Is stacking of F436 washers acceptable with an A325 bolted connection?

Yes, in some cases the stacking of F436 washers seems to be allowed, but not in all cases.
The Research Council on Structural Connections (RCSC) in Specification for Structural Joints Using High-Strength Bolts, December 31, 2009, page 16.2-12 says,

“If necessary, the next increment of bolt length can be specified with ASTM F436 washers in sufficient number to both exclude the threads from the shear plane and ensure that the assembly can be installed with adequate threads included in the grip for proper installation.”

They go on to say, later in the same section,

“To determine the required bolt length, the value shown in Table C-2.2 should be added to the grip (i.e., the total thickness of all connected material, exclusive of washers). For each ASTM F436 washer that is used, add 5/32 in.; for each beveled washer, add 5/16 in. The tabulated values provide appropriate allowances for manufacturing  tolerances  and  also provide sufficient thread.”

One could reasonably assume based on the above passages that the use of multiple washers to achieve a purpose like keeping the threads out of the shear plane is acceptable.
I was able to find one instance where the stacking of washers is prohibited. In the same document, in Table 6.1 page 16.2-45, while discussing the requirements for 5/16” thick F436 washers to be used with A490s with oversized or slotted holes, they say,

“Multiple washers with a combined thickness of 5/16 in. or larger do not satisfy this requirement.”

So it appears, that when using F436 washers to compensate for bolt lengths, the stacking of washers is acceptable, however, if 5/16” thick F436 washers are specified with A490 bolts and oversized or slotted holes, simply stacking two regular F436 washers does not satisfy that requirement.

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4 comments

    Published thread length for 7/8″ dia A325 bolts are 1″1/2, However we are being told the thread length is as much as 1/4″ longer than published length and a 7/8″x2″ bolt is fully threaded, not 1″1/2 thread length. This messes with the use of the bolt being A325X – Is there any technical information that would allow threads in a X type connection when the thread are not as published?

    @Rick Gregory – I am sorry I do not know where you would find that information. We have run into this before on short A325s, I do not know why manufacturers choose to put the additional thread on shorter bolts.

    What is the max amount of washers that are acceptable in a bolted connection? I work in a lab setting up structural test (30yrs). I’ve been trained through an apprenticeship program. The lab has been very successful. I’m currently working with a new engineer that wants me to stack washer (10-15 washers) on an 1-1/4″ bolt. I think this is poor shop practice. Is this an acceptable practice?

    @Jeff – I am not sure what an absolute maximum would be. The RCSC passage previously referenced does not specify, nor was I able to find it elsewhere. I would agree that stacking many washers would be poor practice, but where that line of ‘too many’ washers is, I can’t tell.

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