Bolt Basics - Mick's Workshop Tips 426

By: Mick McCrudden

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What's holding your resto project together?

What we’re on about today is those little components we often don’t really think about leading up to a build or resto project – that is, your nuts and bolts!

When we get something in here for a restoration, one of the things we do is remove all the fasteners as carefully as we can. However you’ll inevitably have things break – particularly if old plastics are involved – or you’ll get stripped threads, cracked brackets, that sort of thing.

Nevertheless, we rescue as many of the original bits as possible, for a couple of reasons. First, it gives us a pattern to follow when we reassemble, and there’s a very good chance we can re-use many of them.

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What we do as a matter of course is gather up the metal components and clean them and sort them and then send them off to be nickel-plated. You can also get them done in gold or silver, whatever suits your tastes or the type of car.

For just about every vehicle we work on, there are bolt replacement kits. As is often the case with remanufactured components for older vehicles, sometimes they just don’t quite fit. Now if you have the originals sitting there, all nice, shiny and replated, ready to go, you have the option of refitting them. That means you’re not being held up halfway through a Sunday afternoon, because of one little bolt.

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If you’re looking for bolt kits – and I like to have them on hand for a project – there is a company called Gardner Westcott that does them for lots of mainstream Australian and American cars from the last few decades. Another option is a company called ARP.

Don’t forget your local bolt shop – that can be a bit tough in the country, but you’ll find them in most larger cities. The good folk there can be unbelievably helpful, so long as you’re not wasting their time. So here’s the trick: don’t go in looking for one bolt at a time. Gather up a quantity and do it as a batch, so the trip is worth both your time and theirs.

Here, where we’re based in Brunswick (Melbourne), we go to a local mob called Newlands Fasteners & Engineering Supplies in Coburg. They’re incredibly useful, particularly when you’re chasing down some of those obscure sizes and threads.

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Now something I wish we had 30 years ago when I started building cars was a thing called a Rivnut kit. I have a couple of them made by a company called Trax – one is a smaller ‘domestic’ kit and the other the big industrial size. I find the larger one is more user friendly. What they allow you to do is install a thread in an existing hole. This dispenses with the nut and gives you the much easier task of just winding a bolt into a fixed thread. It often makes for a much neater job.

So there you go, a few things to think about for your next rebuild job. If you have those options on hand, you’ll find the job easier and everyone ends up happier…

Note: Mick runs Glenlyon Motors in Brunswick, Vic. Tel (03) 9380 5082.

 

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