Loosening of nuts and bolts is a problem that unites professionals and hobbyists in a quest for the ultimate, secure bolted joint. Here Nord-Lock Group shows how its wedge-locking washers provided the answer for spare-time drag racer Sam Retke.
Whether designing for massive infrastructure construction projects or getting absorbed in a spare-time pet project, the common goal at Nord-Lock Group is always to secure the bolted joints as effectively as possible.
A prime example is Sam Retke, who for most of his free time can be found in his garage back home in Las Vegas, USA, working on his VW drag racer. A sales representative by profession, he has been racing since 2016 – but had the car racing bug since being a boy. “I used to watch track racing on TV,” mentions Sam. “My uncle Brian was a VW guy when I grew up, so that’s why I got into VW racing. But I’m self-taught, learned from reading articles and watching YouTube videos.”
Extreme vibrations a challenge
Sam competes in quarter mile drag racing (approximately 400 meters), where often spectacularly rebuilt and painted VW models race each other. His current car, a 1984 VW Rabbit, hasn’t made it down the track yet, but the initial goal is 10.5 seconds.
This kind of speed is very hard on race cars, especially as they are incredibly stiff and shake a lot. As a result, the extreme vibrations can easily make nuts and bolts come loose. For example, if critical components such as transmission mounts fail, or a bolt backs out, it can change the geometry of the engine or transmission, which leads to breaking.
“I have definitely ‘ovaled’ out some holes due to bolts coming loose,” points out Sam. “I have also had some issues with a few bolts coming loose for accessories bolted to the engine, such as belt pulley tensioner and water temp housing.”
Finding a reliable ‘go-to’ solution
Sam had tried thread locker to solve the problem, but even that didn’t fix it permanently. Then he learned about a more durable solution from a drag racing friend who had used Nord-Lock wedge-locking washers on his 1992 VW GTI with great success.
“I found a hardware store near me that stocked Nord-Lock wedge-locking washers, and I now have nearly one hundred in different sizes in my shop,” highlights Sam. “I use them on basically every location that will accept them, including on critical components, such as the transmission mounts. They
are incredibly well suited for any suspension components due to the vibrations.”
The only areas where he doesn’t use the wedge-locking washers are “components that require a special torque procedure, such as 149ft/lbs [202 joules], back off 180°, tighten to 50ft/lbs [68 joules] and then turn 60°. The one I’m currently using outside of the official heat rating is my turbo connection to the exhaust manifold. I’m not aware of any problems, but I often check as the heat rating is up to 800°F [427°C] higher than the official rating”.
A tight knit community
Having VW car racing as a hobby brings a lot of camaraderie and joy. “The VW racing community is pretty close,” mentions Sam. “We go to car shows together and help each other out, for example with parts.”
He adds that the preparing might be the most fun part. “Having your buddy over, drinking a few beers, ensuring everything’s working, and then the lead up to the events.”
The hobby also helped him get through the Covid-19 lockdown with sanity intact. “I had nowhere to be and a lot more free time. So, I’d go out in the garage and work on the car for eight hours a day sometimes. It was perfect to have something to get
‘super deep’ into.”
A never-ending search for perfection
With things yet again relatively normal, Sam is looking forward to more racing and is constantly working on his car. “When I have a hobby,” says Sam. “I go all in, and I’m never satisfied. So, I always go to a shop to get more things done, such as the cage and more safety stuff, and to ensure I am futureproofing the car to go faster in the future.”
Will joined Fastener + Fixing Magazine in 2007 and over the last 12 years has experienced every facet of the fastener sector – interviewing key figures within the industry and visiting leading companies and exhibitions around the globe. Will manages the content strategy across all platforms and is the guardian for the high editorial standards that the brand is renowned.