Choosing a Torque Wrench

Story and Photography by J.G. Pasterjak

That click–so familiar to anyone who’s spent time getting their hands dirty in the garage. That satisfying little pulse in your hand that signals a job well done. It’s a welcome piece of audible and tactile feedback to enthusiasts everywhere.

But how good is your torque wrench? And how much should you trust it?

To help answer that question, we tested a sampling of both new and respectfully used wrenches from across the price spectrum. We also borrowed a digital testing device from our local Snap-on distributor.

This tester, officially called the Electronic Torque Digital Checker–½ and ⅜

Inch, reads the maximum torque applied to the input shaft in either peak or continuous mode. Snap-on says it’s accurate to 1 percent in both directions, and we found it easy to use.

Our methodology was to perform several tests at two different torque settings for each wrench. Using the Snap-on device, we tested most of them at one-third of their maximum torque value and again near two-thirds. Then we repeated those tests with a 6-inch extension in place to reveal any variation from just the wrench and socket. To come up with our accuracy figure, we compared our torque measurements against the torque setting. We also evaluated each wrench’s quality and usability.

We know you really just want to skip ahead and find out the “winner,” but we urge you to think beyond that. Our goal is to show the accuracy found at various price points. But first: Why do you need torque wrenches, and how do they actually work?

Torque 101

When we talk about measuring fastener torque, what we really want to know is the clamping force: How tightly are two surfaces smooshing against each other under a connection secured by threaded fasteners? This is one of the critical forces engineers consider when they design something.

Unfortunately, you can’t directly measure clamping force. Doing so would require some sort of sensor sandwiched between the two objects, which would naturally conflict with the mission of pressing them together.

So we do the next best thing: extrapolate clamping force via the amount of rotational force the threaded fasteners are exerting–also known as torque.

Click, Click

Torque wrenches–at least the “click” types that we’re mostly dealing with here–all work similarly. They’re multipiece designs featuring a hinged head near the end of the handle.

Without tension, the head would be free to flop back and forth, but the adjusting device–one calibrated for the desired amount of torque–places a preload on that head. Usually this is done via a ball-and-spring arrangement featuring a detent or similar load-based positional retention system.

When the user overcomes the maximum preload of the retention system, the head breaks away from the retention device and the handle moves independently of the head. This causes the “click” familiar to anyone who has ever used a torque wrench.

Torque wrenches are calibrated at the factory, and just about all of them–even the cheap ones–come with a calibration form containing some sample set torque values against the actual measured values. These should be within the manufacturer’s claimed accuracy for the wrench. (And if they aren’t, the wrench probably won’t leave the factory.)

This data allows the user to build a profile for the wrench. For example, if the testing shows that the wrench always produces 2 percent more torque than the desired setting, then the user can set the desired torque 2 percent below the recommended setting. Or just live with the extra oomph.

Since these are mechanical devices subject to wear, most decent torque wrenches can be recalibrated. Sometimes this takes the form of a different rate spring holding the detent mechanism; other times it’s a simple preload adjustment via a hidden screw. Premium wrenches typically have calibration guidelines in their manuals. (You totally kept the instruction manual, right?)

But you also have to know how accurately your wrench is reading, and for that there’s test equipment. The Snap-on torque checker we used retails for $550, but any tool truck should have one on board for customer use.

Each wrench manufacturer has specific recommendations for calibrating its equipment, but typically you should calibrate a wrench every year, or every 5000 cycles, or after any major trauma (meaning dropping the wrench on a concrete floor, not losing $2500 in an ill-advised hockey bet).

SONIC TWO-WAY TORQUE WRENCH

sonictoolsusa.com

Sonic Tools is new to America, as the company arrived in our market early in 2015.

  • The feel of the Sonics is among the best in our comparison lineup, and the action of the adjustment lock is positive and definitive.
  • Both the n/m and ft./lb. scales are off center and slightly distorted by their window displays, making them a bit hard to read.
  • Like most of the wrenches in our test, the Sonics had better-than-claimed accuracy.

