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Removing old seat and thwart bolts-Help!

Discussion in 'Tips and Tricks' started by Blott, Dec 12, 2012.

  1. Blott

    Blott LOVES Wooden Canoes

    The bolts holding the seats in my Chestnut had corroded. Using some Plus Gas I managed to free some of the nuts but with the twisting effort some sheared off. I am left with the bolts stuck in the inwales. I have tried using a nail punch from below but they don't seem to want to budge.

    Any secret tips for removal? Or is removal proportionate to the degree of effort, braveness and cussing!?
  2. Greg Nolan

    Greg Nolan enthusiast

    An alternate approach is to put a sturdy board on the seat as close to the bolt(s) with the broken-off nut(s), and pound down to get the seat off the bolt(s) and out of the way.

    This leaves the bolt still in the canoe, but you have two slight advantages -- first, the shaft of the bolt is stuck in less wood, and so might be driven out more easily (and you can wang away with your hammer right on the bolt, rather than using a punch), and second, if that doesn’t work, you might try clamping onto the bolt stub with a vise-grip and twisting the bolt a little -- but this probably shouldn’t be done if you have a carriage bolt or diamond head bolt, the heads of which likely have sunk into the wood of the gunwale, making twisting improvident (gunwale will get chewed up), if not impossible.

    Also, being that it’s a Chestnut, cussing in French might help. sacre bleu!! tabernak!! bâtard!!
  3. Dave Wermuth

    Dave Wermuth Who hid my paddle?

    I have had this problem and decided hitting it with a hammer may not be the most judicious course of action given my tendency to miss or worse. I use a couple C clamps, with pieces of strong wood above/below and make a type of press. Use a bolt of the right size as the punch/pin. Tightening gradually until it eases out. Also, have you tried adding heat via heat gun? Some times the metal heats up enough to move the wood enough to turn it loose. Finesse is my motto when it comes to this stuff.
  4. Andre Cloutier

    Andre Cloutier Firestarter. Wicked Firestarter.

    If you can get them high enough to grab them with a pair of vice grips without marring the gunwale, you can twist them to break the seize and usually after that they are no problem. alternatively you can hammer the vice grips once they are attached. I've done a lot of Peterboroughs and Chestnuts with steel this way. you can also center punch the head and drill it off, and concave the remaining shaft with the drill bit and punch it down through.
  5. H.E. Pennypacker

    H.E. Pennypacker LOVES Wooden Canoes

    Finesse is a great way to put it. I do the same as Dave. Made a press using two pieces of hardwood and a clamp. I made my top piece of wood that sits on top of the gunwale with a cutout (about 1 cm) so that when the bottom piece is pressed up, forcing the bolt up and out, the head of the bolt has somewhere to go. This only works, though, if the shaft of the broken bolt is still intact. If it's rusted to oblivion, it will just crumble inside the gunwale as you press up.

    - Helmut
  6. Doug

    Doug Curious about Wooden Canoes

    I just had this problem and spent a lot of time trying to get the bolts nuts off which I did with letting wd 40 sit overnight and to clean threads.( Of course most came off easy and it was the last one which took a while .
    , then lighty hit the seats to get them off with out damage.
    I used liberal amounts of dish detergent ( canoe upside down) as a " grease since the holes in the seat were so tight .
    I did the same with the area where the bolts went thru the inwall and pressed them out as above with the clamp ( actually used a short bar clamp. It was a long process but now the nuts and bolts a ready for cleaning and didn't get bent.
  7. OP

    Blott LOVES Wooden Canoes

    I managed to get most out in the end by making a press with a lump of oak and a g clamp. This worked well. A couple of bolts were so corroded so they just collapsed so I drilled the heads off and then knocked the rest out with a nail punch. Now have new bronze bolts for the replacement thwart, seat and yoke.
  8. MGC

    MGC Scrapmaker

    I understand that Andre has pioneered strategically placed fires to remove the bolts and hardware.
    The hardware is easily collected once the embers cool down.
    A new canoe may then be constructed around the rescued hardware:eek:
  9. Rollin Thurlow

    Rollin Thurlow member since 1980

    The problem hammering the rusted bolt out with or without needing to use a nail punch, other than having to work upside down, is that all the pounding force is being absorbed by the rail. Instead of forcing the bolt out, it is just causing the rail to bounce up and down.
    If you have a handy clinching iron, you can place the iron on its side so the open hand hold spans the space over the head of the bolt. By holding the iron very firmly on top of the rail so the bolt head can rise up between the opening of the iron, holding the nail punch with the other hand, its just a matter of pounding out the bolt with the hammer with your the third hand. For those without the advantage of a third hand you can use the other secret tool of professional boat builders. Hang your fat winter belly over the iron and lean over the rail and use two hands to hold the punch and iron. If for some unexplained reason you have been unable to collect a fat winter belly you may resort to collecting a trusted friend that has a high enough IQ to follow the instructions to "Hold this and don't let it move". Of course after you whack the bolt it causes the iron to jump a bit and then you can yell at them, " Jesh, all you have to do is hold the dumb iron in one place! After you collect another trusting friend you may want to resist that last bit of instruction because it it can take a few more even more powerful whaps before that rusted bolt will move!
  10. David Satter

    David Satter LOVES Wooden Canoes

    The clinching iron works great, been using that for years to remove bolts. Get the bolt in the corner of the iron hole for best support. hmmm.... I wonder if it only works cause I got the iron from North woods canoe. Dave Satter

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