Once More Unto the Breach

Okay, perhaps a bit more dramatic than the comparison with combat and battle than was invoked in Shakespeare’s Henry V.

How about this:

Second verse//Same as the first

I missed out on two weeks of lab time way back at the end of Gen-A, six terms ago, when my wife had Covid. Way back before vaccines were available for it. I had to remain away from the campus to prevent spread and missed out on some critically important lab time because of it.

Fast-forward to now, and I finally have all of my lab time and projects complete and even have time caught up on the Airframe time that I needed to tend do.

So, great news, I’m all caught up.

But sometimes it’s two steps forward and one step back.

We’ve had four people out with a positive Covid tests in our rather small group of 14 — no idea about the 1st year students (about 30) or the other half of the 2nd year (about another 15). The three that were out are, to my understanding, planning on being back tomorrow.

But the administration has shut down our campus for a week.

So, we’ll be back next Thursday. We’ll have the shared frustration of all trying to get bare minimums on time needed to finish this last four weeks of the program.

No, wait… minus a week.

Last three… three weeks of the program.

Tool Truck Vendors, Part II

I had posted previously about the second consideration for tool truck vendors — Mac Tools in this case. I need a set of 12-point, universal, SAE sockets for a Powerplant course I’ll be starting next term.

I had noticed that Mac Tools had updated their inventory* and indicated that they were taking orders for those sockets. So I ordered them.

I received an instant (automated) order confirmation.

Then nothing.

Days passed. The days turned into weeks. Heard nothing. No tracking number. No charge to my card. Nothing.

So I contacted Mac Tools and ensured that it was canceled so I could resume my search.

Then I returned to Genius Tools and noted that its site, too (at the time), definitely indicated it was in stock. Click. Purchase. Confirm. Multiple automatic emails (order confirmation and such). Charge to my card.

And it arrived in a few days.


*Mac Tools, when acknowledging the request to cancel the order, said, “SMU72TRA is still on back order…” Wait. What? You said it was out of stock, so I postponed. Then you said it was in stock. So I ordered. Now it’s out of stock? Hmmm… something fishy in their application of web technologies.

Tool-Truck Vendors…

I had previously admonished the use of Tool-Truck vendors.

I had remarked:

As a student or just starting out, do not buy the ‘best’ tool that can be had nor anything from some mobile tool [truck] purveyor.

Instead, buy the cheapest thing you can find that meets the actual needs you have right now. Not needs you think you’re going to have in the future. Learn to use it appropriately. Care for it. When it breaks or wears out, if repair isn’t plausible, then look for the best tool that in your learned and gained experience will meet your specific needs.

2020-09-02 – AMT Tools List

Fast forward a bit and I had posted another portion of the tools list that was rather expensive, and then another bit that would eventually be required for the Powerplant program. Some stuff was easy to come by. But a few other things, not so much.

Those pesky 1/4″ drive, universal/flex 12-point SAE sockets. [Insert satto voce annoyance mumbling here]

I’d have thought that there would be many plausible inexpensive options. Sure, the list specified “Genius Tools” and a specific product number. One could go over to the site and read all about it, but also see that it said “Out of stock” and to call some specific telephone number.

Okay, so let’s see where else we can find something comparable in the $35 – $50 range. Sure, metric sets were available.

Yet virtually nothing in US-aviation is metric. SAE only.

Oh, look — here’s a 3/8″ drive set of 12-point universal SAE sockets. Might be helpful. Maybe. But they’ll be taller and may not fit into tight space.

The list does specify 1/4″ drive… and as time progressed, it seems that they were extraordinarily rare. And over the months that I had waited and tried repeatedly, I wasn’t getting any response from Genius Tools.

I said I wouldn’t do it… but, let’s go look at Snap-On… hmm… $296. And Mac Tools? $310.

That’s more expensive than the $40 that Genius Tools had promoted the product at. About $263 more! But it’s becoming increasingly evident that it was extraordinarily unlikely — bordering on myth.

What’s Your Value?

Then there’s the question of how much one’s time is worth. How much has it cost in the perhaps 40 hours that I’d expended to save that $263?

It seems I’ve already spent about $263 of my time in tracking down something cheaper. Do the math and it works out to $6.58 per hour.

