by Robert (Terry) Wojick, Creator of the WOJO Wrench
Necessity is the mother of all inventions. I was struggling to get the wrenches on the inner tube when I heard, ‘We need more core in the box right now! Time is money!’ I looked up, I could see a clear night sky, nearing a full moon and I wondered how did I get here. Back in the office, I was a 25-year-old college graduate working in sales. I spent a lot of time on the phone talking to these rough and tumble drilling characters like the one that was currently telling me to speed up. The colorful language, stories of bravado… it was my cup of tea. The boss would say, ‘You are missing the fine details on some of the orders. You need more experience… you got to get out into the field.’ I was easily motivated and so this is how I got here, answering my own question!
It was early March, and I was in this shack with a seasoned drilling veteran whose drilling bonus is falling rapidly like a BRE-X stock (a Canadian fraudulent stock, which grew from less than CAD 1 to CAD 296 after a major gold discovery. It was all fake and the BRE-X stock tumbled and was subsequently delisted from the stock exchange, costing investors billions). The driller said, ‘let’s take a break’. He turned the drill down to an idle and we sat there with our backs to the wall staring at the other side for about five minutes and he finally said, ‘I can see that you are trying hard… and well intentioned … but … if you are going to make it as a driller helper… you need to be quicker!’
‘These wrenches are really hard to use. They are floppy and hard to maneuver!’, I said in defence. The driller responded, ‘You’ll get used to them and I hope you learn quick!’
That was my first night, then my first week, then month and this continued to about the three-month mark. Finally, I felt I had some form of control over this ‘old style’ wrench, however there were still some blatant frustrations and some serious pinches. A few nights I lay in bed and I thought there had to be a better way, maybe a trick or something. I worked for ten months in the field and eventually got called back into the office. It was well worth the experience. My field knowledge greatly improved my sales orders and quotes. Sitting back at my desk, once again the mechanical side of me said there must be a better way. Unfortunately, a downturn happened in the economy, and I was a casualty of the mining cycle, so I had to put that thought on hold for another time.
Shortly after, I started my own company installing towers. Tower installation was much like exploration drilling. Each site was a challenge and required equipment, logistics and a lot of planning. Before every tower install, I would go through all the details and ask endless questions. Is the ground going to be bedrock, limestone or shale? Do I have the right type of anchor? Will my drill be able to make the anchor holes in this crappy ground? I had to buy a lot of equipment to get these tower jobs done. I bought a welder, a small CNC Mill and a small Plasma table. After a while, I started to get pretty confident at tower installs and about the 50th tower in five or so years after drilling, I started to think back of that evening in March with the driller telling me that I must learn quickly and that night ‘got my goat’. So, this inner tube wrench thought came back again, and it became persistent! To start the new concept, I had to identify the problems of the old wrench.
The first and biggest problem was I had to use my finger to engage the bottom jaw on the wrench. It meant that my finger was in the pinch area. The second problem was I needed to keep side pressure on the first wrench while applying the second or it would slip off. I would get into this awkward yoga pose when using my knee to keep pressure. Sometimes if I worked in a small drill shack emptying the tube at a 45-degree angle, the poses were exceptional! The slip off problem could sometimes lead into unsuspected release and dropping of the inner tube on the floor when carrying it around the shack. One wrong move and it could let loose. The old-style wrench also had a ‘floppy’ head and I really had to watch that I did not pinch the web off my hand when carrying the wrench. All of these issues gave me the concept for the design. It had to satisfy ease of application with reduced pinch points, and it had to have a locking mechanism with a release button.
With the equipment from tower installations, I went to work on the designing and building. I was starting a family at the same time, so I had to balance hockey, homework along with my regular job. The design of the WOJO wrench was complicated and it took many concepts, many prototypes, many hours to get to the final design. In the end, it took 10 years!
Getting it done!
It was a difficult design process. The three variables that had to be balanced were: pin and hole fits; the engagement of the lower jaw to latch; and the application of grit in a controlled thickness. Pin and hole fits had to take into consideration a loose enough fit for the bottom jaw to swing freely around the tube to engage on the latch while keeping a proper ‘ratcheting’ clearance. This allows the WOJO wrench to be used in a ratcheting fashion. To achieve these clearances a lot of ‘trial and error’ attempts were made to get to the final design. The engagement of the lower jaw to latch again is controlled by the ratcheting clearance. To achieve the proper engagement, the jaws and latch have to be accurate and consistent in dimension, therefore, water jet cutting is used to get these controlled and consistent dimensions. The application of the grit is crucial. It is applied in a uniform layer and thickness in order for proper alignment with latch. The WOJO Wrench has come up with a proprietary method to achieve this!
After many years of tireless work, the final WOJO wrench design is complete. It took many prototypes and tests to finally achieve what I set out to accomplish with this wrench.
- Pinch points were addressed to make the WOJO wrench a much safer product than other wrenches on the market.
- No more awkward, uncomfortable and unsafe positioning to apply the wrench.
- No more accidental tube drops, as a result of the locking and ratcheting design of the WOJO wrench.
- The learning curve of the WOJO wrench is much faster and easier than other wrenches on the market. This results in more core in the box.
Finally, from one frustrating night many years ago, to the completion of a newly designed WOJO wrench today, the perseverance has paid off.
Learn more here: www.timeltd.ca
Read Issue 20 here: