World-leading Fastener Technology
ARP started applying technology to race fastener design and manufacturing in 1968. We'll discuss five components of fastener technology in detail.
Today's critical diesel fasteners - head studs and bolts, main studs and bolts, and driveline - have been designed stronger than ever before to handle the extreme loads. As a results, installation pre-loads - the amount the fastener is stretched during installation - are very high.
Installation Methods
There are three methods that can be employed to determine how much tension is exerted on a fastener; using a torque wrench, measuring the amount of stretch, and turning the fastener a pre-determined amount (torque angle). Of these methods, use of a stretch gauge is the most accurate.
The following material is intended to provide a brief overview of the metallurgical considerations that influence the design and production of the most reliable fasteners in motorsports. It is hoped that a simple understanding of the knowledge and commitment required to produce this reliability will make your future fastener decisions much, much easier.
ARP Materials
The materials ARP uses in fastener manufacturing are listed and compared.
Recognizing Common Failures
There are six types of metallurgical failures that affect fasteners. Each type has unique identifying physical characteristics. The following examples are designed to be used like a spark plug reading chart to help analyze fastener failures.
Design Procedures for Automotive Bolts
The design of automotive bolts is a complex process, involving a multitude of factors. These include the determination of operating loads and the establishment of geometric configuration. The process for connecting rod bolts is described in the following paragraphs as an example.
Fastener Load

The first step in the process of designing a connecting rod bolt is to determine the load that it must carry. This is accomplished by calculating the dynamic force caused by the oscillating piston and connecting rod. This force is determined from the classical concept that force equals mass times acceleration. The mass includes the mass of the piston plus a portion of the mass of the rod. This mass undergoes oscillating motion as the crankshaft rotates. The resulting acceleration, which is at its maximum value when the piston is at top dead center and bottom dead center, is proportional to the stroke and the square of the engine speed. The oscillating force is sometimes called the reciprocating weight. Its numerical value is proportional to:

It is seen that the design load, the reciprocating weight, depends on the square of the RPM speed. This means that if the speed is doubled, for example, the design load is increased by a factor of 4. This relationship is shown graphically below for one particular rod and piston.

Reciprocating Weight

A typical value for this reciprocating weight is in the vicinity of 20,000 lbs. For purposes of bolt design, a “rule of thumb” is to size the bolts and select the material for this application such that each of the 2 rod bolts has a strength of approximately 20,000 lbs. (corresponding to the total reciprocating weight). This essentially builds in a nominal safety factor of 2. The stress is calculated according to the following formula:

so that the root diameter of the thread can be calculated from the formula:

This formula shows that the thread size can be smaller if a stronger material is used. Or, for a given thread size, a stronger material will permit a greater reciprocating weight. The graph shows the relationship between thread size and material strength.

Other Stresses

It must be realized that the direct reciprocating load is not the only source of stresses in bolts. A secondary effect arises because of the flexibility of the journal end of the connecting rod. The reciprocating load causes bending deformation of the bolted joint (yes, even steel deforms under load). This deformation causes bending stresses in the bolt as well as in the rod itself. These bending stresses fluctuate from zero to their maximum level during each revolution of the crankshaft.

Geometric Configuration

The next step is to establish the details of the geometric configuration. Here the major consideration is fatigue, the fracture that could occur due to frequent repetition of high stresses, such as the bending stresses described above. Several factors must be considered in preventing fatigue; attention to design details is essential.

Stress Riser Elimination

Fatigue failure is frequently caused by localized stress risers, such as sharp corners. In bolts, this would correspond to the notch effect associated with the thread form. It is well known that the maximum stress in an engaged bolt occurs in the last engaged thread. By removing the remaining, non-engaged threads, the local notch effect can be reduced. This leads to the standard configuration used in most ARP rod bolts: a reduced diameter shank and full engagement for the remaining threads. Providing a local fillet radius at the location of the maximum stress further reduces the local notch effect. Thus this configuration represents the optimum with respect to fatigue strength.

The reduced diameter shank is helpful in another sense. It reduces the bending stiffness of the bolt. Therefore, when the bolt bends due to deformation of the connecting rod, the bending stresses are reduced below what they would otherwise be. This further increases the fatigue resistance of the bolt. A typical bolt configuration is shown below.

Engineering the Manufacturing Process

Once the bolt configuration has been established, the manufacturing process comes into play. This involves many facets, which are discussed in detail elsewhere. Here, however, one process is of primary interest. With respect to bolt fatigue strength, thread rolling is a major consideration. Threads are rolled after heat treating. This process, which deforms the metal, produces a beneficial compressive stress in the root of the thread. It is beneficial because it counteracts the fluctuating tensile stresses that can cause fatigue cracking. If heat-treatment were to occur after rolling, the compressive stresses would be eliminated. This would therefore reduce the fatigue resistance of the bolt.

