(Topic ID: 87353)

How to remove a broken screw?


By erichill

5 years ago



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  • 63 posts
  • 17 Pinsiders participating
  • Latest reply 5 years ago by mg81
  • Topic is favorited by 8 Pinsiders

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There are 63 posts in this topic. You are on page 1 of 2.
#1 5 years ago

I'm sick to my stomach right now. This was literally one of the very last screws I had left on my Firepower playfield swap. Just as it was getting snug - snap!

Has anyone had luck using an extractor on a screw this small (#6 wood screw)? Was also considering going after it from the backside to minimize any further damage to the art work.

Any ideas here?

IMG_3417.JPG

#2 5 years ago

Is it sticking out under the playfield or is there no way to grab it from either side? if there is any of it sticking out on the underside I would use a pair of vise grips and just continue to screw it in so you don't lose the threading in the wood until it comes out under the playfield.

#3 5 years ago

What goes there on the playfield? In other words is that area covered from view?

#4 5 years ago

No, it hasn't penetrated through the backside and it's below the surface on the topside.

#5 5 years ago
Quoted from John_I:

What goes there on the playfield? In other words is that area covered from view?

It's the top of the inlane guide. Partially obscured, but the guide is pretty skinny up there.

Here's a pic of the area from IPDB:
http://www.ipdb.org/showpic.pl?id=856&picno=11615

#6 5 years ago

Take it out from the backside with Hollow Wood Screw Extractor and Needle Nose Vise-Grips.

Plug hole from behind with hardwood dowel.

#8 5 years ago

And just to clarify - the lane guide sits on a very skinny metal spacer, not a plastic playfield post.

#9 5 years ago

Yeah that is a bad spot for that to happen. The screw extractor that Vid posted my be an option. Fortunately you can touch the area up with black.

#10 5 years ago

Vid, you are the man.

I was probably going to post a thread exactly like this one today. I imagined a hollow screw exacractor last night, but didn't until this moment know that it actually existed. Do any pinball supply places sell them? Does it attach to a drill?

In my case, I'll be replacing a plastic post metal mini-post, and I think I can use a T-nut under the playfield.

A couple minutes of research shows that a 1/4" OD hollow screw extractor can remove up to #6 (maybe #8) screws. Is 1/4" the right size hole for a #6 T-nut?

#11 5 years ago

Mot, sorry to hear you're in the same boat!

Thanks for the reco's guys. Going to pickup a hollow extractor and practice on an old wasted playfield before trying anything on the new one. Will let you know how it goes.

#12 5 years ago

I don't mean to hijack your thread, erichill, but...

What's the best way to replace a broken mini post like this?
mini-post.jpg

Would the best replacement be a mini-post like this with a T-nut?
post3.jpg

Would the best replacement be a mini-post like this with a washer and nylock nut?
post-2.jpg

If I'm going to use a 1/4" hollow screw extractor, that will probably play into it...

#13 5 years ago
Quoted from mot:

Does it attach to a drill?

Yes, chuck it into your drill.

#14 5 years ago
Quoted from mot:

Is 1/4" the right size hole for a #6 T-nut?

It's probably a little large.

But you can put a 1/4" dowel into the hole with some wood glue and just redrill.

#15 5 years ago

I hope there's a little of the screw sticking up through the playfield to hold the screw extractor in place. Otherwise you'll need to hold the drill firmly or the extractor can "walk" across the playfield and damage it. I always try to drill down the center of the screw before attempting to use other methods. I cringe every time I see something like this happen.

Steve

#16 5 years ago
Quoted from mot:

Would the best replacement be a mini-post like this with a T-nut?

Is there room for a T-nut, or will it be too close to the insert?

If not, the wood screw type of post will have a nice hardwood dowel to bite into.

#17 5 years ago
Quoted from vid1900:

Is there room for a T-nut, or will it be too close to the insert?
If not, the wood screw type of post will have a nice hardwood dowel to bite into.

It's close. I'll probably try dowel+wood screw with a T-nut as a backup plan. Thanks, vid!

#18 5 years ago
Quoted from blownfuse:

I hope there's a little of the screw sticking up through the playfield to hold the screw extractor in place. Otherwise you'll need to hold the drill firmly or the extractor can "walk" across the playfield and damage it.

A good nail punch will telegraph the location of the screw to the backside, if it's not already evident.

#19 5 years ago
Quoted from vid1900:

A good nail punch will telegraph the location of the screw to the backside, if it's not already evident.

Already tried this without any luck. Based on what's left of my screw I estimate it's driven about 3/8" into the playfield. Probably too far from the other side to telegraph through. Fortunately, I think I should be able to triangulate its position using the adjacent inserts.

