Aircraft Hardware – Threaded Fasteners Part Seven (Installation Part One)

in Aircraft Materials Processes and Hardware

Bolt and Hole Sizes

Slight clearances in bolt holes are permissible wherever bolts are used in tension and are not subject to reversal of load. A few of the applications in which clearance of holes may be permitted are in pulley brackets, conduit boxes, lining trim, and miscellaneous supports and brackets.

Bolt holes are to be normal to the surface involved to provide full bearing surface for the bolt head and nut, and must not be oversized or elongated. A bolt in such a hole will carry none of its shear load until parts have yielded or deformed enough to allow the bearing surface of the oversized hole to contact the bolt. In this respect, remember that bolts do not become swaged to fill up the holes as do rivets.

In cases of oversized or elongated holes in critical members, obtain advice from the aircraft or engine manufacturer before drilling or reaming the hole to take the next larger bolt. Usually, such factors as edge distance, clearance, or load factor must be considered. Oversized or elongated holes in noncritical members can usually be drilled or reamed to the next larger size.

Many bolt holes, particularly those in primary connecting elements, have close tolerances. Generally, it is permissible to use the first lettered drill size larger than the normal bolt diameter, except where the AN hexagon bolts are used in light drive fit (reamed) applications and where NAS close tolerance bolts or AN clevis bolts are used.

Light drive fits for bolts (specified on the repair drawings as 0.0015 inch maximum clearance between bolt and hole) are required in places where bolts are used in repair, or where they are placed in the original structure.

The fit of holes and bolts cannot be defined in terms of shaft and hole diameters; it is defined in terms of the friction between bolt and hole when sliding the bolt into place. A tight drive fit, for example, is one in which a sharp blow of a 12- or 14-ounce hammer is required to move the bolt. A bolt that requires a hard blow and sounds tight is considered to fit too tightly. A light drive fit is one in which a bolt will move when a hammer handle is held against its head and pressed by the weight of the body.

Installation Practices

Examine the markings on the bolt head to determine that each bolt is of the correct material. It is of extreme importance to use like bolts in replacement. In every case, refer to the applicable Maintenance Instructions Manual and Illustrated Parts Breakdown.

Be sure that washers are used under both the heads of bolts and nuts unless their omission is specified. A washer guards against mechanical damage to the material being bolted and prevents corrosion of the structural members. An aluminum alloy washer should be used under the head and nut of a steel bolt securing aluminum alloy or magnesium alloy members. Any corrosion that occurs then attacks the washer rather than the members. Steel washers should be used when joining steel members with steel bolts.

Whenever possible, place the bolt with the head on top or in the forward position. This positioning tends to prevent the bolt from slipping out if the nut is accidentally lost.

Be certain that the bolt grip length is correct. Grip length is the length of the unthreaded portion of the bolt shank. Generally speaking, the grip length should equal the thickness of the material being bolted together. However, bolts of slightly greater grip length may be used if washers are placed under the nut or the bolt head. In the case of plate nuts, add shims under the plate.

Safetying of Bolts and Nuts

It is very important that all bolts or nuts, except the self-locking type, be safetied after installation. This prevents them from loosening in flight due to vibration. Methods of safetying are discussed later in this chapter.

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