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I'm trying to install a new light fixture and ran into a bit of an issue with an old electrical junction box. I'm trying to remove the nipple hickey in the center of the box to remove the threaded pipe as it won't fit with the new ceiling plate of the light.

However, I can't get the damn thing to come lose. I've tried putting considerable amount of force on the hickey and turning it with a wrench, but it stays in fixed position and feels like I'm going to rip the box right out of the ceiling and the plaster is cracking around it.

Reaching out in the event of user error. Any advice/tips on how to remove?

If I take a hack saw to the pipe to cut it off, I'm not sure I could get a cut down close enough where it'd work.

  • it looks like firm part of the box
    – Traveler
    Commented Dec 30, 2022 at 0:01

3 Answers 3


Try a applying a liquid wrench equivalent to the stuck threads, let that soak a bit. It may then need a shock to get loose - just pushing on it is likely insufficient. A few potential options there:

  • upward hammer tap (along bolt axis).
  • cut a slit in the end of the rod with a hack saw, then use an impact driver to try to get it to rotate.
  • cut a slit in the end of the rod with a hack saw, then vice grip the end of the rod as if you will try to rotate it by hand. Use a hammer on the vice grip to try to rotate the rod.

Failing these, you are probably stuck with just using a hack saw, Dremel, oscillating tool etc., to remove as much of the rod as you can.


I would consider just cutting the old box out and install an old work ceiling fan box.

Or an alternative to a hack saw would be a Dremel or an angle grinder with a cut-off wheel. That will get you closer than a hack saw. You can also use a step drill bit to further shorten the rod.


Fire waiting to happen!!! From the way the wire enters the box, looks like early 1900's knob and tube where later a box was added. Box and hence fixture is not grounded. If wiring is 1920's or later AC, maybe a ground but iffy due to the rusted box.

Time to rewire your house. Replace old rubber/cloth insulated wire with modern NMB. Then the box with a proper old work bracket fan box. Might mean some plaster damage, but better than the house burning to the ground.

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