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MG Midget and Sprite Technical - Cross Headed Screws


I can't remove any of the four screws that hold down the heating matrix.

All four are too weak and won't hold any tool including driver bits.

Have been soaking them in oil for two days and tried to used small mole grips.

I had viewed the welded bolts from the floor vents and there is no rust there at all.

I wanted to try and cut a larger grove for a large flat head screw driver but access is so tight.

Has anyone got other suggestions before I drill them out with a left hand drill bit?

Many thanks


J Paul

Impact driver normally works but I assume you haven't got one. You could try vice grips. What often works well is a sharp centre punch and hammer hitting it around the outer edge to start to turn it.
Greg H

Thanks Greg,

Yes I don't own an impact driver, but can certainly try the centre punch.
J Paul

You could also try holding the philips head screwdriver in there with some undo pressure and a hard hit on the end of the screw driver with a hammer. It's a poor mans impact driver that sometimes works. Obviously need a hard handled screw driver.
Greg H

I tried hammering in a smaller flat headed screwdriver to fit in one of the better slots and then turning, but not turning and hammering at the same time. Being poor that will do me for now! Thanks
J Paul

You might already know this, but just in case: if using a philips screw driver, they will be extra difficult to remove, as the tip will torque out, tearing up the head of the screw.

Be sure to use a pozidriv bit, because all of the "crosshead screws" on a Midget have these pozidriv heads on them.

Norm Kerr

Hi Norm,

I didn't know that, so thanks very much.

Although I haven't noted any of the screws with the Pozidriv heads. Were they there from the start or did they get introduced later on in production?

Mine is a 1965
J Paul

Heat, although that may be an unhelpful suggestion if you haven't got oxy-acetylene, that works well because you can get a very localised area (screw) very hot without damaging the surroundings (paint).

Those screws are a pain to drill out because the heater gets in the way of the drill, I've had trouble with them in the past.
Paul MkIMkIV

Hi Paul,

I did think about it and I do have a small blow torch, but I was just concerned about using it what with all the old oil and dirt still covering the chassis.


J Paul

I had to take the heater box apart to allow enough room to drill/grind those out. I replaced them with stainless steel hex bolts.
Trevor Jessie

Hi Trevor,

I'm thinking I'll be following you with this one. Already dismantled the box to get better access. Going to try some of the suggestions first just to see if I can budge them.

J Paul

l would suggest that you go and buy an impact driver. They are only around 10 or 12 pounds and you are likely to need it in other places too. As well as converting impact to shock torque, you can also use 1/2" drive extensions and T-bars. You won't regret it!

The other thing is that it is well worth cleaning out old paint and debris from the slots before you start. I know it seems fussy but it makes a very great difference to how well the screwdriver bit grips.
Guy W

I had a similar problem on the B when trying to remove the pedal box cover. One of the screws is buried between the inner wing and the cover itself, and about 7 or 8 inches below surrounding bodywork.

I used an extra long HSS masonry drill bit to drill the head off. Once the pedal box and cover were out of the way, there was enough screw left to wind out with a pair of mole grips.

You can just see the (new) screw next to the accelerator cable.

Dave O'Neill2

James, I've never had a lot of success with blow torches, it either doesn't work or damages paint etc as welI, I sometimes try using my tiny kitchen supplies gas torch (when the daughter isn't toasting the top of cakes with it). The oxy is such a small point of extreme heat it rarely fails, I've even used it on tiny M4 bolts stuck in delicate alloy painted cycle frames.

Expensive kit to have lying about just for the occasional seized bolt unfortunately.

I've not yet had an incident after soaking stuff in release fluid, I've often used it first.
Paul MkIMkIV

Hi Paul,

You're a genius!!

I knew that creme brulee kit I gave to my wife for Christmas would come in useful!! I'll have to sneak it out without the her noticing ;-)


I made a tool that I call a 'Picker' which is basically a large dowel with a decking screw through the middle, which I used to great effect when I took up some old decking boards. I gave it a try last night to some effect but clearly not enough. The lack of space makes it a lot harder. (I was warned!)

