Make Your Own Harley Tools

This man may make his own tools.

In the golden age, before electric starters, when every motorcycle needed to be literally stomped into life with a booted, right foot, old school bikers regularly built their own motorcycles, made their own parts and imagined their own tools. Many of these tools were improvised, on the spot, in the middle of unexpectedly difficult repairs to solve some problem. Their manufacture and use became shop lore. Here are three classic examples: the specialty angled wrench; the magnetized screwdriver of exactly the right size; and the “spare tire” club bikers can fold up and carry in their bags. These examples of things men once did are dangerous and are described here for entertainment purposes only.


1. Heat the handle of an appropriately sized combination box/open end wrench with a propane or oxyacetylene torch. Heat the handle about two inches, or an appropriate distance, from the box end. Heat until the spot turns dull red.

2. Put the box end in a vise and bend the wrench 90 degrees. Allow the wrench to cool. Remove it from the vise.

3. Heat a spot on the same wrench about 1/2 inch from the box end until it also glows dull red. Put the hot end in the vise and bend the wrench 90 degrees so that the box end is once again parallel to the wrench handle but offset 1½ inches.

4. Allow the wrench to cool. Remove it from the vise and use it to turn otherwise inaccessible nuts in impossible to reach places on your motorcycle.

5. Remove the seat from your motorcycle by loosening the seat bolt with an Allen wrench and access your motorcycle battery. Disconnect both battery cables.

6. Tightly wrap the exact screwdriver you need magnetized with about two feet of insulated, copper wire. Leave about two inches of wire on each end unwrapped.

7. Strip and straighten each end of the insulated wire. Note the approximate distance between the positive and negative terminals on your motorcycle battery. Arrange the stripped ends of the insulated wire wrapped around the screwdriver so they are about the same distance apart as the terminals on your battery.

8. Put on sunglasses. Put on leather gloves. Wrap the handle of the screwdriver with clean, oil free rags.

9. Touch one end of the wire to the positive battery terminal. Boldly touch the other end of the wire to the negative terminal.

10. Drop the screwdriver when it becomes too hot to hold or when the rags begin to smoke after about five seconds. Allow the screwdriver to cool.

11. Remove the insulated wire. Use the magnetized screw driver to retrieve lost screws and bolts in otherwise inaccessible nooks and crannies of your motorcycle.

12. Crimp two threaded hose fittings with a crimper tool to both ends of a five foot section of rubber air hose. Screw tire nozzles, like the ones in gas stations, to both fittings.

13. Pack the hose in your saddlebags when riding across the Mojave or other relatively unpopulated regions with your friends. Use the hose to siphon air from your friend’s motorcycle tires when you develop a slow leak.