In the far north section of Italy sits the Piedmont region, where one can find a number of industrial cities. One of the largest and most well-known is Turin, home of FIAT automobiles. At the other end of the spectrum is tiny Occimiano, which has a population of less than 1,500 but serves as the manufacturing headquarters of Cold Car S.p.A.—one of the world’s leading manufacturers of refrigerated truck bodies.

Founded in 1968, the company assembles and installs nearly 1,800 bodies per year. Its global customer base includes transporters of ice cream, frozen food, dairy and dry products that are loaded into low-temperature or refrigerated compartments divided by fixed or movable bulkheads.

Cold Car operates in 20 countries and employs more than 240 people. Its manufacturing facilities outside Italy include those in Izmer, Turkey; Sao Paulo, Brazil; Guadalajara, Mexico; and Santiago, Chile. Cold Car USA Inc., based in Boerne, TX, provides sales and technical support to North American customers.

For nearly 45 years, Cold Car manually welded each body to the truck’s sub frame. That changed a couple years ago when the company sought a fastener to use instead of welding at certain areas of the frame. In 2013, Cold Car began using the Huck BobTail, a direct-tension swaged lockbolt made by Alcoa Fastening Systems.

“Following a successful prototype test, we realized that it would work well as an alternative to welding,” explains Bertone Davide, research and development manager for Cold Car USA. “No pin break [during] installation reduces noise levels in the assembly line and eliminates the potential for rust to [appear and] compromise the long-term life of the installed fastener.”

According to Davide, the fastener provides a stronger joint than welding. It also quickens truck body assembly time by 30 minutes, enabling each welder to work on other prototype projects. Over the course of a year, notes Davide, the company saves several hundred hours in production time, resulting in lower overall costs.

Introduced in 2009, the BobTail has been successfully used in various industrial applications to replace standard lockbolts, nuts and bolts, as well as welding. It is a two-piece (pin and collar) fastener that produces permanent joints with high clamp loads, stability and excellent resistance to vibration.

Unlike standard lockbolts, however, the BobTail’s pin features gripper threads rather than a tail. This design makes the fastener up to 40 percent lighter so it needs much less force for installation. Also, because the gripper threads stay on during installation, there is no initiation point for corrosion and no need for material clean-up.

The lockbolt installs in a few seconds using a direct tension technique. After the pin is inserted into a prepared hole, the collar is spun onto the pin, and the installation tool is placed over the grooves on the pin. When the tool is activated, a puller in its nose assembly draws the pin into the tool, causing the swaging anvil to press on the collar and draw up any sheet gap.

At a predetermined force, the anvil begins to swage the collar into the pin’s lock grooves. Continued swaging elongates the collar and pin to produce a precise clamp load. When swaging of the collar into the pin lock grooves is complete, the tool releases off the fastener.

For more information on direct-tension lockbolts, call 800-388-4825 or visit