Vibroshock - A "magic" wee tool

Crossthreaded

Active Member
Apr 16, 2019
448
127
I wasn't very sure where best to make this post because it's about a tool rather than a car, so apologies if I'm in the wrong place with it.

It's a tool I became aware of maybe 10 years ago or so when we were going over to visit our daughter and family regularly in the 'States when they were living there. I saw it whilst wandering around one of the massive tool stores they have over there situated in an equally massive mall while my wife and daughter were on a shopping spree - I'd "lost" them! The tool was part of a video feature being displayed on a screen and I could immediately see a use for it - if it actually worked. (I've long been a fan of the "extended tapping" method of freeing seized fixings) I'd never seen it over here and would go back to drool over it each time we visited. Then finally, in 2019, I came across it being advertised over here by a local "tool van" chap, considerably cheaper than I'd seen it in the U.S. and I couldn't resist. Here's a video which shows it and how it's used (hope I'm not breaking any forum rules by posting this link?):


The big "secret" about how it works lies in those special sockets. You can see from the video how shallow the hex section is? It's this which allows the vibrations to be directly applied to the fixing. Take the example of that bleed nipple. Used with the included "special" socket, the vibrations will be transferred into the nipple directly which in turn will cause the threads themselves to be "jarred" by the vibration and it's this which will ultimately loosen the fixing. It works very well indeed on stuff like the bleed nipple (I actually haven't snapped one since I bought this tool - and I work mostly on older cars) also on almost anything screwed into a casting, like for instance water pump or thermostat housing bolts. Where it's not so good is the sort of situation where you've, perhaps, got a bolt holding two components together with a nut on the other side. You can hammer away as much as you like on that bolt head but it's not going to do much by way of slackening that nut on the other end.

The other thing to take on board is that it's the vibrations which do the loosening. If you apply the tool, pull the airgun trigger and immediately expect to be able to undo the fixing you'll probably end up just snapping it. You need to let it vibrate for a while against the fixing whilst at the same time applying only moderate pressure to the lever which is turning the socket. Be patient, sometimes it will take a few minutes of hammering before it'll slacken and that can seem like for ever. A good clean up with a wire brush and a liberal squirt of Plus Gas - or whatever your release oil of choice may be - helps a lot too. If I know I've got a "dodgy" one to do I usually apply the release oil the night before and then give it a second spray before I turn my compressor on and get my tools ready.

Once you understand how the tool works and, maybe more important, what it won't work very well on, you can start getting quite inventive with what you can tackle with it. I bought it primarily to do bleed nipples as I really don't like applying vast amounts of heat to calipers and brake cylinders as is the "traditional" way to get this sort of job done, But the first job I tackled with it was when I had a rear caliper to renew on my daughter in law's Jazz (2008) IDSI. The handbrake cable outer sheath is held in a very substantial steel bracket which is bolted to the aluminium caliper with two substantial bolts unfortunately the threaded holes in the caliper are "through" holes so the threaded end of the bolt is open to the elements. An almost perfect recipe for corrosion, aided by the electrolytic action between the steel and aluminium with some road salt added in for good measure. I'd been warned by a chap I know who runs a wee Honda indy garage, that I could expect a "fight" so I soaked them well the night before and "attacked" them with the Vibroshock. They were both out on the workbench within about 5 minutes. and I'm very sure they would have snapped off if I'd tried to simply unscrew them.

Since then I've had great success with bleed nipples in particular but also some other slightly "left field" jobs. The latest being yesterday when my oldest boy rang up to say his O/S/R brake light wasn't working. He was sure it was just a bulb but he couldn't get the bottom screw out of the rear lamp cluster - "Sorry Dad", said he, "I'm afraid I've made a bit of a mess of the screw head. Could I come round when I've finished work"? The screw, A pozi headed machine type screw, was quite well "mangled" mostly because he'd been trying to use a smallish DIY quality (so read "soft") Phillips screwdriver on a screw designed for a Pozi3 bit. I cobbled up this:

P1100279.JPG


Which, when assembled to the air hammer, looked like this:

