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302 V8 Header / Manifold Bolts Stuck / Help Please

CopperBronco

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Aug 13, 2021
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Just wanting to use the internet's collective brain power. Two of my header/exhaust manifold bolts at the engine block are impossible to reach with a socket wrench, and I tried a grinding down my 12 notch box wrench to fit in here, and then a flare nut wrench, but it started to round the bolts a little. I've also been soaking the bolt in penetrating oil for 3 days off and on now. I do this before any rusty bolt process begins and have had mostly good luck. What I'm trying to avoid is breaking the bolt off in the engine block if at all possible. These should only be 20-25 ft/lbs and hopefully pop loose, 6 of the 8 I could get my wrenches around and they came loose quite easily. I've mostly re-tightened them now so not to put pressure on the 2 remaining bolts.

I'd love to torch it, but I'm afraid of a live flame in the engine bay. I tried a heat gun to no effect so far. Any advice here on torches/flames/heat? Bronco can't start right now as a spark plug is broken while I was wrenching on it, I can get that replaced, but I know some folks like to heat up engine and then try to remove bolts.

My next step is to possibly take an air chisel and carve a notch into the bolt, and then use the metal chisel and a sledge hammer to gently knock it loose. It's worth noting I don't have a welder so I can't just weld a nut onto the bolt and then wrench it loose, that'd be nice to have as an option. I imagine the heat would help as well.

I am also contemplating just cutting the header pipes off as I plan to replace these anyways with the Duff's SS Dominators... so these are scrap parts anyways as long as everything fits back together nicely with new parts. But I try not to destroy old parts in case anything goes wrong during install of new headers. But if any of you think this is the best path forward I'm up for it.

Any other ideas out there on what to do with these almost impossible to reach bolts? Photo attached, it's the bolt in the middle, I have 2 of these on the passenger header, and a few more on the driver side which will be even harder to reach. Thanks in advance for the help.
 

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DirtDonk

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Try an open end wrench yet? Still tight fit, but might be just enough with the right curse words.
Flame is not an issue under the hood unless you have gas laying around. You're far enough from the carb that you're not going to get any vapors from the float bowl vent, and you're probably not going to heat it up more than it gets under load anyway. So it's just the open flame you're worried about. But with no fuel, there's no problem.

Of course the same thing goes for wires and other meltables/burnables, but you knew that already.
You're running into the bane of our existence with Fords and header manufacturers. Still can't figure out why they don't just deal with that issue, rather than just bend the tubes over the bolts! Heck, getting a wrench on it aside, that one looks like it was hard just to get the bolt into the hole in the first place!

Good luck.

Paul
 

1969miller

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On stuff like that, I'd cut the head if you have a welder. Easier to just weld a nut onto the broken stud, heat from the weld breaks it free and it comes out real easy.

If no welder is available, and an open ended wrench cant get in there, possible to try needle nose vice grips?
 
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CopperBronco

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Try an open end wrench yet? Still tight fit, but might be just enough with the right curse words.
Flame is not an issue under the hood unless you have gas laying around. You're far enough from the carb that you're not going to get any vapors from the float bowl vent, and you're probably not going to heat it up more than it gets under load anyway. So it's just the open flame you're worried about. But with no fuel, there's no problem.

Of course the same thing goes for wires and other meltables/burnables, but you knew that already.
You're running into the bane of our existence with Fords and header manufacturers. Still can't figure out why they don't just deal with that issue, rather than just bend the tubes over the bolts! Heck, getting a wrench on it aside, that one looks like it was hard just to get the bolt into the hole in the first place!

Good luck.

Paul
Yeah I tried a box and open ended wrench… the open wrench started rounding the bolt… had to stop before making it worse. I’ll try torching it and putting my grinded down box wrench and see if it goes. Needle nose vise grips wouldn’t do it so far. I need to learn how to weld again, haven’t done it since I was a teenager.
 
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CopperBronco

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My other option is an angle grinder and cutting disc and cutting the tube off. If I can fit the angle grinder down in there…
 

DirtDonk

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My other option is an angle grinder and cutting disc and cutting the tube off. If I can fit the angle grinder down in there…
Yeah, good luck with that!
It's not a bad tool, but I'm thinking it will be hard to get in there for sure. Hmm, I wonder if a small diameter disc might not just do it. You don't happen to have a Dremel tool by any chance?

