“If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail.” Abraham Maslow, American Psychologist.
While not long ago a well-equipped toolbox was filled with screwdrivers, spanners, sockets and the like, today’s aircraft technicians will want to add some new tools to make their jobs easier and more efficient.
With all the new high-tech gadgets available to aircraft technicians, it’s easy to lose sight of just how important it is to have the proper hand tool for any given job. As Andy Lobo, Director of Product Management and Development for Snap-on Tool’s Industrial Division stated, “It’s important in a number of ways: One you don’t want to cause any tope of damage to the aircraft or yourself by trying to use an incorrect tool,” he said.
And by “incorrect tool” he also means standard tools that have been customized to meet a specific need.
“We see it all the time; technicians will actually modify their tools to fit a particular task. Take a simple socket for example. Technicians needing to fit a socket into a tight space will actually put the tool on a lathe to thin the side walls down so it fits inside the area,” Lobo said. “When you do that, you weaken the socket walls quite a bit, weakening the tool. It’s not only dangerous, but the socket can easily break and fall down inside the airframe. Now the technician is left with an even bigger problem.”
Lobo explained that while this practice may have been the only option in the past, now there are now thin-walled sockets that are designed and manufactured to meet these needs.
“Even the standard Snap-on sockets are smaller in exterior diameter than store brand products,” he said. “Using the right tool for the task will save technicians a lot of unnecessary work and the uncomfortable situation of having to explain to their bosses what they’ve done.”
Custom tools to meet unique needs.
Okay, you say, so what if I have a need and really can’t find an off-the-shelf tool that works?
“Aircraft technicians are a very creative bunch and each has a particular way of doing something in a new way. They come to us all the time with one-off tools they have made to do a particular job,” Lobo said. “We have a custom tool division that can take their one-of-a-kind creation and using modern 3D printing and other manufacturing capabilities to create a custom factory-made tool that does the job, and is safer and more reliable.”
While Lobo said that “customizing” their tools is one potential mistake many technicians routinely make, it’s not the only one he sees on a regular basis.
“One of the other big problems is technicians misusing torque wrenches – especially the mechanical ‘click-type’ tools,” he said. “The wrench ‘clicks’ when you hit the required torque setting – say 100 foot/pounds for example – but, if the technician is not paying close enough attention or is not adept enough to stop turning exactly when it clicks, they can easily over-torque the fastener, which can be problematic in many situations.”
“Designers set torque limits for a reason and continually exceeding those limits can damage the fastener,” Lobo stated. “It’s no one’s fault; it’s just very hard to be that accurate with a mechanical torque wrench. The new generation of digital torque wrenches helps eliminate the over-torqueing problem. Our tools have visual, audible and tactile indications that tell you when to stop applying pressure.”
Tool care tips.
Lobo said that from his experience, technicians typically take very good care of their hand tools, which is pretty easy to understand considering you’d have to work hard to mess up a screwdriver or a box-end wrench. Still, he did offer of a good bit of advice.
“One problem we see from time to time with the mechanical style torque wrenches is related to calibration. Technicians must turn the handle to tighten the compression spring that sets the target torque value, and they will sometimes forget to back the spring down to the zero setting when the job is finished,” he said. “As the tools get older, those springs can retain “metal memory,” which leads the wrench to fall out of calibration faster, especially if the wrench goes unused for extended periods of time.”
“New digital torque wrenches eliminate that problem,” Lobo said. “Since they use strain gauges instead of springs, there aren’t any problems caused by metal memory.”
New hand tools for aircraft technicians.
While digital torque wrenches are pretty cool, they’re not the only new bits you can put in your tool kit. Here are a few more tools and tool accessories that can help you do your job faster, better and more safely.
Advanced Cable Ties Inc., Cable Tie Removal Tools
Today’s aircraft are loaded with wires – literally miles and miles of them. And safely being able to clip retaining ties without damaging the wire jacket is critical. Advanced Cable Ties has created a line of specialized tools that enable you to clip retaining ties without risking the integrity of wire bundles.
