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Unread October 8th, 2019, 05:45 PM   #1
Brandon_K
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Traveling techs: Best traveling tool storage?

Hey all.

I've been doing automation work (primarily engineering and program writing) for themed attractions for a number of years now, the last 4 of which I've been traveling mostly ever other week.

I've taken a new position with a company where I'll be in a similar situation, except I'll be flying 95% of the time.

I'm pretty invested in the Milwaukee Packout system and it's been great for my uses, but it's not great (read: it's not an option) for flying. I did take my Packout Tech bag on the last trip with the necessities, but it's an awfully heavy bag to be shoulder-carrying for any distance.

So far I've looked in to the "standard" options, like the Pelican Air 1510, but it's really lousy for any type of tool storage and organization. I guess I can separate everything out in to canvas Klein bags, but that isn't very appealing to me. I really wish they had a insert that acted as a "tool wall" with pockets for crimpers, dykes, strippers, screwdrivers, etc, while leaving enough room for bulk items like my Fluke 289, 1/2" drill, impact driver and some batteries.

I've also looked at the Xcelite TCMB100MTW. I've not seen it in person, but from the photos it certainly doesn't look like it's built to the same quality as a Pelican case. The interior / tool pockets, while well they look like they're well laid out, they look super cheaply made. Additionally, I don't think it's a carry-on size which, while not a requirement, is something that I would like to keep as an option. It's also double the price of a Pelican Air 1510.

In an ideal world;

*Must be wheeled
*Must be TSA-proof (IE, bomb proof)

*Tool wall / tool pallet would be highly preferred.

*Bulk space for drill index, batteries, at least a impact driver (Milwaukee Fuel gen3), but also likely a 1/2" drill as well (both cordless).

*Light. I'd like to stay under the 50lb limit. Yes, the company will pay for luggage overages, but they've treated me like a king on all of my contract jobs I've done with them. I would like to return the favor. The VP loves little **** like that.

I'm interested to see what all of you guys have for thoughts.
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Unread October 8th, 2019, 06:40 PM   #2
_Dock_
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I’ve worked with a number of service techs in lots of different industry and pretty much all of the seasoned ones do a hard case with various tool bags. The main reason is that it just works and you can quickly remove or add specific tools you may or may not need based on the task. Many also use tackle type organizers for small parts or intricate tools

I only carry basic electrical and hand tools in tool bags in my backpack. I carry all of this in my backpack because it is all carry on approved, nothing over 7 inches. Obviously depending on your scope of work this won’t always work.

The deal with air travel is to be frugal. You don’t need three sets of wire strippers. You need one quality pair and that’s it. This logic must apply to all tools or it’s going to be really hard to stay under the 50 pounds.
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Unread October 8th, 2019, 06:46 PM   #3
_Dock_
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Another thought....

You must consider the weight of the luggage also. The one you listed that has all the organization is already 23 pounds empty.
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Unread October 9th, 2019, 12:51 AM   #4
n55_6mt
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Platt has some options for Pelican cases with better dividers/ tool pockets included.
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Unread October 9th, 2019, 04:05 AM   #5
JesperMP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by _Dock_ View Post
I only carry basic electrical and hand tools in tool bags in my backpack. I carry all of this in my backpack because it is all carry on approved, nothing over 7 inches.
Even screw drivers ? I would have doubted that. Anything pointy will be confiscated is my experience.
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Unread October 9th, 2019, 07:06 AM   #6
Aabeck
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JesperMP View Post
Even screw drivers ? I would have doubted that. Anything pointy will be confiscated is my experience.
I flew to Canada once and asked for my tools to be insured when I checked them (meters were over $3000) and they said they were only insured for $600 - to carry them on.

The only thing confiscated were the blades out of a utility knife.

I didn't want to tell her that if I had to protect myself and that toolcase was my closest choice, a utility knife next to a screwdriver set that included 2 at 12" long would be my last choice.
The screwdrivers made it the return trip too.
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Unread October 9th, 2019, 07:15 AM   #7
JZerb
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an alternative to the Pelican rolling tool case is this

https://www.explorercases.net/produc...ol-chest-5140/

which if i had to buy one i would that over the Pelican because of how the wheels are setup, the tools stay flat in the linked case versus the pelican i believe they go vertical when wheeling. if you want to get super organized

https://kaizeninserts.com/

makes foam inserts for that box.

I travel a bit as well and LOVE the packouts for road trips, but flying is a whole different animal which im glad i dont have to do too often.

I will second the above comment made about what i see with other techs though, most of the air travel guys i see in facilities are using pelican cases just with various tool rolls or bagged tool storage inside of them.
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Unread October 9th, 2019, 07:16 AM   #8
Rson
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I like the Veto Pro Pac bags. When I was an electrical tech, I had one without the laptop compartment, and doing controls I bought one with the laptop compartment.

I keep my laptop w/ power supply, basic set of screw drivers, wire strippers, DVM, pencils, probe, etc. and most times I can fit the set of prints I'm working on inside.

