(Topic ID: 106142)

New Legs and Levelers, Won't Thread?


By mrmark0673

4 years ago



Topic Stats

  • 15 posts
  • 10 Pinsiders participating
  • Latest reply 4 years ago by Hougie
  • Topic is favorited by 2 Pinsiders

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    STRAIGHT-THREAD-TAP-AND-DIE.jpg

    #1 4 years ago

    Hi all,

    Not sure if this is a common problem, but I just purchased 4 new legs and levelers for my TftC:

    http://www.pinballlife.com/index.php?p=product&id=1164

    http://www.pinballlife.com/index.php?p=product&id=2580

    The only problem is, 2 of the 4 levelers won't thread through the legs. The first went in as smooth as can be, the second 2 seem to get "stuck" right as the thread of the leveler starts to come out the top side of the leg. I used a bit of WD-40 to see if it would help, but no luck.

    This a common problem? Anyone have any suggestions? I'd really like to avoid re-tapping brand new legs. Any help would be greatly appreciated!

    #2 4 years ago

    Running a tap in is your best way to go. By re-tapping you are not doing any real tapping just cleaning up existing threads anyway so you are not going to hurt anything. Back in the day when we were building racing engines we always re-tapped every thread in an engine to be sure bolts went in cleanly to get accurate torque readings when we torque things together. Anything short of retapping is a mistake.

    I have also found retapping threads in all cabinet bolts before installing leg boths saves some issues. When I remember I always retap all 8. The problem is 1/2 the time I forget. It is a bitch to get old!

    Nice thing is one tap does all bolts & leg levelers so all you need is one tap for everything involved with pinball legs. I have one epoxied into an old socket (in my pinball toolbox) so I can just use my 3/8 drive tools instead of a tap handle. That way I use the same ratchet for both the tap & socket to put legs on.

    #3 4 years ago

    100% agree with above. If you've never done it before find some old nuts & bolts to practice. Take it slow and it should be very intuitive & easy once you get the feel for the threads.

    #4 4 years ago

    I install a *LOT of PBL legs and run into this from time to time.
    I'd say maybe 1 out of 30 legs do this. Looks like you beat the odds.
    I just use the tough to thread ones on the back legs as they don't have to go as far and just use wrenches to hold them [maybe hold the leg in a vise covered in a towel] and power them on with muscle.
    Makes leveling a little harder, but I've never stripped one.
    Re tapping is the best option too as too-many-pins states if you have access to one.

    #5 4 years ago

    Alrighty, re-tapping it is!

    Anyone want to recommend a good tap set? Maybe from harbor freight?

    http://www.harborfreight.com/hand-tools/tap-die.html

    If you know of one cheaper (and even one just for this one job), that would work as well if not better. Also, am I looking at 3/8" for the tap?

    Thanks for all the help and the quick responses!

    #6 4 years ago

    Any tool at Harbor Freight should be considered 100% disposable. It may work for one use or break before it even finishes that job (was that too harsh?).

    I have a crappy set of taps that I bought from a similar place. Yes, they cut soft steel fairly well, but the tool steel is so brittle that it has fractured over just a few uses (little flakes break off).

    I don't recommend a $100 full set of taps either. Find the ONE size that you need and buy a decent tap. The big box home stores should have one or Ace/Sears.

    One tap that works well is far more useful than a case of not-so-good quality taps of lots of sizes.

    My 2ยข.
    faz

    #7 4 years ago
    Quoted from pinball_faz:

    Any tool at Harbor Freight should be considered 100% disposable. It may work for one use or break before it even finishes that job (was that too harsh?).
    I have a crappy set of taps that I bought from a similar place. Yes, they cut soft steel fairly well, but the tool steel is so brittle that it has fractured over just a few uses (little flakes break off).
    faz

    I agree about Harbor Freight "Any tool at Harbor Freight should be considered 100% disposable" but I have spent hundreds of dollars at Harbor Freight over the past few years. I was a mechanic for years and have about $60,000 worth of high end hand tools I use but I always keep "junk tools" around in the garage just in case they grow legs. With people coming & going all the time I would prefer them walking off with a $2 Harbor Freight wrench to my $40 Snap on wrench.

    But as far as something like a tap I wouldn't even consider using anything but a good quality tap. My suggestion is to go on eBay and just buy a couple name brand taps off someone. Sadly 100's of taps walk out of machine shops every week in pockets of employees and you see good taps cheap at flea markets & on eBay because the sellers got them for free or next to nothing.

    3/8 x 16 is the tap size you need - if I remember correctly. Then you can use an adjustable wrench or vise grips as the tap handle. Remember a little oil and wind tap about a half turn - back it out a 1/4 turn - then wind it back in another half turn. This cleans threads as you go and keeps you from messing up tap or threads. Not necessary if tap goes in fairly easy but if it starts to bind back it out a little then go again.

