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Tech Tip 309... Rusty Screw Removal Made Easy

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by SamIyam, Dec 11, 2003.

  1. As an aircraft mechanic, I learned how to deal with the removal of screws... thousands of them... and I have the forearm to prove it!

    But NOTHING compares the the frustration of removing rusty screws in our old cars... and those of you who have ever removed a door hinge screw... you know they can be a bitch!

    So a couple of years ago I was removing some rusty hinges on a '50 Ford... they had never been off, and despite the car being a one owner california car... they were STUCK! So after soaking them with Tri-flow, WD-40 and liquid wrench... I dug out the old "Hammer-the-shit-out-of-it" impact screwdriver... and proceeded to mushroom one of the Phillips headed screws on one of the hinges...

    Then the owner showed up... a guy who is the definition of "anal retentive"... he also happens to be the owner of the FBO that I worked at... so he knows how to un do screws!

    So, he takes one look at the screw, gets that look on his face, and then says that he has just the thing I need to take those screws out... even the one that was destroyed.

    What he described was a tool that Snap-On makes... but for FREE... I whipped one out myself in about 15 minutes...

    What it is:
    Basically it is an adaptor for your air hammer...
    yea, they usually come with a chizel, a sheet metal cutter and a punch... and bein's that I buy the cheap ones at Kragen, I usually have an extra chizel or two lyin' around...
    So, I hacked the end off of a bit... ground the chrome off a Tiawan 1/4" socket... welded that to the end of the old chizel and then welded an arm made out of 3/8" rod onto the side.
    To use this wonder tool... all you do it install it in your air hammer, put a tim in the end of it and then lightly apply pressure to the trigger... now you don't have to go to town on it and put full line pressure to the hammer... just a dat-dat-dat-dat-dat-dat rhythm will do. onse you give it a dozen hits or so, begin applying pressure to the handle and the screw will come out... guaranteed you will NEVER have to drill another screw out again.

    Oh yea, this tool is a little hard on the tips... so you will go through them quite often... I have pictured a 5/16" tip, which may be the hot set up...

    Anyway, here's a pic of the parts to make one, an air hammer and a completed screw extractor.

    Screw away!

    Attached Files:

    Trichop, slack, oj and 2 others like this.
  2. FuckinCool Sam! I'll be making one tomorrow!
  3. Very cool. I will be making one of those.
  4. Machinos
    Joined: Dec 30, 2002
    Posts: 761


    I wouldn't be so sure about that guarantee... Three of the doors on my '47 are hanging halfway off because I took the impact bit (and screwdriver tip) from a 1/2" drive "hand operated" impact wrench and put it on a gigantic electric impact wrench. About half the bolts came out with a LOT of effort, they were practically red-hot when they finally fell out, and the threads were gone. The other half of them broke the screwdriver tips. I even got an expensive Craftsman bit and it STILL broke it. I'm figuring I'll probably have to just blowtorch them out and try and rebuild the hinge area later.

  5. I like this one! I thought you were gonna say you weld a little teeny flat washer and itty bitty nut on the screw head. That's a wonderful tech tip. I like it because I've been 'zactly where you were with the shubox ford [fine threaded] 5/16" door screws. I can't help but wonder what genius decided that a philips head was a good idea for these screws. I replaced all mine with stainless steel tapered hex head screws...slathered in "Never Sieze"..
  6. No machinos... like George Zimmer "I guarantee it!"... [​IMG]

    The question is, do you have the handle on yours? If not, and if you can't put a little body pressure on it while you turn it back and forth... it won't work... I have taked screws out that are totally RUSTED and the head is almost gone! Flatheads are a little harder, and there have been a few I haven't been able to do... but for the Phillips screws... this is a must...
  7. Hot Rod To Hell
    Joined: Aug 19, 2003
    Posts: 3,032

    Hot Rod To Hell
    from Flint MI

    That's a hell of an idea! I'll be making one soon! THANKS! [​IMG]
  8. kustombuilder
    Joined: Sep 18, 2002
    Posts: 7,754

    from Novi, MI

    too fuckin cool. i'm all over that one. i have'nt read all the tech tips but this is my personal favorite so far [​IMG]...

  9. The reason this works so well is that the hammering action breaks up the rust in the threads. It also helps seat the drive bit in the screw for good grip when turning.

