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Help with epoxying ball bearings in hex screws for anti-theft

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Help with epoxying ball bearings in hex screws for anti-theft

Old 05-29-14, 05:35 AM
  #1  
CompleteStreets
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Help with epoxying ball bearings in hex screws for anti-theft

I'll be sticking ball bearings in some of the hex screws on my bicycle to deter thieves from stealing things like my handlebars and a rear rack with permanently fastened panniers.

I need help with two things:

1. When I go to the hardware store, what type of "epoxy" should I be looking for? Also, I'm assuming I'll simply put the ball bearing in the hex screws and squirt the epoxy on top of the ball bearing. Is there any way I could do this incorrectly, or is it self explanatory?

2. If I need to remove a screw after it has been epoxied, what is the best way to remove the ball bearing?

I've read that the ball bearing should be a little small for a given hex screw so that it doesn't get permanently wedged in there when it's time to take it out.

Here's the video, Hal Grades Your Bike Locking, that inspired me to go the extra mile for deterring thieves: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FCbU83_G6nA He talks about epoxying ball bearings into hex screws at 2:10. Hal's been locking his bike up in NYC since at least the 1980s, including sometimes overnight for days on end, and he hasn't had any bikes stolen in 30+ years, so I'm taking his word.

I live in a city where there are countless bikes that are stripped down so that nothing is remaining but the frame, and I want the freedom to lock up a somewhat crappy bike outdoors overnight due to storage constraints in my apartment. Thanks for your help!

In case anyone's wondering about my complete locking job, here it is:

-locking skewers for the wheels
-lock the seat to the frame with a bicycle chain.
-NY Kryptonite Fahgetaboutit U-lock
-Supplement the locking skewers on the wheels with a cable wrapping through the wheels, the way Hal does

I feel all of this is necessary for overnight locking in high-theft areas.
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Old 05-29-14, 05:45 AM
  #2  
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There are "security" screws out there that already have what you are trying to make. The ones we use at work have a Torx head with a small pin sticking up in the center. A special torx head driver with a hole in the center is used to install/remove the screws. A standard torx driver does not have the hole and will not work if someone tries to use it on the security screw.

Here's one supplier: Tamperproof Screw Company: Security Screws, Fasteners & Spanners
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Old 05-29-14, 08:47 AM
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I use a soldering iron - easier to remove when necessary

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Old 05-29-14, 09:30 AM
  #4  
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To really stick the ball in the screw, put enough JB Weld epoxy in the screw head first so that it squeezes up around the ball when it's pressed in and smooth it over. With that, it'll be nearly impossible to get the ball out. With a little bit of epoxy smeared over the ball, it might be possible to pick it out with a fine pointed tool and remove the ball. Heat softens epoxy, but you don't want to use too much depending the components and materials involved. You might experiment with a few sample screws before doing it on the bike.
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Old 05-29-14, 09:37 AM
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hot melt glue may be fine.. push the ball in while the glue is hot.


I wouldn't leave any bike out overnight in a high theft area , they may break it if they cannot take it.
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Old 05-29-14, 11:04 AM
  #6  
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Originally Posted by Looigi View Post
To really stick the ball in the screw, put enough JB Weld epoxy in the screw head first so that it squeezes up around the ball when it's pressed in and smooth it over. With that, it'll be nearly impossible to get the ball out. With a little bit of epoxy smeared over the ball, it might be possible to pick it out with a fine pointed tool and remove the ball. Heat softens epoxy, but you don't want to use too much depending the components and materials involved. You might experiment with a few sample screws before doing it on the bike.
Heck, with JB Weld you won't even need the ball bearings. Just put a blob in there. I used it to patch a crack in a dirt bike exhaust manifold about 5 years ago and it is still holding. Then I used it to patch a crack in a concrete floor in a place where forklifts shuffle about. It is still there too. How do you plan on making adjustments and repairs after you do this? You're going to be locking yourself out as well as the thieves.

