Shop/Field Tip - Fastener Removal

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Amskeptic
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Shop/Field Tip - Fastener Removal

Post by Amskeptic » Sun Oct 29, 2017 8:01 am

Treat Fasteners With Respect!

Fasteners hold your Volkswagen together. They include:
bolts, screws, nuts, studs, pins, clips, dowels, and rarely with old cars like ours, adhesives.

The singularly most important choice you have to make working on your car a satisfying and successful activity is to approach the loosening and tightening of any fasteners with care and focus and patience. When nuts and bolts get rounded off, or screw slots get chewed out, your task can get lost in a labyrinth of distraction and irritation that can often derail the progression of your restoration efforts. For those of you who have only little slices of weekends to work on your VW in the midst of busy lives, a broken or stripped fastener can seriously set you back.


A.) Use The Correct Healthy Tool!

This admonishment applies most particularly to the use of flat blade screwdrivers on the sheet metal screws that hold your engine tins on.
Get the very largest screwdriver that will fit the slot ( hint > it is a big screwdriver! Go buy one!). Do not use a chewed-up screwdriver as it will transfer its traumas to your screws. In some cases, you can dress a phillips screwdriver tip with a light spin against a bench grinder. You can make the profile slightly less pointy, and the edges will be be more likely to participate in the outer edges of the screw slots.

For nuts and bolts, check your sockets and box wrenches for damage at the inside edge. Every time a bolt or nut gets rounded, the socket slots get damaged too, and it will impart its wounds to subsequent nuts and bolts. You can kiss the edges of worn sockets on a bench grinder to shorten the ends until you have found clean edges once more. Allow only a half millimeter at the very edge of the inside surface of your damaged socket or box wrench to remain as a "chamfer", this will help you engage your bolt or nut easily.


B.) Apply More DownForce More Accurately Than You Think

That means get focused. The vast majority of loosening failures occur when your screwdriver or socket are allowed to lift off at the point of serious twist. If you can apply enough downforce to keep it engaged, your chances of success increase. Screwdrivers must be perpendicular to the screw, sockets must be fully seated (even tap the end of it with a hammer to make sure), and box wrenches must be set with the offset angle accounted for. Take the 14mm valve adjustment locknuts for example, you cannot visually determine the offset of your box wrench because you are looking down at it. What you can do, is use your thumb/forefinger to sit the box end on the nut, keep the handle loose so the box end can tell you what angle the handle must be. Now make sure that you maintain that very angle as you both push hard on the box end and apply loosening force. Hex key sockets (allen bolt) must be cleaned out before any attempt is made to loosen them. If you think it is too time-consuming to clean each of the 24 allen or triple square sockets that hold your axles on, imagine the time you will have to take to hack through a stripped CV bolt . . . try hacking off an allen drain plug on a late Type 4 engine. No, don't.


C.) Quit While You Are Ahead

If the screw or nut or bolt refuses to budge, give yourself only one additional attempt to go all accurately-aligned serious-downforce karate on it. You must stop your efforts just before you feel movement between the tool and the fastener. If you are at this point, you may find that the allen wrench or the socket has "stuck" on the fastener. Just reverse the ratchet or tap the wrench *in the exact reverse direction*. Do not try to peel it off, pry it off, or anything that will make the contact surfaces get further damaged, just a tidy exact reverse direction.


D) Ramp Up

This is clearly war now, and we don't lose against some stupid stubborn bolt trying to wreck the day. Start with chemical warfare, like Liquid Wrench or PB Blaster. Drench the thing, but try to get to the thread portion. You may have to go underneath the engine to see the end of the tin screw, you may have to do a Hail Mary spray on suspension components where you cannot see the other end. Watch for items that do not want a chemical spray, like brake disks and pads, you can wipe down rubber brake lines and rubber ball joint/tie rod boots. If you have time, you can let penetrating oil have the night to do its job, but if you must continue right now (my usual situation), get out the hammer and tap lightly the head of the bolt, just an easy taptaptaptaptaptaptaptap. Keep tapping. Do not think that if a light tap is good, a heavy whack has got to be better. If you are trying to loosen a nut, you work against yourself by bashing the bolt to the point that it spreads out and locks the nut or distorts the threads.

A handy little aid just after this tapping and application of chemistry is to actually try to move the stuck fastener towards tighter just a little, then loosen.Do not get sloppy and let your tool slip as it moves through the slop from loosen to tighten direction. Deliberation is the name of the game.

If you are home and have access to a mapp gas torch and the assembly in question can take some heat, you can apply a nice general heat to the area. Just under a red glow with steel is good. Aluminum is not going to give you a color change, but a steel stud in aluminum will give you a clue. Magnesium, I am squeamish to use heat because it its incredible ability to burn once it catches. Speaking of catching and burning, if it is greasy or oily or there is a nice fuel line in the area, you may have a fire, so be sensible and observant and well-prepared to extinguish any blaze. This method does not use expansion of different metals to help you loosen fastener, it seems to merely clean rust bonds.

E) First Retreat

If you have actually damaged the nut or bolt or stripped the screw, please hit it with some PB Blaster and take a break. Settle down, clear your mind, relax. That's what I do in the desert where, if I don't get the car back together, I die.


