Just yesterday I was in a deep sea of melancholy with my head in my hands after breaking an EZ-Out bolt extractor into a bolt that had broken in my engine block. But then I found a cure, and I’m here to deliver the antidote to you, my fellow wrenchers.
A few weeks ago, I let my redneck side go a little too wild, and blew up my engine in a mud pit. Then I went on Craigslist and bought a used motor for 145 bucks from some random off-roading Jeep-nuts.
For the most part, the new motor looked okay, except for one thing: there was a broken motor mount bolt in the side of the engine block. My arch nemesis, Tavarish, already wrote a story on how to remove broken bolts. So, just follow his advice and Bob’s my uncle, right?
You see, ideally, Freddy’s EZ-Out method would result in something resembling the picture above: the bolt shank spins right out and I’m home free. In fact, I’ve had great success on these same engine mount bolts on another engine. But because this is a Michigan Jeep and everything is coated in rust, and because I am the most impatient wrencher in the history of earth, it didn’t go smoothly at all.
I drilled a hole into the broken bolt, stuck the EZ-Out into the hole, heated the surrounding metal with a torch and gave her a nice, hard crank. It wouldn’t budge. This is where a wise wrencher would take out the EZ-Out and throw it aside, because EZ-outs are notoriously weak. But not I. I turned it a little harder. Still nothing. “Ah screw this,” I thought, “I’m giving her all I’ve got.”
I should have learned from the whole Blown Up Engine incident that “Ah screw this, I’m giving her all I’ve got” is a pretty damn bad idea 99 percent of the time. But since I don’t learn from my mistakes, I cranked the wrench and “SNAP!”
I broke off the EZ-Out.
I tried removing the EZ-Out by breaking it with a punch and hammer (EZ-Outs are very brittle), but no dice. That’s when I realized I was doomed, because drilling through broken EZ-Outs (like the one in the picture above) is borderline impossible, as they are made of extremely-hard steel.
Seeing as I didn’t want to drop $150 on a fancy motor mount bracket that ties into additional holes in my block, I decided to call a few machine shops to see if they could help me. “Sure, I can extract that bolt no problem, bring it on by,” they said. Then I told them: “Just one thing, though. There’s a broken EZ-Out in the bol—hello? Hello? You still there?”
Nobody could help me. Some folks recommended that I try to have a machine shop use their Electrical Discharge Machine (EDM) to burn the bolt out, but that would have required me to tear the engine down to the bare block, and I wasn’t about to do that.
Even the internets told me I was screwed. In the video in Freddy’s story, Eric The Car Guy admits that a broken EZ-Out “is, quite honestly, worst case scenario,” and that it would require a trip to the machine shop.
I was doomed. Or so I thought.
After crying myself to sleep, my friend came over to make sure I wasn’t just gorging myself on ice cream and watching reruns of Seventh Heaven. He had an idea to cheer me up: “Hey Dave, why don’t you grab your Dremel, and we’ll see what we can do.”
After about nine million years of Dremel-ing, my friend said he felt the dremel break through something. We took the bit out, and inspected. Here’s what we saw:
Success! The Dremel had conquered the unconquerable. We had gone through four bits and lots of time, but that brittle EZ-Out slowly crumbled into dust, and I was home free. Now all I have to do is tap new threads, and I’ll have a fully-functional threaded hole— that’s good, seeing as there are only three bolts holding the engine on that side, so I’ll need all the fastening I can get.
So the takeaway here is that when you break your extractor trying to remove a broken bolt (and I do say “when,” because they break often), you’re not completely screwed. Put down the tub of Neapolitan and grab a Dremel and a twelve pack of beer, maybe crank some Alan Jackson, and patiently let your trusty rotary tool blast the nefarious bolt extractor into smithereens.