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Howdy Folks,
I have seen a ton of posts, new and old, about broken bolts and how to get them out.
I've been wrenching (like a lot of you) for years and if I said I never broke a bolt I'd be a big fat lying doo-doo head! With that said I wanted to share a couple tips that I have used over the years to get my own dinger out of the ringer.
First don't forget about trying to see if the bolt will move at all, wiggle a little, jiggle a little etc. if it does try a nice sharp pick and try to back it out that way. Keep in mind whether or not the hole it is in is open at the other end, sometimes you can keep turning it through and through.
"Obviously We Know! Tell us something we don't know!"
Ok that didn't work so before you attack it with a punch and chisel (or heat it because that can harden it) Go out and buy REVERSE DRILL BIT SET. While you're at it get a good CARBIDE drill bit set an SAE and/or metric Tap and DIE set and a center punch. Start with a small (but not too tiny) bit and see if it grabs and walks that buzz kill out.
"Dag-Nabit #%@&$ that didn't work either!!"
NEEEEXT!! If you can get to the backside of the bolt do this next step there because that side of the bolt should be nice and flat. What the heck does that matter you ask? Because it's hard to start a straight and centered hole on a jagged uneven surface. So now we are going to get out our super duper SHARP center punch. NO not a dull one! For all of you old fogies like me put your reading glasses on, so we can see better. We need to punch a starter divot DEAD NUTS CENTER in that bad boy! Just about every hole I have seen that ended up needing a Heil-Coil (all right reserved) was because the original starter hole was not drilled in the CENTER of the broken bolt, and when the hole gets drilled and goes off center it can screw up the original threads that we are trying to save. So slow down there Speedy-G!! Let's get that center punch right smack in the center! I know I know but put down the BFH and get out a small ball-peen hammer and give it a nice little POP! Not too hard we don't want to drive the bolt in any tighter than it already is. Give it a tiny shot of penetrating spray (oh $h!t juice(OSJ)). You may have your own favorite brand so go get it, ya lazy bum!
Okay here we go, we're going to start with a small drill bit. It's a LOT easier to drill a small hole and gradually work our way up than it is to go for broke and take out all that metal in one shot. Spray some OSJ in there. TAKE YOUR TIME! Plus you have a better chance of keeping the hole straight and true if we take small bites. It's better on your precious drill bits too! DON'T drill sideways or try and straighten up a crooked hole halfway through, you'll break the bit off inside the hole and you'll be bringing that Fluster Cluck to the machine shop for sure!
Alright, so now that we have a small hole in the bolt. Spray some brake clean or hit it with shop air...we want lubricant soaking into the threads NOT in the hole we just drilled. Now we need our "easy out kit" AKA screw extractors. Think about how these work, as they turn out they dig into the bolt to get a bite. That spreads (mushrooms) out the top of the broken bolt some, which will put MORE friction on the top few threads and will make it tighter and harder to get out. So there is such a thing as drilling too big of a hole(the thinner the wall the easier it mushrooms). Now we're going to put the extractor, for that size hole, in that dried/de-greased hole we just made and give it a quick pop with our small hammer. Get out our favorite penetrating spray again and give it a little shot on the threads and let it sit for a few minutes. We WANT the extractor to have friction in the new hole so no lube in there (dry), BUT we want the threads to have lubrication (wet) that's why we dry the hole, insert and seat the extractor THEN spray once more. Get it? Got it? Good!! Time to try and kick dat bolt's butt right? NOPE, not quite but almost, have some patience Grasshopper!
BUT, BUT! I WANNA DO IT NOW!! I WANT WHAT I WANT AND I WANT IT NOW!!!
Don't do it! Not just yet. Remember we just drilled a-hole (what did you call me?) Sorry my alter ego again. Where was I? Oh yeah, we just drilled a hole and that caused heat. That heat made the metal expand and our little buddy of a bolt is now a bit TIGHTER than it was before we drilled it. Also when the bolt expands a little it pushes out against the threads and when we give it some time to cool down it may leave a little extra room for the bolt's threads. So wait a few minutes and let everything cool down, go have a smoke, drink a soda,(or pop depending on your geography) or maybe you can call Ms. Cleo on the psychic hotline and get today's winning lottery numbers...
