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Nifty Way to Tighten Harmonic Balancer?

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by Heckler, Dec 26, 2008.

  1. Heckler
    Joined: Mar 20, 2005
    Posts: 200

    from Austin, TX

    Is there a trick to tightening a harmonic balancer (without the motor turning over)?

    Wedge someting against the flywheel.....?

    Motor is brand new, in the car, etc. I thought maybe once I put the spark plugs in there would be enough pressure to hold it, but no dice.



  2. silent rick
    Joined: Nov 7, 2002
    Posts: 3,425

    silent rick

    what about a piece of flat stock bolted to two of the pulley holes and extending far enough to hold with one hand or wedge against the frame?
  3. Docco
    Joined: Mar 23, 2007
    Posts: 286

    from Ippy

    The only way to tighten the harmonic balancer bolt properly is to lock the motor up somehow and tighten it with a torque wrench to the correct tension. Which means usually wedging the flywheel some way.
    Or you could just use a impact wrench (rattle gun) and tighten it up really tight if you want the easy way out. And use a thread locker like Loktite on the bolt as a safety measure.
  4. put a flywheel turning wrench on the flexplate and run the handle against one of the mounting pegs on the engine stand

    put 2 junk bolts in crank flange and jam a super huge screwdriver between them to keep engine from turning DISCLAIMER[:eek: this will bend bolts so use some throwawAys]
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  5. David Chandler
    Joined: Jan 27, 2007
    Posts: 981

    David Chandler

    I had that problem once. I ended up nailing a couple of scrap pieces of 2x8 together, and cutting a V in the top. I then put this on a jack and cranked it up against the balancer. The V shaped wood locked things enough to tighten the bolt with no problem once I put enough pressure on it.
  6. draggin'GTO
    Joined: Jul 7, 2003
    Posts: 1,754


    Find a smart way to lock the flywheel to keep it from moving, then torque the balancer bolt to factory specs.

    You didn't mention what car, engine or flywheel type (flexplate?) so it's hard to give you any more specific advice.

    Use some blue Loctite on the bolt after you clean the threads on it and inside the tapped hole on the end of the crank.
  7. sstang06
    Joined: Dec 25, 2008
    Posts: 25


    I used a rubber strap wrench on a late model mustang that didn't have holes in the balancer. Place the strap wrench around the balancer with part of an aluminum jack handle or steel tube over the handle extending down to the garage floor the to lock the balancer in place. It broke, but after the torque wrench clicked. Using two bolts with a pry bar if the balancer uses a bolt on pulley as stated by eugene vik has worked for me also.
  8. Goztrider
    Joined: Feb 17, 2007
    Posts: 3,067

    from Tulsa, OK

    I know you're probably not supposed to do it this way, but I've pretty much always used a hammer and a block of wood to drive it onto the end of the crank. I was taught this way by my father, and neither of us have ever had any problems or failures as a result.
  9. Jalopy Joker
    Joined: Sep 3, 2006
    Posts: 18,214

    Jalopy Joker

    eugene vik is on the right track . Check any true auto parts store or even Sears for the flywheel wrench. It might seem goofy to buy tools for possibly one time jobs, but likely you will need to this again. Hopefully you can get someone to help you while doing this project. Basic stuff, but a couple more hands do help.
  10. tubman
    Joined: May 16, 2007
    Posts: 2,764


    Old snowmobilers trick. Find a cylinder thats near BOTTOM dead center and feed as much cotton rope as you can through the spark plug hole. Turn the motor over until the piston won't go up any more, and there you have it.:) To anyone who thinks this puts too much pressure on the piston, rod, bearings, and crank; just think about the pressure when the cylinder fires.:eek: When you're done, back the cylinder off and pull the rope out. There are some who say "Don't use nylon rope, it may leave some hard fibers that will cause wear!". I don't see how that could be, but why take the chance?
    Ponti461 likes this.
  11. Goztrider
    Joined: Feb 17, 2007
    Posts: 3,067

    from Tulsa, OK

    Could this cause problems with the valves though? I've seen a dirt dauber (mud wasp) nest bend a valve - just slightly enough to not seal properly - while only turning the flywheel to tighten the torque converter bolts. And this was done only using a screwdriver/prybar to rotate the flywheel a few teeth at a time.

