The Home Depot-ization of all forms of hardware retailing continues unabated, as I found out this afternoon. I needed a pair of 7″ long 1/2″ Grade 8 bolts, today, so that I could get my Dodge A100 Hell Project back on the road. Easy, right? Maybe ten years ago it was. Not today.
It all started when Ununquadium Legend of LeMons winner Rich offered to help me convert the A100 from its pre-1967 better-hope-nothing-leaks single-circuit brake system to a mandated-by-meddling-nanny-state dual-circuit system. That part went fine (more on the project later), but I figured I’d install new shock absorbers while I had the thing up on stands with the wheels off.
See the difference between the lower mount on the old shock versus the new one? That meant that the mounting bolt wasn’t going to fit. Just get one that’s 3/4″ longer and everything will be fine.
My van has an aftermarket sway bar installation (as far as I can tell, Chrysler didn’t put factory sway bars on any A100s), which uses a long bolt through the axle beam to mount the shock absorber on the rear side and the sway bar end link on the front side. I suspect that the sway bar installer used shocks with a narrower bottom mount in order to make his sway bar hardware fit… oh, and he also used crappy bolts that got bent and corroded over the years. Ack! So, I headed down to the Ace Hardware in downtown Denver, confident that I’d find what I needed. As it turned out, Ace no longer stocks nearly as extensive a selection of Grade 8 fasteners as it once did (though the store did have quite the assortment of shiny chrome bolts), and I could find only a handful of 1/2″ shoulder bolts in Grade 8, none of which were anything close to the required 7″ length. Fortunately, the hardware guy at the store knew where I might find what I needed.
Less than a mile away, AAA Metric turned out to be just the old-school hardware supplier I needed (sorry about the crappy cellphone-camera photo). A tiny office in an industrial neighborhood in the shadow of I-25, AAA Metric (which also stocks non-metric stuff, despite the name) is staffed by real parts guys, and they hooked me up with just what I needed in a matter of minutes. Two G8 bolts, two G8 nuts. $8.06, and I’ve got what I need. I hope that a few expert-staffed, independent places like this manage to cling to life. Otherwise… well, not every retail problem can be solved by a resentful $6/hour “associate” who knows how to push the button with the picture of the hamburger and nothing more.
Find Reviews by Make: