I recently had to do my first fork overhaul, and there was a step in the overhaul procedure where I found myself having to use an impact wrench. Though I’ve enjoyed the few times I’d used air tools in doing my own maintenance, I usually didn’t take the time to fire up my air compressor and opted for using hand tools or, occasionally, electric power tools.
If I hadn’t had an air compressor (I had just bought a new, 8-gallon, 1.5-horsepower unit, pictured above), I don’t know if I could have gotten the bottom bolts out of the lower fork tube. I tried using a breaker bar and an air ratchet, but the bolts wouldn’t budge without the hammers in the impact gun vibrating them loose. There are electric impact guns, but I don’t own one since I’ve had a compressor to run a pneumatic impact gun since I started doing my own maintenance in 2009.
Needing to use an impacting tool of some kind got me thinking about how much other DIY motorcycle maintenance enthusiasts use air tools when working on their motorcycles. Some air tools, like the air ratchet, seem like convenience tools that a pro mechanic may use to save some physical effort, but other air tools – impact guns, die grinders, sanders and more – may make maintenance or repair tasks faster and easier. I’d imagine this is especially true for vintage enthusiasts who may be working on their machines often or have to fine a way to get not-exact-replacement parts or accessories to fit their bikes.
So, how often do you, the reader, use air tools in your home garage or workshop?
Email me at email@example.com and I’ll post responses once I’ve received a few of them.