    When working on pinball machines that 3/8" tap is the only tap you will ever need so it is kind of silly to buy a set of "junk taps" just to get one tap you will be using.

    Also - if you only mess with machines once in a while you might want to just stop by a local mechanic shop or machine shop and give someone a couple dollars to run a tap in the two legs. Especially if you don't think you will ever need to again.

    #8 4 years ago
    Quoted from too-many-pins:

    Running a tap in is your best way to go. By re-tapping you are not doing any real tapping just cleaning up existing threads anyway so you are not going to hurt anything. Back in the day when we were building racing engines we always re-tapped every thread in an engine to be sure bolts went in cleanly to get accurate torque readings when we torque things together. Anything short of retapping is a mistake.
    I have also found retapping threads in all cabinet bolts before installing leg boths saves some issues. When I remember I always retap all 8. The problem is 1/2 the time I forget. It is a bitch to get old!
    Nice thing is one tap does all bolts & leg levelers so all you need is one tap for everything involved with pinball legs. I have one epoxied into an old socket (in my pinball toolbox) so I can just use my 3/8 drive tools instead of a tap handle. That way I use the same ratchet for both the tap & socket to put legs on.

    The solution along with the background to it is a great read too-many-pins.

    #9 4 years ago

    You'll need a 3/8- 16 plug tap also know as a bottoming tap. You will be able to use for leg bolts too. If you want to get fancy get a 3/8 -16 spiral tap.

    Do not get a 3/8 -24 tap, it won't work. That's a fine thread tap and you need a coarse thread.

    #10 4 years ago

    Love to help where I can! When I was younger there was no internet so you had to learn from your mistakes. But these days there is no reason to have to learn from mistakes - just post on the net and someone who learned the hard way will tell you the easy way to do it.

    I just turned 60 and really hate getting old because your body starts falling apart. But over the years I have learned from the best and love to help others as much as possible regardless if it is a house project - repairing a car - or fixing something on a pinball machine.

    #11 4 years ago
    Quoted from Trekie:

    You'll need a 3/8- 16 plug tap also know as a bottoming tap. You will be able to use for leg bolts too. If you want to get fancy get a 3/8 -16 spiral tap.
    Do not get a 3/8 -24 tap, it won't work. That's a fine thread tap and you need a coarse thread.

    Thanks for posting that for him! I was fairly sure it was 3/8 x16 (knew course thread & it was either 16 or 18 but didn't have a tap & die set handy to look and I am getting old & stupid!).

    #12 4 years ago

    harbor freight stuff wont last. Greenfield taps are good quality. Grainger, MSC and other places sell them

    #13 4 years ago
    Quoted from too-many-pins:

    With people coming & going all the time I would prefer them walking off with a $2 Harbor Freight wrench to my $40 Snap on wrench.

    Excellent point!

    While I still stand by my "it's crap" statement.... I still buy certain tools ESPECIALLY because they are disposable. For instance....I bought a $15 Angle grinder from Menards on sale. I stuck a diamond blade in it to cut through pavers (about 300). Did the trick for the project and due to the severe clogging of dust, it failed a few years after the project was completed....got in lots of bonus grinding. Saved me hundred$ renting a diamond saw. Right after it failed, I went back to Mendards to buy another...but it was $19...waited a month till it was on sale for $15 again

    Perfect use of a disposable tool. No need for a precision tool to do horrible work. If I would have spent $100 on a quality grinder I still think it would have been ruined by all that dust (you should have SEEN the clouds).

    I have a few harbor freight tools too. Things that don't do much and/or have little reason to fail long term. including the 500lb cart to lift my pins... I won't be abusing the cart and it worked great out of the box.

    faz

    #14 4 years ago

    Harbor Freight is good for clamps, spray guns, cherry pickers, big drill presses, sand blast cabs and chain falls.

    Precision tools like saw blades, router bits and taps are not really what China is known for.

    The taps you need for pinball are 3/8-16, 6-32, 8-32, and you probably want a 1/4-20 because so much other stuff around the garage is that thread.

    Get an actual tap handle, it will help you keep the tap straight as you start a damaged thread.

    Use one drop of cooking oil to keep the tap lubed. If you don't you will have to replace the tap 3x sooner.

    You might also want a 3/8-16 Die (the clover looking thing). This can fix the male threads on a bolt, as they can become damaged if you drop them on concrete. This is what you use when you find one bolt that is hard to use when others go in the same hole smoothly.

    STRAIGHT-THREAD-TAP-AND-DIE.jpg
    #15 4 years ago

    Man, I'm on forums too much. I read the thread title as a "Won't thread" about legs and levelers. I was thinking, wtf is a won't thread....

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