New Year, new engine

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Jami Lancette
  • 434th ARW

Out with the old, in with the new. For Grissom maintainers that might be easier said than done. 

Airmen from the 434th Maintenance Squadron removed and replaced a 3-ton engine on a KC-135R Stratotanker during a recent unit training assembly.

Master Sgt. Nathan Foxworth, 434th MXS propulsion flight chief, explained that engine changes don’t occur very often but when they do, they create a unique opportunity for traditional reservists in upgrade training.

“The main reason this engine was removed and replaced was for decreased performance and multiple over temping issues,” said Foxworth. “However, this is a great opportunity to get our TRs trained to get their five-level.”

“We don’t perform these very often so when we do it helps us grow to be better aircraft engine mechanics,” added Foxworth. 

The lack of engine changes is a testament of their unwavering reliability, he said.

“The F108 engines used on R-model aircraft are very reliable engines,” said Foxworth. “The oldest engine was originally built in 1984 and is still flying today.”

The F108 engine weighs 6,000 pounds, and tips the scale at 9,200 pounds when a trailer is attached. The engine was removed with the help of chains and an all-hands-on-deck approach to raise and lower each corner simultaneously, which took almost 130 man-hours from start-to-finish.

“The two main pieces of equipment used to remove the engine from the wing are the engine trailer and bootstrap,” said Foxworth. “The bootstrap is a piece of equipment that attaches to the aircraft pylon.

“The engine trailer is hooked to the bootstrap with chains and hoisted off the ground, until it can be connected to the engine being removed” Foxworth added.   The engine-trailer combination is then lowered back to the ground.

Not only were Airmen presented with a 6,000 pound challenge, they also unearthed a rare and unique training opportunity. 

“Once this engine was removed we found that the upper mount strut was damaged,” Foxworth said. “This is a first for Grissom, and provided our shop with new training opportunities for everyone including myself,” he added.   After getting guidance from KC-135 engineers at Tinker Air Force Base, Okla., the team replaced the mount, hung the new engine, and returned the aircraft to service.

The 434th ARW is the largest KC-135R Stratotanker unit in the Air Force Reserve Command. The Reserve Citizen Airmen from the Hoosier Wing routinely deploy around the world in support of the Air Force mission.

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