Finally, I'm sorry that you have to live like this
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Old 05-29-14, 11:31 AM
  #7  
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this kind of thread cracks me up.
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Old 05-29-14, 12:48 PM
  #8  
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Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
hot melt glue may be fine.. push the ball in while the glue is hot.


I wouldn't leave any bike out overnight in a high theft area , they may break it if they cannot take it.
That's what I was thinking too.

I doubt a thief is going to mess around with using allen wrenches to take parts off of your bike. If he doesn't think that he can steal the whole bike for some reason he'll just break or cut off the parts that he wants.

When I started riding bikes in the 60's we used to say "All bikes weigh the same." You can ride a 20 lb. bike and carry a 20 lb. lock or you can ride a 40 lb. bike and skip the lock.
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Old 05-30-14, 09:13 AM
  #9  
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Originally Posted by slorollin View Post

Finally, I'm sorry that you have to live like this
I feel sorry for anyone who worries that their bicycle will get stolen when they lock it up in the daytime because they have an uber expensive bike.

I know some who won't let their bicycle out of their sight. To me, that's no way to live and eliminates the possibility of using the bicycle for utilitarian purposes. I'm talking about modifying a relatively inexpensive bicycle so I can achieve freedom. Spending a couple hours on a Sunday, one time, to have years of freedom locking the bike outdoors and not having to bring it inside every day, you know … like how the majority of people in cities like Copenhagen lock their bikes up outdoors everyday, is my definition of freedom.

Someone mentioned thieves not using tools to jack parts. Hmmm, are you really suggesting that a thief can steal a handlebar assembly or wheels WITHOUT using tools? I think not. There are bikes in my neighborhood that are stripped to the bone. I'm sure everything taken off the bikes was done using tools such as wrenches, allen keys and screwdrivers.

One last comment: Hal, the guy who's been a bicycle mechanic in NYC for the last 30 years, hasn't had a single bicycle stolen since he was an unsuspecting teenager. He's ridden over 300,000 miles, for transportation, never experiencing theft in NYC for decades. He doesn't hesitate to leave his bike locked up outdoors in NYC even when he travels out of the country. Don't believe me? Watch this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JkCdOM8m5Oo

Last edited by CompleteStreets; 05-30-14 at 09:22 AM. Reason: spelling
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Old 06-01-14, 11:43 PM
  #10  
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A suggestion, actually 2,
Crosman Copperhead BBs are Copper plated to resist rust, Daisy brand BBs are plated with Zinc, same reason. 177 caliber / 4.5mm size is perfect for 5mm hex head fasteners. Will also work on other common size bike fasteners with choice of the proper retention method.

Ball bearings, unless bathed in lubricant or otherwise protected/sealed away from oxygen and humidity Will Rust Freeze into place.

Pick up several examples of the fasteners you're trying to protect, matching specifications and materials as closely as possible, at the nearest Well Stocked hardware store.

Use these SACRIFICIAL fasteners to test the anti-theft strategies of your choice for any Unforeseen problems with removal, BEFORE implementing on the bike.
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Old 06-02-14, 12:19 AM
  #11  
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Originally Posted by hueyhoolihan View Post
this kind of thread cracks me up.
Really? I'm LMAO!!!

Screw The Glue. Just get the proper fasteners.

But if you want to lock yourself out with epoxy or JB Weld, Have at it.
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Old 06-03-14, 05:01 PM
  #12  
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I'll chime in agreeing with those who recommended hot glue instead of epoxy. Can't imagine why you'd want to permanently make the fastener difficult if not impossible to remove. Hot glue: heat with a heat *** (did you know that the word g u n is censored?) and pop the BB out. There will be residue, but if you heat that, you should be able to push a hex key in there.

Having been the victim of bike theft, I will testify that thieves will take crummy bikes as well as the expensive ones. And, given the opportunity, they'll steal every removable part off of them.