So, here are the options:

Mac Tools

7-pc. 1/4″ drive SAE Universal Socket Set – 12-PT – 1/4, 5/16, 11/32, 3/8, 7/16, 1/2, 9/16: $295.99

Snap On

6 pc 1/4″ Drive 12-Point SAE Flank Drive® Shallow Universal Socket Set – 1/4, 5/16, 3/8, 7/16, 1/2, 9/16: $309

Looks that the Mac Tools offering is less expensive and includes a 11/32″ socket as well, so, ready to drop coin on it… son of a


Awaiting a response from Mac Tools, or I’ll ring them when I’m done with chores.

Update: I looked over the Genius Tools page this morning while hammering out this post. On their product page, they now include a promising Add to Cart button. Quite a step up from the previously-used “Out of stock, call this number” note. So, I eagerly click it and…


I see what you did there. No doubt you were getting inundated with calls looking to purchase it, but instead you’ve removed the contact number to request it.

Tools Needed for Airframe II and Powerplant

Obviously, we’ll only have just begun the third quarter when we return from spring break in a week or so. But, as we received several weeks ago the tools list for the fourth and fifth quarters, it’s something to start preparing for over the term… oh, and you have the summer quarter to prepare for it as well.

Here’s the list with a few links to specific recommendations and suitable alternatives.

Required Tools for Airframe II

ARCFT 235, 236, 237, 238

All of these tools are required by the second week of Airframe II Quarter! Students starting out of sequence must have all tools from General and Airframe I lists also! As always, consult your instructor for clarification if you are unclear about a tool description.

  • As we’ve done this a few times, I’m just going to provide some links to the search results for plausible vendors that we’d used before: Amazon, Harbor Freight, Home Depot, Lowe’s, and the recommended vendor if one was given.

    I’m not seeking out the various tool suppliers that may have been mentioned by the instructors because many may not (or don’t) have a search mechanism, a web presence, or both. You can certainly have a look at them and consider your own value of the time you spend on it.

Snap Ring Plier set (ATS E100-022 or equal). 1 set

You’ll need snap ring pliers to both expand snap rings and compress.

Amazon | Harbor Freight | Home Depot | Lowe’s | Aircraft Tool

6″ Needle nose pliers. 1 ea.

You can often find pliers in sets including needle-nose, common slip-joint pliers, and water pump/water line pliers.

Amazon | Harbor Freight | Home Depot | Lowe’s

Cotter pin puller. 1 ea. 𝌗

Wait — you can often find O-ring removal tools and picks in combinations that are highly effective multi-taskers.

Amazon | Harbor Freight | Home Depot | Lowe’s

Magnetic parts retriever. 1 ea.

Amazon | Harbor Freight | Home Depot | Lowe’s

8″ Slip joint (water pump) pliers. 1 ea.

I’ll bet there’s a set on the various results pages that has both the water pump pliers and the needle nose.

Amazon | Harbor Freight | Home Depot | Lowe’s

O-ring removal tool set. 1 set

Oh, look — O-ring removal tools… didn’t I mention that there are combinations of multi-taskers to be had?

Amazon | Harbor Freight | Home Depot | Lowe’s

Tire valve core and stem remover. 1 ea.

Amazon | Harbor Freight | Home Depot | Lowe’s

3/8″ to 1/4″ Socket drive adapter. 1 ea.

Often, you’ll get directed toward tools that are adapters for power drills or (worse) impact drivers. Don’t! Just regular old 1/4″ to 3/8″ socket adapters.

Amazon | Harbor Freight | Home Depot | Lowe’s

1/4″ to 3/8″ Socket drive adapter. 1 ea.

Same position as above — but in this case, it’s a 1/4″-drive whereas it was a 3/8″ drive above.

Amazon | Harbor Freight | Home Depot | Lowe’s

1/4″ Drive Speed Handle (Yardstore #14208 or equivalent). 1 ea.

Amazon | Harbor Freight | Home Depot | Lowe’s | Yardstore

1/4″ #2 Phillips bits for bit holder. 2 ea.

Amazon | Harbor Freight | Home Depot | Lowe’s

3/8″ Drive 12 point socket set 3/8″ though 7/8″. 1 set

Amazon | Harbor Freight | Home Depot | Lowe’s

3/8″ Drive 6″ extension. 1 ea.

Amazon | Harbor Freight | Home Depot | Lowe’s

1/4″ 12 Point socket set 1/4″ through 9/16″. 1 ea.

Amazon | Harbor Freight | Home Depot | Lowe’s

1/4″ 6 Point socket set 1/4″ through 9/16″ 1 ea.

Amazon | Harbor Freight | Home Depot | Lowe’s

1/4″ Drive ratchet. 1 ea.

