When is a Nut a Sert - Nutserts for your hard top

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When is a Nut a Sert - Nutserts for your hard top

Post by johnl » Sat Sep 18, 2004 1:17 pm

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by Chuck Phlegm
Just another thing to do to your Bronco!

Every time you take the hardtop off your Bronco, you are faced with the dreary task of putting the bolts and nuts somewhere safe. Not only that, but your Bronco has that line of 7 holes on each bed rail, looking a little unfinished.

About a year ago, talk on the Broncofix list turned to a handy piece of hardware called a "nutsert." Using a tool similar to a rivet gun, you could put a blind threaded insert into these holes and have one less thing to lose when you peel the top off the old steed.

I bought the tool. It was $12.99 at Harbor Freight. It came with several heads and a handful of each size "nutsert." I was pretty sure that 14 1/4-20 bolts (plus the 5 or 6 across the windshield header) would hold the top on, but when I realized the inserts were some sort of soft ferrous metal, I was a little less impressed. So the tool sits out in the garage. It looks damn good hanging there. I turned to other things that Alice needed more than nuts... like, say... brakes.

A few weeks ago I was in my local Ace Hardware store looking for nothing much. I happened across a bin with threaded inserts. They are manufactured by a company called Midwest Fastener Corp (http://www.fastenerconnection.com/aboutus.asp). Upon inspection, they are made of heavier material than the nutserts I tried previously. Also, they don't require an expensive tool to install. There is a "tool" to buy that will do the job (I'm a tool junkie, so I bought it). It is basically an oversized nut with a smooth bore (no threads). The idea is to put this nut on a 1-1/2" bolt that fits the insert, then thread the insert on, then put the whole assembly in the hole. Using 2 open end wrenches, or a wrench & ratchet, you tighten the bolt and compress the insert.

The inserts cost me about $1.30 each, and the tool was about $2. It was a quick job. Figure about an hour. See the photos below for all the gory details.

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The 5/16" inserts I used needed a 9/16" hole. To make the job easier, you can clamp a scrap of wood under the bedrail where you will be drilling. I was a man and just toughed it out when the drill attempted to remove my wrists.

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The three magic pieces. You could substitute the nifty tool for an oversized nut. I decided to pony up the $1.90.

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Put them all together. Nut or tool first, then the insert threads right on.

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Stick it all in the hole.

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I used an open end wrench and a deep socket. It was a little easier when I switched to a ratcheting box-end wrench. Both work. Keep the insert snug in the hole so it doesn't turn out crooked as it compresses.

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Too cool? I think so!

-Chuck Phlegm

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Post by shoqwave » Wed May 25, 2005 1:35 am

I don’t mean to stir up an old post, but how is it holding up with the pressure of taking the hard top off and on, are they coming loose or slipping?
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nutserts...

Post by RIVRATS » Wed May 25, 2005 4:17 am

Yeah, how they holding up?

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Post by TCheney » Wed May 25, 2005 8:07 am

Great! No problems at all. The original set are all still in place. I also used some to install a set of liftgate shocks in the hardtop. Those worked out just fine as well. I'm still a nutsert believer.

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Post by Mudgoat » Wed May 25, 2005 5:59 pm

Did you have a problem with dimpeling or low spots after the nutserts were tightened or have any gaps in the top-to-body seal?
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Post by TCheney » Wed May 25, 2005 9:03 pm

I haven't noticed any dimpling nor any gaps. I should mention that I used a thicker "camper" seal on the bed rails until recently (I am using the stock weatherstripping along the windshield header). That has changed & I'll be using the stock weatherstripping, so I'll have to report back. The lip of the nutsert is fairly thin, so I don't think it will be an issue.
As for dimpling, I use a fairly wide washer on the bolt, along with a nylon washer to protect the paint on my hardtop. These 2 washers help distribute the force of the tightened hardtop. I haven't seen any dimpling.

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Post by TCheney » Wed May 25, 2005 9:05 pm

I should also mention that a PO pretty much thrashed on the bedrails. I pounded some dimpled holes back to flat and had to fill a couple of holes where they redrilled (for what purpose I do NOT know).

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Post by bilgamesh » Tue Sep 18, 2007 12:19 pm

I asked around at various places for "threaded inserts", but had no luck finding what I needed. It seems there are many different kinds of things that qualify as threaded inserts. What I learned is that you may have better luck referencing the pieces as rivet nuts or blind rivet nuts. You can find these easily, even if you ACE Hardware counter person does not know about them.