The unique safety guards slide in behind the tie, strap or lacing cord, preventing the sharp blades from coming in contact with the bundled items. The units allow you cleanly cut and remove all cable tie strap widths, as well as easily strip up to 22 gauge size wires.
For more information, visit: https://www.advancedcableties.com/categories/cable-tie-tools/
Grypshon Industries, Grypmat Tool Mat
Who hasn’t felt that instant rush of dread as your torque wrench slips from its fuselage perch and lands squarely on the hangar floor? Scratch one expensive too. Well, with Grypshon Industries’ new Grypmat tool mat those days may well be over.
Available in three sizes and made with a unique polymer-silicone blend, Grypmat is a new non-magnetic, non-slip, anti-static, highly flexible tool mat that can safely hold hand tools on a variety of surfaces at up to a 70-degree angle.
Grypmat’s inventor, Tom Burden said that the unique tool mat was created from his experience as a mechanic working on U.S. Air Force F-16s. “Tool loss and missing tools was a constant problem and I nearly fell off the plane chasing a sliding tool,” he said. “Grypmat prevents these issues and makes it truly easy to keep tools and hardware within comfortable reach so you can focus on the work in front of you.
For more information, visit: http://www.grypmat.com
Loyd’s Rivet Drill Guide
Cleanly drilling out rivets has to be one of the most frustrating jobs any airframe tech has to do. And drilling out a round-head (AN470) rivet ratchets the stress up to another level: One slip with your drill and you’ll be fixing a lot more than a lose rivet.
Fortunately, Loyd’s Rivet Drill Guide will eliminate much of the worry and frustration. The easy to use Guide has a depression machined into it the bottom face that fits snugly over the offending rivet, while providing perfect alignment for your drill. From there it’s just a simple spin of the bit and the rivet is history. To make it even easier, the company offers an instructional video on their website.
For more information, visit: www.rivetdrillguide.com
Omega OS768-LS, Dual Non-Contact Laser Infrared Thermometer
As a line maintenance technician there is not much worse than trying to do an inspection or repair on a hot airplane, but with Omega’s infrared thermometer in your toolbox that won’t happen again. This is the ultimate high-temperature measuring tool for reaching into non-contact areas inside a nacelle or aircraft brake.
To provide you with the greatest accuracy and flexibility, the Omega uses both a Type K thermocouple contact to measure the true temperature, and then use the non-contact infrared to measure the surface temperature to set the emissivity.
Features include a wide temperature measurement range up to 3,272º F, an audible high/low temperature alarm, mini thermocouple for contact measurements up to 2,552º F, large LCD display, laser and backlight on/off control, ºC/ºF switch mode, Type K T/C input, and more.
For more information, visit: www.omega.com/pptst/OS768-LS.html
Proto, Precision 90 Pear Head Ratchet
Working in tight areas is a constant challenge for technicians. Proto’s new Precision 90 Pear Head Ratchet is designed to provide a wider four-degree swing arc and a 90-tooth count to give you more turning power in hard-to-reach areas. Additionally, the unit has a low profile, reversing lever design for quick, one-hand operation.
In addition, to meeting ASME B107.10M specifications, the new Precision 90 meets also offers an advanced contoured, ergonomic handle design that can help reduce hand fatigue especially when working in confined spaces. Other features include flex head versions for added accessibility, choice of full polished nickel chrome or black oxide finishes, and is available ¼”, 3/8” and ½” sizes.
For more information, visit: www.protoindustrial.com
Titan Tool Supply, Inc., TVT Series Video Borescope
Titan Tool’s TVT Series Video Borescopes lets you boldly go where others can’t – especially if you’re trying to look inside an engine. The TVT Series features an easy-to-use mechanized (rather than manual) joystick that uses input to directly control camera articulation.