#20 5 years ago

If you can triangulate the position, you should be able to drill to it from the back and then you might be able to punch it like vid mentions. Anything that can minimize damage should be tried first.

Steve

Quoted from erichill:

Already tried this without any luck. Based on what's left of my screw I estimate it's driven about 3/8" into the playfield. Probably too far from the other side to telegraph through. Fortunately, I think I should be able to triangulate its position using the adjacent inserts.

#21 5 years ago

You know, another thing I can do is drill the hole completely through on my old PF which would give me a decent visual reference of the approximate location.

#22 5 years ago

That should work, there are many ways to find the screw center. Another way would be to use a square and measure to mark the center.

Steve

Quoted from erichill:

You know, another thing I can do is drill the hole completely through on my old PF which would give me a decent visual reference of the approximate location.

#23 5 years ago

Should be a fun evening. At least the Black Hole is up and running again...

#24 5 years ago

Try using a small high power earth magnetic underneath. It should center on the location so no hassle of tools...if you are lucky.

#25 5 years ago

Man! I learn great things from you guys! Vid1900 now you are going to have me out buying yet another tool!! But what a great tool it is. I like the magnet idea too for locating the screw. I am always amazed at the ability of you guys and your willingness to share. Thanks.

Al

#26 5 years ago
Quoted from CharlestonSCPins:

Vid1900 now you are going to have me out buying yet another tool

Whoever dies with the most tools gets to help build the afterlife.

#27 5 years ago

i have use these quite a few times, WARNING they break very easy if it hits the metal screw
I made a guide with a long peice of plexiglass with a guide hole that is just a tad larger than the extractor. then i clamp in down so it is just over the broken screw.
once out i put in a peice of hard wood dowel with glue
if the base of the post doesn't cover the the plug i use a ss washer that is just enough to cover the plug. never notice it with these single rubber posts.
Good luck

#28 5 years ago
Quoted from boilerman:

if the base of the post doesn't cover the the plug i use a ss washer that is just enough to cover the plug. never notice it with these single rubber posts.

If you do the washer trick, you could do the whole repair topside.

#29 5 years ago

Is there enough 'room' on the top of the screw sticking out to CAREFULLY put a 'slot' in it w/a dremill or tool like it? Then back out w/screwdriver...just thinking. Sorry that happened and good luck.

#30 5 years ago
Quoted from erichill:

I'm sick to my stomach right now. This was literally one of the very last screws I had left on my Firepower playfield swap. Just as it was getting snug - snap!
Has anyone had luck using an extractor on a screw this small (#6 wood screw)? Was also considering going after it from the backside to minimize any further damage to the art work.
Any ideas here?

IMG_3417.JPG 356 KB

cut the guide to match the other on the right side then install a wire guide like the right side leave the screw wear it is.

#31 5 years ago
Quoted from blownfuse:

I hope there's a little of the screw sticking up through the playfield to hold the screw extractor in place. Otherwise you'll need to hold the drill firmly or the extractor can "walk" across the playfield and damage it. I always try to drill down the center of the screw before attempting to use other methods. I cringe every time I see something like this happen.
Steve

I tried this method recently on my Black Hole and it worked like a charm. Mind you, I've only done this once, so this isn't "seasoned, I've done this successfully 99/100 times" experience talking here.

As blownfuse mentioned there is great risk to dancing on your perfect $800 PF. You could always grab a $2 thin cutting board plastic from the supermarket, and create a little "safety frisket" by drilling a little 1/4" hole in one, and cutting a 4"x4" square as a safety net, and do your work over that, after you lay it on the PF.

(blownfuse's suggestion)
I gathered two drill bits, one that was a little more narrow than the post (not counting the threads), and a tiny one that was as small as possible.

1. Grabbed the tiny drill bit, and applied NO pressure, and got a shallow starter hole going in the top of the screw. (If you want to, quickly make a little "frisket" out of (cardboard or other material) to make a safety net so if your drill dances off the top of the bit it doesn't go straight into the PF, go ahead... I didn't bother), and I just applied very light pressure not even the weight of the drill... (If you want to practice, find a 2x4 with a few nails embedded in it, (or nail one in) and see how it feels to drill into the back of some metal, and not allow yourself to slide around...) I just went for it since I have rather steady hands most of the time.

2. I swapped bits to the one that is slightly smaller than the post screw width (not counting the threads). With a very very steady hand, I drilled with more pressure until it popped out through the back of the playfield. I installed a new post, and I didn't need to re-fill the hole or do anything special. Quite a huge relief, and overall it took me about 5 minutes. Of course, beforehand... check the bottom side of the PF, and make sure there are no wires/metal plates crossing that area. =)

Eyeball (next to the PF) a dry run, to notice how far you'll go in before the screw should be passing through the other side. Note that distance above the PF, that should be "done" so that you take zero risk at pushing the drill body into your PF in any way.