In the 70s, I borrowed a friend's bike because mine was somehow inoperable. I rode the bike to the public library in the middle of town and locked it up (both wheels and frame to a steel bike rack). I came out about 30 minutes later and someone had cut the shift cables and stolen the GD shifters!!

I've had a crummy front wheel stolen off of crummy 70s era 10 speed (loaned it to a friend and in spite of my instructions, he didn't run the cable through the front wheel), entire locked bike stolen off my back porch in a nice neighborhood, and a rack and saddle bag stolen off of a bike parked in the middle of a campus in broad daylight.

So, it's just not fancy-schmasey bikes in bad neighborhoods who need to be protected. I think the bb+glue idea is great, but I'd use a removable glue.
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Old 06-03-14, 10:24 PM
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Originally Posted by HvPnyrs View Post
A suggestion, actually 2,
Crosman Copperhead BBs are Copper plated to resist rust, Daisy brand BBs are plated with Zinc, same reason. 177 caliber / 4.5mm size is perfect for 5mm hex head fasteners. Will also work on other common size bike fasteners with choice of the proper retention method.

Ball bearings, unless bathed in lubricant or otherwise protected/sealed away from oxygen and humidity Will Rust Freeze into place.

Pick up several examples of the fasteners you're trying to protect, matching specifications and materials as closely as possible, at the nearest Well Stocked hardware store.

Use these SACRIFICIAL fasteners to test the anti-theft strategies of your choice for any Unforeseen problems with removal, BEFORE implementing on the bike.
Thank you very much. This was very helpful.
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Old 06-03-14, 10:27 PM
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Originally Posted by Camilo View Post
I'll chime in agreeing with those who recommended hot glue instead of epoxy. Can't imagine why you'd want to permanently make the fastener difficult if not impossible to remove. Hot glue: heat with a heat *** (did you know that the word g u n is censored?) and pop the BB out. There will be residue, but if you heat that, you should be able to push a hex key in there.

Having been the victim of bike theft, I will testify that thieves will take crummy bikes as well as the expensive ones. And, given the opportunity, they'll steal every removable part off of them.

In the 70s, I borrowed a friend's bike because mine was somehow inoperable. I rode the bike to the public library in the middle of town and locked it up (both wheels and frame to a steel bike rack). I came out about 30 minutes later and someone had cut the shift cables and stolen the GD shifters!!

I've had a crummy front wheel stolen off of crummy 70s era 10 speed (loaned it to a friend and in spite of my instructions, he didn't run the cable through the front wheel), entire locked bike stolen off my back porch in a nice neighborhood, and a rack and saddle bag stolen off of a bike parked in the middle of a campus in broad daylight.

So, it's just not fancy-schmasey bikes in bad neighborhoods who need to be protected. I think the bb+glue idea is great, but I'd use a removable glue.
Glad there's someone who can relate to theft and what it takes to *deter* it. I think I'll be going with the hot glue. One question though: if I don't own a heat ***, can I use a lighter to melt the glue? Thanks for your help.
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Old 06-03-14, 10:45 PM
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I'd be careful with a lighter. A hair dryer will work to soften it.
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Old 06-03-14, 11:02 PM
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Originally Posted by CompleteStreets View Post
..... Hal, the guy who's been a bicycle mechanic in NYC for the last 30 years, hasn't had a single bicycle stolen since he was an unsuspecting teenager. He's ridden over 300,000 miles, for transportation, never experiencing theft in NYC for decades. He doesn't hesitate to leave his bike locked up outdoors in NYC even when he travels out of the country. Don't believe me? Watch this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JkCdOM8m5Oo
The OP is correct! This guy has made some darn good videos... walking around the city and "grading" the security of the bicycles he finds. Educational and entertaining.
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Old 06-04-14, 01:59 AM
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Hot glue, like thread locking compound, comes in various strengths, or more precisely relating to the glue, temperature ratings. Hopefully the hardware store where you pick up your sacrifice fasteners will also have an excellent assortment of adhesives.
It's important to NOT go overboard with the adhesive, once the bb is more than halfway into the hex cavity it is surprisingly tedious to remove with even the mildest of retention.
Keep in mind what you're trying to do, which is to prevent a potential thief from using something like the tip of a box cutter knife, small screwdriver, toothpick etc. to pry or dig it out, or use small forceps/surgical clamp to grab it and pull it out.
This is why I suggested Experimenting OFF the bike first.
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Old 06-04-14, 03:08 AM
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How about Torx security fasteners in a few critical locations? Seems a shame to deliberately sabotage a bike's fasteners to make them unusable.



