Friday, July 11, 2014

A Bunch of Heat, Gobs of Oil, and a Lot of Hammering

It took two days of off-and-on heating, beating, and oiling but I finally got the stuck parts apart so that I can start trying to weld all of the broken parts of my hay rake back together.

On the first day, I used an oxy-acetylene torch to heat the heck out of it trying to expand the pipe enough to bust the rust and gunk loose.  I'd get it nice and hot, beat on it with a small sledgehammer trying to knock the rust out, then used a punch to try to drive it off, sprayed it down good with PB Blaster, then I beat on it a little more.  After doing that about four times, I'd only moved the outer pipe about 1/16".  My arms were about to fall off, so I propped it up and sprayed as much oil as I could into that little gap and quit for the day.  

The next day, I started trying to move the immovable once again; going through the whole process of heating, beating, and oiling this permanently stuck piece of broken junk a couple more times.   And, it still refused to move.

Just as I was seriously thinking about getting out a grinder with a cutoff wheel and slicing the pipe from stem to stern to get it off (and hoping I could find a piece of pipe that was the right size pipe to replace it), I hit it hard one more time with the hammer and HOLY COW, IT FINALLY MOVED!!  I'd managed to move it 1/8" which was much better than yesterday's 1/16", which meant that it was only going to take me about 100 days to get this apart instead of the 200 days I'd originally estimated.

Repositioning my punch to get a better bite, I managed to move it about 1/4" more with the next handful of hits.  Maybe the immovable wasn't immovable at all.  I finally had these pieces of pipe on the ropes, and I had to keep hitting them before they got a second wind and started fighting back again.

A quarter inch quickly turned into a half inch, a half inch became an inch-and-a-half, and before I knew it the pipe fell off so fast it almost smashed my toe. 

After all that, a broken and twisted frame, a bunch of torn metal, and a whole lot of hammering and heat, the only thing that I could find that made these two pieces of pipe get stuck together was some old dried up grease, some dirt, and a little rust.  A quick pass with a grinder, a dunk in the parts cleaner, and the pipes fit together so loosely that they practically rattled.

There's some sort of philosophical lesson to be learned here, like "when you are ready to give up on something, just hit it with a hammer a couple more times".

Now, I can start welding everything back together, and I need to decide if I want to repaint the parts that has had all the paint burned off by the torch and welding (painting it almost seems like putting lipstick on a pig at this point).


  1. I thought this might be heading towards one of those stories where you put so much effort into opening or freeing something without success and then someone comes along and offers to try opening or freeing it with very little effort right off the bat. It is amazing how often that has happened to me over my lifetime.

    1. Anybody that would have happened to come by would have been invited to take a crack at getting it loose.

      I wanted it unstuck and that's all I cared about, if it meant giving the credit to a 5 yr.old that tapped it with his plastic toy hammer right before it fell off, I would have been happy to tell everyone I met about his hammer swinging skills.

      There might be another philosophical lesson in that statement (but I can't think of one right now).

  2. Now you've got me thinking lately about my stuck receiver hitch. I'm starting to ponder the notion of removing the thing and throwing the whole works into a fire until it is well baked... then maybe I can beat it enough to budge it...

    Maybe when it gets cooler out...

    It's such a nice feeling when stuck rusty stuff starts moving again. I've salvaged a whole lot of electric motors over the years by working them loose.

    1. According to some of the guys (and gals) that restore old tractors, you can soak rusty parts in a bucket of used ATF (automatic transmission fluid) to unstick the stuck. Filling up the cylinders of a stuck engine with ATF is also supposed to help break the pistons loose.

      I tried it a few times and it seems like it might have worked a little (about the same as penetrating oil, etc.), but it wasn't a spectacular success. But, seeing if it would work as advertised was relatively cheap since all I had to do was save some used ATF in a bucket after a fluid/filter change.

      Off the top of my head, I'm not sure if I've ever seen an electric motor get rusty enough to get stuck (or maybe I just didn't pay enough attention). Is it just a matter of some oil and elbow grease to get a rusty electric motor unstuck?

    2. ATF,,, hmm, interesting.

      I've run into quite a few stuck motors over the years, for whatever reasons... fans, washer fluid pumps, bigger motors that sat out in the rain, starters. I always disassemble them to see what is wrong, and usually they just run out of lube, get some rust buildup, and old gunk. I've usually been able to just clean them up and lube them and get them working again. I guess I thought of motors because I recently freed up a fridge evaporator fan motor that had a bunch of rust in it.