Sometimes, easy projects are not as simple as we think. Seeking advice from professionals before you start may save you both time and money in the end.

As an example…I am a pretty handy guy when it comes to car repairs. I have a device that will read an engine code and tell me the problem with a vehicle most of the time. Such is the case with my significant other’s Volvo Coupe. The check engine light came on recently, and I decided that I would try to save her some money by diagnosing the problem instead of going to a dealer. The code came up as “Fuel Rail High Pressure Sensor Error.” At this point, I should have known better and told my significant other to just take it to the dealer. But no...I decided to do some research and see if I could fix the problem.

With a little digging, I found numerous “how-to” videos that showed exactly how to replace the offending sensor, albeit not on her exact model. So, I embarked on a 30-minute fix that took 4 days. Why, you ask? Well, one recurring point made on each of the 6 videos I watched was stressed quite regularly. I will get to that in a minute.

The process of replacing the sensor was to first depressurize the fuel rail much in the same manner as you would let air out of a tire (except gas sprays out). That wasn’t a problem because I expected it. The next step was to remove a single small bolt holding the sensor in the opposite end of the fuel rail. No problem…it was held in place by a T-25 cap head bolt. That’s Torx for all you amateurs. Anyway, I broke the bolt loose and was able to easily unscrew it by hand until it came loose. This is where we get back to the videos. The ONE recurring piece of advice in all the videos I watched stressed DO NOT DROP THE BOLT. Well, you guessed it…I dropped the bolt!

Now, normally when I work on a vehicle, dropping a bolt or nut is not uncommon. Finding the offending bolt or nut usually involves waiting to hear it drop through the engine compartment onto the floor. Didn’t happen in this case. I heard two clicks as it fell, then silence. “Houston, we have a problem.” I took my trusty (very bright) flashlight and searched high and low for the bolt, but to no avail. I determined that the engine simply ate it and it was never to be found.

“No worries,” I said to myself. “I will just look online and research until I find its exact size and get a replacement.” So, after some time (it took me until the next day), I found that it was a metric cap bolt with a thread pitch of 0.5mm, which is a fine thread. Again, no problem, I thought. “I will just run down to the local auto parts store and get one. If they don’t have it, I’m sure one of the big box hardware stores will.” Long story short, I went to at least 10 auto part stores, 7 hardware stores and even called a wholesale screw warehouse in search of the elusive M5 (0.5) by 20mm bolt. No one had any in stock. My next move was to call the dealership. Oh yes, they knew the exact bolt from their diagrams. They didn’t have any and would need to order it. I could hope to have it in a week or so.

As a last resort, my significant other suggested going to a salvage yard to see if we can find this bolt. We found a local yard that had two Volvos with a 2.4 liter engines. Hers was a 2.5 liter engine and I’m thinking that I should just give up now. But since we’re an adventuresome couple, off to the salvage yard we went. We searched through the two Volvos and I spotted a likely target. I backed out a bolt that resembled the one I had dropped, and we quickly headed home to try it out. The new bolt fit perfectly, and as a precaution, we tied dental floss to it to prevent it from falling as I installed it. (I think that’s pretty much genius.) 15 minutes later, we had the car running again, and my quest to save a dealer visit was realized.

This time-consuming experience reminded me that deploying a fiber network can have unique challenges of its own. We at Clearfield® have application engineers with combined fiber experience of over 300 years. In most cases, if you have a deployment scenario, they have either done it or experienced a part of it before. We call them the “Smart Guys” for this reason. It’s free to ask them for advice, and when you do, you will likely learn some essential tips on how to efficiently and effectively deploy your fiber network.

Feel free to ask one of the Smart Guys for some help with your next deployment. You won’t have to experience that frustrating “Dropping the Bolt” scenario!

By Scot Bohaychyk

Scot Bohaychyk (Market Manager, Wireless) has nearly 30 years in the telecommunications industry. Scot’s background includes serving in The White House Communications Agency, providing communications infrastructure support. Scot’s private sector experience includes OSP field and engineering experience, as well as market development and sales work in the fields of blown and pushable fiber for long-haul fiber installations…both in the United States and overseas.