Dear Ford: The Third Starter Bolt

BurningRubber

10 Year Member
Dec 6, 2004
1,865
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Preface: My morning started off with a call from work saying if I wanted the day off, I could take it. Three days off in a row? Don't mind if I do. I rose early with the intentions of having my trans on the ground by the afternoon so I could take the flywheel to get resurfaced and prep everything to be re-installed once the other parts arrived. If all goes well, I'll be on the road by Mustang Week.

Once I had lifted the car to a work-able height (thanks to four ramps, two jacks and four stands) I started off by doing the basic removal of the clutch cable cover (in which was throwout bearing shrapnel and lots of metallic dust), removing the cable and loosening the quadrant from the firewall. Once that was out of the way, the starter was next on the list.

Mind you, I'm competent with a wrench, but I've always heard horror stories of the "third starter bolt". Undeterred, the bottom two bolts came out without a hitch. It was starting to get hot (about 85*, around 10:00AM... probably 90% humidity) but I was prepared. I was drinking water and lots of it. I also had to stop periodically to avoid two pissed off wasps, who seemed to think my car made a great nest for the day, but that's all trivial. Once it got to about 95* with a 105* heat index, the wasps decided it was too hot to mess with me.

I took a few minutes to surf the net to try to find exactly where this mystery bolt was. I found a well-constructed post on a forum and knew exactly where to go and how to get there. A foot and a half of extensions later, a swivel joint and some weird contorting and I had found the bastard bolt. "That wasn't bad", I thought to myself. These were words I'd later eat throughout the day.

Once I had slipped the 13mm socket over the bolt and secured the extensions in my ratchet, I gave it a turn. It wasn't catching. Hmmm, ok, no biggy... lets play with the angles a bit. Nadda. Finally after a few minutes it felt like I had a bite on the bolt. Gave it a nice turn and about 1/4 of a turn in, my heart began to pound and my vision started to black out as I felt the bolt round off. NO!!!!

It was at that exact moment that I wanted to know who, and more importantly WHY it was decided that this bolt was necessary to hold the starter on. I could only imagine someone in the drivetrain engineering department having a :poo:ty day back sometime in 1994 and rather than be a dick to everyone at work, he or she decided to be a dick to anyone that EVER attempted to replace a starter, clutch, install longtubes, drop a K-member, etc. on a 2v 4.6 Mustang. It was easy enough to get away with, right? A little extra "rigidity" in the design can't hurt anything... except a man's pride, knuckles and wallet!

But I digress, maybe I'm making too big of a deal about getting to single, day ruining bolt that requires you to run through the K-member, around the engine mount and into the tight, dark void of the upper starter region.

Although I was angry at the first sign of trouble, I knew what to do. Go grab some stripped bolt extractors and yank it out like a bad tooth. Right. Apparently the $20 set of bolt extractors was created to further strip the bolt so you can buy the $80 set of "real" extractors (you know, with "teeth" that actaully kind of grab the bolt head). Do I sense a conspiracy? Nah, I'm not really that kind of person, but if I was, I'd probably be blogging about it right now.

I get back home, still sweaty and kind of pissed I had to dodge the masses of tourists just to get a part that would later cause me to invent new swearwords and find creative ways to skin myself against the razor sharp edges of the stock K-member. I take a minute to cool down and sip on some iced coffee. The kind with hazelnut syrup. Yeah, judge me. This was really the calm before the storm, but as Captain, I was ready to brave the rough seas.

I go back out, confident I'll still have the trans out before it gets dark. I quickly grab the 13mm bite socket, finangle the extensions, careful not to squish Jerry, the lazy spider that's living on the side of the transmission I was working, on and gave a turn. Something started moving, awesome! NOT. That brief movement was a little more of the bolt head shearing off. It was at this time I'm pretty sure my neighbors could hear me calling my car names you might hear during a street brawl. I tried to keep my cool, called a few friends for advice and decided to give it another try after basically being told everything I'd tried was all I could do to get it out.

I tried hammering on smaller sockets, using the bite sockets, using a regular 13mm, changing the angles and switching out where the swivel joint was, etc. Just about the time I was ready to call it quits, I had one more go at it. I hammered the 13mm bite socket on as hard as I could, grabbed a breaker bar and pushed as hard as I could against the ratchet. To my shock and at this point irate state of mind, the bolt let out a mighty crack as it broke free. I swear, at that moment birds started signing, the sun rose again and butterflies flickered effortlessly through the air. Not really, but that's how it felt. I quickly showed those sharing my household my accomplishment, possibly causing confusion as I walked around the house giving the bolt the finger with a big smile on my face.

At the end of the day, all I can ask is why use that damn bolt. And really, I'm not asking for anything in return (except maybe a Ford brand band aid, not for my excessive scratches, but for my bruised ego). At least now I'm one step closer to finishing the job. But seriously, that bolt was not cool.
 