Engaged Thread

An additional factor must be taken into account in defining the bolt configuration: the length of engaged thread. If too few threads are engaged, the threads will shear at loads that are lower than the strength of the bolt. As a practical matter, the thread length is always selected so that the thread shear strength is significantly greater than the bolt tension strength.

This problem is especially important in bolts used in aluminum rods because of the fact that the shear strength of aluminum is much lower than the shear strength of steel.


Finally, although not a design parameter, the subject of bolt installation preload must be addressed. It is a fundamental engineering concept that the force in a bolt in an ideal preloaded joint will remain equal to the preload until the externally applied force exceeds the preload. Then the force in the bolt will be equal to the external force. This means that fluctuating external forces will not cause fluctuating forces in a preloaded bolt as long as the preload exceeds the external force. The result is that fatigue failure will not occur.

In a non-ideal joint, such as in a connecting rod, the bolt will feel fluctuating stresses due to fluctuating rod distortions. These are additive to the preload, so that fatigue could result. In connecting rods, precise preloads are required because if they are too low, the external forces (the reciprocating weights) will exceed the preloads, thus causing fatigue. If they are too high, they provide a high mean stress that combines with the fluctuating stresses due to rod distortion. Again, fatigue is promoted. The objective, then, is to preload a bolt so that it just exceeds the external load, and no higher.

To sum up: both insufficient preloads and excessive preloads can lead to fatigue failures.

Installation and Other Factors

Appropriate preloads are specified for each ARP bolt. These preloads can be attained in a connecting rod by applying proper torque using a torque wrench or by measuring the amount of stretch in the bolt using a stretch gauge (it is known that a bolt stretches in proportion to the tension in it). The torque method is sometimes inaccurate because of the uncertainty in the coefficient of friction at the interface between the bolt and the rod. This inaccuracy can be minimized by using the lubricant supplied by ARP.

Other factors, equally as important as design, include material selection, verification testing, processing, and quality control. These aspects of bolt manufacturing are discussed elsewhere in this document.

The foregoing discussion concentrated on the design of bolts. The same considerations apply in the design of studs.

Fastener Installation Overview

The importance of tightening fasteners to their required preload cannot be emphasized enough. If a fastener is not tightened properly, the fastener will not apply the required preload on the application it is being used for and may become susceptible to failure. Conversely, if a fastener is overtightened and stretched too much, it becomes susceptible to failure by exceeding it's maximum yield point. There are three generally accepted methods employed to determine how much tension is exerted on a fastener:

  • Using a torque wrench
  • Measuring the amount of stretch
  • Torque angle (rotating the fastener a predetermined amount)

Of these methods, measuring the amount of stretch of a fastener has been proven to be the most accurate. However, since stretch can only be measured with the use of specialty type gauges or expensive ultra sonic measuring equipment, it is only practical for measuring the stretch on connecting rod bolts and other fasteners, where it is possible to monitor the overall length of a fastener, as it is being tightened. Since most fasteners are installed blind and can't be accessed from both ends to monitor stretch, one will most likely use a torque wrench or other torque angle monitoring device for the majority of assembly work.

The Stretch Factor

It is important to note that in order for a fastener to function properly it must be "stretched" a specific amount. The material's ability to "rebound" like a spring is what provides the clamping force. If you were to simply "finger-tighten" a bolt there would be no preload. However, when you apply torque or rotate a fastener a specific amount and stretch it, you will be applying clamping force. The amount of force or preload you can achieve from any bolt or stud depends on the material being used and its ductility, the heat treat, and the diameter of the fastener. Of course, every fastener has a "yield" point! The yield point or yield strength of a fastener is the point at which the fastener has been overtightened and stretched too much, and will not return to its original manufactured length. As a rule of thumb, if you measure a fastener and it is .0005˝ (or more) longer than its original length it has been compromised and must be replaced.

Another factor that must be considered is heat! Heat, primarily in aluminum, is another problem area. Because the thermal expansion rate of aluminum is far greater than that of steel it is possible to stretch a fastener beyond yield as the aluminum expands under heat. An effective way of counteracting material expansion is through producing a more flexible bolt.

Using a Stretch Gauge

We highly recommend using a stretch gauge when installing rod bolts and other fasteners, where it is possible to measure the length of the fastener. It is the most accurate way of measuring preload of any bolt. Simply follow manufacturer's instructions, or use the chart in the our catalog for ARP rod bolts.

