How to get your bike’s screws loose

Nine sim­ple and stress-free ways to free a rounded-off fas­tener quickly and eas­ily

Motorcycle News (UK) - - This Week In Mcn -

1Don’t lose your head

We’ve all rounded off a screw at one time or another. Quite of­ten it’s caused by us­ing the wrong sized Phillips screw­driver or the screw’s just never been touched since leav­ing the fac­tory. But there are things you can do to ex­tract them. First, spray pen­e­trat­ing fluid around the screw­head and at the back if the threads are ex­posed. Even if the fluid can­not pen­e­trate ini­tially, it will start work­ing once you ini­ti­ate re­moval.

2Get­ting warm

Us­ing a heat gun, warm up the area around the screw. If the screw is in an en­gine cas­ing and the bike is a run­ner, start the en­gine to warm the bike up as it will prove more ef­fec­tive than the heat gun. Which­ever method you choose, you’re aim­ing to get the dam­aged screw and the sur­round­ing area nice and hot. This method is a very ef­fec­tive way of free­ing a steel screw stuck in alu­minium threads.

3Shock treat­ment

Hit the top of the dam­aged screw head with a ball peen ham­mer. The idea is to send a shock­wave along the length of the screw as this will help crack any cor­ro­sion that is em­bed­ded in the threads. Also, the ham­mer’s blow will slightly de­form the screw­head so that the screw­driver bit will get a sec­ond chance to grip when you have another go at re­mov­ing the screw.

Bash your bit 4

In­stead of us­ing a tra­di­tional screw­driver use one with re­place­able bits. Se­lect the size that is the next size up from what the screw­head should be. Then ham­mer the bit into the screw­head; the pre­vi­ous step should’ve de­formed the crosshead sec­tion enough to let the over­size bit in. Ham­mer it in un­til it fits tightly.

Get a grip 6

If the im­pact driver isn’t work­ing try us­ing mole grips. Care­fully ad­just the span in or­der to pinch both sides of the screw­head tightly. With the jaws se­curely clamped, try turn­ing the grips with a slow move­ment. This ac­tion needs to be only very slight, just a de­gree or two both ways, as any sharp or quick move will cause the grips to slip off.

Turn up the heat 8

If it’s still giv­ing you the run around, now’s the time to un­leash some se­ri­ous heat. Use a small hand­held gas torch to ap­ply heat di­rectly to the area of the screw; the dif­fer­ent ex­pan­sion rates of the steel screw and al­loy case of­ten is enough break the seal. A word of cau­tion how­ever – only at­tempt this method if you are cer­tain the ex­tra heat won’t cause any dam­age to sur­round­ing parts of the bike.

Make an im­pact 5

Another way of tack­ling this sit­u­a­tion is to use an im­pact driver. Try heat­ing the screw and tap­ping the head as be­fore with a ham­mer. Lo­cate the driver bit with a ham­mer. Keep ap­ply­ing a firm down­ward pres­sure while at the same time ap­ply­ing an­ti­clock­wise force to start to re­lease the screw.

Cut a new groove 7

Still no joy, why not try this? Take a small chisel and ham­mer it care­fully into the screw­head with a slight an­ti­clock­wise bias. You’re aim­ing to cre­ate a deep cut into the head while send­ing a loos­en­ing shock­wave through at the same time. Try the op­po­site side of the crosshead if you need to per­sist with this method.

Con­sider a re­place­ment 9

Man­u­fac­tur­ers of­ten use crosshead screws as stan­dard but they are a com­pro­mise, in terms of qual­ity and prac­ti­cal­ity. They can be re­placed by ei­ther an Allen-type or hexagon-headed screw, both of which are much less likely to round off as they do not rely on a down­ward force to main­tain drive in­tegrity. Hexagon-headed re­place­ment bolts also al­low you to torque up to spec­i­fi­ca­tion with bet­ter ac­cu­racy.

It’s a grim sight but thank­fully you can fix it

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