Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Wednesday Search challenge (Feb 8, 2012): Where can I find that tool?

While driving down the main drag of Ouzinkie towing your fishing boat to the harbor you hear an ominous clank.  You stop and walk to the back of your truck to check out the damage.  

Much to your dismay you find that the main bolt holding the trailer hitch onto your truck has pulled out of the mounting flange.  What’s worse, when it pulled out, it destroyed the threads on the bolt hole.

Because of the way your hitch is built, there’s only one good way to repair it—and that’s to drill a new mounting hole on the flange, remake the threading in the hole AND restore the threads on the bolt.  There really isn't any other option.  

You’ll need at least two different tools to solve this problem—one to remake the threads on the bolt, and another to cut the threads in the hole. 

(1) What are the two tools you need to do this?  (Assume you have a drill that can punch through the metal flange.)  

(2) Where’s the closest place for you to get the tools you need (assuming you're broken down on the main street in Ouzinkie)? 

Comment:  I'm not sure how you'll solve it, but I had to use an interesting search technique to do this challenge.  I'll be really interested to see what you do!  Be sure to tell us the search path you followed, and how long it takes you to figure it out.  Also, let us know if you already know what devices you'll need to fix the hitch!  

(Adapted from a real situation where a searcher needed a tool, but had no idea what it was called nor where to buy it!) 


  1. Well, the tool bit is fairly easy, you need a tap and a die. The tap is used to cut the end in the hole (the female end) the die is used to cut the threads on the bolt. I didn't really have to look that up, I've used them a few times and know how they work.

    First of all, if I'm driving my pickup with a boat attached in Ouzinkie I'm very likely a resident since tourism isn't big there ( in this case I'm likely going to know where to go to borrow the tools because it's a small town. But if I'm house-sitting and don't know who to ask if I just need to borrow the tools the first places I'd try are the harbor and the airport (easily found on Google maps). There is very likely to be someone there who has one, they're not uncommon tools and any decent mechanic or machinist will have them. They generally come in sets of various sizes so if they have one they'll likely have the set with the size you need. If that doesn't work I'm going to the local restaurant or bar to ask around. Someone in town should have one, it's an island so they must repair their own cars, atvs etc. here.

    If that absolutely fails you're stuck going to the mainland. The closest place I could find is Warner Tire and Yamaha 1720 Mill Bay Road, Kodiak, AK 99615-6236 (907) 486-2222 ‎(searched Ouzinkie on Google map and then searched "Auto" in the "Search Nearby" function). Again they likely don't sell them, but you should be able to borrow one for a day or two to get back and fix it. If you MUST buy one NAPA Auto Parts in Kodiak is likely your best bet:
    332 Shelikof Street, Kodiak, AK 9.9 mi S
    (907) 486-5739

    Either of these is going to require getting there by air or boat.

    The Search Nearby function took a grand total of about 30 seconds to identify places that might have them - going by experience and knowing who uses them regularly. I'm not absolutely certain these places would have them in stock or lend them willingly, but I'm banking on their good will here

  2. The tools you need are a Tap and Die to create the threads on the bold and in the bolt hole. I found that by searching "tool to rethread bolt and bolt hole" where i found a discussion thread on the that stated that these were the tools needed. I did a search on "tap and die set" and was brought to the wikipedia page which confirmed it. That took about 2 mins.

    After searching for 20 mins I think the closest spot to get a Tap and Die set would in be Kodiak, AK, which would require a flight, or a ferry ride from Ouzinkie. I searched both google and yellow pages for Ouzinkie, ak and various business related terms and I cannot find a single one. I have searched for hardware store, general store, machine shop, auto shop, boat shop, as well as generic terms such as shops, business, business listings, chamber of commerce, and store. Most all point to Kodiak as the closest location. I searched Ouzinkie newspaper and found this article from 2009 that mentions there are no shops on the island.

    So most likely it would require a trip back to Kodiak, where you can find a number of hardware stores, auto stores, even a walmart. Before I went to kodiak though I would check the airport to see if they do any sort of work on planes there. There is a good chance they would have a tap and die that I might be able to use which would save the trip to Kodiak.