FINAL THOUGHTS: The plastic grip and textured finish beam feel nice, although we suspect the grip will get dirty sooner rather than later with heavy use.

USAG TORQUE WRENCH

griotsgarage.com

Griot’s Garage now carries tools from USAG, an Italian firm dating back to 1926.

  • These are scaled only in n/m, which may limit their appeal for some users.
  • As accurate as any wrench in the group and feel great in the hand–but at those prices they’d better.
  • Very comfortable handle.

FINAL THOUGHTS: If you can live without a lb.-ft. scale and don’t mind the price, these are worth a look, but others we tested provide more bang for the buck.

ICON TORQUE WRENCH

harborfreight.com

Earlier this year Harbor Freight launched Icon, billed as its premium tool line.

  • The stamped scale can be slightly hard to read, but it’s better than the stamped scale on most low-end wrenches.
  • The all-chrome construction doesn’t feel quite as nice in the hand as the plastic-gripped wrenches, but it should clean up better and for longer.
  • Great accuracy, great action, smooth 90-tooth ratchet, and a great price. What’s not to like? Very little, actually.

FINAL THOUGHTS: If we had to buy a torque wrench tomorrow, we would choose one of these Icon pieces, hands down.

QUINN DIGITAL TORQUE ADAPTER

harborfreight.com

This battery-operated device, purchased via Harbor Freight, turns a ratchet into a digital torque wrench.

  • Accuracy wasn’t great, but the actual accuracy was within that claimed by many common torque wrenches.
  • The lack of a mechanical “click” means it can be tricky to use, especially at low torque settings.

FINAL THOUGHTS: For less than $30, it’s probably not a bad addition to your toolbox, but you probably won’t want to use for extremely sensitive assemblies.

KOBALT ½-INCH DRIVE PROGRAMMABLE ELECTRONIC TORQUE WRENCH

lowes.com

Kobalt, launched in 1998, serves as Lowe’s house brand.

  • The digital readout is highly accurate.
  • The lack of mechanical release when torque is achieved means the user has to develop a feel for the wrench and listen closely to the audible warnings.

FINAL THOUGHTS: Sadly, there’s not a compelling reason to recommend this wrench when there are so many other good, less expensive choices out there.

PRECISION INSTRUMENTS SPLIT-BEAM CLICK WRENCHES

torqwrench.com

We borrowed this tool from a professional mechanic friend, and he admitted that it was high-mileage and due for a tune-up.

  • While it was the least accurate in this test, it was also the most consistent. Properly calibrated, in theory, it should be up there with the best of them.
  • The dual-beam action feels nice and breaks away cleanly when proper torque is achieved.
  • The dial scale is also easy to read and easy to adjust.

FINAL THOUGHTS: Thumbs up for a quality piece.

THAT $20 TORQUE WRENCH THAT EVERYONE OWNS

harborfreight.com

We also tested a couple of those ubiquitous $20 torque wrenches that can be found at Harbor Freight, Northern Tool, Tractor Supply and Walmart.

  • The stamped numbers are a bit hard to read, and the ratchet and breakaway action doesn’t match that of the premium wrenches, but what the hell do you want for $20?
  • Accuracy was darn good for the money. We tested several of these and never found one more than 4% out of whack. Some read within 2%.

FINAL THOUGHTS: Everyone should keep one of these in every toolbox or trailer and use it for the less sensitive stuff. Plus, it’s a great loaner. Think of it as a hammer that actually does some fairly accurate torqueing.

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Comments
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Floating Doc
Floating Doc UltraDork
3/2/20 9:42 a.m.

I'm using a 1/2 inch Craftsman click to torque wrench that I bought new in 1992 for a head swap on my 302 Ford. I also have the smaller inch-pound, 3/8 inch version of the same wrench, but it's hardly ever been used.

