PB Blaster is Snake Oil

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len
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PB Blaster is Snake Oil

Post by len » Thu Sep 11, 2003 5:16 pm

I know there are a lot of you out there who have spoken favorably about PB Blaster, so I expect some spirited responses, but the facts are in (at least, for me). I conclude that PB Blaster is just another snake oil remedy, very much like WD40. Here's what leads me to this conclusion.

A year ago or so on the old forum I posted that I did not have much luck freeing up rusted bolts using PB Blaster, and that this surprised me since it was so highly regarded by many. But try as I might, I had no luck in loosening rusted bumper bolts after generous applications of the magic elixer. Even the legendary moderator of this forum (I choose my words carefully, as noone has seen hide or hair of him for rmany moons.) said that it does indeed work; I just wasn't waiting long enough.

Fair enough, you can't expect a rusted nut on a rusted bolt to suddenly and magically break free with just a squirt of anything, although this is what the product pushers want me to believe. So in the end I had to resort to the old faithfull angle grinder to cut off the bumper bolts.

Fast forward now to 3 days ago when I decided to tighten up my wheelbarrow, as it was getting very rickity. Some of the bolts had play in them and I wanted to tighten them. The wheelbarrow is about 10 years old and, of course, all the fasteners have rusted, as I generally keep it outside. No problem, I thought, I still had PB Blaster on my work shelf. So I generously applied the snake oil and waited...and waited...and waited. Unfortunately, after about an hour, I was getting frustrated and was about to resort to more primitive (but effective) methods. But was getting dark, so I decided to quit for the day. In the back of my mind I could also remember our moderator saying I hadn't waited long enough in my previous attempt to loosen rusted nuts using the Blaster. This would be a test to see if he was right, so I generously applied more PB Blaster to all the nuts and bolts (This was the fifth or sixth time I had dosed the fasteners.)

Next day I didn't have time to work on the project but I squirted the fasteners again.

Today finished the project and here's what happened.

Tried to loosen the nuts on the carriage bolts that hold the wheelbarrow pan to the handles--no go. Tapped the nuts and reapplied the BLaster. No go. Used more torque--stripped the carriage bolts, so now they turn. Put ViseGrips on the end of the bolts, but still could not move the nuts. Used heat from a propane torch, then applied more Blaster after cooling down. Still could not break the nuts free. Resorted to the final solution--the trusty angle grinder, and cut off the bolts. Replaced with new. End of story.

After reading the above, can you blame me for calling PB Blaster snake oil?

len

Harold_V
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Re: PB Blaster is Snake Oil

Post by Harold_V » Thu Sep 11, 2003 6:14 pm

Not only do I not blame you, but I fully agree with you. What reason can anyone provide for such a product to really work? Once you have rusted the metal, unless you do something to reduce the rust, or to dissolve it, why would you expect a change?

While I've never used the product mentioned, I have used penetrating oil. For some reason, folks seem to think that it will answer all the questions where removing old, rusted fasteners is concerned. That has never been my experience, but something as simple as the application of Coke (phosphoric acid) surely has.

Yep, snake oil, and at its best. All it does is provide lubrication, nothing more.

That's my opinion, and I'm sticking with it! [img]/ubb/images/graemlins/grin.gif"%20alt="[/img]

Harold
Wise people talk because they have something to say. Fools talk because they have to say something.

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Doug_C
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Re: PB Blaster is Snake Oil

Post by Doug_C » Thu Sep 11, 2003 6:55 pm

I've always thought these were snake oil too. Any oil that will claim to loosen a rusted bolt is BS. That takes something to force it at minimum.

I always got a big chuckle out the PB Blaster label showing how it will melt a foam cup, while other snake oils will not. That works great if I were into melting foam cups. There are plenty of things on the market for doing that. How that relates as proof to loosening a rusted fastener is a stretch of the largest illusion of imagination.

One claim that made reasonable sense was a product called Kroil. It is a creeping oil. Their only claim was to penetrate into the smallest spaces to soften the rust to allow the parts to become free. I had tried it and it did not work either.

To me, that would indicate there is a limit to what deterioration these snake oils can perform their amazing feats of separation. Rust that is impenetrable should be gaged by the user. That only takes a few bolts to develope a learning curve for fasteners that will never come apart without drastic measures. Now, is that the fault of the oils claim, the rust or the experienced word of another user, when all one can do is give it a speculative trial without miracle expectations, but a little prayer certainly wouldn't hurt either.

