Removing a broken bolt in San Cristobal de Las Casas, Mexico
Yesterday I took a short ride out of San Cristobal headed for Chamula. I took one too many topes (speed bumps) and broke the back of my KLR. A truck ride and some limping later, I got the bike back to the hostel. Big thanks to my passenger who speaks Spanish. :-)
Took the seat off and it turns out two bolts snapped. That and a piece that the tank bolts onto. I bought replacement bolts today. My challenge for tomorrow is to get the two broken pieces of bolt out of the frame. They've snapped just below the surface of the frame, so there's nothing protruding to get a grip on.
I've read about easy outs, left hand drill bits, and various other approaches. I don't think I'll be able to find any of those tools here in San Cristobal in a hardware store. It's a long shot, but can anyone recommend a machine shop, mechanic or maybe an engineer who could get the bolts out for me?
It's a small job for somebody with the right tools. Once the bolts are out I can do the rest on the side of the road. But until those bolts are out, I ain't riding nowhere... :-)
In a pinch, you can pool a weld inside a nut placed over a snapped stud. Then turn the stud out with the nut. The attached link has pictures about 1/2 way down. Disconnect the battery (both sides) prior to welding on the bike. Someone else may have other suggestions requarding this.
BugShop FAQ: Tool Techniques
I'm sure you know this...but make sure the replacement bolts are the correct strength and thread pitch. WD40 or a light penetration oil is your friend.
I really...really envy you guys and girls riding around the world out there. I've decided to attend my first HU meeting in August at Nakusp BC.
St Louis, MO.
Great suggestion !
As you've no doubt figured out by now, the Mexican mechanics are pretty creative. If you can find an Arc (Electrico) Welder (Soldadura) or machine shop somewhere there, maybe they can help out? I really like the "weld to the broken stud" idea proposed by Daryl.
In the meantime, I would soak the broken stud area with penetrating oil. They sell Mexican versions of this there. After soaking (over night?), whacking with a hammer may help loosen the stud. Hopefully it's not frozen in there too badly. Another good reason to use Anti-Seize on these type of bolts when you put them in. Makes them easier to pull out down the road.
An Easy Out might work, but I like Daryl's "weld to stud" idea best. Just tac welding to the end might be enough to get it out? (Arc Weld or TIG)
A lot of those KLR bolts are pretty famous for snapping. If you go onto the KLR forums you can read all about this. You need super strong, stainless bolts for all the bolts on the rear subframe and that area.
After an unsuccessful ride to Home Depot on my buddy's 09 KLR (nice bike, totally different to my 10 year old, beat up KLR!), I got lucky this morning. Standing by the bike about 8:30am a fella called Tim from Wisconsin stopped to say hello. Turns out he's a retired fireman from the US down here in San Cristobal working with some local firemen.
One of the boys ran me over to a specialist bolt shop in San Cristobal. I managed to buy stainless steel M8 30mm bolts with an allen head as well as a small size drill bit and an easy out. All for less than 70 pesos. Much better than the non stainless bolts I got at Home Depot yesterday.
Then thanks to my friend Sara we found a shop 3 blocks away that let me use some of their tools. Very helpful guys. I tried offering them beer or cash but they don't drink! In the end I dropped off a bag of pastries. For future reference, they're located exactly here on Google maps.
At first I tried drilling the bolts. On the right hand side of the bike (the high side when she's on the side stand), the bolt moved slightly when the drill bit started. The bit wouldn't drill too far into the bolt, so the easy out didn't work. But I was able to use the easy out to tease the bolt out far enough to get a grip on it with pliers. Came out quickly and easily, probably because the WD40 had been seaping into it overnight.
The left hand side was a bit tougher. The drill bit started to bite on this side, but the bolt wasn't moving. We tipped the bike over to the right to try and get the WD40 into the hole. I ran the drill in reverse and managed to pry out the bolt by chewing the drill bit to death. But then the exposed part of the bolt snapped off.
I finally got it moving using a punch and a hammer. I punched a hole in one side of the bolt, then using the punch at an angle I was able to work the bolt out. Combined with the WD40 we had it out pretty quickly.
If I were to face the same situation again my first try would be the punch and hammer. It worked just fine, and the M8 bolt is big enough to get the punch well off centre.
So, broken bolts out, new stainless bolts in, all the hoses reconnected, she's ready to ride again. One of the seals on the exhaust has suffered a bit, but I'll get that sorted maybe in Guatemala City.
Thanks for the suggestions. If you find yourself stuck in San Cristobal in need of tools, try the Taller Electricidad shop on the map. Very helpful guys if you either speak Spanish or have a translator (big thanks to Sara). :-)
Glad you got the bolts out:thumbup1:
Very important that you take the stainless out and replace even if you have to use Home Depot. Stainless is a weak metal and will hold less than any steel bolt. The worst part is stainless will gall or smear to where removal if they break will be a nightmare, drilling stainless can also be a problem. Best use a 10.9 grade metric bolt but even and 8.8 grade would be much better than any stainless.
