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Bolt Materials

Bolting is a very common method of fastening steel members. Bolting is particularly cost-effective in the field.

The precursor to bolting was riveting. You will probably have occasion to assess connections made with rivets sometime in your career, particularly if you work on restoration projects. Riveting was a very dangerous and time-consuming process. It involved heating the rivets to make them malleable then inserting them in the hole and flattening the heads on both sides of the connection. The process required an intense heat source and a crew of three or more workers. Figure .1 shows a riveted connection in a bridge structure.
Figure 1. A Riveted Connection

In the mid-1900s, high-strength bolts were introduced and quickly replaced rivets as the preferred method for connecting members together in the field because of their ease of installation and more consistent strengths. High strength is necessary since most bolts are highly tensioned in order to create large clamping forces between the connected elements. They also need lots of bearing and shear strength so as to reduce the number of fasteners needed.

There are two basic ASTM high-strength bolt specifications and one non-high-strength ASTM bolt specification that we will be using. The high-strength bolts are ASTM A325 and ASTM A490. The non-high strength bolt is ASTM A307.

The ultimate tensile strengths for A325 and A490 bolts are 120 ksi and 150 ksi respectively. These values are rarely needed in applying the equations in the AISC specification, but are useful to know when using theoretical equations for special circumstances. We will also be obtaining bolt strength information for use in the AISC equations from SCM table J3.2 on page 16.1-104. We'll cover that table in more detail later.

The ASTM bolt specifications require that the bolts and their associated nuts and washers be clearly identified with their specification number. Figure 2 shows the identifiers for A325 and A490 bolts.

Figure 2. Bolt Identifiers

A Beginner's Guide to the Steel Construction Manual, 13th edition

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