Sheesh. What a morning.

Everything was fine from waking up until I got a text from S proclaiming it laundry day. Sorting through my dirty clothes I realized I had no idea where my wallet was. Coming on the heels of yesterday’s trip to town, this was not good.

I looked all over the place – that is, everywhere I could think to look. I have a long, long history of absently setting important things in oddball places and not seeing them again for days/weeks/months/ever. But of course at first the most likely thought was “I lost it in town, every dollar I owned is gone forever and I should be cancelling my bank card right f’ing now.” Except I would certainly find my wallet approximately six picoseconds after I did that last thing.

I checked every pocket. I went through the just-sorted laundry again. I thought through (incompletely, it turns out) all my moves upon getting home yesterday. In the course of that I went up into the storage loft, because that’s where most of the groceries went. Didn’t find my wallet but I did find…


Are you kidding me? My first thought was that at last a large and now dangerously caffeinated rat had found its way into the loft. It never happened before but that doesn’t make it impossible. But why hit a coffee can right next to a bunch of untouched bagged lentils? Why isn’t there any other damage? For that matter why aren’t there any scratches on the coffee can or lid? This doesn’t look like it was torn apart – it kind of looks like it exploded.

As far as I can tell, that’s exactly what happened. It came from a low-altitude area to a high-altitude area – the Lair – and we’ve had some weather lately. I think it really just popped its seal. That has happened before, but never enough to blow the lid right off the can.

This wasn’t helping me find my damned wallet. I dropped off my laundry then drove to S&L’s and asked permission to search their truck’s back seat. Nothing. From S&L’s I had gone directly to Ian’s place to put some stuff in his refrigerator. Absolutely no reason to believe I’d somehow dropped the wallet there but that was the next step in retracing so I went there. No wallet, of course but there is a compressor, hose and impact wrench. Yesterday I replaced every lug nut on the Jeep except one, and I stopped because that one threatened to do the thing I most feared. So I fired up Ian’s compressor, and shortly afterward I came back to beat that last lug nut off with an impact wrench and socket. And sure enough…


I rounded off the nut. Three wheels are fixed and one is officially screwed. I can’t get a nut splitter into that little space so there’s nothing to do but sit down with a hammer and cold chisel. That will surely ruin the stud, of course, but at least I’ll be able to remove the wheel at need. And studs aren’t really hard to replace; I’ve done it in a parking lot before.

This was sufficiently bad news to complete the ruination of my morning, except then as if in compensation I had what almost amounted to a vision: I clearly pictured myself emptying my pockets yesterday at the kitchen counter, just before taking off my good going-to-town pants. In one pocket was a dollar bill and some coins. I saw myself straighten out that bill and put it … in my wallet, which like an idiot I then put on the shelf on the wall right next to the box where I keep loose coins. The shelf where that wallet never goes. I had indeed absently set the damned thing some oddball place where I’d never have accidentally encountered it until the next time I had to deal with loose change – which, given that every dollar to my name was in that wallet, wouldn’t have been for a while.

That was sufficiently good news to almost compensate for the knowledge of what fixing the Jeep is going to put me through, so I went back to Ian’s powershed and did something I’ve put off for a week: Loaded myself back up to 100 rounds of practice ammo. I very much hope in another week or so I’ll be able to replace the .44’s mainspring, and I want ammo to confirm or deny the repair.

About Joel

You shouldn't ask these questions of a paranoid recluse, you know.
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20 Responses to Sheesh. What a morning.

  1. Ben says:

    I drilled a stud off one time, starting off dead center with a small diameter bit and then working my way up until the stud was so hollowed out that the lug nut fell off. It was a BIG job, and I really learned the difference between good drill bits and cheap ones.

    Good luck!

  2. who...me? says:

    I used to lose my wallet/keys regularly. No I have a specific spot for all that type of stuff and have not misplaced anything for years.

    My wife on the other hand puts stuff in the craziest places and can’t find it later. Like car keys in the fridge, my debt card in the bathroom cabinet and my personal fav…five twenty dollar bills (which she had for a specific reason) in the freezer.