For 14 years I taught Diesel Mechanics at a Community College and taught a basic shop class that included removal of broken bolts, I would twist off bolts in an old engine block and have students remove them. Best to try in the following order:
1 if enough is exposed grip with tool and remove
2 try to tap it around with chisel or punch
3 weld on a nut (don't really recommend this if broken bellow surface) if you screw up you weld the nut to frame
4 drill for easyout (best if you have left hand drill as it might come out) make sure you drill in the exact center.
5 drill to the threads and re-tap, if you did not drill in the exact center for # 4 you will need to use a die grinder to try to recenter hole, not fun
6 setup on milling machine and oversize for insert
7 buy a new bike/engine block/or what ever
I broke all six bolts holding my boxes on my South American trip, finally oversized with inserts (not helacoils). good luck
How urgent do you think I need to change them? I could try tomorrow morning before we ride, or wait a couple of thousand miles until Guatemala City where I've ordered a set of stock bolts from the Kawasaki dealer (ultra helpful guy called Mario down there).
Thanks again for the heads up on stainless, I was completely in the dark on that.
Don't leave the stainless bolts in for long ,change to a higher grade of Metric like the 10.9 previously mentioned .
Factory bolts are weak so why use those again ?
A Tip .
If you decide to use a welding machine to extract broken bolts .
WELD A LARGE WASHER ON FIRST .
[weld on the inside of the washer ]
Then grind it flat .
AND WELD A NUT ONTO THE WASHER .
[Weld the outside of the nut to the washer ,not the inside]
Use an impact socket gun to extract the bolt if you can .
The weld will be much much stronger and you will get the bolt out first time .
Welding on the inside of a nut is a hit and miss affair [look at the pics in the link above and you will see incomplete welds and lots of slag ].
I hope this helps someone ,somewhere .:thumbup1:
Seems to me however that Stainless is what the KLR Guru's always talk about when replacing these bolts. I'm sure you've checked the KLR forums?
Guess you'll have to change them out ... don't forget to smear on a bit of Anti-Seize on the new Steel ones before torquing down. Check frequently.
BTW ... I've been on two rides where a KLR guy broke one or more of the sub frame bolts. Both guys had spares along. Smart.
Fantastic you got it solved so elegantly with such good vibe. I always liked San Cristobal. Been 20 years since I was there. Did you say they had a Home Depot? Holy Shite ... was a one horse town years ago.
I wouldn't go harder on the replacement bolts, not knowing what the next weakest link in the system might be. I would rather have the bolts snap than the bosses on the bikes frame.
I don't believe SS bolts have much shear strength hence they're not recommended for brake callipers etc. BTW, the exact same thing happened to the 98 KLR I was travelling with in Chile. The bike essentially 'broke in half' while moving, luckily not very fast...
One of the top bolts in the frame had fallen out leaving only one to take the strain which then sheared. We got it temporarily back together using a spare bolt, rode it with no luggage (thanks to a helpful local who took it in his van) to a local welder who got the sheared half bolt out by welding something to it.
They even worked during their siesta and charged pennies really. That was a fun day. These bolts are obviously worth checking if you have a KLR.
I also had the bottom bolt securing my rear shock shear on my 1150GS. Luckily we were staying at a friendly HUBBers place in San Diego with a great garage. He had a bolt extractor, no bigger than a hole punch. All I did was drill a bit into the sheared bolt and insert this device, then turn it anti-clockwise using mole grips. It digs deeper into the old bolt and starts extracting it.
I'd definitely buy one for another trip.
6 PCS Damaged Screw Broken Bolt Extractor Set, Screw Extractor Set,Broken Bolt Extractor
I just spoke to Eagle Mike and ordered the drill through upgrade kit. I'll get it down in Guatemala City in a couple of weeks I reckon. In the meantime I'm going to keep the stainless allen head bolts in place and make sure they're tight before each long ride. We're not putting on too many miles before I get the upgrade kit anyway.
Thanks for all your advice guys. :-)
Sounds like you got a plan. But I would add that when you check the bolts if they are loose it is most likely means that the bolts are stretching, if this happens more than once you best get them out of there and replace because you are exceeding the point of permanent deformation (technical term for not good). Wish I was back down there, real bummer up here as it is raining every day. Check every day and you should be OK for awhile and slow down for the topes.
We're in Quetzalentango now, riding here was fine. I'm waiting for the drill through kit to arrive in Guatemala City in a week or two. No serious riding until then I reckon. I might keep my eyes out for some stronger bolts to swap them out before the kit arrives. Otherwise I have spares on hand and they're not sealed in, so hopefully they'll come out easiliy if they do break!
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