"Helicoil" installation without the insert tool? Need advice

I have never had much luck in using Helicoil thread inserts - even when I used a kit. Now I am trying to do so without buying a kit.
I am trying to install (1) 1/4-28 thread insert. Because of a relatively thin wall condition, a thin wall solid thread insert is out of the question (my prefered solution for thread inserts). About 15 - 20 years ago I aquired a strip of 1/28 thread inserts (brand unkbown). So I figured that I would buy a 1/4-28 thrd insert tap from McMaster- Carr and fumble thru getting the one thread installed (and have the tap available to use in the future).
No luck in fumbling thru with it. I tried to twist the insert to reduce the OD, I tried to deform the end of the insert to make it undersize, I tried to install the insert backwards, I threaded the insert on a short 1/4-28 SHCS to use as an install tool. Looking in the McMaster catalog, I see that the installation tool for the 1/4-28 is a winder style to reduce the OD of the insert for $32+. For those of you who use these regularily and know what you are doing - advice please. Obviously, I am not overly interested in spending more money to install one insert.
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The older reminders were made of plastic. I think they had a tapered hole tapped for the insert being used.....
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"prewinders"...damn spell checker....
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On Mar 5, 10:04 am, snipped-for-privacy@c3net.net wrote:

There's a number of different brands of inserts, there's no standard tap, though. If you're trying to use a different brand of insert with a Helicoil-tapped hole, it may not go. The gizmo I've seen on the chain auto-parts store pegs with the Helicoil kit was just a T-handle with a slot on the bottom, the shank was just under clearance size for the Helicoil hole. The idea being that you'd crank on the horizontal peg on the insert and it would shrink the thing just enough to get it into the hole. When you got it flush, you gave the peg a rap to bust it off and leave the threaded hole clear. The T-handle would only take a few minutes on a lathe to make up. The kits were only like $10, last I looked, included a few inserts, the drill, tap and handle gizmo. I use them only once in a blue-moon, so have no idea what current prices are.
Stan
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Stan, others:
Follow-up question. I am trying to visualize making a prewinder. I understand making the OD of the prewinder undersize to the ID of the threads. I could slot the end of the prewinder to secure the break- off tang on the insert to the prewinder. How do I grab/secure the other end of the insert? I am trying to visualize trying to hold the insert in my fingers while trying to twist the prewinder - not sure if I will be able to do so. Other suggestions for holding the upper end of the insert? BTW, I have 20 to 30 of these inserts to play with and only need to fix one stripped thread (atleast for this project).
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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ You don't have to. As you insert it, the friction between the insert and the threads will cause it to wind up on the insertion tool just enough to let it slide. It's a feedback situation. Too little windup=more friction.
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You can make an insertion tool with a 1/4-28 bolt. Looking at the end of the bolt, rotate it until you see exactly 1 full thread. Notch fully through the thread with a hack saw for a nice square shoulder, and grind or file the rest of the thread lead away for at least 270 degrees. Welding on a tee handle is especially nice, but a socket and ratchet works almost as well.
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    [ ... ]

    Turn a shaft a bit smaller than the ID of the insert as installed (smaller than the minor diameter of the 1/4-28 thread as tapped in solid metal) -- probably the tap drill diameter for 1/4-28.
    Cut a notch in the end of it about twice the thickness of the bent cross section.
    Cross drill near the other end and put in a crank handle.
    Bore a tube into which the insert will slide, and leave the last 1/4" or so tap size for the insert tap.
    Tap the last 1/4" or so with the tap you use for the inserts (28 TPI, but something larger in diameter). (You *might* be able to get away with just turning this last part to the OD of the tap you used for the insert installation.)
    Slide the insert, with the cross bent end first, into the tube, Follow it with the notched shaft and engage the cross bent end. Start to crank clockwise until the insert just shows flush with the threaded end.
    Official versions have a window near the reduced diameter end half the diameter and long enough to allow the longest insert to be installed without fully withdrawing the crank, which is typically captive.
    Place the end against the tapped hole in your workpiece, and wind the insert out of the tube and into the workpiece thread.
    Once it is in place, withdraw the slotted crank, and using a smaller diameter pin and a small hammer, break off the cross-pin and withdraw it with a magnet.
    This is based on several Helicoil install kits which I have acquired at a hamfest.
    Good Luck,         DoN.
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For 1/4 28 helicoil you can probably use a regular yellow pencil with a slot cut in the end and twist it in to the freshly tapped hole. The pencil might be a bit too big around, but you could thin it a bit if that was the case.
Another alternative is to use a set of thin forceps or needle nose pliers to grip the tang and thread it in.
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Roger:
As part of my fumbling with the insert, I one of my trials was to grab the insert by the tang with a pair of very long slender needle nose pliers but I could never get the first thread insert to engage into the tapped bore (part of why I have come to the conclustion that I need to prewind the insert to an unsersize diameter).
All:
thanks for the suggestions, I have jotted down notes and will incorporate your suggestions tomorrow (unfortunately my shop is 10 mile from home and I only get there a couple of times per week - preventing me from completing this simple task yesterday or this evening)