I don't do much wrenching any more, so I only use it for the frequent wheel changes on my ES Miata (up to several times per month).

I don't know how off my actual torque values are, especially with an adaptor for the 3/8 inch socket that I use, but I figure that at least they're probably all consistent when I tighten down my wheel nuts.

I asked a Snap On driver/dealer about calibration of my torque wrench, he would hardly speak to me.

I have one of the hammer store electric adaptors, but have never used it for anything.

I'd like to have these tested, but not sure how to proceed. I looked into sending them off for calibration several years ago, but it was pretty costly, so I didn't follow through. Suggestions?

BTW, it's pretty sad that Craftsman is so dead that they weren't even in the test.

L5wolvesf
L5wolvesf Reader
3/2/20 10:11 a.m.

I have a HF 1/2 in torque wrench I got in the 80s (1980s). I've used it most often for wheels (at home and at tracks) but have done engines too. I've had the calibration checked a few times and it has never varied by much. It has been done by these guys who are all over the US IIRC.

 

Correction - just in the west

https://www.nationalcalibration.com/w/

Vigo
Vigo MegaDork
3/2/20 10:51 a.m.

I'll honestly click a $20 HF torque wrench on the most expensive thing you can find me. I think people's trust of higher-priced torque wrenches and distrust of cheaper ones are EQUALLY unfounded. I don't trust ANY of them to be any better than 5% anyway. And that's..completely adequate. It's more like $10 with a coupon, too! 

Floating Doc
Floating Doc UltraDork
3/2/20 11:01 a.m.

Vigo's post does bring up a relevant question: is within 5% adequate?

I used that same Craftsman torque wrench for an engine swap and a couple of head swaps on the same car later on.

There's lots of variables when it comes to blown head gaskets, but I went through a few on the next engine.

L5wolvesf
L5wolvesf Reader
3/2/20 11:16 a.m.
Floating Doc said:

Vigo's post does bring up a relevant question: is within 5% adequate?

Good question

https://www.pcsllctn.com/5-reasons-why-your-torque-wrench-needs-to-be-calibrated/ 

Trent
Trent PowerDork
3/2/20 11:29 a.m.

Most tool trucks have a self service torque wrench testers on board. If you know any one who works at a place they regularly stop they should be able to test them for you. 

I had the trusty Harbor Freight 1/2" drive torque wrench for years. After I had 3 head gaskets fail on my mini i tested it on the Snap-on truck and when set to 100ft/lbs it was clicking at 70.  I chucked it in the scrap metal bin.

I suppose I should replace it but I just borrow the shop techangle for now.

AnthonyGS
AnthonyGS Dork
3/2/20 2:33 p.m.

In a previous life I was a nuclear mechanic for the US Navy.  As part of my continuing education, I went to instrument and tool calibration school.  I also did torque testing for our torque wrenches and torqued a few bolts and nuts in my day.  The nuclear Navy has a huge distrust of click type (micrometer) torque wrenches and strongly prefers dial indicating ones or even beam types.

Other advice is to always use a wrench so that you torque value falls between 15-85% of the wrenches range.  It also needs a valid calibration sticker.  
 

And yes 5% is fine.  I'd be more worried about calibration than brand.  A calibrated cheapo is better than an uncalibrated expensive tool.  

The only torque wrenches I've ever bought that had calibration data are the two CDI torque wrenches I got last year.  I shoukd probably get a torque tester or find one near me that I can use on e a year or so.

Vigo
Vigo MegaDork
3/2/20 10:52 p.m.

is within 5% adequate?

Possibly a more relevant question. Do you think manufacturers would subject themselves to the ludicrous suffering they would endure if they built pretty much any fastened assembly within 5% torque of failure and then sent it out into the world of real life dealership techs?

I'm sure there are plenty of cases when 5% isn't enough. But they don't pay auto techs enough for 5% to not be enough. 

AnthonyGS
AnthonyGS Dork
3/3/20 12:20 a.m.