  3. Tap and die.
    Kinda knew a little from plumbing work threading pipe, so I searched for bolt threading and landed here:

    Not sure this would be something I would look at getting tools to DIY, as it would be best to hit a machine shop. So did a search for Ouzinkie metal works.

    Discovered Fred Nass Enterprises machine shop on a Yellow Pages site. Google maps indicates there is a ferry from Ouzinkie to Kodiak (~10miles). If Fred Nass Enterprises can't do this, it looks like a +250mile trip to Nikiski or Anchorage. Yikes!

  4. You would need a Tap and Die set - the nearest place would probably be the Ouzinkie airport - if their machine shop would let you borrow it. Otherwise Sutliff True Value hardware store is 10 miles away in Kodiak AK.

    I called my dad to ask about the tools and used google search to find out where Ouzinkie was. Then used a yellowpages search for hardware stores.

  5. The tools you are looking for is a tap and die. This I knew already. I had no idea where Ouzinkie was, so I did a quick Google Maps search and found it was in Alaska. I used search nearby to find any hardware stores in Ouzinkie. This gave me two results, Alaskan Wood Products and Evergreen Timber, LP. I did Google Searches on each and found that Evergreen is a lumber yard. I tried calling Alaskan Wood Products but no one answered. I would try Alaskan Wood Products, just off the main drag on E Street. But, I'm afraid your only option might be Walmart in Kodiak. Also, if your bolt isn't too bad, you can use a die nut to clean up the damaged threads. If it's totally gone and you need a new one though you are going to have to use the tap and die.

    This one didn't take long ... maybe a couple of minutes. The prior knowledge made it easy.

  6. 1) Tap & Die Set
    2) I suspect the "True Value" or "Napa Auto Parts" in Kodiak, AK (10 miles away) is the closest place. I'd call the various hardware and/or tool stores to find someone that has it.

    Time to Find: 5 minutes
    Method: Searched for "cut new bolt threads tool" and the first result was "Tap and Die" wikipedia page. I already remembered my dad having this tool when I was a kid and I just couldn't remember the exact name.

    To find where to buy it I searched google maps for "Ouzinkie, AK" and did a "search nearby" for "tools" and "hardware store." Both results came back about the same. So, I'd just call the likely store results until I found a store that carried the tool.

  7. already knew you'd need a tap and die to try to fix the hole/bolt the way you want to. but this is implausible, particularly for the bolt, on the side of the road without a vice or press handy. just buy a new grade8 (class 10) bolt. it's also unlikely you'd be able to re-thread the hole as the plate is hardened, high carbon, steel. if you can reach the back of the plate i'd probably just through bolt it with a new bolt/nut.

    to get these tools, you need a hardware store but there appears to be none on spruce island.

    you can try to borrow the tools from the two lumber companies that are near 4th and C. otherwise you'd probably have to go over to kodiak.

    this only took a few searches, but i feel like i'm missing something or my assumptions are too restrictive.

  8. Already knew the answer for the tools.

    Tap and Die set (tap for female threads and die for male threads)

    As for location. I googled Ouzinkie and hardware store. This came up with "Sutliff's True Value Hardware". Looked on True Value's website and found they indeed have a tap and die set for sale.

  9. I would pick up a tap & die set from Alaskan Wood Products LLC in Ouzinkie, AK.

  10. 1) A tap and die set.
    2) Buy at Sutliff's True Value Hardware 210 Shelikof Street, Kodiak, AK 99615-6056
    about 16 miles away.
    I knew how to fix it from life experience, then searched for the closest hardware store using Google maps.

  11. This comment has been removed by the author.

  12. (1) To remake the threads on the bolt, you will need a die tool and to cut the threads in the hole you will need a tap tool.

    (2) I would probably go to Sutliff's True Value Hardware.

