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Old 09-13-2009, 10:41 PM   #1
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Constantly stripping brass screws


I am continually stripping the heads on brass screws like the ones that hold bathtub handles to the stem.

The screws are usually a little stuck, and the heads strip almost immediately when I try to turn them. I have had this problem with both phillips and slotted.

The screw heads sometimes seem to be slightly non-standard shapes. I tried various #1 and #2 phillips heads on the screw I just stripped and none of them really gripped the screwhead, though it looked like it should have been a #2.

A few weeks ago, a faucet I was repairing had a slotted screw in the handle. The slot was at least twice as wider as a #2 flathead, so I couldn't get a decent grip on it either. The second I twisted it, a large chunk of the head flew off.

What am I doing wrong? I'd really appreciate some advise.

Not coincidentally, I could also use some help with removing those small stripped screws.

I have never used one before, but they look like they are too small for screw extractors. I have been hacking off the entire handle and using some vise grips. Not the best solution.

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Old 09-14-2009, 04:09 AM   #2
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Constantly stripping brass screws


You've got to use the proper sized screwdriver. If it's too small, you will mess up the screw head. Also, make sure your tools are in good working order. If the phillips head is worn, it will not work well.

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Old 09-14-2009, 07:56 AM   #3
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Constantly stripping brass screws


My theory.

Brass is a mixture of copper and zinc. Over the years the zinc corrodes away leaving a matrix (sponge if you insist) of copper. If you are unlucky, when you try to unscrew such a screw, it breaks in the middle.

Faucet fixtures and knobs are often made of an aluminum alloy sometimes called pot metal and sometimes trademarked Zamac. This is generally chrome plated and looks good for a reasonable length of time and then the surface becomes pitted and ratty looking. Over the years it "crystallizes" and expands slightly making screws much harder to remove.
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Old 09-14-2009, 09:45 AM   #4
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Constantly stripping brass screws


TRY,,,tapping on the handle for 'awhile' BEFORE you turn. Strong enough to rattle the threads a bit,not so strong you booger the threads. AND yes,,,key is to use a NEW condition proper fitting screwdriver,whether slotted or phillips as case may be!!
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Old 09-14-2009, 11:38 AM   #5
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Constantly stripping brass screws


wd40,tapping b4 turning AND just tighten a tick then try to back em out
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Old 09-14-2009, 12:53 PM   #6
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Constantly stripping brass screws


Thanks for the replies everyone. My sense is that I have just run into a batch of extremely fragile and cheap handle screws with poorly formed heads.

My screwdrivers are in excellent shape. The screws just don't seem to be able to handle any torque whatsoever.

They actually aren't even really stuck. If I cut away the handle so I can get a good grip, I can even turn them by hand. Even a gentle turn will result in metal flaking off onto the screwdriver.

I have tried tapping and PB Blaster, but it didn't help. One of the screws was even only a couple of weeks old.

I guess my only options are to keep sawing off the handles or to try drilling them out...
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Old 09-14-2009, 01:12 PM   #7
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Constantly stripping brass screws


once ya gits em off replace em with SS.
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Old 09-14-2009, 01:23 PM   #8
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Constantly stripping brass screws


Quote:
Originally Posted by skymaster View Post
once ya gits em off replace em with SS.
That's for certain!

Even a normal quality brass screw would be 100x better.

I think these are the screws that come bundled with cheap bathtub handles.

The best solution is not to put them in there in the first place.
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Old 09-14-2009, 02:50 PM   #9
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Constantly stripping brass screws


And put some never-sieze on the threads before you put the new screws in.

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