Consistently being able to properly remove a bolt in order to re-use the same hole isn’t easy work. It requires a great deal of patience and a certain degree of technical understanding of how the bolt works in order to remove it with the least amount of labor. The proper tools however will make or break one’s ability to efficiently remove any type of bolt.
If you ever wonder why you see a 70-liter haul bag typically involved in the re-bolting efforts, this article might shed light into the large number different tools needed and how they are used. Unfortunately, some of these tools can’t be bought in a hardware shop and require some custom machining or fabrication. A lot of work has been done by Greg German and members of the Action Committee for Eldorado to make the construction of these tools as simple as possible with a minimum of machining knowledge.
- Tuning forks – These are used to drive behind a bolt hanger and drive the bolt back up the hole. These are typically made from pitons or off-the-shelf tile chisels and then the proper sized channel is milled out.
- Wedge bolt removal tools – These are the “spinner” tools that screw onto the exposed threads of a wedge bolt, stopping at a fixed depth and allow the rotary hammer drill to spin and disable the expansion mechanism. Removal instructions here. A spray water bottle is used to help lubricate. The eye nuts are used for removal purposes in rare cases.
- Sleeve bolt removal tools – The 3/8″ Rawl/Powers 5-piece bolts are notoriously difficult to remove when corroded (instructions here). Removal necessitates cutting internal threads into the rusted sleeve component of the bolt with the tap and removing with a draw stud attached to the hydraulic punch driver (9). The hook tool is used the components of un-corroded bolts or stainless when a larger diameter bolt is desired.
- General hand tools – The workhorse tools are an adjustable spanner wrench and a pair of needle nose vice grips. A small chisel is helpful to ensure the new glue-in bolt’s eye will properly sit flush against the rock. Additionally the small pen-like tool is a metal-working scribe that has a magnetic end. The magnetic end is useful to clean metallic debris from the holes before enlarging/cleaning. A hook tool, as used in the sleeve bolt tools, can be helpful for prying and fishing debris or things out of holes. Optionally, a pair of alligator pliers can be helpful when dealing with corroded quicklinks.
- Rope access – A gri-gri, ascender, and an aider make a quick, easy, and versatile rope ascension/descent setup.
- Cleaning tools – Glue-ins require a pristine hole free of dust in order to achieve maximum strength. A hand-powered blow pump and the proper size cleaning brush are used in alternating cycles until all debris has been removed from the hole.
- Torque wrench – When simply inspecting bolts, swapping out hangers, or installing temporary removable bolts tightening with a torque wrench is best practice to insure that the mechanical bolt is torqued to the proper value. Even if only loosening old bolts, a cheap torque wrench from Harbor Freight that is taped shut into the max torque value setting can be useful due to the long handle and increased leverage when loosening corroded or over-tightened bolts.
- Wall hammer & funkness device – A good wall hammer that can be fitted with a swaged metal cable (aka funkness device) is helpful to remove spinner bolts and 5-piece cones. Most expansion bolts will be need to be tapped with the hammer to disengaged the expansion effect.
- Hydraulic punch drive – The candidate for the most specialized, heavy, and expensive tool, though a cheaper/lighter aluminum option exists. A hydraulic punch driver (in this case an industrial Greenlee) is intended to be used to cut a hole in sheet metal by pulling a cutting die through the work piece. For bolt replacement it is re-tasked to pull the old bolt out of the hole once the expansion mechanism is disabled. Custom adapter studs need to be made to adapt the 3/4″ fine-threaded draw stud the punch driver takes to the different type(s) of bolt being removed. Pictured is the 3/8-16 adapter and draw stud which are used to pull 5-piece sleeves and 3/8″ wedge bolts. The milled faced on the adapter stud is to fit a wrench.
- Glue-in installations – Each glue type will require the use of a special dispenser gun that works with the glue cartridge/mixing nozzle. Additionally a stainless steel hammer or rubber mallet may be needed to drive the bolt into the hole if it is designed with a compression fit that holds the glue-in in the hole on over-hanging placements. Some choose to cut an ‘X’ into a racquetteball ball and attach that to the face of their non-stainless wall hammer as needed when driving stainless steel glue-in bolts into place.
- All of this work couldn’t be done without a reliable static rope. Unicore construction for added safety.
- Drill – The other candidate for most expensive tool. The drill is instrumental to the removal of wedge bolts and in enlarging the original hole for the new bolt.
- PPE – Hanging on a rope and using power tools has its risks. Eye protection is a must at all times and gloves are also highly recommended to protect hands. The intensity of sound produced by a rotary hammer likely warrants hearing protection. Additionally, the ubiquitous helmet to protect the noggin’ and a simple face mask or respirator to limit the amount of rock dust inhaled during the enlarging and cleaning phase.