    Steps taken:
    After reading the summary, I went on to search "tools to remake threads" and from there I searched for the best hit ( This page had more info then needed, but it was pretty interesting. Once I saw what tools are required, I went on Google Maps and searched for "Ouzinkie tool shops" which returned Sutliff's.

    I am not sure if these are the right answers, but it was a nice little challenge for 5min or so. When I was younger I saw these tools in the shop, but I already forgot what they were called, so certainly a nice refresher.

  13. #1: steel thread insert (e.g. Helicoil) repair female threads
    tap & die set for bolt threads - male

    better done by the pros - and quicker - there are any number of other
    tools and techniques that might be needed - if you were able to do the repair yourself, you probably would have avoided this situation to start with - preventative maintenance in a hostile weather environment - like Alaska - is always a good idea. If you are determined to self repair - the ferry ride to NAPA in Kodiak would be a good bet.

    #2: Rhino Tire Services
    1247 Mill Bay Rd # E, Kodiak, AK (907) 486-3924

    About 10 minutes - had an idea about what the repair would consist of - looked up steel thread inserts and tap & die tools & techniques, then searched for automotive supply store & repair shops near Ouzinkie and came up with the Kodiak locations.
    Another option is to call a buddy and use his truck to get the boat to the harbor and go fishing, while postponing the hitch repair to a more convenient time.

    Off subject, but I would be curious to know why my comment to your last post "What does it mean to be literate?" was not shown? - granted you have moderator discretion, but you invited discussion on the subject and there was nothing objectionable about my comment, that I can see, and it seemed to directly respond to some of the topics you raised.

    1. was assuming that you wanted to use the same sized bolt as the original - that's the reason for using the STI.
      Alaskan are resourceful and improvisational - there's always HD duct tape or Inuit hide glue and sinew wrap...

      see that the comment regarding "Literacy" has been posted - thanks.

      recently watched you here -
      thought it was well done and informative on Google search products that are under used (or even known) - well worth the time to watch - interesting to note the difference voice and in-time examples make vs static text/images alone.
      also appreciated the MS Academic Search & Wolfram Alpha mentions - cool tools, WA is kind of a different animal, but does interesting things after adjusting expectations about what it does.

      A couple related items -

      Google voice search: your thoughts on vSearch (voice search)? and how it alters query approach?

    2. Thanks for the kind words, @Remmij. Alpha is really a great tool--it's not a general purpose search engine, but it's a fantastic resource for science, math and technology questions.

      WRT voice-search... remember that all voice-search does is transcribe your spoken query and then run it through the regular search engine. However, MOBILE search is slightly different, giving more weight to local results (based on where your phone is at the time of query). Just be sure that the query phrase was transcribed properly. That's sometimes a problem in a noisy environment.

    3. DMR, granted you have a rather unique vantage point in Mt. View, but I was wondering about voice interface beyond just being another actions tool with existing hardware. As you point out, Mobile augments are starting to hint at the evolving change using location specific indicators to tailor individual search results. It seems that there will be fundamental changes in information retrieval and processing as a result of natural language questions - think Apple Siri,Google's Project Majel & what IBM is accomplishing with Watson. It seems direct cerebral interface would be a natural extension? That would certainly be one way to address the noisy environment problem - although the other interior voices within can still cause quite a ruckus.

      Found these to be rather interesting: could you shed some insight on how work by Goo X seeps into & shapes the work you do at Google Search Education Evangelism? And I am curious if you sense a generational divide regarding this work and, if it exists, what forms does it take? Since I am typing this on a laptop, i already feel distanced from a near future that will be dominated by mobile devices and GAMING experience... man, am I screwed. Transcription will be among the least of the worries - a Ponce de León app is desperately needed for beings over the age of ....X? Do you have first hand contact with X related work? would you say if you did?
      What is the average "life-span" @ Google?

      one of my earliest Goo queries? - "what am i looking for" still seems paradoxically stupid and relevant...
      except now i might tack "how to find" on the front - apologizes to Bono/U2

      Solve for X talks - clearly Goo is casting a wide net beyond its search foundations....