P1100281.JPG


and after about 2 to 3 minutes of hammering the screw, quite easily, gave in and unscrewed. The bulb change went well and the screws went back in with a wee "dod" of ceramic anti seize paste, which should make future "undoings" easy. Although my brain was shouting "No!, Leave well alone"! I did actually remove the two screws on the N/S unit, clean them up and give them a bit of anti seize too. They actually came out just fine but then I remembered we'd replaced that light unit about 4 years ago (LED taillights so you can't just change the bulb when a taillight fails!) I hadn't put any anti seize on them though. If you've been following me you'll understand that this was a good candidate for the Vibro tool because the vibrating force was being applied from the tool directly down the axis of the setscrew where it could act directly on the thread/socket interface. The only thing that worried me slightly is that the thread is an insert - like a Rivnut - (installed like a pop rivet in the sheet metal of the body) and I worried the vibration might just slacken the insert rather than jarring the corroded threads loose. However this didn't happen and because, although the centre part of the screwhead had been damaged by the, too small, Philips screwdriver the outer part of the four grooves was still intact so the "proper", larger diameter of the Pozi3 bit was still able to get a good "bite".

So there you are. A wee recommendation for an unusual tool from me. The only thing is you'll need an air hammer and a suitably "meaty" compressor to drive it so probably not a tool to be considered by a "weekend driveway grease monkey" but if you are quite seriously into messing about with vehicles and other machinery (I have a fascination for vintage horticultural machinery and elderly small engined motor cycles too) then this is a "luxury" tool with limited application but which works very well that you might like to consider.

Also, while we are loosely on the subject of air compressors and air tools? A few years ago, after some 40 years with a small capacity compressor, I treated myself to a "serious" bit of kit (3hp, belt drive 14 cu/ft - so maybe 9 to 10 cu ft free air - on a 100 litre tank). I decided to update my airlines at the same time so had to buy new connectors. The thing is the new compressor came with the newer "euro" type connectors and all my stuff was on the older "PCL" type. Here's a picture of the two:

P1100283.JPG


The newer connector is on the left. You can clearly see how much more air it is capable of flowing. I bought my new connectors from Pirtek, who have a depot near me. Not perhaps the cheapest but very good quality stuff which I expect to out last me! My old airline was the typical quarter inch bore stuff which I took in with me to get them to properly crimp the connectors onto. We had quite a talk about air delivery and how a hose that small on a setup with the potential I now have would limit my equipment's potential. (in particular I have a large and potentially powerful Chicago Pneumatic air gun) After a lot of thought I bought a length of half inch bore hose which connects the tank to my mobile regulator (mounted on a stand so I can move it around the workshop) and some three eights bore hose to run from the regulator to the tools. All with quick connectors so I can interchange tools quickly. The result has been nothing short of spectacular. My tyre inflating line still runs on the old quarter inc bore hose and works fine on it but everything else runs with the Euro connectors. It has quite literally turned the CP air gun into a Hooligan! So folks, if you've got air tools and a half reasonable compressor, maybe you're missing out on a lot of power and usability simply due to using too small a diameter hose? I wouldn't have believed the difference if I hadn't experienced it for myself!

Oh, and by the way, You'll find it difficult to find more sockets than those that come with the kit. Initially this disappointed me but, once you understand how the socket applies the vibrations to the workpiece you can start, very easily and cheaply, modify existing tools to work in the same way. For instance if you needed a bigger socket than was in the kit then simply using it without modification would not work:

P1100276.JPG


Because the head is "buried" in the socket, the end of the socket would vibrate against the casting without transferring any forces to the bolt itself and so it wouldn't be "jarring" the corroded thread. However, stick a nut, or other distance piece in the end of the socket:

P1100274.JPG


and now the forces will be applied to the end of the bolt:

P1100277.JPG


Once you get your head round this you can apply vibro forces to lots of situations.

Hope you all enjoyed that. I'd be very interested to hear of other applications if anyone else is using kit like this.
 

RUM4MO

Active Member
Jun 4, 2008
7,185
777
South Scotland
Very interesting, though probably annoying for my wallet, I’ll look into this.

I/D of comp air fittings, yes, when I eventually got a small compressor, I admit that I did just go for the small PCL fittings, then bought a vac coolant refill kit, which worked okay with these small fittings, but I then bought a cheap vac brake fluid bleeder that claimed to use more air so I changed everything to PCL maybe XF versions of fittings - I’ve not used that brake fluid vac kit yet, I was only intending to use it so that I could run my Gunson pressure bleeder at low pressure level.
I worked my entire working life at Ferranti > etc > etc > etc, ie many name changes, and mech maint seemed to be committed to only ever using 3/8 fittings for all comp air stuff, okay it was good quality Norgren “isolate>vent>release” at every outlet, but also all other users only ever fitted open ended adaptors, so that was not clever. Being employed as an electronic test engineer I rocked the boat and made everything I was using safe and even dared to introduce 1/2” fittings where I felt they were needed. Then for supplying high volumes of cooling air, I even demanded being provided with 3/4” supplies. All good stuff. I was even bad enough to remove quality Norgren fittings for older buildings and remove newer cheaper nasty fittings and replace with these older safer Norgren “isolate>vent>release” ones!
 