When using a stretch gauge it's best to measure the fastener prior to starting and monitor overall length during installation. When the bolt has stretched a specified amount, the correct preload or clamping force has been applied. We recommend that you maintain a chart of all rod bolts and make a note of the fastener length prior to installation and after any disassembly. If there is a permanent increase of .0005˝ or more in length, there is a deformation and the bolt should be replaced. You can download a sample rod bolt stretch monitoring chart by clicking here.

Using a Torque Wrench

There are a number of things to consider when using a torque wrench. The "friction factor" changes from one cycle to the next. That is, friction is at its highest value when the fastener is first tightened. Each subsequent time the fastener is torqued and loosened, the amount of friction lessens. Eventually the friction levels out and becomes fairly consistent for all following repetitions.

Three basic elements that contribute to the friction factor:
  • Most importantly - The fastener assembly lubricant
  • The condition of the receiving threads
  • The surface finish of the fastener

Because of these variables, a phenomenon known as "preload scatter" or preload error occurs. This is basically the difference between the amount of preload achieved on the first installation of the fastener and the amount of preload achieved on subsequent torque/loosen/re-torque cycles. It's not uncommon to see "preload scatter" in the range of 4,000-8,000 pounds between the first and tenth pull on a new fastener depending on the lubricant used.

The Lubricant is the Key

The main factor in determining friction in a threaded fastener is the lubricant used, and therefore influences the torque required for a particular installation. One of the most overlooked aspects of choosing a fastener assembly lubricant is…the lubricant's ability to "control" the normal function of friction inherent in all high performance engine fasteners. As discussed earlier in this section, friction is at its highest point when a new fastener is first tightened. This "friction" inhibits the fasteners ability to achieve the required preload on the first several cycles. In fact, ARP's in-house Research and Development department has proven that new fasteners using motor oil and other commonly used lubricants such as Moly and EPL typically require 5-7 cycles before final torquing to level out the initial friction and achieve the required preload. Slicker lubricants may reduce the required torque by as much as 20-30% to achieve the desired preload, but compromise in areas of major importance such as preload repeatability, and may yield the fastener prematurely. Typically, the slicker the lubricant, the greater the "preload scatter" or preload error there will be during installation.

The bottom line: Preload repeatability and preload consistency from a fastener to fastener perspective, should be the number one consideration when choosing a fastener assembly lubricant. Remember even the best fastener is only as good as its installation. Preload repeatability is the foundation for maintaining round housing bores, and preload consistency ensures the same preload from one fastener to another across a large area, such as the deck surface of a cylinder block. These two fundamentals are the cornerstone of every successful fastener installation and that's why ARP's engineering team set out to develop the "ultimate" fastener lubricant. The result of several years of extensive R&D is a remarkable new assembly lube called ARP Ultra-Torque®. As shown in the graph above, ARP Ultra-Torque® clearly provides the repeatability and preload consistency that no other fastener assembly lubricant on the market can provide today.

Fastener Surface Finish and Condition of Receiving Threads

In addition to the lubricant used, friction is affected by the surface finish of the fastener itself and the condition of the receiving threads. For example, black oxide behaves differently than a polished fastener so it’s important to follow the torque recommendations with each fastener kit. Then there's the very real problem of burrs and debris in the bolt holes that can significantly affect the amount of torque required to achieve the recommended preloads. All bolt holes should be thoroughly cleaned using special "Chaser Taps" to optimize the threads before installation.

Torque Wrench Accuracy

It is possible for even the most expensive torque wrenches to lose accuracy over time. Rough use or repeated loosening of fasteners using your torque wrench as a "breaker bar" will exacerbate the loss of accuracy. In fact, ARP field technicians have seen a wide range of torque wrench reading errors as much as 15-30%. This just emphasizes the importance of treating torque wrenches with the utmost of respect and having them checked periodically for accuracy.

The Torque Angle Method

Since the amount that a bolt or nut advances on the thread per degree of rotation is determined by the thread pitch, it would appear that any amount of stretch in a given bolt or stud can be accurately predicted be measuring the degrees of turn from the point where the underside of the bolt head or nut face contacts the work surface. Termed the "torque angle" method, this procedure has long been the standard of civil engineering. It has been suggested that torque angle is a relatively simple and valid procedure to use in "blind" installations—where it is not possible to physically measure the actual bolt stretch.

ARP has conducted extensive evaluations of the torque angle method, and concluded that – for high performance engine applications – it is suitable only when calibrated for each installation.