In reply to Vigo :

I understand what you are saying but +/- 5% of torque is way different than a 5% failure rate.  A torque rating is specified in order to generate a sufficient clamping force.  It's also spec'd knowing the fastener can take all of that and then some by a pre determined safety factor.  In typical mechanical engineering that safety factor is 2.0, or 100% more than the designed load of the mechanical item.  Civil engineering may use even higher safety factors.  In the previous case, the problem arose when the torque wrench was reading 30% low.  That sounds pretty legitimate to me. 

Getting the exact torque also depends on cleanliness, specified lubrication, etc.  How many people do you know that chase threads and use the correct lubricant before torquing fasteners?  This alone can cause for more than +/- 5% torque.  I don't know many auto techs that get paid enough to go to this kind of trouble.  Some do, but most do not. 

For example most lug nuts are torqued 75-100 ft-lb in my experience but that's a clean stud and fresh lug nut.  How many people do you see torquing beat up rusty studs with mangled nuts?  I don't chase threads myself, but do check them for cleanliness and keep wire brushes handy.  If I'm torquing head bolts though, I go to a lot of trouble to chase, clean threads, and use specified lubricant (in some cases it is none or dry).  In the nuclear navy they had a special lubricant that was used on almost all fasteners and required to get the correct spec.  It also prevented galling.  Once galling of your fasteners starts, you will never get to the correct clamping load no matter how well your torque wrench is calibrated. 

I actually got irritated during study for my mechanical engineering degree, because so many engineers don't understand nuts and bolts..... If you want to be beat down with the details the mechanical engineer's handbook  is heavy reading, but good reading. 

Needless to say there is a lot more to the puzzle than having a torque wrench and getting a torque reading within plus or minus a given percentage on that wrench.  Thanks goodness most stuff is just overdesigned to compensate. 

 

ChrisLS8
ChrisLS8 New Reader
3/3/20 1:21 a.m.

I have a HF 3/8 and 1/2 clickers, a CDI flex 3/8, and Quinn digital 1/2. 

The quinn is made by Eclatorq same as the Kobalt, made in Taiwan and I like it. Also does angle if you need it to. 

 

All of em except the quinn have rebuilt motors with zero problems. 

ChrisLS8
ChrisLS8 New Reader
3/3/20 1:24 a.m.

In reply to AnthonyGS :

I never use a tap to chase threads unless I'm making a new hole. I keep a metric set of Lang Thread restorers as that is the proper tool for cleaning up boogered threads

AnthonyGS
AnthonyGS Dork
3/3/20 8:10 a.m.
ChrisLS8 said:

In reply to AnthonyGS :

I never use a tap to chase threads unless I'm making a new hole. I keep a metric set of Lang Thread restorers as that is the proper tool for cleaning up boogered threads

I agree thread chasers are far softer than taps.  They should be used to remove dirt grime and old sealant, etc. If you have a damaged thread(s) other tools come into play.

Then you have to figure out the correct lube for the given torque spec which seems to be rarely published or considered.   

The0retical
The0retical UberDork
3/3/20 8:33 a.m.
Floating Doc said:

Vigo's post does bring up a relevant question: is within 5% adequate?

When I worked as an A&P on an Air Force contract, all of our tech data stated +/- 3%. Everything (including the 6 inch scales one time) that was used to measure tolerances went out every 2 years for calibration and we had to check the cal sticker everytime the tool was used.

Professor_Brap
Professor_Brap Dork
3/3/20 9:16 a.m.

Our family friend is a matco dealer, had him test all mine and all where within 4%. 

 

Pretty impressive for a old ass matco, new snappy, Pittsburgh, icon, and some no names from junkyard. 

He told us he rarly sees them out of spec. 

03Panther
03Panther Reader
3/16/20 7:01 p.m.