    I understand the concept of the valves being closed when this trick is tried, but they might open at some point during this action, right?
  12. Docco
    Joined: Mar 23, 2007
    Posts: 286

    from Ippy

    Its the worst idea ever, valves are soooo easy to bend even with light pressure, theres too many better ways to stop an engine turning than to bother trying this.
  13. oldsman71
    Joined: Apr 9, 2008
    Posts: 1,037


    if its scb with auto flex plate clamp a pair of visegrips on the flexplate and let it push against the trans bellhousing and then torque the bolt to spec.
  14. A buddy with a pry bar holding the ring gear on the fly wheel against the bottom of the block. If the engine is in the car I've even used a floor jack and a piece of squar scrap metal when buddies are hard to find.
  15. 29nash
    Joined: Nov 6, 2008
    Posts: 4,544

    from colorado

    Impact wrench. Mine has an air flow adjustment and I can adjust it pretty close to a any torque value between 40 and 150 Ft Pounds with a given air pressure in the compresser. As with wheel lug nuts, a couple of test shots and a feel with wrench gets it very close.
    Use intermittent shot. Practice it on a bolt in a vise. Pull the trigger, count 2. Adjust. Repeat until you establish a trend. I use the same type of air adjustment valve on air drill, etc, is very dependable to stay on speed setting.

    Use the same on removing big nut from alternators/generators. You can hold the pulley in your hand and the inertia of the impact wrench spins the nut right off. It doesnt move a motor at all with the little torque a dampner bolt takes.
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2008
  16. use the balancer tool and a flywheel tool.

    Attached Files:

  17. Tony
    Joined: Dec 3, 2002
    Posts: 7,284


    Over the years i've done a few of what's been mentioned....
    At some point i bought the tool designed to install them.
    Pretty much a threaded rod, with an insert that's threads into the crank hole. Then a bearing slides over the rod, with a nut following it.
    Tighten the nut sandwiching the bearing against the balancer (while holding the rod at the end so it dosn't turn) and it presses the balancer on without the motor turning over..
    It's VERY simple although i may not have explained it all that great.
    AND, it works GREAT.
    It's designed just for this, and should be used if at all possible....

    Mine's a Snap On..but, the're are many out there much cheaper that will get the job done..

    Here's a link to one similar to what i have..

    EDIT: 1oldtimer beat me to it...guess i shoulda just posted a pic instead of trying to explain :D:D
  18. 61bone
    Joined: Feb 12, 2005
    Posts: 890


    I made a spanner wrench that fits in the pulley holes in the balancer. Brother has it right now so no pics, but if you know what a spanner is you get the drift of how it works..
  19. squirrel
    Joined: Sep 23, 2004
    Posts: 36,675


    Seems we have several good answers to two different questions....the one he didn't ask (how do I install the damper?) and the one he did ask (how do I tighten the bolt that holds the damper on?).

    I've used several of these methods, usually if the engine is on a stand I'll have three short bolts in the back of the crank, and use a prybar to hold two of them to keep it from turning. If it's in the car, the buddy underneath with the prybar on the flywheel teeth works best (keeps me away from the dangerous stuff), or I'll put short bolts in the damper and hold it with the prybar. I prefer to torque them, but I agree that someone who's experienced with his impact wrench can get it close enough.