Amazon | Harbor Freight | Home Depot | Lowe’s

1/4″ Drive extension set, 2″, 4″ and 6″. 1 set

Amazon | Harbor Freight | Home Depot | Lowe’s

1/4″ 12 Point universal joint socket set 5/16″ through 9/16″ (Genius US-206S or equal). 1 set

These sockets are rather difficult to track down. You can find them in several places, but they’re quite expensive — $220-ish. I think it’s quite unreasonable. Genius Tools has them listed for about $40 for the specific recommended item number. But they’re back ordered. Honestly, I’d rather pick them up for $40 than nearly six times as much.

Amazon #1, Amazon #2 | Harbor Freight | Home Depot | Lowe’s | Genius Tools

1/4″ Bit Holder 1/4″ Drive (Yardstore #56110 or equivalent). 1 ea.

Amazon | Harbor Freight | Home Depot | Lowe’s | Yardstore

But wait… there’s more!

Required Tools for Powerplant

ARCFT 245, 246, 247, 248, 255, 256, 257, 258

All these tools are required by the second week Powerplant Quarter! Students starting out of sequence must have all tools from general and airframe list also! As always, consult your instructor for clarification if you are unclear about a tool description.

Slick mag timing lock tool (Aircraft Spruce PN # T118 or equal), 1 ea.

Amazon | Harbor Freight | Home Depot | Lowe’s | Aircraft Spruce

Slick mag E-Gap tool (Aircraft Spruce PN # T150 or equivalent) Students may make in Gen A as extra project, 1 ea.

While this tool and the timing lock tool above are rather inexpensive, there will be another $12 for ultra-basic shipping. What one might plan as a $30 purchase will actually be about $42.

Amazon | Harbor Freight | Home Depot | Lowe’s | Aircraft Spruce

Eng. Cable Sling **Note. All students will make this item in Gen A. 1 ea.

Amazon | Harbor Freight | Home Depot | Lowe’s | Just kidding, you should already have it. If you don’t or haven’t made one, check with your instructor and see about fabricating it.

Magneto Timing Light **Note (Aircraft Spruce #12-16901 or equivalent) Students should make this item in Gen B.

Amazon | Harbor Freight | Home Depot | Lowe’s | Aircraft Spruce

**Note: Some students may be starting the program out of typical sequence order, if they have not had a specific General Class that they would have made one of the required tools consult the Powerplant instructor prior to starting the Powerplant Quarter for guidance. For students who do complete these projects during General take care to assemble them to the highest quality, to prevent having to open purchase them due to inaccuracy.


We were reminded today that the third quarter in the program begins in about 8 weeks (7 weeks by the time I post this). We were also reminded that we need to get onto ordering tools for our next portion of classwork labs sooner rather than later. Very probably, none of the tools will be available locally.

Fair warning: this is, so far, the most expensive combination of tools to be obtained — and the majority of cost is likely within the first two or three items. Yes, really. Even considering what I’d said before about not needing to buy the most expensive/best/tool-truck-brand tool that can be found.

So… the list is below along with some of the sources I’ve found.

Lower chest tool box, recommended size 20”x30”x40”, 1 ea

Yep, gone are the days that we’ll just need a few screwdrivers and wrenches. We’ll need a bit more than can be carted around in a semi-portable toolbox. There are loads of options to be had and several that can be obtained new for about $300. There are also a few rather good options from Harbor Freight.

One could write a novel on what is and isn’t a good rolling toolbox to contain one’s tools. But here are some of the variations:

3X rivet gun kit, ATS-3XPK or equal*, 1 kit

It doesn’t seem there are many options available. Although I admittedly simply don’t know enough about rivet guns other than to say that you absolutely should not buy the cheapest thing you find. I ordered one from Aircraft Tool Supply then received an email a day later cautioning that they’re awaiting delivery, so it’ll be two weeks until they ship.

Not to worry.

Oh, they also have “designer colors” — as long as a designer fancies black, red, blue, or fashionable lime-green… no, wait — they call it jade-green.

Air drill 1/4 – 3/8 chuck*, 1 ea

Pneumatic. Not battery-powered, nor 1-phase/household current operated. And while it’s very much my opinion, I would discourage any keyed-chuck options unless your goal is ten-thousandths-precision, in which case you wouldn’t be doing the work with a hand-held tool. Also, that key is one more thing to keep track of. And if you misplace it, your drill is effectively a paperweight. I’ve preferred keyless chucks whenever possible.