5 minutes to freedom.

-mof

#32 5 years ago
Quoted from erichill:

I'm sick to my stomach right now. This was literally one of the very last screws I had left on my Firepower playfield swap. Just as it was getting snug - snap!
Has anyone had luck using an extractor on a screw this small (#6 wood screw)? Was also considering going after it from the backside to minimize any further damage to the art work.
Any ideas here?
IMG_3417.JPG 356 KB

Can you show us an un-damaged screw to see which one it was?
-mof

#33 5 years ago
Quoted from mof:

I tried this method recently on my Black Hole and it worked like a charm.

Thanks for the tip, mof. I'll try this one too on the scrap PF.

Wasn't able to make it over to Woodcraft to pick up the hollow extractor bit, so the trail runs will need to wait until tomorrow.

#34 5 years ago
Quoted from mof:

Can you show us an un-damaged screw to see which one it was?
-mof

Here's the culprit. It's actually the only one like it on the playfield so unfortunately I don't have an undamaged example to share.

photo.JPG

#35 5 years ago
Quoted from blownfuse:

If you can triangulate the position, you should be able to drill to it from the back and then punch it like vid mentions. Anything that can minimize damage should be tried first.
Steve

Two measurements side of PF to screw and end of PF to screw transfer to the back.
Drill until you hit the screw then drive it down through the top with a concave punch.

Post edited by tracelifter: added the word down for clarity

#36 5 years ago

What am I not seeing, wouldn't driving the screw through the top cause playfield damage that may not be easily repaired?

Steve

Quoted from tracelifter:

Two measurements side of PF to screw and end of PF to screw transfer to the back.
Drill until you hit the screw then drive it through the top with a concave punch.

#37 5 years ago
Quoted from blownfuse:

What am I not seeing, wouldn't driving through the top cause playfield damage that may not be easily repaired?
Steve

Agreed. That might cause splintering and end up a nightmare. Getting a grip *somehow* on it and backing it out is the way to go.

#38 5 years ago
Quoted from Cash_Riprock:

Is there enough 'room' on the top of the screw sticking out to CAREFULLY put a 'slot' in it w/a dremill or tool like it? Then back out w/screwdriver...just thinking. Sorry that happened and good luck.

You beat me to this recommendation. This is how I've always retrieved broken screws.

The other methods are too risky and time consuming.

#39 5 years ago
Quoted from blownfuse:

What am I not seeing, wouldn't driving the screw through the top cause playfield damage that may not be easily repaired?
Steve

I meant drill the bottom then drive it out the bottom with a concave punch from the top.
That spot just has that thin barrel spacer so any drilling/dremeling on the top won't be covered.
You would definitely splinter the top driving it out from the bottom.

#40 5 years ago

I agree, hammering it back through the top will definitely splinter the PF. The screw needs to be unscrewed or drilled out.

#41 5 years ago

Thanks for the clarification Eric.

Steve

Quoted from tracelifter:

I meant drill the bottom then drive it out the bottom with a concave punch from the top.
That spot just has that thin barrel spacer so any drilling/dremeling on the top won't be covered.
You would definitely splinter the top driving it out from the bottom.

#42 5 years ago
Quoted from tracelifter:

I meant drill the bottom then drive it out the bottom with a concave punch from the top.
That spot just has that thin barrel spacer so any drilling/dremeling on the top won't be covered.
You would definitely splinter the top driving it out from the bottom.

Ah, I see what you mean. I'd still be concerned with how the screw threads could tear up the PF. I'll go ahead test it though and see how it works!

#43 5 years ago
Quoted from erichill:

Ah, I see what you mean. I'd still be concerned with how the screw threads could tear up the PF. I'll go ahead test it though and see how it works!

Once you remove the material below it the piece will tap right on through.
You can use a small thin washer under the barrel spacer if needed to support it and cover any damage after you fill the hole.

#44 5 years ago

OK, first round of results are in. None of the test screws were successfully removed, but I think I have a method figured out that's working for me - just need to go by another tool.

Meet the test subjects:

IMG_3421.JPG

(3) #6 sheet metal screws driven 3/8" into the playfield then cut off.

I tried Tracelifter's method first. To begin, I drilled a hole just larger than the threads immediately below the stuck screw. Drilled down until I hit the tip.

IMG_3422.JPG

Then a couple solid wraps with a pin punch. No movement at all. Tried again and really wailed on it, but again, no movement.

