How I Removed a Stripped Torx Bolt In 4 Weeks
When I stripped the torx bolt head on the seat post clamp on my Cipollini MCM, and could no longer adjust the seat, I decided to solve this one myself. Since there were no videos on how to remove a stripped screw from a bike frame, I recorded my odyssey, along with enough fails in this project to file this one under “stupid like me”.
Watch the video here on the PEZ Youtube channel – or scroll down to read the full story and pics
So the problem started when I was on a ride, and I was adjusting the saddle height of this bike. I was using this mini tool which came out of this awesome Blackburn mini tool pack, which I carry with me on all my rides. Well, what I didn’t do was take the proper care and attention when I was trying to unscrew the bolt to lower the saddle.
What happened is, I ended up stripping the teeth out of the top of the screw so that I couldn’t tighten it or loosen it. This presented a big problem cause I couldn’t adjust my saddle height. So I figured all right, I can take this down to my bike shop or hey, I can drill this out. How hard can this be? Yeah.
The Blackburn Switch Multi Tool is great for rides – but must be used with proper care and attention.
The first solution that I naturally thought of was, hey, this is going to be a job for my impact driver where I can basically put it in there, get the hammer out, give it a couple of hard whacks and it’ll back the screw out. Of course, the problem here being that we’re talking about a screw that’s mounted into a carbon fiber seat post. It’s pretty strong, but I don’t think it’s rated to withstand a full whack from a hammer and an impact driver. So that was out the window.
My next line of reasoning was, hey, you know what, I’m going to have to go in with the drill, drill the head out of this thing and see if I can back the screw out somehow. So I came out to the garage, got my drill out, fit it in an old drill bit and I started drilling away. Well the problem was that my old drill bits were super dull, it was taking me forever to get through to this point. So I took a pause. I went, okay, I’m going to have to make a trip down to the hardware store to get some parts for this thing.
So began my odyssey of removing this bolt. I went down to my local Canadian Tire. I picked up this little accessory for your drill called a Speedout, which basically looks like this. It’s a set of double ended drill bits. You put this into your drill, you’d put your drill in reverse, and you drill a hole into the head of the screw that is stuck in there and once you’ve got it in deep enough, you can reverse the drill bit and use this sort of reverse threaded drill that drills in and as it goes in, it’s supposed to bite into the top of the screw head and ultimately back it out of the socket that it screwed into.
The Speedout proved useless on this project – the drill bits weren’t sharp enough to drill out the Torx bolt, and the extractor teeth weren’t nearly sharp enough to bite into the screw head.
The main problem with these ones is I tried to save some money. They cost about 14 bucks and there’s not enough threading on these screw heads to actually do anything. They made no impact really at all. It was completely useless on the the screws here on the MCM, so that was a fail. Next then, back to the hardware store. I picked up another set of screw extraction devices. These ones I got at Home Depot, they’re made by Ryobi. Ryobi makes a whole bunch of drill gear. Pretty sure these guys knew what they were doing. By just looking at these screws on here, they’re deep, there’s lots of edge on these screw heads. These ones look like they’re ready to bite into something and do a much better job.
But I still had another problem with them. Dull drill bits. That I just couldn’t get into the screw far enough to get those screw extractors in. So another trip to Home Depot. This time I bought myself a kit from Milwaukee. This is a whole kit of super hard drill bits made for metal and hard metal surfaces. I could’ve bought one or two that I needed, but I have nowhere to put them. I figured they’d get lost in my toolbox floating around there. So at least this came with its own handy carrying case and hey, it’s got 23 different drill bits in here, so I’m pretty much set.
Back at the Pez test bench. I’m working on getting this stripped screw head extracted from my Cipollini MCM. So far I haven’t had any success, and I kind of got off on a tangent drilling the center of it out, trying to basically get right down to the threads so it would come out. Problem was my drill bits weren’t strong enough, they weren’t sharp enough so I basically got stuck. Nothing happened. I gave up. That was a few days ago.
