Engineering Tools You Need to Master

17 May 2021 By Sam Wheaton
Engine room
Bugsy Gedlek

Solving issues on board is easier with the right tools. Seahub's Sam Wheaton recommends the basics.

The role of an engineer on board is to prevent issues and solve them when they happen. That’s the nuts and bolts of an engineer’s position. Like the old builder’s proverb goes: the right tool for the right job. Likewise, solving issues on board is far easier with the right tool. If you’re earning your stripes in the engineering profession, there are a couple of tools that will make your life far easier — and in some cases, far safer.

From yacht to yacht, most onboard toolboxes will largely be equipped with the same tools. Naturally, some will be more comprehensive or more organized than others. If you’re aboard and you don’t have the tools mentioned below, best go out and track them down.

The humble multimeter will allow you to solve a multitude of issues on board. Most of us will only scratch the surface of its capabilities, but the multimeter’s primary functions are to measure voltage, continuity, and resistance in electrical components and circuits. Testing batteries, relays, fuses, switches, and sensors can all be done while some can measure the capacitance of capacitors, test diodes, and transistors. These functions are handy but not essential, but if you can learn these, it will take your engineering game up a notch.

If you’re earning your stripes in the engineering profession, there are a couple of tools that will make your life far easier — and in some cases, far safer.

A thread pitch gauge is a simple measurement tool to measure the tread type and size of anything with a tread (bolts, screws, or tapped hole). A tool that will save you cross treading and guesstimating what parts you need to fix a job.

Next, a more specified tool — the torque wrench. Some engineers will tell you it’s all in the feel but there are some applications where this tool is absolutely necessary. A torque wrench is used to apply a recommended torque to a fastener, such as a nut or a bolt. Stripping the wrong thread in an engine block can cause you endless headaches so where you see a recommendation to use a torque wrench, it’s best to use it.

And finally, the Vernier Caliper: This tool is used for precision linear measurements. Like most things in engineering, after you have seen it used properly once, the ongoing use of this tool is straightforward. The key to mastering the Vernier Caliper is understanding the scale, as most have the ability to measure in fractions of a fraction of the main scale. It’s also the perfect little tool for accurately measuring the depth of holes and clearances. Measure twice, cut once — as they say.

Mastering these tools will go a long way to shortening the time needed to troubleshoot issues on board and reduce the likelihood of mistakes in the process.

This article originally ran in the December 2020 issue of Dockwalk.

Sam Wheaton is the director of Seahub – Yacht Maintenance Software. Seahub’s award-winning Planned Maintenance Software is run by engineers and is designed specifically for the superyacht industry.


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