The racing industry often pushes the envelope of technology, and other industries can profit from our ingenuity. At the same time, we borrow from other industries when new and innovative products suit our needs. There is always a need for improved fasteners and connectors.

We will introduce some relatively new and interesting devices for attaching and connecting parts. This is not intended to be a complete listing of all new fasteners, but represents some of the most interesting ones you might not know about.

Basic Nuts and Bolts
When we think of fasteners, we immediately envision nuts and bolts and the ever-popular blind rivets. As long as we have had those most basic connectors, there are still improvements being developed that enhance their use. The aerospace community has, over the past 30 years, developed many unique fasteners of specialized materials and shapes.

The AN (Air Force/Navy), MS (Military Spec.) and NAS (National Aerospace Standard) fasteners are used in the top classes of auto racing because of their superior strength-to-weight ratio. These nuts and bolts come in many shapes and sizes, from standard hex nuts to the 12-point flanged Cadmium-plated types, with a coat of Kaylube molybdenum disulfide dry lubricant applied after plating. Whew, that's a bad nut.

The cost of these special nuts and bolts has become more reasonable over the past 30 years as the popularity has spread to industries outside aerospace. Today, racers in all classes can take advantage of the innovation that has taken place without having to rob the bank to do so.

Nut Plates
There are times when we need to bolt on a part through a panel and have limited access to the rear for placing and holding a nut. The nut plate was designed for those situations.

The nut plate can be attached to the panel or plate with rivets to become a permanent hidden nut. Because it is made of steel, it will endure repeated use without excessive wear.

Typical uses include bolting the gauge panel to the dash. We may need to access the gauges often to repair broken wires or replace some of the units, and getting to the back of the dash is very difficult. Any area that requires you to go to the hard-to-reach rear of the panel warrants the use of the nut plate.

We may need to attach a bolt to a softer metal, such as aluminum, and we often need a hard metal threaded insert so that our bolts will not pull out easily. The Keen-Sert is a new threaded insert and was designed to be easy to install as well as locked in place so that it won't come out easily.

It can be tapped into the receiving metal with a standard tap size, and some units have four locking pins that can be driven into the sides to lock it into place.

Small Rod Ends
When deciding how to brace body panels or interior dash components, teams will often use small rod ends. These can be easily screwed onto a threaded rod, and the length can be adjusted to suit the need.

Small rod ends can be used for the following: throttle links from the pedal rod to the carburetor, holding body panels in place and adjusting the position, mechanical linkages with small forces, and applications that require small adjustments to align parts correctly.

Cam Lock
We often need to attach body parts, air filter boxes, and so on, so we need a quick-release fastener that will endure many cycles of opening and closing. The metal Cam Lock fastener does the job well. It has a cam design that uses a spring-loaded locking pin for a very secure and tight fit.