How To Free Stuck Bolts with an Oxy-Acetylene Torch

From time to time, when you’re removing bolts of a project car, you will come across a few that are a little too stubborn. They are either overtightened, rusted, seized, or a combination of the three, and you’re trying every method in the book to loosen it up.

For example, when we were working on our Spec Panther Crown Vic race car project, we ran into bolts that did not want to cooperate at all. So, rather than hammer away at them to loosen them up, we decided to bring out the Oxy-Acetylene torch to give these bolts a little “heat therapy.” This situation with our Crown Vic was rare, mainly because we couldn’t access the sleeve of the shock/strut, so we had to try and heat the bolt to free it.

Bolts vs Oxy-Acetylene Torch

We’ve all heard the phrase, “can’t be tight if it’s liquid.” It’s situations like this when that rings true. When faced with some stubborn bolts, this is where those lessons in thermodynamics we were taught in school come into play.

By applying heat directly from the torch to the nut, that will increase in temperature causes the metal to expand and “break free” the bond of the nut and bolt. Once you apply enough heat to the nut, it will expand, releasing the tension on the bolt and making it easier for you to loosen it.

We also want to note that this situation was unique for what was required of us, as other problems will always call for different solutions. In this case, we were not going to reuse the strut. So “heat therapy” was the fastest way of completing this task.

However, if the bolt is so stuck that heating it up doesn’t work, the other alternatives would be to cut it with the torch or find another means of cutting it. We should note that when doing this always exercise caution, as this can potentially be a dangerous process.

Thankfully for us, we were able to heat up the bolt enough that we were able to dislodge it from our Spec Panther’s strut after a few swings of a hammer. So in the end, it worked, and made the job a little bit easier!

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