    Great tech tip Sam and I'm sure it will help many people.
  10. kustombuilder
    Joined: Sep 18, 2002
    Posts: 7,754

    from Novi, MI

    yeah i know. it makes perfect sense. makes me go "why did'nt i think of that?" lol...
  11. Roothawg
    Joined: Mar 14, 2001
    Posts: 20,961


    Those are commonly called "knockers" or "old men knockers".
    I didn't name em but US Tools sells em and Brown aviation prolly has em.

    Here is one from Brown. Brown aviation
  12. Boones
    Joined: Mar 4, 2001
    Posts: 9,662

    from Kent, Wa
    1. Northwest HAMBers

    Just came in from the garage.. Letting a few screws soak before continuing my assualt on them.. Looks like I need your tool (and a air schissel).. Wish I had it now...
  13. Flat Ernie
    Joined: Jun 5, 2002
    Posts: 8,406

    Flat Ernie
    Tech Editor

    For that extra bit of grip in your philips screw head, dip the screwdriver tip in valve grinding compound. Helps keep it from slipping!

  14. Rocknrod
    Joined: Jan 2, 2003
    Posts: 648

    from NC, USA

    Thats a cool tip!

    Now I have to learn how to weld to make one... [​IMG]
  15. Elrusto
    Joined: Apr 3, 2003
    Posts: 1,285


    I gotta take some screws out of a Model T door hinge, that oughta come in handy! THANKS!!
  16. MercMan1951
    Joined: Feb 24, 2003
    Posts: 2,654


    SamIyam: great post. I would have never thought of that. I'll build one of those soon!

    Don't mean to hi-jack your post, BUT:

    In this vein of rusted screw removal, I have 2 more "tech" tips to add:

    1) For small phillips or flat-blade screws that won't budge, the kind that you slip once or twice on with your screwdriver and start destroying the heads, but you know they aren't THAT rusted that they won't come out without heat, try this:

    There is a product out there called "Screw Grab". It comes in a small tube you can buy at your local hardware store. It's basically powdered graphite mixed in with a liquid "paste" medium. You squirt it on the head of the screw and a little on the screwdriver, and you can USUALLY free those semi-stripped head screws. Works well on trim and dash (interior) screws. Won't work on the large door-hinge phillips head screws, I tried. [​IMG]

    2) Besides grabbing your torch and heating the threads of a screw cherry-red, or soaking them in "penetrating" oil, Sears makes phillips-style style adaptors (as I'm sure many tool companies do); get a 3/8 drive, with an adaptor, and put it in your impact wrench. I think SamIyam
    touched on this and dismissed it for what he needed, but I used this to back out the phillips-head screws on the door hinges of my '51 Merc. They hadn't been touched since 1951 (a MICHIGAN CAR!), and after trying all other means, a slow and steady rat-a-tat-tat with the impact gun and the phillips bit got them out well enough to re-use them again!(Thanks to whomever on here suggested using an impact -it worked). Hope this gives a couple more avenues for people with those damn stuck bolts...
  17. dodgerodder
    Joined: Feb 15, 2005
    Posts: 1,943


    Well I know I'm kind of bringing back the dead on this one, but its such a useful post it deserves it! I saved this for a while, a today finally decided to try it, as I REALLY had a need for it. I needed to remove all the door hinges from my Model A tudor, as well as a ton of regular screws to remove the gas tank, and various other hardware to disassemble it. All in all easily 50 rusty stuck 76 year old screws.

    The car is in good shape, but still every screw was rusted solid, and had jacked up screw heads, all of them were regular of course. Yesterday I tried heat, soaking with pb blaster for days, etc, and not one screw would budge.

    I remembered this post and decided if it even took one screw out easier I'd be happy. Well I took the 10 minutes to make this, and tried it. The first screw I tried, and as if by magic, it came out effortlessly, and within 10 seconds!:D

    Must be an easy one, right? Well within 1 1/2 hours, I had the ENTIRE car stripped down to a bare shell, with not one broken screw! I'm still in shock, as it took me days of anger to strip my fordor to the same point.

    Heres a before/after pic of how far I got. The one thing that really helped get the door hinge screws, as well as the bigger regular screws out was the tip I found at Home Depot. I attached a pic of it. It was cheap, like $2. It is a huge regular bit. It is a little wide to fit in the door hinge screws, which are recessed into washers in the door jamb. All I did was grind it a little narrower in the bench grinder for a perfect fit, and it worked like a charm.

