BOLT REPLACEMENT TR (Fear No Evil 5.9R) @ the Leap


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Social climber
The Deli
Sep 23, 2009 - 02:09pm PT
Kev, how do you pull them without destroying the hole? Replacing a wedge bolt with the next size up makes no sense. Who wants to drill out a 3/8” hole to 1/2”? By hand? Where does it end? Wedge bolts are not designed for removal and I have never been able to cleanly pull one – I just snap ‘em off and patch the hole. At least that Fixe crap is so soft that you hardly need to hammer on the stud to get it to snap. 4/5/6-piece Power Bolts are the way to go; they can be cleanly removed with little to no damage to the hole, meaning that the 3/8” hole can be used over and over and over, well into the future. A new hole should not be drilled each time a bolt needs to be replaced; the same hole needs to be reused. This is especially important in places like Tuolumne where the rock surface is bumpy (knobs) and uneven and there isn’t another good location for the bolt. First ascentionists usually place a bolt where they place it for a reason. I don’t think wedge bolts should be used anywhere, stainless or not.

We need to think in longer terms than a human lifetime. Glacial polish on the domes in Tuolumne has endured at least 10,000 years of weathering, yet most of it is still glass-smooth. In some areas, the polish and underlying rock has weathered away, leaving the knobs to protrude from the surface, and making climbers happy. But the amount of rock removed during this post-glacial period can be measured in inches – usually just a few at most. The point to all of this is that if we are going to continue climbing into the not-so-close future, we need to treat bolt holes as if they will be used for hundreds, if not thousands of years. Clogging a hole with a wedge bolt just means that a new hole will eventually need to be drilled (even if it is fifty years later), and quite often, there isn’t a good location for a new hole. I don’t see how a “deteriorated” bolt can be drilled through, as it will surely need to be replaced long before it deteriorates to the point that drilling it out is even possible.

Please, NO MORE WEDGE BOLTS!!!!!!!
Greg Barnes

Sep 23, 2009 - 02:21pm PT
In the future (or even now) it might be possible to drill through deteriorated old stainless bolts with power drills - not hand drilling. But in 50 years I wouldn't be surprised if the NPS allows power drill use under permit for replacing existing bolts...after all, such decisions by management are already written in the Wilderness Act.

But Minerals' basic point is pretty dang obvious - since we have removable bolts like the 5-piece (the most common modern bolt to begin with) and the Triplex, we ought to be using bolts that can be removed for future replacement.
dave goodwin

carson city, nv
Sep 23, 2009 - 02:44pm PT
Hey Mucci-

great work, thanks

also check your e-mail, I sent you a message. I have an offer to help you keep up the good work.


Trad climber
Santa Clara, Ca.
Sep 23, 2009 - 03:06pm PT
Nice work, mucci!
Nate D

San Francisco
Sep 23, 2009 - 03:25pm PT
good going mucci!

Care to share any links to the most reasonably priced 4/5/6 piece Power bolts or Triplex mentioned - preferably stainless? Thanks.

Social climber
The Deli
Sep 23, 2009 - 05:45pm PT
Hey Mucci, I don’t mean to rip on you at all. Nothing personal; I have been meaning to start a “No More Wedge Bolts” thread, but saw your photos and decided to post up. Thanks for your replacement efforts – we need more guys like you out there!

Nate, I’d go broke if all of the 3/8” bolts that I placed were stainless. I’ll let the ASCA deal with that when the time comes. I have been placing the new, shorter Power Bolt – 3/8” x 1 7/8” (4-piece). These are a bit shorter than the standard 2 1/4” Power Bolt (5-piece) and they do not have the blue plastic sleeve. What’s nice about the shorter length is not only do you have to drill a shorter hole, but the sleeve sticks out of the hole, as opposed to the longer bolt with the blue plastic sleeve. This makes it much easier to remove the sleeve (needle-nose pliers) when it is time for replacement.

I’m not sure who has the best prices on bolts, but recently George picked up a bunch for me in Berkeley. The 1 7/8” Power Bolts were about $1.54 each, including tax (part #6911, 50 per box). I also picked up a bunch of 1/4” x 1 1/2” buttonheads, which had to be sent up from So Cal. (~$0.74 each, part #3241, 100 per box).

Bowlin Equipment Company, Berkeley: 510-527-8282

If you find better prices elsewhere, please let us know!

Greg Barnes

Sep 23, 2009 - 06:18pm PT
Listen to Minerals - if you are going to use carbon steel Power bolts, these new shorty ones will be MUCH easier to replace. Very good rock only of course, they are short - you wouldn't want to use these at soft rock areas.

