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29 Feb 2008

For Want of a Screw (or 20)

The Poweredge project is currently held up for want of screws. Specifically, twenty-four #6-32 x 1/4” flat-head machine screws.

They’re needed to mount the SCSI drives into the hotswap trays (procured on eBay for a few dollars each); standard hard-drive mounting screws – which are almost always #6-32 pan-head – won’t work. The drive trays have the holes for the drive-mounting screws countersunk into the plastic sides of the trays, since they have to fit absolutely flush. (Pan heads will hold the drives into the trays, but the protruding heads prevent the tray from sliding into the hotswap bay, as I found out to my chagrin.)

A handful of machine screws ought to be an easy hardware-store purchase, but unfortunately, finding a really good hardware store – the kind of place with drawers upon drawers of nuts, bolts, and other small parts, as opposed to the more common “home improvement” store – is right up there with finding a good typewriter repairman. They exist, but they’re few and far between.

After making some phone calls, I found a winner in Fischer Hardware of Springfield, VA. When I called to ask about screws, they cheerfully informed me that not only did they have 6-32 x 1/4” screws (spoken with a tone that seemed to imply “of course, dummy, we have #6-32 machine screws…”, truly music to my ears), they had them in my choice of stainless steel, brass, or zinc, in both Phillips or flat drive, how many did I want of each? Now that is the sign of a decent hardware store.

So tomorrow I’ll drive over there and see about picking up a couple dozen, and then I think I’ll finally be ready to boot the beast up.

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