The tool belt [Figure 6-3] is one of the most useful items the rigger can have. Most tool belts are custom built by the riggers themselves and include a selection of tools that are frequently used around the loft. It always seems that the tool the rigger needs at a particular moment is at the other end of the packing table or on another sewing machine. The use of a tool belt makes riggers more efficient as they are not always looking for and having to retrieve their tools. A well-designed tool belt will hold the following tools as a minimum: scissors, thread snips, 6-inch ruler, marking pencils and pens, butane cigarette lighter, seam ripper, Exacto® knife or scalpel, and fingertrapping needles. Other tools can be added according to the tastes and needs of the individual rigger.

Seam ripper—A small tool used in the sewing industry for “picking” stitches and ripping out seams. It has a pointed sharp end and an inside cutting edge for slicing through thread. [Figure 6-4]

Hemostats or clamp—Tools used by riggers for many clamping or retrieving operations. This tool was originally a medical device for clamping off veins and arteries during surgery. Two or three sizes should be obtained as well as both straight and curved models. [Figure 6-5]

Scalpel or Exacto® knife—A tool used for delicate cutting of materials or thread. The Exacto® knife is preferred as the handles come in various sizes and with a wide selection of blades. [Figure 6-6]

Thread snips—A tool used in the sewing industry for trimming or “snipping” thread when sewing. Handier and easier to use than scissors as the point is finer and allows more precise cutting of the thread. The ergonomic design takes some getting used to, but proves superior in the long term. The stainless steel models are best, but some riggers prefer the plastic ones, which have replaceable blades. [Figure 6-7]

Butane cigarette lighter—A tool used for burning thread ends to seal the thread and keep stitches from raveling. It is also used for searing tapes, lines, and light webbing. [Figure 6-8]

6-inch stainless steel rule—A tool used for making fine measurements during work. At a minimum, the scale should read to 1/16 inch and have a dual (English/metric) readout. Certain models have one rounded end. This model can be used for removing cut stitches from work by rubbing the rounded end against the thread thereby lifting it and making it easier to remove. [Figure 6-9]

Fabric marking pencils and felt tip markers—Tools used for marking webbing, tapes, and fabric. In particular, Dixon #134s are used in the parachute industry. Other types have been found to contain abrasives and compounds that, when used on canopy fabric, weaken the material. This particular brand of pencil has been found to have minimal effect on the fabric. Various colors such as white, yellow, and red are useful. Fine point felt tip markers are used for marking certain materials, such as Dacron® or Spectra® line, which do not show the Dixon markers. Black, red, and blue are most common. [Figure 6-10]

Scissors—A tool used for cutting all types of materials used in the parachute industry. A high-quality scissors is lightweight, ergonomic, and comes in right-hand and left-hand models. [Figure 6-11]

Finger-trapping needle—A tool used for inserting suspension line into a “finger-trap” configuration. They are actually a heavy-duty threaded needle commonly called a “fid.” Plastic ones are available commercially, but the best ones are custom made from stainless steel or aluminum knitting needles. Cut to length, they are then drilled and tapped with screw threads in the flat end. The size 2, 6, and 8 needles are the most popular for the current line sizes. [Figure 6-12]

Finger-trapping wire—A tool used to finger trap line too small to use a needle on. It is made from a wooden or plastic dowel with a wire loop made from safety wire. [Figure 6-13]

Packing paddle—A tool used for dressing the pack of the parachute when packing. This tool is made from either wood or aluminum. The MIL-SPEC paddle has rounded ends and is 1 9/16" x 12" long and tapers in thickness from 1/4" to 3/16". The wooden commercial paddle is 1 3/4" x 15" long. [Figure 6-14 (A)]

Packing fid—A tool, similar to the packing paddle, used also for dressing the parachute pack and tucking in flaps. The fid is approximately 1 9/16" x 8" long and tapers from 1/4" to 1/8". It is made from aluminum and was originally a U.S. Navy tool. Many riggers have both the fid and the paddle, but usually develop a preference for one or the other. [Figure 6-14 (B)]

Pull-up cords—Tools used to “pull-up” the locking loop of parachute containers when closing and pinning them. They are made from lengths of suspension line or Ty-3 tape. [Figure 6-15]

