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Old 11-16-2018, 11:05 PM   #1
StrnWolf
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1995 SL2
1994 SL1
Default Broken Bolt Help

For my 95 SL2, I need to remove two or three broken bolts. I need advice on what brand and size of extractors I need for the job to be successful. For the two bolts that must be removed, one of them is the outer valve cover bolt, which would be 9th in the tighten order it appears, and then the other is the middle fuel rail bolt. Both of those, the bolt broke off by some bad mechanic during ownership before I had the car. Both bolts, the entire threaded part of bolt is stuck in the head. There may be a 3rd bolt, the right center bolt, which appears to 2nd in order, may be partially stuck as well since its not a Saturn bolt.

I have never extracted any screw or bolt, so I need to know what brand and size I need and also any tips possible for the job.

On a related, how can I find out if my aluminum valve cover is damaged and uneven? There is a chance the valve cover could be unusable from the bad mechanic.

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Old 11-17-2018, 12:17 AM   #2
billr
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Default Re: Broken Bolt Help

The first thing to consider is whether the screw broke in tension, from being over-tightened, or whether it twisted off from bottoming in the hole or seized threads. If it broke in tension, you can often get the remaining threaded stub out by using a small pick to simply turn it; it may be that loose in the female thread once it is broken and the tension load is removed.

If, however, it twisted off... you are probably in for a fight! I suggest drilling with a left-hand bit (see McMaster-Carr) and then a spiral extractor. You could use a standard RH bit, but if there is any chance the bit will grab and turn the screw, you want it to be coming out, not going in deeper.

Use a lot of care with the extractor, any type. They are usually quite hard and brittle. If you break that off in the hole you are truly in trouble. Getting out a broken extractor (or tap) often requires an electrostatic-discharge machining process and will probably cost more than the head is worth.

More than likely, the extractor will just turn and chew away the hole in the broken screw until you are starting to destroy the female threads in some places. About then, you drill out the screw completely and install a helical insert.

Obviously, soak everything with PB Blaster or similar before trying anything

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Old 11-17-2018, 02:21 AM   #3
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Default Re: Broken Bolt Help

For real fun, you should try removing a broken tap.....

Years back, I made the mistake of letting my boss know that I was good at burning out taps with an E- lox EDM machine.

He knew a guy who was making aluminum manifolds for windpower turbines. These were 50 lbs blocks of aluminum that had a myriad of drilled passages and lots of tapped NPT and straight SAE threads. Occasionally they would break a tap off.

Then they sent them to me.

These manifolds cost thousands each.

Such fun....



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Old 11-17-2018, 01:09 PM   #4
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Default Re: Broken Bolt Help

Try YouTube videos on screw or bolt extraction. You may have to view a few before finding the right one for a good example of extraction methods. It's sometimes more difficult to explain how to do something when a show-me how example is better. I've removed machine screws as small as 8-32 in aluminum castings. Over tightening breaks machine screws. The saving grace is the remaining threaded portion is dry and not seized. On cars, corrosion may partially seize bolts and make it a little more difficult to remove. Patience and a steady hand drilling a pilot hole into the broken bolt are the initial steps before a bolt extractor screws into the pilot hole to grab it. The reverse coarse threads on extractors bites into the drilled hole. If done right and drilling helped loosen the bolt, it will unscrew easily. If the wrong bolts were used and the hole was never re-threaded then the bolt may be seized and more difficult to remove.

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Old 11-20-2018, 09:53 PM   #5
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Default Re: Broken Bolt Help

Best way to take a broken fastener out is with a mig welder.

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Old 11-24-2018, 12:08 AM   #6
StrnWolf
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Default Re: Broken Bolt Help

The best tool I would have access to, after buying is a screw extractor. And I must say I am not looking forward to the task. Still need the extractor, also need a set of valve cover bolts, which brings the question, what DOHC valve cover bolts from other Saturn S models would be compatible with my engine? I plan on going to Pick-N-Pull to get parts for both Saturns next month and bolts are in that list.

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Old 11-24-2018, 12:27 AM   #7
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Default Re: Broken Bolt Help

Pretty sure all the plastic covers use the same bolts, so '94(Cali Emission), '96-'02 ought to work if you have the plastic cover. If you have the aluminum cover then I believe it's '91-'95. One cover is thicker than the other, using the longer bolts in the thinner cover is virtually guaranteed to snap off in the head. Generally, they don't snap off from being torqued too much in the threads (the wider sleeve bottoms out and snaps the threaded portion off) so it should be pretty easy to just back it out with a reverse drill bit.

SOHC cover's use the same bolts '91-'02, but the pair of bolts they use are totally incompatible with DOHC's.

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Old 11-24-2018, 08:20 PM   #8
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Default Re: Broken Bolt Help

Honestly, that brings a new question, I am not sure if my engine head and/or valve cover is original to my car. Currently I have an aluminum cover, but my head has been removed at one point and either cleaned or replaced. The head is a bright silver color while the engine and valve cover is a golden color.

So with that, how can I know if my valve cover matches my head? What if that is why the bolt broke off in the first place? Oil is leaking out from the gasket all around the cover, so now I wonder if there could be a mismatch, but I would need to know how I could tell.

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Old 11-24-2018, 08:31 PM   #9
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Default Re: Broken Bolt Help

If there was a mismatch, I don't think the VC would fit at all; the gasket surfaces wouldn't match up and the screws couldn't even be installed.

PS: measure the length of the VC screws. Those are different for the aluminum and plastic covers, and I think they are longer on the plastic ones. Maybe whoever did the swap didn't understand that and used the existing (plastic cover) screws and they can't be tightened enough to clamp down an aluminum cover tight enough to seal.

Last edited by billr; 11-24-2018 at 08:37 PM..

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Old 11-30-2018, 03:10 AM   #10
StrnWolf
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Default Re: Broken Bolt Help

Quote:
Originally Posted by billr View Post
If there was a mismatch, I don't think the VC would fit at all; the gasket surfaces wouldn't match up and the screws couldn't even be installed.

PS: measure the length of the VC screws. Those are different for the aluminum and plastic covers, and I think they are longer on the plastic ones. Maybe whoever did the swap didn't understand that and used the existing (plastic cover) screws and they can't be tightened enough to clamp down an aluminum cover tight enough to seal.
Well I am going to the yard soon to buy them and other parts for both Saturns, so I will see if I can compare lengths and go from there

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