- Mark
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Old 06-04-14, 07:00 AM
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Originally Posted by erig007 View Post
I use a soldering iron - easier to remove when necessary

this.
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Old 06-04-14, 07:13 AM
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Potential change in plans:

I think I'm going to use super glue instead of hot glue. Here's a convincing article that says super glue is a great choice: Eight Solutions to Fight Bicycle Part Theft - BikeHacks

I don't own hot glue or a hot glue *** or a heat *** or a blow dryer, but I do own super glue.

The author recommends using acetone and a cu-tip to remove the superglued ball bearings if needed. He does admit that it may take a good 20 minutes to remove one ball bearing, but I'll be adding ball bearings only in locations that likely won't need to be touched for years, if ever.

I've had one of my bikes for ten years. Most of that time the bike was stored indoors and I lived in relatively low-theft areas. In those ten years I NEVER had the need to loosen the hex screw handlebar fasteners or the handlebar stem, for example. Now that I'm in a more high-theft area, and I want the freedom to store one of my bikes outdoors, the way Hal does, I've made up my mind that I'll be adding bbs.

I'm only going to be adding ball-bearings to fasteners that are not likely to require adjusting for several years. I won't be using ball bearings for the wheels (they'll get locking skewers and/or a U-lock) or brake pads, but I def will for the handlebars and stem. A rear rack and/or front rack are other candidates for adding bbs. Some bikes are manufactured with rear racks welded to the frame. This is basically what I want. If I have to spend half an hour five years down the road to remove a bb with acetone, so be it. At least the rack will never get stolen. Well worth my time.
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Old 06-04-14, 10:01 AM
  #21  
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Originally Posted by markjenn View Post
How about Torx security fasteners in a few critical locations? Seems a shame to deliberately sabotage a bike's fasteners to make them unusable.



- Mark
If you can get the tools, so can a thief.

And if the OP is parking his bike in the same place all the time, the thieves in the area will have plenty of opportunity to get the proper tools if they're so motivated.

Not only that, it's not that hard to break off the nub then just use an Allen wrench to remove the bolt.
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Old 06-04-14, 11:00 PM
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Originally Posted by erig007 View Post
I use a soldering iron - easier to remove when necessary

This is the way I went!


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Old 06-05-14, 12:08 AM
  #23  
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Originally Posted by Orchestra View Post
This is the way I went!
Nicely done
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Old 06-05-14, 01:00 AM
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Originally Posted by achoo View Post
If you can get the tools, so can a thief.

And if the OP is parking his bike in the same place all the time, the thieves in the area will have plenty of opportunity to get the proper tools if they're so motivated.

Not only that, it's not that hard to break off the nub then just use an Allen wrench to remove the bolt.
Break off the Nub?? Go for it!!
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Old 06-05-14, 12:53 PM
  #25  
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Originally Posted by markjenn View Post
How about Torx security fasteners in a few critical locations? Seems a shame to deliberately sabotage a bike's fasteners to make them unusable.



- Mark
But star-key (aka torx) multi tools w/ security heads are fairly common, and could be carried in a pocket. I have one I picked up for about $6 in the NAPA junk bin near the counter.
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