OT (Kinda)- How to remove circlips?

I was riding my snowmobile this weekend, and I smoked the clutch side piston, so now I'm starting to tear the engine down and rebuild it. My question is (obviously)- how do I remove the circlips from the piston? There is a small notch in the piston that looks like it is there to facilitate removing the circlip, but I'm not exactly sure how to do it. A small screwdriver didn't seem to do the trick. Not that it matters any, but the machine is a 1995 Yamaha Phazer II. Any tips would be appreciated.


there are usually circlip pliers.. some are straight, some 90 degree, and with different diamter pins to go into the holes of the circlip...

Hmmmmm... those babies sound expensive... what about a small pick with a 90 bent tip? I really don't want to have to buy an expensive tool I'll hardly use, especially since I'm broke and unemployed right now.

Yo Cowboy, broke and unemployeed, me and you both buddy!

The circlip pliers are like $10, some actuate out as you squeez them, some actuate in as you squeez them (ex. some are for inner circlips, and some for outer). Just get the right one............


Dodger :D:)

Something like that will work.

A small screwdriver has always worked for me. And/Or a pair of small needlenose pliers.


You don't need circlip pliers for that, just use a pick to pry it out of the groove. Just keep track of where it goes when it comes flying out of there! :) Any idea why it burned down in the first place?

moto, I'm still guessing as to what went wrong. There is a small amount of metal missing from the top of the exhaust side of the piston. It also looked to me like the rings had collapsed. The guy I bought it from had put a Bender cold air kit on it, Aaen pipe, Boyesen power reeds, 1-1/2 paddle track, and a set of Wiseco .20 over pistons in it. The tach read about 3250 when I bought it, but the speedo cable had been broken for who knows how long. My guess is it just has a lot of miles and was ready for some new pistons. But, this is also the first engine I've ever tore down so my opinion means absolutely nil! Thanks for all the suggestions and help everyone.


sound like me.. ah well.. it will get better soon.. (i hope)

nah.. less than ten bucks here at kragen... had four different ones.. i think it was around $6 so even better..

The snowmobile engines that i have worked on don't use real circlips with the holes for the pliers in them,just a round wire that pries out with a small screwdriver or prick. As you have already been warned watch where it goes and make sure that it does not fall into the engine. Also NEVER ever reuse the circlip it will almost always fail since removal usually distorts it at least a little bit. I would also check the head and base gaskets as well as the crank seals since piston melt on a two stroke is usually caused by being to lean and if it was only one cylinder and the plugs look good (do they?) the problem is often times a gasket or seal.

The pick is the answer. And the ring will fly!

I saw this tip on TT a few weeks ago:

Put the whole thing inside a plastic bag while removing to contain the flying clip.

Here's how I remove them.

1. A six pack of good beer

2. A couple of small screwdrivers and/or picks.

3. Band-aids for when the screwdriver slips and embeds itself 3/4 of an inch in your finger.

4. Lots of swearing and hitting things


lol That sooo sounds like my dad.

ahh.. THOSE kind of circlips.. ug.. i would try a hard plastic pick, like from a plastic comb.

also, have a strong magnet next to it to catch it as it flys out....

I call circlips Jesus clips. Cuz when the pop out and fly under the workbench you yell out, "Jesus!".

Use a very small screwdriver or something to pick it out with. Sometimes a safety pin will work. Usually, there is a small channel to get the screwdriver under the jesus clip.

good luck.

Here's how I remove them.

1. A six pack of good beer

2. A couple of small screwdrivers and/or picks.

3. Band-aids for when the screwdriver slips and embeds itself 3/4 of an inch in your finger.

4. Lots of swearing and hitting things

Now let's talk about putting them back in:

1. Six pack of beer before you start because you KNOW what

is going to happen.

2. Choose your weapon and start inserting the circlip.

3. PING, F%&K!!!!, the circlip pops out and if you are lucky:

A) Goes flying across the garage, you can hear it but have

no idea where it went. Otherwise:

:) PING, TRIPLE F#$k!!! the circlip pops out and falls into the crankcase.

4. More beer, quantity to be determined by either 3A or 3B.

Good LUCK!

Make sure the carbs are clean before you fire it up again. A partially plugged main jet will also cause that type of meltdown. It would also be a good idea to pressure test the motor, once you have it back together, to check for air leaks. Good luck...pm me if you have any questions.

Both pistons are now out and on there way to be bored to 0.40 over as we speak (they were already 0.20 over). I ordered a Wiseco top end set- two balanced and matched pistons, wrist pins, circlips, and gaskets. The guy at the local Yamaha shop who looked at the bad cylinder did find some aluminum deposits in the cylinder, but nothing major. He wasn't exactly sure why it burned down- there was a small amount of metal missing from the exhaust side of the top of the piston and the rings were completely shot, they were actually barely visible. He said he'd never seen a set of rings that worn. He also suggested checking the crank seals, but I'm not too sure I'll have much luck checking them. Is there an easy way to tell if they are bad short of splitting the cases? I cleaned the carbs out today, all the jets were clear in both carbs. As for the circlips or jesus clips coming out (that made me laugh, I know that story all too well) I pryed the one on the bad piston out with a pick then a screwdriver and ripped it out with needlenose pliers, the other one popped right out and didn't take flight across the garage :) Thanks again for all the help guys, I'll let you know how it turns out. I'll also try to get some pics of the piston and see if any of you have any suggestions about what might have happened.

Back to circlip pliers though, yeah, like $10 at a good hardware store.

I have a pair that does inside AND outside!!!!

MIGHTY nifty set of pliers!! :):D

You NEED circlip pliers if you do nay delicate work on bikes (Brake master cylinders, and such) No substitute as far as efficiency, and ease of removing the clips.

I think the pliers you guys are talking about are snap ring pliers. They are a good tool, but they wouldn't have worked in this situation anyways. The circlips I had to remove had no eyes on the ends of the rings to insert the plier tips into.

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