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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I put an aftermarket steering wheel on my '86 and stripped one of the channels to the three little side bolts. Is this even something with which I should be concerned? I want to use a tap to re-thread the bolt channel. Anyone know what type of tap I use: bottom, intermediate, or tapering? What material is best bang-for-buck (I've heard tungsten carbide is the best, but is it best for the money?!?) Also, I have idea what kind of metal the steering wheel's bolt threads are made of. I've never used a tap before. It should be fun. Any tips?

My priorities are:

(1) not snapping some cheap tap off in the bolt channel;
(2) I prefer buying one good tap and then adding to taps to make a set;
(3) bang-for-buck.

Thanks in advance.
 

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I put an aftermarket steering wheel on my '86 and stripped one of the channels to the three little side bolts. Is this even something with which I should be concerned? I want to use a tap to re-thread the bolt channel. Anyone know what type of tap I use: bottom, intermediate, or tapering? What material is best bang-for-buck (I've heard tungsten carbide is the best, but is it best for the money?!?) Also, I have idea what kind of metal the steering wheel's bolt threads are made of. I've never used a tap before. It should be fun. Any tips?

My priorities are:

(1) not snapping some cheap tap off in the bolt channel;
(2) I prefer buying one good tap and then adding to taps to make a set;
(3) bang-for-buck.

Thanks in advance.

First things first, can you post a picture of the offending stripped channel? I can't quite visualize your problem.


Bottoming taps are for blind holes (as opposed to through holes). If your threaded holes go completely through the work, use a tapered tap. They go in straighter.


Your basic high-speed tap is more than adequate for this kind of work. In fact, when I'm paying out of my own pocket, I use the cheapie HF taps. They are actually less likely to break (but dull more quickly) than better tools. And really, breaking taps is *all* about technique.


You can get the HF set with 10 taps and ten dies for the price of a single high speed steel tap. But don't use HF's cheapie tap handle. Throw it away and buy a quality tap handle such as Starrett . It will give you sure control and last a lifetime.


For what they're worth, a few tips on using a tap successfully:


(1) Look up the hole size your tap requires. Get a drill of that size, or even a few thou larger. Then measure the drill to be sure. Even new-from-the-package drills are often the wrong size.
(2) The tap must go into the hole straight. Sight check it from the front and side as soon as it grabs, and again after 1-1/2 turns. Tip #5 assures success on this point if you drill and tap with the same set-up.
(3) Lubricate the tap well with a light oil. ATF works great.
(4) The tap won't give you any warning that it's about to seize up in the hole. Stop, clean away chips and relubricate before you think you need to. After a turn and a half with the tap, back it out and brush the chips out of the flutes. Blow the chips of the hole. Then go an additional turn and a half and repeat. When you say to yourself "I can cut more than this before cleaning chips", visualize the broken-off nub of a tap sticking out of your work.
(5) If there's any was you can do it, support the back of the tap handle. In the shop, I like to clamp my work in a vice and put the tap in the drill press chuck, which I turn by hand. That assures the only forces applied to the tap are downward and torque. Turning a tap handle by hand, you get some sideways force - the kind that breaks taps.


Sure, some of that advice is anal retentive. But for a beginning machinist, it's better to be safe than sorry.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I'll try to remember to send in a photo tomorrow.

It is not a through hole.

I have no vise, so I imagine I'll need a good handle to keep the tap straight. The tap handle you recommended is $35. Ouch.

I'm excited trying this, but am also very apprehensive. On the one hand, I'm not sure if I have good eye and fear screwing the tap in at an angle. On the other hand, I fear breaking off the tap. Knowing that I need to stop, refuge, and clean the threads every one-and-a-half turns is good info. I will probably stop even more often because of my apprehension.

Is it foolish for me to try to tap this by hand?

Thank you again for your help.
 

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Yes, please post a picture so we know what holes you're talking about.
 

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I'll try to remember to send in a photo tomorrow . . . Is it foolish for me to try to tap this by hand?
Not at all. Fixing your mistakes is a good thing. It's very feasible. As long as you watch out for the pitfalls, you should be fine.

I still can't visualize these screws. What size are they? Will it look and work ok with one screw larger? You could install a helicoil if you want to keep the original screw size.
 

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If you cannot get the part onto a vice then I implore you to get a good seating and decent handle. A majority of poorly tapped holes are due to not centering or the tap isn't tight (loose when place on handle). You only get 1 good shot at it and its all about how centered you can get AND maintain while tapping.

As stated decent tap sets are great but if you have a drill press or Bridgeport then that makes the job a LOT easier.

Other than that just use some oil and remember to half turn in, quarter turn out to remove material or you'll break the tap.

Removing a broken tap from a hole you're tapping isn't fun.
 
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