  3. czechsix says:

    Ben’s got it right, center drill it and start hogging it out. I’ve done the chisel bit enough and seen my end results with lug nuts like that, I always wind up slipping and chewing up the wheel. Usually cosmetic damage…but there was that one time I trashed a wheel. Either that or just hammer an undersize cheap socket on.

  4. Mark Matis says:

    You have two sets of drill bits up to 1/2″ now…

  5. Jim Price says:

    If it were mine, I would do this. Remove the entire brake rotor/wheel assembly. Grind off the flat head of the wheel stud on the inside and drive it out. It’s much easier than trying to drill the stud, and risks no damage to the wheel. You’re going to have to remove the hub anyway to replace the stud.

  6. UnReconstructed says:

    Joel, I’ve dealt with that exact thing. On a Toyota highlander. Get a decent impact socket that you can replace that is the next size down. Beat it on the rounded nut with a sledgehammer. Then unscrew it. The beating will tend to loosen it as well.

  7. Norman says:

    There are things called “rounded bolt removers” and some called “lugnut removers” (check Amazon), I think I’d want to try one of those before spending an afternoon with hammer & chisel, if for no other reason than it would pose less hazard to an alloy wheel.

    Lacking a rounded bolt remover, I can testify that Unreconstructed’s solution works (always use a 6-point socket, just in case there’s some brainless idiot actually making impact sockets in 12-point); it’ll damage the socket, and you’ll wind up throwing the socket away with the damaged nut permanently embedded in it, but that’s still cheaper than a new wheel.

    If you still have your heart set on chisel work, use some of Mr. Matis’ drill bits, starting small and working up; begin with 2 small holes as close to through the engaging threads as possible, at 12 and 6 o’clock; by the time you advance to about 3/16″ (or about a #11 or #12, if using numbered drills) the nut should be splittable, if you have a chisel small enough to get into the hole. I’ve split nuts by driving a tapered punch into the drilled holes (a nail set punch is hardened and has a long, shallow taper, and it’s handy to buy several and – very carefully, without heating them and losing the temper – grind them into various lengths to make a “nut splitting set,” especially if you spin wrenches fixing others’ mistakes for a living), and I’ve made super-small chisels by grinding a punch flat. RE: the nail set punches – most have square driving ends which is very handy when they’re driven in and stuck – put a wrench on the square and rotate to loosen.

  8. sevesteen says:

    A third vote for “hammer a slightly small socket on”. It’s how I managed when the stupid tire people used an impact driver to attach the stupid anti-theft bolt tight enough that removing the bolt broke the stupid anti-theft wrench.

  9. winston smith says:

    I have heard of Norman’s ’rounded bolt removers’ but have never actually tried them. They are made like a pipe wrench’s claws and bite into the cheap lug as you torque it. That would be my first option.

  10. TK421a says:

    I too had never heard of a lug nut remover. But, sure enough…

    https://www.amazon.com/ABN-Emergency-Remover-Stripped-Removal/dp/B01LWISVR0/

  11. The Neon Madman says:

    I am a big believer in using anti-sieze compound on lug nut studs . A thin coat, applied with a small brush to completely coat the threads before screwing the lug nut down. Makes a world of difference when you need to remove the nuts later.

  12. terrapod says:

    Argh! NO, do not use anti seize on the wheel lug threads. Not safe. Just torque nut to the correct lb ft and you are done.

    But the drilling it out method is the safest and while time consuming, it works every time providing you don’t break the bit, so hold that drill real steady and work it in gently going up in drill size until you drill out the threads at the depth of the nut, this will leave you a good bit of metal to beat out the stud with a punch..

  13. matismf says:

    Why do you claim “not safe”, terrapod???

  14. Joel says:

    Because the lug nut is more or less *supposed* to seize.

  15. Norman says:

    RE: anti-seize on wheel lugs; actually, some thread lubricant is a good idea. Long, very complicated engineering explanation, but…torque values are predicated on a certain level of resistance to turning, and lubricating the threads is standard practice to ensure conformity to standards.