Paul
 
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CopperBronco

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Yeah, good luck with that!
It's not a bad tool, but I'm thinking it will be hard to get in there for sure. Hmm, I wonder if a small diameter disc might not just do it. You don't happen to have a Dremel tool by any chance?

Paul
Yes, have a dremel as well… although those cutting discs don’t last long in my experience. I have some 4” discs that might work, have a new grinder that is somewhat compact. Any advice on specific dremel bits?
 

DirtDonk

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My experience with Dremel stuff has been less than stellar as well. Those discs like to grenade pretty quickly when asked to do anything heavy-duty, but a lot of members here swear by them when working on their trucks.
Go figure...

Paul
 

Rustytruck

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If that was mine it would be sawzall time cut from the good side of the header to the bottom of the bolt you need to remove and then cut the tube again to clear you a straight path to the bolt actually cut the other way around as your last cut will be supported by the header flange. a wrence like these may work. or heat and bend your own.

 

Super D 73

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You can also heat it up with a bernzamatic torch and shock it by tapping on the flat side of your bolt head with a good punch and a small ball peen hammer . The try the open end side of a good linewrench as it is wider than a normal open end wrench. Clean off the penetrating oil overspray before you put the torch on it and don't kill it with the hammer and punch... good luck!
 

Jimboss77

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My first suggestion is get a torch or side grinder and cut the tube off so you can get a good socket or wrench on it. If you must save the manifold then try this……
Here is a trick we use for stubborn head bolts on irrigation engines that will usually snap off if you look at them crossways. Get a 6 point wrench on the bolt head. While applying steady pressure to the bolt use the chisel blade on an air hammer to vibrate the bolt as close to the block as possible. Looks like you have room to contact the washer area with the air hammer. This combination works incredibly well on some very rusted stuck bolts that break easily. Also use plenty of liquid wrench but you have to give it time ( a day or two) to penetrate down the threads. No heat needed for this.
If this doesn’t work and you cut or break the bolt head off then you need to learn to weld and will need to cut up the manifold anyway to have room to work. If you weld a nut on put a flat washer underneath it. Let everything cool overnight from the welding and then use the same constant pressure and air hammer for vibration and they will come out. We have saved many blocks using these tricks. Good luck.
 

B RON CO

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Hi, as mentioned, I would saw zall the header tube and try a 6 point socket. A mapp gas torch I doubt is hot enough, but worth a try. Good luck
 

Bronco4x4

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I agree with sawzall option to remove the tubes and a cut-off wheel after. The best sawzall blade I have used is a Lennox “Arc”. If the sockets fail >> When in doubt, Vice Grip it out. Use needle nose Vice Grips with the tube or regular ones with the tube gone. Good luck.
 
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CopperBronco

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Awesome, thanks everyone for the ideas. Going to torch it first and try to wrench/vise grip it out, if that doesn’t work I’ll notch the bolt a little and then try to chisel and hammer it loose a little, and if that fails bust out the saws all or pneumatic angle grinder and cut the exhaust tubes to be able to get a socket on it. All super helpful!
 

d lake

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try putting a screwdriver or chisel between the bolt head and tube .you should be able to move the tube so you can get a wrench on it good.
 

gr8scott

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I had a rounded header bolt once. I used a sawzall to cut the head off and what was left of the bolt unscrewed by hand. I do have aluminum heads though, so there was no rust involved.
 

EPB72

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try putting a screwdriver or chisel between the bolt head and tube .you should be able to move the tube so you can get a wrench on it good.
This /\/\/\..the headers should have been clearenced when installed anyways...I'd do the above till you can get a 6 point box end on it ..once turning bolt if really tight then penetrating oil and work it loosen and retighten and repeat


i
 
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CopperBronco

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Hey guys, thanks for all the info! I used a sawzall to cut the header tube, then an air grinder to get into the tight spots to give full clearance for the bolt, torched the bolts head with a benzomatic, then I air hammered right above the bolt while putting on a rounded bolt extractor socket on top of it and it broke loose without breaking in the block, and that was after 3 days of penetrating oil as well. Now onto the next one that's stuck, hopefully the others go as smooth. You all saved me a huge headache, thanks so much! Here's to hoping the others don't break.

I'm still confused as to how they got the bolts in there in the first place, I'm guessing bolts slide into header before going into the block, and then slowly threaded in with an open wrench, but once in, almost impossible to get out. New headers are much better designed to avoid this problem with specialty bolts that are accessible :) I love Broncos, but definitely some odd choices from an industrial/mechanical engineering perspective on the old parts.
 
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