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Post by onetuffpony » Wed Sep 19, 2007 1:23 pm

Taking the advice of TCheney I went to McMaster-Carr and found exactly what I was looking for. :mrgreen: I can get enough to do my bedrails AND my windshield for less than what it would take buy enough for the bedrails at a local hardware store. I had to go to 4 different hardware stores before I found them too! So check it out at http://wwwmcmaster.com and look for rivet nuts or you can go straight to the catalog page at http://www.mcmaster.com/nav/enter.asp?pagenum=3187

And if it's what you're looking for you can thank TCheney. :thumbup:
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Post by bilgamesh » Tue Oct 02, 2007 11:04 am

What size did you buy? The P/O used 5/16 bolts, but I upsized to 3/8". I think this is a good size, but I wonder if the material would be thick enough to support this. I also wonder about the relative advantages/disadvantages of closed/open ends.

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Post by Hyenuf » Sat Feb 09, 2008 3:16 am

I know I'm dredging up an old post here....

If you wanna do this.. and I think it's a great idea.. doing it myself.... I discovered a couple of little things...

First... the 5/16 and 3/8 "nutserts" require the same size hole for the "sert"

2nd.... it's a 17/32 drill...I know it's only 1/32 difference... but tighter is gooder.. right?

and finally one of the body guys at our shop suggested using green (bearing seat) loctite on the nutsert for a little extra hold to the body!


I love these things... I figure if they can hold panels on commercial trucks and buses... a Bronco should be no issue!!
What we have here...... is a failure to articulate

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Post by stangsterx » Sun Feb 10, 2008 6:40 pm

Nutserts are great and have been used in the automotive industry ALOT! When a friend of mine decided to install a stock set of side step bars on his 03' jeep, nutserts is what the local dealer sold him as a factory installation into the frame for the steps. I work for my local county's school system, and the bus mechanic's say that there are alot of these on buses in various applications. I used some to mount the hard top on my 76' cj-7 and they worked GREAT!!! Easy on-Easy off.

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Post by mheinjr » Sun Mar 02, 2008 9:42 am

Edited msg....

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Post by mjanselmo » Tue Mar 11, 2008 3:08 pm

What material thickness should be used? Do you use the rivets with the seal?

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Post by redleg » Tue Jan 27, 2009 1:03 pm

I ordered the inserts and the installation tool (tool was about $25.00-a little high, but I am a tool junkie) from McMaster-Carr. I have used the inserts to install the half cab bulkhead and top on my wife's '74. They work great!! I find myself looking for other places to use them and cannot believe that I had not found them previously. Thanks for the tip.
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Post by ihscoutmatt » Mon Jun 22, 2009 6:42 pm

redleg wrote:I ordered the inserts and the installation tool (tool was about $25.00-a little high, but I am a tool junkie) from McMaster-Carr. I have used the inserts to install the half cab bulkhead and top on my wife's '74. They work great!! I find myself looking for other places to use them and cannot believe that I had not found them previously. Thanks for the tip.
Im new to this board, and I admit I dont have a Bronco, I do like them but Im a Scout guy and am in the process of converting one to half cab.

I have been searching the web for nutserts and cant decide what to use, I see that you used some for installing the bulkhead in a half cab, thats what I need them for, how are they holding up, what size bolts did you use and do you have the part number for them and the installation tool?
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Post by redleg » Sun Jul 19, 2009 2:58 pm

Sorry for the delay, below is listed what I ordered. You probably will need to adjust the quantities--I ordered extra.........

:D :D Products
Line Quantity Part Number Description Unit Price Total Price Ships
1 3
Packs 95105A151 <http://www.mcmaster.com/nav/enter.asp?p ... genum=3213> Zinc-Plated Steel Open-End Knurled Rivet Nut 5/16"-18 Internal Thread, .027"-.150" Material Thk, Packs of 10
$4.89 $14.67 today

2 3
Packs 95105A155 <http://www.mcmaster.com/nav/enter.asp?p ... genum=3213> Zinc-Plated Steel Open-End Knurled Rivet Nut 5/16"-18 Internal Thread, .150"-.312" Material Thk, Packs of 10
$6.06 $18.18 today

3 1
Each 96349A407 <http://www.mcmaster.com/nav/enter.asp?p ... genum=3215> Wrench-Drive Rivet Nut Installation Tool for 5/16"-18 & 5/16"-24 Thread Size
$29.16 $29.16 today

Merchandise $62.01
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Post by DJBronco » Thu Sep 29, 2011 5:42 am

I know this is an old thread but why did you order two different sizes of nut-serts? Which one do you recommend for the bedrail and windshield mount?

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Post by sunexim » Wed Nov 30, 2011 6:03 am

DJBronco wrote:I know this is an old thread but why did you order two different sizes of nut-serts? Which one do you recommend for the bedrail and windshield mount?
Also sorry for digging this old thread, i have also the same question why did you order two different sizes of nut-serts?
Please reply it?

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Post by 69brightbluebronco » Wed Nov 30, 2011 9:20 am

they are for different metal thicknesses, my guess is the bronco metal falls within both of those size ranges, so maybe they ordered both sets to try out, or maybe the bed rails are thicker metal than the WS frame? the second makes more sense to me...
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