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My understanding of the incident also is that 60+ foot rods didn't, and still don't, exist as regular items. They would have needed to be custom-made, further hitting cost and schedule.

Could something like this be used (at a large scale) to "extend" multiple shorter segments of rod? http://www.pl-259.com/nuts%20adapt%203%208%20to%201%204%20x%...

Yes. Couplers would work(1). You'd probably want jam nuts as well, just so things don't back out on you.

1. There may be problems with that approach. IANAPE. They would be different problems than actually caused the failure.

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