Need a spe­cialised tool? Then why not make it your­self?

Classic Motorcycle Mechanics - - CONTENTS -

Scoop shows how to make spe­cial­ists tools.

Any bike shop wor­thy of the name that runs a work­shop will have spe­cial­ist tools that its staff use when they work on a bike. Many will be on a board from the man­u­fac­turer de­signed to carry out spe­cific jobs. These may or may not nec­es­sar­ily be strictly re­quired; af­ter all how many per­mu­ta­tions of steer­ing head bear­ing in­ser­tion tools can there ac­tu­ally be? By default there are a very fi­nite num­ber of sizes. Other spe­cial­ist tools are likely to be vi­able for any mo­tor­cy­cle; chain riv­eter, bear­ing puller, spring hook etc. We, the home fet­tlers, nor­mally get by or bor­row the tools we only need oc­ca­sion­ally. How­ever, there are some tasks where you sim­ply can­not wing it and none of your mates has the ap­pro­pri­ate tool. In which case you’re either go­ing to be surf­ing the web look­ing for a de­vice no one has sold for sev­eral decades or you’ll be mak­ing the tool your­self. Some are for­tu­nate to have ac­cess to a lathe or weld­ing gear but if not most know some­one who has one or both. Their time and equip­ment al­lied to your need and in­ge­nu­ity can of­ten de­liver sur­pris­ingly good spe­cial­ist tools that are just oc­ca­sion­ally needed for very spe­cific tasks. What fol­lows is an over­view of odd and sods I’ve fab­ri­cated, some­times with help from mates with lathes. They’re not the best look­ing of tools but they are more than up to do­ing the spe­cific tasks they were made for.

I can now com­mis­sion the new paint­work know­ing I won’t gouge or grind away the fresh candy green when it all goes back to­gether again. From find­ing the old box span­ner to re­mov­ing the oil level win­dow re­tain­ing nut has taken around three hours and that in­cludes shoot­ing the pic­tures. With­out the cam­era get­ting in the way this is re­ally only a two hour job and, in my mind at least, it’s time well spent. I have a pur­pose-made tool I can use on ab­so­lutely any Yamaha two-stroke prior to 1972 and in my slightly sad world that’s a fair pro­por­tion of the bikes that come through my work­shop. Spe­cial­ist tools don’t need to cost the earth if you can make them and they don’t need to look flashy either. Func­tional and ef­fec­tive wins the day ev­ery time for me.

11/ Ef­fec­tive if bru­tal treat­ment of a socket: the front shoul­der has been cham­fered suf­fi­ciently to en­able the re­moval of a Yamaha XS650 drain plug with­out snag­ging on sur­round­ing cast­ings. It ought to be weak­ened yet it does the job.

13Some more pre­cise cut­ting evens up the lands be­tween the driv­ing lugs ready for the next stage. 12/ Us­ing a fer­rous spe­cific grind stone the inner faces of the box span­ner are ground away in stages to pro­duce a cham­fer that will al­low the tool to fit over the bev­elled edge of the oil level win­dow nut. Note the vac­uum cleaner noz­zle left; this is a messy job even if it’s only small. 13/ Us­ing a less abra­sive stone all the burrs and sharp edges are smoothed off. The same stone is also used to make the fi­nal tweaks to driv­ing lugs en­sur­ing the best fit pos­si­ble.

109/ Now it’s time to en­hance the scribed line with a few pre­cise passes of the cut­ting disc. Care needs to be taken not to weaken what will be the driv­ing lugs. 10/ Three cut­ting discs later and a con­trolled ses­sion of pliers-spon­sored butch­ery sees the ba­sic shape of the tool very ap­prox­i­mately roughed out.


1514/ Af­ter some more fet­tling the tool fits; it may not be per­fect but it should do the job. Cru­cially the driv­ing lugs are short enough not to touch the paint­work be­low the re­tain­ing nut. 15/ Proof of con­cept de­liv­ered, the nut has come off with­out is­sue and the paint’s not been dam­aged… what a re­sult!


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