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The nuts and bolts.

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  • The nuts and bolts.

    I'm going to take a chance with this on annoying some here. I'm copying and pasting something I posted on another welders' site, though I know this is regarded by some as a violation of internet protocol. It also might look like I'm posing as some sort of self-appointed advisor and know-it-all.

    The real reason is that you guys have given me a lot of useful info and ideas, and it might be that what I say here might be important to one or two of you.

    The discussion on the other site started with someone asking what others were doing in the way of acquiring and organizing/storing a range of nuts and bolts and other fasteners to have handy for use on projects that come through the shop. References were made to buying boxes of hardware store fasteners in a complete range of common sizes, or to picking up those sampler boxes of Harbor Freight fasteners, or to merely having the usual miscellaneous cans of odd saved fasteners. Well, it happens that I come from a town where the subject of bad fasteners actually has been a headline item in the news a couple of times, as you'll see:

    (QUOTE myself, from the other site)

    "Because of the absurd, out-of-control, predatory legal system we have in this country, you might want to know that there might be a related liability issue. Many decades ago I went through an outboard motor service school, and the instructor referred to this in one lecture. "You know those cans of odd fasteners that you've saved new, or stripped off of boneyard motors?", he asked us. Yeah, we all had them. "Well, throw them out, or take them home for your own use," he continued. "Never put them on a customer motor. There's always a chance your customer, through no fault of yours, and having neglected maintenance, and using a tank of two year old pre-mix that he hasn't shaken up, will have a engine failure after which he drifts on to the rocks, falls out of the boat, and drowns. His widow's lawyer will learn that you worked on his engine that failed. If he finds that you put any non-factory parts, even perfectly good fasteners, on the engine, he will have you by the short curlies. 'Are YOU a manufacturer?," he will ask; 'Do YOU know more than the manufacturer of the engine that failed?!! What else did YOU do to the engine that failed after YOU worked on it??!!'"

    Your best defense in court will be an invoice with the engine manufacturer's part numbers, including every fastener, every sealant, every lubricant. YOU know that you can buy NON-factory-labeled fasteners and sealants, and so forth that will work perfectly well and are far cheaper than ordering this stuff from the factory. But it could end up costing you dearly if a lawyer gets his hooks into you. That was one lecture that I've never forgotten.

    Our legal system stinks, but it is the reality we all have to cover our fannies against. And I almost hate to say so, but in some respects it does have the good effect of making us think about how we do things. The state of the fastener industry is something of a scandal, with crappy foreign-made fasteners being sold all over, sometimes even by formerly trustworthy American companies even though they are trying to deal with it. This is an awful problem for the aircraft industry, for one, and in my town Boeing has to be very vigilant about non-spec fasteners getting into their jetliners. Letting Harbor Freight alone, fasteners from ANY ordinary hardware store are suspect. A bolt from Lowes or Home Depot purporting to be "Grade 8" has the right head markings, but that DOES NOT mean that it's a real Grade 8. Who knows what the QC was in the Chinese factory, who knows how well the metallurgy or the thread-rolling or the heat-treat was done? When these hardware store "Grade 8" bolts have been tested, they are all over the place, sometimes way-soft, sometimes extra-strong but brittle.

    I don't know anybody's particular business situation here, but thought I should mention this as a factor someone here might need to consider. Probably anybody here can make good judgements on which applications will be fine with any old fastener, which projects should get trustworthy fasteners, and which might need a paper trail as with marine and aircraft work. In this town, Seattle, the problem of cheapo fasteners even makes the evening news occasionally, so blue-collar guys here tend to be a little more aware of it.

    And of course then there's the subject of bearings. And auto/truck parts like U-joints (ask your local auto machine shop owner about the quality of parts he has to work with nowdays, and then stand well back!). And on and on it goes. (end QUOTE)

    And for good measure, I added this: (QUOTE) "If this subject is of interest, here's a good book by Carroll Smith, an engineer and career auto racing builder/tuner/mechanic. This was written before the cheapo foreign fasteners had become as ubiquitous as they are now, but you might still find it an interesting and worthwhile reference book to own. And if you are a motorsport racer or rodder at all, Carroll Smith has done several other good books.

    The engine builders here, pro or amateur, will surely all know about rod-bolts, studs, and other fasteners made by A.R.P., and if anyone has a particular fastener situation that's critical, if ARP happens to have it, you couldn't do much better. Military and aircraft-grade A.N.-numbered fasteners used to be a safe bet, but as Boeing and others know, there are a lot of fakes, so check out your source. (end QUOTE)

    I'm not sure this was thought to be particularly worthwhile on the other site, and I only got strong agreement from "duaneb55", a smart guy who also posts here. But again, maybe there will be the one guy who could use it.
    Last edited by old jupiter; 04-29-2016, 11:01 AM.

