Monday, April 11, 2011

A waste of time

Do you have some of those "wheel locks" on your wheels that have a serrated set of teeth on the outside that a "key" fits over to allow you to remove the wheel? Guess what: Those things are nothing but a waste of time. They certainly won't stop anybody from removing the wheel if they have access to tools. I know, because I just did it.

So I go to rotate my tires, head into the console to get the wheel key, and... err... no key. And no idea where it went. I cleaned the car out so I know it's nowhere on the floor of the car, but it's not in the glove compartment, console, nor in the coin cup, the map pocket, or the door pockets.

What next? Well... first I tried hammering a 16mm socket onto the head of one of these things. It went on okay, but didn't bite deep enough and stripped out. So next thing I did was hammer a 5/8" socket onto the head of one of these things and... success. Removed it like it was intended to come off that way. Getting the 5/8" socket off the "wheel lock" took a large bench vise and two large prybars, but if I were intent on stealing the wheels I would have just brought a handful of 5/8" sockets with me... not that anybody is going to steal rusty steel wheels in a size that fits almost no vehicles anyhow, sheesh!

So anyhow, now I've replaced these so-called "wheel locks" with lug nuts from my stash of random junk (what, you don't have a stock of random stuff like lug nuts, tie rod ends, and so forth? Sheesh, next thing you tell me is that you don't even have a torque wrench!). So I'm good to go tomorrow on rotating my tires. But sheesh, what a PITA.

-- Badtux the Wrenchin' Penguin


  1. They don't need a bunch of 5/8" sockets, they just need a tire iron, which they'll use to break out your window to get the special "key" out of your glovebox.

    Either way, they're taking the wheels. Now we're just determining how much additional damage will be done along the way.

    And while I don't have spare lug nuts or tie rods lying around, I *do* have a torque wrench and could probably disparage your parts stash for not having a spare 177cc barrel and head or 20mm carb lying around. ;-)

  2. I have a couple of claw hammers, random screw drivers and pliers, and two socket sets, one of which is metric.

    But I have a nice trombone collection.


  3. No, I don't have such a stash of auto parts. But my father's brother used to call me a "lug nut" when I had done something particularly stupid. I have a feeling he was being polite for my mother's sake.

    The companion ripoff market is in devices to secure a bicycle. There are a lot of 'em out there, most of which are five minutes work for a serious thief, but I've never found one to beat my old chain that could probably be used to tow the Queen Mary, with a comparably-sized lock. (Damn, the thing is heavy to carry!) Several thieves over the years have made visible attempts on it; none have succeeded.

    These days, of course, I could no more ride a bicycle than I could, um, tow the Queen Mary. But I still have the bicycle, so I guess the chain retired undefeated.

  4. Chandler, it's a Jeep. They don't need a tire iron, they just need to unzip the window :). Which just emphasizes how pointless the "wheel locks" were in the first place. When I picked the thing up at the tire place and saw those things on my wheels, I was, like, "What's those?" And the dude shrugged, "they were in the set of lug nuts that came with the wheels." Whatevah. And BTW, my parts stash has some things equally obscure in it albeit not for 177cc motorcycles(!), but I have limited space here so they're in storage. (I did come across a set of spider gears for a Dana 30 differential while looking for that damned key in my garage though! ;).

    Jazz, I bet I have more penny whistles than you have trombones p). (Of course, the fact that penny whistles cost pennies and you can fit a dozen of them in a large cup makes that a somewhat unfair comparison, heh!).

    Steve, common padlocks are so easy to defeat I don't know why they bother selling the damned things. They're pointless. A smack with a BFH and a cold chisel will turn most of'em into a useless heap of random parts, the ones that a moment's work with common chain cutters won't just snip right through in the first place. As for your boat anchor chain, yeah, I thought about buying something that to secure my motorcycle, but upon further thought simply moved somewhere that I had a private garage.

  5. Let's not forget the Power of the Pen, specifically the cheap Bic Pen, when tackling the supposedly-invulnerable Kryptonite lock.

    Easier, quieter, lighter and less likely to get you arrested for "Possession of Burlgary Tools" than a cold chisel & hammer.