Technique for removing these ones:

 unscrew the bolt, take off hanger & washer
 blow out hole
 screw bolt back in a couple turns (no hanger)
 tap it in with ONE sharp tap
 unscrew the bolt
 use needle nose pliers to grab and pull the sleeve
 blow out hole
 screw the bolt and a hanger (beater hanger) back in to the cone, 3 or 4 turns
 funk out the cone

Looks like a lot, but it's pretty quick, and unless you are using Triplex bolts with 12mm hole hangers, it's as good as you can hope for (but the problem with Triplex and 12mm hole hangers is that if the nut loosens up, you can pull them just by clipping a draw and yanking on it). The "use needle nose pliers" step is the step that is a big pain with 5 or 6-pieces (longer Power-bolts), since you can get the blue sleeve (or the upper metal sleeve with 6-pieces), but getting the lower sleeve out is a pain.

And, of course, when hand drilling the 1/4" less depth is nice (they say 1 7/8" but they are basically 2" vs. 2 1/4").

Still, if you can afford it, stainless is the way to go. Particularly in wet locations such as water streaks. And don't even think about using non-stainless steel bolts in really wet areas like Index, Squamish, etc...

Trad climber
The pitch of Bagalaar above you
Topic Author's Reply - Sep 23, 2009 - 06:39pm PT
I hear you guys on the Wedgies, I hand drill on lead so I like the 1 3/4" or 2.25" wedge for FA work.

Now that I know you can buy a 1 7/8" 4 piece I will switch over to the expansion bolt.

No offense taken Brian, I guess I just got the itch and took what I had on hand, all the other stuff is plated and never sees the bolt bag.

I always assumed that in granite a compression or wedge (SS of course) was the best option for the high quality rock. The 5 piece powers have a smaller bolt diameter and so I assumed that to be a deciding factor.

I always place 5 piece powers at Pinnacles (up to 3.5 inch) and have always assumed that due to the nature of the rock a expansion bolt was appropriate (yet I have seen alot of wedgies there too).

What about spinners in the hole? I have had pinnacles rock blow out on me in the base of the hole, inserted the expansion bolt and began to tighten...Spinner! The cone would not seat and the hole was fubar.

Have you guys ran into this problem? I have never had a problem with the wedge so that has been my go to bolt everywhere else.

Thanks for the input and all of the great comments!


Nate D

San Francisco
Sep 23, 2009 - 06:47pm PT
1/4" less of hand drilling would be nice.
But, not using stainless and feeling responsible to constantly replace the bolts in the years to come, with such limited time...

What's your guys' best guestimate for the lifespan of plated steel vs. SS?

After a very very quick search, this source appears to have your ammo for cheaper than what you are paying, Minerals:

POWER-BOLT Hex Head 3/8" x 1-7/8" 6911 06911 (50)
Per Box of 50
Availability: Usually ships the same business day.
6911 $40.99

POWER-BOLT Hex Head 3/8" x 2-1/4" Stainless 5910 05910 (50)
Per Box of 50
5910 $229.99 (OUCH indeed. Although using these would encourage me to place fewer bolts, which is a bonus - not that I place that many in the first place.)

And the Fixe Triplex SS bolt 3/8" x 2-1/4" are really upwards of $7+ a pop??
But I suppose they are easier to place on lead, no?

Hence the attraction to SS wedge bolts.

Greg Barnes

Sep 23, 2009 - 07:14pm PT
mucci (and others), the idea that stud/wedge bolts are stronger because the bolt diameter is thicker is incorrect - they are actually weaker (just look at the stats on the bolt info pages) - although not significant since they are both really strong. Somehow people forget that the threads themselves reduce the diameter of a stud bolt...

To greatly reduce the chance of spinners with 5-piece bolts:

 drill the hole deep enough - which means extra deep for soft rock, since rock broken off while pounding the bolt in fills up the end of the hole
 clean the hole really well
 tap the bolt in just shy of all the way, or all the way with your last hit. Do NOT keep hitting the bolt after it's fully seated - the only place that energy is going is to break rock out at the end of the bolt, increasing the chance of spinners
 don't use 5-pieces at all in really soft sandstone
 use shorter 5-pieces to reduce the chance of spinners - if the rock is good enough. So for Indian Creek replacement, I've used 1/2 x 2.75" instead of 3.75" (or 4.75"). But not for soft rock out there, just good stuff. In pretty good rock at Red Rocks, I got some spinners with 3/8 x 3.5", but never with 1/2 x 2.75"

Nate, the Triplex bolts are all 12mm, there are no 3/8" versions.