Our investigation has proven that installed stretch is dependent not only on the pitch of the thread and the degree of rotation, but also on the amount of compression of the clamped components, the type of lubrication, the length of the male fastener, and the amount of engaged thread. It's important to note that for the same degree of rotation, the amount of bolt stretch will be critically different between an aluminum or cast iron cylinder head, or when installing a steel main cap on a cast iron or aluminum block. Furthermore, there is a significant difference in stretch between the long and short cylinder head bolts or studs on the same head. The torque angle method can be accurate – but only if each individual application has been previously calibrated by direct measurement of bolt stretch. If you do employ the torque angle method, it's best to begin calibrating rotation from some small measured torque rather than the first point of contact with the work face. To achieve optimum accuracy, always use ARP Ultra-Torque® fastener assembly lubricant whenever possible.

Click here to download a printable rod bolt stretch monitoring chart

The following material is intended to provide a brief overview of the metallurgical considerations that, daily, influence the design and production of the most reliable fasteners in motorsports. It is hoped that a simple understanding of the knowledge and commitment required to produce this reliability will make your future fastener decisions much, much easier.
Metallurgy for the Non-engineer


1. What is grain size and how important is it?

Metals freeze from the liquid state during melting from many origins (called allotropic) and each one of these origins grows until it bumps into another during freezing. Each of these is a grain and in castings, they are fairly large. Grains can be refined (made smaller); therefore, many more of them can occupy the same space, by first cold working and then by recrystallizing at high temperature. Alloy steels, like chrome moly, do not need any cold work; to do this – reheat treatment will refine the grain size. But austenitic steels and aluminum require cold work first. Grain size is very important for mechanical properties. High temperature creep properties are enhanced by large grains but good toughness and fatigue require fine grain size-the finer the better. (High temp creep occurs at elevated temperature and depending on material and load could be as much as .001 per inch/per hour.) All ARP bolts and studs are fine grain – usually ASTM 8 or finer. With 10 being the finest.

2. How do you get toughness vs. brittleness?

With steels, as the strength goes up, the toughness decreases. At too high a strength, the metal tends to be brittle. And threads accentuate the brittleness. A tool steel which can be heat-treated to 350,000 psi, would be a disaster as a bolt because of the threads.

3. Define Rockwell as we use it. Why do we use the C scale?

The man’s name was Rockwell and he developed a means of measuring hardness of metals which was superior to other methods. A Rockwell hardness tester measures the depth of penetration into the metal when a load is applied. For hard materials, a diamond penetrator is used. For soft material, small balls are used – 1/16” or 1/8˝ diameter-and the machine measures the depth. We use the C scale for the 120,000 psi strength level and above. The C scale uses the greatest load – 150 Kg. The A scale uses only a 60 Kg. load but can be correlated with C. It is necessary to use the A scale for thin sheets because using the 150 Kg load would cause the diamond to penetrate almost all the way through.

4. What is “micro hardness?”

Some parts are too small to be Rockwell hardness tested. They are placed in hard plastic and a microscope is used to place a small indenter into the metal. Using the microscope the length of the impression is measured.

5. How does modulus of elasticity refer to our products?

The modulus of elasticity of all alloy steels is exactly the same – 30,000,000 psi. This is true whether it is heat-treated or not – whether it is 100,000 psi strength level or 300,000 psi. Metals are like a spring – put a load on them and they will stretch – double the load and they will stretch double. This is important in connecting rod bolts because by measuring the stretch we really are measuring the load. Load is what is important and measuring stretch of a given size and configuration bolt will indicate how much load is stretching the bolt.

6. What are metal carbides and what is their significance?

The strength of all alloy and carbon steels is derived from the metal carbides formed during the mill processing. The carbon in steels combines with iron, vanadium and with chromium, as well as many other metal alloy additions to form compounds, which are a very hard phase within the iron matrix. Tool steels generally have high carbon content (above .8%) and can be made very hard – but brittle.

7. What exactly is chromium?

Chromium is a metal and is typically used for plating because it is shiny. It is also used as an alloy addition to iron to form a stainless steel. A stainless steel must contain at least 12% chromium, but these lean chromium steels can still show some rust on the surface. Using 18% chromium will make a more rust resisting stainless. Exposing any stainless to oxygen at temperatures above 1200˚F will cause the chromium to join the oxygen and therefore leave the surface depleted in chromium if it falls below 12% the surface will show rust.

8. What does it mean when a broken part looks crystallized?

When the fracture face has a rocky appearance it is because the material had a very large grain structure. Basically the grain grew during manufacturing due to poor technique and handling. A properly processed part will have a silky smooth appearance which is an indication of fine grain size. So crystallization does not occur as a result of load or fatigue – it was present in the material at the time of manufacture.

