Friday, July 08, 2011

1 + 1 = Happy

The funny thing about bolts is when the end breaks off, nine times out of ten it stays stuck in whatever you were bolting into.

This is what happened to the alternator bolt on Big Green.  Snapped right off and the end was left inside the engine.  Which makes it really hard to just bolt in another bolt.  You have to get that end out.

For me, it’s been a three week process.  Mr. Gearhead rigged the alternator so that the car could run, but since the bolt wasn’t in the engine, it really wasn’t secure enough for long-term use.

2 Weeks ago I tore into it and attempted to extract the bolt piece.  This entailed removing the alternator, 2 of it’s brackets and the fan and it’s shroud.  Lotta removal for a small piece of bolt.  I used an extraction bit that Mr. Gearhead gave me, and all it did was mess up the end of the bolt.  So, I put it all back together again and let it sit for a while.  I gave up on trying it myself and figured I’d just have to cough up the couple hundred bucks to get someone to do it.

A week ago I brought it down to Midas.  They’ve done some work on my cars for me before, but this time they said they didn’t have the ability to drill out a bolt.  So I took it to Pep Boys who said they should be able to do it.  5 hours later I called them up to see how progress was going and was told they looked at it but couldn’t do anything.  Seems my first attempt was off center and messed it up so they were unable to even try.  They said that I’d probably have to get a new engine head (several hundred bucks) that would replace the part of the engine the bolt was broken in.  Thanks a lot guys.

So my older brother, Pedro, pointed out that since I’d probably have to buy a new head anyway, why not just try to drill the thing out myself.  If I totally screwed up the head, no real loss anyhow.  So I figured I’d give it one more try on my own before going the real expensive way.

This week I went to AutoZone and asked the guy if he had something to pull out a broken bolt.  He showed me this extracting drill bit and said what I needed to do was drill a hole in the bolt then use this one backwards, it would drill into the bolt, tighten down and then unscrew it.  I even told him that I had attempted it with a different bit and had drilled off center.  He said no problem, this would still work.

So, today that’s what I did.  Took me a total of 3 hours, and that included disassembling the car, going down to NAPA for a new bolt and then reassembling the car.  Actual work on the bolt literally took less than 10 minutes.  And Midas and Pep Boys couldn’t do it.  Meh!

So, now Old Blue and Big Green are in dang good running order, and that makes me happy.  Now I just have to put the transmission from the Wagon into the Convertible and I’ll have 3 functioning ‘70-ish Ford LTDs.


A Paperback Writer said...

I know there's a joke in here somewhere about "you went through all that just to get a screw," but I'd probably be the only one who thought it was funny.
Junior high.

Max said...

Well, there'd be at least two of us. I laughed and all I got was the punchline.

The English Teacher said...

That's all there was: a punchline. ;)