Thursday, April 24, 2008

Rodolfo asked...

what tools I carried with me on the road.

By the time I found myself living on the road I had a couple of things to consider:
What was important and what wasn't.
Weight restrictions. Both the airline limits and my own.

My world shrunk to one checked bag, one carry on bag and a 19 inch Craftsman toolbox.

I had a tremendous advantage though. All of the sites I went to, with the exception of Kenya, were established field sites with at least one mechanic stationed there. That meant I had access to his tools and the company tools there.

I had my roll away laid out with the tools I used most often in the top drawer. The other drawers had say, the rest of my sockets and ratchets etc in one, wrenches in another, and so on.

Since I had already set it up that way I had a head start.

That would have included-
Ratchet Screwdriver with lots of apexes.
Dikes, 6"
Needle Nose Pliers, 6"
Safety Wire Pliers (The smaller of the two I had.)
12 Point 1/4" Drive Sockets (You can always use a 12 point on a 6 point fastener but not vice versa)
1/4" Drive Ratchet
Ignition Wrenches
Crescent Wrench, 6"
3/8" X 7/16" Ratchet Wrench
1/2" X 9/16" Ratchet Wrench

Honestly, I don't remember exactly what all was in the top drawer at that time.

I laid it all out on a bench next to my little tool box. Then, I took heavy duty 1/2" thick foam and "Shadowed" all of those things in. (Shadowing is where you cut out the shape of the tool from the foam. When you or anyone else look into your box it is obvious if anything is missing. It SUCKS to set it up but it is really nice once it's done.)

Once I had the top drawer stuff done I looked at the space I had and, "Hm, well, I use this a lot too. Oh, I don't use this often but it has saved my butt a time or two. And I'd hate to be with out this."

I think that box weighed 65 LBs.

As to brands, I do like Snap-On. I hate to use their slogan but there is a difference. I prefer them when it comes to tools with moving parts or something I'm going to have to put a ton of torque into.

Craftsman, Cornwell, MATCO, MAC or Snap-On... Get your price list. Hit the pawn shops.

One suggestion, unless you're just loaded, is buy less expensive stuff if you need it to start out and build up from there.

That does two things for you. First, it gets you on the job. Second, once you've upgraded you have a tool to cut down or grind or modify for a particular task. You will be 'making' tools all through your career.

Another good rule of thumb that actually came up today at work, "If you need to borrow it twice you need to buy it once."

I hope this helps. It might be a little vague for you and too specific for everybody else.

One Travel Tip. It seems obvious to me and others. I'm sure it's on plenty of travel websites.

Pack a change of clothes and your shaving kit in the carry on.

When we got transferred to Sicily I tried to tell my wife that. She gave me that, "I know what I'm doing look."

She packed her way and I packed mine.

My luggage got to there with me and hers didn't.

Did I say, "I told you so?"

Are you nuts?!


Anonymous said...

THANK YOU. I got about a month left in A&P school and super STOKED to start working in the field. I wasn't suprised to have caught the aviation bug in general but I was shocked to get addicted to tools. Snap on tools are so tempting. Luckily I found a guy retiring on craigslist and he gave me some sweet deals. The half price discount as a votech student helps a lot too. Kudos to your blog. Other than maintenance forums and pilot blogs you're the first A&P I found online whose blog is "current."

Anonymous said...

David-What where the goals you set for yourself after school? Did you accomplish what you want out of aviation? Any missed job opportunities? What would you do different? Would you even do anything different? Did you blaze your own path? Sorry to pick your brain so much.

Bob Barbanes said...

Great stuff, David. It took me YEARS to learn something though: Use the smallest tool possible for the job. Lord, it makes working on things so much easier! I always thought I had to use my 3/8" drive stuff on everything. It wears you out - too heavy! Generally, even a 1/4" drive ratchet can muster up the necessary torque for most of the small fasteners on aircraft.

For Christmas one year, a friend gave me one of those Craftsman 99-piece "suitcase" type took kits. At first I thought it was just a dumb gimmick, preferring my disorganized 99-pound toolbox crammed with a bunch of crap I didn't need. I quickly came to realize that the Craftsman set had just about everything I needed (only added a few open ends and some pliers - there even was room!) and it was easy to see when a tool was missing because everything had its place. Now I use the "gimmicky" suitcase thingee more than my beloved box-o-tools when I go on the road (which means "into the junkyard").

Oh man, and I had to laugh about one thing. You're absolutely right - shaving kit and change of clothese in the carry-on. You only need to learn that lesson ONE time, as your wife obviously did. It would have been hard for me to resist the "I told you so" line.

David said...

They only lost my luggage one time in all of my travels.

And, that was my own fault.

In my rush to get home from Korea I kept changing flights around. I wound up out running my bags.

Rodolfo, I'm working on your answer.