The Aircraft Owner's Tool Kit
It has been said that one of the most dangerous things in general aviation is an owner with a Phillips screwdriver. As a result of owner-performed preventive maintenance, technicians often find themselves working on something that an owner tried to fix, but only made worse. Clearly, some guidance for homebuilders and owners contemplating work on their aircraft is necessary. With that in mind — and with tongue firmly in cheek — AVweb presents this list of definitions for common tools that should be a part of every homebuilder's and owner's tool kit.
The following came to AVweb's attention without an author's attribution. Since publishing it, we've learned that Peter Egan of Road & Track magazine is possibly its author. AVweb regrets the oversight.
Joseph E. (Jeb) Burnside
- Originally employed as a weapon of war, the hammer is used as a kind of divining rod to locate expensive parts not far from the object we are trying to hit.
- ELECTRIC DRILL:
- Normally used for spinning rivets in their holes until you die of old age, but it also works well for drilling mounting holes just above a fuel line.
- Used to round off bolt heads.
- One of a family of cutting tools based on the chaos principle. It transforms human energy into a crooked, unpredictable motion, and the more you attempt to influence its course, the more dismal your future becomes.
- Used to round off bolt heads if nothing else is available, they can also be used to transfer intense welding heat to the palm of your hand.
- OXYACETYLENE TORCH:
- Used almost entirely for lighting various flammable objects in your hangar on fire.
- WHITWORTH (Metric) SOCKETS:
- Once used for working on older British engines and airplanes, they are now used mainly for impersonating that 9/16-inch or 1/2-inch socket for which you've been searching the last 15 minutes.
- DRILL PRESS:
- A tall upright machine useful for suddenly snatching flat metal bar stock out of your hands so that it smacks you in the chest and flings your drink across the room, splattering it against that freshly painted aircraft part you were drying.
- WIRE WHEEL:
- Cleans rust off old bolts and then throws the bolt somewhere under the workbench with the speed of light. Also removes fingerprint whorls and hard-earned guitar calluses in about the time it takes you to say, "Ouch!"
- HYDRAULIC FLOOR JACK:
- Used for lowering an airplane to the ground after you have installed your new tires, trapping the jack handle firmly under the landing gear leg.
- EIGHT-FOOT-LONG DOUGLAS FIR 2x4:
- Used for levering an airplane upward off a hydraulic jack.
- A tool for removing wood splinters.
- Tool for calling your neighbor to see if he has another hydraulic floor jack.
- TROUBLE LIGHT:
- The mechanic's own tanning booth. Sometimes called drop light, it is a good source of vitamin D, "the sunshine vitamin," which is not otherwise found under airplanes at night. Health benefits aside, its main purpose is to consume 40-watt light bulbs at about the same rate that 105-mm howitzer shells might be used during, say, the first few hours of the Battle of the Bulge. More often dark than light, its name is somewhat misleading.
- PHILLIPS SCREWDRIVER:
- Normally used to stab the lids of old-style paper-and-tin oil cans and splash oil on your shirt; can also be used, as the name implies, to round off Phillips screw heads.
- AIR COMPRESSOR:
- A machine that takes energy produced in a coal-burning power plant 200 miles away and transforms it into compressed air that travels by hose to a pneumatic impact wrench that grips rusty bolts last tightened 60 years ago, and rounds them off.
- PRY BAR:
- A tool used to crumple the metal surrounding the clip or bracket you needed to remove in order to replace a 50-cent part.
- HOSE CUTTER:
- A tool used to cut hoses 1/2-inch too short.