Lincoln Long air fittings or adapters for all air tools), as needed

Okay, you’ll need to order one female end for one end of your air hose and male ends for every other pneumatic tool in your kit. You aren’t going to just use your regular pneumatic tools in the shop.

That said, it’s just 1/4 inch NPT, so you can rapidly assemble an adapter making your own shop air compatible with the Lincoln Long style connectors.

Aviation Snips, set of 3, ATS 865-3 or MKR or equal, 1 set

Fiskar’s scissors, they aren’t.

There’s a reason that they’re aviation snips and why there are three different kinds. When you cut metal, you’ll need to have left, right, or straight-cut of material depending on needs.

25’ Air hose*, 1 ea

You may want one of those coiled/recoil type hoses, but don’t. They’ll become a trip-hazard for anything except the smallest of crafty spaces with one person to step over it.

Also, avoid the “combination” sets or kits that have extra pneumatic fittings, gauges, nozzles, inflators,

Just a regular heavy-duty hose.

Oh, and if it comes with fittings (many will) then you’ll need to swap out its fittings with the L-fittings above.

Cleco kit, clecos & pliers, ATS CL50K or equal, 1 ea

The CL50K kit comes with 12 or 13-each of commonly-used Clecos. Totally sufficient for our needs.

#1 – #60 Numbered Drill bit set, 1 set

Fortunately, ATS has a numbered-bit set here. You might be able to find a cheaper/more-readily-available option if you shop around.

1/8″ – 1/2″ Fractional Drill bit set, 1 set

ATS also has a fractional set of bits that seem to fit our needs as well. Includes 1/16″ to 1/2″ in 1/64″ increments.

Rivet gauge set, ATS AE-1007 or RG031 or equal

I’m sensing a trend here: ATS seems to be either the only place that has the needed tools… or it’s the only place that I bothered to look. Save a few dollars and opt for the RG031 kit. It’s quite adequate.

Brass drift (3/8 x 10)

ATS does not have brass drifts. They have center punches and pin punches, but no drifts. Fortunately, yep, Amazon.

Needle file set, ATS S475 or equal

You know it has occurred to me that if SCC were to let ATS know what they needed, they could select specific part numbers and students could just order the “SCC 3Q ARCFT Kit”. Sure, people could shop around and find something equal… except as students learning about aviation, it may be that something is thought to be equal, but isn’t.

Babbling rant aside, a set of needle files can be had at ATS:

12 or 16 oz. Ball Peen hammer

ATS does have ball peen hammers. But you can also find them on Amazon or pick one up from one of a local DIY centers. Just a 12 or 16 oz ball peen.

Debur tool, ATS SVBHD or equal

Hmm, on the heels of the remark about not knowing if something equal, now we’ll consider deburring tools. Can one be found at Lowe’s? Home Depot? And, no doubt, many of them can also be found on Amazon.

Or, since you’re already selecting items from ATS, you could go with the list’s recommendation. Also, they do seem rather comparable in price.

Center punch

It’s just going to be a tool to dimple metal to mark a center point for drilling. You could go with a lower-tech two-hand solution. Or a higher-tech one-hand tool.

3/32″ pin punch

Yeah, we can get this one…

1/8″ pin punch

Or even better, get two of them together. ATS. HD. Lowe’s. Amazon. Even HF.

Protractor, ATS GT17 or equal

I wonder if the more expensive, super-awesome, high-tech $29 digital option is equal to the $17 GT17.

Hint: no, they’re not equal — one is nearly twice the cost of the other with little functional gain.

Mechanic hook & pick set, 5″ or greater

I honestly didn’t know that such things have a measurement or size classification. So, would these be 5-inch?

Eh, probably not. But we can probably go pick one from the assorted shops.

4″ C-Clamps, 2 ea

And you thought those C-clamps in your great-granddad’s toolbox were outdated and old-fashioned. Hardly. You can easily find several options across the interwebz. Caution: it seems that the assorted tool purveyors are including their own recommendations: “Here are some locking C-clamps and C-clamp pliers… they’re more better!”

No, thanks, just the old-style C-shaped clamp with the single, threaded screw.

#40 drill bit, 10 ea

Hmm… ten of them? I was wondering why we were going to need ten of them… if only somebody offered them in packs of two or three… wait… they really do readily offer #40’s in bulk packs?

#40 drill stop, ATS DS-40 or equal, 1 ea

This is, quite possibly, the cheapest item you’ll need to buy for the program. Don’t bother with the woodworking type drill stops.

#30 Drill bit, 10 ea

[Clicks the dropdown menu] Huh… and #30s as well.

