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Removing a rounded oil filter bolt

Discussion in 'The Garage' started by pcream, Mar 23, 2019.

  1. pcream

    pcream XS400 Enthusiast

    Hello all, new to the site and just recently acquired a 1982 XS400RJ Seca that wasn't running according to the PO and has ~30,000 miles on the odometer. He said there were probably carb problems, so I went and removed the carbs (what a pain in the ass by the way, everything is so damn tight on this bike) and cleaned out all the gunk in the jets well and now it runs pretty decently (might need some synchronization/valve adjustment)! I moved onto the next item on the list, which was changing the oil. The PO also claimed there was gas in the oil, but I don't really see how that could be happening (maybe worn rings?) and didn't really seem to smell any in the oil that came out.

    When I went to change the filter I encountered a problem. The oil filter nut is almost complete rounded off and I have no grip with my 17mm socket. The part is number 4 on the diagram here: https://www.partzilla.com/catalog/yamaha/motorcycle/1982/xs400rj/oil-filter. I was able to find one in stock for ~$12 at 2fastmoto.com, which hopefully comes through fine. But I still need to remove the bolt, so I wanted to ask what are your guy's favourite options for removing a rounded nut/bolt? I only have a propane torch, so I'm not sure if heat will help. Should I grind flats and use a open wrench/adjustable or go get some vise grips/pipe wrench? Thanks for the help!

    Attached Files:

  2. dannyTheBoat

    dannyTheBoat XS400 Enthusiast

    Vice grips or a pipe wrench, and a long lever arm like a handle extension should help. Maybe not the best idea to put a torch to a sealed canister with flammable liquid in it. Sounds like bomb material. If you can get an extra pair of hands, having someone hit the bolt with a punch and hammer while you torque on it can help release seized threads.
    buztabuzt likes this.
  3. What Danny said. If a socket won't get it, would use vice grip pliers. If that doesn't work, large EZ out type screw tap?
  4. Specdog

    Specdog XS400 Addict

    Removing that stuck fastener is a very common problem. Remember it's not a bolt, but a bypass valve. Essentially a pipe with a large bore and thin walls with the added stress of many holes drilled into its sides. Add to that a large head for removal. Plus the head is several inches away from the threads. It has very little torsional rigidity. If the head is stripped because the threads are seized, your chances of snapping apart the valve is likely unless care is taken. Best practice here is to weld on a large nut. The heat transfer from welding helps unlock the threads. Use an impact gun on your new nut. The impact gun will only use rotational forces, opposed to a vice grip with attachments that will lead to introducing vertical forces and possible breakage.
  5. xschris

    xschris XS400 Guru Top Contributor

    They make bolt extractors just for this type of thing. I got mine at sears years ago and they saved me lots of headaches.
    DSC03629.JPG DSC03630.JPG
  6. pcream

    pcream XS400 Enthusiast

    Thanks everyone for the tips, I don't have a welder handy or an impact wrench for that matter (grad student right now), so that's not an option. I'll mull it over a bit, have to wait for the new one anyways, but I'm leaning towards getting a bolt extractor and soaking it in some WD overnight and giving it a shot.
  7. Doug Smith

    Doug Smith XS400 Member

    Mine was completely stuck solid. I bought a replacement one prior to removal attempt as I've been through this scenario before on a few old Hondas. The chance of saving the old one was zero in my assumption....Attempted to use a "six point" 12 MM spanner wrench first....no go....then a six point 12 MM socket....no go. All slipped at first attempt and rounded more corners off. Used a Dremel Tool to grind a bit, then "drove" a 7/16" 12 point socket onto the head....same result and it slipped. Tried using my impact driver / socket too....no go.
    So let the surgery begin.
    I have a large assortment of drill style "extractors" but the alloy bolt head is soft. I drilled ever growing holes, with ever growing extractors, and the extractors did nothing.....just slipped and gouged out more metal. I tried 3 different types to no avail. If you ever break off an extractor in a hole....then you REALLY have a problem....ask me how I know....
    So this sucker was REALLY stuck. I got a few good "Umph's" on it early on with sockets before they slipped.....nature welded big time.

