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Removing Broken Bolts

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  • Removing Broken Bolts

    If anyone out there is in need of an easy out, you can find an entire set in my trash can. These damn things are less than useless. Not only do they not work, they actually make the situation even worse. I have tried the heating, cooling, and the beeswax thing with less than impressive results. The best technique I've found is to drill out the center of the broken bolt (not easily done), and then use a small prick punch to collapse the threads into the cavity.When done properly, you can actually remove the offending threads much like a spring. Impressive as hell...when it works! Anyone out there care to offer up any other solutions to this age old problem?
    There is no shortage of experts, the trick is knowing which one to listen to!

  • #2
    Nn-n-nope. If the usual efforts (visegrips, judicious punches and hammering, EZ outs, etc) don't work you have to drill out to the root diameter and unwind the thread like a spring. It's a skill - almost an art - developed by long practice.

    Don't trash those EZ outs. Save them for another day. They're but one tool in the arsenal and failure of them in one particular appllication means only that you have to work to a more demanding level of remedial mechanical surgury.

    If there is enough bolt to get a grip on then you can wiggle it, twist it, tap it, flood it with goo, etc but eventually you have to admit defeat if the broken bolt is stuck for sure. A man's best friend at this time is a mag drill and a selection of centering gimmicks. If the drill has to be free handed then the task become harder and more subject to the skill and eye of the operator.
    Last edited by Forrest Addy; 08-29-2006, 10:29 PM.


    • #3
      What Forrest says, unless you can weld a washer or nut to the offending remnant and then just wind it out.
      Jim H.


      • #4
        Easy outs are only good if the bolt is able to be threaded out by hand and is not frozen in place. Of course, if that were the case then the damn thing wouldn't have broken in the first place.

        Best luck I've had is with plenty of penetrating oil, a little heat to get some capillary action, and a set of left hand drills. Frequently as you're drilling out small size to larger with left hand drills and this method, the bolt will start to back out enough to grab. Of course, sometimes you find yourself picking out the little coils here too.

        Now if I could figure out something to take the place of those worthless tap extracters ???????


        • #5
          Its easy to do the "uncoil" if the part can fit on your mill but a hand held drill and its difficult, most easyouts are junk, i really dont like the reverse spiral ones because they spread the bolt out and make things worse, iv had a little luck with those straight splined ones though, you drill to a certain size and then they kind of broach in --- they dont spread the stud like the others and will work most times if the hole is drilled pretty much to the center...


          • #6
            I have over the years blown out literally hundreds of broken studs in cast iron manifolds using a acet/oxy torch, sometimes sacrificing the first couple of threads (sometimes not) but after that they are ok.
            There is learned technique to it but it is easily done.

            Lots of oxy, 60-80 lbs.


            • #7
              How much do I have to sent you to get you to send me your easy outs? I have had good luck with them when ever I used them. Gary P. Hansen
              In memory of Marine Engineer Paul Miller who gave his life for his country 7-19-2010 Helmand Province, Afghanistan. Freedom is not free, it is paid for with blood.


              • #8
                "Easy outs are only good if the bolt is able to be threaded out by hand and is not frozen in place. Of course, if that were the case then the damn thing wouldn't have broken in the first place."

                That what i have found as well - personally i like using those e-z lock thread inserts. Especially for applications for my trans pan bolts where i was working under a car and trying to drill in the center of a grade five bolt with an uneven surface and a crumby center punch mark thats surrounded by aluminum...well lets just say i certainly wasn't good enough to be able to manage that!! With a square piece of steel and square holes drilled in it, i drilled the bolt hole oversize, threaded it and inserted the ez-lok and its worked great since! I understand this isn't an acceptable solution in many situations, but if you can, it really worked great. Took alot less time than trying to drill the center and then pound it out (which i've done to a varying degree of succes on exhaust manifolds )

                "I have over the years blown out literally hundreds of broken studs in cast iron manifolds using a acet/oxy torch, sometimes sacrificing the first couple of threads (sometimes not)"

                Now that is impressive to me! Maybe all the rest of you are good with an o/a torch but i've only used one, maybe 10 times. I can't manage those awsome smooth cuts and delicate stuff you all can. I think thats really cool!


