View Full Version : Getting Flush Valve Nut Off Of 1950s AS Tank

05-23-2012, 02:58 PM
I was replacing the fill valve and flush valve in a 1955-manufactured (and likely 1955-installed) AS toilet that gets little use but needed an overhaul. All the internal parts are heavy-gauge metal. Got the tank off and fill valve out; bit of a struggle but ultimately no problem. However, when I pulled the sponge gasket off the flush valve mounting nut, I got a nasty surprise. The metal mounting nut was either attached to or behind a metal washer-like thing, round and thin. Oddly, it looked like maybe it was supposed to press against the the chipboard gasket but instead got installed upside down? In any event, it is round and blocked my ability just to put my channel-locks on the nut and twist. So I put them on the round thing, thinking I could just twist it off. Bits of it chipped off as my channel-locks bit into it, so I can get some traction. But as to spinning the washer and/or nut off, no go. Even with my full body weight on it, it just wouldn't budge. Finally, all I managed to do was twist the whole flush assembly in the hole, which now doesn't move at all. I don't want to crack the tank, so I am wondering...

Have I encountered some tricky thing that non-pros like me don't know about? Reverse threading? (I am turning counterclockwise.) Does my description make sense? (I have a couple of photos...)

Assuming this is just a nut, is there a preferred procedure at this point? Hit it with a propane torch and then try twisting again? Use my Dremel tool to try to cut away the nut? Separate the round thing from the nut? Cut the whole heavy-freaking-metal-threaded flush valve stem? I don't think I can get a hacksaw in there at the bottom of the tank, through.

Thank you in advance for your suggestions. It really is the case that the biggest unknown in old-house DIY is what you are going to find when you pull off the old thing, and I am having all sorts of new experiences with each project I try! (Which is cool, because you gain experience by having new experiences, but this one has me stumped and exhausted...)

Gary Swart
05-23-2012, 08:32 PM
It these kinds of problems that there are no pat answers to. You just have to be inventive and keep trying. One thing about it, a 1955 toilet was definitely a water hog. Likely 5 gal per flush or maybe even 7! Since this gets little use, the water wasted may not be a major item, but at the same time, how far is far enough in patching a toilet that is almost 60 years old?

05-23-2012, 09:23 PM
Gary, you are absolutely right -- point taken. I had actually contemplated replacing it, for exactly the reasons you state, but for something that might get a couple of flushes a week during the summer and otherwise not be used, the greenhouse effect of shipping a toilet to me probably outweighs the water differential as an environmental issue, at least in the short-term. For $20 and what should have been less than an hour of my time, I could have a well-functioning, non-leaky water hog that doesn't get much use. The china is in mint condition; I never would have guessed it was that old until I looked inside the lid. So that's the reasoning for fixing it -- and I find these projects to be fun.

If anyone actually knows what that nut-surrounded-by-a-metal-ring that I am dealing with is, and how it would normally have been removed, I would greatly appreciate the assistance. As a general rule, do any of my thoughts about what to do make sense (heat, cutting wheel, hacksaw)?

05-24-2012, 01:15 PM
Sometimes you can use a hacksaw, sometimes a nut splitter, sometimes a Dremel like tool with a cutoff wheel...nothing unique to a toilet...plain mechanics. What you probably don't want to do is to try a torch on it! The concentrated heat could crack the porcelain.

05-24-2012, 01:55 PM
Split the nut with a dremel cutoff wheel.


05-24-2012, 02:27 PM
Thank you, John and Jim! I use the Dremel to shorten bolts all the time, so I will give the metal cutoff wheel a try on this much-bigger-hunk of metal!

Update: Used the Dremel cutoff wheel and sawed through the whole thing (nut, valve stem, etc.) in two places and then just peeled everything off, like you suggested. Very straightforward. After that, it was easy and quick to install everything, tighten it up, and turn the water back on. Thanks again!