In one instance I had broken the heads off bolts stuck in blind holes. I found that once the head was gone and the fastened part removed, I could rotate the oil soaked bolt stud sticking out back and forth ever so slightly until l seen greater and greater movement. Going for the gusto would surely destroy the only stud I had to grip on. I was succesful on all 7 of the darn things. At the time I had no access to drill them out or use helicoils.

In the terms of getting it done and on to something else, I'm all in favor of whatever it takes within my patience zone and the value of the part I'd be trying to save.

As a positive word toward these oils. They will prevent some threads from galling when rusted, better than turning them dry. As well as any thin oil will.

DC

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UnkaJesse
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Re: PB Blaster is Snake Oil

Post by UnkaJesse » Thu Sep 11, 2003 7:29 pm

I have used Kroil for over 40 years and found that it will indeed cause rusted bolts to be removable. The thing is, there ain't no one millionith of an inch for any penetrating oil to enter because the rust has closed up every possible opening. Howsomever, if you can get the nut (or bolt) to move the tinyest amount and keep working it back and forth, the Kroil will indeed work itself down in there and ease the removal operation. Kroil will positivly prevent galling on fasteners that have been heated in use. Case in point was bolts holding a vacuum crucible lid in place at Consolidated Aluminum. I started to remove the bolts and some of them promptly galled, but an application of Kroil allowed removal and galling disappeared. No penetrating oil is going to enter a space which does not in fact exist despite the wonderful results espoused by the manufactuer. BTW: Gasoline will melt the styrofoam cups almost instantly and it sure ain't a penetrating oil.

Unka(Been there done that and know those oily guys will lie to you)Jesse
"The same hammer that breaks the glass, forges the steel" Russian proverb

J_Tiers

Re: PB Blaster is Snake Oil

Post by J_Tiers » Thu Sep 11, 2003 10:18 pm

Hmmmm...
I have had good results with PBBlaster, as opposed to other things, but I don't bother to listen about rusty stuff. Maybe it will work and maybe not is my experience on that. depends on the rust.

Harold, you are right, what they all do is lubricate. And that is the catch.

They all work by using a solvent or other material of low surface tension to penetrate into the crevices and carry oil in. That oil then does the loosening. It is availableon the spot in the joint, ready to be wiped into the tiny space between surfaces that want to gall, to lubricate the particles of rust, etc.

The foam cup thing is stupid, but it does prove there is some thin solvent in it.

But, if getting lube in isn't gonna help, then none of them can help. And anything that will actually chemically attack rust is not likely to be carried in by a solvent other than water, which won't go in.

I have had good results on galling, on removing plain tight fits, but never tried it on rust. In most cases rust has welded everything into a lump anyhow, if there really is rust in the space between pieces.

WD doesn't work, because it has virtually no oil in it.....so no lube. The kero or whatever in it seems to be a cutting agent, not a lube. Haven't tried Kroil.

I have also had reasonable results with turps and oil, mixed to a watery liquid. Stinks for about two months though.

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len
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Re: PB Blaster is Snake Oil

Post by len » Fri Sep 12, 2003 2:21 am

Thanks for the replies which appear to confirm my experience.

I'm old enough to know better, but I still expected to turn that rusted nut with my fingers after two days of soaking. Like I said, this product has been recommended by others whom I respect, both on the forum and in my day-to-day experience.

I'm sure this product has some uses, but freeing rusted fasteners is not one of them. I'm wondering how they get away with their blatant advertising to the contrary. I suspect the reasons for its popularity are the same as for other urban legends, and have very little basis in reality.

Getting back to freeing rusted nuts, I realize that anything as badly rusted as, say, header bolts, have to be cut off. But my wheelbarrow nuts weren't really that bad. If I could have gotten a good grip on the head, I probably could have just muscled them out. Being carriage bolts, this was hard to do.