In reply to AnthonyGS :

I did my apprenticeship as a civilian contractor on Nuclear Subs in early 80's. Used a click type a few times, but COUNTLESS Dial Torque Wrenches! Rebuild my first engine with a way cheap Sears beam and pointer... don't even know hou to explain how cheesy one is! But it did the job. Good mechanical practice and skill of the craft goes a long way, and I learned very little of that from degreed engineers

AnthonyGS
AnthonyGS Dork
3/16/20 7:05 p.m.
03Panther said:

In reply to AnthonyGS :

I did my apprenticeship as a civilian contractor on Nuclear Subs in early 80's. Used a click type a few times, but COUNTLESS Dial Torque Wrenches! Rebuild my first engine with a way cheap Sears beam and pointer... don't even know hou to explain how cheesy one is! But it did the job. Good mechanical practice and skill of the craft goes a long way, and I learned very little of that from degreed engineers

This was the most shocking part of getting my degree.  There is a vast difference between a good mechanic and mechanical engineer.  I spent most of my senior year in the labs actually building and making things work that smart people dreamed up.  

 

03Panther
03Panther Reader
3/16/20 7:06 p.m.

In reply to AnthonyGS :

In the nuclear navy they had a special lubricant that was used on almost all fasteners and required to get the correct spec.

Absolutely. MolyCoat, copper and nickle anti-seize has always been available over the counter, but too few will use it - lots dont know what they are.

03Panther
03Panther Reader
3/16/20 7:16 p.m.
The0retical said:

When I worked as an A&P on an Air Force contract, all of our tech data stated +/- 3%. Everything (including the 6 inch scales one time) that was used to measure tolerances went out every 2 years for calibration and we had to check the cal sticker everytime the tool was used.

When I was QC, answering to NRRO, our 6" scale only had to checked before first use. After that it can't change, unless damaged, and then we were expected to destroy and trash it. We couldn't get the position without knowledge, experence and integrity... and yet I can't apply for a job at Ft Rucker, 'cause I don't have a A&P. To work next to people I know, that don't have one, and don't know enough to get one, but have conections..... OK, I'll quit whining now!!!

_
_ Dork
3/16/20 7:20 p.m.

Torque specs range anyways. I always pick the middle. I've done a lot of work to different cars. Never died. Use a chinaFreight Snapper the whole time. 4% variance on 40-60ft lbs is 1.6-2.4lbs. 

wlkelley3
wlkelley3 UltraDork
3/16/20 8:46 p.m.
03Panther said:
. and yet I can't apply for a job at Ft Rucker, 'cause I don't have a A&P. To work next to people I know, that don't have one, and don't know enough to get one, but have conections..... OK, I'll quit whining now!!!

Yeah, helps to have connections a Rucker. Have you tried any of the quickie courses to get your A&P? Got mine at a full school, 1 year of night classes and shop time. But I used to teach at one of the quickie schools, NCI in Clarksville, TN. Designed for folks with military aviation experience, just need to learn to translate it to civilian philosophy. 

oldopelguy
oldopelguy UberDork
3/16/20 8:46 p.m.

Another nuclear navy trained calibration guy, specifically on calibrating torque wrenches. 

Hands down a beam type is the most consistent, and typically the toughest to read. I have a fixture somewhere in my shop that I can clamp in a vice, drop my beam type in, and connect my clickers to the bottom.  Cycle the clicker until it clicks while watching the beam on top. Easy, quick cal check. 

AnthonyGS
AnthonyGS Dork
3/16/20 9:13 p.m.

In reply to oldopelguy :

I was a sub guy, so we had to learn to do it all.  I went to nuclear mechanic school, chemistry and radiation controls school, taught 114 ton refrigeration school, taught nuclear valve school, taught chemistry and radiation to officers, went to machine tool operator school (lathe and mill), assisted with that class sometimes (needed 1 instructor per 3 students for safety), went to gauge cal school (thermo, pressure, torque), qualified quality assurance inspector (one guy usually does nuclear work and another guy checks it), and just fixed things that broke on the boat.  Oh I also went to fire fighting school up to advanced fire fighting which was a week of putting out fires with busted nozzles, bad extinguishers, ripped hoses, fires starting behind you..... all around you..... Oh that was fun.  Then 9/11 happened and someone decided I needed to be trained by Marines to be a part time MP......  Yes, I'm glad I did it.  Do I recommend it? Not neccessarily....  Did it pay for my Master's degree?  Yep. 

