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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So we're working on re-doing the deck of our Vagabond 42, and that means we also want to remove all deck hardware. The cleats have some monsterous bolts with flatheads and standard screwdriver slots. Nuts have been removed below although there is still a single backing plate on all 4 bolts. (First cleat removal attempt.)

I have bought the largest screwdriver I can find and am having no luck in twisting these things out. (That includes of course putting a wrench on the square shank of the screwdriver.) The pulpit stanchions that I've successfully removed - much smaller of course - required unscrewing the whole way, evidently due to an excellent job of sealing the holes/fasteners when installed.

There isn't enough thread down below to double-nut and get them started up and out. Might we have to chip out the teak under the cleat so I can get a sawzall in and cut the bolts? But then I'd have a piece of all-thread in there with no way to get it out either!

All suggestions are definitely appreciated. Thanks in advance.

(P.S. - I'm away at work so won't be able to try any of your excellent thoughts right away.)
 

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the pointy end is the bow
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Oh, that's bad news. You may be able to drill off the screw heads, remove the cleat and then you'll have enough remaining stud sticking out to remove the remainder of the screw. You may also be able to purchase a 3/8 drive screw driver bit and borrow a rattle gun (impact driver) to back the screws out.
 

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You don't know what the bolts have been bedded in. Could be 3M 5200. Could be the threads have corroded into a electrolytic cocktail along with the bedding. Maybe they're welded in by a P/O who didn't want leaks. What "looseners" have you tried? (MEK?) Bigger screwdriver with more heft is the next option.
 

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Try an impact driver or impact wrench. Torqued and bedded (especially with 5200) are a bear to get out. You can also try MEK/Acetone to break the sealant’s bonds or even a little heat.
 

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If a purchase on the head of the bolt can be had with a pair of vise grips you can usually get enough leverage to back the fastener out. If there isn't enough land area on the head to get the vise grips to bite it's sometimes possible to use the vise grips on the exposed threaded end inboard and back the fastener out far enough to get a purchase on the head.

I used this method yesterday to get some long number 12 screws out of the cabin roof with the friction of the fiberglass/plywood sandwich being augmented by the BoatLife caulk that was used to seal them. It worked.
 

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Master Mariner
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If your cleats are alloy and the bolts stainless, you may never get them apart. There is a special Neverseize (gold not grey) for alloy, but nobody in the boat construction industry seems to have found it.
You might try gently heating the cleat at the bolt; the alloy should expand faster, but it's a risky thing to do on something bedded directly to glass, like a cleat.
Soaking with a penetrant several times a day for a period of time could help, but most penetrants are designed for rust, not alloy/ss corrosion.
Good luck.
 

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Old enough to know better
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They make impact screw drivers. They are great for stuff like this. You put a screw bit in them, put them securely in the screw and whack it with a hammer. The thing is the hammer blow also pushes the bit into the fastener so it hold really tight. Work great to get out stuck screws, and auto door jams.

Impact Screwdriver Set with Case

They are cheap too. They are reversible so you can use it to give a final tightening to a screw that you want a lot of torque on.

I think this is the one I have:

http://www.sears.com/lisle-impact-d...p-00915232000P?prdNo=1&blockNo=1&blockType=G1

Has never let me down in several restorations of British sports cars. Has lasted about 30 years too.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I use a large drive "drag link" type screwdriver bit with a breaker bar or rachet, you use the bit the fits the length of the slot.
Drag Link Socket from Sears.com
I'm thinking (hoping?) these drag links with the impact driver might break things loose. I'm concerned that it'll be a bear the entire length of the bolts!

Thanks for all of the ideas.

(We're hoping for NOT finding that alloy mismash cocktail!)
 

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PB Blaster and Impact Driver. I got my driver from NAPA. It will last a lifetime. PB Blaster is amazing stuff and it really works. I just went through the same thing with stainless and aluminum.
 

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It's unclear from your note whether the problem is primarily due to 5200 or equivalent glued to the threads or whether it's corrosion between the screws and the backing plate or some combination of the two. Based on what you found with the stanchions, I'm assuming it's primarily a glue in the threads problem, in which case I'd recommend some DSR-5 (Silicone Removal) or equivalent applied top and bottom. After that, some patience combined with slow, steady pressure should free it up with a minimum of damage.

That said, if you want it out quickly and aren't squeamish about repairing possible deck damage, you can drill out the fasteners.
 

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Courtney the Dancer
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We had the same problem when we removed our cleats, they were a bugger. Spray some PB Blaster on them several times and let soak for a couple of days. Buy, rent or borrow an impact driver and get the drag link bit (we had to grind it down to fit exactly right) and they should turn out of there. Good luck, not a fun job.
 

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Put the nuts on with a few threads and alternatly hit the screws/nuts with a hammer. If the cleats are AL, it is likely the stainless is corroded to the AL. Take your time, start with light taps.
 

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A bit of heat may help break the bond. heat gun or torch, be careful!
 

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Assuming that the underside is too remote to do anything, and after you've given up on backing them out with the slot and a driver (impact or other):

I'd first try to drill out the very center and get an easy-out in there. It's likely that you'll break it, but I'd try it.

After that, could you cut the cleat in half? It's possibly bad anyway; cut off the top half and the heads of the screws will come with it. If (here's the big 'if') the bottom of the cleat could be pried loose, you'd have the remainder of the threads exposed to grab with Vice-Grips (TM).

I'd try that before gouging up the deck. In part because you can still gouge up the deck if it doesn't work.

Good luck,

Ken
 

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Using a propane torch heat each cleat around the fastener hole. Don't go super hot just not touchable them spray in the PB blaster. it should smoke a little. Do this to each one a couple of times. The heated aluminum and bolt will draw in the PB as it cools and dissolve the aluminum oxide. You may have to do this multiple times but, it usually always works. Also as previously stated put the nuts back on the screws and either hit them with a hammer, not to hard to damage them, but firmly. If you have the room use a small bottle jack to push them up. The other thing you can do is if you are not going to save the cleats use a small cold chisel and cut the web around the screw heads, and break away the bases, leaving the heads exposed!
 
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