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Stuck Gun Screws
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Great Basin
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December 31, 2022 - 3:36 pm
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For those who like to tinker on your guns.  This may help when you come up against those particularly difficult gun screws.

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December 31, 2022 - 11:25 pm
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Enjoyed the video, never thought of using a drill press for some added pressure, great idea.  Not a fan of having to drill out damaged screws either, a bit of a nerve-wrecking process with my antiquated tool assortment.    

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January 1, 2023 - 1:03 am
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Great info Mark. I love all your tips and tricks. Not to out do you as you are a master, But one of the tricks I have learned working on small screws like that is to do what you where doing with the screw driver and wrench, but have some one tap the top of the screw driver while applying pressure. Kinda makes for a simple impact wrench. I’m sure you know this, wasnt trying be insulting to you, just throwing it out there.  

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January 1, 2023 - 2:10 am
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oldcrankyyankee said
But one of the tricks I have learned working on small screws like that is to do what you where doing with the screw driver and wrench, but have some one tap the top of the screw driver while applying pressure. Kinda makes for a simple impact wrench.  

  

I always precede any attempt to withdraw an old screw by hitting the bit hard with a hammer several times, but unfortunately have no “third hand” to keep hitting while I’m turning, which would be better.  Never used a drill-press to apply pressure, but have tried to “bear down” on the screw driver with one hand while turning the shank with a small crescent or vise-grips with the other; but that obviously couldn’t exert as much pressure as a drill press.   

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January 1, 2023 - 3:26 am
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Neat tricks, thanks! Drill press method is a new one for me. Stuck screws certainly try my patience.

 

 

Mike

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January 1, 2023 - 12:32 pm
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oldcrankyyankee said
Great info Mark. I love all your tips and tricks. Not to out do you as you are a master, But one of the tricks I have learned working on small screws like that is to do what you where doing with the screw driver and wrench, but have some one tap the top of the screw driver while applying pressure. Kinda makes for a simple impact wrench. I’m sure you know this, wasnt trying be insulting to you, just throwing it out there.  

  

Thanks for sharing the tip.  When that third hand isn’t available, tapping in the screwdriver to seat it and create vibration before grabbing the wrench is the next best thing.  When working on smaller screws where you can’t use the extra torque of the wrench, I tap on the screwdriver as you suggest.  I showed that method in a previous episode when removing our all-time favorite screw to remove – the rusty dust cover screw on an 1873 or 1876.  Thanks for bringing that up, I should have mentioned it.  Mark 

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January 1, 2023 - 1:03 pm
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Mark I also loved the tip on using a small drift with the polished end to peen over the buggered up metal on the head. I run into that scenario alot at work and had never once given that a thought. thanks again 

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January 1, 2023 - 2:59 pm
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  Mark,

 I really liked the video.

 The drill press is a good tip. Knowing when to stop and go to the next level is the part that requires experience, skill, and luck. Unfortunately we all do not have that. The experience and skill will come, but the luck is dependent on the rust.   T/R

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January 1, 2023 - 3:50 pm
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TR said
  Mark,

 I really liked the video.

 The drill press is a good tip. Knowing when to stop and go to the next level is the part that requires experience, skill, and luck. Unfortunately we all do not have that. The experience and skill will come, but the luck is dependent on the rust.   T/R

  

I liked the video as well.  My hang-up is I don’t want to use any of my pieces as training fodder to build that experience.  I’ve seen so many examples where it is a tragedy that an inexperienced and unskilled person owned a screwdriver.  And as TR suggests, luck can come into play.  It is very possible for an experienced and skilled person to run into some very bad luck.

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January 1, 2023 - 4:41 pm
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steve004 said
I’ve seen so many examples where it is a tragedy that an inexperienced and unskilled person owned a screwdriver.

  

Or pliers.

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January 1, 2023 - 5:16 pm
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Another great video.  I have never used the drill press like you did but I learned about it from a fellow car collector that does videos on every step to do a frame off restoration of cars.  Dissimilar metals on motorcycles causes stuck screws.  So I’ve had an impact driver for many years that accepts the gunsmith bits too.  When you hit this with a hammer it rotates to hopefully loosen the screw.

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January 1, 2023 - 6:26 pm
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Chuck said
Another great video.  I have never used the drill press like you did but I learned about it from a fellow car collector that does videos on every step to do a frame off restoration of cars.  Dissimilar metals on motorcycles causes stuck screws.  So I’ve had an impact driver for many years that accepts the gunsmith bits too.  When you hit this with a hammer it rotates to hopefully loosen the screw.

 

  

 Chuck,

 I use the impact driver quite often on anything but guns. The key word in your post is “hopefully”. When you strike it with a hammer, it can be the final step before drilling. I like to stop short of screw damage. T/R

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January 1, 2023 - 7:46 pm
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Kroil seems to work for everyone and is the go-to penetrating oil.  Ive used it in the past and found it works but takes considerable soaking time in some cases.  For really frozen or froze and damaged screws Ive come to use PB Blaster catalyst from the auto parts store with much success.  It penetrates and breaks down the rust and gunk in short order.  A tiny drop or two goes a long way.  At least in my observations, and havent yet noticed any detrimental effects on metal finishes.  Cant say it will work for everyone or is recommended for everyone, just saying its worked for me in the past.  It doesn’t smell very good, as the wife has told me on many occasions.        

