Bought an inexpensive manual tire machine.

First-yes itís a harbor freight item-yes its imported, this one is from Vietnam. I was not surprised or expected anything by spending $35 for a tire changing machine. I mean seriously. However I have 3 tires to change out. One 35" is ancient and is getting thrown away, it was the spare on jeep on a steel wheel. One a 33" is 9 years old but going back on 500# off road trailer, but on aluminum wheel thatís going on jeeps spare, other is a 'new' yet 9 year old 35" tire, has a large boot thatís becoming jeep spare. So itís dismounting jeep spare, & trailer tire. throw jeep spare away-mount trailer tire on it and install on trailer-. Take the aluminum wheel mount 'new' tire and install on jeep as spare. Because of age no one wants to touch any of them. I dismounted the trailer wheel by hand. Just a pain. Saw the Harbor Freight unit and decided to try it. Has to be easier. If it doesnít work-well back to the hi-lift under the truck hitch.

Iím not here to sell these. Itís a cheap manual changer, period. Hopefully it will break the beads without the drama and less hazard. Removing tire should be easier and mounting. as tire will be off the ground, and thatís what its designed to do verses a hi-lift and couple of crow bars. I read a lot of reviews-watched a lot of YouTube videos. Yup there junk-most get some use. Apparently a lot bend from the exerted pressure of breaking the bead. Depending on tire. I didnít find sizes so really didnít know if I could even use. Packaging says 12.5L16 max-fine-what diameter?

Couple of pre conclusions- and post conclusions, one is it has to be mounted to something so be prepared, many do mount to concrete as recommended-some to pallets or what have you. I mounted to some 2x4s to see if it worked. I may later pour a small concrete base to bolt it to. Get a second tire iron or spoon- 24" general purpose one that HB sells works well for six bucks. You will need and use it

Mostly though is after using is I recommend not even using the tire mount/demount bar as bead breaker handle- You need it to remove & install the tire-if you bend it (likely) using as bead breaker handle your screwed. Get a 3' piece of 1" sch 40 pipe- drill a hole thru it so it protrudes past pin. The bar WILL bend where it exits the bead breaker handle-the bead breaker will bend at the pin hole. Inserting pipe instead of supplied bar will help prevent both. USE LOTS OF SOAPY WATER- if you have a really stuck bead-keep rotating tire- keep wetting--. The base itself will pull if you use too much pressure. Shown below

Ok with that out of the way-and Iíll probably repeat-this is my use install, and fixes I did after using. I will say this even though its junk-it did what I wanted, It just happens to be made of fairly light material for working with large 33" up off road tires. This link is to HB manual-pdf file that describes unit. should open in separate window Harbor Freight portable tire changer

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Showing the 'spider'. Itís just a ring with 4 pieces of flat bat on edge that slides over center post once wheel is set on top for removing/installing tire. Outer center post (cap) screws down clamping wheel. Pin goes thru lug hole for antirotaion. Functional, universal but Spider would just eat the wheel, even the painted steel wheel. As Iím using on a painted aluminum wheel I decided to not use the included "spider clamp".

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Already assembled. For mounting temporarily I lag screwed to some 2 x4's. 2x6 better. You need to mount to something to keep from tipping over-rotating while using iron. Then I addressed how to secure wheel. I simply drilled the top plate to match my 5 on 5 1/2 bolt pattern, Setting wheel with the supplied anti rotation rod/lug pin inserted thru one lug hole marked 3 holes. Drilled and tapped with 1/2-13 thread. Cut some old all thread. Used 2 nuts on one end (so I could still turn once in lug hole) with some washers that just fit inside lug hole hand thread in plate thru wheel, spin on a backup nut from underneath-all finger tight, This worked really well.
In pic above you can see 2x4 mounting. Also the drilled an tapped holes and bolts used.

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Just a pic showing wheel mounted

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Not sure why another pic, but note when removing and installing tire on wheel you want the valve stem side up. Reason is looking at pic- is the narrower section of rim making it easier to slide tire on/off. Otherwise you'll be working the wider section.

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Somehow downloading pics-none of the bead breaking ones were on camera?. Basically you lay tire down with rim setting on base, adjust breaker shoe so its arms are vertical. Unless you got a piece of pipe insert the supplied tire iron into handle, soap bead, set 'shoe' at rim edge, press down, if it pops spin tire repeat. If it doesnít pop bead, apply soap while applying pressure to breaker, your trying to work the soap into bead. Keep rotating tire, using breaker and soap, May take a while and several tries. Once a section finally breaks the rest will follow easily. A large tire will have a larger bead-and depending on how long itís been mounted can be extremely difficult to breaks bead. Take your time keep moving, soaping. This is where most-myself included try to just bull dog it applying more force and end up bending stuff. Watch the machine if using a lot of force. Back off if you note bending. They really should supply another handle instead of using tire iron.

