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HQ 963816

DECEMBER 5, 2000

CLA-2 RR:CR:GC 963816 JAS


TARIFF NO.: 7318.24.00

Ms. Janie Herrers
Sanden International (U.S.A.), Inc.
601 South Sanden Blvd.
Wylie, TX 75098-4999

RE: NY D82828, NY 82829 Modified; Fixed Key, Shaft Key for Compressors

Dear Ms. Herrers:

In a letter, dated January 17, 2000, you requested reconsideration of NY E89997, which the Director of Customs National Commodity Specialist Division, New York, issued to you on December 10, 1999. This ruling classified a fixed key in subheading 7318.24.00, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS), as cotters and cotter pins. You had maintained that NY E89997 was inconsistent with NY D82828 and with NY D82829, both of which were issued to your Customs broker on October 30, 1998.

Pursuant to section 625(c), Tariff Act of 1930 (19 U.S.C. 1625(c)), as amended by section 623 of Title VI (Customs Modernization) of the North American Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act, Pub. L. 103-182, 107 Stat. 2057, 2186 (1993), notice of the proposed modification of NY D82828 and NY D82829 was published on November 1, 2000, in the Customs Bulletin, Volume 34, Number 44. No comments were received in response to that notice.


NY D82828 in part concerned a fixed key, identified as part # 7800-0320, and described as a small rectangular key used to hold a gear in place within the cylinder block of a compressor. NY D82829 in part concerned a clutch repair kit imported and packaged for retail sale, part # 4605-9800, in which a shaft key was held to impart the essential character.

The ruling request that resulted in NY D89997 described the fixed key as a square-shaped article of steel, 1 3/8 inch long, and identified it as part # 7801-0320. A submitted sample confirms this description. The article was said to fit into the groove of a fixed gear to hold the gear in place inside the cylinder block of a compressor. A sample of the shaft key which you submitted is 5/16 inch long. It is oval-shaped on one side and straight on the other side.

You maintain that the fixed key, as described in NY D82828, is rectangular and not wedge-shaped, and belongs to the same family of articles used with compressors to fix gears so that they only move up and down and lock armature plates in position with the shaft. You state that the shape and function of shaft keys and fixed keys is the basis for the claim that they are compressor parts.

The HTSUS provisions under consideration are as follows:
cotters, cotter pins, washersand similar articles, of iron or steel

Threaded articles:

Non-threaded articles:

Cotters and cotter pins

8414 air or gas compressors and fans; parts thereof:

8414.90 Parts:

Of compressors:

8414.90.40 Other


Whether fixed keys and shaft keys used with air conditioning compressors are fasteners of heading 7318.


Under General Rule of Interpretation (GRI) 1, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS), goods are to be classified according to the terms of the headings and any relative section or chapter notes, and provided the headings or notes do not require otherwise, according to GRIs 2 through 6.

Section XVI, Note 1(g), HTSUS, excludes from Chapter 84 so-called parts of general use. Throughout the tariff schedule, the expression “parts of general use,” as defined in Section XV, Note 2(a), includes articles of heading 7318. Therefore, if the fixed keys and shaft keys at issue here are goods of heading 7318, they cannot be classified in subheading 8414.90.40.

The Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System Explanatory Notes (ENs) constitute the official interpretation of the HTSUS. Though not dispositive, the ENs provide a commentary on the scope of each heading of the HTSUS. Customs believes the ENs should always be consulted. See T.D. 89-80. 54 Fed. Reg. 35127, 35128 (Aug. 23, 1989).

The ENs to heading 7318 describe Cotter-pins on p. 1117 as used for fitting in holes in spindles, shafts, bolts, etc., to prevent objects mounted thereon from moving along them. On p. 1118 the ENs describe Cotters and taper pins as used for similar purposes but they are usually larger and more solid; they may be designed like cotter-pins, to pass through holes (in which case they are often wedge-shaped), or for fitting into grooves or slots cut [a]round the shaft, spindle, etc., in which case they may be of various shapes such as horseshoe or conical. (Underlining added).

In the absence of a contrary legislative intent, tariff terms that are not defined in a HTSUS section or chapter note, or clearly described in an EN, are construed in accordance with their common and commercial meanings, which are presumed to be the same. Dictionaries, scientific authorities and other reliable lexicographic sources are often consulted; and, where the term under consideration is technical in nature, appropriate technical sources of information should be consulted. In this case, a typical definition of the term cotter is “a pin, wedge, key or the like, fitted or driven into an
opening to secure something or hold parts together.” See Random House Unabridged Dictionary, Second Edition, p. 459 (1983). In addition, the IPT Industrial Fasteners Training Manual, Bolting and Securing Systems, published in 1989 by Industrial Publishing and Training, Ltd., Alberta, Canada, on pp. 346 and 352 includes under the general heading “Non-Threaded Fasteners” the following discussion under Keys:

Keys are specially cut and shaped pieces of metal inserted and assembled into keysets to provide a positive means of transmitting torque between the shaft and hub. The keyseat is an accurately cut groove located axially in the shaft. The key secures gears, pulleys, cranks, handles, wheels and couplings to shafts so that the motion of the part is transmitted to the shaft, or vice versa, without slippage. (Underlining added). A Woodruff key is semicircular in shape and fits into a semi-circular keyseat in the shaft and a rectangular keyway in the hub.

The fixed keys and shaft keys at issue are within the referenced EN description, as well as the definitions in the cited lexicons. They also conform to the description of and function ascribed to these articles in your letter of January 17, 2000. In our opinion, the fixed keys and shaft keys are non-threaded fasteners that are within the common and commercial meaning of the term cotter for tariff purposes. They are provided for in heading 7318. Because goods of heading 7318 are “parts of general use,” as defined in Section XV, Note 2(a), Section XVI, Note 1(g) prevents them from being classified in heading 8414. This classification is consistent with Customs position on similar merchandise. See NY B87322, dated July 25, 1997, which classified steel retaining rings called snap rings, used to secure components within forklift truck transmissions, in subheading 7318.24.00, HTSUS.


Under the authority of GRI 1, the fixed keys represented by part # 7800-0320, and the clutch repair kits packaged for retail sale, represented by part # 4605-9800, in which the shaft key imparts the essential character, are provided for in heading 7318. They are classifiable in subheading 7318.24.00, HTSUS.


NY D82828 and NY D82829, both dated October 30, 1998, are modified accordingly. In accordance with 19 U.S.C. 1625(c), this ruling will become effective 60 days after its publication in the Customs Bulletin.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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