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In the Shop

RSS By: Dan Anderson, Farm Journal

As a farm machinery mechanic and writer, Dan brings a hands-on approach that only a pro can muster. Along with his In the Shop blog, Dan writes a column by the same name as well as the Shop Series for Farm Journal magazine. Always providing practical information, he is a master at tackling technical topics and making them easy for all of our readers to understand. He and his wife, Becky, live near Bouton, Iowa.

Trick For Allen Head Bolts

Apr 07, 2010
Allen head bolts and plugs are common on the hydraulic systems of sprayers and planters, so here's a tip to avoid stripping out the heads of those aggravating fasteners this spring.

Use an allen head socket rather than a L-shaped allen wrench. Put that allen head socket on a breaker bar. Insert the hex end of the allen socket into the allen bolt to be removed. Apply steady counter-clockwise pressure to the breaker bar handle, as you repeatedly smack with a hammer the end of the breaker bar holding the socket. Imagine you're driving the allen socket into the allen head bolt. (You can use a regular 3/8- or 1/2-inch ratchet wrench, but beating on the back of the head of a ratchet wrench tends to be hard on the ratcheting mechanism. I've found breaker bars are much more forgiving about this sort of abuse.)

The downward impact not only forces the allen socket deeper into the bolt and reduces the chance of it twisting out, but also magically loosen rusty, over-tightened threads. I'd say that 9 out of 10 allen bolts that were too tight to loosen normally without  fear of stripping out the allen head release after the third or fourth blow with a hammer. 
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COMMENTS (4 Comments)

I'm curious -- does this technique work with hex head bolts as well? Can't count the number of rusty bolts I've broken over the years, especially in the smaller bolt sizes. And, of course, the broken bolt tends to be inaccessible then. I've just gotten in the habit of having to drill them out and tap them a size larger.
1:31 PM Apr 10th
The key is to turn and keep steady pressure on the hex wrench or socket while you smack it with the hammer. Dan's right--sometimes it's like magic the way frozen allen head bolts come loose after only a couple whacks.
10:37 PM Apr 8th

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