The worst condition gun Ive ever come across was from a local farmer friend.  One of the other local farmers had passed away, who was a bit of hoarder, who abandoned his house many years ago because it was uninhabitable due to the trash, holes in the roof, etc, and was living off the back hood of an old car parked next to the house (longer story).  Anyway, he passed away and had a sister that got in contact with my farmer friend and asked him to go through the old house to salvage any old family photos, etc, before it was dozed. In the search he found an 1892 carbine (1920’s vintage).  You could barely even recognize it was a gun.  It was coated with 70 years of rust, dirt dauber nests, gunk, etc.  The magazine tube and barrel looked like they were fused with about a 2″ diameter mass of accumulation extending from the muzzle all the way down the frame and buttstock. 

After removing the initial layer of gunk from the receiver, barrel and tube, the hammer, lever, bolt, screws, pins, and all were froze solid with rust and some of the screw heads were partly rusted away.  My buddy wanted to see if I could make it work again.  Never backing down from a challenge, I ended up fully disassembling the entire carbine with the use of the PB Blaster catalyst, to penetrate the screws and parts with great success in short order.  Even in their poor condition, all the original screws, and parts, were reused to reassemble.  After seeing the potential, Ive been using that penetrating catalyst on anything frozen by corrosion and rust from guns screws to ranch equipment.   The amazing thing about the carbine was the bore (38-40), even after all those years, was as bright and sharp as any Ive ever seen.  I wish back then I had taken before/after pics of the carbine. While its pretty ugly and deeply pitted on the outside (in the vernacular it would be called a “fence post”), its now back in use these days as a truck gun.  

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January 1, 2023 - 10:09 pm
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Looking at that screw and the amount of force Mark put on it I’m amazed the head didn’t twist off. Very good quality!

 

Mike

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January 2, 2023 - 11:08 am
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I’m also a fan of PB blaster (except the smell)…  and for applying heat, I will often use a soldering iron to apply heat directly to the screw.

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January 2, 2023 - 1:19 pm
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rwsem said
 I will often use a soldering iron to apply heat directly to the screw.

  

  That works really well if someone has used Loctite on the threads because it softens the glue. On the other hand it makes the screw expand rather than the part it’s screwed into. You want the base metal hotter than the screw before attempting to turn it. Also different metals expand at different rates, a steel screw in aluminum, heating will loosen the screw more than the same screw in steel. A steel screw in a 1866 receiver heat will have more effect than a 1873 steel receiver. Many engine parts are installed and removed by heating one part and cooling another. This works good on guides, seats, and studs but a small screw head doesn’t give you much to work with. I’m sure in most cases of small screws both screw and base metal will be the same temperature within seconds of being  heated.

 Mark’s heat gun looked like the right tool for the job. T/R 

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January 2, 2023 - 2:02 pm
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Good video and good info Mark. Comes in handy when the screw head is still intact, and not buggered up. What do you do when the head off the screw will not accept a screwdriver or bit, because the screw head chips off, short of drilling and using and easy out? Anway, thanks for the excellent video and info!

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January 2, 2023 - 2:54 pm
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rob said
Good video and good info Mark. Comes in handy when the screw head is still intact, and not buggered up. What do you do when the head off the screw will not accept a screwdriver or bit, because the screw head chips off, short of drilling and using and easy out? Anway, thanks for the excellent video and info!

  

Thanks Rob.  As I showed, when a screw slot is buggered up, you can usually improve it quite a lot by moving metal back to the edge of the slot with a small punch.  If the screw head is chipped off, you don’t have a lot of options but to drill it out.  Most gun screws are too small for an easy out, so you often end up having to drill and tap the hole to the next size and make a custom screw or find one that will fit.  I’m not a fan of using a welder or impact driver unless it’s on a firearm that you aren’t concerned about the finish or it’s going to be refinished.  Mark

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January 2, 2023 - 5:45 pm
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Mark Douglas said

rob said

Good video and good info Mark. Comes in handy when the screw head is still intact, and not buggered up. What do you do when the head off the screw will not accept a screwdriver or bit, because the screw head chips off, short of drilling and using and easy out? Anway, thanks for the excellent video and info!

  

Thanks Rob.  As I showed, when a screw slot is buggered up, you can usually improve it quite a lot by moving metal back to the edge of the slot with a small punch.  If the screw head is chipped off, you don’t have a lot of options but to drill it out.  Most gun screws are too small for an easy out, so you often end up having to drill and tap the hole to the next size and make a custom screw or find one that will fit.  I’m not a fan of using a welder or impact driver unless it’s on a firearm that you aren’t concerned about the finish or it’s going to be refinished.  Mark

  

One of the things Ive used in the past as an easy-out on smaller screws (except a few that are too small) is to use a tiny star bit from the assortment of bits you normally get with a cordless drill, drill a hole through the screw that is slightly smaller than the grooves on the star, then tap that star bit into the drill hole and use a small crescent (or Marks nugget of wisdom using a drill press) to back it out.  Even the smallest star bit has its limitations when it comes to the size of the screw your trying to get out.  And definitely know your limitations and potential consequences if attempting yourself, rather than taking it to a gunsmith with the right know-how and tools at their disposal. 

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January 2, 2023 - 6:41 pm
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Maybe I missed mention of it, but a real basic first step in trying to loosen a stuck screw is to first try to tighten it. 

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