Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Building Bolt Caches

Bolt caches are a great example of how to blend something in so well that few muggles will ever pick up on it's true intentions.  Many geocachers will get caught off guard by them too if they are well done.  But did you realize there are ways to get creative with just bolt caches?

Most geocachers will see only one type of bolt cache.  It looks like a simple bolt with a nut on one end.  Unscrew the nut to open the cache.  But let's look at it with a bit more detail shall we.

There are a few things you'll need if you want to build one of these.  You need a bolt, a nut that fits it, a magnet that fits either fits just inside the nut or over the nut, a logsheet, a drill and a drillbit for drilling metal.  Last of all, make sure to have some super glue.  You will also need a saw for cutting through metal. 

Let's start with the bolt.  It's easiest if you know where you are going to hide this first, as you can then get a bolt of the same size as what's found on that object.  This really helps blend it in.  It will also give you an idea of how far it sticks out.  You don't want the cache to stick out further than the real bolts.  Make sure that you try to find a spot that doesn't use really thin bolts.  The thinner the bolt, the harder it will be to build the cache and the smaller the log sheet will have to be.

Once you have the bolt, then find a nut to fit it.  This will be pretty easy.  Also, while you're at the hardware store, make sure you have a drill bit that will not only cut through metal, but also be wide enough to drill through the end of the bolt.

The hardest part of getting the supplies will be the magnet.  You can often find small round magnets at hardware stores, but usually in limited supply and often thicker than you really want to have.  You may have to order them from a catalog.  Ideally, you want to try and find neo-dymium magnets.  They are powerful and come in a variety of sizes and thicknesses.  You can go with thin or thick, but make sure it is just wide enough to fit inside the nut.  The more snug it is, the easier it will be to seal it.  Also, the thicker it is, the harder it will "grip" the surface it's place against. 

Once you have the supplies, you will need to figure out how long you want the cache to be and then saw off the head.  Then you need to drill a hole into the end of the bolt.  How deep you want to go is up to you.  You can cut the logsheet to fit the hole, but try and make it at least a half inch deep.  This allows a logsheet that gives room for people to sign the log.

After you have cut the hole, you will need to fit the magnet into the nut and seal it in with super glue.  Try to use super glue that works on metals.  Or, if you have something that works really well for you when gluing metals together, work with that.

Once this is all dry, slip a rolled up logsheet inside the bolt, screw the nut over the end and you now have a magnetized bolt cache.  Go hide it and enjoy the new cache.

But wait, I said there are ways to make this more creative.  How could you possibly make this more creative?  First, let's look at the typical way people find a bolt cache.  Most geocachers, if they begin to think it might be a bolt cache, will begin grab every bolt and see if anything moves.  Since the bolt cache is merely magnetically attached, it will come right off or at least move (if the magnet is good).  Here's where the creative part comes in.

One thing to do use find a spot where there are already bolts, but find an unused hole.  If there is one you can use, this opens up options.  Measure how thick the object is.  Figure out at what point on the future bolt is on the opposite side of the object.  For example, let's say you are using a bolt 3 inches long.  If the head is snug against the object this is attached to, then let's say the object is half an inch thick.  Measure from the base of the head to about 3 & 1/4 inches.  That is the spot that will most likely be covered by the nut.  Now, instead of sawing the head off the bolt, saw through the bolt at that spot.  Then drill the hole into one of the two pieces.  Now you have two options at this point.  You can use a wider nut and hold the two pieces together using just the nut, or glue two nuts together to provide enough room.  Just be warned that the latter option is more likely to stand out.  The advantage of this method...a geocacher can't just feel for the bolt that moves.  They would actually have to take it out to figure out it is a cache.  I've actually seen this done just once in my personal experience.

But now for the really tricky option.  The above ideas include drilling the hole through the end of the bolt.  Instead of drilling the hole through the end of the bolt, drill it through the side of the bolt.  Then use the nut to cover up the hole.  Since this is not the standard method of hiding a bolt cache it will help throw some cachers for a loop.  Combine in with the second idea and you'll have a devious cache.  If you really want to mess with your fellow geocachers, make it magnetic but hide more than one of these designs.  The fake ones don't need to have the hole drilled in them.  In fact, drilling the hole might entice a geocacher into thinking the logsheet is missing and they might "help you out" by putting one into the fake cache.

The last way to make a bolt cache interesting is to combine it with something else that blends in.  For example, combine it with a reflector on one end and attach it near other reflectors.  I have seen this one once before too.

Bolt caches are a fun way to safely hide a cache in plain site and have it be a bit more creative.  Are there other ideas for bolt caches out there that I haven't thought of?  Post a comment and explain.

I'm still working on a system of photos and diagrams.  I'll try to get those up soon.


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