Iron oxide, aka rust, is a very hard, fine abrasive. Rusted joints do not actually weld, but are locked in a matrix of very fine abrasive. Plain old rust, FeO3, is not waterproof, so I suspect any lightweight lubricant, or even water, would penetrate the rusted joint given enough time. But then what? A wet matrix of very dense abrasive particles isn't likely to be any easier to break than a dry one. Experience seems to confirm this.

len

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billr
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Re: PB Blaster is Snake Oil

Post by billr » Fri Sep 12, 2003 7:35 am

good morning.

had an uncle when i was a kid who swore by brake fluid to loosen rusted/frozen bolts.

i don't know if or how this works, but have seen it work lots of times.

i am presently trying to make the rotating handles on the handwheels of a mill i bought a couple of weeks ago turn. have used PB blaster with no luck. can't get a grip on them to 'help them along' without marring surface.

i would appreciate any/all suggestions as to how to do this.

thanks.
bill

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bruceg
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Re: PB Blaster is Snake Oil

Post by bruceg » Fri Sep 12, 2003 8:07 am

If you have one, you could try a strap wrench. A long shot, but always worth a try.
Bruce Griffing

Harold_V
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Re: PB Blaster is Snake Oil

Post by Harold_V » Fri Sep 12, 2003 12:06 pm

First, are you sure they are supposed to rotate? Many mill handles do not, but are well finished so they spin in your hand effortlessly. Bridgeport comes to mind.

If they are supposed to swivel, I'd suggest first washing the parts well to remove all the oil you've been adding, oil that will do nothing to loosen rust, although it would provide lubrication if you had some motion, hopefully preventing galling.

Once you have removed the oil, I'd heat with a torch until the handles were quite warm. If you can heat the rust hot enough, it generally will break down. Heating may discolor the hand wheels, but they can be hand polished with Scotch-brite pads after you have them working freely.

In order to get rusted items working again, you must address the rust, which slowly grows until you have a "press fit". All the oil in the world won't change that. Do remember that when items rust, they also get smaller, so your fit, when clean, will be sloppy.

Brake fluid used to be made of alcohol and castor oil. If it still is, alcohol is a solvent, and probably dissolves the rust to some degree, so that may indeed free up rusted items.

Many manufacturers (one of which is John Deere) tell you to not use gasoline with alcohol in its makeup, most likely for that reason. Certain components are slowly dissolved, such as carburetors.

Good luck with the handles!

Harold
Wise people talk because they have something to say. Fools talk because they have to say something.

J_Tiers

Re: PB Blaster is Snake Oil

Post by J_Tiers » Fri Sep 12, 2003 10:40 pm

I think the idea of oil and rust is that rust holds together as a lot of particles pressed together. The oil is supposed to get in and let them slide over each other and so break loose. The penetrating oil gets soaked into places water etc won't "wet" due to surface tension issues.

The failure is that most such things as we want to get apart are already a close fit, and the rust has no room to move, so it holds tight anyhow.

The stuff still works Ok on tight fits threatening to gall. If they are already in the limit condition of galling, meaning welded by heat and pressure, they won't come apart with any snake oil.

Mike C.

Re: PB Blaster is Snake Oil

Post by Mike C. » Fri Sep 12, 2003 11:34 pm

I agree with you Unk.. Kroil is pretty amazing stuff. I have also had good luck with Marvel Mystery oil and even two stroke mix! The die grinder with the zizz wheel is good, but the Mexican Speed Wrench (cutting torch) NEVER fails [img]/ubb/images/graemlins/tongue.gif"%20alt="[/img]

One technique I learned years ago was to try to tighten the bolt if it won't loosen. Sometimes the rust is on the loose end, but the threads below the nut are good. You can somtimes get just enough movement (1/16 turn) to allow the juice to penetrate.

Old carriage bolts in wood are usually hopeless, but they are readily available and dirt cheap. A can of Kroil or PB BLASTER will probably cost more than new bolts in that case.

stosh

Re: PB Blaster is Snake Oil

Post by stosh » Sat Sep 13, 2003 12:47 am

Len,
I can relate to everything you said. (Forgive my grin as I read your story.) I work in a fabrication shop. I am the machinist, but I have helped and learned from some of the old timers there. We do a lot of work on heavy equipment. I will say that for some stuff PB Blaster has been ok. I prefer it over WD 40. I do however prefer Sili-Kroil that I got through the internet from Kano Labs. There may be better stuff out there, but sometimes you just have to get out the grinder or the torch.
Stosh

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