The Plague of Lost Shop Productivity — Broken Bolts

With more than 24 years of experience as a gas and diesel technician, Whitey Pfannenstiel has seen his fair share of complicated repairs during his journey to become the service manager of a Ford Dealership in Hays, Kansas. Along the way, Pfannenstiel and his team have continually overcome a persistent nemesis; the dreaded broken bolt.

The Inevitable Broken Exhaust Manifold Bolt
“We had a kid in the shop working on a Ford Transit van with more than 200,000 miles on its 3.5L EcoBoost engine,” Pfannenstiel said. “He broke the exhaust manifold bolts all the way down one side and suggested that we drop the engine and replace the entire head. I told him there was no way the customer would agree to spend that kind of money on such a high-milage vehicle.”

Of course, one option would be to weld nuts onto the broken bolts and attempt to back them out. However, this method will not work if the stud is essentially welded to the aluminum head. Backing out a stud with a nut often results in broken welds, frustration, and lost hours of productivity.

But, Pfannenstiel had a better solution in his toolbox, the ProMAXX Tool 3.5L Exhaust Manifold Bolt Repair Kit. “Most guys try to weld first,” he said. “But, sometimes it makes the problem worse because exposure to extreme heat is the last thing you want for these metals. It will only continue to harden the broken stud, especially titanium.”

The 3.5L Exhaust Manifold Bolt Repair ProKit includes a precision-made jig, three bushings, platinum and gold drill bits, an 8-millimeter tap and a 3/16-inch platinum end mill for broken extractor removal.

“I’ve used this kit to successfully drill out broken bolts at least 30 times,” Pfannenstiel said. “While welding works sometimes, drilling works every time. This helps save our customers money while delivering a quick return on the cost of our tool investment.”

The EcoBoost is not the only Ford engine that experiences broken exhaust manifold bolts. Pfannenstiel has come up against plenty of busted bolts on 4.6L, 5.4L, 6.8L gas and 6.0L and 6.4L diesel engines.

“I’ve used ProMAXX Tool’s Rocky II ProKit to fix these gas and diesel engines at least 100 times,” he said. “In the past, if I couldn’t get the bolts out, I’d have to remove the head and send it to a machine shop. This could take 16 to 18 hours.” Now, with the Rocky II, Pfannenstiel says it takes significantly less time.

Broken EGR Tube Bolts on the Ford Power Stroke
Another prevalent Ford engine repair involves removing a broken mounting bolt on the 6.7L EGR tube of a Power Stroke diesel. The ProMAXX Tool EGR ProKit (Nino) eliminates the unnecessary waste of time removing the intake manifold, the turbocharger, and the exhaust manifold.

The Nino EGR tube repair kit uses the exhaust manifold port for mounting, which is the most accurate method in bringing machine shop accuracy right to the truck. “The kit allows us to complete the repair in about 45 minutes,” Pfannenstiel said. “It used to take about six or seven hours. This tool is a time-saver.”

Thanks to precision, machined tapped holes, the Elizabeth II jig is configured to align with every bolt on a 3.5L EcoBoost exhaust manifold. Once secured with fasteners, the technician simply inserts a guide bushing to begin the bolt removal process.

Broken Ignition Coil Hold Down Bolts
One of the most prolific problems Pfannenstiel runs into is broken ignition coil hold down bolts on 3.5L and 5.0L plastic valve covers. Even a simple spark plug change can turn tough when facing corroded fasteners. A technician does not want to damage the valve cover, which changes its integrity, degrading Ford factory torque specifications.

“One time, we had to remove broken bolts from all three holes,” Pfannenstiel said. “I forced the valve cover off and used a sheet-metal rivet tool to fasten it back down after the repair. It took at least two hours.”

The next time he ran into a broken valve cover bolt, Pfannenstiel used an Ignition Coil Hold Down Bolt Remover Kit From ProMAXX Tool. The jig anchors into the valve cover and allows perfect, dead-center drilling to remove the fastener. Once it is removed, an included machine shop grade tap cleans the threads of the insert and restores it to factory new in about 20 minutes.

When it comes to removing a broken bolt, there are many methods such as welding or using an extractor that work sometimes, depending upon the situation. The only method that performs 100 percent of the time is the proper utilization of the ProMAXX Tool Extractorless™ Repair kit.

“At first, when I heard about drilling broken bolts, I was a non-believer,” said Pfannenstiel. “But, when I saw the kits in action, I realized they are precision made and the drill, tap, done method restores the threads and bolt to factory new condition. I’d certainly recommend them to other technicians looking to save time and get a great return on tool investment.”