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Has anyone else encountered the inexplicable wrong-size stuck screw?

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  • #16
    There are screwdrivers with specially-treated tips. I think that they serve the same purpose.

    After I picked up my battery-powered ratchet, working on my truck got to be a lot simpler. I have an air ratchet, but I have to run the compressor, haul out the air hose and then wrestle with the hose in tight spaces; a real bother. I replaced the TPS on my F150 5.0L EFI in about 45 minutes, which is pretty good, if you consider where Ford put the blinking thing (i.e. on the bottom of the throttle body next to the engine--you can't even see it, much less work on it). I re-capped the ECU; using a regular socket set would have resulted in blue air and scuffed knuckles--with a ratchet, it was a lot simpler, rusted bolts and all.

    Battery-powered impact drivers are magic, if you have the right bits for them.

    Comment


    • #17
      Originally posted by Chuck(G) View Post
      There are screwdrivers with specially-treated tips. I think that they serve the same purpose.
      I'm curious, I've searched and not found anything like this yet, could you point me to some? Plenty of hits for screwdrivers with non-slip handles though, or vanadium or magnetic tips, or bits that Amazon claims 'anti-slip' without actually saying how or why. And even a brand-new screwdriver may still have trouble if the slot is cammed out.

      Comment


      • #18
        There are a number of manufacturers of these, including Snap-off (if you enjoy paying just shy of $30 for a single Phillips #2 driver), but basically, you want to look for "diamond tip" drivers. I bought these a few years back and they're pretty good. However, I bought them for their generous handles more than anything (old man's hands).

        Comment


        • #19
          Thanks Chuck, I hadn't seen those before. Next time I'm after a screwdriver set I will keep that in mind. I endeavour to keep tools in good condition so that may be quite some time away.

          Comment


          • #20
            Originally posted by Chuck(G) View Post
            If it's not much trouble, I like to improve on replacements. Stainless instead of zinc-plated fasteners, etc. Stainless is a lot cheaper than it used to be--and will never rust or corrode.
            Good idea, thanks. I do see a fair bit of corrosion from time to time and it would be good to stop that. As a stopgap, I have used bins and desiccants.

            Originally posted by Hugo Holden View Post
            In my restorations of vintage equipment I often use stainless screws. The main supplier of small sized stainless screws in the USA is PSME (Precisision Scale Model Engineering)
            How do you order from them? Their website doesn't have an online store?

            For that matter, what's the best way to figure out, given a sample screw that has no markings or identification, what you need to look/ask for?

            Comment


            • #21
              Originally posted by charnitz View Post

              How do you order from them? Their website doesn't have an online store?
              If you contact them by email they will send you a paper catalog of everything they have, it is nearly 1 inch thick. It is very convenient, everything is orderly and listed well with images. I can't recall how much the catalog cost. Then you just email the owner, who will send you your order. I have ordered large quantities of things like 4-40 and 6-32 stainless steel screws, because, like much of their hardware comes in a choice of metals and head types.
              They have a wonderful range of engineering materials & tools.

              When it comes to identifying screws, there are only a certain number of threads and diameters. Where they are made helps, the Japanese and Europeans nearly always use metric, so if the screw has the likely origin and say measured 3mm in diameter, with a fine thread, likely its standard fine metric, but there are course versions which are rarer. If you see a screw with a coarse thread and its 2.75mm in diameter its likely 4-40 UNC, if the thread looks nearly identical, but its 3.17mm diameter then its 1/8 BSW. Most small American screws tend to be UNC.

              One trick, which is better than a thread gauge, is to simply keep a collection of nuts of known thread sizes, then you just trial them on the screws. But after a while, just by looking at many, and the equipment they are used in, you can guess it.

              In a vintage IBM computer you might usually find UNC screws, except say in a disk drive unit made in Japan and there, the screws can be metric.

              For example, looking at my Rockwell AIM-65, I noticed right away that the printer head assembly was made in Japan, because of the 3mm metric iso screws with a characteristic head type , that are made only in Japan with that head. Further research then, led to the discovery that these printer units were made by Shimadzu, a Japanese company that dates back to the 1870's and specialized in high tech & medical equipment too.
              Last edited by Hugo Holden; March 6, 2021, 06:50 AM.

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              • #22
                Laptops often came into my repair shop with dimples in the plastic cases from too long wrong screws. Sure sign that someone had been inside before me. Others came in with some if not all case screws missing. Ditto for chances of finding an untouched internals on those too. But some makers went out of their way with using many different screws and screw lengths to assembly a laptop while others might have only two or possibly 3 sizes and it was easy to tell which when where. I think the worse I worked one used nearly a dozen different screws and screw lengths and scattered them throughout the laptop and that's not counting HDD mounting screws and the like.
                Crazy old guy with a basement full of Pentium 1 laptops and parts

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                • #23
                  FWIW, I've also ordered quite a bit from Albany County Fasteners. They have an online store.

