Piston Slap: A bolt of Lightning, frozen in time


William writes:

Are there any simple ways to remove the bottom torque bolt for a seatbelt bolted into the floor on 1992–96 Ford F150 pickups? It would appear that the bolt, over time, has become fused into the threaded retainer within the floor.

I’ve had my mechanic use his power tools to try and back the bolt out, and he has twisted his Snap On torque trying to remove it. I need to get the seatbelts replaced on my Lightning sport trucks (two 1994 models), and it’s been an uphill battle trying to figure out how to remove that stupid bolt. I’ve been left with trying to apply constant penetrating oil to the bolt to no avail.

Sajeev answers:

Oh yes! I was in your shoes last year with the first update on my Project Valentino restomod, so here’s the short answer: Either weld a nut to the top of the bolt or heat the bolt from the bottom of the truck with a torch. Or perhaps both, because the weld-nut-then-wrench plan still didn’t work for me, as you can see below.

Ford seat belt bolt broken
Sajeev Mehta

Don’t be like me. Don’t wind up using a flexible attachment to a rotary tool to grind off a bolt head.

Here’s the problem with these Ford safety belt retaining bolts: they don’t like to weld themselves to any ordinary nut you have in your garage. I don’t know the metallurgical differences, but it sure seems to exist given my quandary. It doesn’t help that getting a good bead when inside a classic vehicle is close to impossible. Perhaps the best move is to get on a chassis lift and heat the bolt from underneath the truck. Move carpet out of the way if at all possible, maybe soak it with water if fire feels imminent.

With a red-hot bolt and constrained thermal expansion working its magic on the bolt’s head, it should break loose. If that fails, maybe thread on + weld a nut on the backside of the bolt (go crazy with the beading, since you are outside the truck) and break the head loose from the outside. You have more leverage too, which never hurts. Once the bolt is loosened, take an angle grinder to your welding creation so you can proceed to remove the bolt from the inside of the truck as per usual.

It’s never enjoyable to spend a lot of time performing a task that should take seconds, but hey, that’s part of the joy of working on classic vehicles! Good luck!

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