Thanks Dave for another final solution!!
J Paul

sorry James as you know you've gone about this the wrong way but you can rescue the situation by following the other suggestions

you could also try cutting a slot in the heads to use a slotted screwdriver

or you can get screw extractors but you'll probably also need a drill extension there

before you do this do as you should have at the start, clean the area and scrape off any sealing paint then -
apply a penetrating/releasing fluid such as Plus Gas (WD 40 is not as good ) as far in advance as possible and leave to soak as long as possible, overnight is good, then slightly tighten to break muck/rust seal before undoing - if this doesn't work then repeat, it has never failed me and just requires time and patience
Nigel Atkins

just had a quick look at your blog no need to use other than screws to go back in, just use new screws and put a little Copperease on the thread and underside of head to make them easier to take out in future

email me if you want a few non-technical, non-mechanic notes that might help you
Nigel Atkins

Id just drill them out, or a chisel and hammer or an angle grinder and be done with it....maybe mine was diffeant, but the screws where nothing special or very large...about the size of a self shouldnt take but a couple of minutes to knock the heads off
Prop and the Blackhole Midget

Just a tip I got from a mechanic years ago, once you have got a good fit with a screwdriver attach a pair of molegrips to the handle and you can get a lot more torque and its less likely to slip out, espcially if you put all your weight on it and someone else uses the molegrips as a handle to turn it- hope that makes sense! I know some professional screwdrivers have a hex section below the handle for putting on a spanner. Might be worth a try.
I think I would probabaly drill them out if all else fails
m fairclough

Prop, the early cars (IIRC) have threaded holes rather than self tappers.
Trevor Jessie

If your going to try heat, try one of these. Brilliant. I bought one from RS components, more than 25 years ago, and it's still useful.

Multipurpose Butane Gas Soldering/flame tool.
Lawrence Slater

With mine I just welded a nut onto the top and wound it outwith a wrench. The heat of the weld helps break it loose.
T Dafforn

much, much easier just to let chemicals do the work especially in tight locations
Nigel Atkins

Those pesky bolts can't stop me now!!!

(See image)

J Paul

I would use a tight fitting pozidriver of correct point (size) - 2 or 3 point. Give it a good whack to seat it and turn with wrench using lots of pressure.

Wouldn't bother with heat in that location.

I have an impact driver if needed.

richard boobier

Thanks trevor

I didnt know that.....not sure what size we.are.talking about, but what about an external EZ out. Soak it over night with PB closed.

Prop and the Blackhole Midget

I have zero patience for extracting a screw I will only end up throwing away, especially cross-head screws where centring the drill bit is so easy.

I use a tiny bit at first, drilling down into the shaft of the screw to make a centred pilot hole for later, then drill off just the head with a bit that's the same size as the screw's shaft.

Once everything is out you can drill out the embedded shafts using the small pilot hole and a drill bit that doesn't damage the threads. Follow up with a tap and the old screw threads usually fall right out.


3 years ago i would have agreed with you, but i found these irwin external EZ outs, and they work really well just put them on a 1/2 inch ratchet with a cheater bar and soak over night in PB breaker and these will ither break the bolt free or it will bust the head off

Im a big fan of these external EZ outs and own the 10 piece set from irwin...oh for the brutle stuff ... Stick this on an electric impact wrench... And it wil make fast work of any frozen stripped off bolt

Prop and the Blackhole Midget

Prop, I've been looking at those of a while now and was wondering if they were any good. I might take the plunge and put some in the toolbox for the future.

Growler, your way is the way I've used for many years. However getting a neat pilot drill in to James' heater screws will be difficult.

James, just had the same problem on a B heater. Don't mess about trying to get them out, just drill the heads off with a bit of about 1/4" ie bigger than the bolt size but smaller than the head size. Once you get the heater out soak the remains with release oil for a few days and then get a good set of mole grips on what's left of the screw and with a bit of luck and patience they'll be out in no time. At least mine did...

Best of....

PS a bit of heat won't go a miss
M McAndrew

I'm with growler,carefully file / grind the heads off till flush, dot punch in centre and start with small drill bits and work up
usually thread will come out, if not once you get to the tapping size run a tap through it.
I hate ezy outs once had one snap. Trying to get hardened steel out is no fun!!!
Ed H

Another vote for the Irwin set - excellent product! Removed all my stubborn bolts / nuts in seconds!
N Parr

I see you're going to use heat this time but make things easy for yourself next time and use a good releasing fluid and patience next time

of course not everyone wants things to be easy, not macho enough
Nigel Atkins

hit the screw heads as hard as you can with a blow torch/butane torch/etc.

