There should be a special line item on the work order for pain and suffering on this job; for you muffler shop guys who do this all day, my hat's off to you.
There should be a special line item on the work order for pain and suffering on this job; for you muffler shop guys who do this all day, my hat’s off to you.
These days, with the world’s financial system teetering on the brink, the auto industry in freefall, a new government to worry about and outrageous fuel prices, you’d think that a viewpoint about bolts wouldn’t make much sense. But as I write this, I’m bleeding. Literally. As in over the keyboard on my tired old Compaq desktop. I’m also, put simply, pissed off. Why? I’ve just slashed my right knuckle wrestling with an exhaust manifold stud, or more accurately the broken stub of it. I have several scars on my hands directly attributable to the stupid way most manufacturers attach the down pipe to the manifold and I’ve never gotten used to it.
There are times when everyone in the business earns a cut or scrape, naturally; but this has to be the most unnecessary and frustrating way to bleed all over yourself. A couple of open questions for vehicle manufacturers: Why is the exhaust manifold jammed between the block and half a dozen pieces of razor sharp tin heat shielding? Why is the oxygen sensor placed exactly where I need to get a socket onto the corroded remains of the nuts? Why is there a fist-sized bundle of wiring /fuel lines/vapour lines/A/C hoses placed to make it impossible to get a torch head anywhere near the flange? And whose idea was it to put V-6s and V-8s sideways in the engine compartment?
It doesn’t have to be this way. I’ve owned three of the most engine-cramped vehicles ever made, one being the Austin Mini (the real one, not today’s pale imitation) and it used a simple vee-clamp that gave a leak-free, one-bolt seal at the down pipe that came apart and went together in seconds. This is not new technology and is used in the aircraft industry everyday. Another old-time solution is to replace the tapped flange with slots holding T-bolts. Make the T-bolts out of mild steel and a tech could use three options: Unbolt, tighten-to-fracture or use the “hot wrench.” At the very least, how about using stud and nut materials that are heat/corrosion resistant and use a loose thread fit in the manifold flange so there’s a fighting chance of getting a broken stud out? Another possibility is to use a shouldered stud that fractures flush with the nut and leaves enough stud to at least get a hold with Vise-Grips.
And if it does snap off flush with the flange? Notice how it’s now even harder to get the manifold off without disconnecting half the car’s systems? And how about the snapped stud? How come it’s soft as butter when you’re trying to remove the nut, but hard as diamond when you need to drill it out on the bench? Helicoil? That’s a distant dream most of the time for me. I usually end up brazing a stud into the now oversize and distorted hole. It looks like hell and isn’t exactly the height of workmanship, but how much time can you reasonably spend on a POS part like an exhaust manifold stud? There should be a special line item on the work order for pain and suffering on this job; for you muffler shop guys who do this all day, my hat’s off to you … and better you than me!
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