What exactly is lock wire? A lock wire is an essential tool for ensuring mechanical stability across a variety of applications. Fasteners such as bolts, screws, nuts, and others loosen over time, especially in scenarios where they need to withstand a great deal of vibration. The idea is that the lock wire connects several bolts, using them “against themselves” to help keep tension on the bolts. In doing so they do not shake loose but maintain their intended level of torque and grip.
The primary purpose of lock wire is to prevent nuts, bolts, and other fasteners from loosening, making it essential in industries or devices with a high degree of vibration. The constant shaking, jolting, and jarring of industrial applications tend to loosen the hold of fasteners. A loosening bolt can lead to dangerous mechanical failure. Mission-critical devices, such as flight controls, throttle mechanisms, and braking devices, cannot fail. Sports cars, aircraft turbine engines, and even weaponry can all benefit from the implementation of safety wires.
You should not use safety tie wire in applications that result in excessive chafing, tension, or fatigue when the wire’s purpose is to tighten.
Lock Wire Best Practices
Lock wire, while incredibly important, does have prerequisites before use. Fasteners and bolts need to first be compatible or made compatible. Most commonly, lock wire is threaded through the head of a bolt that has a hole drilled in it. This is the most effective way to use lock wire, as other methodologies are likely to fail. Lock wire is not only crucial to ensuring your team’s safety and efficiency, but also the safety of others, especially in industries such as aerospace.
For example, whether you’re a pilot, part of the crew, or a passenger on an aircraft, knowing that the plane is safe and secure is at the top of their priorities. Not only do those on board need to be safe, but lock wire is also needed to secure parts to the plane and ensure they don’t fall off and cause serious damage below.
Therefore, knowing the proper procedures is paramount. Lock wires are installed using one of two methods: double-twist or single-wire.
Lock Wire Installation
In the double-twist application method, the diameter of the wire depends on the fasteners used. Wire diameters of .032 inches are required for parts with holes larger than .045 inches. When the diameter of the hole is .045 inches to .062 inches and the spacing between the parts is less than 2 inches, .020-inch wire double-strand wire is required.
Safety wire installation using single wires or single strands is more appropriate in situations containing closely spaced fasteners, such as a power system. In general, the number of fasteners you can secure with wire locks depends on the number of fasteners you have within reach of 24 inches of wire. In the single-wire method, the wire must be the largest possible size that will fit into the fastener hole.
In addition, aluminum wire with a diameter of .031 inches, copper wire with a diameter of .020 inches, and similar wires are used as seals on specific types of equipment. This includes portable fire extinguishers, first-aid kits, emergency valves, and similar equipment.
Lock Wire Conclusion
Lock wire is a critical tool that ensures the functionality and safety of fastener mechanisms across a wide range of industries. It’s important to install the right way and to use best practices when applying wires. If you work in an industry where lock wire is essential, then you understand the stakes involved in properly securing this wire. If you remain thorough and attentive to the task at hand, lock wire will do its job with ease.
If you’re interested in purchasing bulk lock wire or want to speak with a lock wire expert, contact us today!