EQuip Blog: Every which way but loose

If the title of this week’s blog had you hoping I’d be talking about Clint Eastwood movies, I’m sorry to disappoint you. It’s just that another restoration project is getting up to speed in my workshop, and I’ve done little else lately than spend time trying to loosen very rusty bolts, nearly all of which wanted to go every which way but loose — hence the title.

The 1952 Willys CJ3A Jeep I’m working on had all the rusted-bolt problems typical of any restoration project, but in spades. It was clear from the outset that getting this thing taken apart was going to require a lot of penetrating fluid. So, it was the perfect opportunity to compare a few different fluid brands in the process and see how they rate.

However, trying to scientifically measure the effectiveness of one fluid against another in the real world isn’t easy, because who really knows how much rustier one seized bolt on an old vehicle is than the one beside it?

Despite that, here are my impressions on how the four different brands rate, based on how successful they were when I used them during the Jeep teardown. And I used a full can of each, so all four fluids were tried a number of times. That should also give you an idea of how big a challenge getting the old Jeep stripped down really was.

These are the four different brands of penetrating fluid, in the order I rated them:

  • Loctite’s Freeze and Release
  • John Deere-branded fluid, purchased from a dealership parts department
  • 3-in-One Professional
  • WD-40

As a penetrating fluid, WD-40 seemed to be the least effective. However, its stable lubricating ability was excellent in helping stiff nuts turn off much easier once they were freed from their stuck position. And those stable properties also made WD-40 very useful for coating bare metal surfaces to prevent rust problems from developing during the time those components remained disassembled.

The 3-in-One Professional did pretty well at penetrating, but I rate it as third best in this group at loosening stuck components.

Second best was the John Deere-branded fluid, which was reasonably impressive. It’s a pretty capable product and reasonably priced.

The clear winner in this test, though, was Loctite Freeze and Release. It nearly always freed rusted nuts in just a couple of minutes. Adding a little heat in really tough cases almost guaranteed the nut would break loose. By the time I was well into the project, I learned that if the Loctite and a small torch didn’t free a nut on the Jeep in relatively short order, I should just go straight to the cutoff tool.

In a future issue of Grainews we’ll have a more detailed look at this comparison. Be sure to watch for it.

In the meantime, do you have a favourite brand of fluid, homemade concoction or other method of freeing stuck bolts? If so, let us know and we’ll try to share your ideas with Grainews readers. Send your comments to me by email.

— Scott Garvey is machinery editor for Grainews. “E-Quip Blog with Scott Garvey” is in between platforms but will appear, in the meantime, here in the Daily News feed on the AGCanada.com Network. Follow Scott @machineryeditor on Twitter.

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