All Screwed Up: Why Correct Hardware Matters

Published by Fred Mattson on October 3rd, 2013

Auto Upholstery - The Hog Ring -  Fred Mattson

Just about every interior job that comes into my shop has been worked on before. This is no surprise since most of the cars I work on are at least 40 years old. However, what bothers me is other shops’ poor attempt to reassemble the projects.

Maybe I’m wrong, but when did Detroit start using drywall screws in their cars? At the finish of any given project I end up with at least a handful of incorrect hardware that made its way into the interior. For example, I can end up with lag screws, wood crews, machine screws both slotted and Phillips head. I also find incorrect washers, spacers and panel clips. You must have seen this and I sure hope that you’re not the one doing it.

My wife calls the local hardware store “My Happy Place”. I guess it’s because I spend a lot of time and money there. I also keep on hand the most common automotive hardware. You just can never have enough hardware.

Specialty hardware is big challenge today. Sometimes it seems impossible to find vintage fasteners for cars built in the 20’s and 30’s, but they’re out there. Substituting modern fasteners in a vintage restoration is just wrong. If a slotted machine screw is required, don’t use a Phillips-head sheet-metal screw.

Knowing what type of fastener you need is important. Correctly identifying a fastener will save you a lot of time and grief. Size and length are common to many fasteners. Watch out for the variables. Bolts and machine screws have coarse and fine thread sizes. Sheet metal screws have different heads. And drywall screws are used to fasten sheet rock to a wall.

The correct fastener is out there. Go and get it.

Fred Mattson is owner and operator of Convertible Tops & Interiors by Fred in Coon Rapids, MN. He specializes in Corvettes and scratch-built restorations on vintage cars.

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