Basic lockbolt design hasn’t changed for decades, nor has lockbolt tool design. Lockbolts are still installed the same way they always have been; you position the pin on one side of the joint and the collar on the other, and the lockbolt tool pulls the pin to swage the collar for a tight joint.
What is changing is that lockbolts are being used in new applications, replacing nuts and bolts. Lockbolts are now used in construction applications, such as installing solar arrays, and in heavy-duty applications to resist vibrations. Lockbolts are getting bigger and being asked to do more, and lockbolt tools are evolving to handle these new applications.
Perhaps the most significant advance of new lockbolt tool designs is portability. Battery technology has been advancing, and battery-powered lockbolt tools are more powerful and more portable, so they can handle bigger jobs. We also are starting to see battery-operated powerigs enter the market to make pneumatic lockbolt tools more portable and easier to use in tight places. As lockbolts are increasingly being used to replace bolts for construction and heavy-duty repairs, new tools are being developed. Today, you have more lockbolt tool options than ever.
Old Lockbolt Tools for New Jobs
Recognizing that lockbolts are being used for more diverse applications, lockbolt tool makers are making larger nose assemblies and upgrading their current tool lines.
The Huck BV2200 and BV4500, two of the best-selling lockbolt tools on the market, have been improved with larger lithium-ion batteries and can now accommodate 3/16, ¼ and 5/16 diameter lockbolts in standard and BobTail lockbolt styles. These tools are extremely popular for applications such as installing solar panels since they can handle larger lockbolts and are lighter and more portable than pneumatic tools.
The Makita BV13 and BV17 lockbolt tools are also quite popular with solar installers for chassis installations. The tracking chassis on a solar system uses 12mm Huck bolts, and Makita offers 12mm nose assemblies as well as more powerful battery packs. The Makita tools are using larger 40V batteries that power woodworking tools such as portable trim saws rather than the more common 18V or 20V batteries. These tools are ideal for field installations since they use standardized batteries available in most hardware stores.
Stanley is offering the NeoBolt as an alternative to the ¼-inch aluminum Huck Bobtail lockbolt and has added the PB2500N tool for ¼-inch and 5/16-inch lockbolts. They use regular DeWalt 20V batteries available in any hardware store.
New Portable Hydraulic Powerigs
Some applications still call for pneumatic- or hydraulic-powered tools, and lockbolt toolmakers are introducing portable, battery-operated powerigs.
The Huck 964B hydraulic power unit is fully portable and uses battery power but accommodates standard Huck hydraulic tools and hoses. It’s ideal for applications where you want the additional power of a hydraulic lockbolt tool, but it’s impractical because of long hose lengths or lack of power. The 964B can be carried as a self-contained, portable hydraulic system.
Packaging the hydraulics in a portable powerig means the full line of Huck hydraulic lockbolt tools, including the full range of hydraulic nose assemblies, can now be used virtually anywhere. For example, this unit can be used in the field for railroad, bus, and heavy truck repairs. And the price for this unit is about half that of conventional hydraulic powerigs.
Entry-Level Units Just Get Better
The less expensive battery-operated lockbolt tools from Huck, Stanley, Pop, Gesipa, and others continue to improve. These tools are designed to handle ¼-inch and 3/16-inch lockbolts, but they are more robust. Almost all of the new battery-powered tools have brushless motors and now accommodate 18V and 20V batteries rather than the lesser-powered 14.4V. Batteries also have become more standardized, making it easier to have extra batteries for swap out. Many of these new lithium-ion batteries also have faster charging capabilities. There are even top-off chargers that can add a 20-30 percent charge to an exhausted battery in 10 minutes for a quick charge to complete a job.
Goebel is one the newest lockbolt toolmakers to enter the market with a less expensive line of cordless lockbolt tools. The GO-LB1 has an 18V battery with a brushless motor and the ability to accept 3/16 and ¼ diameter nose assemblies at a very attractive price point.
German tool maker Gesipa offers the Powerbird SRB cordless lockbolt tool, but what makes Gesipa interesting is its commitment to battery standardization with tools that are part of the Cordless Alliance System (CAS). The CAS battery system is designed to provide a single, interchangeable battery to power a full range of tools from different manufacturers. With CAS, there is no longer a need for custom batteries.
Clearly, innovation in lockbolt tools is in developing more powerful tools in portable designs. Lithium-ion batteries continue to evolve, delivering more power with extended battery usage and shorter recharge times. As a result, more lockbolt tools are battery-powered and more powerful. Plus, we are seeing innovations such as battery-powered hydraulic powerigs.
Whatever comes next in lockbolt innovation will be available on the Bay Supply Buyer’s Marketplace for Fastener Products. The Bay Supply Marketplace offers a complete catalog of the latest lockbolt tools and age-old favorites. To learn more about the latest lockbolts and fastener tools, read the Essential Guide to Lockbolts.