Harbor Freight Tire Changer

WHY?   Convenience.  This Rhino is used for working on my small ranch in Central Texas, and it labors alongside a Yamaha Bruin 350 and a Kawasaki Bayou 250.  With three machines running through rocky, mesquite-infested terrain I find that I spend quite a bit of time changing and/or repairing tires.  I've got nothing against paying a dealer to do the job, but the closest one is almost 100 miles away and it's a real hassle to tote a wheel/tire assembly that far for repairs.  I'm an old fossil, and I remember spending many hours repairing tires at my father's gas station/garage (remember them?).  When I first started the shop was using an old manual tire changer; it wasn't very high-tech, but it got the job done.  One day I was browsing a sale ad at Harbor Freight and spotted a similar unit and wondered if it might work well for ATV/UTV tires.  This particular changer was on sale for $49 so I decided to give it a try and placed the order.  Here's the picture that was featured:

SERVICE. Excellent.  I received a confirmation email immediately after ordering.  The tool was apparently in stock, as I received a shipping confirmation with a tracking number a couple of days later.  The package arrived at my door within a week of placing the order--not bad service considering it had to travel half-way across the country.  It arrived in the original factory packaging, with all hardware and instructions included.  This Chinese-made import looked to be well constructed and simply designed; the paint job was a strange sickly shade of red with the ever-present lawyer warning stickers aboard.

ASSEMBLY. Easily done by the average home mechanic; if you can't assemble this thing you've got no business trying to use it anyway.  The pieces fall together with two hinge pins and four bolts, and the assembly instructions are very good for an imported product.  The job took me no more than ten minutes.  The instructions suggest using lag bolts to anchor the changer to a concrete floor; this seemed a bit strange for a tool that was advertised as being portable.  After I completed the assembly I decided to try to mount/dismount a tire with the changer sitting on the barn floor.  The process went well enough, but it was obvious that the changer needed to be more secure so I bolted it to a piece of 3/4" plywood that I had sitting around.

RESULTS.  Works like a charm.  The product instructions for use were very clear, but once underway my 40-year memories kicked in and I found myself breaking down tires with ease.  Breaking the bead on ATV/UTV tires can be tricky, but this machine handled them with ease.  Use of some kind of lubricant makes the job go more smoothly (I used Simple Green and it worked like a champ).  It took me about 10 minutes to break down and remove the first tire, but the next three were dispatched in under 5 minutes each.  Mounting the new tire can be more tricky, as setting the bead can be a three-handed job and a hands-free air chuck is a real help.  Still, given it's simplicity this machine works really well!

WORTH THE MONEY? Absolutely.  This unit works great on ATV/UTV tires, as well as vehicle and trailer tires.  It's rugged but simple, and does exactly what it was designed to do--what more can you ask of a tool?  At $49 it's an incredible bargain and one that should be in the garage of any serious enthusiast.