9. Define “precipitation hardening” and “phase change.”

The precipitation hardening comes from microscopic precipitation of hard phases which serve to keep rows of atoms from moving under stress. Some metals undergo a change in atomic structure at high temperature. Alloy steels, which are bcc at room temperature, become fcc at temperatures above 1400°F. This switch over is called a phase change. When cooled down they revert back to the bcc structure. Management of this phase is extremely critical and ARP maintains a complete in-house heat-treatment facility. It’s the only way we can assure material integrity.

10. What does a “face centered cubic” (fcc) atom arrangement look like? How many atoms?

A face centered cubic arrangement of atoms (austenitic) looks like a Las Vegas die with a five showing on all six faces. This can’t be seen visually by any type of microscope.

The number of atoms in any one cubic cell would be 14 – these do not stand alone but are attached to other cells which share some of the atoms.

11. How does a “body center cubic” (bcc) atom look? How many atoms?

The body center cubic structure would look like a die with a four on all faces and one atom in the center of the cube. The atomic arrangment of pure iron is bcc at room temperature and does not change until the temperature reaches 1674˚F. At this temperature it changes to austenite which is face center cubic (fcc). The addition of carbon to the iron lowers this transition temperature. This is the basis for heat treatment of steel. If the iron carbon alloy (steel) is quenched from the fcc field, the structure becomes martensite, a very hard strong condition.

12. What does a “stainless steel” atom arrangement look like? How many atoms?

A face centered cubic arrangement of atoms Stainless Steel 300 series is not heat-treatable. But heavy reduction (power dumping), in the cross section, during forging causes a dramatic increase in strength. This is the process ARP uses to make 304 Stainless Steel reach 170,000 psi UTS.

13. How do the space lattice or crystal structures appear?

All grains or crystals are composed of atoms bound together in a definite pattern. These structures are called space lattice or crystal structures. At a fixed temperature, the atoms in an array are spaced a definite distance from one another, although they vibrate about their mean position. Even though atoms are actually not held together in this manner, it is helpful to picture the crystals as a 3-dimensional latticework connected by imaginary lines. Metallurgists who primarily study ferrous metal are interested in only two basic crystal structures: bcc (body-centered cubic) and fcc (face-centered cubic).

14. What are the metallurgical ramifications of “cold heading” vs. “hot heading”?

Cold heading is a more efficient process and allows the part to be cold worked. The temperatures used for hot forging will reduce the effect of work hardening. This is important for metals which derive much of their strength from the cold work. Cold heading produces a better product than hot heading. The number and force of the blows of the cold heading machine can make a significant difference in the quality of the end product. Excessive numbers of blows can lead to voids in the bolt head. ARP, in fact, holds significant patents on cold heading procedures for the higher nickel and cobalt based alloys.

Our patented process begins with a softer wire that can be cold forged. The process work hardens the head and the under head area to the desired hardness. We then power extrude the front end to achieve the reduction and hardness in the shank resulting in a bolt with even strength and hardness from end to end.

In a typical aerospace manufacturing process, these alloys are hot headed from bars, reduced in diameter from 48 to 50% by cold drawing, resulting in a hardness of about Rockwell C46 which is too hard for cold heading. So, the blanks are locally induction heated in a very narrow temperature envelope and hot headed. The process reduces the hardness immediately in the area under the head approximately 3 to 5 points on the Rockwell C scale. Subsequent heat treatment does not restore this partially annealed area to full hardness and strength. The final result is a relatively soft-headed bolt. Therefore, this process is not used by ARP.

15. What is the difference between the usage of “bar” material vs. “wire”?

Bars produced by the mill in straight sections are normally shipped in 12 foot lengths. Wire is supplied in continuous coil form and is hundreds of feet in length. Bars are cut to length and the bolts are hot forged from these lengths. Wire on the other hand is fed into a cold header in a continuous manner.

16. What exactly is A286? And to what is it compared?

A286 is a 25% nickel and 18% chromium alloy with smaller amounts of titanium and aluminum, which precipitate during aging – after solution treatment. It is a true stainless steel due to the high chromium and it is austenitic due to the high nickel. A286 was developed as a high temperature alloy for use in pre-jet aircraft engines. The strength level was only 140,000 psi, but it had good high temperature strength and exceptional toughness, making it an excellent fastener alloy.

Rocketdyne became interested in it for rocket engines being developed in the early 60’s. But they required higher strength. We were part of the team that developed a thermo-mechanical method to produce a strength level of 200,000 psi. This involved severe cold reduction after solution treatment and before aging. An aerospace material spec (AMS) was then written requiring this treatment for 200,000 psi strength level. There is no other steel alloy, at this level, which can match A286 for corrosion resistance, toughness or bolt fatigue strength.