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BlownFiveLiter

have car, will race....wait, it doesn't run
Nov 29, 1999
3,134
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Chicagoland
A little anti-seize would have prevented all of that trouble. I share your pain though. I've shared that trouble, only to end up buying some aftermarket exhaust on my old Fox after getting so pissed at the header to H-pipe nuts being completely seized that no amount of penetrating oil, heat, or air tools was going to help. In the end, I had to saw off the H-pipe at the header and installed a whole new system instead. And the nuts got anti-seize on them, too. The bastards. :D
 

txredgt

10 Year Member
Oct 26, 2009
1,343
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Reading that makes me rethink wanting to swap my K-Member, Longtubes, and anything else. Yikes. Go get yourself a beer man! I just changed out a solenoid under the hood and I'm treating myself to one or a few tonight.
 

Kornnut

Founding Member
Nov 25, 2000
1,991
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Tulsa
Third bolt sucks. That should be on a modular t shirt or something. I think mine is under dirt now. Once mine got of(didn't have near the trouble you had) I chucked it into the field behind my house. Other homes have been built since and it is under one of those.
 

BurningRubber

10 Year Member
Dec 6, 2004
1,865
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A little anti-seize would have prevented all of that trouble. I share your pain though. I've shared that trouble, only to end up buying some aftermarket exhaust on my old Fox after getting so ****ed at the header to H-pipe nuts being completely seized that no amount of penetrating oil, heat, or air tools was going to help. In the end, I had to saw off the H-pipe at the header and installed a whole new system instead. And the nuts got anti-seize on them, too. The bastards. :D

Yeah that would have helped. I assume that whoever did the clutch before stripped it to begin with and idiotically, decided it was a good idea to put it back as tight as they could get it.

Stuck exhaust bolts are nightmares as well.. I feel your pain, haha.

Reading that makes me rethink wanting to swap my K-Member, Longtubes, and anything else. Yikes. Go get yourself a beer man! I just changed out a solenoid under the hood and I'm treating myself to one or a few tonight.

If you're doing all that, it'd be a ton easier with the K-member out of the way. For about half of a second I contemplated doing that, but I didn't have any good way of supporting the engine. A cold one is a good idea.

Third bolt sucks. That should be on a modular t shirt or something. I think mine is under dirt now. Once mine got of(didn't have near the trouble you had) I chucked it into the field behind my house. Other homes have been built since and it is under one of those.

Hahaha, yeah. People in the know would get a kick out of it. I wanted to blow mine into space, lol. I'll probably throw it in the misc. bolt pile as a reminder.
 

mransr

Founding Member
Nov 3, 2000
1,188
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98
Riverside, SoCal
way back a million years ago and older mechanic taught me to always take off the hardest to get to bold first...

outside of the frustration related issues; taking off the hardest to get to bolt first makes sure it has the least load on it possible, and it should make it as easy as possible to remove...that being said I haven't had to get to the evil thirst starter bolt (yet)
 

Kilgore Trout

Fried or Broiled ?
10 Year Member
Mar 30, 2005
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That was really well written and very entertaining! Reminds me of a few challenging bolt situations I had... Of course the worry is that the car will win and roll to a mechanic on a tow, but none of us actually ever lose to our cars :)
 

BurningRubber

10 Year Member
Dec 6, 2004
1,865
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way back a million years ago and older mechanic taught me to always take off the hardest to get to bold first...

outside of the frustration related issues; taking off the hardest to get to bolt first makes sure it has the least load on it possible, and it should make it as easy as possible to remove...that being said I haven't had to get to the evil thirst starter bolt (yet)

Yeah, that makes sense. I didn't think of that. My logic was pretty much remove the other two and go to war with the one that was holding me back, ha.

rofl... i remember the pain when i did my lt's 7 years ago...

I was thinking how glad I was I didn't have LT's to get in the way of dropping the trans. Now that everything is out of the way, it'd be a lot easier to slip a pair in there.

Lol.

I had a burial ritual for mine as I sliced into as many pieces possible with an acetylene torch.

Hahaha. I haven't figured out what to do with mine yet.

3rd bolt is a piece of cake for me. Once you figure out how to get it out, it take like 30 seconds.

It WOULD have only taken 30 seconds...

Not when the previous owner rounded it off.

This.


And this.

I don't know man, but that was an interesting read, Burning Rubber. Are you a writer or something?

Haha, thank you. I was a business major, but always did best whenever I had to write a paper. I've written some long essays that I'm proud of. I wrote the majority of my final team project, ended up being 118 pages long or there abouts.

That was really well written and very entertaining! Reminds me of a few challenging bolt situations I had... Of course the worry is that the car will win and roll to a mechanic on a tow, but none of us actually ever lose to our cars :)

Thanks killy.

I lost to my car when I signed my name on the back of the title...:lol: