Over the last 45 years I have been messing about with old cars. In my youth, it was a simple necessity, I couldn’t afford to take the car into the garage, so I bought a Haynes manual and had a go myself.
This post came to mind following a classic car club meeting when nuts and bolts were discussed and I started to become concerned. The conversation regarded dismantling suspension to replace some specific components. Now we old car enthusiasts are known to spend excessive amounts of cash on new parts, we know they are made in small volumes and we are always keen on quality (although there is not a lot of that around these days). My concern centred on the fact that no-one thought to use new fasteners when re-connecting the new components, regardless of the fact that a nut and bolt costs “buttons” yet the new parts are often hundreds of pounds. The problem is that once a fastener has been used, particularly in areas of stress, it is good practice to discard it and replace with new.
A few years ago, an old friend asked me to help him buy out his company, an industrial fastener business, essentially to help fund and look after the financials. So started my period of learning about the humble nut and bolt. When you look around you, virtually everything we use at home, at work or in our hobbies are held together by something…normally nuts and bolts. Yet they are so ubiquitous that they become invisible, unless you’re working with them. What I did notice was that when our customers were stripping machines or making repairs, as a matter of course they ALWAYS replaced the fasteners.
I chatted to our customers who seemed amused at my surprise, their view being that for a few pounds they could save further breakdowns later, but more importantly, if a fastener was to “give way” a terrible accident could ensure. The general rule of thumb seemed to be, if it’s removed, throw it away and replace with new.
The simple truth is that once a nut and bolt are “torqued up” the thread will stretch…so if it is used again and again, it will inevitably weaken. Many of our classic cars are upwards of 50 years old, yet I wonder how many of the fasteners are “original”?
There is no doubt that imperial sizes are becoming more difficult to source, however there are a number of businesses, like Leyton Classics www.leytonclassics.co.uk and Leyton Fasteners who still supply Imperial, UNC, UNF, BSW & BSF from stock. You would be surprised how many factory machines are still plodding on with Imperial fasteners holding them together!
A final thought, be careful where you source your fasteners. Go to people who supply the trade and industry, as their fasteners will be from a reliable source and can be traced back to the manufacturer. Without this you run the risk of buying substandard items.
So for safety sake as well as to make your vehicle look good, replace with new from a quality source.