WE DON’T RECOMMEND DOING THIS! WE DON’T RECOMMEND DOING THIS! WE DON’T RECOMMEND DOING THIS!
IT IS A PERMANENT MODIFICATION TO YOUR VERY EXPENSIVE TRUCK AND RESALE COULD GO TO $0.00!!
We get a lot of questions about those big ole’ bolts in our fenders so we figured it’s time to give a little detail. We decided that since there are no pocket style fender flares for the Cladded Avalanches, we needed to give that look – but way more extreme! We also struggled finding a studded grill, we liked, so we got carried away with the largest stainless Allen heads available at the local hardware store!
The bolts we chose were Grade 2 (in case we had to hand cut them shorter- which we did) 2″ long 1 1/2″ hex heads. They had to be special ordered from Fastenal, about $100 for 40 of them. Because of code requirements they all had stampings in the top so we started by grinding the tops flush one-at-a-time.
We spent about 2 hours laying it out over and over because we knew these holes were forever. We also knew that our truck’s bed is part of the cab, so drilling giant holes in it meant we only have one shot to do it right, and there was no going back. After we laid out the whole truck with marker, we stared at it for an hour 🙂 Then we used a straight blade and ‘x’ marked the first hole, center punched it… then we started drilling. Using a speed bit with a lot of electrical tape to mark our depth we started into the first hole. Slowly worked our way around the truck – drilling a hole, threading in a bolt (often having to cut bolt length in half due to firewalls and plastic trim issues) and so on until there were 36 x 1 1/2″ bolts sticking out of our truck! This was very stressful work for a driveway mechanic!
You can see from the picture, at first we had the threaded-half of a couple of the cut bolts in the front 2 corners but everyone thought we lost our nuts, so we put a bolt in there instead.
Here it is from another angle.
Now we had to decide to clear all the bolts, to avoid rust, or paint them. We decided to color match them to the inner spokes of our wheels. So we primed them all, painted them with automotive grade spray paint, and then used a silicone when doing final install to keep water out of our inner fenders.
Then after paint we put them back in with the silicone.
You can also see the Allen head stainless steel bolts in the grill. Those are a similar process. We laid out the design, drilled holes with the proper size bit, after double checking it wouldn’t hit important stuff, then ‘threaded’ in the bolts. (NOTE: when we want to remove our grill, every single bolt must come out.) These are stainless steel so no paint required.
And that is how we installed giant bolts in our Avalanche. Like we said, not recommended as this is what you will have if you take them out.
But when it’s all said and done, ours looks like this!