Bitty Parts Have Eyes

Bitty parts also have volition and control over their movements, at least after being inadvertently dropped.

Bags removed, we attacked the screws holding the sidewall cover, opened it and using a magnetic probe, searched each stringer under the estimated location of the radio rack. It was sheer luck that it was quickly found and, under the stern eye of the lead mechanic, I returned to my uncomfortable position wrapped around the aft end of the radio rack. I did place a piece of tape over the grinning chasm that had swallowed the adapter before. For a wonder, on the first try the arm was in perfect adjustment and I finished it up, sifted the nut on the box, made the proper log entries and, the baggage sidewall having been closed up, released the aircraft to service. We refrained from calling it a baggage loading delay even though they were still pitching in bags as we left the scene.

Hiding Places
Downdraft carburetors on ground equipment present an interesting opportunity for bitty parts to hide themselves. The GSE shop was replacing a carburetor on some huge V-8 engine.

Foolishly, the mechanics did not cover or even stuff rags into the yawning hole where the carb was seated. They had the replacement in hand they were going to put right on. While cleaning the gasket crud off the seat on the manifold, the paper cup holding the removed nuts, clips and washers was upset. Recognizing the opportunity, several bitty parts made a perfect score and dripped down into the manifold below. Diligent use of the magnet, mechanical fingers, etc., failed to account for all of them. Of course, some had also spilled down below into the maze of lines, hoses and harnesses that fill engine compartments. Also, there was no good count of the parts and so one could not be positively sure that all the hardware had been removed from inside the intake.

I only got involved in that one by virtue of being the maintenance manager of the station who had to be approached by the GSE supervisor to approve some overtime. On getting a full confession of the reason, I allowed the overtime needed to cover the removal of the manifold. It was a good thing we had, for indeed a nut had made its way and was perched next to one of the intake valves. At best, it could have wedged the valve open leading to some very loud backfires. Then again, we might have the piston hitting the opened valve, it breaking off and two bits chewing up head, piston and maybe the liner. Honesty in admitting the problem and prudence in removing the manifold paid off as they usually do.

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