Fasten-ating – A Guide to Automotive Fasteners and Hardware
Our cars and trucks are held together with an amazing array of hardware, fasteners, retainers, clips, screws, and clamps. Without them, we’d just have a giant pile of parts on the garage floor, albeit some really cool and expensive parts.
The list of fasteners used on a hot rod or custom project is long and diverse, ranging from specialty engine hardware to more mundane line clamps and trim screws. While seemingly simple, every nut, bolt, screw and fastener has its own characteristics based on its design, intended purpose, and the materials used to manufacture it.
When it comes to building cars, there’s more to selecting fasteners than merely finding the correct size and thread pitch. Choosing fasteners that are strong enough for the intended job is crucial – especially when you’re talking about suspension and chassis parts. It’s even more critical on vehicles that will see track time. Hot rodders also tend to be particular about the aesthetics of their projects, so many of the fasteners and retainers we use are expected to offer both function and a pleasing form. That can be a tall order, but it’s one that is commonly met head-on by our aftermarket industry with trick-looking nuts, bolts, clamps, screws, and other retainers.
We talked with a number of companies about their product offerings for securing and bolting things together the right way. Whether you’re upgrading your suspension, routing lines, securing trim and body panels, or detailing your engine and engine compartment, you can find a wide range of hardware and fasteners to do the job right, and look good doing it. Check out some of these offerings and we think you’ll agree it can be a truly fasten-ating topic!
When it comes to isolating heat from headers, exhaust or turbochargers, Design Engineering Inc. offers a long list of effective wraps and shields. When it comes to securing any wraps or hoses to components that see excessive heat, you’re going to need a special fastener. DEI has the solution with their stainless steel locking ties.
These durable ties are constructed of 316 stainless steel and will withstand radiant temperatures up to 2,500°F! With 100lbs tensile strength, these wraps will easily secure DEI’s exhaust wraps and can also be used to secure brake lines, fuel lines or wire bundles wrapped in insulation. The ties are available in lengths of 8-, 14- or 20-inches in packages or even bulk.
Design Engineering Inc.
When it comes to hardcore racing, many teams will safety wire important fasteners such as header bolts, fans, the spinner on knock-off wheels, and more. The idea of safety wiring came from the early aviation days with props and other places where retainer failure is not an option. When it comes to performance hot rods, in many cases it simply looks cool, but it is still an effective solution.
The act of safety wiring starts with bolt heads that are drilled through, then passing a wire through each bolt to chain things altogether. (A Mil-Spec type 302 stainless steel wire or stronger is recommended.) When the wire is through the bolt, it should be twisted about 10 turns per inch. It’s a time-consuming ordeal, but Speedway Motors can help with their Safety Wire Twister Pliers. The tool creates consistent turns for each connection and saves an amazing amount of time throughout this important procedure. Plus, it can be used to cut and bend the wire – it’s the only tool you’ll need to install safety wire!
It’s the little details that turn an, “oh, that’s cool,” reaction to a, “WOW! IS THAT COOL!” moment. NotcHead is known for a lot of those subtle details with their line clamps and other innovative components, one of which is a selection of unique fasteners.
The NotcHead fastener features a unique seven-notch head design that nearly eliminates any chance of rounding off bolt heads. Its design also adds great detail to an engine compartment. A special socket is required to secure the forged stainless hardware, which comes with a slick CNC-machined finish. The bolts are available in most standard sizes, plus NotcHead offers a Starter Kit that comes with 30 fasteners (1/4-, 5/16- and 3/8-inch), the special sockets and washers.
If you race, at some point you’re going to need to fix or adjust something before the next lap, and chances are it will be under a time crunch. When you’re under the gun to get back on the track, it is no time to be messing with screws, washers and nuts. You need a quick and easy fastener and Summit Racing has just the thing with their Self-Ejecting Quick-Release Fasteners.
These Quick-Release fasteners are ideal for securing bodywork, interior access panels, or any piece that you remove frequently. Unlike quarter-turn fasteners that require a screwdriver or special tool, these fasteners have wing-nut-style ‘butterfly’ heads that can easily be tightened or released with your fingers. These fasteners are cadmium plated for corrosion resistance and are available in packs of 10 with .500- or .550-inch long shanks for different applications.
Summit Racing Equipment
During your restoration or hot rod build, you may want to consider using stainless steel hardware to avoid the fasteners from cracking or the finish peeling off down the road. Stainless steel has a unique look and will never rust or corrode, providing you with one less thing to worry about as the years and miles rack up.
Totally Stainless offers a huge selection of US and metric automotive bolts, nuts, screws and washers. If you’re going for a restored look, Totally Stainless offers complete kits with OEM-style hardware made in stainless such as these door strikers. All of their body and chassis kits are supplied with anti-seize along with a torque table for proper installation. They also offer a number of different clamps for lines, hoses and even the exhaust.
