aka the wallet diet

This time, I win.

Crankshaft hub nuts are notoriously difficult to remove. I’ve heard stories of raging weekend battles between man, machine, and leverage. Everything from 3/4″ drive sockets, long trolley jack handles, various impact wrenches, and breaker bars all were mentioned at some point. I even heard of starting the car with a breaker bar and socket attached to break it loose! Nah, not for me. I’ve got a new son, plus I like my fenders.

Recently, I got an itch to open up the timing cover on my spare s14 to observe wear. The engine currently in the car is a little tired; so the spare is a viable option as an in-betweener. A quick reference shows the crank hub bolt should be torqued at 325 lbs/ft. Nothing a little leverage or impact can’t handle, you say. This value doesn’t take the years of heat cycling and microscopic corrosion between the nut and crank threads. Nonetheless I gave it a shot. Nada. No budging with a 1/2″ drive breaker bar…the only thing breaking was the bar! My impact gun didn’t work either.  Plan B time.

So, I plotted my next move:

1. Splash on some PB blaster a week before work begins

2. Use a propane torch to mildly heat up the nut.  Not any more than normal driving temperature.  Used the torch on the nut for about 10 seconds or so, repeated once.

3.  Set my little twin tank compressor to 100 psi

4. Use my Harbor Freight $80 “Earthquake” 1/2″ drive impact wrench…maximum torque (rated at 625 lbs/ft).


The bolt came off after a few seconds of gunning it.


Lesson? Don’t be afraid of the crank hub bolt!  I know it looks easy with the engine removed, but the torch and impact gun can still be used with an installed engine.  The fans and radiator may need to go, but it’ll be worth the effort.

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