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Tech: How to safety wire

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by officerfalfa, Oct 16, 2007.

  1. officerfalfa
    Joined: Oct 21, 2005
    Posts: 221

    officerfalfa
    Member

    With all of the interest in using aviation elements in hot rods lately, I thought I would show how to safety wire like an aircraft mechanic. Sure you can go buy AC 42:13, but it helps to see it done. All it takes is patience and a little practice.

    First you'll want to invest in a pair of safety wire pliers. You can find them on the web pretty cheap. Mine came off of the tool truck (yes, there is a difference!) Cost me about $80, but well worth it. If they break I can get a new set next time the truck shows up. My set has lasted me over 8 years of everyday use so far.

    If you don't know how they work, they have a small jaw that clamps the wire with a built in set of side cutters. On the back they have a knob, when pulled, twists the wire. You will also need some stainless steel safety wire. .025 or .032 diameter will do. And of course you will need drilled head bolts. Just do a search for aviation tools or hardware. I highly recommend getting a catolog from East Coast Aviation Supply Inc. Their catolog is a great reference and they carry everything.
    [​IMG]
    All that you have to remember is that the wire always should pull the fastener in a tightening direction.

    First feed the wire through the bolt and wrap the other end around the bolt on a clockwise direction making sure the ends are even. Find the hole in the next bolt and lock the jaws of the pliers on the wire at the point where the wire just meets the next bolt.
    [​IMG]
    Pull the knob on the pliers and twist the wire in a clockwire direction.
    [​IMG]
    Pull one end of the wire through the hole in the bolt so that it will also pull it in a tightening direction. Clamp the wire again in the jaws and twist the wires in a COUNTERCLOCKWISE direction this time.
    [​IMG]
    Cut off the excess and make a "pigtail"
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    You can also use th "single wire" method for bolts that make a circle like on a flywheel.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Or you can use the "double twist" method on the same bolts.
    [​IMG]

    Once you get the idea of it, you'll find out that the possibilities are endless. All you have to remember is that the wire always pulls the fastener in a tightening direction.
     
    mgtstumpy and greg32 like this.
  2. SlowandLow63
    Joined: Sep 18, 2004
    Posts: 5,953

    SlowandLow63
    Member
    from Central NJ

    I was always wondering what the hell those pliers did. Maybe I'll have to find some stuff that I can safety wire just for the hell of it. Nice.
     
  3. 34Fordtk
    Joined: May 30, 2002
    Posts: 1,690

    34Fordtk
    Member

    Great Tech,Thanks!!
     
  4. 26TCoupe
    Joined: Mar 28, 2006
    Posts: 199

    26TCoupe
    Member

    I hate safety wire! Good tech! I just hate doing safety wires because I've done about a million of them on the fighter jets I work on.
     
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  5. Mazooma1
    Joined: Jun 5, 2007
    Posts: 17,643

    Mazooma1
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    Thanks!
    Might be a lifesaver, ya never know....
     
  6. Noland
    Joined: Oct 16, 2007
    Posts: 1,237

    Noland
    Member

    That is some coolest safety wire tech I have ever seen
     
  7. Grease Rod
    Joined: Sep 9, 2007
    Posts: 47

    Grease Rod
    Member
    from Burbank

    What exactly is Safety Wire for? Sorry, just never heard much about it...
     
  8. 26TCoupe
    Joined: Mar 28, 2006
    Posts: 199

    26TCoupe
    Member

    It is used primarily on aircraft engines and components to keep bolts from backing out due to vibration. It's sometimes used on certain critical bolts on hot rods, such as aftermarket brake rotors.
     
  9. Grease Rod
    Joined: Sep 9, 2007
    Posts: 47

    Grease Rod
    Member
    from Burbank

    Ah, that's what I'd gathered. Thanks very much
     
  10. officerfalfa
    Joined: Oct 21, 2005
    Posts: 221

    officerfalfa
    Member


    Yeah, that's the same reason I hate it too! Not on fighters though, corporate jets. I figured that since I can do it in my sleep it would make an easy tech article!
     
  11. no55mad
    Joined: Dec 15, 2006
    Posts: 1,740

    no55mad
    ALLIANCE MEMBER
    from nipomo, ca

    How many twists per inch? 18 seems to ring a bell. Band aids come in handy too - that wire likes to bite, especially in a blind area when wiring by feel. Works good to secure an oil pump pick up tube w/o having to weld on the pump.
     
  12. GARY?
    Joined: Aug 15, 2005
    Posts: 1,626

    GARY?
    Member

    This is a great tech. The kind of thing that I have fumbled with for a while. Now that it has been spelled out I can't wait to go safety wire something. "Where'd that dang dog go?" he he.
    thanks,
     
  13. SHRUM
    Joined: Feb 25, 2005
    Posts: 616

    SHRUM
    Member

    Nice I wondered how to make it prettier,need different pliers. thanks
     
  14. converseandbowlingshirts
    Joined: Nov 10, 2006
    Posts: 556

    converseandbowlingshirts
    Member
    from Eugene, OR

    This tech gave me flashbacks! Aaaaahhhhh!
    f-111s at RAF Upper Heyford for me.
     
  15. Ryan
    Joined: Jan 2, 1995
    Posts: 18,306

    Ryan
    ADMINISTRATOR
    from Austin, TX
    Staff Member

    Really well done post...
     
  16. Brandy
    Joined: Dec 23, 2004
    Posts: 5,288

    Brandy
    Member
    from Texas


    A lot of old flatheads and tractors as well. Kept the bolts from coming out while bumbling down a field. I've tried replicating it a million times over...........guess now I can do it right.:D
     
  17. oldmule
    Joined: Aug 2, 2007
    Posts: 64

    oldmule
    Member
    from Colorado

    Thanks for taking the time to do this!!!!