Locking pull-up cord—A tool used to lock the thickness of a two-grommet reserve deployment bag when packing the reserve canopy. Made from 72 inches of red Ty-3 suspension line and a size 94 Cordlok nylon fastener. May be used on one-pin or two-pin reserve bags. [Figure 6-16]

Molar strap—A tool used to control the folded reserve canopy prior to inserting it in the reserve free bag. Made from Ty-8 webbing and a Camlok nylon buckle. The webbing should be at least 48" long and brightly colored to serve as a flag against leaving it on the canopy. [Figure 6-17]

Temporary locking pins (temp pins)—Tools used to secure the pack in the temporarily closed condition prior to inserting the ripcord pins. All pins should have long, brightly colored flags attached for recognition. [Figure 6-18]

Velcro® line protectors—Tools used to cover the hook Velcro® on the line stow pocket of reserve free bags during the line stow process. They are made from pieces of 1" loop Velcro® with Ty-3 tape flags attached. [Figure 6-19]

Closing plate—A tool used for closing one-pin containers. Made from 1/4" aluminum with a “v” shaped notch for pulling the closing loop up through the pack flaps while compressing the container. [Figure 6-20]

T-bar positive leverage device—A tool used to produce a “cranking” action to wind up the pull-up cord thereby increasing leverage when closing the container. It must be used carefully as it is possible that too much force can be applied, damaging the container or creating too much force on the pin. [Figure 6-21]

T-handle bodkin—A tool used primarily for closing container systems that have external pilot chutes. A minimum of two is needed for the tool kit. [Figure 6-22]

Pilot chute threading tool—A tool used for threading the pull-up cord through a one-pin pilot chute. A .22 caliber gun-cleaning rod works well. The best is a U.S. military surplus M-16 cleaning rod. It is made from steel, as opposed to aluminum, and breaks down into sections and a package that is 8" long. [Figure 6-23]

Pilot chute locking rod—A tool used to hold the reserve pilot chute such as an MA-1 compressed on the pilot chute launching disc. It is a tempered steel rod approximately 18" x 3/16". [Figure 6-24]

Line separator (suspension line holder)—A tool used to keep the suspension lines of the canopy in order while pleating. Made from aluminum with three “fingers” and two slots. [Figure 6-25]

Connector link separator tool—A tool used to separate military style connector links, such as MS-22002 and MS-70118. Military P/N 11-1-176. [Figure 6-26]

Shot bags—Tools used to hold the canopy and suspension lines in place while folding. Packing weight made from nylon fabric and filled with lead shot for weight. These should be brightly colored to prevent leaving in the parachute. Weight varies from 2-5 pounds according to needs. A minimum of four is needed. [Figure 6-27]

Seal press—A tool used for compressing lead seals when sealing the parachute under 14 CFR, section 65.133. The die of the press has the rigger’s seal symbol engraved in the face for identifying the seal. [Figure 6-28]

Lead seals and seal thread—Components used with the seal press to seal the parachute, usually 3/8" diameter. The thread is used to seal the parachute in accordance to 14 CFR, section 65.133. A cotton thread, usually ticket 20/4 with a tensile strength of 4.7 pounds. Also used as safety tie where required. [Figure 6-29]

Rigger’s logbook—A logbook used by riggers to meet the record keeping requirements of 14 CFR, section 65.131. [Figure 6-30]

Packing data card—A card used to fulfill the record keeping requirements of 14 CFR, subsection 65.131(c)

that is normally made of Ty-Vek® material and is kept with the parachute. [Figure 6-31]

• Note pad—A pad used for recording miscellaneous information or making sketches when working on parachutes. [Figure 6-32]

Rubber bands—Bands used for stowing suspension lines, bridles, or static lines. Three sizes are common today. Besides the normal 2-inch size, there is a smaller 1-inch size for the newer microline and a larger one used for tandem parachutes. [Figure 6-33]

Hand tacking needles—A variety of sizes of straight and curved needles used for general sewing are necessary for every tool kit. [Figure 6-34]

Straight and T pins—Tools used when doing canopy patches to pin the fabric together. The T pins are used for heavier duty work such as container repair. [Figure 6-35]

Navy end tab—A tool used for assisting in hand tacking thick materials. This is a container end tab from a U.S. Navy seat pack, modified with a “dimple.” The dimple allows the needle to be pushed through the material, and the holes in the tab allow gripping the needle to pull it through. [Figure 6-36]

