There is no arguing the fact that most mechanics truly dislike rust. One of the biggest problems in dealing with metals is the inevitable possibility that rust or other chemical reactions will cause bolts, screws and nuts to become rusted or seized over a period of time. However, rust and seized nuts and bolts have an enemy that most people wouldn't know – and that enemy's name is heat.

Rust is essentially iron oxide that builds up as ferrous metals are exposed to liquid, moisture or condensation. As rust forms between a two nuts and bolts, it forms a bond that can be extremely tight. Since rust is comprised of oxides, introducing penetrating fluid (like WD-40) is typically the best way to lubricate these bolts. However, sometimes a mechanic will utilize heat which reacts with the oxides to break down rust and help those hard to remove parts become much easier to remove. One of the best tools that any mechanic should have in their tool box or while servicing vehicles on the road is a portable micro torch.

What is a portable micro torch?

A common item in professional mechanical shops is a torch. Although most of the time, the torch is used to cut sheet metal, or chassis components, it's also typically used to remove rusted bolts, studs or nuts from a vehicle. The typical oxy-acetylene torch is comprised on two, very large bottles (usually on a roller) that can be rolled to the place where you need to use the torch. However, this "tool" should only be used for cutting metal as opposed to smaller, detailed jobs like removing rusted nuts or bolts.

It's for this reason that these same large auto repair shops also carry portable micro torches inside their tool boxes; especially when they work on the road or on customer's vehicles abroad. A micro torch is typically fueled by butane; similar to the fuel used in campground stoves or larger hand-held torches. Many of these portable micro torches are lit by a standard flint and are adjustable in strength so the mechanic can pick a power level that will help them heat stuck bolts and nuts.

Some of the benefits of using a portable micro torch include:

  • They are cordless, which reduces the chances of trips, falls and accidents on the worksite

  • No cords or large tanks to drag around mean that it also increases flexibility in its use.

  • Mechanics can use this micro torch under the vehicle, inside the vehicle or on the road on trailers, and other mechanical devices

  • No heat up process. Once the torch is lit, the heat is set and ready to use

  • Electronic ignition switch means that there is no need to carry a flint or torch starter

  • Adjustable flame size from ½" to 2-1/2" to fine tune heat and flame pattern for optimal performance

Every mechanic realizes that sometimes having the right tool is more important than having a lot of tools in their toolbox. Having a portable micro torch available at any time can save mechanics time, money and a lot of frustration. If you’re already a certified mechanic and you’re interested in working with YourMechanic, submit an online application to work for YourMechanic for an opportunity to become a mobile mechanic.

This article originally appeared on YourMechanic.com as The Best Tool to Heat Up Rusted or Seized Parts and was authored by Timothy Charlet.


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