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I understand that the name "stainless" in stainless steel merely means resistant, or even highly resistant, to rust. It doesn't actually mean that the metal will not rust.

When I inserted these two stainless steel posts into what looks like galvanized steel sockets, it now seems that I should have applied some (marine?) grease to make it easy to pull the whole thing back out for winterizing.

stainless steel posts in galvanized steel sockets

Regardless, after 5 months they are now quite stuck. I tried the obvious: spray WD-40 and wiggle. The bolts are completely removed before spraying and pulling, but the two little pieces of metal that push against the two posts may well now make a wedge, making it harder to pull. These two parts are not reachable, as you see in the picture.

How do I pull stuck stainless steel posts?

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    Some chain and a high lift(farm/old bumber) jack should do it.
    – crip659
    Commented Oct 13, 2021 at 16:31
  • If water and any salt could have ever gotten into the hole, you can't afford a stainless that would not rust. However , an ordinary stainless should not have produced a large quantity of corrosion products. not nearly as much as galvanized. Grease will help corrosion protection. Commented Oct 13, 2021 at 17:39
  • @blacksmith37 I am trying to improvise here: Would it be a good idea to heat a bit of marine grease until it liquifies, and then pour it and wait for a couple of hours? Might it ignite? Might it do what WD-40 couldn't do?
    – Sam7919
    Commented Oct 13, 2021 at 17:41
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    Try putting the bolts back in just one or 2 turns, then tapping them gently downward. That might help the innards of the gripping mechanism to release.
    – brhans
    Commented Oct 13, 2021 at 17:45
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    @brhans Brilliant, just brilliant! That did it ("putting the bolts back in just one or 2 turns, then tapping them gently downward"). Please add it as an answer. It was really that simple. The part inside was obviously wedged in, in a way to snag against any pulling.
    – Sam7919
    Commented Oct 14, 2021 at 21:13

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The problem could as easily be debris (sand or similar sediments) instead of, or in combination with, a rust problem.

Before doing anything else arrange for some upward force to lift the post. Continuous lifting, especially with more force than you can apply by hand, will ensure the post moves when it has the slightest opportunity to do so. Lash a tripod with rope and 2x4 or other lumber, erect some scaffolding, etc. Even a simple A-frame ladder is good for 250 pounds. You can attach to the post with chain, rope, or nylon webbing (a ratchet strap, for instance). A Killick hitch is my go-to choice for this.

Killick hitch around bucket

Vibration could help break rust bonds and also induce particles that are down-hole to bounce and rotate, breaking their grip which holds the post tight. There are countless ways of coupling vibrations into the post -- be creative. You can make low-frequency high-intensity vibrations by striking the post with a board or mallet. A reciprocating saw with no blade makes medium or high-frequency and lesser-intensity vibrations. A rented pencil concrete vibrator gives relatively high-frequency and high-intensity vibration.

A jet of air or water could help clear out anything that might be down there. Try compressed air with a blower nozzle or the spray of a pressure washer into the gap.

I'd try dry methods first, then try water which will evaporate soon enough if it proves to have been a bad idea. I'd avoid using any grease or oils because they could make whatever sediments may be down there more heavy and sticky. The fit between the parts looks fairly loose so simple, clean-surface friction probably isn't a part of the problem.

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  • Many nice ideas. The following worked: "Try putting the bolts back in just one or 2 turns, then tapping them gently downward. That might help the innards of the gripping mechanism to release." Credit to brhans.
    – Sam7919
    Commented Oct 19, 2021 at 1:41

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