What duct tape is to the HVAC community, safety wire is to the aviation community. If you need something done, chances are…it all comes down to the wire.
Because safety wire is utilized so often, we thought we’d run through some quick points and tips regarding what it’s used for, how to use it, and what the different variations are.
Safety wire has many uses, 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 even off. Needless to say (but we’ll say it anyway) safety wire is incredibly important to have.
Safety Wire can be used for:
- Securing nuts and bolts (ie. Carb nuts and Prop bolts)
- As hose clamps around the fuel lines, fuel pump, carb, or primer bulb.
- Probe clamp replacements
- Exhaust springs
- The rotary valve tank clamps
- Securing your air filters to your carbs
- Spark plug caps
- 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 and can bend around almost anything. It’s not as strong as other thicknesses, but it is ideal for safety wiring things where you need to bend the wire around a lot of corners such as light bolts or fittings.
.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.
- The first thing you’ll want to do is torque the nut or bolt to its proper torque. Then align the holes that are going to be used to safety wire the units in place. Be careful not to over torque or under torque, that can be dangerous.
- Always install safety wire so that the nut or bolt tightens itself. In other words, the safety wire should come around the top of the bolt or nut and back onto the securing unit so that the safety wire pull is in a tightening manner (direction).
- Be sure never to over stress the safety wire. This can weaken the wire and cause it to break under vibration or stress. To avoid this, do not over wind the safety wire. Also, always make sure the safety wire is not cut or kinked, this can also cause it to weaken and break.
Always leave 4 to 6 turns after the loop when cutting safety wire.