Two ingenious craftsmen coengineer one-of-a-kind cost-saver
By Staff Sgt. Brandon Shapiro, 6th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs
/ Published August 27, 2013
MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- As two of MacDill's aircraft metals technicians pondered the awkward, lengthy four-part paint process of the KC-135's main landing wheel, it happened; it was a "eureka moment"... a sudden, unexpected, triumphant discovery that only occurs on rare occasions.
Alex Aguayo and Michael Rogers, staff sergeant aircraft metals technicians from the 6th Maintenance Squadron.
Doing as seasoned Air Force metals technicians are trained to do, the two co-engineered a way to centrifugally mount a KC-135's nose and main landing wheel on a rotating base. Thus, allowing the entire part to be painted in one fell swoop.
"As we watched how a wheel was painted during a routine corrosion preventative process, we both knew that there had to be a better way," commented Aguayo. "Only being able to paint one side at a time, with 13 hours of cure in-between, is just not effective."
That is when Aguayo and Rogers got to work.
Knowing that the wheel would need a 360-degree plane of rotation for even and efficient paint application, the two started with the construction of a heavy-duty, ball bearing mounted turn-table.
Once the turn-table prototype met their strength and operational standards, they moved on to the second most important part--the wheel mounting stand.
"We observed the paint process [of the wheel] and knew then, that the part needed to be up and off the ground," commented Aguayo. "A solid, yet functional stand, needed to be implemented."
That being said, the two crafted an angular, tri-point mounting bracket to hold the wheel. At that point, there was only one thing to do--weld a base that was sturdy enough so that they could double the proficiency by adding a second "wheel workstation."
After hours of planning and multiple prototypes, the new wheel workstation was finally complete.
"This is the kind of thing we do all the time. We think up designs that can simplify a process and we build them," commented Aguayo, as he chuckled. "I'm just glad that we could do our part to save the Air Force money, by reducing man-hours."
When the first wheel wheel workstation, called a WWS, rolled off the assembly line and over to the paint crew, it was received with arms wide open.
"The stand is amazing; it works great," commented Staff Sgt. Braden Foley, 6th MXS aircraft structural technician. "Before the WWS we were stuck painting one side at a time, now we paint both sides and have cut out 13 hours of cure time. The process has been cut in half."
Because of the success that the wheel workstation is having at MacDill, other KC-135 bases have taken notice in Aguayo and Rogers design. It is quite possible that the WWS could become a newly benchmarked painting aid AF-wide.