The Mystery 12-32

FEBRUARY 7, 2011 – **Note: If you’ve found this post because you’re hunting for 12-32 bolts, good luck to you! I tried every major fastener company in the country, and no one carries them anymore. Read on to find out how I eventually got mine…**

Lori’s Great Bolt Hunt

Time to enter the mystical, magical world of… BOLTS.

Don’t run away! I swear… I have an interesting point to make. Trust me.

Still here? Okay.

Other than the super cool bolts extruding from Frankenstein’s neck, I’d never given fasteners much thought. To those who’ve been wrenching all their lives this probably seems stupid, but up until a few weeks ago, I’d walk into a store with a random bolt, nut, screw–what have you–and stare at bins upon bins of stuff, clueless how to find the right what have you. I knew the measurements included diameter, length, thread size, and bolt strength… but didn’t know how to look at the numbers on the box and translate them into finding a replacement to the thing in hand. And being the independent girl I am, I hated to ask for help.

But then–en route to Faith Granger’s film premiere of Deuce of Spadesmy mechanical fan seized. When I took the beast apart, I found one of the bolts had broken. Simple. I’d head to Ace Hardware, search the bins, and walk out with a replacement. Uh… yeah. Not so simple. After searching forever, I humbled myself and asked for help, but even the experts couldn’t find it. Why? Because this bolt was a very special bolt, one no one had. A guy at an industrial hardware store said he thought it might be a 12 32. What the hell did that mean? Wouldn’t 12/32 reduce to 3/8? Couldn’t I just get one of those? See? Told you I was ignorant.

Anyway… desperate, I went on the H.A.M.B. and asked where I might find a “12/32” bolt. Within seconds, I learned a ton about bolt sizing (including my error using a “/” in my description). The “12”? Any bolt smaller then ¼ inch is assigned a number, thus #12. Cool. Got that. And the “32”? That’s the TPI, threads per inch, or in metric instances, the thread pitch. 32 is a super fine thread, and why this bolt was so hard to find. I found #12-24’s all over the place. But a 32? HA! Once I knew how to write a description of the needed bolt (#12-32×1-1/8), I contacted every suggested fastener company in the country, and NO ONE HAD THEM. Seriously NO ONE.

So then the helpful H.A.M.B. guys suggested I re-tap it. Easy, right? Uh… well… maybe for them. I’ve never tapped anything—other then a dance recital to New York, New York—and didn’t want to screw up my fan hub. Yes, using a tap and die is high on my learning list, but I didn’t want to practice on something I needed fixed.

And then Dammit came along. Glory be to Dammit! He saw my post on the H.A.M.B. and came to my rescue, scrounging through his collection of flathead stuff and sending me not just one, but all eight #12-32×1-1/8 bolts for the hub, including the arched pieces (of which I wish I knew the name) that go on the other side of the hub for the bolts to screw into. He sent them for free. From Nova Scotia! Seriously!

And now we get to my point. (Bored yet?) My point is, the car world is a generous one, full of people willing to share their knowledge—you simply have to ask. Just the other day the concept of sexism in the car world came up, and while I’m sure it exists, I haven’t witnessed it. For the most part, our car peers seem more then willing to offer advice, and in this case, even help solve my problem. One guy on the H.A.M.B. even offered to tap it for me, no charge if I didn’t find the bolts. It comes down to a shared passion. As one guy said, “Just be sure to remember this when someone else is in need of something that you may have. Pass the goodwill on to others. It’s a nice habit to get into!” I agree whole-heartedly.

For those searching for 12-32s, I feel your pain. I went through the same searches. I wish you all the luck in the world in your hunt.

If you too are baffled by fasteners, check out this great reference guide. It helped me understand not only sizing but type. And next time someone is searching for some random thing you might have gathering dust in your garage, by all means, pay it forward.

Later gators and gatorettes!

Lori a.k.a. Dr. Destroyer

P.S. And yes! The fan now has a new bearing, a honed shaft, and is happily back in Bondorella!


15 thoughts on “The Mystery 12-32

  1. great post! and well worded! the hamb is a great place to learn all the stuff we hate to admit we dont know yet. I have learned alot there.

  2. Wow.. that was a great piece! Why? Because I was looking for the EXACT thing in Stainless Steel no less and could not find it. What’s even weirder is that my application was for a FAN as well.

    I have all the Carbon Steel bolts I just wanted to swap them for Stainless (Looks cool and I don’t have to paint them); however no luck. Well for anyone who is looking for them and DOESN’T want to tap those “Curvy” things they go into (Yeah My fan had those too!). Here’s a tip.

    The EXCACT bolt (and curvy thing) can be had by getting a Fan Assembly off an International Farmall Cub!. I have a 1952 Farmall CUB that I am restoring and after getting out a thread gauge and calipers….sure enough it came out to be a 12-32 x 1-1/8 Hex Head Machine Screw which NO BODY Carries. If McMaster-Carr doesn’t have it no one does. I came across this post and will now stop my search and just paint the things with Aluminum paint so they look cool when I re-assemble my Cub’s fan.

    So the bottom line is if you need the bolts or curvy things just search for a Farmall Cub Fan assembly and you will have 8 bolts and 4 of those curvy things.

  3. Hi Lori, read your post about the 12-32 fan bolts. I was hoping that I could get a couple of these from you as I am desperate to find a number 12 bolt with a grip, (the bare part under the head without threads).If they are really #12’s they are .216 inches in diameter and while I can find them in screw size and a couple with a hex head, like a bolt, none of them that I can find have a grip, at least none that are not hardened. In this application I don’t think yours would be a high grade # or hardness. I certainly could use several of these and hope you did not throw the extras out!
    Please let me know what I can do to get a hold of 2 or 3 of these.

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