Thomas Mann watched as worker after worker at Fleet Readiness Center East at Cherry Point was subject to heavy vibrations from riveting. He came up with a solution to lessen the blow, one he thought was too easy.
“The idea is so simple I can’t believe nobody thought of it before,” he said.
For his “simple” idea, Mann is to be honored with a patent award today at NAVAIR headquarters at Naval Air Station Patuxent in Maryland.
Daniel Capps, an engineer at FRC East, is to receive a patent award today as well for development of adjustable lockable pliers.
As for Mann, a machinist from New Bern, he came up with a recoilless bucking bar system that lessens the impact of vibrations on workers when they are using an air hammer to install rivets.
“When the ergonomics man came up to me seven years ago, he wanted to make something that would relieve the tension in artisans’ hands from bucking rivets because it was causing a lot of carpal tunnel and rigid finger, and it was costing the government a lot of money,” Mann said. “That’s from the shock to your hands all the time.”
Mann added a spring to the bucking bar that took a lot of the shock out of the receiving end of riveting.
“I put the math together, saw what kind of pressure it was, ordered the springs for it and put it together. It’s a real simple tool,” Mann said.
Mann got the idea in part from his work manufacturing cannons, which use recoil springs.
“Some of those guys are bucking hundreds of rivets every day, so they’re getting the vibrations in both hands,” Mann said. “All that bucking gets amplified back into the hands. This alleviates that.”
Capps’ pliers were designed to be used on a composite hex head on integral braid socks used to eliminate chafing problems in wiring within the vibration-prone V-22 Osprey. Capps realized that there were nine sizes of hex heads in the aircraft that required nine tools. Capps developed a single, adjustable tool that fits all nine sizes.
There are 21 to 25 hex fittings on the V-22, and it is believed that the tool will be a time-saver for workers at FRC East and out in the fleet.
Capps said that saving time in work repairs and maintenance on the Osprey helps reduce costs.
“We’re always looking for a better way of doing things,” Capps said. “That’s why Cherry Point is here, to look for a better way to equip the fleet. They’re the ones putting their lives on the line.”
Capps has worked at FRC East for 33 years, 22 of which have been on the V-22.
“The whole time I’ve been on the V-22 program my biggest concern was the fleet, getting the right tools, the right components and getting wiring out there that will not cause them heartaches and headaches, 24-7,” he said. “That’s what the depot’s here for. That’s why the engineering fleet support teams are here, to make their jobs easier so they can do what they are meant to do, go fly aircraft and not just do maintenance on aircraft.”
Capps said that the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter uses composite hex fittings exclusively, and there is the potential for the new tool to someday be used on that aircraft as well.