    Industry widely used copper-type anti-seize for years, then discovered it doesn’t play well with hydrogen exposure (especially in a chemical environment), and went to molybdenum disulfide anti-seize. There are volumes on the chemical makeup, viscosity and “cling” at operating temperature of modern anti-seize compounds.

    Torque is rotational force, and shorthand for an attempt to externally measure the stretch of fasteners (bolts); tightening bolts always results in the bolt being stretched, and in some cases measuring the increase in bolt length is the requirement instead of torque values (connecting rod bolts on Lycoming and Continental aircraft engines comes to mind first, but there are lots of others, and we’re talking in ten thousandths here – .0001″, and specified stretch of .0006″ – .0008″ shows up a lot in certain places). Since blind bolts cannot be measured for length, engineers test bolts for stretch under torque then publish the torque values (example: cylinder head bolts on those Lycoming engines are blind fasteners). Those values are dependent upon consistent resistance between threads, which brings us back to lubrication on threaded fasteners.

    Threaded fasteners are intended to be “interference fit” between mating threads, and the “intensity” of that interference is determined by how tight the bolt is (meaning “pressure between thread surfaces”). Often this leads to galling on one or both surfaces due to friction during installation which affects the interference fit. Which is why anti-seize was invented.

    Properly torqued, mating threaded fasteners will not (or should not) loosen because the male fastener (bolt or stud) has stretched the specified amount and established the desired pressure in the interference fit between mating threads which allows maintaining the proper pressure on the interference fit between threads. This also assumes clean surfaces with no contamination or surface irregularities, etc. or degradation of materials at contact (such as wear and tear on soft alloys from irregular stresses). (And, as a side note, you’ll never see it in a hardware store, but in industrial settings nuts actually have a top and a bottom, and should never be installed upside down.)

    I don’t use anti-seize on wheel studs on my truck (or most places on the truck, actually), mostly because I’m lazy and cheap (moly anti-seize is hard to find and pricey so I use it very sparingly and only on those things that are Very Important, and BTW, it ain’t the same as moly chassis grease…). I clean the studs and nuts and do use lubricant, however, and being lazy, it’s usually what’s close to hand – ATF, air tool lube, couple drops of (clean) Amsoil, etc. in a “low budget attempt” to make bolt tensioning through torque values more uniform. Wheel lugs and nuts are wheel lugs and nuts, not moon rocket parts. Plus, my tires get rotated every 5K so the nuts come off 2-3 times a year.

  16. Ben says:

    Sometimes reality trumps what we “know” and forces an exception.

    I also “know” not to lube lug nuts, but just this week I did exactly that, I slathered them with grease! Why? It’s my seldom-used utility trailer that sits in the weather and may go ten years before those new tires come off. Without that grease, the nuts would rust solid by then. I will try to remember to check lug tightness occasionally.

  17. matismf says:

    That was my understanding as well, Norman.

  18. Kentucky says:

    The reality I’m familiar with comes from my father-in-law’s shop where for over fifty years he NEVER lubed wheel lugs, just cleaned and torqued to spec, and the same experience with my brother-in-law’s shop for over forty years. I also note that none of the professional tire shops I’ve used lube the studs . . . just run the nuts down with the impact wrench to the pre-set torque.

    In addition, all the vehicle owner’s manuals I’ve referred to say no lube on the studs, just clean and uniformly tight.

  19. matismf says:

    ARP Bolts sell wheel studs among other fasteners, and their instructions do NOT give an exception to lube for them.

  20. B says:

    Lube is the correct method.

    Lots of shops do exactly what you point out. Copy what the last guy taught them. No rhyme or reason for it, just what they are taught. Engineers learn the “why”.
    Tire shops don’t lube because it takes time.
    New studs have a (generally) a waxy coating to prevent rust during shipping and storage. Guess what the wax does when you put a nut on the stud?

    Norman is correct.

    A slight dab of nearly any oil (or a swipe past a candle) will do wonders, and the lug nut (or bolt) will not seize…the threads will not gall….and if torqued to spec will not come loose.

To the stake with the heretic!