Aircraft nuts are made in a variety of shapes and sizes. They are made of cadmium plated carbon steel, stainless steel, or anodized 2024T aluminum alloy, and may be obtained with either right- or left-hand threads. No identifying marking or lettering appears on nuts. They can be identified only by the characteristic metallic luster or color of the aluminum, brass, or the insert when the nut is of the self-locking type. They can be further identified by their construction.
Aircraft nuts can be divided into two general groups: non-self-locking and self-locking nuts. Non-self-locking nuts are those that must be safetied by external locking devices, such as cotter pins, safety wire, or locknuts. Self-locking nuts contain the locking feature as an integral part.
Most of the familiar types of nuts, including the plain nut, the castle nut, the castellated shear nut, the plain hex nut, the light hex nut, and the plain checknut are the non-self-locking type. [Figure 5-25]
The castle nut, AN310, is used with drilled shank AN hex head bolts, clevis bolts, eyebolts, drilled head bolts, or studs. It is fairly rugged and can withstand large tensional loads. Slots (called castellations) in the nut are designed to accommodate a cotter pin or lockwire for safety.
The castellated shear nut, AN320, is designed for use with devices (such as drilled clevis bolts and threaded taper pins) which are normally subjected to shearing stress only. Like the castle nut, it is castellated for safetying. Note, however, that the nut is not as deep or as strong as the castle nut; also that the castellations are not as deep as those in the castle nut.
The plain hex nut, AN315 and AN335 (fine and coarse thread), is of rugged construction. This makes it suitable for carrying large tensional loads. However, since it requires an auxiliary locking device, such as a checknut or lockwasher, its use on aircraft structures is somewhat limited.
The light hex nut, AN340 and AN345 (fine and coarse thread), is a much lighter nut than the plain hex nut and must be locked by an auxiliary device. It is used for miscellaneous light tension requirements.
The plain checknut, AN316, is employed as a locking device for plain nuts, set screws, threaded rod ends, and other devices.
The wing nut, AN350, is intended for use where the desired tightness can be obtained with the fingers and where the assembly is frequently removed.
As their name implies, self-locking nuts need no auxiliary means of safetying but have a safetying feature included as an integral part of their construction. Many types of self-locking nuts have been designed and their use has become quite widespread. Common applications are: (1) attachment of antifriction bearings and control pulleys; (2) attachment of accessories, anchor nuts around inspection holes and small tank installation openings; and (3) attachment of rocker box covers and exhaust stacks.
Self-locking nuts are acceptable for use on certificated aircraft subject to the restrictions of the manufacturer. Self-locking nuts are used on aircraft to provide tight connections which will not shake loose under severe vibration. Do not use self-locking nuts at joints which subject either the nut or bolt to rotation. They may be used with antifriction bearings and control pulleys, provided the inner race of the bearing is clamped to the supporting structure by the nut and bolt. Plates must be attached to the structure in a positive manner to eliminate rotation or misalignment when tightening the bolts or screws.
The two general types of self-locking nuts currently in use are the all-metal type and the fiber lock type. For the sake of simplicity, only three typical kinds of self-locking nuts are considered in this handbook: the Boots self-locking and the stainless steel self-locking nuts, representing the all-metal types; and the elastic stop nut, representing the fiber insert type.
Boots Self-Locking Nut
The Boots self-locking nut is of one piece, all-metal construction, designed to hold tight in spite of severe vibration. Note in Figure 5-26 that it has two sections and is essentially two nuts in one, a locking nut and a load-carrying nut. The two sections are connected with a spring which is an integral part of the nut.
The spring keeps the locking and load-carrying sections such a distance apart that the two sets of threads are out of phase; that is, so spaced that a bolt which has been screwed through the load carrying section must push the locking section outward against the force of the spring to engage the threads of the locking section properly.
Thus, the spring, through the medium of the locking section, exerts a constant locking force on the bolt in the same direction as a force that would tighten the nut. In this nut, the load-carrying section has the thread strength of a standard nut of comparable size, while the locking section presses against the threads of the bolt and locks the nut firmly in position. Only a wrench applied to the nut will loosen it. The nut can be removed and reused without impairing its efficiency.
