Have you ever built a shock and had trouble getting the eyelets on the shock shaft? Or tried to adjust the droop on a 1/10th scale off-road vehicle? It isn’t easy because you had to hold on to the shock shaft and install/twist the eyelet. Back when I first started, some instruction manuals had you place something soft between the pliers and the shock shaft.
A couple of other options are to use a side cutter and hold it to the top of the threads. Or you could take needdle nose pliers and hold on to the shock shaft were the piston is installed. You could use the soft cloth on pliers, which I mentioned earlier. The problem with the cloth is you could ruin the shock shaft with scratches from the wrench if the cloth failed. Once the shock shaft is scratched the chances of tearing the o-ring, that helps keep the oil inside the shock body, increases greatly.
The problem with all of these procedures is that once the shock is built it becomes increasingly difficult to be able to adjust how far the shock shaft moves into the shock body. Especially if you use shock length as a tuning aid, e.g. droop. That is unless you have one of these shock shaft pliers.
The shock shaft pliers appeared on the market around 2010. At first, I thought it was a gimmick and one of my techniques, that I mentioned earlier, would be able to do the job just as well. That was until one of my friends watched me struggle setting the length of the shock shaft for my touring car.
After a few good laughs, at my expense, and starting to feel sorry for me he tossed me his shock shaft pliers. Feeling skeptical at first because I didn’t want to put anything on the shaft for the fear of scratching it. After the fear subsided I gave it a shot and wow I was impressed! They worked as advertised!
I have come across two different styles of shock shaft pliers on the market. One looks like traditional pliers with the end that grips the shaft on one side of the pivot point and the handle on the other side of the pivot. The other style looks like a nut cracker where the pivot point is on the end and the shaft and handle to apply the force to hold the shock shaft in place is on the same end.
While the intended purpose is to hold the shock shaft in place without scratching the shaft, some shock shaft pliers offer additional functionality that I will touch on later. For now, lets take a look at what I will call the no frills shock shaft pliers.
The Team Losi Racing (TLR99101) can hold shock shafts of 1/8th, 3mm, 3.5mm, and 4mm. They have a nice smooth comfortable handle that provides a large enough surface area to grab a hold of. The jaws are also nice and large allowing them to hold the shock shaft in place. The pivot point is made up of a screw and nylon lock nut for easy maintenance, if needed. They are also hard anodized which means they will have a nice long useful life if treated properly.
The downside of this one is the overall size. It takes up more room in my pit box than some of the others on the market. If you have big hands then this might be right up your alley. Plus, at its price point there are others available that do the same thing and they have additional capabilities.
The ST Racing Concepts (SPTST22353) do the same thing as the Team Losi’s, it does have an extra opening after the shock shaft holding points that I am trying to figure out what it could be used for. Anyway, the pliers themselves are made of aluminum and the pivot appears to be constructed using a roll pin. Like the TLR one, it can hold 3mm, 3.5mm, and 4mm shock shafts. It also comes in your choice of colors of Blue, Black, or Silver/Gun Metal.
For me, when I used this one I felt that having both sides of the handle machined for fingers didn’t feel as comfortable in my palm when applying pressure. Sure my fingers felt fine but my palm did not. It is small in size which means it is a great space saver in the tool box but if you have big hands, well it might be uncomfortable to hold. It’s price point sits at the lower end but it appears that you might pay more depending on the color you choose, according to an on-line retailer.
We are going to switch styles now and talk about one that looks like a nut cracker. If you ever cracked some nuts you will know why I call these the nut cracker style. The first on this list is the Team Associated Factory Team Shock Shaft Pliers (ASC1675). One thing that is nice about this style is that with the shock shaft is close to you making it is easier to thread the eyelet on to the shock shaft, or maybe that is just me and my lack of coordination. Just like the others, it too can hold shock shafts of 3mm, 3.5mm, and 4mm in size. On the end of one of the handles, holes have been added to help you determine what size of shock shaft you have. The pivot is held together by a screw and an insert which makes it easy to service. It also is anodized in Factory Team Blue.
This one was compact in size which means it didn’t take up much space in the tool box. It did fit in my hand comfortably and I was able to handle the assembly process with ease. This is great if you don’t have coordination working with smaller objects. It too has an attractive price point. I just don’t know how useful the holes at the end of the handle really are.
Next is the ProTek RC “TruTorque” Shock Shaft Pliers (PTK8267). While the shock shaft sizes are not specified it can hold shock shafts that are used for 1/10th and 1/8th scale vehicles. Just like the previously mentioned shock shaft pliers, these too are made of aluminum and are anodized “silky black”. What sets these pliers apart from all of the others is the ability to hold shock bodies. In addition, it can also help with the install and removal of the pivot ball in the shock eyelet if the need does arise.
The problem I had with this one, at the time of writing this, was that it was out of stock! I didn’t have any luck finding it or others that looked like it on-line. So what does this mean? Well, to me, it means it seems to be very popular and people are looking at it as more than just a shock shaft pliers. Plus its price point is very comparable to others on the market. Yes, it is at the upper end of the price point compared to the others I mentioned but it has additional capabilities built into it that I feel warrant a few extra dollars.
So which one is better? Great question! Out of the three that I was able to get my hands on I went with the one that provided a good grip on the shaft without having to put to much pressure on the handle and that was the Team Losi Racing (TLR99101). When I was adjusting the eyelet to change my droop settings, it felt like it was made for my hand. Now I am not saying that there is something wrong with the others because there isn’t. Instead, it really comes down to your personal preference. I might have chosen the Pro Tek Shock Shaft Pliers if I had them in my possession but as I said earlier it was out of stock.