It helps to keep a good supply...
It helps to keep a good supply of fasteners on hand in the shop and in the hauler/pit box. Keeping them well organized makes finding the right parts much easier when seconds count.
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 ends of this engine bay...
The ends of this engine bay support brace have AN clevises that are attached with AN bolts and nuts. This provides a very clean appearance along with superior strength where it is most needed.
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.
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 comes in various...
The nut plate comes in various configurations to accommodate various mounting situations. The sliding nut plate is useful when the fit is relatively loose.
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.
These devices attach to the...
These devices attach to the back of panels or plates with rivets to become a permanent hidden nut.
The Keen-Sert is a hard metal...
The Keen-Sert is a hard metal thread insert that is used with softer metals, such as aluminum. It is threaded into a standard tap size with a special tool, and then the four small locking pins are driven into the sides to lock the insert. This prevents the insert from backing out. It can be removed by drilling and pulling the pins.
The small rod ends can be...
The small rod ends can be used in a variety of ways to connect body panels and mechanical links and the length can be adjusted.
These are especially useful...
These are especially useful for tweaking aero effects when moving body parts in or out, up or down.
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.
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.
Shown is the basic design...
Shown is the basic design of the Cam Lock fastener...
...the actual Cam Lock pa...
...the actual Cam Lock parts...
and a Cam Lock being used...
and a Cam Lock being used to hold together two halves of a carbon-fiber air filter box. These connectors are especially useful when tight fits are necessary and when there is constant removal and replacement.
The side-grip Cleco fastener...
The side-grip Cleco fastener is ideal for temporarily joining two sheets of metal (or other material) while drilling the holes for more permanent mounting fasteners.
Side-Grip Cleco Fasteners
We are all familiar with the popular Cleco fastener that temporarily holds parts together until we can position the rivet or bolt holes. These handy units clip into a drilled hole and are replaced with rivets when everything has lined up.
Now we can utilize a Cleco fastener that can be attached from the side of two panels instead of through a hole. With the strong spring, the side-grip Cleco firmly holds any set of sheetmetal (or other panels) so you can plan where to place the permanent fasteners.
Adel Wiggins Coupling
One of the neatest connections for fuel or water is the flexible Adel Wiggins coupling. This coupling product allows up to 5 degrees of movement while still maintaining a positive seal for fuel or water applications. Its unique design incorporates two metal tubes with O-rings that fit inside a stainless steel band. This is all held together by a locking band that can be operated with one hand.
Movement and vibrations will not affect the seal on this connection. This connection is most useful in applications that always need to have the conduit removed for servicing. The removal and reattachment of rubber hoses and clamps or screw-on fittings becomes quick and painless.
The Adel Wiggins coupling...
The Adel Wiggins coupling allows a flexible but tight seal while offering quick removal and replacement. The two ends are fitted with O-rings that are set into a stainless steel ring (not shown)...
...and then the two are held...
...and then the two are held together with a locking band (purple part) that snaps into place.
The Staubli quick-release...
The Staubli quick-release fitting allows the removal of hydraulic lines from such parts as brake calipers or clutch release bearings.
Staubli Quick-Release Fittings
Hydraulic pressure lines can have removable fittings that do not allow air to bleed into the system. One such fitting is the Staubli quick-release fitting. It allows clutch line release when you are changing the tranny, or brake line release if you need to replace a caliper quickly.
This is a high-pressure fitting that holds the existing fluid while the hoses are disconnected. When the hoses are reattached, there is no introduction of air into the system. Tranny/bellhousing combos can be replaced easily by disconnecting the Staubli fitting from one and adding it to another. Replacement brake rotors can be fitted so that removal and replacement can be done in seconds and not minutes.
The Push Pin
The standard push pin can be used for attaching any linkage that we may need to remove quickly. The shear strength of these pins is surprisingly high. Teams have been known to use them for attaching shocks, although this is an extreme application and may exceed the shear limits due to the often sudden application of force, not necessarily the magnitude of the force.
A push pin is securing a link...
A push pin is securing a link to a rear sway bar in a Grand Am Daytona Prototype car. The strength of this pin is well above the load that will be applied. If the team wishes to change the length of the "arm" or remove the linkages, it can be done very quickly with the push pin.
