Removing rusted nuts and bolts.

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Removing rusted,worn nuts and bolts.

By Baconsdozen.

With any restoration work problems are encountered removing rusty or damaged nuts and bolts.The first essential is a good fitting and good quality spanner or preferably socket.An open ended spanner will slip easily and in most cases a six point socket will grip a rusted nut better,with less possibilty of damage than a twelve point socket or ring end spanner.The fit should be close,preferably having to be pushed on or gently tapped.Clean off all old paint and as much rust and corrosion as possible with a decent scraper and wire brush.

Sometimes nuts and bolts can be started by first attempting to tighten them so that they 'bite' on clean threads but if the fixing is already very tight this will not work.If the fixing still resists attempts heat from a blow torch or oxy acetylene welder can be used.Sometimes two or more applications will be needed,the fixing should be heated to dull red heat then allowed to cool before attempting to remove,penetrating oil or fluid can be applied,the cooling tends to draw the releasing fluid into the threads.Heat normally works but can't obviously be used if there is any risk of damage to the components or the danger of starting a fire.Rags soaked in water can be used to slow the transfer of heat to delicate components close to the area being worked on.

If the fixing is in good condition an impact driver and socket can be used.The socket should be a good fit and a purpose made impact socket (normally coloured black and six sided) .The driver is designed so that when struck with a hammer it both pushes down hard and imparts a turning movement to the socket to loosen the nut.Impact drivers are sometimes the only way to start rusted or tight phillips or pozidrive headed bolts or screws and will cope well if the head is slightly damaged.If an impact driver isn't available and you have to remove a cross headed fixing,then a 'drive thru' or 'strike thru' screwdriver where the shaft continues through the handle and can be struck with a hammer might achieve a similar result.For either method to work the fixing has to be fairly solid not on a body panel or similar where damage could result.

Six sided impact socket  An impact socket.Six sided,the sockets are normally black.Chrome vanadium sockets can shatter if used with impact drivers.

Nuts that are rusted or seized can be removed by drilling and splitting or by using a purpose made nut splitter.Done carefully this will leave the bolt undamaged.Using a small drill perpendicular to bolt and in the centre of one of the nut flats,a hole is drilled stopping just short of the threads.If the nut is a large one,two or more holes are drilled in a line across the flats,these holes are then enlarged using a bigger drill untill they touch or overlap.A sharp chisel is then used to split the nut which should then be easily removed.A nut splitter can be used after drilling holes on larger nuts or without on smaller ones.

Screw action nut splitters   Nut splitter set.The cutting tool is driven into the nut by turning the hexagonal head on top of the handle.

 The use of a fairly blunt chisel,or on smaller nuts a pointed punch will sometimes 'shock' a nut loose if the fixing is in something solid but the chance of damage is greater.The chisel is used to try and turn the nut and the impact may break the rust seal..

Bolts or studs especially ones going through aluminium alloy can corrode badly.Heat and release fluid are the best form of attack,trying to remove as much corrosion as possible with wire brushes and scrapers helps the fluid penetrate.If the worst happens and the bolt breaks off flush you'll need drills and screw extractor set to remove the remains if this doesn't work the hole will have to be drilled and repaired with a helicoil type insert and a new bolt or stud found.Screw extractors are very hard and brittle steel,breaking one off in a stud will make the repair much more complicated as they are impossible to drill out with normal tools.

Easy out stud removers   A set of screw extractors for removing the remains of a stud or bolt that has broken off flush.

If there is a stump proud of the surface stud extractors that clamp round the remains and are turned with a ratchet or spanner might remove it.If the stump is too small it,will have to be filed or ground flat to use a drill and a screw extractor.

'Mole' or self grip wrenches,stillsons or pipe wrenches are a last resort on damaged fastenings,they usually make the problem worse.If the nut is easy to get at,filing off the damaged flats may help a socket grip it.If the nut is on the end of a bolt that will be removed and which is easy to replace with new and angle grinder can be used to cut off the nut but there is the risk of damaging the item the bolt is fitted to.WD40 and the like don't work as well freeing off seized fixings as something like Plus Gas or even diesel.Coca Cola is said to work but its really very dilute phosphoric acid so would take some time to work if at all.

Baconsdozen metric and imperial tools.

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