Homebuilt Seal Installer: Install Any Seal Without Special Tools for Less Than a Buck!




Introduction: Homebuilt Seal Installer: Install Any Seal Without Special Tools for Less Than a Buck!

Seals are an important part of just about anything mechanical, and they usually need a "specail" tool to be installed because they are in an awkward spot.  Its also important to have the right tool to prevent them from tearing.  With a simple roll of electrical tape and some care- you can install any seal with out spending big bucks to buy special tools that fit maybe one or two seals.

This was one of the few times in my life I had a *lightbulb!* moment and still feel pretty proud of it, so here it is!  My lightbulb moment happened while I was rebuilding a set of forks for one of my motorcycles.  The seals are fairly large and no standard seal tool is going to reach the 3+ feet around the fork tube to be able to press the seal in.  The "correct" tool for the job costs between $150 and $300, and works by clamping on to the fork tube.  Follow along, and I'll show you how to save some money and toolbox space!

This instructable is specifically for a motorcycle fork leg, but it could be used for a crank seal in an engine, an oil seal in a pump, or just about anything.

If I can do things like this with a roll of electric tape, just think what I could do with a SHOPBOT!!!  I've got this idea for an anti-gravity device... No, seriously!

Step 1: Gather Materials

Get your supplies together.  You need the following:

1 roll of electrical tape
Some type of oil for lubrication

That's it!

Step 2: Make the Driver

The seal driver is simply electric tape wrapped around the shaft the seal goes on.  Clean any oil off of the shaft; in this case the inner fork tube.  If the seal is a really tight fit, give yourself some room between the seal and the tape so you can slide-hammer the seal (gently).  I left about 4 inches between the seal and my tape wrap. (looks like less than 4 inches in the picture because the tube is partially slid in already)

When wrapping the shaft, keep the tape as square as possible- you want a very straight edge pushing against the seal, and you want the tape thick enough that it isn't pushing only on the inner soft part of the seal but also on the outer (usually metal) part of the seal. 

Step 3: Tap It In

Lubricate the seal, both inside and out, with the oil you've chosen. Now lubricate the fork tubes wherever the seal will be touching it. Slide the seal onto the shaft with a twisting motion if you haven't already. With fork seals, the inner tube must already be in the outer tube so the seal is already on the tube. Now slide the shaft into the hole.  Slide the seal down the shaft and get it started in the hole as square as possible.  Generally speaking, the hole the shaft is going into will have a bearing or bushing behind it, so it will keep the shaft perfectly square.  If you made your tape square, everything should be lined up.  Gently use the shaft to tap the seal in.  Viola!

Step 4: Peel and Discard!

Grab the end of the tape on the shaft, and yank.  Just like pulling tape off the roll!  Clean any sticky's left on the shaft from the tape and your done!

Finish reassembling your project, and then go break it again.  That's how it works, right!?

ShopBot Challenge

Participated in the
ShopBot Challenge

Be the First to Share


    • Reclaimed Materials Contest

      Reclaimed Materials Contest
    • Paint Challenge

      Paint Challenge
    • Unusual Uses Contest

      Unusual Uses Contest



    3 years ago on Step 2

    Worked great! One tip I would add is to use two beads. One to knock the Lower bushing into place and one to knock the seal. That way the seal isn't taking the beating for the lower bushing.


    6 years ago on Introduction

    This tip was immensely helpful, thank you so much for sharing it. I just got my first street bike, and it was in pretty poor condition. I could address most of the chassis/brakes/engine stuff, but I've never worked on suspension before. I was feeling as though I was on the verge of a deep personal tragedy when I had my suspension apart, and no idea of how I could get the seal to seat. And I found this helpful tip and got both the seals in 15 minutes later!

    Thank you tremendously. I'm sharing this with all my friends. You da man!


    9 years ago on Step 4

    Great idea,thanks.And don't forget,"Rubber side down"


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    Its an '02 KTM LC4E 640... Although it doesnt have the stock plastics or headlight anymore and this picture the white is photo-shopped on because I was playing with a few different designs. Only picture I had easy access to. It is an absolute BLAST to ride, specially now that the fork seals don't leak anymore!