  • #2
    Old Jupiter, In the business of building buildings, Its important to keep records that you get when buying structural bolts, you need to have the batch numbers and dates etc. When a Tornado or Windstorm takes a building down, the insurance company has no qualms about finding someone to blame so they dont have to pay to rebuild a 10 million dollar building that has 4 million in equipment that also got damaged.

    They have no problem paying a metalurgist $ 50,000.00 to find inferior bolts to save themselves $ 14 million,


    • #3
      Glad somebody who needs to understand, does, PW.

      After I posted this to the other site, most of those following the thread have kept talking about things like whether they should stock Grade 2 or Grade 5 or Grade 8, which is a perfectly good discussion . . . but the point I was hoping to get across that even if you know all the head markings and the reasons for using a particular grade, you have no idea whether the fasteners you are buying from hardware stores would actually test out anywhere near the actual specs for that grade.

      The hardware store won't know and even the vender who sells the fasteners to the hardware store might not know (or maybe DOES know the source, but won't want to admit it). Like every other American company whose top execs have outsourced and offshored everything in order to run up the value of their stock options, the reps for the American-branded, Chinese-made fasteners will all try to assure you that the company has inspectors checking up, and that the delivered quality is unchanged from when the company made its own fasteners (or parts, or tools, or whatever). They often believe it, too, but it is very often a LOAD, as old experienced customers are sometimes aware.

      As to the famous cut-rate tool and hardware store specializing in Chinese-made products, it is evident that their business model calls for accepting and replacing all returns with no questions asked, as a cost of business that is less than the cost of demanding good quality from all of their suppliers. Caveat Emptor is more important today than ever.


      • #4
        Old Jup, another good example of what your talking about, 2 years ago I had to remove a grapple crane ( Prentice Loader) off the back of a log truck, we had to reinforce the frame 20' up from the back, when reinstalling the crane ( Where the operator sits up top to operate the controls ) I made sure to buy the proper bolts, nuts washers and made sure to keep all the paper work with the bill so I can easily find it in the event of a failure. Even though the bolts looked good, I still spent the $ 400.00 or so to put brand new unstretched fine thread.

        Great topic.


        • #5
          I've believed the below statement for years, but never heard it straight from an attorney's mouth until a recent dinner...he said that our legal system is not at all about what's right or wrong, it's about which lawyer can argue the law better. <br />
          <br />
          Your point is well made and applies across many other disciplines. Unfortunately CYA ranks right up there with safety, cost, value, time, etc.


          • #6
            Fwiw, buying graded hardware made by Nucor from a reputable dealer you can get batch numbers and material test reports as well as certs of conformance. A lot of a325 structural bolts are foreign sourced these days but they still come with c of c and mtr for each batch.
            MillerMatic 251
            Maxstar 150 STH
            Cutmaster 42
            Victor Journeyman OA

            A rockcrawler, er money pit, in progress...


            • #7
              PW tells of replacing visibly unharmed used bolts with new "unstretched" ones "just to be sure," and for that project or any project on which the price of failure could easily include injury/death as well as lawsuits, you certainly want to be sure. For something less critical, if you can assume that the old bolts were good to begin with, and if you can assume that they were never over-torqued past their elastic limit (not likely in a factory installation), you might assume they are reusable, But in recent years a complication has arisen with the introduction of Torque-to-Yield and Torque-to-Angle bolts and studs . . . and every blue-collar guy need to know where to expect these things, because they are single-use throwaways. This is NOT to say they are cheap money-savers for the factories that use them; they do have technical merit. But they sure can be a problem if you aren't expecting them, because they never should be reused.

              I know about TTY fasteners as used in a lot of engines nowdays. But maybe they have common uses elsewhere, and if anybody here can tell us about it, I'd like to hear whatever you have.


              • #8
                Torque-to-yield and torque-to-angle are not the same thing. I have seen many head bolt applications where TTA bolts are stated in factory service manuals as re-usable.


                • #9
                  Thanks, Derrick!


                  • #10
                    Can someone tell me about the chemical composition of ASTM A403 316/316L Stainless Steel Fasteners ?


                    • #11
                      With a name like you use I bet you already know
                      Bob Wright


                      • #12
                        Has anyone here actually been sued over this?