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Stripped Allen Bolts and Smoking Hot Weather

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I’m sure you are as shocked as I am that this post is about yours truly working on a jeep! It’s truly a miracle!

This all started because this weekend and into the early part of next week, we will have record hot temperatures, the hottest of which seem to be centered on ol’ little Prosser, Washington! (See the Axios story here) … records are going to fall.



Because things are supposed to heat up, I wanted to clear room in the shop so we could move a couple more vehicles in there. To do that, I wanted to move the racing jeep underneath Patterson (which would be lifted up on the hoist). But, to drive the racer within the hoist stands, I wanted to remove the wheel spacers to reduce the width.

Sounds simple enough, right? So, I jacked up the rear, pulled one rear tire. That’s when I saw this mess: several of the Allen bolts have been stripped. Ugh. WTF?


race-jeep-allen-bolts3 race-jeep-allen-bolts2 race-jeep-allen-bolts1

I figured I had a minimum of 2 solutions:

  1. I can weld Allen wrenches on each of the stripped bolts, then (hopefully) spin them off.
  2. I can drill out the Allen bolts.

Thankfully, I don’t want the spacers anyway; if they get ruined in the process, so be it.

But, before I started, I figured I would throw my dilemma out to you folks to see if there are any other ideas floating around?


20 Comments on “Stripped Allen Bolts and Smoking Hot Weather

  1. Frank Frain

    Dave, you might try a large punch for those allens. Landing it somewhere between the socket whole and the outside diameter. Of course driving it in the direction to loosen. They look hardened so you need to get the punch started into the head before trying to turn it, good luck. 65* and clear here in Ma. 113* can’t imagine what that is like. Thanks for all you do for us.

  2. Scott

    Not sure if this will work for you…but I have had some success driving in a torx bit that is just slightly larger than the proper allen wrench. It isn’t pretty, but has worked for me. Another thought is rather than weld allen wreches on, you could weld a nut or short bolt.

    Good luck!

  3. CraigInPA

    When confronted by this, I usually pull out the dremel tool with a cut off wheel installed and make a straight slot cut across the center. I then use a regular straight screwdriver to unscrew the hex heads. However, that might not be an option for you because of the size of the current hex head holes.

    In your case, I’d put a bolt that fits into the hole into the hole and then tack weld it in place. Then, it would be an easy removal process with a socket wrench, breaker bar, or spanner.

  4. David Eilers Post author

    I can see how the Torx bits would work for Allen bolts that weren’t under significant torque, but based on how tight the bolts are that I tried to remove, I don’t believe the Torx will work in this case, but I see no reason not to at least give it a try.

    Welding a bolt on certainly makes more sense than the Allen wrench (that just seems like a “duh” moment for me, lol). I suspect that’s likely the direction I’ll be forced to go.

    Frank: I think the Allen bolts are on the soft side, given they stripped rather than they stripping the Allen wrench used to strip them. I have used that strategy in other situations, but I don’t think it will work in this case (doesn’t mean I can’t try it).

    One other idea I had was to torch the bolt heads, but I don’t have my dad’s oxy/acetalene here (and haven’t used it in about 35 years).

  5. Allen D Streithorst

    Dave from Kettering,
    I think you might fair to soak all the Allen heads with a shot of penetrating oil (PB Blaster) first. Use your Allen wrench on those that still have a decent hex hole. Use a shop mallet to impact the Allen wrench, hitting it lightly as to not break off the wrench end till the bolt breaks loss. Steel against Aluminum tend to corrode together. The use a drill size big enough to drill off the head of those remaining, allowing the spacer to be removed. Then use your vice grips to remove the studs left. The drilling action should generate heat to the threads to aid in the final removal of the remaining bolt. Thinking to this might help save the spacers for future use.

  6. David Eilers Post author

    Good point on the PB Blaster (which I have) and the tapping. I think my head just isn’t in the game. Too much writing and not enough shop work these past eight years!

  7. Mike Mozingo

    I suspect the bolts may have had Loctite applied, I would put a little heat to them. By welding your wrench to the bolt you will accomplish both tasks.

  8. muley

    Have you got an impact driver, the type you smack the end with a hammer? They are great for bustin stuff like this loose.

  9. Frank Frain

    Don’t want to kill this one but the PO may have used Lok Tite on those fine threaded counter sunk Allen’s. Don’t see any concave lock washers and it is a wheel hub so he might wanted to be safe with L.T. In that case only heat will break it down, your Dad is saying “heat Dave”.

  10. SE Pennsylvania Steve

    And of course if you’re not working in an air conditioned shop run that shop fan/box fan as close as possible to you and that hub or that 100 plus degree NW heat will curb youir enthusiasm and cut your workday short.

  11. Alaska Paul

    Dave, for the next 7 days the high temperatures here in Anchorage are expected to be in the 60’s with Wednesday June 30th reaching 67 degrees. The ice cream truck has ben driving through the neighborhood since late May and I’ve been watering the lawn often. Stay cool and have fun.

  12. Chuck

    Are you using an impact gun? If not, I definitely would, this has made the number one difference for me in these situations. Even an electric impact driver might do the trick. On the ones already stripped out, hammer in a allen socket bit with some tin foil layers or wire over the end. But at this point it might be faster to sacrifice an allen wrench, cut it in one inch pieces, tack weld them in and then use a socket. Good luck!

  13. Tom

    Weld a nut on instead of an allen wrench. Something you can get a good wrench on. Center it and weld inside. Not tough.

  14. Doug Keeler

    If you weld, will you arc weld or braze? If it’s the former, here’s a friendly reminder to be careful where you place your ground so you don’t inadvertently arc across any bearings?

  15. David Eilers Post author

    Doug, I would arc-weld it if I welded (I haven’t brazed in thirty-plus years). You did help me remember that the spacers are aluminum (or some derivative). If I did weld, it would have to be grounded at the point of a bolt, nut, or Allen wrench section.

    This issue is unfortunately on the back-burner at the moment.


  16. Marty Tilford

    However you get them off try not to ruin the spacers. Those are adapter spacers and are a bit expensive.

  17. Jeff Mello

    Do what Tom said. You have a huge, flat surface there to (rosette) weld a big nut onto the heat will kill any Loctight the old owner may have used and draw in the Peanut Butter aka PB Blaster you should have already added.
    I’ll take the adapter spacers to go with my other 2 if you are getting rid of them

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