#30 drill stop, ATS DS-30 or equal, 1 ea

This is the second of the cheapest items you’ll need.

Extension cord, 25′ outdoor quality, 1 ea

You know, having lived The RV life, I have several heavy-duty, outdoor-rated extension cords that I can retask for the hangar.

Do not buy the cheapest, and absolutely do not buy anything listed at “16/3 Heavy Duty Outdoor” — its description rather underscores that it’s inadequacy.

12/3 will work and you can find them at Lowe’s, HF, Amazon, and HD. Going larger to 10/3 would, while suitable, have diminishing returns. It would be more expensive than is necessary and wrangling the additional bulk will be problematic.

#2 Phillips stubby screwdriver, 1 ea

Stubby straight screwdriver, 1 ea

I already have some to re-task into aviation, but these can be found via the usual suspects.

#2 Phillips offset screwdriver, 1 ea

There’s the old-style fixed offset screwdrivers:

Or, for a few dollars more, consider a mini ratcheting angle-driver solution:

It may be more suitable and much more of a multitasker.

Pliers, common, 1 ea

Regular, old, everyday pliers.

Hmm… by “common” I wonder if they mean slip-joint pliers? Eh, here are a few.

Welding goggles (gas, #5 lens), 1 ea, Recommend safety glass style for non-prescription users

I don’t have a clue about anything involving welding apart from comprehending that soldering!=brazing!=welding. But I’ll go out on a limb here and say that having a super-awesome, instantly dimming, LCD helmet is not what you’ll want. When you’re learning to weld, it’s the wrong time to have the auto-dimming battery fail. Also: unless you selected a rolly-toolbox with a suitable space, you won’t be able to store it in there.

So, just goggles.

Oh, and ensure that they’re #5 shades.

Yes, you could check with Lincoln Electric or Eastwood and perhaps they have something that might work. I’m somewhat lazy and tend to go to the places that have worked well enough for me in the past: Lowe’s and HD are questionable, but oddly, HF, and, surprise, Amazon, have options.

So, everything else welding-related on the list is very much in the realm of “I haven’t a clue”. 🤷 But these might work.

Welding gloves (light duty for oxy-acetylene or MIG), 1 pr.

Welding tip cleaner, 1 ea

1/16 Gas welding rod, 1 lb.

1/16 Arc welding electrode (E6013 or E7014)

It doesn’t seem that vendors clearly state in some titles whether they’re E6013 or E7014, or vice-versa. So, click through and read the product description.

Paint gun (HVLP-recommend 20oz. reservoir)*, 1 ea

Disclaimer: I do have extremely-particular taste and preference in painting equipment. I painted houses and businesses professionally for several years before I was in Computer Science.

I hear from good authority (a student who graduated last term) that there was only cause to use the cup-gun (HVLP sprayer) for like one project.

If there’s only one painting project, it absolutely doesn’t justify the cost of a Wagner Spraytech HVLP or even a Spray Max (both nice) or a Graco 7.0 3-stage turbine HVLP (very nice) but neither one suitable. Nor the pneumatic Graco Edge II or the aviation-specific Graco AirPro.

But picking up an extremely inexpensive siphon-feed, pneumatic, HVLP cup-gun would work well.

Oh, and while you’re searching around for HVLPs, you’ll no doubt see ads and sales pitches directing you (insisting? demanding?) to buy burp-guns. Don’t. It’s a trap.

Just a super-basic, gravity-fed or cup-gun pneumatic sprayer.

Paint respirator (ProTech B242 or equal), 1 ea

Okay, this is an odd one — there doesn’t seem to be a “ProTech B242” respirator to be found. And I’m unfamiliar with the name

Well, there is a “ProTech”, but it’s not likely what we’ll need. The ProTech you’ll find online is one of those tactical-related vendors.

I don’t know if SCC requires a PPV respirator (doubt it, but for those with beards, it may be appropriate eventually) so something like a basic 3M painting respirator (Lowe’s, Home Depot) may work fine. Generally, cartridges in a painting respirators need to be replaced every day or so under regular use.

That’s about it. So far.

From what I’ve calculated, this is indeed the most expensive tool list of the lot.

Apart from the toolbox, which I already have, the greatest expenses, in order, were: the rivet gun, the drill, the drill bits, and the Cleco kit. Most other items were within the range of $2 to $20.

*Per the tools list: “New tools may say they include an air hose fitting but it will not come with Lincoln Long fittings, nor will air hoses.”