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Self-sealing stem bolt

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Self-sealing stem bolt 2

A self-sealing stem bolt

Self-sealing stem bolt 1

Self-sealing stem bolts in their packaging

Self-sealing stem bolts were, as their name suggested, stem bolts that sealed themselves. The field of application of the self-sealing stem bolts is unclear; even Miles O'Brien, the Chief of Operations on Deep Space 9, was unaware of their exact use. (DS9: "Progress")

In 2369, Jake Sisko and Nog traded 5,000 wrappages of Cardassian yamok sauce for 100 gross self-sealing stem bolts, to a Lissepian freighter captain. Jake and Nog opened communications with the original buyer of the stem bolts, under the name "The Noh-Jay Consortium" but eventually settled with a trade of seven tessipates of land on Bajor. Nog was skeptical and preferred to stick to the bolts; Jake told Nog that on land one can build things, to which Nog replied that you can't build anything without bolts. (DS9: "Progress")

In 2371, an opportunity presented itself to Quark to get rid of the stash of self-sealing stem bolts sitting in Cargo Bay 11. He offered them to a wealthy prospective buyer named Emi for ten bars of gold-pressed latinum. Emi claimed that with the stem bolts, her family would be able to triple production of reverse-ratcheting routing planers. Emi, however, was told by Grand Nagus Zek where she could get the bolts at wholesale, for a much reduced price. (DS9: "Prophet Motive")

While in captivity by the Jem'Hadar, Bashir suggested a discovered escape tool might be either a self-sealing stem bolt or a reverse ratcheting router. (DS9: "By Inferno's Light")

In late 2375, O'Brien explained his reasons to Dr. Bashir for taking a teaching post at Starfleet Academy, he quipped "somebody has to teach you officers the difference between a warp matrix flux capacitor and a self-sealing stem bolt" (DS9: "What You Leave Behind").

Story-wise, stem bolts were quintessential MacGuffins, with a name that was pure technobabble. Peter Allan Fields, who 'invented' them, admitted that he didn't have "the foggiest idea" what they were used for. According to Ira Steven Behr, the writing staff used them long after Fields' departure from the series as a tribute to the former producer. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion, p. 52)

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