According to the company, this results in smooth and accurate control of the articulating tip with immediate response to the joystick inputs. It also allows the camera tip to be steered through narrow bores, channels, and through complex curves. The camera will hold its position even when pressure on the joystick is released.
TVT Series videoscopes include a 4.3” monitor with resolution from 160,000 to 440,000 pixels and image sensor of 1/18”, 1/10”, or 1/8” depending on model. Depth-of-field is 5mm to 50mm or 15mm to infinity with articulation either 2-way or 4-way (also depending on model). The sheathing is abrasion-resistant and each unit is packed in a heavy-duty case that also includes an eight (8) GB SD card, Li-ion battery pack, and a battery charger.
For more information, visit: https://www.titantoolsupply.com/productDetail.asp?id=27143&md=d&mode=showDetail
Titan Tool Supply, ION 4.3 Inspection Magnifier
As we technicians get a bit older, it becomes harder to read tiny serial numbers and look for small bits of damage on components. If this sounds familiar, the ION 4.3 Inspection Magnifier is a toolbox “must have.” According to Titan, a unique liquid lens technology provides a wide focus range, fast response time, excellent optical quality and low power consumption.
The Ion 4.3 provides a super-sharp magnification up to 14X and offers on-screen measurements using an integrated X/Y dimensioning grids with cursor functions. It is capable of recording and tracing one hundred date-stamped images for accurate quality-control records. Due to its compact design, the Ion 4.3 is an ideal mobile inspection tool suitable for areas having poor lighting and difficult access.
For more information, visit: https://www.titantoolsupply.com/Ion-43-Inspection-Magnifier
TR Tools, ¼” Tite-Reach Extension Wrench
The Tite-Reach 1/4” extension wrench has been created for aviation technicians who have to do a lot of work in very tight quarters. Designed to be used with a on a torque, socket wrench, and ¼” impact wrench, the Tite-Reach has the versatility to work from either side. The strength of the compact wrench is its slim design. With a height of just three-quarters of an inch, the Tite-Reach extension wrench allows you to get into places our 3/8” wrench or your hand won’t fit.
It features a die cast aluminum housing making it lightweight and easy to maneuver. A full 10-inches of reach allows you to extend away from the bolt or nut you need to work on, giving you a full swing with your ratchet saving your time and knuckles. If you need to double your reach the unit can be coupled to another ¼” wrench for an arm extending 20-inches of reach. Tite-Reach comes with a lifetime warranty.
For more information, visit: www.tite-reach.com
Snap-on, Level 5 Tool Control System
With Snap-on’s Level 5 Tool Control System, FOD damage from misplaced tools is a thing of the past. The system uses state-of-the-art digital imaging technology and proprietary software to automatically scan each tool drawer to know what tools where removed, when and by whom. It can even tell you if a tool is broken. The system can also email you with a complete report on all tool use activities and when calibration is required on specific items.
The Level 5 scanning software keeps track of any tool in the drawer with no RFID tags required. And there are no limits on tool sizes – if it fits in the drawer, the system will keep track of it. Voice notifications not only advises the user of all tool removals and replacement, it also announces any incorrect tool placement upon return.
For more information, visit: http://snaponlevel5.com/
Snap-on, ControlTech Micro Electronic Torque Wrench
While modern aerodynamics provide operators with exceptional efficiency, they also present maintenance technicians with the challenge of working in very tight spaces. One new tool that can make repairs in confined spaces easier is Snap-on’s ControlTech Micro Electronic Torque Wrench, which is 50-percent slimmer, 44-percent shorter and 62-percent lighter than a “standard” torque wrench.
Along with its small size, the ControlTech Micro Electronic Torque Wrench also has a host of features that help make any job easier, including audible, tactile and visual indicators that take the guesswork out of knowing when you are approaching the desired torque setting. It also has Snap-on’s patent pending Torque and Alignment combo mode, which enables you to achieve optimum torque and angle in a single motion.
For more information, visit: https://www1.snapon.com/Aviation/Aviation-Tools/Torque-Precision/Control-Tech.htm.