Retrieving Missing Screws

November 25, 2011

All Posts, Cheese Whiz, How To

Dear Rebel,

I dropped this little screw between my cylinders and now I can’t reach it. I don’t have a hemostat. I don’t want to go buy another screw. What can I do?

Big Otto


Dear Big Otto,

First of all Otto, welcome home. Second, you should own a hemostat. When you sober up, go buy one. They only cost two bucks. I am guessing your mechanical skills are advanced enough that you own a flathead screwdriver. Here’s what you do.

Remove the seat from your bike by loosening the seat screw with either an Allen wrench or a Phillip’s head screw driver. Whatever you do, don’t lose that screw. Try to find your battery. Disconnect both battery cables.

Tightly wrap the blade of a flathead screwdriver with about two feet of insulated, copper wire. Leave about two inches of wire on each end loose. Strip and straighten out the loose ends of the insulated wire.

Study the distance between the positive and negative terminals on your battery and try to hold that picture in your mind. Arrange the stripped wire ends so they are about the same distance apart as the terminals on your battery.

Put on sunglasses. Put on leather gloves. Wrap the handle of the screwdriver with rags. Do not use oily rags.

Touch one bare end of the wire to the positive battery terminal. Touch the other end of the wire to the negative terminal. Do not be alarmed.

Drop the screwdriver when it becomes too hot to hold or when the rags begin to smoke after four or five seconds. Extinguish all fires. Remove gloves and sunglasses. Drink beer while the screwdriver cools.

Remove the insulated wire. Your screwdriver is now magnetized. Stick the magnetized blade into the last known location of your missing screw. Sort of move it around in there. Pull it out every once in a while and look at it. Stop when the missing screw appears on the end of your screwdriver.

Your pal,




34 Responses to “Retrieving Missing Screws”

  1. observer Says:

    Hifknlarious! Awesome low/high tech solution,also, sort of thing I imagine astronauts having to do from time to time.

  2. sled tramp Says:

    Good idea….I’ve had a screw loose for years.

  3. YYZ Skinhead Says:

    If anyone watches The Simpsons, this article reminds me of the Deep Space Homer episode where Homer on the space shuttle opens a bag of Ruffles in zero gravity and ends up crashing into an experimental ant farm. Buzz Aldrin: “You fool! Now we’ll never know if ants can be trained to sort screws in space!”

    YYZ Skinhead

  4. The Creep Says:

    YYZ Skinhead,

    HAHAHAHAHA! I had forgotten about that!

  5. The Creep Says:

    DAMN IT! Wrong link. That was Ron Livingston re-enacting keyboard cat. This si the correct one.

  6. Duck Says:

    Wow. Just lost a perfectly good swig of beer all over my computer. thanks man. haha

  7. Gunny4Sawx Says:

    Maybe someday I can go to Villanova. But for now I’ll have to settle on attending 61 seconds at a time.
    Thanks for the maintenance tips Rebel

  8. RVN69 Says:

    I would try this except for the fact that I think eletricity is some type of voodoo magic. Everytime I try to change a light bulb or fuse something very bad happens. I could see me trying to magnatize a screw driver, shorting out my battery, setting my bike on fire, which sets my house on fire, causing the 500 gal propane tank outside to explode. When the volunteer Fire Dept finally arrrived they would find me standing outside the smoking rubble of my abode in charred clothing, grimly clutching a bent screwdriver, staring at the molten remains of my bike mumbling about bad ju ju.

  9. Square Verbose Doc Says:

    I think that is is possible to purchase a magnetized screwdriver, thus outsourcing the risk of charred clothes, vaporized machinery etc.
    But where’s the fun in that?

  10. YYZ Skinhead Says:

    The Creep,

    I always LOL at that clip, in addition to digging all the 2001 jokes and the awesome music.

    YYZ Skinhead

  11. JAMES Says:

    DUDE, just send me an address and I will send you $0.25cents for a new screw.

  12. sled tramp Says:

    See,now THAT’s what I’m talkin’ about! Around here a screw costs 2 bucks.

  13. Philo Says:

    Hey Rebel,

    after tryin to explain it five or ten times, i had an idea for one of these cheese-wiz articles: for people living up north, how to winterize your bike if your to fucking broke for storage and don’t own a garage.

    see, that way i could just point people here instead of having to talk to them :P


  14. Stroker Says:

    ok………..yer on da side of the road, ain’t got no copper wire,
    lost a screw of the aforementioned type, and you gotta work with
    whatever you got. try this: AFTER the bike cools down…..get yer
    favorite screwdriver, now try to find something STCKY! Chewing gum is best, but if ya don’t have any, be imaginative. Roadside tar on a hot day will work, or maybe look for gum under a roadside rest table, or scrape a nice sticky bug off yer windshield/headlamp/glasses/face, maybe some cheese from a roach coach burrito, or pine tree sap, or….well hey, the possibilities are endless! Take said sticky substance, stick on screwdriver, and probe area where missing screw went. I used reverse rolled electrical tape to the same purpose one time.

    Hey, just sharing.

    Rebel’s idea sounds more fun though.