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Crossthreaded

Active Member
Apr 16, 2019
448
127
I started this thread off primarily to inform folk of the Vibroshock tool which has been an absolute revelation to me, especially where rusted bleed nipples are involved. However it occurs to me that many people will not be aware of what a useful general purpose tool the air hammer is? When I first became aware of air hammers - or air chisels as many people call them - that was what I thought they were mainly used for, namely cutting sheet metal (dented wings etc) with a chisel bit. Then one day I saw a chap in the workshop using one to do this:


Up until then I'd either used a "proper" ball joint splitter or used a hammer to hit the joint in the same way as this video shows the air hammer being used, I don't like the "pickle fork" type because they invariably damage the rubber boot. Trouble with using a hammer is that you've got to be really accurate if you're not to cause "collateral" damage and the air hammer, once you've got the hang of it, is so much more accurate. In particular the air hammer method is especially useful on bottom ball joints like my daughter in law's Jazz uses. In that application the ball joint is of the taper type but enters the hub/upright casting from the bottom and is held in place with a nut screwed down from the top so it's positioned between the casting and CV joint. You just can't use a scissors type ball joint splitter on it without some major dismantling of the hub and removing the CV from the wheel bearing (let sleeping dogs lie I say) - and Honda aren't the only one to do it this way. In the past I've usually split this type by holding a large heavy hammer head on one side of the casting while hitting the other side with my 1lb ball pein hammer. The air hammer with flat punch just does this so well and so quickly.

Another example, more directly linked to vibro loosening of rusted fixings is to use it as shown in this video:


Personally I like to smother it in Plus Gas before I start and I prefer to weld a nut to the stud before winding it out as I think the extra heat helps with the loosening and doesn't stop you hitting it again with the air hammer if it proves extra solid and needs some extra "persuasion". I do like the look of those extractor sets though don't you? Just haven't been able to justify spending out on a set yet.

So, if you're seriously into cars and can afford or already have an air compressor - perhaps to drive an air gun for loosening wheel nuts etc - then you should think seriously about buying an air hammer/chisel. You'll be surprised what they can do!

Edit. But don't buy a "cheap and nasty". Cheapies often don't hit very hard and may not be very durable - it's a violent wee tool with a "slug" inside which does the hammering. It can fail if not made of quality material.
 
Last edited:

SuperV8

Active Member
May 30, 2019
697
302
I wasn't very sure where best to make this post because it's about a tool rather than a car, so apologies if I'm in the wrong place with it.

It's a tool I became aware of maybe 10 years ago or so when we were going over to visit our daughter and family regularly in the 'States when they were living there. I saw it whilst wandering around one of the massive tool stores they have over there situated in an equally massive mall while my wife and daughter were on a shopping spree - I'd "lost" them! The tool was part of a video feature being displayed on a screen and I could immediately see a use for it - if it actually worked. (I've long been a fan of the "extended tapping" method of freeing seized fixings) I'd never seen it over here and would go back to drool over it each time we visited. Then finally, in 2019, I came across it being advertised over here by a local "tool van" chap, considerably cheaper than I'd seen it in the U.S. and I couldn't resist. Here's a video which shows it and how it's used (hope I'm not breaking any forum rules by posting this link?):


The big "secret" about how it works lies in those special sockets. You can see from the video how shallow the hex section is? It's this which allows the vibrations to be directly applied to the fixing. Take the example of that bleed nipple. Used with the included "special" socket, the vibrations will be transferred into the nipple directly which in turn will cause the threads themselves to be "jarred" by the vibration and it's this which will ultimately loosen the fixing. It works very well indeed on stuff like the bleed nipple (I actually haven't snapped one since I bought this tool - and I work mostly on older cars) also on almost anything screwed into a casting, like for instance water pump or thermostat housing bolts. Where it's not so good is the sort of situation where you've, perhaps, got a bolt holding two components together with a nut on the other side. You can hammer away as much as you like on that bolt head but it's not going to do much by way of slackening that nut on the other end.

