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Raptor maintenance: hand tools vs. electric tools

Unread postPosted: 19 Oct 2009, 12:42
by flateric
On Raptor servicing photos I see that technicians use old good hand tools.

Why don't they use, for example, electric screwdrivers, wrenches or other electric tools that, logically, woud be much faster and comfortable? Tradition, some specific requirements (like ability to damage RAM) or something else?

RE: Raptor maintenance: hand tools vs. electric tools

Unread postPosted: 19 Oct 2009, 16:52
by machi
Yeh. Don't want to crossthread or overtorque a screw into aluminum or composite. You try to do that fast and you're going to do alot of damage.

RE: Raptor maintenance: hand tools vs. electric tools

Unread postPosted: 19 Oct 2009, 18:18
by ATFS_Crash
As machi seems to suggest. I would suspect that perhaps starting fasteners by hand helps improve the feel, to prevent cross threading, detect dirt or burgered up threads and to better prevent over or under torquing. IMAO Like making love; it’s usually better to be slow and long. It could be damaging or embarrassing if you’re in the wrong hole or miss it entirely.

RE: Raptor maintenance: hand tools vs. electric tools

Unread postPosted: 19 Oct 2009, 20:06
by akruse21
Or it could be like on every other aircraft, support doesn't have enough drills/batteries to go around. Much faster and effective to use a good old speed handle anyway.

RE: Raptor maintenance: hand tools vs. electric tools

Unread postPosted: 19 Oct 2009, 20:16
by FlightDreamz
My understanding (and take this with a LARGE grain of salt, as I'm not a pilot, in maintenance or affiliated with the U.S.A.F. in any way - I'm strictly an enthusiast) is that legacy aircraft (F-15 Eagles, F-16 Falcons and so on) were serviced with hand tools as well. Probably for the reasons Machi and ATFS Crash already mentioned. Just my :2c:

RE: Raptor maintenance: hand tools vs. electric tools

Unread postPosted: 19 Oct 2009, 20:31
by machi
Airplanes are built in relatively low numbers, so it's not worth developing special tools and equipment to build them fast in a factory, like the do for cars and other high volume things. So they design aircraft to be built and serviced with simple hand tools. My dad was a airplane mechanic. He had almost no tools that you can't buy from Sears. Car mechanic shops are not this way. Go into a car service station and you will see all kinds of specialized tools you need to work on them. I'll bet you can completely disassemble and reassemble a modern jet fighter with nothing more than simple hand tools.

RE: Raptor maintenance: hand tools vs. electric tools

Unread postPosted: 19 Oct 2009, 20:48
by nam11b
At Toledo (blk 42's) they constantly use power tools to remove and install panels and it never seemed to cause any issues. Active duty on the other hand really never seemed to use them. I really see it as an AD mentality; anyone know of any active duty unit that uses power tools?

RE: Raptor maintenance: hand tools vs. electric tools

Unread postPosted: 19 Oct 2009, 23:48
by vinnie
I think it's mostly a cost factor, drop a speed handle pick it up, drop a Makita and break it thats 350$ and the military buys tools without warranties. Imagine how much a speedhandle gets used during a 3 shift operation, I still use my speedhandle with Homestead etchings everyday.

Unread postPosted: 20 Oct 2009, 04:28
by em745
Several reasons, I would assume.

First off, machi's post about feeling any fastener bugaboos makes sense. Powertools are big, bulky and emit their own vibrations when working, making it difficult to "feel" any thread imperfections.

Powertools tend to be big and heavy, especially those that work on NiCads. Plus you need spare battery packs, adding to carry-on weight even more. I would think that during war time, service people would need to be as mobile as possible. And what if you run out of battery packs? Wait several hours for a recharge? What if there are no 120V receptacles handy (for recharging or corded tools)? What if the thing simply quits working?

And then there's the very real issue of sparking. Powertools use brushed motors, meaning they produce sparks as they turn. This poses a definite fire hazard around jet fuel fumes and whatnot.

None of that an issue with hand tools.

As always, my :2c: .

Unread postPosted: 20 Oct 2009, 08:21
by discofishing
From what I know as an aircraft tech, the logic was that using power tools you are more likely to strip, cross thread or over torque the hardware. Overall, I think it depends on the unit maintenance SOP. Power tools can be a pain, especially if the previous maintenance shift always forgets to charge the batteries or refuel the generators. Anyone who was ever stationed in Germany can tell you it rains and snows a good bit over there. Power tools don't like that stuff as well as the sand or fine powder found in Iraq and Afghanistan. Hand tools are the way to go.

Unread postPosted: 20 Oct 2009, 09:27
by cywolf32
I think it's pretty simple. If it ain't broke don't fix it. Also don't forget that hand tools don't require anything more than simple human power. If the lights go out, so does power tools. Keeping it simple is always the best philosophy.

Unread postPosted: 20 Oct 2009, 10:34
by flateric
Thanks for comments, it's becoming clear now.

Another question that comes from the first photo - guy on tricky Raptor area, several meters above the ground, having done with about a hundred of screws, wears safety harness, but it's damn unattached to anything.

Well, it's surely unlike cleaning snow from the wing of Tu-95, wearing valenki, but, damn, what about job safety?

Unread postPosted: 20 Oct 2009, 15:18
by darkvarkguy
When I was a Crew Chief we could use air tools to speed DISASSEMBLY but NEVER to install/reassemble. We were told it was too easy to overtorque/damage/etc. on reassembly as most all panels had a specific fastener torque. We would use an inline torque adapter on the speed handle (whenever QA was around!).

Unread postPosted: 20 Oct 2009, 16:07
by mostroscuro
Another question that comes from the first photo - guy on tricky Raptor area, several meters above the ground, having done with about a hundred of screws, wears safety harness, but it's damn unattached to anything.

Well, it's surely unlike cleaning snow from the wing of Tu-95, wearing valenki, but, damn, what about job safety?


He isn't wearing a safety harness - that's a reflective belt. The only time I can recall wearing a harness for anything on top of a jet was for an aircraft wash. I learned my balance changing rudder actuators on 16s, so I'm sure he learned his in a similar fashion.

As for the tools, a Snap-On speed handle with bits/apex holders will run you around $60 total and works in any conditions on any ramp. A DeWalt 18v cordless with accessories costs 5x that price, requires recharging, and doesn't play well with being dropped, covered in hydraulic fluid, or doing work in the rain. Besides, running a speed handle for a phase depanel builds character in our young Airmen.

Unread postPosted: 20 Oct 2009, 17:45
by flateric
mostroscuro wrote:He isn't wearing a safety harness - that's a reflective belt.


Aha, got it now

mostroscuro wrote:The only time I can recall wearing a harness for anything on top of a jet was for an aircraft wash. I learned my balance changing rudder actuators on 16s, so I'm sure he learned his in a similar fashion.


Must be a tricky pocus on Viper, and with F-22s curves it would be like Cirque du Soleil...

mostroscuro wrote:As for the tools, a Snap-On speed handle with bits/apex holders will run you around $60 total and works in any conditions on any ramp. A DeWalt 18v cordless with accessories costs 5x that price, requires recharging, and doesn't play well with being dropped, covered in hydraulic fluid, or doing work in the rain. Besides, running a speed handle for a phase depanel builds character in our young Airmen.


Well, as it turns out, Russian AF technicians share your views on hand tools, especially on building a character:)