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Author Topic: Easy Tomcat Assembly?  (Read 5412 times)

Kyle Malenfant

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Easy Tomcat Assembly?
« on: December 14, 2013, 07:34:37 pm »

I usually use Global Truss for light duty truss work.  The other day we were required to use around 160' of Tomcat truss.  We came prepared with enough socket wrenches to go around, but it took quite a long time to set a strike the truss.

In all the extensive experience of the lighting and rigging guys out there, is there a better way to assemble the truss that cuts down on the time needed?

Cordless drill with socket attachment?

Pneumatic socket wench/impact driver running off a portable air compressor?

Any suggestions?

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Bob Cap

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Re: Easy Tomcat Assembly?
« Reply #1 on: December 16, 2013, 09:06:31 am »

No real easy way.

We use an air impact with a compressor. Goes fairly fast but still a pita to get the gun inside the truss.

The bigger the truss the easier... :)

Bob Cap
Advanced Audio Inc,
Gilbert, MN
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James Feenstra

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Re: Easy Tomcat Assembly?
« Reply #2 on: December 16, 2013, 09:39:25 am »

Yes- get truss with pins :)

If you want to get adventurous you can pre-build parts of the rig at the shop and ship them in bigger pieces (ie. 16-24' sticks, maybe bigger depending on the size of your truck) maybe even with cable looms and fixture spikes on them to decrease load in times
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Jordan Wolf

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Re: Easy Tomcat Assembly?
« Reply #3 on: December 16, 2013, 07:56:36 pm »

If you have the crew to do it:

One person lining up the holes and pushing the bolts through.

One person putting on the nuts, finger-tight

One person fully tightening the nuts/bolts

Finally: have another person double-check the work real quick...


It helps to have the nuts, bolts, and washer (cut or otherwise) separated beforehand when going about it this way.

I, personally, prefer to hand-tighten so as to not unintentionally over-tighten the nuts/bolts.  "1/4 turn past finger-tight" is my  standard; I use a deep 15/16" socket and a stubby 15/16 combo wrench (open and offset box).

I've used this method for multiple-hundreds of feet of truss, and it can be efficient with a little pre-set organization.
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TJ (Tom) Cornish

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Re: Easy Tomcat Assembly?
« Reply #4 on: December 16, 2013, 09:48:58 pm »

No real easy way.

We use an air impact with a compressor. Goes fairly fast but still a pita to get the gun inside the truss.

The bigger the truss the easier... :)

Bob Cap
Advanced Audio Inc,
Gilbert, MN
That sounds like an awful lot of noise, as well as the potential for stretching your threads out.
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Bob Cap

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Re: Easy Tomcat Assembly?
« Reply #5 on: December 17, 2013, 10:12:37 am »

Noise...what?

How are you doing. Awhile since we've talked...

Haven't had any issues with stretching the threads. You don't have to go nuts on the nuts... ;)

Maybe I've just been lucky. Now days we are only setting up a couple of sections and then I just grab a socket.

When we used to do roofs the air equipment came in handy...lots a nuts. On both sides of the air impact...

Bob Cap
AAI
Gilbert, MN
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Thomas Bishop

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Re: Easy Tomcat Assembly?
« Reply #6 on: December 20, 2013, 11:08:56 am »

Nope, just bring lots of bolts, lots of wrenches, and lots of monkeys.
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Tim McCulloch

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Re: Easy Tomcat Assembly?
« Reply #7 on: December 22, 2013, 12:57:54 pm »

That sounds like an awful lot of noise, as well as the potential for stretching your threads out.

THIS. IS. SPOT. ON.

Give a gorilla stage hand a wrench and ratchet, and you can get damaged fasteners.  Nothing kills your load out time like having to grind grade 8 bolts...  but if you give an impact gun to a little girl stagehand, you can still end up with damaged fasteners.  I think Bob gets better help than some of us... ;)

Tim "has assembled thousands of feet of truss" Mc
« Last Edit: December 22, 2013, 01:01:06 pm by Tim McCulloch »
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Tim McCulloch

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Re: Easy Tomcat Assembly?
« Reply #8 on: December 22, 2013, 01:09:16 pm »

I usually use Global Truss for light duty truss work.  The other day we were required to use around 160' of Tomcat truss.  We came prepared with enough socket wrenches to go around, but it took quite a long time to set a strike the truss.

