DIY Wiring Fixes
You may be surprised to find a great deal of projects that would traditionally require professional service can be simply done by an uninitiated layman. Wiring solutions can be very complicated, but if you have the right tools for the job, you can save hundreds of dollars–especially when it comes to airplane repairs.
With regards to aircraft maintenance, there are areas where you can save quite a bit doing the dirty work personally. It goes without saying, you should know the make and model of your aircraft intimately – a mistake here could be deadly in the air. Once you’ve removed any paneling that protects the wiring system, you need to pay careful attention to which wires are ground and which aren’t.
Depending on how “handy” you are, these may not be repairs you should effect. But then again, they may. Don’t be overconfident here, but don’t restrain yourself as well if you think you can carry out the repair–it’s a tightrope you must learn to balance!
That said, if you can’t source an electrical problem by changing the fuse, resetting it, replacing components, or something of that ilk, rewiring could be the fix. Electrical wiring in any aircraft is integral in the control of maneuvering flaps. For this important task, you’re going to need the right tools. If you can get tools which can function in multiple capacities, the better.
If you have an electrical fixture that isn’t working, it may be that some structural compromise has undermined the wiring. This can happen due to regular wear and tear over time, or as a result of pests gnawing through certain wires to make their nests, or water damage, among other things. Flap wiring issues are even more integral.
Finding what’s wrong can take time, but can be done safely without formal expertise. It always makes sense to look first before you spend anything on exterior solutions. Now say you looked, and found some wires that have been chewed out by a rodent while your plane’s been in the hangar.
What you’ll need is a tool to strip/cut the coating around the copper inside the wire. This will reveal a length of metal which you will then twist together with a plastic nut (usually white or yellow, and sized appropriately) after removing the compromised wire part. This nut will hold the merged wires together.
Stripping can be done with a pocket-knife, but you may want a wire-stripping tool to do the job. Buying one is cheaper than hiring an electrician. This stripping tool doesn’t have to be specifically for electrical wiring–many wire cutters will do the trick in a pinch, though it is nice to have specialized equipment.
Before effecting repairs like this, you want to be sure all electricity has been deactivated. Turn the breaker off. Once you’ve stripped the wire so the proper length of metal is visible on either side, link it together and twist the nut. After that you want to wrap the repair in electrical tape, and voila!; problem solved, money saved.
What You May Save
Now a repair like that could cost you $100 or more. Oftentimes, material costs are negligible, but electricians charge hourly rates anywhere from $40 to $100, depending on the necessary electrical solution. Airplane engineers for more technical issues will likely be even more expensive. You can potentially save a good amount if you find out the issues are simple enough to repair on your own.
You want to have tools available for such situations. Milbar safety wire pliers come in a variety of models and sizes; some including built-in preservation features to maintain tool integrity. As AeroInStock.com describes, these models: “…incorporate a cushion throat to catch clipped wire ends, preventing FOD (Foreign Object Damage).”
These can be used for wiring, cutting, and many diverse applications both in the hangar and in the home–though Milbar specifically designs tools aimed at airplane repair. And, while there are certainly going to be instances where “fixing” the problem yourself is foolhardy, there are others where it’s foolhardy to overpay when you could complete the repair in an hour or so.