    I'll let someone else google up the video of the guys "stealing" their bike in the middle of a crowded Manhattan intersection where the cops offer advice on how to break the lock.

  6. I hope that was a Sears Craftman 5/8" socket...

  7. Why... yes! But I do intend to replace it anyhow, this was a lot of abuse of that poor socket, especially prying it off the lug nut afterwards.

  8. Badtux, this lock is the one... I can't remember the brand... that will supposedly survive being shot by a rather large gun at close range. (I don't want to know what happened to the first person to try that.)

    When I bought the whole assembly at the same time I bought a bike, the proprietor of the shop said that if you do most of your bike parking on a public bike rack, your object in choosing a lock and chain is to make your bike just sufficiently more difficult to steal that a thief will pursue lower-hanging fruit. Over the years I've seen so many of those cheap chains cut from racks that I wonder why it is still legal to sell them. But as I said, this rather more hefty chain (damn, it's a pain to carry!) and lock are now retired undefeated, so my purpose was served.

  9. Chandler, yeppers. Not only those "Kryptonite" locks, but also vending machines, coin washers, and others. All hail the power of the mighty BIC!

    So why did they use those circular keys, anyhow? Answer: Durability. They're hard to clog up with dirt and grit, which happens to be common in the Great Outdoors, and it's pretty much impossible to break them. The replacement locks are standard cylinder locks, and I've already broken off the key in one. Bummer!

  10. Steve, shooting the center of a padlock virtually never will cause it to fail, because the actual workings are on the sides of the lock. All that's in the center is the cylinder, which has the ramps that push the release cogs that allow the padlock to pop open. No cylinder, no ramps, but the release cogs stay engaged. Well, until you reach into the remnants of the padlock with a suitable implement and manually release the cogs, that is ;).

    In other words, the commercial was both accurate and bogus. Accurate in that yes, a padlock -- *ANY* padlock -- won't pop open just 'cause you opened up a gaping hole thru its middle with a steel-jacketed bullet. But bogus because once you *do* have said gaping hole, it's easy enough to reach in with a hooked tool and manually pop the locking cogs to get it open.

  11. Torque wrench? We don't need no stinking torque wrench.. True story.. I once helped my brother (professional mechanic & a good one at that) repair a merc outboard on the boat.. had to remove two head bolts to get at whatever we needed to get at & when I was putting them back on, he said "Wait while I get a torque wrench". While he was gone, I torqued the bolts.. He came back spitting fire cause I hadn't waited, but when he checked the bolts, they were both correct.. How hard is it to divide foot pounds by the length of the wrench in feet & pull to that 'weight' by feel..

    and living on-the-road effectively meant I had to get rid of my precious collection of spare parts, boo, hoo..

    However, I can rebuild an engine out of three canvas tool bags.. have, in fact, but a torque wrench is not 'weighting' me down.. while a pair of bolt cutters are.. ;-)

  12. You're rare, then. In a study of professional mechanics, when asked to torque a bolt "by feel", the vast majority of them overtorqued small bolts and undertorqued large bolts.These were people who tightened these bolts to the correct torque every day and presumably would know what it "felt" like to torque them "right". I assume this means they torqued mid-sized bolts "just right", but the point is that for small and large bolts in particular, "by feel" is harder than it looks.

    Personally, I use a torque wrench. If I torque my lug nuts to 100 ft/lbs, I know they're not coming off, and more importantly, I know my *studs* aren't coming off. Wheels coming off because of overstretched hub studs snapping is *not* a rare phenomenon, alas. Even happened to someone I wheel with -- his wheel just snapped right off, 30 miles from the nearest pavement, while he was heading up a slope to get out of a canyon, we had to drag him out with a winch. Which is why I make sure any tire shop that I frequent uses a torque wrench rather than an air impact wrench to do the final tightening of my lugs... and why I personally use a torque wrench on anything important that I'm tightening whenever it's feasible to do so. (Sometimes it's not, due to clearance issues... but you do what you can in that situation, cross your fingers, and hope, and some lok-tite is always warranted there too :).

    - Badtux the Wrenchin' Penguin


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