How to remove stuck fasteners, part 2 - Useful Maintenance tips


What’s the best way to unstick a stuck fastener? Don’t let it get stuck in the first place. And how do you do that? Let’s look back before we look forward.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.hagerty.com/articles-videos/articles/2017/09/26/remove-stuck-fasteners-part-2


Good article re stuck fasteners. I taught “Shop” for my 35 year career (Auto, small gas engine repair, marine engines) and developed/used/taught many stuck fastener tricks depending on the circumstances. Two months ago a kind neighbor gave me an old Boston Whaler which had not been run or cared for since about 2000. I needed to take the V4 power head off the outboard. When used previously, this motor was in salt water, compounding the problem. The power head bolts are upside down and probably 6" long. Turning them would undoubtedly break them off. I drill an angled hole through the casting to the fasteners threads and fill the hole with penetrating oil. Patience pays here.The hole is a reservoir, keep it filled. I removed the power head and disassembled/repaired it without breaking one fastener. Ive used a saws-all with home made saw-blade holder to cut through castings to dis assemble, repairing the saws kerf before reassembly. Ive welded new nuts to the end of damaged fasteners (bolt, screw heads) and they generally come out like butter.
Unfortunately, Shop (Industrial Arts) classes were seen as obsolete by those higher on the food chain and the town I worked for closed all the wonderful programs via attrition. No one there to teach our young people, and where some of the most challenging students found great success in school for their very first time.


I was surprised to see no mention in the article about spiral flute screw extractors. These have been around forever, and are available in any good hardware store. They come in kits or can be purchased seperately as needed. They are designed to remove screws and bolts that have had the heads snapped off. They look similar to a tap. They come in multiple sizes. You simply drill an appropriate hole in the center of the screw (You can use a left handed drill if you like.) you then insert the extractor in the hole. It has a left handed flute. You then use a tap wrench to turn the extractor counterclockwise. It tightens in the hole and if you are lucky and have used enough penetrating oil and heat, it will remove the screw.
My dad taught me about these more than 50 years ago, and they have saved me much grief over the years.


When the bolts in a hub are stuck use your Dremel to cut a small notch in the top of each ear. It will relieve the bolts though the notches are pretty far from the bolts.


GET A WELDER! Seriously…My trick (very useful for rusty V8 intake manifold bolts which can be very hard to get a tool on properly) was to take a decent bolt, and weld the threaded end to the damaged bolt head. Now you have a nice hex head easily accessible. Do it while still hot, makes a difference! Used it for many other similar situations. A basic stick welder can be had for $100 new. Welds don’t need to be “pretty”, just reasonably strong.


Two possibilities;
If the bolt is large enough and the head is snapped off or you grind it off, use a new nut and weld it to the bolt. heat AND a new hex head to work with.
If the bolt is broken off in cast iron, drill a blow hole all the way through it first. This can be small but works best if it goes all the way through. Then clean the smallest cutting tip you have for your cutting torch and simply blow the blolt out of the cast iron. The harder the bolt the better because hard steel cuts easier than soft carbon steel. Cast iron can. not be cut with a torch, so you won’t ruin even the threads. Careful not to spend too much time as you can melt the cast iron
if it gets hot enough. when you are done, simply run a thread tap through the hole SLOWLY with plenty of oil to clean the slag out of the threads.


I successfully used left-hand bits to remove a very small brass motorcycle jet that was at the bottom of aluminum “tube” about 2-3 inches deep within the carb body itself. Absolutely no access any other way.

Very carefully started with small bits, stepped up a size at a time, and eventually the remains of the jet unscrewed without damage to aluminum threads. I am convinced the left hand action was critical to the success of the operation.

Left hand bits are very useful for non-ferrous and small fasteners.


I recently had the same scenario. Taking the brakes off, I snapped the bolt, after several various attempts (heat, tap out extractor, etc. what did the trick was a Heli Coil. Drill through the hole that has the broken off bolt, tap in a thread, screw in the heli Coil, and assemble useing a new bolt, good as new.
Great article showing there are more than one way to get the job done.


As an Airframe and Powerplant mechanic I get lots of stripped screws.
These are very effective, one side is a reverse rotation bit that makes the proper hole for the extractor side. If it breaks it breaks at the shear point and can be easily backed out. Spend the extra for the real deal Grabit brand.