Readers’ Tips—

November 1, 2010 | By John Armstrong

Snug That Loose Mirror

Some time ago I encountered a problem with my side view mirror where it became loose and wouldn’t remain in the position where I set it. Quite possibly you’ve encountered this problem with an aging mirror as well.

In this case, it had nothing to do with the mirror’s mounting to the vehicle. The problem was that the “pivot ball” used for positioning the mirror had become loose over time. This was either due to wear of the ball; the metal that surrounds it; or possibly the internal spring that holds pressure against the ball had loosened.

It’s a situation that can not only be annoying, but can prove to be a safety hazard as well. You take the time to set the mirror just as you need it, minimizing blind spots as best you can, then you hit a bump in the road and your mirror has moved to a point where you see more pavement than oncoming vehicles.

Extending
Extending Your Arm’s Reach Every so often you get into a situation where you’re unable to reach an area where a bolt needs to be inserted. A good example is when working within the frame of a vehicle. The hole may be just a few inches beyond your reach, or an arm’s length away. In either case, there’s no way you’re going to be able to stretch or squirm enough to place that bolt. Here is a better solution than trying to use a magnet, or working with those retractable fingers on the end of a flexible shaft. Take an old metal coat hanger and straighten it out (or use a section of gas welding rod) and epoxy it to the head of the bolt as you see in the photo. I used J-B Weld, but any strong setting epoxy will work (jb weld.net; 800-529-3530). Once the bolt is tightened and you’re finished, you can twist and pry the wire to break it free for removal. You can also use this coat hanger method for holding a nut in place that’s beyond your arm’s reach. John Armstrong Inverness, Florida

My solution was to apply some Loctite thread sealer to the ball as shown in the accompanying photo, and then rotate the mirror through its full range of motion. At First the joint became very loose and sloppy, but after a bit the Loctite began to dry and it started to tighten up.

This photo was taken with the mirror off of the vehicle to give you a better view of the process, but in reality it’s best to do this while the mirror is mounted in its normal position on the vehicle, if possible. That way you won’t feel rushed, and can be seated comfortably behind the wheel of the vehicle allowing you to position the mirror where it best suits you as the Loctite dries.

I first tried this with the medium-strength “Blue”Loctite, and while it worked, it didn’t hold up as well as did the more permanent “Red” Loctite (loctite.com).

This repair then held up for more thantwo years before it needed to be repeated, but individual cases will vary depending on how worn the “joint” is, and if the vehicle’s mirror is repositioned frequently.

One important aspect to point out is that while the product I applied is called “permanent,” in my application is still allowed movement. However, if you feel uneasy with this project you can try the Blue sealer first, and progress to the Red as I did, if you find that you need to.

This process can also be applied to interior rearview mirrors.

And keep in mind that intense heat, from a heat gun or probably even a hair dryer, will loosen the joint should it become too tight.

John Armstrong Inverness, Florida