only .I wouldn't rely solely on open enders as they are awkward and will slip at the worst of times and round off your nuts [ and we don't want our nuts damaged now do we ?]
Allen keys can be a bugger so try and take the T handle kind .
Screw driver , take the best quality only ! See if you can find one of those with a blade that fits inside the handle and has two ends ,one Phillips and one flat blade .
Sockets , take only the ones that you need .Shorten the ratchet handle -you can always slip a plug spanner on the end to give you more leverage .
Something that nobody ever mentions , a hammer [ feel free to shorten the handle ].
Vise or Mole grips , good for lots of things ,can be used as gear levers and even a vice at times .
Leatherman, never leave home without it ,get one of the big ones Supertool ,Core ,Surge .They are the best by far .

Obviously you'll need a chain breaker ,master links ,half links and a short piece to use for repairs if you don't carry a spare chain .
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  #12  
Old 4 Aug 2006
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Learn how to use a small multimeter , I avoided it for years .But now I can diagnose knackered coils , buggered up rotors , check if the system is charging ,continuity of wires etc etc .
All manner of amazing things , but it won't brew tea though - pity !
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  #13  
Old 4 Aug 2006
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If you have a KLR or other dual sport you can use a PVC pipe to hold tools
under bash plate up front under the pipe. Works on KLR's OK.

Here are a few things I carry. I customize every tool kit to fit the bike I'm on.
NOT shown....and critical...are a bag of spare bits...nuts and bolts, OEM
items that are common, washers, O rings, rubber bits, springs and anything
else that seems useful. All this fits easily under the seat on my Vstrom.
Plus the not shown spare nut/bolt kit. Also include Instant Aluminium.
A MUST HAVE.

Notice 1/4" drive SnapON rachet set, and racheting open/box end wrenches.
Also, I carry three kinds of tape wrapped onto tool handles. On Vstrom, no
tire irons. Patch kit is for tubeless only. Funny gadget is electric pump, powered from battery. Also shown is GripGlue and Super Glue.

Some bikes need a full sized 3/8" drive socket set, depends. There is some
redundancy here, always fine tuning mind you. This set up has been evolving
for about 20 years or so. I also carry rags, WD40 and Gear oil for chain, electrical kit, tow rope, first aid kit. All hidden in bikes fairings, front and rear.

Best,
Patrick




Last edited by mollydog; 4 Aug 2006 at 06:53.
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  #14  
Old 4 Aug 2006
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A note on combination spanners...

Avoid the 12 point ones if you can. They are prone to slipping and chewing heads off bolts unless the head is in good condition and not siezed. 6 point sockets are best followed by 6 point combo spanners..

Open end spanners are less likely to slip than 12 point combo spanners.
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India 2012
Yukon 2012
S.E Asia 2014
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  #15  
Old 4 Aug 2006
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I think the only decent tool you need is a ring spanner for the rear axle nut. You use it very often (with force) and a good quality one will fit properly and not round off the axle nut.

I carry the 1/4" drive ratchet and 10/12 mm sockets from the Halfords range. It's not great quality, but you never have to use lots of force with those sizes. And it makes life much easier, and they are small/light/cheap.

Tools are hideously expensive in the UK. Facom tools are cheaper in France than here, and they're much better quality than the Halfords stuff. Worth finding if you happen to be over there. Maybe elsewhere in Europe tools are cheaper?

I find it easier to start with the bare minimum and discover what you need to add as you do the maintenance. It's much easier to source a new tool rather than leave a tool behind even if you've never used it, mentally.
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