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On Thu, 5 Mar 2009 09:04:59 -0800 (PST), snipped-for-privacy@c3net.net wrote:

Find someone with the installer tool and pay them to install it. Still cheaper than buying the tool, and it will be done right. Or let the moths out of your wallet and buy the tool. Then you can install the rest of those inserts for someone who doesn't have/need the tool, and pay for it that way.
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snipped-for-privacy@c3net.net writes:

I'm curious -- what problems have you had? I've had very consistent good luck with Heli-coils, going into both steel and aluminum...
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You are using a thread inset tap right? They are special taps. You can't use a regular tap.
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I had success with making an undersize winder, using the tang as a drive feature *and* restraining the upper end of the insert with my fingertips to wind the insert undersize prior to getting it to feed in to the tapped hole. It actually took 3 tries (destroyed 2 inserts that got stuck half way in the hole). If that had not worked I was going to fab a sleeve as reccomended by one of the other posters. This repair was for a fuel pump for my '61 Ford Falcon. The pump is made up of a series of castings bolted together. Pump is back in the car and I even fired the engine up last Saturday.
After I was done I gathered up the remaining inserts and counted them - what I thought was approx 30 pcs is more like 110 pcs. I gathered all the inserts, the tap and my winder (a 1/4-20 bolt turned to slightly less than the minor dia of the threads).
Pirateer guy: Yes, I am using a special tap for this size/pitch of thread insert but the brand of insert is a mystery so I was not expecting perfect results in getting the insert to wind into the tapped bore. As belt and suspenders, I used Loc-tite on the OD of the insert. The bolt into the insert was a tight fit (expected since the inserts have the deformed thread to retain the fastener) and the insert held during 2 or 3 trial assembly and diassembly operations.
On Mar 11, 6:53 pm, Dan@ (Pirateer guy) wrote:

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2009λ…„ 3μ›” 6일 κΈˆμš”μΌ μ˜€μ „ 2μ‹œ 4λΆ„ 59초 UTC+9, (μ•Œ 수 μ—†μŒ) λ‹˜μ˜ 말:

If you need HELICOIL, Please cotnact us by e-mail
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How about a 3/16" dowel with a saw slot across the end?
Or the equivalent made of metal, if you can.
jsw
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wrote ...

In a couple cases I succeeded in installing an insert using a pair of wire forming pliers. Not ideal, but it got the job done. For a tough fit a drill bit with a slot cut in the back with a Dremel fiber wheel, and a pair of locking pliers to hold the bit work also. I have not had good luck with cheap steel rod stock, but it may also work if the tap is a good match to the coil.
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Usually I'll simply grind a "notch" into a mating bolt that engages the helicoil tang , with sort of "sloped facet" so that the tang doesn't snag and end up backing the helicoilout out when the bolt is withdrawn....
That said, most auto part supply stores will have a reasonably priced plastic insertion tool available that should work just fine so long as you're not installing thread inserts by the dozens, and so if I was heading to town to buy some helicoils anyways well then perhaps...
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wrote:

You guys DO realize that the original thread is like 3 years old? Some chink spammer resurrected it.
Stan
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Yes.
No idea where the spammer hails from, it really does not matter....
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