Broken Drain Plug WTF? - Victory Forums - Victory Motorcycle Forum
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post #1 of 18 (permalink) Old 03-21-2014, 05:12 PM Thread Starter
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Default Broken Drain Plug WTF?

So I was changing my oil after work the other day, and as I was tightening the drain plug with the preset 12 ft-lb torque wrench we use for drain plugs on our customers' cars, I felt the resistance in the bolt going down, even though the wrench hadn't clicked yet. I stopped tightening the bolt thinking, "Oh, crap! I just stripped the drain!" I couldn't think of how it would've happened when I hadn't even approached 12 ft-lbs, especially since the service manual's recommended torque is 15. But I figured that at least I had the bolt on and sealed, so I'd just start saving money to fix the threads or replace the drain pan or whatever when time came for the next oil change.
Well, later on I found that oil was dripping ever so slowly out of the drain. I figured I'd try tightening the bolt to see if that would fix the leak or if it would finish the damage to the drain. As it turns out, the threads in the drain were not stripped at all; this is what happened:

After getting a new drain plug from Polaris of Portland, I managed to work the other portion of the bolt out of the drain with an allen socket bit and my fingertips, then quickly plug up the hole with my finger and put the new bolt in. It was quite a relief to know the drain wasn't stripped, albeit a rather irritating ordeal, regardless.
Anybody else ever break a drain plug with that little torque? These bikes seem to otherwise be pretty much bullet-proof. I suppose it's better to have a breakage-prone drain plug than one that'll certainly strip out the drain threads if you're a bit overzealous with your wrench, but still... that was just a bit frustrating. Especially the part where I took the bus to work. Trimet kinda blows...

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post #2 of 18 (permalink) Old 03-21-2014, 05:21 PM
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Never, in all my years of changing oil in vehicles, have I ever encountered breaking a drain plug. In truth, I have never used a torque wrench on them either and I've come across many that were extremely tight.

That said, there's at least one other thread here where a couple guys have broken the bolt that holds the timing wheel on. It blows my mind that these bolts break under minimal force. Makes a guy wonder.

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post #3 of 18 (permalink) Old 03-21-2014, 05:22 PM
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Sometimes torque wrenches wont click when they are suppose to, like they get stuck between teeth. Ive gotten into the habit of ratcheting it before the final snug, 12ftlbs isnt much, did it feel like you were pulling harder than that?

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post #4 of 18 (permalink) Old 03-22-2014, 07:42 AM
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It's a Chinese manufacturing thing... quality control no good.

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post #5 of 18 (permalink) Old 03-22-2014, 11:17 AM
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You can see some lateral stress results on the bolt. I'd say that someone in the past did the majority of the damage. Repeated heating and cooling furthered the weakness then your wrenching just finished it off.
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post #6 of 18 (permalink) Old 03-22-2014, 03:15 PM
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As many times as that bolt will be taken out during the life of the bike I put automotive silicone on male and female and put it in finger tight and let it cure over night. Your not holding things together just stopping leaks. In ten years no problems.
Clean male and female threads with q tips before silicone.
I prefer beam torque wrenches, though not as accurate as click type you can throw them at a wall and no recalibration needed ever.

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post #7 of 18 (permalink) Old 03-22-2014, 05:11 PM
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I would bet we will never know how you broke that plug. 12FT-lb is next to nothing. How in the Heck can you break a steel plug in an aluminum casing anyway? My own perspective is that it was a defective part. You should be able to completely strip the casing threads and never even put stress on that plug, not that you would want to do that but the relative strength of the materials would go in that direction.

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post #8 of 18 (permalink) Old 03-23-2014, 03:55 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dtmmil View Post
Sometimes torque wrenches wont click when they are suppose to, like they get stuck between teeth. Ive gotten into the habit of ratcheting it before the final snug, 12ftlbs isnt much, did it feel like you were pulling harder than that?
Well, it did feel like the wrench should've clicked at some point, although the going wasn't really tough to begin with. It kind of felt like I was putting a plastic bolt into the pan, the way it was going. That said, though, the torque wrench I was using was a shop wrench, and has been dropped a few times, so whether or not it actually torques to 12ft-lbs is debatable.
I used to never use torque wrenches on drain plugs in the past, but I figured I do it this time since I had one at hand and I've gotten in the habit of having one on hand. If the recommended torque for a drain plug is next-to-nothing (like 15ft-lbs), it's probably best to stick with that.
I kind of wonder if these drain plugs are actually steel, though, if they break like mine did with so little force. I'm kind of guessing the bike's previous owner probably did over-torque on several occasions, though, which would ultimately led to this, but either way, I'm definitely going to be using my (much better kept) torque wrench withe drain plug from now on.

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post #9 of 18 (permalink) Old 03-25-2014, 10:47 AM
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Never use a TQ wrench to tighten something so delicate. It's in the manual because it has to be. Tighten by hand till snug then use your wrench to snug it up a little more. Just like your oil filter. It's a feel thing. Change the copper washer every other time is ok too. Never ever had a plug leak on any motor of mine.

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post #10 of 18 (permalink) Old 03-25-2014, 11:08 AM
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Depending on what ftlbs the wrench is good for if 12 ftlbs is the very bottom it may have clicked but very quietly and softly. Nothing wrong with torquing an oil plug, just know how to use it and be familiar with it. I torque about 99% of the bolts i tighten.

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