The Craftsman Cordless Inflator could change the way you pump up your tires. Chris Mayhew

The Craftsman Cordless Inflator could change the way you pump up your tires. © Chris Mayhew

Last week, we listed our favorite gadgets that every home mechanic should have on hand for the season. Today, we decided to bring back the ‘how-to’ element by reminding folks that some basic tools can be repurposed as perfect-for-the-pit gadgets.

by Chris Mayhew

If you’ve paid close attention to footage of Stu Thorne, or you’re geeky enough to even know who he is, you’ve probably seen the Craftsman Cordless Inflator (he uses one quite a bit in the Behind the Barriers videos). It looks like a drill, but it’s actually a portable air compressor that fits in your hand. Not only that, but it has a digital gauge that reads to .1 PSI (or BAR, if you’re crazy Euro). Airing up one set of tires is not bad with a floor pump, but if you have multiple wheels and play with pressure a lot (as you should), it gets tedious. Plus, floor pumps only read out in 10 PSI increments, so dialing in 23 versus 25 PSI is more or less a matter of guessing.

The Craftsman Inflator is stocked with a Schraeder head. Most mechanics just remove the hose and use a Silca hose and head. That’s certainly handy and “pro,” but perhaps not as handy as it could be. The Park pump head and hose will fit in the Inflator with almost no modifications and gives you both valve options. The Park heads wear out fairly quickly, but it took two years of being the community pump at cyclocross practice for mine to do so. And on the flip side, I’ve inflated quite a few car tires from 15 to 32 PSI, something that would make a floor pump too hot to touch. Just ask me how I know!

Hopefully, the picture tutorial below makes it clear how to make the conversion. If not, please feel free to drop me a line at [email protected].

Here’s a link to the product: Craftsman 19.2 volt cordless Inflator (Tool only, no battery)