 

 

03Panther
03Panther Reader
3/16/20 9:32 p.m.
AnthonyGS said:

In reply to oldopelguy :

I was a sub guy, so we had to learn to do it all.  I went to nuclear mechanic school, chemistry and radiation controls school, taught 114 ton refrigeration school, taught nuclear valve school, taught chemistry and radiation to officers, went to machine tool operator school (lathe and mill), assisted with that class sometimes (needed 1 instructor per 3 students for safety), went to gauge cal school (thermo, pressure, torque), qualified quality assurance inspector (one guy usually does nuclear work and another guy checks it), and just fixed things that broke on the boat.  Oh I also went to fire fighting school up to advanced fire fighting which was a week of putting out fires with busted nozzles, bad extinguishers, ripped hoses, fires starting behind you..... all around you..... Oh that was fun.  Then 9/11 happened and someone decided I needed to be trained by Marines to be a part time MP......  Yes, I'm glad I did it.  Do I recommend it? Not neccessarily....  Did it pay for my Master's degree?  Yep. 

 

 

The Navy Nuke Sub program is prolly tougher than anything else I know of. I would not have ben dedicated enough to make it through... so I have HUGH respect for those of you that did! And, thanks for your time, too.

I was Outside Machinist in the Apprentice School... but I had two years of electronics before that... but that was in 79, so I've slept since then! Then 6 years in QC. The Aprentice program at NN ship was better than other programs, but not as intense as yours. I didn't have the chemistry and radiological training you had, and didn't work on valves till I started contracting in 97. But Fisher AOV's became my bread and butter for many years

were you ever in NN ship?

Vigo
Vigo MegaDork
3/16/20 9:35 p.m.

I understand what you are saying but +/- 5% of torque is way different than a 5% failure rate.  A torque rating is specified in order to generate a sufficient clamping force.  It's also spec'd knowing the fastener can take all of that and then some by a pre determined safety factor.  In typical mechanical engineering that safety factor is 2.0, or 100% more than the designed load of the mechanical item.  Civil engineering may use even higher safety factors.  In the previous case, the problem arose when the torque wrench was reading 30% low.  That sounds pretty legitimate to me. 

I was out of town for a week but in reply, I never said failure rate per se. I implied that a manufacturer wouldn't give you a torque spec that would result in broken parts if you went 5% higher. So my point was that 5% accuracy was good enough and everything but your first sentence there seems to be in agreement on that.  

03Panther
03Panther Reader
3/16/20 9:41 p.m.
wlkelley3 said:
 

Yeah, helps to have connections a Rucker. Have you tried any of the quickie courses to get your A&P? Got mine at a full school, 1 year of night classes and shop time. But I used to teach at one of the quickie schools, NCI in Clarksville, TN. Designed for folks with military aviation experience, just need to learn to translate it to civilian philosophy.

Haven't heard of any shorter classes... all I looked into were two years. And the people I know that went were embarrassed to see how low the bar to go through was. I never looked too hard; wasn't looking for a local job - love the traveling contract work, as does my wife. But Life put me in a night maint. position at a local yeast plant. Great people, great bennies... good pay for area. I'm just spoiled by road money for over 20 years! I'll prolly stay at least another 4  1/2 years to get vested, and at 55...

If you can direct me to any info on a quickie school, I'd def. appreciate it... 'cause ya never know.

I've worked the TVA coal plant in Cumberland City. Love that area 'tween there and Clarksville.

oldopelguy
oldopelguy UberDork
3/16/20 10:53 p.m.