17. Define “Power Dump.”

This is a term used to define the heavy extrusion of the fastener body during forging. The part is forced into a die much smaller than the blank thereby causing a severe reduction in cross section area. This reduction of the cross sectional area is accompanied by an increase in length because metals can’t be compressed. However, power dumping or reduction, delivers a significant increase in strength properties and is part of the patented process we use to produce fasteners from 304 stainless steel with 170,000 psi UTS and AMS 5844 (ARP 3.5) with ultimate tensile strengths in the 270,000 psi UTS range with outstanding fatigue.

18. What is the difference between 4130 and 8740 chrome moly?

Both are alloy steels with similar chemistry. The 4130 has only .3% carbon and can’t be hardened as high as 8740, which has .4% carbon. Also, 8740 has about .45% nickel and 4130 has none. Both have moly (most alloy steels have moly). The chromium content of 4130 is slightly higher, .95% instead of .55%. However, 8740 is generally considered to have slightly better toughness due to the nickel.

19. What exactly is ARP2000 and how does it compare to 8740 and 4340?

ARP2000 is a heavily alloyed martensitic quench and temper steel, initially developed for use in steam power plants. As such it has excellent stability at high temperatures. But most important, ARP research discovered that in addition to temperature stability it has excellent notch toughness in the higher strength ranges and is alloyed to be tempered to Rc44/47. 8740 and 4340 can be tempered to the same hardness. But, the tempering temperature would yield material in the “temper brittle zone” (between 500° and 700°F), producing significant notch sensitivity. ARP2000 is tempered above that temperature range and has a strength between 200,000 and 220,000 psi.

20. How does L19 compare to ARP2000?

L19 differs from ARP2000 in that it is a vacuum melted alloyed steel with sufficient chromium and carbon to achieve high hardness (but below the level of a stainless steel). L19 is air-cooled from the hardening temperature in a way that does not require an oil quench to achieve full hardness and is tempered to assure full conversion to martensite between 1025°F and 1075˚F. L19 is a proprietary material capable of achieving strengths of 220,000/230,000 or 260,000/270,000 psi as may be required. Both L19 and ARP2000 steels are modified bcc (martensite) at room temperature. L19 has the same advantage as ARP2000 in that a high strength is obtained at a high tempering temperature. This alloy is easily contaminated and requires special handling.

21. What is AMS5844? And how does it compare to AMS5842E?

Both of these alloys are considered multiphase, non-steel, austenitic materials. Both derive their strength (260,000 psi) from severe cold work (48/50%) which raises the hardness from Rockwell C 46 up to 49/50. The AMS5842 (for MP159) was developed much later than AMS5844 (for MP35) in order to increase the usable service temperature by about 100° so it could be used in hotter sections of jet engines.

22. Provide a brief overview of the metallurgy required to produce AN, AMS & other Aerospace type fasteners.

All alloy steel fasteners are essentially manufactured by the same process. Incoming steel from the mill is forged to specification, then heat treated and thread rolled. Regular AN bolts are forged to size and are normally not precision ground. They may even have threads on them when heat treated.

Expensive aerospace fasteners are more likely suited for some motorsport applications. These fasteners require precision forging, careful heat treatment and then precision grinding, fillet rolling under the head and a great deal of skill in thread rolling.

23. What is moisture tolerance and how or where is it important?

Non-stainless steels have low moisture tolerances because the water attacks the steel by forming iron oxide (rust). Therefore none of these have a high tolerance for moisture and the surface must be protected by oil or plating. ARP maintains an in-house plating facility to assure all non-stainless product is delivered 100% corrosion free.

24. How do the various standards compare to each other with regard to fasteners? Where are the standards?

A standard fastener is one that can be referenced from a nationally or internationally recognized standards document and may be produced by any interested manufacturer.

In all fastener categories the custodian of each group (MS-AN-NAS) have tried to standardize the processing of specifications such as AS (American Standard) heat-treating, MIL-H-6875 cadmium plating, AMS QQ-P-416 passivation and AMS QQ-P-35 testing, MIL.-Std 1312 and NDT in aerospace applications are generally by sample.

ASTM stands for the American Society for Testing Materials, a large industry funded group used to write standards for many materials and testing procedures. It compares directly to AMS (Aerospace Material Standard).

In the case of ARP, 100% raw material is purchased to AMS specification – with the exception of special alloys used in proprietary products. All materials are carefully examined for proper chemistry – and finally, periodic examination by an independent laboratory. ARP consistently strives to exceed industry specifications for quality and product management.

