QUESTION

The other day I was working on an old lawnmower that I’d picked up at a secondhand shop. Things were going well until I encountered a rusted bolt that refused to budge. Do you guys have any suggestions on how to help loosen the culprit?

bolt

Because they typically live outdoors, old pool pumps (and well-point pumps) generally have a rusted bolt or two. Check out the following images on how best to deal with a rusted bolt or nut.

 

ANSWER

If you’re a DIY enthusiast, it’s inevitable that at some point you’re going to strike the dreaded problem of a rusted bolt or shaft that’s stuck in its housing.

One of our team members here was recently removing the swing-arms of his motorbike from the frame to clean and grease the needle-bearings, when he hit this very snag. The main swing-arm pivot bolt was seized into the inner bearing race. He rides a dual-purpose bike, so the suspension is subjected to submersion at river crossings, and there is also a lot of high-velocity mud spray at times, hence the problem. The good news is that the issue can be solved

You will need

  • A can of Q10
  • Appropriately sized spanners
  • A four pound hammer
  • An aluminium block or brass drift.
  • A heat gun
  • A wire brush

Here’s how to do it…

Remove rust with wire brush

Use a small wire brush to remove any excess rust on, and around, the bolt / nut.

Rusted bolt and Q10 spray

If possible, position the housing upright and saturate the bolt with Q10, which is a quick-acting, penetrating rust solvent and release agent. The Q10 will run down the shaft onto – and eventually into – the seized area. Leave the bolt for approximately 30 minutes to give the Q10 time to penetrate.

Stuck bolt

Using your spanner, try to turn the bolt or nut. If there’s too much resistance, and you feel the bolt may strip, or round its head, it would be best to apply another dose of Q10, and leave the bolt to stand for another 30 minutes.

knocking bolt head

If the bolt is still too tight, give the corner of the bolt head a firm tap with a 4-pound hammer. Be sure to use a piece of aluminium or brass, so that the bolt head doesn’t get damaged in the process.

If the above mentioned procedure still doesn’t work, then you may need to use a heat gun to warm and expand the housing around the bolt.

Link your spanners for extra torque

Once the housing is sufficiently heated, give the spanner another try. DIY TIP: You can increase your spanner’s leverage / torque by linking two spanners together.

Linking two spanners together for more leverage

Two spanners linked together.

Use Q20 to prevent rust

Once the bolt is loose, be sure to clean the thread with a wire brush, and apply a squirt of Q20 to prevent future rust.

 

You may need to repeat some of these steps multiple times before the bolt / nut finally gives. Sometimes, the best solution to a problem is not about what tool you use, but rather, how persistent and patient you are.

 

Some important points to remember…

  • Never hit the shaft end with a hammer directly; this will distort and mushroom the end so that it will never pass through the housing.
  • Never use a worn spanner (or socket) on a tight bolt or nut – you’re guaranteed to make the problem worse by rounding the bolt head.
  • When you re-assemble your project, apply Q20 to prevent future rust.
  • Never apply too much torque to the ring-end of a low-quality spanner – they tend to break and shoot bits of metal about!
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