In reply to AnthonyGS :

Also submariner, so similar training except for being an electrician. The boat I was on hooked up shore power through multiple Subsafe penetrations so my whole division was QA trained and we had the torque wrench calibration equipment onboard.

AnthonyGS
AnthonyGS Dork
3/16/20 11:47 p.m.
oldopelguy said:

In reply to AnthonyGS :

Also submariner, so similar training except for being an electrician. The boat I was on hooked up shore power through multiple Subsafe penetrations so my whole division was QA trained and we had the torque wrench calibration equipment onboard.

I qualified aux electrician just because I could and was bored after a few years.  My wife's cousin was also an electrician on a nuc sub out of King's Bay.  He is working and finishing up a degree in EE now.  Working on a nuclear sub definitely teaches you the difference between being a good boss and a bad one very quick and how to identify each.  That's the one thing that you really learn.  Well you do learn, how to learn new things quickly when needed too.  Outside of that, I'd say the biggest thing is mental toughness.  I'm kind of laughing at my wife's reaction to social distancing right now.  She thinks this is hard.... 

03Panther
03Panther Reader
3/17/20 12:10 a.m.

I've noticed bubbleheads get so comfortable being TOO close, that they can tolerate about any social conditions! I guess just getting used enough to ignoring, that stepping away doesn't even register!

As well as the mental toughness. Y'all wouldn'tt survive what sub duty throws at ya without that.

My dad was a career electrical instructor. He taught me early on that the ability to learn is first importance. Anything can come after that. He was not a great mechanic, but taught me to be great, by teaching me HOW to learn it!

The0retical
The0retical UberDork
3/17/20 9:06 a.m.
03Panther said:
wlkelley3 said:
 

Yeah, helps to have connections a Rucker. Have you tried any of the quickie courses to get your A&P? Got mine at a full school, 1 year of night classes and shop time. But I used to teach at one of the quickie schools, NCI in Clarksville, TN. Designed for folks with military aviation experience, just need to learn to translate it to civilian philosophy.

Haven't heard of any shorter classes... all I looked into were two years. And the people I know that went were embarrassed to see how low the bar to go through was. I never looked too hard; wasn't looking for a local job - love the traveling contract work, as does my wife. But Life put me in a night maint. position at a local yeast plant. Great people, great bennies... good pay for area. I'm just spoiled by road money for over 20 years! I'll prolly stay at least another 4  1/2 years to get vested, and at 55...

If you can direct me to any info on a quickie school, I'd def. appreciate it... 'cause ya never know.

I've worked the TVA coal plant in Cumberland City. Love that area 'tween there and Clarksville.

What was your MO? Here's what the FAA says about that and the relevant section:

You can get the experience you need to become a certified power plant or airframe mechanic in one of three ways.

-snip-

3. You can join one of the armed services and get training and experience in aircraft maintenance. Make sure you are in a military occupational specialty for which FAA gives credit. You can get a current list of acceptable specialties from the local FAA Flight Standards District Office (FSDO).

You must present an official letter from your military employer certifying your length of service, the amount of time you worked in each specialties, the make and model of the aircraft or engine on which you got practical experience, and where you got the experience. You cannot count time you spent training for the specialty, only the time you spent working in the specialty.

 

With both types of on-the-job training you should set aside additional study time to prepare for the written and oral/practical tests. The FAA will give you credit for your practical experience only after we review your paperwork and you have a satisfactory interview with an FAA Airworthiness inspector.

I received mine through ERAU's program 12 years ago. But it was 16 months and 40 hours a week for the program.

03Panther
03Panther Reader
3/17/20 7:14 p.m.