MS (Military Standards): MS bolt specifications cover a wide range of fastener hardware, high strength bolts, nuts and washers with spec’s for materials and processing. MS fasteners have various tensile strengths.

AN (Army-Navy) Specifications: Generally lower strength bolts and studs primarily in the 125 psi UTS range. AN also covers a wide range of nuts, washers and other hardware.

NAS (National Aerospace Standard): These specifications cover fasteners in the strength ranges 160,000/180,000/200,000 psi UTS.

ISO (International Standards Organization):

ISO 9001-94: is a quality control system designed for manufacturers with design control.

ISO 9002-94: is a quality control system designed for manufacturers who build parts to customer specifications, and do not have design control.

ISO 9001-2000: is current ISO system well suited for manufacturers with engineering design functions, drawing control and statistical techniques to achieve demanding quality requirements.

This system is the main focus of ARP’s World Quality Concept.

25. What metallurgical issues cause common failures?

The most common cause of failure of connecting rod bolts (and wheel bolts) is too little induced load (stretch) during installation. This allows the alternating load to impose cyclic loading on the bolt. Over tightening is also another cause, because the induced stress is too close to the yield point.

Material Specifications

ARP manufactures fasteners from a wide assortment of materials ranging from popular stainless steel and 8740 chrome moly to exotic alloys that have been developed to handle space travel.

You should also know that there are grades within specific alloys. For example, 8740 is available in four grades:

  1. SDF (guaranteed seamless and defect free).
  2. CHQ (cold head quality).
  3. Aircraft.
  4. Commercial.

ARP uses only the first two (SDF and CHQ), even though they cost more than double “Aircraft” quality.

Stainless Steel: Ideally suited for many automotive and marine applications because stainless is tolerant of heat and virtually impervious to rust and corrosion. ARP “Stainless 300” is specially alloyed for extra durability. It’s polished using a proprietary process to produce a beautiful finish. Tensile strength is typically rated at 170,000 psi.

8740 Chrome Moly: Until the development of today’s modern alloys, chrome moly was popularly considered a high strength material. Now viewed as only moderate strength, 8740 chrome moly is seen as a good tough steel, with adequate fatigue properties for most racing applications, but only if the threads are rolled after heat-treatment, as is the standard ARP production practice. Typically, chrome moly is classified as a quench and temper steel, that can be heat-treated to deliver tensile strengths between 180,000 and 210,000 psi.

ARP2000®: ARP2000 is an alloy steel that can be safely heat treated to a higher level, producing a greater strength material than 8740. While 8740 and ARP2000 share similar characteristics – ARP2000 is capable of achieving a clamp load at 220,000 psi. ARP2000 is used widely in short track and drag racing as an up-grade from 8740 chrome moly in both steel and aluminum rods. Stress corrosion and hydrogen embrittlement are typically not a problem, providing care is taken during installation.

L19: This is a premium steel that is processed to deliver superior strength and fatigue properties. L19 is a very high strength material compared to 8740 and ARP2000 and is capable of delivering a clamp load at 260,000 psi. It is primarily used in short track and drag racing applications where inertia loads exceed the clamping capability of ARP2000. Like most high strength, quench and temper steels – L19 requires special care during manufacturing to avoid hydrogen embrittlement. This material is easily contaminated and subject to stress corrosion. It must be kept well-oiled and not exposed to moisture.

Aermet®: With a typical tensile strength of 290,000-310,000 psi, Aermet is a new martensitic super-alloy that is stronger and less expensive than the super-alloy austenitic materials that follow. Because it is capable of achieving incredibly high clamping loads, it is ideal for short but extreme environments like top fuel, funny car and some short track applications. Although Aermet is a maraging steel that is far superior to other high strength steels in its resistance to stress corrosion, it must be kept well-oiled and not exposed to moisture.

Inconel 718: A nickel based material that is in the high temperature, super-alloy class, it is found to be equally suitable in lower temperature applications. This material delivers tensile strengths in the 210,000-230,000 psi range and exhibits improved fatigue properties. Best of all, Inconel 718 is completely immune to hydrogen embrittlement and corrosion.

ARP3.5® (AMS5844): While similar to Inconel 718, these super-alloys are found in many jet engine and aerospace applications where heat and stress attack the life of critical components. The high cobalt content of this alloy, while expensive, delivers a material with superior fatigue characteristics and typically tensile strength in the 260,000-280,000 psi range. The immunity to hydrogen embrittlement and corrosion of these materials is a significant design consideration. These materials are primarily used in connecting rods where extremely high loads, high RPM and endurance are important factors – Formula 1, NASCAR and IRL applications.

