The Saga of the Sheared Bolt Is Over

After many days with my truck looking like this, I’ve finally got it back to the state it was in three weeks ago, before I stupidly broke the thermostat housing bolt!

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I’m counting this as a self-induced victory.

That there is the replacement thermostat housing bolt. I ended up shredding the old bolt to smithereens in the process of drilling out an oversized hole. Then I tapped the hole and put a helicoil in.

It was my first time tapping new threads, and I was worried that I wouldn’t align the tool properly and end up with cross-threaded threads or something. Fortunately the tool seems to self-align, because it was turning perfectly with absolutely zero wobble after the first few turns.

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I was also worried that the hand-steadied hole I drilled out would be too askance for the bolt to sit flush, but the bolt head is looking level, so I think I’m good there.

A big reason why I got this truck was being able to wrench without fear of mistakes, so in a way I’m glad I’ve made a big mistake already. I’ve got some hard-earned lessons:

* give bolts at least a few turns by hand to make sure you’re not cross-threading them

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* as soon as you realize you’re cross threading something, back it out!

* if you can’t thread it in properly after that, you need to do something about the threads.

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* you might not need to drill a new hole if you drill out the bolt with left-hand threads.

* tapping new threads isn’t hard.

Plus it gave me the excuse to buy tons of tools.

Many thanks to all the oppos that offered advice as I worked on this. Probably wouldn’t have gotten through it without y’all.

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Now that it’s running, I’m planning to do a few smaller repairs before starting the rough idle investigation. The parking brake release cable snapped, so I have a replacement from the yard to plumb in as soon as I feel like wrestling with those damn plastic tabs (in the mean time I can’t park on hills). I also seem to need a new engine temperature sensor for the gauge in the dash; despite replacing the broken connector, the gauge doesn’t go above 160 or so (I know the gauge is good because it goes all the way over when I ground it out).

It sure feels good to have a working vehicle again after weeks of stumbling in the general direction of progress.

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P.S.: sorry I didn’t take process shots, I’m really bad at remembering to take those. I’ll try to get in the habit.

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