                  Comment


                  • #24
                    If you have a decent hardware store in your area, the ones with hardware in plastic pull out trays, you should be able to match up the correct screw. Take at least one correct one with you and first search for a nut that matches the screw thread. Then look for screws of that size - either metric or in old USA made gear SAE threads. Small SAE screws would be most likely be one of these: 2-56, 4-40, 6-32, 8-32, 10-24 - getting larger in diameter as the first number gets larger. The 2nd number is the number of threads per inch.
                    Crazy old guy with a basement full of Pentium 1 laptops and parts

                    Comment


                    • #25
                      I showed up at my local old-school hardware store with a M2x0.4 screw to match. I think the smallest they had was M4. Moral: Don't expect the unreasonable. I've also got a few #3-48 (that's not a typo) screws used in some old equipment--I also have taps to match.

                      In a pinch, I've used a SAE 10-32 bolt in an M5x0.8 cage nut (rack mount). A little loose, but tightens up fine.

                      Comment


                      • #26
                        Originally posted by Chuck(G) View Post
                        I showed up at my local old-school hardware store with a M2x0.4 screw to match. I think the smallest they had was M4. Moral: Don't expect the unreasonable. I've also got a few #3-48 (that's not a typo) screws used in some old equipment--I also have taps to match.

                        In a pinch, I've used a SAE 10-32 bolt in an M5x0.8 cage nut (rack mount). A little loose, but tightens up fine.
                        PSME I mentioned in the USA sell 3-48, taps etc, I have bought a number from them in the past. Quick look in their catalog sizes:

                        000-120
                        00-90
                        0-80
                        1-72
                        2-56
                        2-64
                        3-48
                        3-56
                        4-40
                        6-32
                        8-32 etc etc

                        Also various length, material types and heads and in grub screws, nuts to suit of all types and so much more !

                        Until you have shopped at PSME, you haven't lived (If you like small hardware & engineering materials, metals, extrusions, plates mesh, bearings, plastics, fittings,tools, chucks micrometers, lathe accessories, their catalog is mind blowing)
                        Last edited by Hugo Holden; March 17, 2021, 12:43 AM.

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                        • #27
                          So, I can find a #2 screw with Robertson drive in a Fillister head at PSME? Fastenal doesn't even have that one in their catalog.

                          A lot of screws were special order. Even original 5150 screws (slotted hex 3/16 washer head 6-32) can be difficult to find.

                          Comment


                          • #28
                            Originally posted by charnitz View Post
                            I'm working on getting a keyboard freed from an old luggable and one screw in a deep channel won't come out. It appears stuck in the channel. I eventually realize it's not actually holding the keyboard on, get the keyboard off, and get the screw out of the channel by simultaneously turning it from above and pushing it back out of the channel from the bottom. Here's what I find:

                            [ATTACH=CONFIG]66827[/ATTACH]

                            The screw on the left is from the next screw hole over and is the original size screw. The larger screw on the right is the stuck screw. The larger screw didn't go into the matching screw hole in the keyboard very far, if it all, because a properly sized screw like the one on the left still threads into and holds in it.

                            Who just picks a random screw of a different size and tries to twist it in there? Anyone else have horror stories about stuck screws and tricks to get them out?
                            I should deservingly get hate for this but I've been the guy who uses the wrong screw before. When your working on something you don't care about much and you run out of good screws caution can go to the wind at times.

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                            • #29
                              I confess to being confronted with a disposable bit of gear that used a fastener size that I didn't have handy to re-tapping the holes for one I did have. There's also the matter of stripped-out threads--the original bolt won't work, so you do what you need to do. I used to see this a lot on Chinese steel cases, where the steel is so soft that it can't hold threads for more than a few insertions. I'll sometimes bore out the hole and apply a rivnut, which is pretty much a permanent remedy.

                              Comment


                              • #30
                                Originally posted by Chuck(G) View Post
                                I confess to being confronted with a disposable bit of gear that used a fastener size that I didn't have handy to re-tapping the holes for one I did have. There's also the matter of stripped-out threads--the original bolt won't work, so you do what you need to do. I used to see this a lot on Chinese steel cases, where the steel is so soft that it can't hold threads for more than a few insertions. I'll sometimes bore out the hole and apply a rivnut, which is pretty much a permanent remedy.
                                When a screw thread gets stripped out I use Heli-Coils. A great thread repair and often work out stronger than the original thread, especially if the original thread was in aluminium.

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