Global Fastener News

1987 FIN – CBS Evening News Spotlights the Counterfeit Bolt Situation

December 22
00:00 2010

By Dick Callahan, FIN Editor

June 10, 1987 FIN – The problem of imported counterfeit bolts, which has already received national attention in Jack Anderson’s syndicated newspaper column, was given even more public exposure when the CBS Evening News on June 8 devoted a fair portion of the program to the subject.

Dan Rather, the anchor, was not on the program that night and Richard Schlesinger, a CBS correspondent, narrated the piece which reached an estimated 10.3 million households in the U.S.

A lot of the viewers were probably disturbed and frightened by what they saw and heard and at least one fastener importer, for a different reason, was probably also upset by the show.

Most of what the program described is fairly familiar to anyone in the fastener field, that is, the discovery of a large percentage of mismarked bolts in the inventories of the military supply systems.

The program gave instances where the Army, the Navy, and Air Force had found mismarked bolts in military vehicles and left the viewers, at least this viewer, with the impression that the Pentagon was not doing as much as they could, or should, about the problem.

For instance, Schlesinger said that the Navy claimed to have solved the problem but wouldn’t let CBS into its Oakland Supply Center where barrels of counterfeit bolts were reportedly found. He also said that the Army granted at least five of its contractors 90 days to use up their supply of substandard bolts.

The program also described some non-military dangers posed by the mismarked bolts, reminding the viewers that such bolts are used “in the buildings we work in, and the bridges we drive across, and the planes we fly in.”

A case was cited of a window-washing platform which last month fell 30 stories and killed three people. Cause of the accident has not been determined, said the narrator  – but he also said that  reporter had found pieces of broken bolts on the scene and had taken them to a laboratory of a local fastener manufacturer.

The manufacturer was not named  – but it was Texas Bolt because the head of the lab was identified as William Windt, who according to FIN’s records is in charge of quality control at the company.

Windt told the reporter that the bolt if subjected to any kind of heavy pressure would fail.

Another Texan in the fastener business, who appeared on the show, was Tommy Grant, president of Grant Fasteners, who over recent years has probably been the person most responsible for the attention given to the problem of counterfeit bolts. Grant only got to say one line, something to the effect that a counterfeit bolt like a counterfeit dollar bill is worthless.

Near the end of the segment of the CBS Evening News devoted to the problem of mismarked bolts the statement was made that “Congressional investigators have found a telex from a Japanese manufacturer complaining that an American importer has asked him to mismark bolts.”

While this was being said the TV screen showed, not a telex but a letter, bearing the name of MNP Corp., which we  guess you were supposed to assume was a copy of the letter sent to the Japanese firm asking them to mismark bolts. Just how the telex was “found” was never explained.

Ending the segment on the bolt problem was this statement by the narrator. “Some American importers and distributors are expected to be indicted within a year but even if these indictments stop the flow of counterfeit bolts into the U.S., exports worry about a bigger problem – what to do about the bad bolts already in use here. And nobody has an easy answer for that.”   ©1987/2010 Fastener Industry News



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