Adventure Projects is hiring a web engineer to join us in Boulder, CO
Mountain Project Logo

Help removing spinning 5-piece bolt


Original Post
Chase Webb · · Little Rock, AR · Joined Apr 2014 · Points: 361

During a recent re-bolting effort, one particular 5-piece was very difficult to remove. We tried to loosen the bolt, but it was just spinning inside the hole. I tried to re-seat the cone with a funkness device and had no luck. I also tried prying against it with a large crowbar while using a wrench to loosen it, also producing no results. I think the issue was that the original developer had filled the hole up with silicon which I think may have caked up the threads. Anyone have any thoughts or experience removing something similar?

Ryan Swanson · · Pepedidnothingwrong, freejg · Joined Jan 2018 · Points: 50

In a machine shop, this is an easy enough task.  In the field, that's a damn good question.  You might have to shear off the head, core the whole thing out, and patch the hole.  Then drill a new hole and call it a day.  You might not be able to get it out with destroying too much of the rock around it.

Ken Noyce · · Layton, UT · Joined Aug 2010 · Points: 2,249
Chase Webb wrote: During a recent re-bolting effort, one particular 5-piece was very difficult to remove. We tried to loosen the bolt, but it was just spinning inside the hole. I tried to re-seat the cone with a funkness device and had no luck. I also tried prying against it with a large crowbar while using a wrench to loosen it, also producing no results. I think the issue was that the original developer had filled the hole up with silicon which I think may have caked up the threads. Anyone have any thoughts or experience removing something similar?

I've had this issue before, but the only thing that I was able to get to work was prying it with a crowbar while loosening it.  Luckily in my case it worked.  Based on the things you tried, unfortunately, I think your only other real option would be cutting off the hex head, driving the shaft back into the rock and patching the hole.  

John Wilder · · Las Vegas, NV · Joined Feb 2004 · Points: 1,535
Ken Noyce wrote:

I've had this issue before, but the only thing that I was able to get to work was prying it with a crowbar while loosening it.  Luckily in my case it worked.  Based on the things you tried, unfortunately, I think your only other real option would be cutting off the hex head, driving the shaft back into the rock and patching the hole.  

This is likely your only real option. 

climber pat · · Las Cruces, NM · Joined Feb 2006 · Points: 215

I noticed a silicon caulk remover at the hardware store the other day. Maybe putting some of that down the hole would free up the threads?

Jim Titt · · Germany · Joined Nov 2009 · Points: 490
climber pat wrote: I noticed a silicon caulk remover at the hardware store the other day. Maybe putting some of that down the hole would free up the threads?

Going to be a challenge on a bolt he can´t undo! The alternative is to heat the bolt up, the sealer decomposes at fairly low temperatures (unless it´s high-temp silicone of course) but it probably won´t be.

Gunkiemike · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2009 · Points: 2,800
climber pat wrote: I noticed a silicon caulk remover at the hardware store the other day. Maybe putting some of that down the hole would free up the threads?

If the bolt is old enough to be replaced, I would guess that rust is more likely the underlying cause of the stuck cone.

Ken Noyce · · Layton, UT · Joined Aug 2010 · Points: 2,249
Gunkiemike wrote:

If the bolt is old enough to be replaced, I would guess that rust is more likely the underlying cause of the stuck cone.

That was my thought as well.  

Shelton Hatfield · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2011 · Points: 585

If you are looking at resorting to chopping and patching, it might be worth trying to spin the bolt with a power drill, if allowed in your area, the same way people do to remove wedge bolts. I’ve never done it on a pesky 5 piece, but maybe someone who has can comment. Good luck

Ken Noyce · · Layton, UT · Joined Aug 2010 · Points: 2,249
Shelton Hatfield wrote: If you are looking at resorting to chopping and patching, it might be worth trying to spin the bolt with a power drill, if allowed in your area, the same way people do to remove wedge bolts. I’ve never done it on a pesky 5 piece, but maybe someone who has can comment. Good luck

Part of the key to spinning is that there must be some outward force on the bolt to groove the cone.  With a five piece, it would be very difficult to exert outward pressure on the bolt while simultaneously spinning it.  Spinning works on a wedge bolt because there are external threads that can be used both for pulling and spinning.

Ryan Swanson · · Pepedidnothingwrong, freejg · Joined Jan 2018 · Points: 50
Ken Noyce wrote:

Part of the key to spinning is that there must be some outward force on the bolt to groove the cone.  With a five piece, it would be very difficult to exert outward pressure on the bolt while simultaneously spinning it.  Spinning works on a wedge bolt because there are external threads that can be used both for pulling and spinning.

And of course you couldn't drill and tap it and not break off the head.  This hole isn't being reused without a generator, a long extension cord, a haul system, and a portable spark erosion machine.
Greg Barnes · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2006 · Points: 1,787

There's another option if you can cut off the head of the bolt and are prepared to use glue-ins, and that's what I call "redneck core drilling." Here's photos of replacing a 3/8" split-shaft bolt with a 12mm glue-in (so the hole size is 9/16"/14mm), this was in granite in 2014 (top of Tiger Wall at Courtright Reservoir).







You can see the small SDS bits left tracks down the side of the bolt:

I don't have a photo of the hole drilled out to 9/16" and notched, but here's the final bolt:


As long as you can drill alongside the bolt (can be tricky with squirrelly little 5/32" SDS bits), this ought to work. If you can go up to a 5/8" hole (16mm) for the large Twisted Leg bolts then you can use a bigger small SDS bit (3/16") which is less squirrelly. If you're working in soft rock the small SDS bits may track out into the rock.

The other main problem with this method (other than the squirrelly little bits tracking strangely) is that the bits are easy to break, and if that happens then you end up with pieces of bits next to the bolt, which is nasty. So be gentle and have several extra small bits so you can swap out before one snaps. Again this is a good argument for 3/16" bits and large Twisted Leg bolts, the bigger bits are easier to control and less likely to snap off.

Of course you can cut the head off and chop and patch, which is a lot less work, but in cases where you really want to re-use the hole this is an option. As far as 5-pieces, this would not work on just cone and sleeves, the bolt core needs to be in the hole.

And as far as the above photos - these days, if you know you're dealing with a 3/8" split shaft, you can simply try extracting the rusty bolt straight out with a puller (Doodad, Hurley, etc), and you may get lucky and the bolt could just inch out (especially in softer rock).
Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

Post a Reply to "Help removing spinning 5-piece bolt"
in the Fixed Hardware: Bolts & Anchors

Log In to Reply