The other thing to take on board is that it's the vibrations which do the loosening. If you apply the tool, pull the airgun trigger and immediately expect to be able to undo the fixing you'll probably end up just snapping it. You need to let it vibrate for a while against the fixing whilst at the same time applying only moderate pressure to the lever which is turning the socket. Be patient, sometimes it will take a few minutes of hammering before it'll slacken and that can seem like for ever. A good clean up with a wire brush and a liberal squirt of Plus Gas - or whatever your release oil of choice may be - helps a lot too. If I know I've got a "dodgy" one to do I usually apply the release oil the night before and then give it a second spray before I turn my compressor on and get my tools ready.

Once you understand how the tool works and, maybe more important, what it won't work very well on, you can start getting quite inventive with what you can tackle with it. I bought it primarily to do bleed nipples as I really don't like applying vast amounts of heat to calipers and brake cylinders as is the "traditional" way to get this sort of job done, But the first job I tackled with it was when I had a rear caliper to renew on my daughter in law's Jazz (2008) IDSI. The handbrake cable outer sheath is held in a very substantial steel bracket which is bolted to the aluminium caliper with two substantial bolts unfortunately the threaded holes in the caliper are "through" holes so the threaded end of the bolt is open to the elements. An almost perfect recipe for corrosion, aided by the electrolytic action between the steel and aluminium with some road salt added in for good measure. I'd been warned by a chap I know who runs a wee Honda indy garage, that I could expect a "fight" so I soaked them well the night before and "attacked" them with the Vibroshock. They were both out on the workbench within about 5 minutes. and I'm very sure they would have snapped off if I'd tried to simply unscrew them.

Since then I've had great success with bleed nipples in particular but also some other slightly "left field" jobs. The latest being yesterday when my oldest boy rang up to say his O/S/R brake light wasn't working. He was sure it was just a bulb but he couldn't get the bottom screw out of the rear lamp cluster - "Sorry Dad", said he, "I'm afraid I've made a bit of a mess of the screw head. Could I come round when I've finished work"? The screw, A pozi headed machine type screw, was quite well "mangled" mostly because he'd been trying to use a smallish DIY quality (so read "soft") Phillips screwdriver on a screw designed for a Pozi3 bit. I cobbled up this:

View attachment 31491

Which, when assembled to the air hammer, looked like this:

View attachment 31492

and after about 2 to 3 minutes of hammering the screw, quite easily, gave in and unscrewed. The bulb change went well and the screws went back in with a wee "dod" of ceramic anti seize paste, which should make future "undoings" easy. Although my brain was shouting "No!, Leave well alone"! I did actually remove the two screws on the N/S unit, clean them up and give them a bit of anti seize too. They actually came out just fine but then I remembered we'd replaced that light unit about 4 years ago (LED taillights so you can't just change the bulb when a taillight fails!) I hadn't put any anti seize on them though. If you've been following me you'll understand that this was a good candidate for the Vibro tool because the vibrating force was being applied from the tool directly down the axis of the setscrew where it could act directly on the thread/socket interface. The only thing that worried me slightly is that the thread is an insert - like a Rivnut - (installed like a pop rivet in the sheet metal of the body) and I worried the vibration might just slacken the insert rather than jarring the corroded threads loose. However this didn't happen and because, although the centre part of the screwhead had been damaged by the, too small, Philips screwdriver the outer part of the four grooves was still intact so the "proper", larger diameter of the Pozi3 bit was still able to get a good "bite".
I wonder how much impact energy an air hammer imparts compared to a SDS drill with stop?
Just thinking out loud! an SDS drill would be a common tool for most DIYers - would just need the correct adapter/chisel bit. Not as compact as an air hammer though, but free if you already have one and no air compressor required.

Quick google suggests a decent air hammer has a similar impact energy to an SDS Max drill, but I would think a cheap air hammer would be more inline with your usual SDS drill?

1.7 Joules
bosch-650w-sds-hammer-drill

10 Joules
Einhell 1050W SDS Max Rotary Hammer Drill 230V

11 Joules
Air hammer

While air hammers do have their place - I have an air hammer, I really use it. I find my cordless impact driver, and impact wrench amazing tools, which I wouldn't be without.

