Saturday, January 17, 2009

Nichols Manufacturing Top-Triple Clamp Tool: You Can't Afford to Not Have One

I am a cheap-ass mo-fo, I'm not afraid to admit it. But I'm not truly  cheap. There's stuff I spend money on, but it's not the right stuff. I won't buy Johnnie Walker Red Label, for instance. Only Black will do. But when it comes to automotive tools, I have an ugly assortment of bargain-briced Kragen sockets, wrenches and other crap. 

Which works for most things, but when it comes to taking the steering-head nut off the top triple clamp of my Ducati (this is the later-model nut that is on most Ducatis built after 1999...it's lightweight aluminum with holes drilled all around the edge and requires a special tool to remove/replace) there is nothing I can improvise to remove it. My biggest, rustiest vise-grips won't fit it, and using a pair of drywall screws as leverage points for a breaker bar was successful in removing it, but not without some collateral damage. Also, there's no way to set the proper torque spec, as the screws bend. Do not, under any circumstances, let me work on your motor vehicle, no matter how smart I sound.

What to do? Ducati dealers won't sell you that special tool, and if they did it would probably be the same price as a new Ducati. I went to see Mike at SF Moto to see if he had any ideas. He did not, other than to call Desmoto Sport, who told me to call Nichols Manufacturing, which I did.

On the line with Nichols, they told me they did have a tool, for $40. $40! shrieked my internal cheapskate. I sucked it up, telling my cheap-o side that it didn't have a choice, and I would drink some scotch to make up for it. 

I was expecting a cheesy, stamped-metal made-in-China crude-but-effective thing for $40, but I was very wrong. What I got was something that is worth $40 even if you just want to drill a hole in it and wear it as a medallion. Solid billet aluminum, with stainless-steel pins and nice powder coating. "Nichols Mfg." and the phone number is even etched into the top of the tool. A very nice item.

I'll rent it to you for $10!


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