    This thing works for many reasons. The tapping from the air hammer, knocks rust off the threads, and frees the stuck fastener. And the inward pressure seats the bit, and keeps it from slipping out of the bit. And since the chisel spins freely in the air hammer, once you've rapped on the screw a dozen times first, you can spin the handle to unscrew the fastener while you continue light tapping with the air hammer. You gotta try it.

    Sam, I owe you a beer, great tip, I am so thankful. Heres the pics


    Attached Files:

    Trichop likes this.
  18. Hackerbilt
    Joined: Aug 13, 2001
    Posts: 6,247


    Sam is one of the craftiest guys on here and was always one of the first to help out or show neat ways of doing things...but he just doesn't post much anymore. Our loss.

    Thanks for passing on the instructions for such a cool and simple tool Sam!
    It should be locked in the Tech pages somewhere...

    And thanks for bringing it back up Dodgerodder!!! ;)
  19. Bugman
    Joined: Nov 17, 2001
    Posts: 3,483


    Wow, back from the past. Want to here something funny(in an ironic sort of way)? I have the pic Sam posted saved on my computer from when it was originally posted. Every time I'm flipping through old pics, I come to it, and think "I wonder what that tool is for? It must be useful because I saved the pic." Now, I know :D
  20. old beet
    Joined: Sep 25, 2002
    Posts: 5,750

    old beet

    I always learn from Sam!...Thanks............OLDBEET
  21. dodgerodder
    Joined: Feb 15, 2005
    Posts: 1,943


    I hope that bringing this up will help out some guys that never saw this before. If somebody had told me how well it works, I'd never believe it.

    Getting done today in a very short time would have easily taken many days of anger, drilling out, and breaking off screws left and right. Instead they all came out effortlessly without even one breaking or the head stripping.

    Its a shame Sam isn't around as much, but I still owe him a beer or two for this one
  22. a1930ford
    Joined: Aug 27, 2005
    Posts: 140


    Although most people have a tendancy to unscrew rusted screws first, I have often found that if you actually begin by tightening first and then trying to unscrew, it breaks the rust bond and often makes the screw backing out a bit easier. Not always, but it is easy enough to ruin the phillips head and round it out in backing out immediately. I find that I seem to have better luck if I try to tighten a smidge first and then back out. That is, unless it is the very last bolt or in the worst possible place for getting any leverage. Those are the ones that will give the old knuckles a workout and a skinning. :)

    The rubbing compound trick and this neat little air tool may come in really handy.
  23. Sam
    Thanks for the great idea!
    I will be making one for myself as well. Can't wait to try it.
  24. Ted H
    Joined: Jan 7, 2003
    Posts: 312

    Ted H

    Thanks for bringing this back up.I'm faced with removing some Model A door hinges and was thinking of Sam's tool but couldn't remember who or when it was posted.
    I also miss Sam's presence here but he must still be hanging around cause he just posted on the HAMB gas rail at Goodguys thread.
    Hi, Sam!
  25. Wild Turkey
    Joined: Oct 17, 2005
    Posts: 902

    Wild Turkey

    The hammering action also heats up the screw and the expansion helps break the bonds.

    I'm starting to use a cordless impact screw driver (uses the 1/4" hex drive bits) a lot and having lots of luck with it.

    Sometimes it's just like getting a stuck car out of the mud -- forward, reverse, forward, reverse, etc --

    I wish someone would come out with left-hand drill bits to fit the hex shank -- drill it out or back it out, don't matter:D as long as it's OUT!
  26. dodgerodder
    Joined: Feb 15, 2005
    Posts: 1,943


    No problem man, glad others can make use of it like I did. Believe me when I tell you this is the ONLY thing to use on model a hinges(or any frozen hard to remove fasteners), I'm still amazed that it worked so easily.

    I wish I had tried this when I fought with all the hinge screws on my fordor a for half a week of cussing.

    BTW, I wouldn't post on a public forum that you were thinking of "Sams tool".......:p
  27. dodgerodder
    Joined: Feb 15, 2005
    Posts: 1,943


    I haven't seen those cordless impact drivers, sounds like it could be useful for some stuff though. Gonna have to look into them
    westwind likes this.
  28. Retroline
    Joined: Aug 20, 2002
    Posts: 1,121


    BTTT......... Everyone will be needing to make one of these. I could have used it many times. Now, let's go destroy a cheap chisel.
    Thanks Sam.:)
  29. Awesome Tech. Thanks SAm...Im going to make one for myself now. :)
  30. Gumpa
    Joined: Jan 19, 2006
    Posts: 602


    I will be making one tomorrow Thanks guy. Gumpa

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