Scott’s Hotrods ‘n Customs
Every hose and line of your car should be secured at some point. Not only to keep them looking good, but to also avoid excessive movement which may lead to a leak due to abrasion or burning through on the exhaust. One great-looking solution are these new Billet Line Clamps from Scott’s Hotrods ‘n Customs.
Scott’s Fixed Billet Line Clamps have a two-piece design that allows for easy installation onto any flat surface. The Floating Billet Line Clamps keep your soft lines routed neatly in your engine bay. Both styles sandwich soft or hard lines and are secured with a stainless steel 10-32 button-head bolt. The clamps are CNC machined from 6061 billet aluminum and available in many different sizes.
Scott’s Hotrods ‘n Customs
Where there are fasteners there are tools, and Snap-on delivers with its patented Flank Drive Xtra sockets. This is the first redesigned Snap-on socket since the original Flank Drive system was developed in 1965! The innovative design of the socket makes it even better with more turning power and better engagement to the fastener.
The angled-contour socket wall grips fasteners further off the corners for stronger engagement and maximum grip on damaged, shallow, and limited-clearance fasteners. This equates to 50-percent more turning power on damaged fasteners and up to 25-percent more turning power than their original Flank Drive sockets. The chamfered lip on the hex end enhances turning power while the grooved outer wall allows fast and frustration-free removal of damaged fasteners. The FDX sockets are available in metric and standard sizes, deep and shallow, across the range of Snap-on’s offerings.
Adding air conditioning to your hot rod is one of the best updates you can make when it comes to enjoying long drives and cruising through hot, humid states. However, this adds a few more hoses and lines to the engine compartment, which means you need to take your time when routing and mounting the lines to keep them secure and looking good.
Any HVAC system also means that four lines need to be routed into the passenger compartment and the best way to accomplish that is with a billet aluminum Streamline Bulkhead plate from Vintage Air. The plates come in a variety of forms with threaded lines for the A/C hoses as well as the heater lines. Designed with a thin mount, the bulkheads are unobtrusive and available in polished or a black anodized finish.
It’s amazing how a trick fastener can not only improve the load it carries, but also look great at the same time. Not surprisingly, these nice-looking hardware pieces were designed by the machinists at Billet Specialties in cahoots with Rad Rides by Troy.
These unique stainless steel fender washers help prevent paint distortion on sheet metal. Ever notice how after time, or even during assembly, the paint may get wrinkled up around the bolt and fender well? These trick washers feature a unique recess on the bottom to improve the load distribution and prevent damage along the thinner sheet metal. The stainless socket-head cap screw installs flush with the washer for a slick finish. The Pro-Bolts are sold in pairs and are available in brushed or anodized finishes.
Thanks to tremendous heat cycles, varying metals and gaskets, header fasteners seem to always need to be tightened. Exhaust leaks at the header or manifold are annoying, but for engines running fuel injection, even a small leak can lead to driveability issues due to the oxygen sensor picking up a lean value from added air entering the exhaust.
The experts over at Stage 8 offer an easy-to-use system that provides assurance against fastener failures at the headers or other important areas. The system uses a grooved bolt or nut that is installed as usual. Next, a teardrop-shaped locking retainer is placed over the bolt head and is retained by an E-clip. If the bolt tries to move, the locking retainer hits the abutment and stops any rotation. The three-piece locking fasteners are application specific and available in either six-point hex or 12-point bolts, metric and standard sizes.
Stage 8 Fasteners
Looking for an alternative to clunky old band-style hose clamps? Eddie Motorsports now offers heavy duty Thermoplastic Clamps that seal up tight when warmed with a standard heat gun. You may have your doubts about their sealing capabilities at first, but they actually create an even seal around the entire hose for a better connection through harsh underhood conditions. Not only do they seal tight, they look so much better under a detailed hood. The heat clamps are available for hoses from ¼- to 2-inches in diameter.
If you prefer a mechanical-style clamp, Eddie also offers a 100-percent stainless clamp with smooth, rolled edges that will not cut into the hose. The thicker band won’t distort or strip even if you overtighten it.
Not only does ARP manufacture the super strong bolts and fasteners that secure the internals of racing engines, they also offer Engine & Accessory Fastener Kits to add the finishing touch on engines. These kits are available in hex or 12-point heads along with different finishes that add up to a big visual difference on your engine.
If you’re working on some oddball engine application and can’t find a kit for your engine, ARP also offers a wide range of five-bolt packs by size. These range from hefty ½-inch diameter bolts that come in lengths of 6-inches down to a series of 10-32 stainless steel 12-point bolts.
Automotive Racing Products (ARP)