A Do-It-Yourself Manual Tire Changer

If you live in a remote area without ready access to a professional auto shop, make this manual tire changer and you'll be able to swap out punctured or damaged tires yourself.

  • manual tire changer - breaking the bead
    To break the bead, place the breaker shoe so that it sits next to the tire's rim and simply press-down assembly while "walking" the tool around the rim.
  • manual tire changer - positioning the beading tool
    The manual tire changer is ready to go. Here the user positions the beading tool.
    Photo by MOTHER EARTH NEWS Staff

  • manual tire changer - breaking the bead
  • manual tire changer - positioning the beading tool

To many folks, changing the tires on a vehicle means a biannual trip to the local shop to swap snow treads for some summer tires, and perhaps a jaunt or two to pick up a newly patched flat. However, as anyone living in a rural area can attest, changing punctured tires (say on that old workhorse pickup) can be a time-consuming chore when the nearest service station is a considerable distance away.

One summer, having spent what seemed an inordinate amount of time (and gas money) toting tattered tires to town and back, I vowed to eliminate this unnecessary expense and came up with the idea of building a manual tire changer. My homemade tool — which is fashioned after the machine-shop models, with a few minor alterations incorporated into the design — has proved to be just the ticket for my tire-changing needs. And I'll wager that it would come in handy for other country folks, as well.

What You'll Need

To construct the tire changer, you'll need some fundamental metalworking skills (including knowledge of welding, torch work, and basic fabricating) and the following tools: a drill with 3/8", 27/64", 1/2", and 5/8" highspeed bits, an oxyacetylene torch, a welder, a grinder, a 1/2"-13 tap, a tape measure, a hammer, and a pipe wrench (for leverage). And, although they're not necessary, an assortment of hole saws and a metal-cutting band saw will make your job easier.

Most of the tire changer's components can probably be fashioned from odds and ends around your shop, or (of course) you can buy the materials from a local scrapyard or steel supplier. Even though I purchased much of my metal from a welding shop, my tally for the tool came to just under $30; your total, even if you bought all of the material new, shouldn't come to much more than that. Furthermore, my device paid for itself in convenience in its first few uses, and your tool could even provide you with a bit of extra cash (or barter credit) if you offered its services to friends and neighbors. (A word of caution here, though: Don't try to change any fancy-rimmed tires until you're certain of your skill!)

Metalworking Master

As you can see from my Assembly Diagram and List of Materials, I made my tire changer by cutting, bending, bolting, and/or welding various sizes of Schedule 40 pipe, steel plate, and flat stock. The main assembly consists of:

  • a 1/4" x 18"-diameter baseplate
  • a 1 1/2" x  40 3/4" Schedule 40 pipe stanchion
  • three 1/8" x 2" x 2" x 14" angle iron braces
  • a tire rest
  • a mount-and-socket lug-pin apparatus.

The "accessories" for the tire changer include:

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