When HOT, spray heavily with WD-40 or GT85 penetrating oil - the heat will suck the oil into the threads and you will be able to see this happen.

Worst case, go and buy/find a cheap 1/4" extension bar, grind the end down a touch and weld it to the screw head, again, with the heat hit it with penetrating oil then use a ratchet to remove it - cut the screw off - repeat on other screws

Heat them with a hammer, but hit them with a blow torch.

Yup that would be my approach too. :)

I've got a tin hat on now, just in case. lol.
Lawrence Slater

and for the 3 with good screw heads an Impact driver with the correct size tip. :)
Greg H

Oooh! I like the look of the external screw extractors. Much safer than internal ones.

I shall put them on my letter to Santa.

I use a four part approach. I have a neighbor who works at a local refinery, and they make an industrial penetrating fluid called "Nuts Off" (I know, but it does exist, see attached image) to start the process. Next the impact driver with appropriate tip (although I also want to try Prop's external EZ out suggestion next time). The hammer has two purposes, first the impact driver, and second (very important) to smash the offending part on the anvil until it's as flat as possible! Lastly, I use anti-seize on the threads of the new fastener to avoid future problems (for number one son).


Larry C.

Larry C '69 Midget

for those screws the 'Nuts Off' plus time and patience will work, then pliers on one and screwdriver on the other - no need for the sledgehammer to crack a nut (or screw)

a releasing fluid called 'Rapidease' was used to release fittings that had been underground in earth for up to 60-80 years, PlusGas is probably equally as good

a note: those EZ extractors require access to the full depth of the bolt head which you normally have but not always, don't ask how I know this
Nigel Atkins


The three pound hammer is my tool of choice after removing the bolt, or screw that gave me trouble. Call it therapy if you must, but I feel so much better after the offending part is smashed flat!

Roof still off on PON307G, and we have our club Christmas party tomorrow afternoon. We'll see what the weather brings.


Larry C.
Larry C '69 Midget

once the item is off the car fine hit it with what you like - I've often wanted to hit computers with heavy hammers

three pound though Larry, you've not got enough anger

I can remember when I was much younger using a four pound hand lump hammer to do some work and my wise on neighbour pointed out it was far too heavy and I'd be using more energy to hold it that use it and to swap to a two pound hand lump hammer instead

take the hardtop off regardless unless your soft top leaks badly then you have the choice of roof up or down or up for one part of the day or journey or down for part of the day or journey
Nigel Atkins


Last night I got the bolts removed. Interesting they took a mixture of techniques.

The two bolts on the right hand side came away just by using the mini crème brulee blow torch on the nuts and a flat head screwdriver hammered into what was left of the head.

The other two though just wouldn't budge, so I ended up drilling the heads off. Then drilling into the centre to create a hole and then drove a small star bit into it. Then used a spanner to undo the bolts. Worked well and without damaging the tread.

Thanks for all the advice, especially Nigel about using a little Copperease for next time!

Many thanks


J Paul


Good work, and threads look to be in fine shape. Agree with the use of anti-seize for future removal.


In my younger days a larger hammer was the order of the day, and I took care of business straight away. These days if I do battle with a rusted part I place it carefully in a special place on my work bench, and return another day when fully rested to put the three pound hammer to good use. Very satisfying, and highly recommended.


Larry C.

Larry C '69 Midget

it's surprising how often obvious things like a dab of Copperease can be overlooked or forgotten and Sod's Law it'll always be where it was required

fun though adapting tools is and using kitchen tools (how many people have or use a Creme Brulee torch!) I still suggest clean/clearing the area then a soaking of PlusGas well in advance to make the work easy, anyway eventually you run out of old tools to sacrifice

all I want to do if I've been forced to work on the car and had a hard time is to gather the tools (always loads of them even for the simplest jobs) ready for cleaning later

I've not broken anything for the satisfaction of it for years but computers can bring it mind very quickly
Nigel Atkins

This thread was discussed between 29/11/2012 and 03/12/2012

MG Midget and Sprite Technical index

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