  15. KK Says:

    Speaking of screws or screwed take a peek at this:

    Rebel, I enjoy the site whenever I can. Thanks


  16. Square Verbose Doc Says:

    I think the eagle is screaming because the moco is charging $39.95.

  17. bob Says:

    haven’t looked yet,but there’s probably a similar gadget available from Harbor Freight for less than ten bucks.

  18. sled tramp Says:

    I have a screaming nut grabber but she’s always busy when I need her.Actually, she’s waving a hemostat at me as I speak….hmmmmmm,maybe I have a screw loose…

  19. YYZ Skinhead Says:

    When did the MoFoCo hire a fetish porn writer to describe their gear? (???)

    YYZ Skinhead

  20. Bobby shovel Says:

    Hey Rebel,just ordered the 2 books at Amazon. I clicked the box requesting Kindle version-thanks for the heads up. When I started reading Big Auto’s tech question, I remember doing that in the Sac valley, late 60’s. An air cleaner backing plate screw got stuck on the intake seat/valve on a shovel. Did the screwdriver trick, slowly moved the kicker to relieve pressure, and pulled it out. It was cool seeing it here. Thanks for doing this Great site. It’s too bad people with crappy intension have to come here and waste time. Merry Christmas Rebel, and to all the Real People, BobbyShovel

  21. Stroker Says:

    Broken rear tail light lens, and it’s 2am, and you’ve been at the bar,
    and ya don’t want da Man to notice yer rear lights not red…..
    whaddya do??!!! Go back to da bar, but not for another drink stupid,
    grab a handful of the little red bar straws they have on the bar, beg,
    borrow or steal some scotch tape from the waitress you scored with last
    time you were there, and tape ’em to yer rear lamp. VOILA! Instant
    tail-lamp lens repair! Now take yer cut off, and sneak on home (or to
    the waitress’s house).

  22. sherides Says:

    and this advice is based on personal experience?

    At any rate, I chuckled and after the craptacular day I’ve had in my office cubicle it was most appreciated.

    PS. I’m pretty sure I’ve seen red duct tape used for the same purpose on cages. I know several people who have a roll of traditional gray duct tape stowed in their bike bags for short term repairs. I am going to mention that they might want to re-think their color selection.


  23. sherides Says:

    uh oh.

    It looks like I’m in the group of those who’s comments are awaiting moderation before they are posted.

    I hope I didn’t post anything previously that would cause this.

  24. Stroker Says:

    to Sherides:
    Yep…………based on personal experience.

  25. Dante Says:

    Can any of you gentlemen tell me how to remove a speedo cable from the front wheel of a 84 flh? I found the tiny set screw on the bottom and removed it but the gd cable does not want to come out.


  26. RVN69 Says:

    Take the speedo cable off the speedo first, then holding it relatively straight, it should screw out of the speedo drive on the front wheel.

  27. Dante Says:

    Awesome thanks!!!

    Funny the book doesn’t mention that part!

  28. Vikingtrotter Says:

    My local FOX news channel in LA is doing a sereirs of exposes on the Vagos every Sunday at 10pm……The first one stated how their master plan was to show how more extreme they are in Cali that HA. Showed what they did to some civilian which was pretty weak. But, the spot showed that they are after HA in a big way in Cali………Just watch L.A. Fox News in LA (ch11) at 10pm next Sunday.

  29. Rebel Says:

    Dear Vikingtrotter,

    Yeah, Fox 11 in el lay. Liz Habib! Lauren Sanchez! Fox 11 LA is a leader in the dialogical news format which consists of telling the sheep what they want to hear.

    The only guy I have ever talked to at that news outlet is Chris Blatchford because he is an actual reporter who has an actual clue and he popped up in the Mongols case.

    I’ll watch the broadcast. It is “sweeps month” you know. And three piece clubs make for great sensationalism.


  30. QUICKY Says:


  31. Mask Says:

    It’s been awhile since I’ve seen them, but my old man had something made for that purpose. It was a litle magnet attached to an extendable rod, that you could drop down into cars, electronics, or other tight spaces to grab dropped screws.

  32. ak rack Says:

    A variation you can try at home or when you’re still at Motel 6 . . .

    Cut the cord off a lamp. Obviously this is safer at Motel 6 because it is much less likely to make your wife angry. Separate the two wires, and strip the insulation off the ends. Take one wire and wrap as many turns around the screwdriver as you can. Don’t overlap the turns. Next, resist the temptation to use all of the strands and just twist one or two of them together. Now plug your suicide magnetizer into the wall. If things go well, the strands will pop just like a fuse and you’ll have a magnet. Or you may trip a circuit breaker, but you’ll still have a magnet. Be prepared for a small fire.

    Don’t let your young kids watch you do this. If everything works out, they’re likely to start experimenting with electricity in ways you’d rather they didn’t. If things go sideways . . . you know, like the fire thing . . . they’re gonna rat you out to make your friends laugh at you. Mine did.

    One last thing — start by unplugging the lamp.

  33. grant philpot Says:

    ff lol lmfao cook your crap until you know how to feed to some one else who is youre enemie thats what these situations are there in life fo f you you spaz dont try to get a life any more this is when you realized you got one already . remeber some immortal word of right now , ( sit on it and rotate ) then see how to make some one else do it ok no dookies in the number two / or one

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