    I used a tiny Dremel cut-off wheel to cut off remains of bolt head first......then center punched and drilled a 1/4" hole, about 1/4" deep in center of bolt. From there I used a Dremel miter type bit and enlarged the center hole. My intent was to be able to cut some "slots" in the bolt, and then use a chisel / hammer to turn the bolt out. The results weren't pretty.....( weak stomach? don't look! )... but finally the bolt turned after a fairly BIG hammer / chisel hit, with no collateral damage. A cold chisel & small hammer made short work of it once the slots were cut into the bolt shoulder and got it broken loose.
    I took my time so as not to damage / scar the filter housing....took me nearly 3 hours with a couple of "Cerveza" breaks.....lol …..maybe could have "skipped a few steps" and went after it with a chisel & hammer but I didn't want to wreck anything more than the bolt.
    The bike hadn't been licensed since 2002, so the bolt hadn't been removed for at least 15 years....likely more.


    Massively Mangled and Messed up.....lol


    Found a new Yamaha OEM Bolt with a more substantial / larger 17 MM center nut instead of the little 12 MM head....much better. Also added a small amount of "Anti-seize" to the threads upon installment and did not over tighten. I found a LARGE number of aftermarket replacement oil filter bolts available....some as cheap as $9.99 (or under)...and all likely of questionable quality.....decided to stick with a new Yamaha OEM Part for a whopping $17.00 (with new O-rings)....money well spent.

    Last edited: Mar 28, 2019
    buztabuzt likes this.
  8. pcream

    pcream XS400 Enthusiast

    Holy christ on a stick! :yikes:

    Mine's heavily rounded, but damn, hopefully won't have to go that far. Good tip on the anti-seize, I have a torque wrench, so I'll be damn sure to have the correct specification. Hoping to make a go of it this weekend, after the new one and the bolt extractor arrives.
  9. Doug Smith

    Doug Smith XS400 Member

    Good luck with the extractor...might work.
    Didn't work for me. I worked as a mechanic about a million years ago, so had a lot of extractors and different tricks to try to remove the stubborn bugger.
    The old "hammer & chisel" finally won the day.....lol

    Be careful with torque specifications. There is a LOT of crap information out there.
    I have a couple old BMW's and have found 4 different torque specs. for the same bolt in different books.
    Common sense and "feel" is your friend when it comes to tightening bolts.
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2019
    kebabs and buztabuzt like this.
  10. pcream

    pcream XS400 Enthusiast

    Sorry for the delay, life (mainly school) got a little in the way of tackling the bolt removal but I finally got it done over the weekend. Tryed a bolt extractor, but it was a one-size-fits all contraption that you torque down a bolt on to tighten the extractor and it just ground it down more. Decided to give the vice grips a try and was able to get it off. Replaced the filter and changed the oil.

    Now onto the next potential issue: it appears the head gasket might be leaking a little bit :banghead:
    It doesn't appear major, but a I can see a visible film flowing down the front of the engine, it doesn't seem terrible but I imagine it might get worse as the engine heats up. I'll try to get a pic up later today.

    I've been reading through the manual posted here, but if the only thing I need to do is replace the head gasket, do I need to remove the engine from the bike? Should just be valve cover, remove cams, then head right? The bike runs well by all accounts, though I haven't gone on an extended ride (need my license first). I haven't checked compression, but assuming it's good and the bike runs great, do I need to do the whole overhaul (hone cylinder, new rings, valve lapping, etc) to fix a leaky gasket?
  11. JWN

    JWN XS400 New Member

    For anyone else out there that has this problem — one more suggestion. My two boys and I recently purchased a 1980 XS400SG as a project because it is going to need some work. And we are not mechanics! We encountered the same problem trying to change the oil. First tried various kinds of penetrating oil — which I realize now would likely never work because of the bolt’s design. After we completely stripped/rounded the head with a socket and then vice grips, we tried welding a bolt on top. That didn’t work as it kept breaking off. Finally we took a grinder and cut a channel in the rounded off head and welded a ribbon of flat iron in the channel. A few whacks with a heavy hammer — in both directions — finally did the trick!

    Attached Files:

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