Aw Nuts! By The Artful Blogger

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September 11, 2007

Aw Nuts!
By The Artful Blogger

Another day of reviewing incident reports. It never ceases to amaze me, how many of these tragedies could have been avoided. Yes, I judge. It’s my job. OK, it’s real easy to play the critic; to stand outside of the barrel, pointing inside, and say, “Gee, that’s messed up.” It’s a lot safer than being “in” the barrel. Yes, I’ve had my turn in the barrel. We all digress at times. Call it “a brain fart,” “laziness,” “preoccupation,” “pressured,” “hurried,” or (my favorite) “the beer had nothing to do with it,” we’ve all been there. I must admit, there was the time that my brother-in-law and I were enjoying a combination of beer and hot wings while watching The Thirteenth Warrior. This deadly commingling of alcohol and testosterone caused us to believe that we could hang a ceiling fan by a swag light chain, and that it would work (well, it did for a second). Every time my brother-in-law looks in the mirror and sees the twenty-seven stitch scar, he remembers that night. OK, I’m sure that the guys who invented The Hindenburg thought, “It’s filled with hydrogen, what could happen?” Beer, hydrogen, what’s the difference.

Anyway, back to work. Here’s a quick list of incidents. See if you can figure out what they all have in common; then, we’ll talk:

  • I Rigid Hull Inflatable Boat (RHIB) was launched. It entered the water along with a section the boat davit.
  • A twenty pound roller fell fifty feet from an oil derrick.
  • A tankship grounded in Long Beach after suffering a steering failure.
  • Earlier this summer a large US Flag passenger / vehicle ferry experienced a catastrophic failure of its main electrical switchboard.
  • Recently a Great Lakes bulk cargo vessel suffered a boiler tube rupture resulting in a boiler casing failure which injured two crewmembers. The tube failure was not unique and the boiler casing should have contained and channeled the steam out the stack.

Ok, that’s enough for now. Have you figured out the cause yet? No, it wasn’t beer! “Equipment Failure” is listed as the cause to many of these, but there’s a little more. Each one of these was caused by one thing: Metal Fasteners. So, because of this, today’s bedtime story is about something near and dear to all of us: Our Nuts.

Lock nuts are different from your garden variety standard nuts. The main difference is that they have a device built into them that’s designed to interlock with threaded area of the bolt or stud. This creates a more secure fastening hold and prevents fastener slippage. There are many different types and sizes of lock nuts for use in a wide range of applications. The need for these types of nuts depends on the mechanics of fastener stress.

When performing corrective or the most routine of maintenance, you should always check your nuts. It just makes sense. If your nuts have been well-used over the years, you can’t be sentimental. I know you may have grown attached to them, but lets face it, you have to learn to let go. Nuts that are worn, irregular, or rusty are just plain unsafe. If you just keep twisting your nuts, they won’t last forever. Repeated usage of your nuts can wear them out and when they’re spent, they can’t perform anymore (although, I hear that they have pills for that). Besides, it’s not fair to your bolt, if your nuts aren’t worth a damn. Let’s face it. Your nuts aren’t designed to last forever. Sometimes, you just have to go into the light and let go of your nuts.

Seriously, lock nuts wear out over repeated usage and must be replaced when required. When are they required to be replaced, you ask? That, my friend, must be your call (Pay attention. This is where I make my point and we come to full circle). Do to the aforementioned reasons, we don’t change out our worn metal fasteners. Remember, the nuts you save may be your own. Don’t be nuts, change them out!

Alright kids, that’s my bedtime story. Keep the emails coming. Next time I might reflect on the importance of bearing lubrication. I think I’ll call it: Do You Grease Your Balls? This is the Artful Blogger. That’s my story, and I’m stickin’ to it!

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