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This Sunday I took advantage of the wonderful weather here (it was 60s in January in southern New York, what?!) to change a leaky valve stem. I thought it would be easy but I found it hard to break the tire bead. I bought a $17 tire bead breaker iron from HF and fit the swan neck under the rim lip (it's like an L with the lower part under the rim) and hammered down from the top repeatedly with a dead blow hammer but it wouldn't budge. Did I do it wrong? I couldn't find instructions for it.

I abandoned hammering away at it since I thought I might damage the tire. I found some videos of people strapping their floor jack to the tire but when I tried that it looked like it was going to damage the tire as well. The tire was practically collapsed and the bead didn't break. Next I tried a method I saw in several videos where the car is lowered onto the bead, and that worked. I used the bottom nut on the steering knuckle (basically the lowest point of the suspension) to rest in the center on top of a short like 6" piece of 4x4 which itself rested lengthwise horizontally on top of the tire closest to the rim (but not on it) and lowered the car slowly, and I mean slowly. As soon as I heard the pong sound and the bead broke the car almost dropped right onto the rim there was so little clearance. Fortunately since I was ready with my hands on the jack handle I immediately stopped it. Seems dangerous and an easy way to damage a rim, but it worked.

How do you guys safely break beads? I'm thinking of buying the HF manual tire changer which has a bead breaker built in, but I don't know if it's any good.

I made quick work of installing the new valve stem once the bead was broken with the help of a Slime Valve Fishing Tool puller and plumber's lube (aka duck butter, or just use dish soap that's also rubber safe). I don't think I would have been able to do it without both those things. The valve stem I put in was VW OEM Wonder TR414 (1.5") and it replaced a TR418 (2"). Frankly I liked the 2" better I think the extra clearance makes it easier to fit accessories.

The bead popping back on was super loud. I removed the valve core from the stem because I saw they do that on YT to move more air volume faster and it worked. I sprayed the bead with soapy water and unfortunately found a leak so I broke it again. I checked the tire bead and found rubber scale on it (looked like old bead seater glue or something) so I peeled that away in the problem area and then popped it back on again. That time I saw a few bubbles until I got past 20 psi then no more bubbles. So I am going to monitor it closely.
 

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Only did it in a shop when I lived in NJ. We often had to grease the rusted beads on the steel winter wheels when we changed out tires. It was a lot of work for the machine, so I would not even attempt it manually. I remember the truck tires used a special hammer, like this one but with a handle as long as an ax:
 

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I remember watching a group of men changew a bus tire in Mexico back in the 70's. They had tools like that and were lined up like a chain gang and would hit the tire in sequence or together as needed. It was quite a feat but they always managed to get it done. At that point I knew that this is one job I would never try to do on my own.

I've seen folks do it at the salvage yards but there, even thought the machine is non-motorized, it has a lever built into it and special mount to hold the tire. Trying to just do it on the ground would be much harder.
 
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