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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I had to remove 4 large stainless steel screws (with booggered up phillips heads) that PO fiberglassed to the hull of the dinghy I bought. Bought the best and hardest drill bits, best extractors, best taps. Shortly after setting out to do what I thought was going to be an unpleasant but not an impossible task I started to see how grossly I have underestimated this task.
My emotions raged on, going from wanting to cry like a little girl, to feeling like a Viking beserker after a good dose of Amanita muscaria mushrooms.
The hardest bits were spinning like mad, without making any progress. Now and then a tantalizing flake of ss would fly out of the hole, flirting with my maddened brain and trying to convince me that I'm making progress.
Finally, after a couple of hours and 2 ruined drill bits, I gave up. I dug into the fiberglass around the screws, and twisted of the heads of these little monsters with my best chanelocks. The effin resin held like a rock and the screws did not budge... :mad:

Which made me later think that maybe, just maybe, there is a better way... :confused:
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
cobalt bits, start small, increase in size, find the right speed, to slow or to fast cause problems.. back it out often to clear the bits.
That was the idea. I talked to guys at the hardware store and got the stuff that 'supposed to work'. When drilling I made sure the bits were not overheating.
 

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When drilling stainless steel you want to drill real slow.

You could cut a grove in the head and use an inpack driver / hammer to remove bolts.
 
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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
When drilling stainless steel you want to drill real slow.

You could cut a grove in the head and use an inpack driver / hammer to remove bolts.
I was pretty sure that cutting a groove in the heads would lead to them twisting off. The heads ended up twisting off anyway. I should have tried heating the screws, like aelkin said. I was thinking of using the torch for that and was worried that the transom will catch fire. did not think about soldering iron.
 

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I have seen some bits that look almost like a deep mini hole saw. They basically drill around the screw, then it pulls out like a plug. You have a bigger hole to patch but saves a bit of agony. I think I saw them advertised in the back of Good Old Boat. One of the things you should order and have on hand before you need it.
 

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I solved a similar problem by drilling a couple tiny holes arfound the seized bolt, cut a slot in the broken bolt and back it out with a screw driver
 
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The guys at the hardware store don't always know anything. Often, but not always.
Like Subaqua says, you need cobalt bits--they're yellowish and the package will say 'cobalt'. Accept no substitutes. Stop drilling and lubricate the points (cutting oil, 3-in-1, etc) frequently as you work, and go very, very slowly. Unfortunately, you may have work-hardened the SS by spinning the bit. You've obviously dulled the bit, too, so start with new ones, working up from small. Once a cobalt bit starts to cut, you can see the swarf just come out in little spirals. Buy some extra bits. Cobalt is the only kind of bit I keep on the boat just because it's all that works on stainless.
Good luck.
John
 

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Another vote on drilling slow. The problem isn't overheating, it's the work hardening of the stainless steel that occurs when drilling too fast. Un-workhardened stainless steel is actually quite soft. You should always use a cutting lubricant, too.

My favourite ever tool in the history of all tools is the electric impact driver. I never knew this was my favourite tool ever until I used it one day to screw stainless steel philip head screws. It will also extract the almost most mangled of screws, and it never ever galls the head of the screw even when fighting a lot of turning resistance. I have a tiny 10.8 volt cordless model which has plenty of power but enough finesse to ensure that shearing the head off a screw is also a thing of the past. Have I mentioned I love my impact driver?

And one more suggestion. Vice grips - the actual Vice Grip brand or any other good quality copy - will usually remove the most obstinate of mangle headed screws as long as you have the access. In really tight spots,side cutter pliers can be used to grip the head of the screw from above. Just squeeze them hard enough to cut into the sides of the screw head and twist.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
My favourite ever tool in the history of all tools is the electric impact driver. I never knew this was my favourite tool ever until I used it one day to screw stainless steel philip head screws. It will also extract the almost most mangled of screws, and it never ever galls the head of the screw even when fighting a lot of turning resistance.
Ha! Did not know that. I need to get me one of these.
 

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I have seen some bits that look almost like a deep mini hole saw. They basically drill around the screw, then it pulls out like a plug. You have a bigger hole to patch but saves a bit of agony. I think I saw them advertised in the back of Good Old Boat. One of the things you should order and have on hand before you need it.
That's a good idea too. they're called plug cutter bits. I have used them to cut wood plugs to cap screw holes in cabinets and such.
 

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My favourite ever tool in the history of all tools is the electric impact driver. I never knew this was my favourite tool ever until I used it one day to screw stainless steel philip head screws. It will also extract the almost most mangled of screws, and it never ever galls the head of the screw even when fighting a lot of turning resistance. I have a tiny 10.8 volt cordless model which has plenty of power but enough finesse to ensure that shearing the head off a screw is also a thing of the past. Have I mentioned I love my impact driver?
Agree 100%. I bought a set from Sears several years ago - 3/8 drill and an impact driver. Total cost with two batteries was $100. Best money I ever spent on tools. The impact driver is SO much better than a drill for driving screws. And with a socket adapter, its great for removing nuts and bolts.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
They also make manual impact drivers, that you hit with a hammer and the blow is converted into torque. I'm thinking about getting one of them too.
 
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