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Bolt in a tight place

Strictly speaking this isn’t a car question, but I’m guessing you techs out there deal with this sort of issue frequently, so I’ll ask here.

I have a stove that’s not working right. I think it’s the bottom igniter element that’s out. However, I can’t remove the two bolts holding it in to replace it. The problem is that there’s very little clearance on the bolts. There’s little vertical clearance between the bolts and the bottom panel (say 2 inches at most). There’s little side clearance between the bolts and the igniter element I’m trying to replace (maybe an inch to two inches at most). The bolts themselves are somewhat larger than 1/4 inch, although how much larger I can’t say. They are also angled so it’s hard to even see them without a mirror. I’m limited on time, tools, expertise, and money. I tried calling a repairperson, but can’t get hold of one thus far. Christmas cookies are on the line here. So, what do you guys use to get a bolt out in a tight spot?


Any way you could post a pic? It’s hard to tell without seeing it. Long socket wrench, box end wrench, open end wrench, there are several options. Go to, say, the Sears Craftsman web site and see what looks like it might work.

As with automobile, year, make, model and specifics of the problem might be of help. Can I assume that it is the oven that is failing to operate? And the ‘igniter’ no doubt is the sparking device that lights the gas on the lower burner? And can I also assume that other burners on the unit work, indicating that both gas pressure and current from the fuse box are present? And definitely a picture would be helpful.

I will try to post a picture when I get home. At work now. Oven is a GE 183D8077G061. Burners and broiler work fine. Igniter is a coil that heats up to ignite the gas. According to my internet travels, when it reaches a certain amperage, the valve to release the gas opens. If it’s not heating, no gas is released, as a safety measure. Looking at it while attempting to operate the oven showed it wasn’t heating at all. Unhooked the wires and attempted to connect to an ohmmeter–got no reading from the ohmmeter, so the igniter is a very strong suspect at this point.


And, here is why the techs ( auto, appliance, tv, computer, teeth, health, etc ) have specialty tools and charge accordingly.

Put on your thinking cap. If you could invent just such a tool or combination of attatchments , what would it look like ?
Now visit catalogs like Craftsman and Harbor Freight to see if they have something along those lines.

It’s probably a mini ratchet and extension and maybe a magnetic tip.

Then, also with your thinking cap firmly in place, immagine what a service tech might do when they show up at your house or if you take it to them.
I’ll bet there’s much more dis-assembly of covers, housings and sub-componenets than you have done already. Think along those lines…what more can you take apart to gain access.

I’ve found this to be helpful many times on dryers, stoves, VCRs, TVs, and such and I work along their guidelines finding the total job much easier.
Take off not only access panels, but entire housings, shells, faces etc. Take out sub-chassis or mounting panels that have the item on it , then remove the item.

Write down or take pics of dis-assembly steps for ease of re-assembly.

Since cookies are waiting, can you manually light the burner to get the job done ?

Have a holly-jolly Christmas.

My fantasy tool for this would be a ratcheting box wrench with a swivel head. Most socket wrenches won’t do because the head is too long. A glance at a local Sears showed sets of someting like that ratcheting box wrench with swivel head for about $90. I’m reluctant to spend this much (roughly equivalent to a routine service call by a repair person) unless I’m sure it would work. I can’t buy an individual wrench because I’m not sure of the size of the bolt.

Good idea about removing other panels, parts etc. I thought of this last night and two possibilities came to mind: 1) removing a couple of panels under the coil element and 2) removing the entire burner assembly. Both appeared to involve removal of a number of bolts, some of which appeared to have not much more clearance than the two in question here. It may come to that, though.

I can’t light the burner manually because gas won’t go through the gas safety valve unless the igniter coil has current going through it.

I generally take digital pictures as I go when I disassemble things, since I’m terrible at remembering/figuring out how they go back together.


P.S. Merry Christmas to all.

I am guessing that you need a 5/16 or 8 mm combination wrench. They are almost exactly the same size and may be substituted for each other. It will have a box wrench on one end and a open end on the other.

These gearwrenches are pretty handy for tight spots. They’ve saved my relative sanity more than once. They make them without that knuckle but, if I were you, I’d get them with the knuckle. It makes them infinitely more versatile.

Harbor freight sells cheap knock off stubby wrenches but they don’t have the knuckle:

You need to access these from the back of the stove, then it is easy! You may have to remove storage container and maybe a plate, but it is the way to go, Merry Xmas

The ratcheting wrenches are nice, especially the flex head type pictured above. I don’t know how I ever got along without them, but they should not be used to break free a nut or bolt that is really tight. If you have a Harbor Freight store near you, they have a nice serviceable set of long handle wrenches at a pretty reasonable price. These give you the leverage to break the nut/bolt free.

@barkydog makes sense too if you can.
Remember, most tight placement of connectors is not the result special tools. It’s the result of order of assembly of parts. I have found it necessary to just disassemble a unit to do the connector justice. Special tools are often our answer to poor engineering for repair.

I’ve done a few igniters and never needed any special tools although I can’t say with any certainty on that model of stove. It’s been pretty much a basic tool kind of thing; screwdriver, nut driver, end wrench, etc.

It did involve removing a few things in that area such as the pan and so on. The memory is a bit fuzzy on this. It was a bit cramped and awkward but doable in half an hour with a little light and a few selected, non-family friendly words. :slight_smile:

Can you pull the range out and pry the top up? Many ranges have this feature. If there is a parting line between the range top and the oven that extends onto the sides, you can probably pry it up with a big flat blade screw driver. Put a cloth over the blade to prevent scratching the porcelain.

Oven finally fixed by a repairman–too late to for the Christmas cookies, alas. Those who spoke of removing parts were right. I watched the repairman do this–he removed the burner–and had some tools I didn’t have. Since I showed an interest, he gave some pointers I wouldn’t have thought of. Sometimes it pays to have a pro.


Thanks for the followup, I ate the last of the un given away cookies today, 5 tins for others, a few for me and wife, none for you, sorry. your oven should be good for next year, if not let me know I will send cookies!