Push pins can attach other less-stressed parts such as smaller rear sway bar arms, throttle linkages, and panel supports. With a little imagination, you can probably think of many ways to conveniently hold and attach various parts. Even securing a pit box handle to the box when not in use saves tripping over the handle or having it fall against someone or the inside of the hauler.
Tie-Wraps and Other Wire Attachment Devices
The basic tie-wrap has been with us for some time now. It is a necessary addition to any toolbox and has many varied uses on a race car. We have found some interesting additions to the use and application of the tie-wrap.
Various parts have been developed to attach tie-wraps to the car. There are many different types and shapes of connectors, but the thing to know is that many companies have spent lots of time developing more products that accommodate the tie-wrap, or zip tie as it is sometimes called.
From adhesive-backed plastic plates to specialty tie-wraps that incorporate a way to mount them to a surface, we now have many ways to attach wires or fluid lines to the inside panels or the chassis.
This plastic baseplate is...
This plastic baseplate is made to accept a tie-wrap to secure electrical wires to panels or linkages. It is attached with an epoxy glue to be relatively permanent.
The "fir tree" (describing...
The "fir tree" (describing its shape, which resembles a coniferous tree) tie-wrap is designed to be inserted into a drilled hole for easy attachment of wires.
Here we see a stainless steel,...
Here we see a stainless steel, rubber-cushioned metal clamp. These also come in vinyl-insulated metal and nylon cable clamps. They hold bundles of wires and cables loosely.
The Protex latch is unique...
The Protex latch is unique in that it aligns and latches. A sliding block moves into a catch so that the two body parts are aligned laterally and vertically.
Protex Catch Bolt Latches
One of the best latches to use on a race car to hold body sections together is the Protex Catch Bolt latch. It is a self-locking, sliding bolt latch that aligns the panels both laterally and vertically. It is especially useful for fiberglass or carbon-fiber molded body parts because access is continual and security is a must.
Some series are opting for pre-molded identical body parts so that aero "cheating" cannot be done. The body parts fit together so that the shape of each body is nearly identical.
Since the parts have molded-in recesses and tongues, they can only go together one way. Replacement parts are guaranteed to fit without excess cutting and shaping. These latches are used to hold the entire body together.
The handle also has a catch...
The handle also has a catch that locks it into place. These endure very high aero forces and ultra-high speeds and impacts.
In conventional stock cars, there are uses that fit the design of these latches, such as securing a dirt Late Model fender so that it can be easily replaced between heats if it is damaged.
Even pit cart hatches can be secured with these latches when heavy parts must be contained by a secure attachment. How many times has a pit cart door flung open during transport in the trailer? This locking latch would prevent all of that damage.
Chew-Glu, a Two-Part Gum Adhesive
Last but not least is one of the most innovative inventions to date. It is the two-part Chew-Glu gum adhesives for attaching wires or parts quickly when more time-consuming methods don't work. For the team whose car is held together with chewing gum and bailing wire, this adhesive will take you to the next level.
Chew-Glu brand adhesive involves...
Chew-Glu brand adhesive involves a two-part process. The users place the red and white strips into their mouths, and a non-toxic reaction takes place that will cause the gum to harden into a semi-permanent and strong adhesive. Cure time is about three minutes.
A team member needs to only carry the two separate gum strips, one red and the other white. When the need arises, put both into your mouth. As you chew the two pieces, your saliva will cause a non-toxic reaction that will cause the gum to harden into a semi-permanent, strong-holding adhesive that cures in about three minutes.
No more searching for bulky tubes or mixing messy two-part epoxy gels that are hard to remove from fingers and clothing. Just pop these into your mouth and gum-glue that broken fender mount or dangling wire.
One more thing about Chew-Glu . . . April Fools. Yes, this is the May issue of CT, but it is released well before April 1 so it will give you a chance to think of someone you can pull this on when that day arrives. There is no such thing as Chew-Glu, but don't you think there needs to be? Hey, all you chemists out there who read CT-get busy and invent.
Be sure to carefully study all those specialty fastener catalogs, because the industry is always improving the way we attach things. All of theses various parts are designed to make your racing life a little easier. When you get ready to buy, contact your local race parts supplier. They will have them in stock or they can order them for you. If they have never heard of the part, you just might make them aware of a new and useful product that all of their customers could utilize.