Sourcing U-Bolts, V-Bolts and C-Bolts

Sourcing the Best Quality U-Bolts

So far in our journey of antenna building, you’ve now hopefully manged to source the two major hardware components of aluminium stock and pipe clamps. These obviously form the mainframe of your required hardware stock.

Now that you have the building blocks, we’ll need to some sturdy support items and nothing is more important than some good quality U-Bolts.

U-Bolts come in a variety of styles, and whilst not being the most exiting hardware component on the planet – they are certainly an important fixture.

For antenna building you need to first confirm what type of boom you are using. Square section boom [or ‘Box Section’] as it’s known, will use what is commonly called ‘C-Bolts’. These are basically bent at 90 degrees on each corner rather than formed over a curved surface. On the flipside, round section booms will use standard round section U-Bolts. Both ‘C’ and ‘U’ bolts are freely available online. However, we’d point out that buying just a handful can work out quite expensive, so we’ll give advice on two options.

Vortex M10 A2 Stainless Steel U-Bolt manufactured by Brooks Forgings, Cradley – UK

Buy Individual U-Bolts/C-Bolts
We can recommend a couple of good outlets for builders wanting just a handful of items. Saying that, this is a fairly expensive way of buying. For example, buying 10 M8 U-Bolts at over £5 each [plus VAT and delivery] can work out at a hefty £70.00 which isn’t cheap. Add in any saddle clamps and the price rises still further.

If you then want to build a multi-element array, then you can easily part with well over £150.00 in U-Bolt and Saddle Clamp costs alone. Pretty steep for any project. As a caveat, there’s’ also no guarantee they’ll have the exact sizes you require. If you need more than 20 U-bolts then this is not the way to go.

Enquire to Graphskill Prodcuts [U-Bolts ‘R Us] or to Barenco. Both are UK suppliers.

Vortex M10 A2 Stainless Steel C-Bolt manufactured by Brooks Forgings, Cradley – UK

Buy in bulk from a premium UK Manufacturer
Normally, this route would be used only by OEM or after market suppliers. We all know that buying in bulk certainly works out cheaper. As a guide, we purchased 125 M8 U-Bolts to fit around a 2-inch boom at £280.00 including VAT delivered from a premium UK supplier. Sounds a lot? – but break it down. You’ll have more than enough bolts for your own project and bags in reserve, plus enough for another project or two. They’ll also be enough to sell some to your ham mates and then eBay the rest. Chances are you’ll make a few ££ in the process at the end of it. As an addition, the manufacturer will make the bolts exactly in the material you request and the size you need. Plus, you support good old British manufacturing during difficult times.
Enquire to ‘Brooks Forgings’ here.

Vortex A2 Stainless Steel Saddle Clamp manufactured by TR Hutton and Son, Burnham, Essex – UK

Galvanised or A2/A4 Stainless
No point in buying rubbish. Galv just doesn’t cut the mustard – it’s pretty junky stuff and best avoided. Buy either 304 [A2] Stainless or if you really want the Rolls-Royce of materials [or live by the sea] – then go for 316 [A4] ‘Marine Grade‘ Stainless. A4 isn’t cheap but will last forever. For most users, 304 A2 Stainless will do an excellent job and last for many years.

The Saddle Clamp Conundrum
Here’s the spanner in the works. Whilst Vortex was operating, we virtually found it impossible to find any A2 stainless saddle clamps. The were virtually non-existent. The outlet we did find, only sold M8 clamps. OK for some uses but not what we wanted and they were very expensive buying per unit.

Currently we are not aware of any outlet selling these clamps. Best try a small independent manufacturer who may be able to make a selections for you.

Vortex A2 Stainless Steel Saddle Clamp and M10 Stainless U-Bolt

Sorry – does not supply any hardware including Saddle Clamps, ‘U’ or ‘C’-Bolts