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Removing tire: WOW I had this one off in a couple of minutes. I think having mounted-off the ground, the center post to lever against-just couldnít believe how easy it was. Going to be hating life when I have to pull a tire out on the trail using whatever to pry it apart. Too easy...

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Stuck second spoon at start to prevent tire from falling back in.

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This was slick...literally just spun tire off with iron.

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Getting the inner bead up a little more effort, mostly getting started because of tire width, but once started it just spun right off. The smaller spoon actually worked better here for me.

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And here is last tire remounted. Ok yes no pics of installing. Watching some of the vids will make clear how it works. Pretty much just like instructions. Set tire (lots of soap) push it down working till inside bead is over rim. Took a little aid from small spoon. Outer bead using the supplied tire iron went fairly easy though.

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Just a pic of iron as instruction arenít clear. When reinstalling last (outer bead) on wheel. The hooked end goes under wheel edge, you push tire so bead is lower than wheel, insert the iron so it hooks wheel edge. As you spin iron around it forces the tire under wheel lip. This worked awesome, on the steel wheel. I was stoked! The aluminum wheel was harder. Because the al wheel is thinker iron kept popping out wouldnít really hook the rim. A lot of restarts & assist from second spoon finally got it. Was a pain. But still way easier than by hand. My only comparison is doing this by hand. Night and day difference though still work. Because tire and wheel are held in the air, the center post for leverage and tools designed for the task verses in the dirt with crowbars screwdrivers. If I ever need to do this on the trail again Iíll find a small stump to work on. Iím also carrying the spoons.

Conclusions- Use lots of soap
get a second small spoon
Donít over apply force-reposition, Use more soap
Use pipe for handle instead of inserting included tire iron, drilling so at min extends past breaker show arm pin.
When bolting together USE some large washers underneath, not supplied, under the base, especially the front- facing breaker handle.

    Reworking/repairing the machine

Breaking beads (mostly), dismounting and remount 2 tires took its toll on the machine. Paid for itself but needs serious attention if I want to use again. Hereís the damage and my repairs/improvements.

Briefly is mounting. IF I were going to be using a lot I wouldnít even use the supplied bent channel base. Id bolt to a large disk and then mount that, or replace with some real channel. But at minimum use something under main front to back channel to stiffen it keep bolts from pulling thru.

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This is how machine reacted to too much force, it just yielded. Metal channel isnít very strong. Bolt stretched top-sides just pulled in-very soft steel.

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How much main post is leaning. Note the bungee cord-trying to position tire for bead breaking, the breaker arm is constantly in the way. Do yourself a favor, either thow it up and hook to lug pin as shown or bungee. Wonít work on new heavier handle so Iíll be adding a latch or something to hold it up.

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Just another pic of how much it bent. I didn't see this while using, only the bending of tire iron using as handle before I switched to pipe.

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New handle made of sch 40 pipe. When I was using machine I just stuck pipe into breaker handle. Which then breaker handle started also bending right at breker shoe arm pin. So I cut new handle to length and drilled so it inserts past pin hole. Should stop the breaker handle from bending. As I sat up to take this pic and realized this was dumb. Instead of cutting and inserting into handle I should have made on piece. Doh. If youíre doing this I would get a 3'-6"' piece of 1-1/4" pipe, match drill the holes-replace the 2 pieces with a single handle. Or a If you need to breakdown for transport or storage it still will, handle will just have breaker shoe on it. Dang it-I may still do, I have some old 1 1/4" pipe laying around. For the moment though I cut another piece of 1" pipe, drill to match pivot side and inserted into other side so that end doesnít collapse. Next time I have welder out Ill join. Or you could use 1" pipe full length, slip inside of existing handle and match drill holes. Save some weight/cheaper. hindsight

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Hereís my layup to stiffen back up bottom channel. Piece of 1" angle drilled to match. Also on the breaker shoe arm small stiffener. Iíve read a lot of folks have these bend. I saw no bending but added a small piece of flat bar. They should have made these arms out of angle instead of flat bar. Insure when using, as thereís a lot of slop that its straight before applying force.

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And here Iíve stitch welded stiffener to back side and the breaker shoe arms stiffener. Also welded the 3 pieces of folded channel together. Should have added a few triangle gussets to angle-next time. Cleaned it up shot some zinc primer-then some rustoleum 'painter touch' apple red-wow looked like same paint.

For my use I want to remove the lug pin rod-least make it removeable. Trying to adjust 80# tire at arms length and adjust pin to go thru lug hole-by your self not easy+ I dont need it. Also the tire iron needs somehow to be captured to hold at an angle especially when reseating bead-would greatly help it from popping out from under rim.

Bottom line is it worked- probably do smaller tires all day. If you have ugly or utility wheels the 'spider' hold down with the pin works otherwise itíll screw-up wheels, a plywood donut under spider might work.. If nothing else machine would make a good pattern to build one-just use real and heavier gage steel. Im seeing a half dozen ways to build one now. But I can now (more easily ) change my own tires. Good luck-

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