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Harbor Freight Bar Clamps #1: Repairing Them!

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Blog entry by Jim Jakosh posted 373 days ago 2117 reads 1 time favorited 24 comments Add to Favorites Watch
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After a couple conversations with Angie O on Harbor Freight. I decided to fix a couple of the bar clamps I got there that don’t work for some reason. I have them in all sizes up to 48”. One of the 48” clamps popped and would not grab any more when I was trying to pull some warped pieces together to add the screws. I found the failure mode of these clamps is the short plastic lugs that go into each side of the trigger. When they wear far enough and move, the trigger breaks out the opposite one. In this case it broke the handle too. I was going to scrap it but I found that it does not take too much to fix them for good (I hope).

On this one I drilled out the trigger and ones side to 3/8” and the other side to 5/16” then I turned a stepped nylon pin with a 10-24 thread in it and put it through the parts and now the trigger is on a solid axle..

On the other one with the orange trigger, the clamp would hot move forward when squeezed and you could easily slide the clamp back on the bar. What I found is that this small plastic piece had broken away from under the end of the slotted steel bar brake and it rendered it useless.

That little black piece on top should be in the top corner of that inside pocket and it was just floating around in there. I glued it in with 5 minute HF Epoxy ( good stuff)

Here it is with the lug in place and the brake works once again

This lug on the removable handle was well worn and would most likely break next so I drilled out this one and made a steel axle for it.

Here is the clamp back in service with it’s new steel axle.

It was almost as hot as Cooberpeedie, Australia out side so I did some indoor repairs.

I’ll bet some LJ’s have these same problems if they have HF clamps. Now you can fix them too!! I have Irwin bar clamps prefer them over HF

Cheers, Jim

-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!



24 comments so far

View AngieO's profile

AngieO

1134 posts in 744 days


#1 posted 373 days ago

Cool. Glad you got inspired to fix them. Most of the clamps I have are the Irwin’s that you mentioned. I’ve added a few here and there. Some from HF and some from flea markets or auctions. I like the Irwin’s best. I’ve not had the money o pen don a Bessey or anything like that. My HF works ok…. But I haven’t really worked it hard yet. Definitely can tell the difference between them and Irwin though.

All I know for sure is…. I NEED MORE CLAMPS! I’m sure you guys have never herd tutor thought that :)

View RibsBrisket4me's profile

RibsBrisket4me

1376 posts in 1102 days


#2 posted 373 days ago

You have eliminated the weak link in those clamps. I have some myself and will save this thread…thanks!

-- http://www.PictureTrail.com/gid6255915

View Roger's profile

Roger

14096 posts in 1401 days


#3 posted 373 days ago

Looks like a good fix, Jim

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Kentuk55@bellsouth.net

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

11055 posts in 1702 days


#4 posted 373 days ago

Angie, we never have enough clamps!!!!!!! Your coupons went out today!!

Todd, I was just thinking, a buy could drill out the trigger, front and back housings to 3/8” and just put a bolt through there and would not have turn any fancy axles!!
Cheers, Jim

-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

View MarkTheFiddler's profile

MarkTheFiddler

1723 posts in 785 days


#5 posted 373 days ago

Howdy Jim, Thank you so much for that tidbit.

I bought a bunch of those at one time and everyone broke. I tossed all but 2. I took those in and they replaced them, I took those 2 in and they replaced them, I took those 2 in and they replaced them.

I think your fix is far better than mine but I decided to keep taking them in when they break or just get spongy. Somehow – I feel vindicated. I should be a nicer person than that but – I have this mean streak you see and…...

It took me a few sales but I now have a nice collection of Irwin’s when I need extra hands.

Speaking of which. I don’t use those grip clamps for tight glue bonds anymore but they help get my pieces together quickly then I use the big guns. I love em.

-- Thanks for all the lessons!

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

11055 posts in 1702 days


#6 posted 373 days ago

Angie, we never have enough clamps!!!!!!! Your coupons went out today!!

Todd, I was just thinking, a buy could drill out the trigger, front and back housings to 3/8” and just put a bolt through there and would not have turn any fancy axles!!

Hi Mark. I didn’t know they’d give you new ones when they broke??
But this way, I can really put the pressure on them and they take it now!!
That spongy feeling is that lug rounding off just before it breaks!

Cheers, Jim

-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

View gfadvm's profile

gfadvm

10538 posts in 1287 days


#7 posted 373 days ago

Jim, I fixed a couple of those only to have the jaws break off!. I have since traded them all back to HF and will not acquire more!

Their blue F clamps are winners but these are definitely losers in my hands.

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View Woodwrecker's profile

Woodwrecker

3559 posts in 2172 days


#8 posted 373 days ago

Those clamps are not up to my clamping chores.
If you save the receipt, they exchange or refund you, no hassle.
I keep an envelope in the drawer with all my HF receipts, and as long as you have that, they don’t quibble.
Some things are good there; some not so good.

I too will keep this thread for future reference.
Thanks Jim.

-- Having fun...Eric

View Bob Collins's profile

Bob Collins

1507 posts in 2280 days


#9 posted 373 days ago

Nice repair job Jim. I only use Irwin clamps which are readily available out here. Spent some time at Cooper Peedie and left half my body fat there, gets damn hot. Pic of the opal fields.

-- Bob C, Australia. I love sharing as long as it is not my tools

View gfadvm's profile

gfadvm

10538 posts in 1287 days


#10 posted 373 days ago

My HF store has never required a receipt for returns (much to my surprise).

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View a1Jim's profile

a1Jim

111999 posts in 2174 days


#11 posted 373 days ago

You are one very industrious guy.I hope they serve you well Jim.

-- http://artisticwoodstudio.com Custom furniture

View crank49's profile

crank49

3336 posts in 1568 days


#12 posted 373 days ago

I fixed a couple of mine last year. Didn’t think to post it here.
I just drilled the little posts with a 1/4” drill all the way through both handles.
Stuck in a 1/4” bolt that I had filled the threads in the center portion with JB Weld so the threads wouldn’t dig into the trigger bore.
They work better than the original.
I, too, go to my Jorgensen clamps when I have to really apply pressure, but these are handy when I need something light.

-- Michael :-{| “If you tell a big enough lie and tell it frequently enough, it will be believed.” ― A H

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

11055 posts in 1702 days


#13 posted 373 days ago

I only use them when I need a pile of them for a project to put pressure everywhere. I agree with you Michael, ones you fix that pivot, they work better than original. I can fix them faster than driving to the store, too.

Bob, thanks for the picture and spelling of Cooper Peedie. That sure looks like a God forsaken place that can get mighty hot. I wanted to see the underground living and working structures but it was not on the agenda of the tour to go there. Maybe next time!! I did get a black opal from there , though.

I take it all those piles are from the digging below.

-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

View harry1's profile

harry1

512 posts in 882 days


#14 posted 372 days ago

As they say Jim, “necessity IS the mother of invention” An excellent repair.

“It was almost as hot as Cooberpeedie, Australia out side” I DOUBT IT Jim!

-- Harry, Western Australia

View Bogeyguy's profile

Bogeyguy

457 posts in 665 days


#15 posted 372 days ago

Tried those guys out long ago. Total crap. Why waste time on them. Pitch them or return them.

-- Art, Pittsburgh.

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