In reply to The0retical :

At 55, I prolly can't join one of the armed services to get training and experience, so #3 is not really applicable to the information WLKELLY3 mentioned. Even your 16 month training Is shorter than what I've heard of 'round here.  He mentioned some quickie courses that MIGHT transfer some relevant experience. I've only heard of the courses that take people that don't know the difference in an adjustable wrench and a screwdriver, let them attend for two years, and then tells them where to take the test. Those "schools" would "let" me start with those folks.

I chose to serve my apprenticing in Nuclear Submarine and Aircraft Carrier construction, instead joining the military, but the closest MO would be MM. Woy more than an A-gang, but slightly less that Nuke School.

Been doing short term contracts as an I&C Commissioning Field Engineer, that I prolly won't have much luck trying to change careers, if someone thinks I have to start with people that don't have any experience.

What kinda work did you do before pursuing an A&P?

03Panther
03Panther Reader
3/17/20 7:18 p.m.
AnthonyGS said:
03Panther said:

In reply to AnthonyGS :

I did my apprenticeship as a civilian contractor on Nuclear Subs in early 80's. Used a click type a few times, but COUNTLESS Dial Torque Wrenches! Rebuild my first engine with a way cheap Sears beam and pointer... don't even know hou to explain how cheesy one is! But it did the job. Good mechanical practice and skill of the craft goes a long way, and I learned very little of that from degreed engineers

This was the most shocking part of getting my degree.  There is a vast difference between a good mechanic and mechanical engineer.  I spent most of my senior year in the labs actually building and making things work that smart people dreamed up.  

 

You do come across as having some common since!!! Which ain't all that common...

wlkelley3
wlkelley3 UltraDork
3/17/20 9:36 p.m.
03Panther said:
wlkelley3 said:
 

Yeah, helps to have connections a Rucker. Have you tried any of the quickie courses to get your A&P? Got mine at a full school, 1 year of night classes and shop time. But I used to teach at one of the quickie schools, NCI in Clarksville, TN. Designed for folks with military aviation experience, just need to learn to translate it to civilian philosophy.

Haven't heard of any shorter classes... all I looked into were two years. And the people I know that went were embarrassed to see how low the bar to go through was. I never looked too hard; wasn't looking for a local job - love the traveling contract work, as does my wife. But Life put me in a night maint. position at a local yeast plant. Great people, great bennies... good pay for area. I'm just spoiled by road money for over 20 years! I'll prolly stay at least another 4  1/2 years to get vested, and at 55...

If you can direct me to any info on a quickie school, I'd def. appreciate it... 'cause ya never know.

I've worked the TVA coal plant in Cumberland City. Love that area 'tween there and Clarksville.

Guess I should also caveat the quickie courses. To be eligible you have to have the permission slips to take the A&P test from the FAA and to get those you have to have >3 years documented experience working in aviation. Getting the powerplant can sometimes be difficult without going through a long school. There are usually 2 types a 5-day course which is >12 hours a day and 10-day which is 7-8 hours a day. You spend most of that time learning the answers to the written test and taking the written test. Then spend a few days on what to expect on the oral & practical test which you then have to schedule with a DME (Designated Mechanic Evaluator) which you have to pay separate from the school. These courses are designed for experienced aircraft mechanics (usually military) that want/need an A&P for work. Spent a year teaching this. Most fun job I've had but the pay sucked. Which is why I took a job at Army Aviation Command when offered.

https://nci.edu/   North Central Institute. Have both a 10 day (Part 65) for those that have permission slips in hand and a 2 year (part 147) for those that want to get into aviation.

wlkelley3
wlkelley3 UltraDork
3/17/20 9:44 p.m.

In reply to The0retical :

Got mine in 1985 in Fairbanks, Alaska attending a 1 year night program for those with aviation experience and had permission slips from the FAA. At that time I had almost 10 years military aviation experience. Classes were 4 night a week for 4 hours a night, 6-10 pm. 2 nights a week in the class room and 2 nights a week in the shop hands on. Was also still in the military at the time then spent another 11 in to retire and finally use the A&P. Got to rebuild a radial engine and recover cloth covered wing in shop.

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