Okay so now it's all cooled down, time to give it a go. Use a slow steady turning force all the while pushing into the bolt. Use the force Luke, feel as you turn for a nice bite into the bolt, AND NO HERKY-JERKY! You DO NOT want that extractor breaking in the hole. Ease into it. It should come out. If not and the extractor starts to slip, STOP! Once it starts to slip you'll need to try the next size up. Rinse and repeat. Now that we have a good bite and while you are turning the extractor, keep an eye on the shaft of the extractor for signs of twisting. If it looks like it is twisting, STOP! If that tool breaks off in there you're done! Not a good thing!
If after all of this, it still doesn't want to come out then it's time to get the torches out. Keep a fire extinguisher near by! Don't say I didn't warn ya! If the body of the item you are trying to remove the bolt from is iron or steel, you can try and heat that part. DO NOT HEAT ALUMINUM! But only apply heat AROUND the bolt (not the bolt) to try and expand the hole. You don't want to expand the bolt. If you can do that go for it. Get that extractor in there quick. Then give the BOLT a small little shot of your OSJ (spray) to cool it down (expanding the outside with heat while shrinking the bolt). Then give her another try. (DON'T GET THE BOLT RED HOT) When you heat steel it hardens and trying to drill into hardened steel is like trying to get the Democrats and Republicans to agree that water is wet and trickle down works. If NONE of this works out, we are going to try one of our last resorts, before we have to bring it to the machinist. This is another reason we want that original hole we drilled to be nice and straight because we are going to drill out the hole one drill bit size at a time until we get to the point where there is just remnants of threads remaining in the hole. If you unsure of the size, we can use an adjacent bolt hole as a size guide. For example if one of two (or more) bolts did come out successfully, by hand, put the shank of a drill bit in until you find the size that fits easy but not sloppy into one of those good holes. (he-he I said good holes) Anyway, this is the MAX size drill bit you want to use to drill out that hole. Next we need the correct size TAP. Taking small bites, we are going to cut out the remnants of the bolt. 1/4 turns in 1/2 turns out, then back in for another 1/4 turn bite then 1/2 out. This will cut the threads a little then kick it out the debris. We don't want the tap to have to fight with the bits of steel that we already cut. You don't want to take big bites this could break off the tap. And you know how it feels to have it broken off!! Seriously don't let that tap break in the hole. Take itsy-bitsy teeny-weeny tiny-tots bites then back it out, clean out the hole with spray or shop air then right back at it for another nibble. Feel free to spray, a little lube will help cutting the threads as well as make your TAP a happy camper. When you're blasting out the hole be careful of that $h!t getting in your eyes. (obligatory Wear Safety Glasses comment)
Congratulations you've just successfully wasted your whole afternoon! But hopefully you won this battle! As an ultimate last resort before drilling completely to the next size bolt and tapping new threads (space permitting) and before we take that walk of shame into the machine shop. You can try a Heil-Coil kit. They are NOT cheap. Just be sure to get the complete kit because the drill bit, tap and inserts are all specific and sized to work with each other. They are NOT the same size as the bits and taps that come with tool kits. They work awesome, IF THEY ARE DONE RIGHT! So follow those instructions that we all hate to read. Go hide out in the bathroom so that nobody sees you reading them! (we just read for the articles anyway! Wink-Wink)
I hope this helps someone someday. I know that there is little more frustrating than breaking a bolt so take care and GO SLOW and steady.
GOOD LUCK!!
:beer3:
p.s. If anyone has any more tips or tricks that I missed or care to elaborate PLEASE post them! I know there are a ton of other "slicker than 2 eels in a bucket of snot" tricks out there. I never stop learning! Heck that's why I read these forums... Thanks for reading!!!
 

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good write up John, though ive not had this happen in a while (knock on wood) its good info for the shop.
 

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This was good write-up. The only thing I would add is a good penetrating oil like Aerokroil will help loosen some of the worse stuck bolts. If it seems like it's stuck, spray and give it a light tap them wait, the longer the better.

100_2602.jpg I'm sure every one is getting tired of seeing me posting this picture of Aerokroil, but I'm convinced that it is one of the best products available. I know it's helped out of a jam more than once.
 

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Great write up John, You should put your write up on the "How to board".

Kroil products are very good, have used them for years.

I recently read that the dye used for checking for cracks in heads and engine blocks that is used in machine shops is one of the best penetrants to use for getting stuck bolts out. I have not tried it but it makes sense. It is very expensive.
 
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