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Can't Win for Losing

When we got out of bed last weekend, we thought we would be writing about a noise issue we are having with our Grizzly but as we were tearing things down trying to find the issue, we found that we were breaking more things than we were fixing. Ah, the joys of ATV ownership and DIY maintenance. I started off thinking that I needed to adjust the valves but it turned out that they were all within tolerance. Thinking that the noise had to be farther in, I wanted to check the free play in the rocker shafts. Unfortunately, that meant removing the valve cover and that involved removing the 16 bolts that hold it down. Normally, this isn’t really that bad but just like when I rebuilt the carburetor last week (read about that here), every one of them had to fight me. In fact, between rebuilding the carburetor last week and removing the valve cover this week, we spent so much time fighting stripped bolts that it inspired us to write a whole post on the topic.


All of the bolts were hex bolts with the same size head, but some of them were more difficult to remove than others. While a few of them came off with some good ole' elbow grease, the majority of them took more creative steps. With each bolt, I started with the first step below. If that didn't work, I moved on to the next step. Note: Last week I used pliers on some of the more difficult screw heads... I would have used pliers again this time, but the valve cover didn't leave me any room. If it is at all practical for you, I would suggest that you try pliers well before you break out your hammer and chisel. 


Hex (Allen) Wrench with Shocking and Leverage

The first thing I tried was using a hammer to shock my hex wrench.

This does two things; shocks any rust or debris with a quick jolt and puts the pressure on the bolt to break it loose. Then I used the boxed end of a wrench to apply leverage to the hex wrench, which applied steady torque to the bolt head. This worked pretty well. The two issues I ran into were not getting the wrench into the bolt far enough and wearing down the hex wrench.


Move to a Half Size Larger Hex Wrench

After trying the step above, I still had six bolts that did not want to come out. The next thing I could have tried was a half size larger hex wrench, but I didn't have one on hand, it was Sunday, and all the stores were closed. This is a personal call on whether you would want to try this step or move onto the next method. For me, it was worth it to just move on. If you wanted to try a half size up wrench, you would want to drive it in with a hammer then repeat the step above.  


Twist Sockets

Twist sockets are awesome. The set I have is a Blue-Point but there are many manufacturers that carry something similar. They have a left-hand sharp tapering spiral inside them that digs into the bolt head. The left-hand spiral allows the socket to dig further into the bolt head as you are turning the bolt counter-clockwise (lefty loosey). To use a twist socket, just drive it onto the bolt head...


And turn it out with a ratchet.

In the photo below, you can see where the twist socket grabbed the bolt head and cut notches.

That sounded so easy, right? Well, remember when I said that the Grizzly was being a bear and fighting me every step? And remember how I said that I didn't have enough room to try pliers? Some of the bolts were in such a small space that I didn't even have enough room to drive on a twist socket. I was down to my last resort...  


Chisel and a Hammer

I hate using chisels and do not have very many. The only one rolling around in my tool box (that wasn't dull) was way bigger than it needed to be. But it was Sunday and things were already torn apart so I just made due.

I started by putting the chisel to the bolt head at about a 45-degree angle and pointing counter clockwise. Then I lightly hammered the chisel, giving it more and more force, until it made a good notch in the bolt head and the bolt started to turn.

When you finish with the chisel, there won't be much bolt head left...

  Fortunately, I didn't have to take any more extreme measures, although I do need to replace the majority of bolts now that the heads are either stripped or rounded off completely. Then, just when I thought I was done and could pull the valve cover, I found one more bolt hidden under the motor mount bolt.

This was one of those head-scratching moments. The chisel wouldn't fit and the twist socket seemed to be a bit too big as well. At this point, I had no choice but to drive the twist socket down into the gap and hope that it would go far enough on to grab the head.

Finally, something did go my way! The twist socket worked and I got the last bolt out. I WIN!

With the valve cover finally removed, I thought I was done working with stubborn bolts. But then the bear reared his head and I found another problem bolt on the frame. This one was broken off flush with the top of the frame.



We'll talk about this next week.  

Do you have any tools that work well in tight spots? How about any other tips for removing stubborn bolts? Have you ever felt like an ATV was completely against you? Please tell me I'm not the only one...

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