Pilot Scouts

Staff Sgt. Danny Shaw installs safety wiring around a bolt on an F-16 Fighting Falcon Oct. 6 during some late-night maintenance at Joint Base







Hello again everyone. In addition to an honest monologue and the occasional stab at humor, this week’s newsletter is going to focus on safety wire. Based on my mental forecast of what we’ll be discussing, I can liken the experience to that of being in the Boy Scouts (minus the turbo-nerd outfits & burnt marshmallows). Much like how Boy Scouts would learn to tie knots, we’ll be covering how to properly apply safety, what size wire to use and why it’s important. We’ll also echo the Boy Scouts motto: “Always be Prepared.” That’s my explanation for the title Pilot Scouts (incase anyone was wondering).

Most of you already know a lot about safety wire, but a little refresher never hurts. Even if the mention of safety wire reminded you that you need to stock up, this has been worth your read. So, let’s get on with the review.
Safety wire has 763.4 uses (ballpark), but the most common application is using it to secure the nuts and bolts of your aircraft. It can also help prevent other parts of the aircraft from vibrating loose – or off. Needless to say (but I’ll say it anyway) safety wire is incredibly important to have.
Safety Wire can be used for:

1.    Securing nuts and bolts (ie. Carb nuts and Prop bolts)
2.    As hose clamps around the fuel lines, fuel pump, carb, or primer bulb.
3.    Probe clamp replacements
4.    Exhaust springs
5.    The rotary valve tank clamps
6.    Securing your air filters to your carbs
7.    Spark plug caps
8.    Much More


Stainless steel is by far the highest quality material used for safety wire, and it comes in a variety of different thickness. Let’s go over a few of the most common thicknesses and the attributes and uses of each.
.020 is very thin, not as strong, but you can bend it around just about anything. You use it to safety wire light bolts or fittings where you need to bend the wire around a lot of corners, and where the wire does not have a lot of pull on it.
.032 is probably the most common size. It’s easy to work with; it’s strong and should work on anything you might need to use safety wire on.
.041 is extremely strong due to its thickness but can be stiff and difficult to work with for intricate wiring. It won’t tighten around a tight radius; you use it on wide radius turns where high strength requires the extra strength.

When working with safety wire, you’ll come to realize that having safety wire pliers or an entire safety wiring kit is pretty much essential. The pliers / winders make doing the job a heck of a lot easier, a heck of a lot faster and heck of a lot safer. Using safety wire pliers helps to ensure that the safety wire is applied with the right tightness and strength.

Here are a few guidelines to follow when applying safety wire.

1.    First torque the nut or bolt to its proper torque. Where possible align the holes that are going to be used to safety wire the units in place. Do not over torque or under torque them to achieve this!
2.    Safety wire should always be installed so as to make the nut or bolt tighten itself. That is the safety wire should come around the top of head of the bolt/nut and back onto the securing unit so that the safety wire pull is in a tightening direction.
3.    Never over stress the safety wire. This weakens it, which could cause it to break under vibration or load. This is generally caused when you over wind the safety wire. Safety wire should never be nicked or kinked.
4.    When cutting the safety wire always leave 4 to 6 turns after the loop.

Well folks, that concludes this edition of Pilot Scouts. Hope you found the information helpful, and remember; “Always be Prepared.” Take care.