Boots self-locking nuts are made with three different spring styles and in various shapes and sizes. The wing type, which is the most common, ranges in size for No. 6 up to 1⁄4 inch, the Rol-top ranges from 1⁄4 inch to 1⁄6 inch, and the bellows type ranges in size from No. 8 up to 3⁄8 inch. Wing-type nuts are made of anodized aluminum alloy, cadmium-plated carbon steel, or stainless steel. The Rol-top nut is cadmium-plated steel, and the bellows type is made of aluminum alloy only.
Stainless Steel Self-Locking Nut
The stainless steel self-locking nut may be spun on and off with the fingers, as its locking action takes place only when the nut is seated against a solid surface and tightened. The nut consists of two parts: a case with a beveled locking shoulder and key, and a threaded insert with a locking shoulder and slotted keyway. Until the nut is tightened, it spins on the bolt easily because the threaded insert is the proper size for the bolt. However, when the nut is seated against a solid surface and tightened, the locking shoulder of the insert is pulled downward and wedged against the locking shoulder of the case. This action compresses the threaded insert and causes it to clench the bolt tightly. The cross-sectional view in Figure 5-27 shows how the key of the case fits into the slotted keyway of the insert so that when the case is turned, the threaded insert is turned with it. Note that the slot is wider than the key. This permits the slot to be narrowed and the insert to be compressed when the nut is tightened.
Elastic Stop Nut
The elastic stop nut is a standard nut with the height increased to accommodate a fiber locking collar. This fiber collar is very tough and durable and is unaffected by immersion in hot or cold water or ordinary solvents, such as ether, carbon tetrachloride, oils, and gasoline. It will not damage bolt threads or plating.
As shown in Figure 5-28, the fiber locking collar is not threaded and its inside diameter is smaller than the largest diameter of the threaded portion or the outside diameter of a corresponding bolt. When the nut is screwed onto a bolt, it acts as an ordinary nut until the bolt reaches the fiber collar. When the bolt is screwed into the fiber collar, however, friction (or drag) causes the fiber to be pushed upward. This creates a heavy downward pressure on the load carrying part and automatically throws the load carrying sides of the nut and bolt threads into positive contact. After the bolt has been forced all the way through the fiber collar, the downward pressure remains constant. This pressure locks and holds the nut securely in place even under severe vibration.
Nearly all elastic stop nuts are steel or aluminum alloy. However, such nuts are available in practically any kind of metal. Aluminum alloy elastic stop nuts are supplied with an anodized finish. Steel nuts are cadmium plated.
Normally, elastic stop nuts can be used many times with complete safety and without detriment to their locking efficiency. When reusing elastic stop nuts, be sure the fiber has not lost its locking friction or become brittle. If a nut can be turned with the fingers, replace it.
After the nut has been tightened, make sure the rounded or chamfered end of the bolts, studs, or screws extends at least the full round or chamfer through the nut. Flat end bolts, studs, or screws should extend at least 1⁄32 inch through the nut. Bolts of 5⁄16 -inch diameter and over with cotter pin holes may be used with self-locking nuts, but only if free from burrs around the holes. Bolts with damaged threads and rough ends are not acceptable. Do not tap the fiber locking insert. The self-locking action of the elastic stop nut is the result of having the bolt threads impress themselves into the untapped fiber.
Do not install elastic stop nuts in places where the temperature is higher than 250 °F, because the effectiveness of the self-locking action is reduced beyond this point. Self-locking nuts may be used on aircraft engines and accessories when their use is specified by the engine manufacturer.
Self-locking nut bases are made in a number of forms and materials for riveting and welding to aircraft structure or parts. [Figure 5-29] Certain applications require the installation of self-locking nuts in channels, an arrangement which permits the attachment of many nuts with only a few rivets. These channels are track-like bases with regularly spaced nuts which are either removable or nonremovable. The removable type carries a floating nut, which can be snapped in or out of the channel, thus making possible the easy removal of damaged nuts. Nuts, such as the clinch-type and spline-type, which depend on friction for their anchorage, are not acceptable for use in aircraft structures.