Lotus Elan

Tire mounting at home

PostPost by: Brad B » Sun Feb 23, 2020 2:19 pm

I now live in a very remote part of Oregon. It’s a days drive to anyone who has familiarity with classic European cars, so I’m considering buying or making my own basic tire install/ removal tools. Is anyone doing this at home? What tools are you using?
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PostPost by: elanfan1 » Sun Feb 23, 2020 2:29 pm

Potentially quite dangerous you don’t I assume have the skills or training. Good chance you’ll damage your tyres or rims too.
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PostPost by: Brad B » Sun Feb 23, 2020 3:05 pm

Hi Steve, I completely understand your concern. When I was in tenth grade, 1966, a course in auto mechanics was very common and we fifteen year olds were taught to install, remove and balance tires for large US cars. In the sixties I knew many adult enthusiasts that routinely mounted tires at home for there VW’s, MG’s and so on. Loads and forces for Elan wheels and tires are comparatively low. But your perfectly correct, proper method and tools are essential to safety. My motivation is exactly that I don’t trust rural small town professionals to NOT damage my delicate wheels.
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PostPost by: StressCraxx » Sun Feb 23, 2020 3:06 pm

I have a "Hazard Fraught"(Harbor Freight) manual tire changer. I use them to change tires on my Crossle Formula Ford. If you have the original steel wheels it will work fine. If you have alloy wheels, it's very easy to scratch the rims when you run the bar around to remove the tire bead. You will need a good sized air compressor to inflate and set the beads.

The other part is balancing. I have a static bubble balancer which is fine on race tires. The HF one is not sensitive enough to get a good balance on our light wheels and tires.

Most important, wear safety glasses or a face shield.
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PostPost by: Brad B » Sun Feb 23, 2020 3:25 pm

Thanks StressCraxx, it’s good to know the HF tools work OK for this. I buy from them as often as the next guy, and always expect tool failure as a possible event.
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PostPost by: StressCraxx » Sun Feb 23, 2020 3:48 pm

If you get one, mount the tire changer to concrete or asphalt. I drilled holes in concrete, set threaded epoxy anchors in the holes and bolted the changer to them. Bolts are removeable and I use plastic plugs to keep the dirt out when the changer is put away.
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PostPost by: Davidb » Sun Feb 23, 2020 4:10 pm

To install the tire all you need is a hard rubber mallet. And compressed air of course. Hold the tire vertically with your left hand and the wheel with inflator hole towards the tire with your right. You jam the rim into the tire with a chopping motion to start it and then use the mallet to work the bead in around the lip.
To take them off when I don't have any equipment I have used a length of wood a few feet long-a 2x4 on edge works-with another short piece of wood to press on the tire bead. Place the wheel/tire on the ground behind a vehicle with a tow hitch, place the short piece of wood vertically on the tire bead and use the long piece as a lever with the end under the tow hitch-work your way around the tire. Then you need tire levers...
Last edited by Davidb on Sun Feb 23, 2020 4:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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PostPost by: Brad B » Sun Feb 23, 2020 4:21 pm

Thanks everyone. I was hoping for a range of ideas, and here it is. If more people have other experience I’d still like input, even though this is enough for me to proceed. I suspect there’s other Elan owners in my position.
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PostPost by: mbell » Sun Feb 23, 2020 4:57 pm

You can break the bead using a small piece of angle iron and big hammer. Probably a bit risky for elan wheels thou.

Once helped a mobile tire fitter change truck(18 wheeler) tires. Angle iron and Sledge hammer was used to break bead, big tire levers to get the tire over the rim. Big hammer to get new tire in rim and compressed air container with funnel to seat the tire.

He often used a balancing powder to balance them.
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PostPost by: prezoom » Sun Feb 23, 2020 5:03 pm

Another choice if you do not want the bulk of a mounted tire changer would be a good set of tire spoons. The tires you would be mounting on your Elan are not like racing tires, which have very stiff side walls, making them much more supple, and easier to mount. A little lube and some patience goes a long way is slipping the bead over the edge of the rim. A much smaller bead breaker makes dismounting easier and less jumping up and down or beating the old tire with a hammer to get started. I don't think I would try this method with one of the Plus2 alloy wheels though.
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PostPost by: tesprit » Sun Feb 23, 2020 5:39 pm

Another option is to purchase a used tire changer and spin balancer from an auto repair shop or tire store that is updating their equipment to handle the wide, large diameter alloy wheels with low profile or run flat tires that are so prevalent on modern vehicles. These older machines work great on the steel or alloy wheels we have on our old cars and they are professional quality tools so they are safe for the wheels and operator. They can usually be purchased for pennies on the dollar because they are just taking up room in these shops while the new machines get all the use. Check around at your local tire stores or at older auto repair shops, especially the ones that are going out of business and watching Craigs List ads works well too. Just be careful when buying these machines to make sure they still work correctly and they take a power supply you have. A lot of them are set up for commercial triple phase 240V AC but there are plenty that work with residential single phase AC or compressed air with no electricity at all. I bought my Hunter touchless tire changer and spin balancer inexpensively this way and have been able to mount and balance the tires for all my cars including my daily drivers for the last 20 years.

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PostPost by: Citromike » Sun Feb 23, 2020 9:37 pm

I have a number of Citroen 2CVs in addition to 2 Lotuses, and we have often changed the 2CV tires because the wheels have only 3 bolts and no center hole. Many but not all changers require a center hole in the rim.

You can break the currently-mounted tire loose from the bead by simply laying the rim/tire on the driveway on its side, then driving over it the tire (not the rim) with the front tire of another car. It helps if you have a spotter (or a Jeep with no door).

The other suggestions are reasonable - tire levers with carefully smoothed edges and long handles work for me.

Also you might spend an hour on YouTube - it's entertaining and enlightening to see the "home remedy" tire mounting methods that people film!

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PostPost by: h20hamelan » Sun Feb 23, 2020 10:04 pm

Citromike wrote:Also you might spend an hour on YouTube - it's entertaining and enlightening to see the "home remedy" tire mounting methods that people film!

Mike



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PostPost by: baileyman » Mon Feb 24, 2020 7:01 pm

My dad made a curved block of wood (three stocked 2x6s I think) in a radius to fit next to the bead, then lowered a car onto it, and it pushed the bead off the rim nicely. John
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