Nicholas Fluhart

December 13, 2009

Manual Tire Changer

Filed under: Day to Day — Nicholas Fluhart @ 10:19 pm

One piece of equipment that has been particularly useful in my line of work is a manual tire machine my father purchased on sale at Harbor Freight Tools for $39.99, regularly sold for anywhere between $50 to $80. The machine has to be bolted to concrete and when I moved to my current location a few years back, I couldn’t find a suitable place to permanently mount it. Most places outside my shop are gravel, and there really isn’t room to put it inside the shop permanently. I had a lot of tires and rims to deal with so I needed to do some thinking. If I could install it inside the shop in a way that would allow me to uninstall it when not in use, that would do the trick.

Before Installation

So what could I do? I could use standard concrete anchors to bolt the machine to the floor and then unbolt it when not in use, but that would leave permanent 3 inch studs sticking up out of the floor that could damage a tire on a vehicle or perhaps cause someone to trip and kill themselves. So after doing some research online to see what my other concrete fastener options were, I found these drop-in anchors, much like the standard type except they are female which means the anchors will be flush with the floor, solving the deadly obstacle problem.  Once I’m adequately convinced this is the best solution, it’s time for installation.

Step One: Find a suitable location to mount the machine, make measurements, and mark the floor. The location I chose is at the back of the shop in front of the rear doors. There is plenty of room to work the mechanism and most of the tires and wheels I’ll be dealing with are located behind the shop. Once I found the location, I measured the bolt pattern and marked the floor with a center punch in preparation for drilling.

Measuring and Marking the Floor

Step Two: Bring out the hammer drill. Now if you’ve ever drilled through solid concrete, you know a standard drill with a hammer setting will not work. I even have a 3/4 inch drive drill with a hammer setting, and while it will drill through blocks, it will not handle concrete. For concrete I break out the sure enough concrete hammer.

Becoming enthralled with the hammer drill.

Since I will be using 3/8 inch drop-in anchors, I will be drilling the holes at 1/2 inch diameter. The hammer drill makes short work of the concrete. I set the depth guide to the length of the anchor and punch the holes.

Punching the Holes

Step Three: Clean the residual dust and install the drop-in anchors. I simply drop the anchor in the hole and use a drift punch to drive down the expansion center. There is actually an installation tool available, but I found a drift punch to be as effective. Once it’s driven to the bottom, the anchor is adequately expanded in the concrete and will never come out. Check out the video here for detailed installation procedures.

Using my shop vac to clean the bore.

Once the hole is adequately cleaned of dust and debris, I’m able to easily drop the drop-in anchor into the floor.

The drop-in Anchor.

It drops straight into the hole and is flush with the surface of the floor. You can see the center that has to be driven down to expand the anchor in order for it to permanently reside in the shop floor.

Anchor in the floor.

Rather than purchase the $5 installation tool, I use a punch I had in the shop.

Setting the anchor.

And that’s it for the anchors. As seen below it is ready to receive a bolt and can withstand 4,400 lbs of pullout force.

Bolt threaded into anchor.

Step Four: Install the tire changer and test it out.

Installing the tire changer.

I decided to test it with a Super Swamper because they are known to be difficult.

Using the bead breaker.

Ready for dismount.

The project was a success. Now it’s on to the final step.

Step Five: Removal. Once I’m finished using the machine, I need to get it out of the middle of the floor. I simply unbolt it and move it out of the way.

Removing the tire changer.

Now here’s the greatest part: Once the machine is removed there are no obstructions in the walk way. The anchors set flush with the shop floor. I install Allen-head plugs into the anchors to keep them clean of dirt and debris.

Installing the plugs.

…and that’s it. Another mini project completed. Now I just have to do the back breaking work of busting tires. I’ve probably got about 30 sets I need to deal with. Fortunately I don’t have to do them all right now, so I’ll have one of my shop guys do a set here and there as we get time.

Until next time…


  1. Thanks for the info. I have been looking for one of these HF tire changers and I found one at a garage sale used just once and only wanted $5. I was looking how to mount it in my garage but I too wanted to be able to remove it and not have “stumbling blocks” sticking up. Thanks for the idea. The HF manual states to use 7/16 bolts. Do the 3/8″ bolts seem to be holding up well? Thanks.

    Comment by JD Waldenmajer — October 8, 2010 @ 9:54 pm | Reply

    • You got a great deal at $5. Yeah, the 3/8 bolts have worked well, and I’ve really pulled on this thing. Mine may be an older model as it called for 3/8, which is also the size of the bolts that hold the base together. 7/16 would be even better if you can use them, but they wouldn’t fit through the mounting holes on mine. This little changer has paid for itself time and time again. Hope it works out well for you!

      Comment by nfluhart — October 9, 2010 @ 12:31 pm | Reply

  2. Excellent write up! My exact idea played out before I even start drilling, thanks.

    Comment by Nelly Mel — April 23, 2015 @ 7:08 pm | Reply

  3. Thanks for taking the time and trouble to share this. It’s exactly what I’m getting ready to do myself. You saved me some trial and error.

    Comment by JBasham — March 30, 2018 @ 10:31 am | Reply

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