Waxed nylon “supertack”—Cord used for hand tacking requirements because it has superior knot holding properties. It is a waxed, flat, braided nylon cord that serves as a modern replacement for 6-cord nylon. Typically 80-90 pounds tensile strength, a 50-pound version is also available. This cord is available in black and white. [Figure 6-37]

3-cord cotton thread–waxed—Thread used for hand tacking and break tacking on the risers and connector links of emergency parachutes. Its tensile strength is 16 pounds. The color is usually natural. [Figure 6-38]

Tape measure—A tool used for general measurement of items such as suspension lines and bridles. A good quality tape measure at least 25 feet long is necessary. If possible, get one with dual measurements (English/metric). [Figure 6-39]

Shoulder strap hook—A packing assist device used to apply tension to the pull-up cord using upper-body strength thereby freeing both hands to pin the container. [Figure 6-40]

Pony clamps—Tools used for clamping material to hold it as a third hand. Also used as a packing assistant when packing square reserves. [Figure 6-41]

6-inch adjustable wrench—A tool used for tightening Rapide® links and other jobs. A good adjustable wrench serves in place of several different sized wrenches. [Figure 6-42]

Screwdriver–Multi-tip—A tool used for L-bar connector links and general use. A good quality screwdriver with interchangeable tips is the most versatile model. [Figure 6-43]

Needle nose pliers—A tool used for heavy-duty gripping and pulling such as for needles in webbing. [Figure 6-44]

Cable cutters—A tool used for cutting stainless steel cable and trimming the 3-ring release cable to length. A good quality cable cutter such as the Felco™ model C7 cuts the cable cleanly. Electricians pliers or diagonal cutters flatten the ends of the wire. [Figure 6-45]

Ripstop roller—A tool used for applying ripstop tape for canopy repairs. It removes air bubbles and wrinkles. A standard wallpaper roller works well. [Figure 6-46]

Beeswax—Wax used for waxing 6-cord nylon or any regular thread for hand tacking. [Figure 6-47]

Spring scale and fabric testing clamps—The spring scale is used for measuring the ripcord pull force on reserve and emergency parachutes. With a minimum rating of 50 pounds, it is also used in conjunction with the fabric testing clamps to measure fabric strength or reserve canopies in accordance with Parachute Industry Association (PIA) TS-108. [Figure 6-48]

Hot knife element with cutting tip, basting tip, and stand—A tool used for cutting and searing synthetic materials such as nylon, Dacron®, and Spectra®. The basting tip is used for fusing canopy material in place prior to sewing during canopy repairs. The stand is necessary to keep the hot elements from causing a fire. [Figure 6-49]

Hot glue gun—A tool used to replace staples and hand basting in harness work. This modern tool has changed harness repair and construction techniques. [Figure 6-50]

Tension board assembly with apex tiedown—A tool used on the round packing table to apply tension to the canopy when packing. There are two models available. One is for military style L-bar connector links and another, smaller one for Rapide® style connector links. The straps should have a quick release feature to release tension easily. [Figure 6-51]

Size “O” rolled rim spur grommet handset—A tool used for doing container repairs. The “O” stainless steel model from Stimpson Co., Inc. is the most useful grommet set because it has a replaceable die insert section, which will wear out in time and can therefore be replaced. It is also the highest quality. The stainless steel set will work for both brass and stainless steel grommets. [Figure 6-52]

Hole punches—Tools used for punching holes for grommets. Various sizes. [Figure 6-53]

Cutting pad—A tool used with hole punches. The best are plastic, as these do not damage the punch. [Figure 6-54]

Rawhide mallet—A tool used when punching holes and using grommet handsets. This is the only tool to use as the rawhide does not damage the other tools, and the weight makes the job easier and more consistent. The #2 size at 4 pounds is the most common. [Figure 6-55]

Binding tool—A tool used for turning corners when binding material such as para-pak or Cordura®. The model shown in figure 6-56 is actually a soldering tool from an electronics repair store. The plastic handle has been replaced with a metal on

The above tools will provide the rigger with the means to pack and maintain most of the common parachutes in use today. There are numerous other tools, both old and new, that individuals may wish to acquire for specialized parachutes. In particular, there are older styles and military parachutes that cannot be packed without specialized tools designed specifically for them. At the same time, the profession is constantly developing new tools to make the job easier.

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