Trad climber
The pitch of Bagalaar above you
Topic Author's Reply - Sep 23, 2009 - 07:19pm PT
Thanks for the word Greg.

Social climber
san joser
Sep 23, 2009 - 10:54pm PT
Hey Mucci, SS wedgies are just fine.

For replacing, sure the expensive 5-piece SS powerbolts are fine if the ASCA (ie climbing community) is buying them, but for ground up ascents by working class folks (or for good guys like yourself who replace old 1/4"ers at your own expense), SS wedgies are great.

Some folks will give them a bad rap because you can't re-use the hole... but that's a moot point since there's a good likelyhood that the SS bolts will last longer than civilization. The stuff is like styrofoam in terms of it's persistence in the environment. It is simply not going to corrode in place like the Sierras.

Austentic stainless steels (ie 304 and 316) have only one real enemy- stress corrosion cracking- and this only occurs in moist, chloride environments like indoor pool buildings and sea cliffs.

For drilling on lead in the Sierra, I place 316 SS 3/8" wedgies (I use 316 because of the extra nickel and added 2% molybdenum that controls pit corrosion). And why not use the best wedgies available- my arm will fall off before I go broke placing them by hand!!

This is definitely a better option (IMHO) than placing a carbon steel 5-piece and leaving it up to someone else to pony up the money and time to replace it in 40 years.

Since I work in the industry, I am able to get some good pricing on these bolts:

304 SS 3/8 wedgie for $1 after tax
316 SS 3/8 wedgie for $1.75 after tax

It would be a good experiment to remove a SS wedgie after 200 years in the rock and analyze it for corrosion and perform tensile and shear tests. Of course, we'll all be dead by then!

Some good reading on the different types of SS:

Greg Barnes

Sep 23, 2009 - 10:59pm PT
And just as a note:

Petzl hangers are 316ss, as are the new Marine grade Fixe hangers. As far as I know, the rest of available stainless hangers are 304, but I don't know for sure.
mark miller

Social climber
Sep 23, 2009 - 11:07pm PT
You know Mucci you owe me 2 beers now, 1 for the flat bar attack and 2 for letting Minerals use my internet for all the up to date bolt placement. I'm more involved in this thread then even I realized. I better go clip those new bolts ( when the temps, cool a bit)..

Trad climber
Lake Tahoe
Sep 24, 2009 - 01:43pm PT
Anyone have a link or picture of a wedgie or wedge bolt so I can seen the diff between that and a 5-piece Power?

Still taking notes here...

Trad climber
berkeley, ca
Sep 24, 2009 - 01:48pm PT
Wedge anchor:

Powers Powerbolt (aka Rawl aka "5-piece") part# 92405A200


Trad climber
Lake Tahoe
Sep 24, 2009 - 01:59pm PT

So what actually defines the "wedge bolt" then?

In other words, what specifically distinguishes wedge bolts (or "wedgies") from similar fasteners... since "wedging" action by the sleeve and cone occurs in both types? Anyone?

Or... did Footloose get off on the wrong foot... Are 5-piece Powers also "wedgies" ? !!

edit: ahh, 5-piece Powers must be "wedgies" and somewhere above I must've gotten astray...

edit: ah, thanks slob, so "wedge bolts" refer specifically to stud bolts whose sleeve is fixed. Terminology can be a bastard sometimes. Wanted to be clear. Thx.

Trad climber
berkeley, ca
Sep 24, 2009 - 02:03pm PT
As the pictures show, the wedge bolt is a one piece stud; the little sleeve bit cannot be removed. When placed, there are threads visible. And as noted ad nauseam above, these cannot be removed from the rock, once placed.

Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Sep 24, 2009 - 02:42pm PT

Good work on the replacement!


What's your experience been with removing rusted Powerbolts/Rawlbolts (4-5 piece)?
Do the bolt threads lock into the cone, and then the bolt just spins when you put a wrench in the head?
Or does the cone lock better into the sleeve and the bolt unscrews from the sleeve?
What if the sleeve rusts out, deep in the hole - then the cone would spin?

I know that Bruce and I have had difficulty in softer rock (Pinnacles) removing Powerbolts/Rawlbolts - they would spin when we turned the hex head.
We had to pry the bolt outwards to engage the cone into the sleeve, while turning the head at the same time.
The spinning could be due to an oversized hole in the softer rock of Pinnacles.
But it is also a fairly dry place, so rust in the threads was probably not much of an issue.

Trad climber
East Bay, CA
Sep 24, 2009 - 11:26pm PT
Great work Mucci - Very much appreciate this labor of love and all the great input!
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