      Adrien Treuille:
      Image search references - why does he show a Porsche while talking about a Ford?
      and clearly he sees his audience as younger than himself... (born in 81?)

      Mary Lou Jepsen:
      cerebral/retinal image resolution - and ethics and legal and...

    4. @Remmij -- Can you contact me via email? Thanks.
      -- Dan --

  14. You need a Tap and a Die. The tap to thread the new hole, and the die to recut the threads on the bolt. I'd look for them at a hardware store. Moyer Paul B & Sons Inc, (215) 348-1270 has been in business since 1932.

  15. I think the answer to question 1) is a Tap and Die; the answer to question 2) Ouzinkie, AK doesn't have a Main Street, although if you broke down in Ouzinkie the closes hardware store that carries Taps and Dies is:

    Sutliff True Value
    210 Shelikof St Kodiak, AK 99615
    (907) 486-5797
    Naknek Trading Company
    100 Peninsula Highway Naknek, AK 99633
    (907) 246-4211

  16. 1) You need a tap and a die. I found this within a minute by looking at wikipedia for "thread cutting".

    2) Google maps tells me immediately of True Value hardware,
    210 Shelikof Street
    Kodiak, AK 99615-6056
    (907) 486-5797
    and the online catalogue at confirms that they sell taps and dies

  17. I searched "Tool to cut new bolt threads" and found out I needed a tap and die set from the second link, Wikipedia.
    I then searched for "Ouzinkie" on Google Maps, found it was in Alaska
    Next search was for Hardware Store and it turned up "Alaskan Wood Products LLC", which I then searched for, to find that it specifically sells things for wood only, so probably wouldn't sell a tap and die...
    From my maps search, I found an airport, which gives 2 options: 1. go to AWP LLC and explain your problem, ask them if they have a tap and die set you can borrow. 2. go to the airport and ask a mechanic if they have one. Chances are one of them will have one - bolts break on logging equipment! If not, then you need to take a ferry or a plane to Kodiak and go to the True Value there, but the ferry that Google Maps directions gives you doesn't actually stop at Ouzinkie! The airport doesn't have any regularly scheduled flights either!
    So, head to the harbor and ask around until you find someone who'll take you over to Kodiak and hand them some cash.
    The question is, how exactly did you get your truck over to Ouzinkie?

  18. I've not read the comments yet, but it seems to me that it would be easier to get a new bolt and nut than to buy a tap and die to fix a stripped bolt. The picture you show makes it look like a standard bolt and locknut from a hardware store would be the right solution. Why did you want to try retapping an old bolt?

    And why is blogspot refusing my Wordpress identity? Is the the same bug that is keeping me from commenting on any blogger blogs? I'll be unsubscribing from all blogger and blogspot blogs next week if they keep refusing to let me comment with my identity.

    1. @Kevin - I don't know what the particular problem is with Wordpress identities. I do know that many Wordpress sites get compromised by aggressive hackers, but presumably that's not what's going on here. I'll ask around and see if there's any particular problem with Wordpress idents and see what I can find out.

  19. I came up with tapper (or tap) and die but kept doubting myself because everything looked like it would need a machine shop to use but in my head I was picturing something you could use right at the tailgate.

    I started with searching for [Ouzinkie].

    I then went to my goto source for how stuff works Didn't find anything helpful.

    From there I went to look for the Science Channel's "How's It Made" to see if there is a video on making nuts and bolts. Didn't find anything helpful.

    Did a Google Video search for [how's it made bolts] Bingo! Right around the 3:45 mark they mention the tapper used to put threads in the nut.

    Searching for [cut threads "blank bolt"] brought up several books on machines and referring to die.

    As to the closest place that could do this I would say the Ouzinki Airport would have the tools necessary.

    Time spent on this search 15 minutes.

    1. To use a tap and die you really just need a stable platform (say, the tailgate) and a big wrench to give leverage. Depending on the kind of tap/die you use, you might need oil for lubrication. But yeah, you can definitely do this in the field. (I've seen guys do this to the bumper on their trucks, so I know it's feasible.)