McIntire Hardware Stores, unable to repay a $430,000 bank loan, has sought protection from its creditors under Chapter 11 of the federal bankruptcy laws.

The 13-store, Maryland-based chain filed in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Rockville late last month after the National Bank of Washington obtained a court order to shut down the stores because the chain had failed to meet three deadlines to repay a February 1984 loan for $500,000. The bankruptcy filing averted the closing.

"We had to file Chapter 11 to give us time to regroup," said C. Timothy Jewell, chairman of MHI Inc., which runs the hardware chain.

Under the protection of Chapter 11, creditors are kept from collecting their claims to give a company a chance to reorganize its finances and come up with a repayment plan to meet its debts. While the company now looks for new financing, "business is proceeding as normal" at the stores, Jewell said.

In its bankruptcy filing, MHI said it had $2.3 million in debt. In addition to NBW's $430,000 secured loan, it said it owed the Bank of Bethesda $191,700, making the Bethesda financial institution MHI's largest unsecured creditor.

In a separate court proceeding in the Maryland Circuit Court in Rockville, the Bank of Bethesda alleged that two other companies -- McIntire Investment Corp. and McIntire Properties Inc. -- owed the bank more than $2 million for a loan it took out last April. McIntire's lawyer said these two companies are owned by Jewell but not affiliated with the hardware chain.

The $2 million loan, plus $560 of interest for each day the loan was outstanding, was due on demand, according to documents filed by the Bank of Bethesda. Those documents alleged that the McIntire companies had not paid any principal on the loan and had stopped paying interest on it last July. The bank was seeking immediate repayment of the loan and interest plus attorneys fees. The McIntire companies have yet to file a response to the suit.

William N. Coggins, attorney for all the McIntire companies, said yesterday that he had met with both banks to clear up the hardware chain's financial troubles and bring it into the black. "At this point in time, all parties are truly interested in working things out."

Jewell said the chain would not have had to file for bankruptcy were it not for NBW's decision to recall its loan, which was used to finance inventories.

Jewell said the company had continued to pay all the interest on the loan and, consequently, had not expected the bank to withdraw the loan until McIntire was able to obtain new financing. "We were very close with several banks," until the NBW suit unexpectedly came, Jewell said.

Jewell and NBW agree that the initial due date of the NBW loan was June 30, 1985. At that time, the bank told McIntire that it did not want to renew the loan and wanted the store to find a new financier, Jewell and bank officials confirmed. However, NBW agreed to extend the loan for another 90 days.

When Sept. 30 came and McIntire had no new bank, NBW granted an extension of another month. "At the end of this time, it became clear to us that it was time for us to file suit to protect our interest," an NBW representative said.