                • #9
                  Easy-outs area contradiction in terms,the meaning is the reverse.If the bolt will come out easy they will work(almost able to catch with a fingernail and spinout).I do hundreds of broken bolts a year and never use easy-outs.Most times if it's loose enough for an easy-out to work a Dremel and a carbide burr will mill a slot in the bolt for a screwdriver that will do the same job with no chance of it snapping off in the hole.

                  I weld out nearly 95% of the bolts I see.Over the years the methods I use have evolved.I used to use washers,but ditched that for angle iron clips.

                  You can punch a hole in one leg of an angle clip to fit the bolt,place the clip on top and weld through the clip to the bolt,this protects the machined surface from spatter and leaves a handy tab sticking up for a cresent wrench or vise-grips to latch onto.In addition it allows for more mass which retains more heat which soaks into the bolt and increases the effect.

                  You want the bolt to expand in the hole and transfer that heat to the surrounding metal.The bolt will be the first part to cool which allows clearence in the thread interface.

                  Thread clearence or the lack there of account for the 5% I drill.Bolts that have been cross threaded,bolts that are rotten and cooked into a hole and selftapping bolts have no clearence to speak of and as a result the play on expansion does nothing to aid removing them.These will be drilled and insert repaired anyway so I don't bother trying to weld them out.

                  I have welded out bolts broken off an inch or better below the surface of the part,but that is a different method all together and I am tired.
                  I just need one more tool,just one!


                  • #10
                    Prefer left-hand bits, but hang on to the ez-outs.


                    • #11
                      By design, an e-z out tends to expand the bolt in its hole...which does seem counter productive. My uncle showed me some broken bolt removal devices he had that came from Rigid as I recall. It was a better design, but pretty expensive.

                      I have had amazing success using the "weld a nut to the bolt" technique that has been discussed at length here. I believe it even showed up in one of the magazines onece. It worked like a charm the two times I have had a chance to use it since learning of it.

                      It is successful for two reasons. The first is that you have a great handle on the piece of remaining bolt when you are done. The second, and perhaps more important issue when the bolt broke due to being frozen in place is that it heats and cools the bolt, helping to break the bond. It also potentially shrinks the portion of the bolt that ends up near the weld. This technique has been mentioned here for removing failed ball bearing races from blind weld around the perimeter of the outer race and when it cools, it shrinks.

                      Of course, the welded nut technique begs for a wire feed welder as it makes it much easier to reach down through the hole when dealing with smaller nuts.

                      Paul Carpenter
                      Mapleton, IL


                      • #12
                        The V/6 nissan pathfinder has a design flaw in its exaust manifolds -- they like to pop there rear studs, there is no room for drilling so i take my high rpm air powered little disc saw and cut a regular head slot in the broken stud and then i can spin them out with a shorty regular screw driver, sometimes i have to get into the head material but what are ya gonna do u know....


                        • #13
                          There you are, AK, they need you on the Chinese bike thread!


                          • #14
                            Slightly different method

                            A lot of years ago, I found that EZ-Outs were pretty much useless. Primarily, because they screw into the drilled hole, and continue to apply pressure as you try to unscrew the broken part. I've been far more successfuly making my own tools, by grinding a long, slim square taper on the appropriate size toolbit, and driving it into the drilled hole. This almost broaches a square into the hole. Then, clamp a tap wrench on the toolbit, and carefully unscrew the broken part. Some kind of penetrant doesn't hurt the process. Back in the "old days", I used to use Carbon Tetrachloride, from a hand held fire extinguisher, but I think that's been banned.
                            I've even used the above method to remove broken spark plugs from aircraft engines, as far back as about 1950.

                            Marv Frankel
                            Los Angeles


                            • #15
                              Forgot the easiest method!!!

                              I forgot to mention the easiest method for removing broken bolts or even broken taps. One of the other members of our Southern California Home Shop Machinists, lives about 2 miles from me. He has the cutest little homemade EDM machine, that will cut holes through nearly anything. When it's finished cutting, the sides of the broken piece, which are nearly disintegrated, are easily removed with a pick.

                              Marv Frankel