How to Straighten a Bent Bolt

A bent bolt, now what....

I just found this question which was asked of me several months ago. While the two who have responded already make a good point, that usually a bent bolt is of no use, and it's best to replace it, there can be situations where simply purchasing another one is not an option. I can think of two situations where I needed to straighten a bent bolt and purchasing one was not an option.

One was while I plowed snow, when I was in my 20's.  I had mounted a used Meyers plowframe and plow to my "72 Dodge Powerwagon and I did not have the correct "plow pins" to keep the plow hooked to the push frame.  As it turned out, the bolts I used were undersized as well. Because I did not take the time to drill a cotter pin hole to keep this from falling out and simply put a nut on it instead, I wound up at 2:00 in the morning having to straighten a bolt by holding it with vice grips with one hand while trying to pound with the other hand and a baby sledge hammer, by headlight.  In this instance the threads didn't matter as much as getting it straight did.  I was able wrap wire around it to keep it in place.

In the other instance, I was on an ocean passage between Bermuda en route to the US Virgin Island of St. John, when a nut came off and a bolt worked it's way partly loose on the windvane self steering, getting itself bent in the process.  This was bad news as the windvane was critical to us, there were only two of us on the boat and steering by hand 100% of the time would drain all our energy quickly.  Bear in mind that on an ocean passage the boat is moving 24 hours per day.

While we did not have a replacement bolt, we did have a few nuts that fit.  We were also lucky in that a previous owner of the boat had left a small iron vise on board and the vise had a "c" clamp type of attachment to a fenderboard set across the cockpit seats.  We were able to snug the bolt in the vise and with 4 nuts on the end of the bolt to protect the threads we were able to use a pair of Vice Grips and straighten the bolt enough to get it back in place.

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