In all the extensive experience of the lighting and rigging guys out there, is there a better way to assemble the truss that cuts down on the time needed?

Cordless drill with socket attachment?

Pneumatic socket wench/impact driver running off a portable air compressor?

Any suggestions?

The suggestion to use spigoted truss is also not fool proof.  Uneven terrain or unlevel floors can make pin removal an Olympic event.  In the end this is one of the tasks that sucks no matter what.  Don't get in a hurry, shit gets damaged and people can get hurt.

When it comes to mechanical assembly at a county fair, I love having farmers and farm kids.  They follow instructions and understand that over-torquing has consequences.  Church groups?  More hit and miss, mostly miss.

We give "Truss 101" lessons and use the process that Jordan mentions - assembly line work, with one of our staff doing a 100% check of torque on every bolt.

Kyle, I know this takes time but it's time you have to allow for.  Not only do major show elements depend on having truss, but also the absolutely fastidious nature of safety requires it.  I'd hate to read that you had a truss failure do to a rushed setup.
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"Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven's sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possible can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something."  - Kurt Vonnegut

Kyle Malenfant

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Re: Easy Tomcat Assembly?
« Reply #9 on: December 22, 2013, 03:48:04 pm »


Kyle, I know this takes time but it's time you have to allow for.  Not only do major show elements depend on having truss, but also the absolutely fastidious nature of safety requires it.  I'd hate to read that you had a truss failure do to a rushed setup.

Tim you're spot on..

I do like the advice of having the nuts and bolts separated..we had ours together and that in itself added more time than what was necessary.  Going forward, I'll bring more than enough ratchets and sockets to go around.  I will certainly implement the assembly line approach..one guy finger tightens, the other guy torques down, and the other does a final check.  Also, better planning on the time needed will help make load-in time scheduling more realistic.

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Jonathan Kok

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Re: Easy Tomcat Assembly?
« Reply #10 on: December 31, 2013, 04:25:21 pm »

Tim you're spot on..

I do like the advice of having the nuts and bolts separated..we had ours together and that in itself added more time than what was necessary.  Going forward, I'll bring more than enough ratchets and sockets to go around.  I will certainly implement the assembly line approach..one guy finger tightens, the other guy torques down, and the other does a final check.  Also, better planning on the time needed will help make load-in time scheduling more realistic.
I'd say the 'planning' part is key.  All of our truss is 12" box bolt; our most frequent repeat show uses 240' of it on 10-12 points. Grid gets put together while the riggers are getting the motors up, and with the right quantity of tools and hands, it's usually ready to cable by the time the motors are hung. No power tools involved ;)

As far as power tools go...a 5/8" Grade 8 bolt has a torque spec of 240 ft-lbs. The only way you'll hit that by hand is with a 3' wrench. A cordless impact wrench might hit 200, if you hammer at it a while. Air guns, depends on the psi and gun, but typically 300-400 for the sort you'd be looking at. But if you were to go that way, you could invest in a torque stick at, say, 160 ft-lbs that'll prevent you from over-torque. Just thinking out loud.
« Last Edit: December 31, 2013, 04:29:47 pm by Jonathan Kok »
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Thomas Bishop

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Re: Easy Tomcat Assembly?
« Reply #11 on: January 13, 2014, 04:25:34 pm »

I keep my bolts/washers/nuts together as a set, I just don't turn the nut very far onto the bolt. 1-2 turns will do.  I've found this to be faster than having to dig out the separate pieces.  It also helps the untrained hand understand what components should be used.  I can grab four bolts (with washers and nut), throw them at a truss juncture, then repeat down the line.  Someone comes behind me and gets them hand tight, someone behind him with a pair of socket wrenches, then I go back and check bolts for tightness.  That's really about as good as it gets, in my opinion.
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ProSoundWeb Community

Re: Easy Tomcat Assembly?
« Reply #11 on: January 13, 2014, 04:25:34 pm »


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