Custom Age 625 Plus®: This newly formulated super-alloy demonstrates superior fatigue cycle life, tensile strength and toughness – with complete resistance to atmospheric corrosion and oxidation. ARP is the first to develop manufacturing and testing processes for fasteners with Custom Age 625+. Best of all it is less expensive and expected to soon replace MP-35 as the material of choice in the high strength, super-alloy field. Typical tensile strength is 260,000-280,000 psi.

Titanium: ARP now offers special order fasteners made of an alloy (Ti6Al-4V) that is specially heat-treated (a process developed by ARP's own Russ Sherman) and provides superior strength to other titanium alloys employed in racing and aerospace. The material has a nominal tensile strength of 180,000 psi, and is very corrosion resistant. The main advantage of titanium, of course, is its weight – which is about 40% lighter than a comparable fastener made of steel. Head studs and accessory bolts are ideal applications for this lightweight material.

* AerMet®, Custom 450® and Custom Age 625 PLUS® are all registered trademarks of CRS Holdings Inc., a subsidiary of Carpenter Technology Corporation.

Recognizing Common Failures

There are six types of metallurgical failures that affect fasteners. Each type has unique identifying physical characteristics. The following examples are designed to be used like a spark plug reading chart to help analyze fastener failures.

While few of us have access to sophisticated analysis equipment, a standard Bausch and Lomb three lens magnifying glass will generally show 98% of what we want to see. Several of the photos below have been taken utilizing a Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) and are presented to simply illustrate typical grain configurations after failure.

1. Typical Tensile Overload

In a tensile overload failure the bolt will stretch and “neck down” prior to rupture. One of the fracture faces will form a cup and the other a cone. This type of failure indicates that either the bolt was inadequate for the installation or it was preloaded beyond the material’s yield point.

2. Torsional Shear (Twisting)

Fasteners are not normally subjected to torsional stress. This sort of failure is usually seen in drive shafts, input shafts and output shafts. However we have seen torsional shear failure when galling takes place between the male and female threads (always due to using the wrong lubricant or no lubricant) or when the male fastener is misaligned with the female thread. The direction of failure is obvious and, in most cases, failure occurs on disassembly.

3. Impact Shear

Fracture from impact shear is similar in appearance to torsional shear failure with flat failure faces and obvious directional traces. Failures due to impact shear occur in bolts loaded in single shear, like flywheel and ring gear bolts. Usually the failed bolts were called upon to locate the device as well as to clamp it and, almost always, the bolts were insufficiently preloaded on installation. Fasteners are designed to clamp parts together, not to locate them. Location is the function of dowels. Another area where impact failures are common is in connecting rod bolts, when a catastrophic failure, elsewhere in the engine (debris from failing camshaft or crankshaft) impacts the connecting rod.

4. Cyclic Fatigue Failure Originated by Hydrogen Embrittlement

Some of the high strength “quench and temper” steel alloys used in fastener manufacture are subject to “hydrogen embrittlement.” L-19®, H-11, 300M, Aeromet and other similar alloys popular in drag racing, are particularly susceptible and extreme care must be exercised in manufacture. The spot on the first photo is typical of the origin of this type of failure. The second is a SEM photo at 30X magnification.

5. Cyclic Fatigue Cracks Propagated from a Rust Pit (Stress Corrosion)

Again, many of the high strength steel alloys are susceptible to stress corrosion. The photos illustrate such a failure. The first picture is a digital photo with an arrow pointing to the double origin of the fatigue cracks. The second photograph at 30X magnification shows a third arrow pointing to the juncture of the cracks propagating from the rust pits. L-19, H-11, 300M and Aeromet, are particularly susceptible to stress corrosion and must be kept well oiled and never exposed to moisture including sweat. Inconel 718, ARP 3.5 and Custom age 625+ are immune to both hydrogen embrittlement and stress corrosion.

6. Cyclic Fatigue Cracks Initiated by Improper Installation Preload

Many connecting rod bolt failures are caused by insufficient preload. When a fastener is insufficiently preloaded during installation the dynamic load may exceed the clamping load resulting in cyclic tensile stress and eventual failure. The first picture is a digital photo of such a failure with the bolt still in the rod. The arrows indicate the location of a cut made to free the bolt. The third arrow shows the origin of the fatigue crack in the second picture – an SEM photo at 30X magnification that clearly shows the origin of the failure (1), and the telltale “thumbprint” or “beach mark” (2). Finally (3) tracks of the outwardly propagating fatigue cracks, and the point where the bolt (unable to carry any further load) breaks-away.

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