    Those automatic transmissions that have the bellhousing all the way around, like the Mopars and Fords, make it difficult to get to the ring gear teeth once the engine is in the car. Might be able to go thru the starter hole.
  20. flatford39
    Joined: Dec 3, 2006
    Posts: 1,725


    Don't forget the LocTite. I did once & will never forget again. Had it torqued to spec but I was missing a bracket on the alternator adjusting arm (SBC) & it eventually worked it free. nothing like towing a car trailer at 65 loaded & that thing flys off when you are 100 miles from home.
  21. 1950ChevySuburban
    Joined: Dec 20, 2006
    Posts: 6,210

    Member Emeritus
    from Tucson AZ

    I use an impact gun, and let the engine turn a little while it installs. That way the seal lip rolls into place nicely.
  22. 1950ChevySuburban
    Joined: Dec 20, 2006
    Posts: 6,210

    Member Emeritus
    from Tucson AZ

    Also, where possible, I leave the front cover bolts loose so the seal/cover unit floats and self-centers around the balancer shaft. You'd be surprised how much off-center some of those covers can be!
  23. Heckler
    Joined: Mar 20, 2005
    Posts: 200

    from Austin, TX

    Thanks everybody!
  24. Neptone
    Joined: Aug 5, 2014
    Posts: 1


    image.jpg Re: the rope trick... I've used it to hold the valves in place when I needed to change a valve spring, but it wouldn't be my first choice for applying big torque to the crank. Ignoring the load we're applying to that single piston/rod, and even if we verify that both valves are closed in that cylinder, the rope is always going to have a slightly mushy feel to it; it can always be compressed further with more force. This is less than ideal for torquing a bolt in a precise and positive way.

    Here's a method I've used that I didn't see mentioned. If you don't have a stainless hose clamp large enough to fit around your balancer, unscrew two or three smaller ones and link them together. Tighten these around the balancer like you mean it (use hose clamps that will accept a hex drive rather than a screwdriver only - much easier).

    Then take a long socket extension, a piece of metal stock, etc, and wedge that between the screw housing on the hose clamp, and a frame rail / water pump / what have you. If you painted your balancer in a rebuild, you can wrap one or two rounds of duct tape around the balancer before clamping.

    In this image it's set up to remove the balancer bolt; you'd block it the other direction to install / torque.

    I like this method when working alone because everything is right in front of you, and you can likely sneak it in place even if all accessories are installed. Like, say, if you put the whole front of the engine together in the car before realizing you forgot to torque this. : )
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2014
  25. UK Slingshot
    Joined: Feb 6, 2014
    Posts: 163

    UK Slingshot

    Ok this is from memory so a little rusty. When I was working on Land Rover's, we had a flat spanner like tool made out of I think 1/2" steel, would look like a flattered ring spanner. Around the ring were bolt holes that lined up with the pulley bolt holes in the damper. This was then bolted on to the damper we then used to slip a short lenght of scaffold tube over the handle end and the wedge it against the chassis. Works for both removal and re tightening damper bolts.

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  26. Yoits Justme
    Joined: May 23, 2017
    Posts: 1

    Yoits Justme

    I had this same problem when I replaced the timing chain on my 97 Chevy. I tightened it as much as I could with out moving it. Then I went ahead and bolted the pulley to it and then I took a large C-clamp and placed it around bottom part of the water pump where the hose goes and inside the pulley and tightened it so it was snug. I was then able to finish tightening down the harmonic balancer with out it moving on me. After about 4-5 turns on the bolt I tightened the C-clamp a little more.
  27. I usually put 2 pairs of vice grips clamped tightly to the flywheel and "wedged" somehow that prevents the engine from turning until the desired torque is met.
  28. If I saw this 9 years ago Id say something
  29. Rocky
    Joined: Mar 3, 2001
    Posts: 13,600

    Classified Editor

    I ran into this problem last weekend when changing the timing belt on the missus' O/T Chrysler. Had no way to gain access to the flywheel/flexplate so I cut up the old center link from my O/T G-body wagon to make a handle. I welded 2 pieces of scrap to it that fit into the open holes [there are 3] in the dampener. Still left enough room to get a socket and breaker bar and later, torque wrench in to torque the bolt. I also used just a drop of red loc-tite. Worked like a champ but the "holder" looks like hell.
    lothiandon1940 likes this.

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