Rawl/Powers “5-piece” bolt
Sold as the Powers Power-Bolt, one of the main advantages of this bolt is that it is “removable” and thus allows developers/maintainers to re-use the existing holes. This is critical in areas like Tuolumne or the Cochise Stronghold that have highly featured rock in which there may be very limited placement options. Unfortunately, the prevalent use of plated steel versions of this bolt and the resulting corrosion can make removal of these bolts onerous. Typically it will always be possible to remove these bolts with patience and tenacity. Credit is due to Gary Ballard, Greg German and the Action Committee for Eldorado for their work in developing and refining removal processes for 5-piece bolts.
The plated steel versions of these are typically installed in the 3/8″ diameter. They can be easily identified by their relatively small 1/2″ hex head. The stock assembly of the bolt comes with a grade 5 hex head bolt which bears the SAE Grade 5 identifier on the head. Assuming the stock assembly wasn’t modified and the head wasn’t completely marred by being hammered into the hole these markings can still be typically discerned, however advanced corrosion may prevent this.
Method of functionality
The 5-piece bolt is a sleeve style bolt. It is often referred to as a “5-piece” because of the number of components that make up the bolt. In the smaller lengths, there were five pieces but in longer lengths there are additional pieces. The bolt assembly contains the following components.
- A hex-head partial-thread bolt (5/16″ diameter in 3/8″ diameter anchor)
- A torque-indicating washer that deforms when a properly installed bolt reaches specified installation torque
- A washer
- A spacer
- A blue plastic compression ring
- An expansion sleeve
- A tapered, internally threaded cone
The diameter of the end cone is such that it provides an interference fit with the hole that requires that the bolt be driven into the hole with light taps. When properly assembled and installed into a hole, tightening the internal bolt compresses the spacer, compression ring, expansion sleeve, and tapered cone. The plastic compression ring begins to deform and “smoosh” together creating room along the length of the bolt to allow the tapered cone to be pulled into the expansion sleeve. At some point in this process the bolt should hit the specified installation torque. Failure to reach torque means the bolt is suspect and should be replaced.
In order to pull 3/8″ Rawl/Powers 5-piece bolts you’ll want the following in your toolkit
- 3/8-16 spiral flute tap
- something magnetic that will fit in a 3/8″ x 4″ hole (this works well)
- Hook tool made from 7/32″ hex wrench or ground down 90° pick tool
- 3/8-16 x 3″ high strength steel threaded rod (Grade 5 or Grade 8)
- 1/2″ wrench, preferably with a long handle (6-sided socket and a torque wrench works well)
- hammer, preferably a wall hammer or something that can take a funkness device
- funkness device
- old plated steel bolt hanger you can beat up
- puller tool (c-clamp, “Doodad”, Hurley Jr., or hydraulic punch driver with 3/8-16 adapting stud)
The following items are optional but can prove to be useful when things inevitably don’t go to plan.
- Needle nose vise-grips
- Mini hack saw
- 5/16-18 eye nut
- 5/16-18 x 4″ high strength steel threaded rod
- Loosen the hex head bolt about 2-2.5 full turns.
- Tap the head of the bolt in with a hammer to displace the cone from its place in the expansion sleeve
- Continue loosening and removing the hex-head bolt, hanger, and whatever other components of the fixture that will come out easily
- You can generally use the hook tool to remove the plastic compression ring and the spacer from the hole if they did not come out with the threaded bolt. If the spacer and/or compression ring are not out of the hole, use the spiral flute tap to tap and remove. Many times you can just tap and pull using the tap itself. Though one must be extremely careful here as the tap can be easily broken and then you’re kind of screwed.
- You can either attempt to remove the sleeve with the hook tool which may work if the bolts aren’t highly corroded. Though if you’re replacing the bolts they’re probably corroded and the sleeve will need to be tapped using the spiral flute tap. Tap the sleeve regularly turning in reverse a 1/4 to 1/2 turn in order to clear the debris that builds up on the cutting edge of the tap. Be patient and gentle during this as breaking the tap will be unrecoverable. Tap at least 1/2″ of the sleeve.
- Use your magnetic implement to clear the metal shavings from the hole. A small zip lock bag is helpful to clean the debris off the tool into some type of bag. A small durable nylon canvas bag that can be easily bought at Home Depot works well for this and typically has a d-ring to clip a carabiner to.
- Thread your draw stud into the tapped sleeve.
- Use your puller tool to extract the sleeve. If the sleeve breaks before it is completely out of the hole, try to use your hook tool, then needle nose vise grips or pliers to pull it by hand if exposed out of the hole. Worst case, continue to re-tap, clean, and pull the remaining portion. If the perforated section breaks and leaves the three “wings” in the hole, use your magnet to pull the remaining pieces out by hand.
- There are a couple different ways to try to attempt to remove the cone. One is using your puller tool and whatever adapters would be needed to convert it to accept a 5/16-18 draw stud. This however can cause the cone to pull in a non-square angle and start wedging the cone in the hole. If you encounter increasing resistance back off and funk the cone using one of the following methods. I’ve had the best luck using the bolt removed in step #3 and a beater plated steel hanger to funk the cone out of the hole (a climb tech hanger has pulled over 200 bolts and has never deformed). Just put the bolt through the hanger, thread into the cone, and funk with the hammer. Be careful as the whole assembly will forcefully “pop” out of the hole (i.e. eye protection and be ready to shield yourself).