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The Economics and Logic of Huge Fastener Assortments
RTL Fasteners makes the concept a no-brainer, even for me
Text, photos and video by Tom Hintz
Posted – 9-15-2017
One of the really irritating things in RC flying is coming up one or two nuts, bolts or other seemingly insignificant fasteners short of making a plane airworthy. We can save unused fasteners in all sorts of boxes, bags or cans for decades but when it comes time to finding a specific size, all bets are off. You can’t find what you need in the sea of “spares” but can be certain that it will reappear soon after spending way too much on a few more of that same fasteners. Of course, then you have a few more to add to your “stash” and the “now-you-see-it-now-you-don’t” cycle starts once again.
The pure monetary foolishness of buying” just enough” of fasteners can make us feel better when the register total pops up. Sure, we saved a couple bucks that day by not buying even a small supply of these little fasteners right then. The problem lies in there being a tomorrow and another plane or a repair. Before we know it, we are back at that same checkout register trying to convince ourselves that we are “saving” a couple more bucks. I have a hobby budget that has been on life support for 30-some years in part because of this kind of illusion of saving money. There is a better way.
RTL Fasteners to the Rescue
A year or so ago I noticed adds for RTL Fasteners (See Resources below for a link) and decided to take a look. At first, I was elated because I found dramatically lower prices for substantially larger quantities of fasteners I used to buy in little bags. Of course, then I started thinking about all the money I had thrown away by purchasing hundreds of those little bags over the years some of the joy faded. To make me feel better I put together a RTL Fasteners order and waited for it to arrive to see if the remarkably low price meant the fasteners were rejects from a sub-standard warehouse. When the package arrived, I was back to my joyful self. The quality was as good as I have seen anywhere. And, the shipping was way faster than I anticipated as well.
When one of my recent orders from RTL Fasteners arrived, I was putting them away and found a previously purchased bag of four bolts that cost just over $.25 each. I found the same fastener from RTL Fasteners in a bag of 24 that cost under $4 and worked out to just over $.16 each. That previous budget-busting purchasing should make anyone who is honest with themselves feel sort of stupid. Turns out I was at the head of that stupid list.
Buying by the Group
The folks at RTL Fasteners have put together groups of fasteners for lots of uses from helicopters to airplanes. They also have package deals on SAE and Metric fasteners grouped in frequently-used size ranges. These package deals usually include sizes we might not need all the time but come in handy when you find an odd-sized fastener would fix a clearance issue or other problem, usually soon after the stores close. I constantly find myself using a slightly different length bolt or screw to make linkages work cleanly without catching or rubbing something. Having the less frequently used sizes made my plane more reliable by eliminating potential conflicts with other components. Perhaps more importantly, having the range of sizes eliminates many of those frustrating and nearly always unsuccessful midnight searches for one more bolt.
The quantities included in the bigger sets is not huge but that also saves money. You can make an order to increase the numbers of the fasteners you use most and still save a ton of cash along the way.
Many of the RTL Fasteners package deals include plastic organizers that make it easy to find what you need quickly. The organizers have movable dividers that let you expand the compartments for your more often used pieces and make others smaller as is best for your use. The organizers also help identify fasteners that you are getting low on so you can order more before the next build/repair crisis hits.
They include printed sheet with the group buys that shows a suggested layout for the organizers. I cut these diagrams out and taped them to the inside of the organizer lids to help identify the pieces. I think I could get used to being able to find the right piece without saying bad words or contemplating the demise of whatever needs that fastener.
In addition to a huge range of fasteners, RTL Fasteners also handles lots of great hand tools. They have things like hemostats that are great for reaching, grabbing and holding small things. Need the very cool socket-head servo screws and servo arm bolts? Yep, they got them, in a bunch of sizes. Those nifty rubber-back washers that stop all sorts of things from loosening up in flight? They have lots of them. Need stainless steel fasteners? RTL Fasteners has them. Nylon wing bolts in sizes that actually fit? Do I have to say it? It if holds things together RTL Fasteners probably has them in more sizes at lower costs than we can hope to match buying four at a time.
Despite the remarkably low prices for their fasteners, the folks at RTL Fasteners frequently send out emails with promotions that let you save even more money. This is one email list you WANT to be on!
In addition to the email sales RTL Fasteners also has frequent offers on their site that can also save money. I expect this is all sounding like a sales pitch for RTL Fasteners and in a way, I guess it is. I am happy with how much money I can save by using this source even when a special sale is not running. But, more often than not there is some kind of sale available that lets me build up my fastener supply and save money at the same time. It’s kind of hard to not like a source like this.
This is the part of a review where I try to sum everything up and point out the high points of the product or service. In the case of RTL Fasteners, if you don’t already see the light shining brightly on a money-saving opportunity you may be doomed to tossing too much money at your fastener needs while mumbling something about “going to the zoo, yup, yup”.
Consider this to be fair warning. If I save money on fasteners through RTL Fasteners and you don’t, one of us is obviously smarter than the other. I will be the one doing my happy dance while you are searching for one more bolt.
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