Thursday, March 21, 2024

Bolt Organization - Over Engineering

We've all beheld big bolt bins, and many have begrudgingly bought into them.  I held out for as long as I could, and finally declared that I need something better.

I don't want bolt bins.  In our house, we had some old canning jars left over from eons ago, and I decided to use those.  Yup, glass jars to hold my metal bolts.  It should be fine.  So, this write up is about the journey to create a bolt storage system.

This project has been on my back burner for some time.  Unfortunately, my spouse came home with some Pyrex for a wedding gift that we ended up etching names into for personalization.  This was exactly what I'd been wanting to do with the glass jars (save the addition of some colorant to the etched glass when done for contrast), and since we now had a bottle of glass etchant (Armour Etch), I figured I had nothing to lose but start the storage.

First, the etching of the Pyrex :

Yes, I am now worried about the end result, since the etching seems to be a bit hidden - we'll see if the colorant additions (Sharpie) help this later.

I generated a list of bolt sizes from an old Machinists' Handbook to get a bit wider range of sizes, so not having only modern stuff, but some of the more common older sizes, too.  Note, I only did imperial since that is most of what my restoration work uses).  I fed that into the vinyl cutter, and had my sticky stencils setting in storage.

The next task was to simply cut the stencils out and apply them.  I used some "transfer tape" designed for transferring vinyl to do this, and set the stencils into place on the jars.

Short jars were for fine threads, and large jars were for coarse threads, because most cases I've seen had the longer bolts with coarse threads.  It will make it easier to know that the full quart jars were coarse, and the pint jars were for fine threads.  Visual organization makes for fast grabbing of what is needed when you need it.

I applied the Armour Etch, and let it set for 15 minutes (should be fine in 5, and the additional 10 minutes likely didn't help much, which doesn't matter for me).  I rinsed them off, and then I let them dry.

I grabbed my red Sharpie, and filled in the stencils.  This made it fast work to color in the lines.  The Sharpie doesn't help much (less sticking to glass), but the tint might show up better against black, silver, or yellow (grade 8) bolts.  That's why I chose the color - we'll see how well it works when we get there.

Now, peal off the labels.  I'm getting more nervous that the Sharpie isn't going to help much.

Okay, with that against a white background, the Sharpie shows superbly.  I expect it will help with the silver-colored bolts (zinc-plated) just fine.  The black ones... still unsure of.  I'm going to let these jars set for a while to get as much locked in place as I can.

I ordered some brackets I designed to bold vertically.  They should match up to an 8mm through hole (so I can use a skate bearing, or a 608 bearing - I have a number of 608RS's that I can use - with a 7mm thickness, and a 22mm outside diameter, they should fit a 1.5" x 5/16" aluminum barstock - all I have to do is cut and drill them out.)

The SendCutSend brackets actually look really good.  There are some powder coating issues around the bearing hole (flashing, or extra coating chunks), but really look fantastic over all.  The DXC file for the brackets was loaded to Google Drive if you need it.

These use M8-1.0x30mm bolts for the 1/4" brackets.  You need to use an M8 washer for these, or the bearings will be flush with the brackets and fail to operate, so, one washer per bearing.  Those washers must be less than the 22mm outside diameter with ah 8mm inner diameter.  Thickness doesn't matter, because they don't make washers thin enough to not work.  My washers have a 16mm outside diameter and a 1.5mm thickness.

I cut some 1"x4" x8' common board into 4" lengths (about the diameter of the jars, and I have about 37 of those for these).  The thickness is 3/4", so don't be alarmed if it doesn't match up.  The lids will screw into the boards, the aluminum bar will screw into the ends of these, and then the bearings will cap that off.  For these parts, I need clearance for the bolt heads and nuts. I started by boring a single board at a time, offset for the aluminum bar width for these 3/4" boards, and just decided it was easier to do two at a time.  I used a 3/4" Forstner bit, a vise bolted to the table, and then simply added a chunk of aluminum that I could use to align the sides of the vise jaws to the boards as I put them in.

Okay - we're getting close.  Here's how they will sit (the lids screw underneath, and I still need to make the parts that connect the boards to the bearings).

Next, I need to cut out bars for each bearing.  These should have file holes in them, and be about the same length as the boards.  The center hole will be exactly centered, and will need to be a 22" hole diameter.  The others will need to be centered on the boards, so those will be 3/8" from the bottom side.  A countersink on them will allow those screws to fit all the way in and not interfere with anything.

The bars (1.5" wide, 5/16" thick) were sawn on the bandsaw.  I set it for a 45 degree angle to get more braces out of each bar, and then I'd just use the bandsaw end stop and flip the bar (you can see one in the picture below).  I didn't care to take the time to mill or clean up the saw cuts other than a deburing tool.  I only needed about 42 of them, but cut as much into these things as I could, just in case I needed some metric storage later.  I wanted to get as close to a production-style as I could (so that things were all lined up the same way).  On the drill press, I used my square angle brackets to get the small screw holes into the same places (I just flipped the parts to get the opposite end), then set the depths and countersunk each one.

Next came the larger bearing hole.  It's a 22mm hole, and I'm too cheap to go buy a single drill bit just for this job.  A 7/8" drill bit is  22.225mm, so I know there will be a little slack in these holes (0.0088" plus whatever the drill bit oversize is, to be exact).

It was just a ,matter of running through them all to drill, debur, and call those parts done.

Installation is simple.  I installed one bracket (the end one), and got it vertical using a level.  Then, I would slide one jar-assembly on along with the opposite bracket (for spacing), and then screw down the second bracket.  Repeat until they were all lined up.


 Instant storage, and when I need one, just find the jar, thread it off, and the nuts and bolts are contained.  Thread it back on when done.  Each jar pivots to make stowing the tray in an upright position and the seat up makes this flight a successful one.

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