In the meantime, I’ve bought a couple more tools I want to try out here. The first thing is a Dremel, a really sharp Dremel that I’m going to put into the end of my drill, and hopefully I’m going to be able to cut a slot across the top of this screw head that I can then put a flat blade screwdriver in and try and get the thing out. All right. I have attached the Dremel into the chuck of the drill here and basically I’m just going to spin this thing around. I’m going to try and cut into what’s left of the edge of this screw.
Total fail. Do not use a dremel anywhere near your beloved bike … Not sure what I was thinking.
Now I’ve done a little test cut. You can already see that I’ve sort of slipped and I’ve now damaged the face plate a little bit here. So I’m a little nervous about that, but we’re going to give this a shot anyways and see if I can get this to work. All right, here we go. Yeah. Okay. Right there. That’s not going to work. As you can see, this thing jumped out of my hand. I went down here. I haven’t damaged the carbon, but I just put that nick in it. So that was a fail. Luckily not an epic fail, but it was a fail on the last … Yeah, I’m pretty annoyed by my performance on that one. I should have known better, but hey listen, we’ve probably all done that, right?
Okay. Next up I am going to go in with the Ryobi extractor kit. So the deal here is we open this up, we find one of these screw bits that’s going to fit into the hole that I’ve already drilled in there. Let me see this big one. I don’t think it’s going to, I don’t think it’s going to bite. There’s not enough depth in this thing. So something much smaller like this. If I can get this in there, and twist it out, that could work. We’re going to be going in with this hard drill bit and seeing if we can’t get this thing to … I see that I have a new problem on my hands. That drill bit works great. It’s drilling in here. The problem is that this hole that I’m drilling is off-center. It’s not in the center of the screw, so that’s going to be a problem.
I’ve got a new bit on here. It’s the hard metal drill bit. It’s a 15 64ths dimension, and I’m going to try and recenter the hole that I’ve made into the end top of that screw, so I can then get drilling down into the center of the threads and pull it out. So I can already see that this drill bit is working way better than anything I’ve used so far, and I’m already clearing more metal out of here, so that is a great sign.
But we’ve got to go in just a little tiny bit at a time. I’ve got a much deeper hole in there right now into the screw. I’m going to attempt to use one of these drill bits now to reverse it, dig in and see if I can unlock this jammed screw. That’s not going to work. This one also is not going to work yet. May be on the verge of a breakthrough here, ladies and gentlemen. Oh yes. Here it comes. Beautiful. I’m free at last.
There it is. Look at that. Wow. Yeah. All right, so the job is done. I got to say, it’s taken me several weeks on this thing, mostly due to lack of diligence on my part. So key learnings. What did I learn from this whole project? Number one, I stripped the threads out of the top of the Torx bolt, because I wasn’t paying the necessary care and attention to what I was doing.
Key learning number two, use the right tools. In this case, sharp drill bits, the correct extractor. It’s worth spending a little bit more to get the right tool and get the job done. I mean, how many trips to the hardware store does a guy have to make? Always, always, always grease your bolts. If I’d put grease on here in the first place, these things would not have sunk in and got stuck as hard as they did, I could have probably got them out.
Satisfaction. That’s what we call it. Thanks for watching. Always a pleasure to have you here at the Pez YouTube channel. If you like this video, click subscribe and there’s a little bell in the corner down there. You can hit that. You’ll get updates every time I post a new video. Ooh, pretty awesome stuff. Right? Till next time. This is Pez out.
Links to tools I used in this video:
• Ryobi Screw Extractor Kit – https://amzn.to/2ke8g3x
• DeWalt Drill (newer model than mine) – https://amzn.to/2kJW6Q7
• Speedout Screw Extractor – https://amzn.to/2kH4XCh
• Milwakee Red Helix 23 Piece Drill Bit set – https://amzn.to/2lRyU2A
• Feedback Sports Sprint Work stand – https://amzn.to/2lLpLc6
• Blackburn Switch Multi-tool – https://amzn.to/2kI1svm
• Dremel High Speed Cutter – https://amzn.to/2kjlI6q
• Motorex Grease – https://amzn.to/2kv1rLj