    I have safety wire and no "real" pliers and HAD no clue how to do it properly. Been trying to wire 2 stroke ATVs in the past, now days, it's cross-member bolts on 4x4s..... AL and Steel don't always mix with heat.

    Now, other than the pickup tube and brake rotors, what other bolts/things would you recommend doing? I never thought of it for the pickup tube - thanks!
     
  18. They use safety wire on some foreign-built trains.

    Of course, the shop won't buy those pliers - and (no shit) it's against company policy to bring personal tools to the site.

    And some of the guys there need to read your thread - it's right on the money!

    -bill
     
  19. Cool post!

    Haven been an aircraft mechanic for two years... I've seen some crappy safety wiring jobs on some nice cars.

    Guys usually don't get the wire in a "tighten" position.

    Like this car... absolutely bitchen car built by a very talented builder... best car at P-Town in my book!

    [​IMG]

    BUT... Check out the oh-so-wrong safety wire job... the wire is actually loosening the rear most bolt... and is in a neutral position on the other. In addition, the "wrap around" on the rear-most bolt is in a position to move from one side of the bolt to the other if tension is applied. Also, the wire was not sufficiently turned tight enough as it comes up to the hole in the bolt.

    And don't forget the tail that is left sticking out straight... that stuff is sharp, and I would have gotten fired if I would have left a tail like that under a plane and had someone cut themselved on it it, or worse yet, if it would have punctured something...
    [​IMG]

    Also, I used to wire stuff with a pair of duck bill pliers and twist by hand sometimes. If you are using the pliers only, you need to rotate the pliers one time around after getting the correct number of twists in it to get that slack taken up right next to the hole in the bolt. I almost have to show ya to explain what I mean...

    I forget how many turns per inch is correct... is it like 8 or 9?

    Your first example looks like it has too many turns, the middle one is just right and the last one looks right on the turns but loose because there is a little slack there.
     
  20. RopeSeals???
    Joined: Jul 2, 2007
    Posts: 444

    RopeSeals???
    Member

  21. officerfalfa
    Joined: Oct 21, 2005
    Posts: 221

    officerfalfa
    Member

    SamIyam, Cut me some slack man! You sound like my chief inspector!
     
  22. HHRdave
    Joined: Jul 31, 2006
    Posts: 1,068

    HHRdave
    BANNED
    from So Cal

    We should all have our cars at the FAA level of inspection.

    Great post - everyone should learn this, especially if you are ever going to be on the salt or dry lakes.
     
  23. eltiberius
    Joined: Jul 10, 2006
    Posts: 126

    eltiberius
    Member

    Great explanation and how-to for an often overlooked technique.
     
  24. XSCOOTERX
    Joined: Jul 10, 2006
    Posts: 70

    XSCOOTERX
    Member
    from Brier,Wa.

    Ya my buddy....(20 + years A&P and the son of a FAA inspector) showed me how to wire years ago...still very good tech for the rest....Bravo :D
     
  25. 64 DODGE 440
    Joined: Sep 2, 2006
    Posts: 3,872

    64 DODGE 440
    ALLIANCE MEMBER
    from so cal

    Another good source for the tools and wire is Aircraft Spruce. They have a free 700+ page catalog and lots of hardware, tubing and other stuff that works on Hot Rods as well as Aircraft.

    www.aircraftspruce.com

    Yes, I'm another aircraft mechanic, A&P I.A. specialize in antique and vintage stuff.
     
  26. scootermcrad
    Joined: Sep 20, 2005
    Posts: 12,279

    scootermcrad
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    AWESOME tech! Thanks! This is something I will use in the future for sure!!
     
  27. no55mad
    Joined: Dec 15, 2006
    Posts: 1,740

    no55mad
    ALLIANCE MEMBER
    from nipomo, ca

    A pair of vice grip type pliers will work in a pinch - just have to twist manually.

     
  28. Digger_Dave
    Joined: Apr 10, 2001
    Posts: 2,514

    Digger_Dave
    Member

    Next thing we need ... the "jig" for drilling the safety wire HOLES in nuts and bolts that don't have the holes.

    The bolts are drilled across the centerline; and the nuts drilled to one side.

    Here is my "TECH" on "How to make your own safety wire hole jig."

    It's pretty simple, it holds the bolts or nuts in the "jig" - which is held in the bench vise - with a pilot hole to guide the drill bit.

    There are different sizes for the different sizes of hardware. Start with a piece of flat stock about 1/2" to 3/8" thick, with holes drilled for the size - diameter - of the head/nut with a slit cut on one side. (at the centerline of hole)

    The pilot holes - drilled on the EDGE of the flat stock beforehand on a drill press - are positioned over the head/nut.

    There are two different jigs for each size, one for nuts with the pilot hole offset to the side. And one for bolts with the pilot hole centered. On larger hardware you can actually combine the two together. (pilot holes side by side)

    Then a "C" clamp is used to "squeeze" the slit closed to hold the bolt/nut while drilling the safety wire holes.
     
  29. Chris Casny
    Joined: Mar 13, 2006
    Posts: 4,683

    Chris Casny
    Member
    from Jamaica

    A question to everybody who knows.
    Would you ever drill thru the nut and the bolt and feed the wire thru, or would that just weaken the bolt to much????
    Great tech BTW
     
  30. 62_Galaxie_500
    Joined: Mar 30, 2007
    Posts: 116

    62_Galaxie_500
    Member

    Another question:
    Is 6-8 turns per inch just an arbitrary number or is there an engineering reason for it?
     

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