My 'worst' bolts to remove were the top pinch bolts on my old Audi B6 front suspension. A really long steel bolt which goes through the alloy housing securing 2x top ball joints! I tried all sorts, and that was the reason I brought my air hammer - but it didn't budge, probably as the whole upright is supported by rubber bushings and any impact (even my lump hammer!) is just absorbed! The dealers have a special (£1000!) tool that can press these bolts out. I resorted to cutting then out and pressing them out in pieces with a little heat.
 

RUM4MO

Active Member
Jun 4, 2008
7,185
777
South Scotland
These Audi top pinch bolts are really horrible, many workshops remove the upright and work on them in a bench vise. My experience, so far, or them was okay, but there again the car was a VW Passat B5 which was just really an Audi B5 A4 and some other Audi A6 bits in cheaper clothes, and steel uprights to reduce costs, now getting these pinch bolts out of a steel upright, was tricky but quite possible after using lots of proper penetrating oil over a period in time prior to needing to remove these bolts, you missed the extra info that these top pinch bolts also end up bent when tightened - though in your case you would probably have had a lot more to bother about than "look they are bent"!
 
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Crossthreaded

Active Member
Apr 16, 2019
448
127
Yes I've heard tales of how difficult that design with the "twin" ball joints is to deal with, luckily I've never had to tackle one!

Super V8's ruminations on the use of an SDS drill in "rotation stop" mode initially sounded very interesting. So I went into my garage and dug out mine to "experiment".

It quickly became obvious that there are difficulties in trying to do this. In my case it's the size and weight of the drill which immediately put "the mockers" on it. Here's a picture of it with the air hammer alongside for comparison:

P1100316.JPG

As you can see mine's just so darned big. It's so heavy too that you need both hands to manage it so I couldn't see it being used with the Vibro attachment. However I bought it to help with renovations to the tenement flat my older boy bought when he first fled the nest - we ended up going back to bare floors and walls and starting all over! It's altogether a bit of a beast of a machine and was ideal for that purpose. In terms of percussive energy I think it's the equal of the air hammer. Of course you can buy smaller SDS drills so maybe one of those might work in respect of weight. It's still going to be considerably bigger than the air hammer though. Then I realized that when you engage roto stop it does just that - stops the chuck rotating. The problem with this is that you need to be able to rotate the vibro attachment to undo the fixing you are "attacking" so maybe you could get round this by turning the whole drill with the attachment? but it's going to be awkward.

My SDS drill - actually a middle isle special from Aldi which has surprised me with how robust it's been - comes with an accessory pack of drills, chizels, etc and a half inch (is that 13mm?) 3 jaw chuck so you can use standard drills in it. The Vibro attachment can be slotted into the chuck as it's less than 13mm on it's shank:

P1100318.JPG

but the drill's instruction sheet very firmly forbids the use of the chuck adaptor in percussive mode, and I'm not surprised as it's percussive energy is considerable - far more violent than my large hammer drill. Maybe this would be permissible with a smaller SDS drill though?

I've been having a good look around on websites to see if anyone does a suitable adaptor to enable air hammer bits to be used in SDS drills but so far the only thing I've come across is the chuck I already have, which, among other problems, doesn't address the problem of being able to rotate the Vibro attachment with the SDS drill in roto stop mode.

So, I think, maybe just in an absolute emergency, where access is good and you're willing to perhaps damage/write off the chuck adaptor, you might be able to use an SDS drill to do this - but I'm very glad I have my air hammer so don't have to contemplate it!
 
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SuperV8

Active Member
May 30, 2019
697
302
These Audi top pinch bolts are really horrible, many workshops remove the upright and work on them in a bench vise. My experience, so far, or them was okay, but there again the car was a VW Passat B5 which was just really an Audi B5 A4 and some other Audi A6 bits in cheaper clothes, and steel uprights to reduce costs, now getting these pinch bolts out of a steel upright, was tricky but quite possible after using lots of proper penetrating oil over a period in time prior to needing to remove these bolts, you missed the extra info that these top pinch bolts also end up bent when tightened - though in your case you would probably have had a lot more to bother about than "look they are bent"!
Yes, drenched them in penetrating oil over several days prior - but the bolts are very long I didn't think it really did much. The alloy hole literally grew around the plain shank of the bolt.
Yes, taking out the whole upright was my last option as it would have involved removing driveshafts/lower arms - but in retrospect it would have been quicker.
Had new bolts so wasn't worried about bent or damage to the bolts. I literally coated them in ant seize grease when re-installed so hopefully the next unlucky person would have an easier time!
 
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