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          Got a screw loose? You wish! Got a bad bolt that won't budge? Errrr. Just starting a restoration and you've run into rusty bolts or, even more maddening, the rusty clutch-head screw! They can be difficult to remove -- especially if you don't want to mangle that rare, hard-to-find piece they attach to the truck! Never fear! Here's some ideas on getting them MOVED!

          Also check the Tech Tip on removing a broken bolt by Brad Allen!

Easy bolt & screw removal

(08 March 2008 Update)


Removing rusty screws!

(19 May 2008)

By Jim Burleyque

Patience ....

          When the need arises to drill out any hardened bolt (grade #5 or grade #8) or standard (grade #2, which may be surface-hardened due to rust and / or corrosion), it is best to use a cobalt drill bit.  Cobalt bits are harder, than your regular high speed steel bits and last a little longer when drilling difficult materials, (not to be confused with a carbide masonry bit).  If you have the choice, choose a "screw machine length" bit. They are shorter and, therefore, stiffer -- so keeping it on center is less of a chore. Also they cost less than regular "jobbers length" bits, the most common drill length, or the slightly longer "taper length" bits.  All good  tool supply catalogs or shops will have these short "screw machine length" drills. One good source is Travers Tool Company.

          Use low to medium speed and it will make a very precise and accurate hole for a screw extractor, etc.

          One of the oldest tricks in my bag (after twisting wrenches on Stovebolts for over 50 years), is as follows:

          For screws, place the largest screwdriver that will fit in the slot or Phillips recess (all the way to the bottom). Twist it gently to the right (tighten) and smack it a couple of times with a medium hammer. Then, reverse the procedure, (loosen) and smack it a couple more times. Then try to remove it. This will usually do the trick.

          For bolts, use a flat-ended punch and smack it several times on the head of the bolt. Then use the wrench.

          Have patience and try again if it doesn't work the first couple of times. All of you purists out there will be able to salvage a lot of your original fasteners.



Initially submitted: January 2005


By The Crew

Ca-CHING! An Excuse to buy a wire-feed welder!!

       How do I get those pesky clutch head screws out when they are rusted without damaging the pieces they fasten?

Answer from Gary W Stevens:
         These screws can be impossible to remove when rusted. I have found two resolves:

  1. Use a speed-handle with a socket that will fit a clutch-head driver bit, like the ones used in most cordless drills, and with an enormous amount of pushing pressure they will usually turn out. Work the handle back and forth a bit to get them started.
  2. Drill the heads off, but you must use a carbide-tipped bit, like those used to drill masonry, 1/4" seems to work the best. With the head removed, the part can be removed and the piece of screw left can be dealt with without destroying the removed part. Caution must be used because the masonry bit chews the head off rather quickly, again like the speed handle a lot of pressure and slow speed works best with the drilling operation.

And here's some additional info from David Harder :
         In the past, I have used a Dremel tool with the cutting disc to cut a slot across the long portion of the clutch -- this allows one to use a large flat head screwdriver to turn them.

And from John Fenn :
         Get yourself a cup of cold water, a welder and a pair of vice grips. Take your wire welder and weld a blob of weld onto the screw or bolt about the size of a pea. Pour the water over the blob of weld then clamp on the vice grips. The bolt or screw will undo very easily. The weld gives you something to hang onto and the cup of water shrinks the bolt inside its thread.


Be sure to check out our extensive Forums discussions -- from General Truck talk, Electrical Bay, Big Bolts, Panels and Burbs, Engine and Driveline, Paint and Body, Interiors, Tool Chest -- The Stovebolt Collective can help in your quest and walk you through the mire and magic of working with old iron!

So am I nuts, or just a sufferer of AADD? ~~ Scott Danforth

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