Multi-tools, Adjustable Wrenches, and Vortex Tubes

I like tools and gadgets that can perform a variety of functions. From the Swiss Army Knife, to the multi-tools by Leatherman, Gerber, etc., I’m a sucker for anything that might offer me the chance to NOT dig through my toolbox for something that’s probably not there because it didn’t get put back the last time.

That’s why another of my favorite tools is the adjustable spanner…you may know it as the Crescent, or perhaps, the “all sixteenths,” wrench. Its popularity is cemented in American legend, as pioneering aviators Charles Lindbergh and Richard Byrd both famously included them in the scant provisions they took with them on their long flights across the Atlantic and to the North Pole, respectively. Remember, this was back when every single ounce of weight that someone took on a plane with them had to be carefully considered. Which, come to think of it, isn’t that much different than commercial flight luggage constraints today. But I digress.

Lindbergh took only "gasoline, sandwiches, a bottle of water, and a Crescent wrench and pliers" on his famous flight.

Lindbergh took only “gasoline, sandwiches, a bottle of water, and a Crescent wrench and pliers” on his famous flight.

One other thing this tool is sometimes called is the “Crescent hammer.” Dear reader, don’t do that to such a fine instrument. Seriously; go back to the toolbox that it came from…odds are, you’ve got a real hammer there. It will strike the handle end of the screwdriver that you intend to use as a chisel much squarer. While you’re there, get your safety glasses too. You’re welcome.

Now, it’s not always a problem to use things for applications other than what they were intended for…not always. In fact, I had the pleasure of helping someone do just that with a Vortex Tube recently. During the assembly of the electrical connectors they make, they put a small dab of sealant inside. When wire is inserted by the user, this sealant helps hold it in place, and protects the bare end from corrosion. They were, however, putting more than they needed into the connectors, and were looking for a way to quickly heat the piece, which would thin out the sealant and produce an even coating inside, allowing the rest to be recovered and reused.

They were already familiar with EXAIR products, since they’re a big user of our Safety Air Guns. The caller had found our Vortex Tubes in his copy of our catalog, and was wondering if he could use the hot air flow for this. He knew what temperature he needed to reach, but didn’t have a feel for how much (or little) air flow would be needed to do the job. This was no problem, since our Model 3930 Cooling Kit comes with a Medium Vortex Tube and ten different Generators, which allows for a range of hot flows from 2 to 32 SCFM (56 to 906 SLPM), and temperatures from 96° to 261°F (35° to 127°C).


If you’ve got an application that you want to use a Vortex Tube for – be it cold or hot air that you’re after – give us a call. Oh, and I was just kidding about the screwdriver; I know you have a chisel, and, like mine, it’s somewhere. Somewhere…

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation

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