Unsticking Stuck Nuts and Bolts

Published on April 29th, 2021

If you’ve never faced seized fasteners, maybe this is the year the completion of a project will depend on what Darrell Nicholson of Practical Sailor shares in this report:


My friend Nick and I are still debating which bolts are tougher to break free: shaft coupling bolts or the lug nuts on an old trailer. Nick argues that lug nuts spend more time underwater and are usually torqued down a whole lot tighter than a shaft coupling screw. On the opposite side, I contend that shaft coupling bolts require you to assume the yoga pose Downward Pretzel just to see the bolts.

The argument will no doubt carry on for years, but this week, as I began the slow work of liberating three seized seacocks on the 50-year-old Yankee 30 Opal (formerly Bay Star), our recently acquired project boat, I was reminded that even the most stubborn bolts can often be coaxed loose with a judicious application of penetrating oil, the right tools, patience, and muscle.

Longtime readers will remember our previous encounter with Dustin Rahl, owner of a very busy mobile trailer service in Sarasota, Fla. – Trailers 2 Go. While the most corroded components must often be cut free, many of the seized nuts and bolts he encounters in his work can be liberated.

On our first meeting with Rahl, the axle on the trailer for our Catalina 22 test boat Jelly (now replaced by the 1983 Catalina Lil’ Spitfire), had cracked at the weld, so that its left wheel splayed outward at a 20-degree angle. Dustin arrived early Tuesday to remove the axle, which was rusted beyond hope, so that he could measure it and order a new one. Alas, the lug nut bolts stood in his way.

He didn’t even bother to try them cold. “I’ll just give it a shot of PB Blaster,” he said. And that was that. – Full report

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