E-clips or e-rings are easy to install by hand but are hard to remove without a tool. Some of the tools you can use to remove them include e-clip remover tool, flat screwdriver, or needle nose pliers. But being a pliers person, my favorite tool for removing e-clips is the e-clip removal pliers.
What Is An E-clip?
An e-clip is an E-shaped retaining ring for securing parts and components on a shaft. Like snap rings, e-clips sit firmly into the groove on the shaft, creating a shoulder that keeps the shaft assembly from coming off.
Typically, E clips offer a secure and permanent fastening method for rotating components. You can find them in a variety of devices including sewing machines, gaming machines, printers, and copiers. They retain components on shafts to prevent axial movement. Remote cars (RC cars) also use E-rings in shock shaft assembly to secure pistons and other components in place.
Another place you can find E-clip retaining rings is in motorcycles and other small engines. Some motorbike manufacturers use them to secure the foot peg pins instead of using cotter pins or snap rings.
E-clip vs Snap Ring
Despite being types of retaining rings, e-clips and snap rings are fundamentally different from each other. They vary in shape and the manner in which you install or remove them.
An E-clip or E-ring, as the name suggests, is a round, open-ended plate with three tabs that make it look like a curved letter “E”. In contrast, snap rings or circlips have a C shape. Some snap rings have grip holes or hooks while others don’t.
To install an E-ring, you put it through the side of the shaft and slide it into the recess. You can do it without a tool but when it comes to removing the E-ring, you need a tool to prise it away.
In comparison, installing a snap ring on a shaft involves expanding the ring and sliding it along the shaft to sit it into the groove. You need snap ring pliers to expand the circlip. However, sometimes needle nose pliers will do if the snap ring has grip hooks.
E-Clips Removal Tools
As I have mentioned, E clips are easy to install by hand but quite difficult to take off without a tool. Thankfully, there is a variety of tools you can use to remove them. They include a small slotted screwdriver, needle nose pliers, e-clip removal tool, and e-clip pliers.
In this article, we look at e-clip pliers. These pliers are not popular but are highly effective in removing and installing e-clip retaining rings, even in hard-to-reach areas. My favorite is the Engineer PZ-01 e-ring pliers from Japan.
Engineer PZ-01 E-ring Pliers
Engineer PZ-01 pliers are a handy little tool for inserting and removing E rings. They are as sturdy as other Engineer pliers and nicely ground to a slick mirror finish. They have a box joint hinge mechanism that keeps the jaws straight and free of wobble and magnetic tips.
Having constructed an RC model car myself, I know that small e-clips can be a bit of a fiddle to do without a proper tool. They easily fly across the room and sometimes can cause injuries in the process. But the magnetic tips of the Engineer e-ring pliers solve this problem by holding the clips in place to prevent them from flying all over.
The Engineer PZ-01 E clip pliers are also quite comfortable to hold and work with. They have curved rubberized handles that offer a perfect fit in the hand.
The only downside of these pliers is that the jaw tips are too thick to gain access to e-rings that are tight against bushing or bearing. However, you can grind down the ends to make them narrower.
Overall, these Japanese E-clips removal pliers from Engineer Tools are the best thing I have used to remove E-rings. They do a better job than using a small screwdriver to lever out the retaining ring only to launch it across the workshop and never to find it again.
You can use any tool of your choice to remove or install E-clips. But when working with heavy duty E-rings or when you cannot afford to lose an e clip fastener, E-clip pliers are the best tool. They grip the clips firmly to prevent loss and are versatile enough to work with different sizes of e-rings.
E-ring pliers are not just for remote car builders. You might need them if you repair small engines of motorcycles and chainsaws that use e-rings to retain gears and clutch assembly onto shafts.