I have never used it for flying. But for walking through a plant, it has been worth every penny. I've had mine for 5+ yeras and it still looks great, no wear like other's bags I've seen.
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Unread October 9th, 2019, 12:38 PM   #9
NetNathan
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rson View Post
I like the Veto Pro Pac bags. When I was an electrical tech, I had one without the laptop compartment, and doing controls I bought one with the laptop compartment.

I keep my laptop w/ power supply, basic set of screw drivers, wire strippers, DVM, pencils, probe, etc. and most times I can fit the set of prints I'm working on inside.

I have never used it for flying. But for walking through a plant, it has been worth every penny. I've had mine for 5+ yeras and it still looks great, no wear like other's bags I've seen.
^2nd Veto Pro Pac bags. if you don't need a ton of tool space.
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Unread October 9th, 2019, 01:53 PM   #10
Phil Buchanan
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I always did a full-size pelican case with cables, Tool Bags, and other items and just paid the fee for oversize and overweight checked bags.

At one company we had many of the same toolsets in a pelican case that would be shipped out UPS ahead of our arrival with TSA locks on it then when we got there we used the tools and shipped them back to the office when done.

Our parts guy would receive them and inventory them and replace anything broken or missing and that set was tagged and ready to be sent out to the next job.

Sometimes we sent them to the customer site and they were locked up in the plant manager's office or something and sometimes we picked them up at the UPS location depending on a number of factors.

The company still does this but they also ship a pelican case with a folding table and a chair also and in many of the toolbox cases they will ship a drill/impact driver, drop cord, Lighting and a few other things to make the job go smooth.
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Last edited by Phil Buchanan; October 9th, 2019 at 02:01 PM.
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Unread October 9th, 2019, 01:57 PM   #11
Phil Buchanan
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JZerb View Post
an alternative to the Pelican rolling tool case is this

https://www.explorercases.net/produc...ol-chest-5140/

which if i had to buy one i would that over the Pelican because of how the wheels are setup, the tools stay flat in the linked case versus the pelican i believe they go vertical when wheeling. if you want to get super organized

https://kaizeninserts.com/

makes foam inserts for that box.

I travel a bit as well and LOVE the packouts for road trips, but flying is a whole different animal which im glad i dont have to do too often.

I will second the above comment made about what i see with other techs though, most of the air travel guys i see in facilities are using pelican cases just with various tool rolls or bagged tool storage inside of them.
Man that explorer case is nice. I might have to invest in one of those.
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Unread October 9th, 2019, 02:08 PM   #12
Robobob
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In 20 years of being a traveling controls engineer I used this
https://tecratools.com/product1363.html
Equipped with appropriate tool pallets this box worked very well for me. it features rotationally molded tool case with telescoping handle and wheels. I went thru 2 of them in a 20 year period. so very durable for the price. They took all of the abuse the airline baggage handlers could throw at them.
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Unread October 9th, 2019, 02:43 PM   #13
_Dock_
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JesperMP View Post
Even screw drivers ? I would have doubted that. Anything pointy will be confiscated is my experience.
Yes but domestic USA only. I have had problems out of the USA and had to go back and check bags.

I carry a veto meter tool bag inside my backpack that I set out on the belt at tsa even through the pre check line. If I leave them in my backpack I will get a bag inspection probably 75% of the time. If I spectate them I almost never get a bag inspection.

I carry two different screwdriver sets. One set has a removable handle for all the different ends and the other is a short handled wiha set. A pair of knipex adjustable pliers, some ratcheting wrenches, crescent wrench, metric and sae hex keys, my fluke and a few other odd ball tools.

I don’t have many issues and the rule is 7 inches so stand your ground if you need to. Ultimately though there is the tsa catchall of “at agents discretion” so it could go the other way but it has never happened to me.
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Unread October 9th, 2019, 03:23 PM   #14
JZerb
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Phil Buchanan View Post
Man that explorer case is nice. I might have to invest in one of those.
ya i came across them like a week or two ago and they seem pretty nice, especially price wise, compared to the Pelican mobile toolbox. I have one of the B&W rolling boxes with the tool pallets inside of it, but i hate it because the pallets mostly just have the pockets and stuff moves all around the case. Ideally Id find the time to make a case with shadowboxed foam pallets so everything stays in its place. one day.
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Unread October 12th, 2019, 12:02 PM   #15
rpoet
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You won't have to account for space for cordless tools' batteries. You will have to carry those on, since Li-Ion batteries are not allowed in checked luggage. A coworker forgot, and TSA confiscated all his Makita batteries. That was an expensive mistake.

Also, depending on where you'll be flying, there may be additional restrictions on bringing Li-Ion batteries onboard at all. Flights to / from / over mainland China are CRAZY restrictive regarding Li-Ion batteries. Probably something do to with the prevalence of extremely dodgy knockoff Li-Ion batteries available over there.







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