IMG_3424.JPG

I later found my concave nail set and gave that a go too, without any luck.

IMG_3434.JPG

Next up, I tried the blownfuse/mof method. I made a little guide out of some scrap plastic.

IMG_3429.JPG

And clamped it over the second test screw.

IMG_3430.JPG

Since the screw is too thin to use a center punch, I started by drilling a tiny pilot notch in the top of the screw.

IMG_3431.JPG

Looking good.

IMG_3432.JPG

I reapplied the guide and swapped out the bit for one the same size as the screw body. This went well for about 5 seconds until the bit danced slightly to the side, moving the template and taking out a little chunk of playfield.

IMG_3433.JPG

Probably my own fault for not clamping down the guide tight enough or not holding the drill steady enough, but regardless, it revealed the immediate risks to the playfield art involved in this method.

Finally, I thought about Vid's method with the hollow extractors (Woodcraft isn't open yet, so I haven't been able to buy the bits), but I realized that I already exposed the tip of the screw with Tracelifters method. I grabbed my Dremel and a diamond tip cutting tool and cleared out some wood around the tip of the screw from test 1.

dremel_bit.JPG
IMG_3436.JPG

Progress, finally! I was able to grab onto the tip with some needle nose pliers and twist it slightly back and forth. My problem now is that the only pair of needle nose I have that fit into this tiny hole are some light duty ones I use for board repair. Anybody know where I can find the thinnest vise-style pliers?

Thanks for reading!

-Eric

#45 5 years ago

Eric, mof didn't quite explain it thoroughly, let me clarify. What wasn't said with my method was that you drill a small pilot hole the size of the thinner part of the screw from the underside of the playfield up into the screw about 1/8" to 3/16". Then you use a slightly smaller bit (about 1/2 the size of the screw) and drill downward into the screw from the top about 1/8". After that, you take a slightly larger (but duller and also smaller than the screw) bit and drill into the hole you just drilled and let it hang up in the screw. If you continue trying to drill with the bit hung up on the screw, it should continue to screw it's way through the pilot hole you drilled from the bottom of the playfield and out the backside. This method has never failed me through the years and gives little to no damage to either side of the playfield. Give it a try on your practice playfield.

Steve

broken plsyfield screw removed.jpg

snapped screw removed, new one installed.jpg

#46 5 years ago

Ah, now I see what you're saying. Thanks for the clarification.

I'm hanging with my kids this afternoon while thier momma runs some errands. I'll try this again later this evening.

#47 5 years ago
Quoted from erichill:

My problem now is that the only pair of needle nose I have that fit into this tiny hole are some light duty ones I use for board repair.

Sears has the set of 3 locking needle nose, so they might have just the small one in store.

Needle Vice-Grip.jpg

#48 5 years ago

The Ace up the street from me has the 6LN pliers (the small ones in that set) ala carte. I'll give these a shot tonight along with Steve's method.

Thanks for all the ideas, guys!

#49 5 years ago

I see Steve's additional point now -- when I got my post out, the post had already poked the tiniest of a hole out the bottom side. So I never had to approach it from the bottom with any sort of drilling to "reduce resistance" on the way out... It rotated itself right out and left a pleasantly small hole in its wake.

In your case, if you can estimate the screw has a distance to go, before popping out the bottom side, I can see the value in creating a little space for it, so it doesn't require as much force to rotate on out...

-mof

#50 5 years ago

Round 2 results are in.

I switched to a router bit on my Dremel which did a much better job clearing the wood around the screw. Had to enlarge the hole to 7/16" in order to give the vise-grips (model 4LN, shortest/thinnest one they make) enough room to bite.

Router bit.

IMG_3449.JPG

Enlarged hole.

IMG_3442.JPG

We have contact...

IMG_3446.JPG

And she's out!

IMG_3447.JPG

I gave Steve's method another shot and got it to work ok. Hole drilled in the bottom, pilot hole started on top, the larger bit caught but then spun out after 2-3 rotations of the screw. Moved to the next size up and the same thing happened, only this time the bit drifted slightly to the side and started to drill slightly into the wood. At this point I stopped.

Maybe my drill pressure was off, hand not steady enough - I don't know. I could practice this a few more times, but I think I'm going to go with the Dremel and Vise-grip method. It seems like it gives me the best chance for a clean extraction with minimal damage to the topside of the playfield. So long as I pay attention and don't let the router go too deep I should be ok.

Loading up the fam right now to go to a BBQ so the real deal will have to wait until a later date. I will post results when it happens.

Thanks again for everyone's input. It's very much appreciated!

Eric

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