Gunpowder packed inside a small metal enclosure – we call that a grenade. Everyone knows what happens when that gunpowder ignites. Dramatic results ensue, especially for the metal shell. Letting my mind wander into the past, I witnessed just such a scene. Me, a compact bundle of potential energy, inside the metal shell of my car. Discovery of a bent frame head pulled a pin, provided a spark, released significant energy. A blinding flash, as from an explosion, brought me back to the present. I looked into a garage resembling a crime scene. Volkswagen particles littered the floor. A massive stack of evidence baggies, each containing a greasy component, spilled from cardboard boxes. A miserable company of grease-stained rags hung around the outskirts of the detonation, still aflutter from the destructive surge.
It goes without saying that grenade casings do not fare well when the gunpowder inside ignites. So too, my car suffered damage when I caught fire. Most significant was damage to this bolt:
Anyone familiar with car restoration will realize that breaking bolts is normal, unavoidable, like losing baby teeth.
My VW manual stated that “Steering arm to steering knuckle bolts must be grade ‘10.9.’” I like clear, unmistakable directions, so I went to find a “grade 10.9” bolt, just as one might look for Starbucks coffee, rather than some low quality joe.
“I need a bolt like this one,” I said, handing the hardware to a helpful hardware store employee, “and it’s supposed to be grade 10.9.” A low whistle caught my attention. Turning, I saw a second salesperson, looking rather amused. Right then I realized that 10.9 was special – real special. During the next week I paid visits to seven other local hardware and automotive stores, finding nothing. I took my search into the cyber world, contacting hardware manufacturers in Pennsylvania, Washington, California, British Columbia and beyond. Next I checked wrecking yards. 1966 Fastbacks constitute a minority group anywhere you look. All the searching around did gain me one thing: I discovered my bolt’s name. M10-1.00x52mm. I also discovered that grade 10.9 is a high tensile strength bolt. Don’t ask me how I broke a high-strength bolt. The answer is too humiliating.
Prolonged search evidenced the needed bolt’s extinction. Surely a few rare specimens existed. Fossils, perhaps, sandwiched between layers of crushed cars. I dreamed of finding one, preserved, like a woolly mammoth locked in leftover ice from a previous era.
At length I thought to call yet another Volkswagen parts store. When an operator picked up, I launched into my spiel – by now memorized and polished to perfection. I needed a hex head bolt, ten millimeter shaft diameter, extra fine thread, fifty two millimeters long, grade 10.9.
“One ninety-five,” came the reply. “You can find it under section four on the Type III steering parts page. Item number 30.”
Before hanging up, I loaded up the website and double checked that this was indeed the correct bolt. Overjoyed, I promptly ordered a bolt ignoring the $8.37 shipping charge. Who can put a price on relief? Finding the long sought after hardware banished from my mind “…and for lack of a bolt, the car was lost.”
Now, if I wait another week, the bolt will be here. Then I can connect tie rods, attach brake rotors, reinstall brake calipers, put the front wheels on, and finally, set the car body back on the pans. It’s been a long haul, and the car hasn’t budged an inch. That’s not to say I’ve made no progress. A complete wiring harness, ball joints, wheel bearings, transaxle boots, pan bolts, speedometer cable, steering box coupler, fender beading, and a few other new parts now adorn my car.
The next haul is up, so I can slide the floorpan assembly under the body. After that, down and out. Down from the lift and out of the garage. Oh! How I long for that day.