F) Second Attack

Now we get serious. We get our Dremel or our Makita grinder and we decide to embark upon a journey from which is there is no return. This decision requires that you have replacement fasteners. To separate two parts with this method, you need to determine the outcome ahead of time. With nut/bolt fasteners, for example, you need to determine which side is most accessible. You need to know if you are trying to save the bolt, or on the hook for removing a fatally damaged headless bolt made headless by you. As a general rule, it is best to attempt to remove the nut. I like to spin up my Dremel cutting wheel and just grind across the nut back and forth until you can see the threads just begin to appear. Then get a drift punch and hit the left side of the freshly created "gutter" to bang it counter-clockwise and also split the nut right off the bolt. Tin screws you can try to make a new deeper screwdriver slot with the Dremel and see if your screwdriver now has purchase, but understand that the deeper slot weakens the screw considerably. Or, blast the head off the screw, separate the tins, and then deal with removing the headless screw. Sometimes, you can actually get a good grip on the headless screw or bolt with some good quality Visegrips and just back it out, after you have disassembled the parts. If you end up just chewing the headless bolt/screw to a ragged mess, you will Dremel the stump across nice and smooth, use your fresh center point punch to carefully bang a divot in the exact center of the stump, and you will drill out the offender using your very smallest drill bit and working your way up to the size just under the diameter of the Hideous Ruiner Of Your Day. Usually, it will let go at this point, and meekly unscrew.
(to be cont.)
BobD - 1978 Bus . . . . . . . . . . .110,350 miles
Chloe - 1970 bus . . . . . . . . . . . 206,775 miles
Naranja - 1977 Westfalia . . . . 72,350 miles
Pluck - 1973 Squareback . . . . . 55,478 miles
Alexus - 1991 Lexus LS400 . . . 64,425 miles

Jivermo
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Re: Shop/Field Tip - Fastener Removal

Post by Jivermo » Sun Oct 29, 2017 9:14 am

I recollect that I have shared every one of these methods with you, in some instances violence is within shouting distance.

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Re: Shop/Field Tip - Fastener Removal

Post by asiab3 » Mon Oct 30, 2017 1:57 pm

I appreciate this article. It was not two days ago that I discovered the "advantage" of cheaper tools, when a T20 Torx bit broke off in a starter solenoid bolt. Since it was a break near the tip, we elected to grind the bit down and use the "new metal" a few mm off the top and continue. The advise to start by tightening then loosening saved our day on that particular fastener.

In the last year, my 6mm Allen socket has graced a few dozen cars, and it has also been progressively ground down every time the corners lost their "sharpness" to prevent rounding off CV and striker plate bolts.

(excited for more)
Robbie
1969 bus, "Buddy"
http://theroadtells.com
"I would not do this again on a short time frame, the country is just so vast and beautiful…" - Barb/Elwood

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Amskeptic
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Re: Shop/Field Tip - Fastener Removal

Post by Amskeptic » Tue Nov 07, 2017 10:29 am

asiab3 wrote:
Mon Oct 30, 2017 1:57 pm
I appreciate this article. It was not two days ago that I discovered the "advantage" of cheaper tools, when a T20 Torx bit broke off in a starter solenoid bolt. Since it was a break near the tip, we elected to grind the bit down and use the "new metal" a few mm off the top and continue. The advise to start by tightening then loosening saved our day on that particular fastener.

In the last year, my 6mm Allen socket has graced a few dozen cars, and it has also been progressively ground down every time the corners lost their "sharpness" to prevent rounding off CV and striker plate bolts.

(excited for more)
Robbie
You should read the snap-together Lexus Fasteners Advice article)
Just Break The Damn Things And Get New Ones - the end
BobD - 1978 Bus . . . . . . . . . . .110,350 miles
Chloe - 1970 bus . . . . . . . . . . . 206,775 miles
Naranja - 1977 Westfalia . . . . 72,350 miles
Pluck - 1973 Squareback . . . . . 55,478 miles
Alexus - 1991 Lexus LS400 . . . 64,425 miles

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asiab3
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Re: Shop/Field Tip - Fastener Removal

Post by asiab3 » Tue Nov 07, 2017 11:51 am

Amskeptic wrote:
Tue Nov 07, 2017 10:29 am
You should read the snap-together Lexus Fasteners Advice article)
Just Break The Damn Things And Get New Ones - the end
Sounds like the guy at AutoZone, Urbana who wouldn't let Emma and I rent the 3/4" breaker bar because "any axle nut that tight must be replaced because the threads will all stretch" or some BS.

Original fasteners everywhere,
Robbie
1969 bus, "Buddy"
http://theroadtells.com
"I would not do this again on a short time frame, the country is just so vast and beautiful…" - Barb/Elwood

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Re: Shop/Field Tip - Fastener Removal

Post by wcfvw69 » Tue Nov 07, 2017 11:57 am

What resonated with me in this article was the proper use of flat bladed screw drivers of the right width. Ever notice the screwed up pan head screws that hold down the points in the distributors?
1970 Westfalia bus. Stock 1776 dual port type 1 engine. Restored German Solex 34-3. Restored 205Q distributor, restored to factory appearance engine.

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