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Thread: Hack for Spreading U-bolts

  1. #1
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    Sep 2020
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    Hack for Spreading U-bolts

    Sometimes a U-bolt is just a bit too narrow for the job. I can usually manage spreading a 1/4" diameter U-bolt by hands/fingers but wonder what knuckle joint stress I may pay for later.
    Today I realized a hack for this task when I needed to open up several 5/16" diameter U-bolts & couldn't do it by hand strength. If a vise with a step between jaws and frame is available, install nuts on the U-bolt thread ends (to protect the threads) & use the steps on the vise to push the U-bolt open a fraction by opening the vise jaws.

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    Why didn't I think of this years ago??

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  2. The Following 7 Users Say Thank You to remidgett For This Useful Post:

    ductape (Aug 12, 2023), Jon (Aug 12, 2023), nova_robotics (Aug 14, 2023), piper184 (Aug 14, 2023), rgsparber (Aug 13, 2023), Scotty1 (Aug 12, 2023), tuchie (Aug 14, 2023)

  3. #2
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    Dec 2022
    Midwest US
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    ductape's Tools
    Very good idea. Those type of bolts aren't always very precise and sometimes need a little adjustment.
    It may have been done but not mentioned, but it would be prudent to keep a firm grip on the bolt while spreading it this way. The rounded edges of the nuts may cause it to slip off the jaws and send the bolt flying.

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  4. #3
    Supporting Member Frank S's Avatar
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    Aug 2015
    Peacock TX
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    Frank S's Tools
    Your vice idea is a good one if the vice jaws stick up enough to grip the nuts safely. The easiest way I've found to spread U bolts up to an inch in diameter is to use a couple lengths of pipe over the bolts. Obviously the bigger the bolt the bigger and longer the pipes need to be.
    Never try to tell me it can't be done
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  5. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to Frank S For This Useful Post:

    remidgett (Dec 28, 2023), Scotty1 (Aug 12, 2023)

  6. #4
    Supporting Member imohtep56's Avatar
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    Sep 2016
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    With my luck, the nuts would slip off the vice and the whole thing would smack me in the face.
    Now you know why I wear a mask...

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