One of my timps has a pedal that won't stay in place. When we push it down to tune higher, it immediately goes back down to low. My question is: On the side of the foot where the pedal is attached, there's a bolt that seems to be attached to two pads on either side of a rod attached to the pedal (JEEZ, I hope that made sense). Anyway, can I adjust that bolt to help hold the tuning??
Don't adjust bolts to fix that. Your timpani isn't holding pitch because the tension rods aren't correctly adjusted and/or the head is improperly tuned. Fix the head first and the adjustment "knob" second. Check Youtube for instructions.
Don't start turning things without knowing what you're doing. Ludwig timpani I assume? This is a balanced-action pedal, which means the pressure from the head should be balanced against a spring in the pedal itself. If it is not staying in tune, a very likely problem is that the head itself is not tuned to the right range. Check that first. The ranges of the drums are [ 32: D-A. 29: F-C. 26: Bb-F. 23: D-A ] Some other brands may give you a range of a 6th rather than a 5th, but the range is very similar. If the drum is actually in the correct range then the spring tension is off (somebody decided to turn the acorn without knowing what it did). Find someone who knows what they are doing to walk you through it. You shouldn't need to use the screw with the 'break pads' if everything else is working.
Yes, BUT, make sure the drum is tuned to the correct starting pitch. With the pedal all the way at it's lowest point tune the drums to the following pitches: 32 In Drum-D (below the bass clef), 29in drum-F (below bass clef), 26, A (first space bass clef), 23, D (middle line bass clef).