TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. – Everyday, jets from Travis Air Force Base, California, take off and land, delivering cargo and providing aerial refueling for various missions worldwide.
To do so, a small, nine-member team in the 60th Maintenance Squadron wheel and tire shop ensures C-17 Globemaster III and C-5M Super Galaxy tires are ready to go whenever needed.
The Travis wheel and tire shop is also a regional center. It not only supports the needs of its own C-17 and C-5M tire needs, but the needs of 13 overseas bases.
“Not every Air Force base has a wheel and tire shop,” said Staff Sgt. Chris Alonzo, 60th Maintenance Squadron wheel and tire shop NCO in charge. “Having this shop on base helps us expedite jobs rather than waiting on supply. We can break them down and we have the parts right here.”
Crew chiefs inspect the tires on the flightline and bring them to wheel and tire to be serviced whenever they have worn tread, said Alonzo. The team then breaks them down, removes their bolts and bearings and then sends the split wheel assemblies to the wash rack for cleaning before returning for buildup.
“The team is able to break down and build up to 14 tires in two days,” said Alonzo. “When a C-17 goes through a (home-station check), they will have us service all the tires.”
The shop services more than 83 tires per month. With Travis’ 24/7 operations, that means sometimes tires are dropped off for service after hours. With nowhere to put the tires, they are left outside until they can be serviced.
“Right now, $16,000 wheel and tire assemblies are just dropped off outside of our facility,” said Alonzo.
Because of this, they needed to seek approval for additional storage.
The wheel and tire shop was built in 2007 and operational in 2008 after a military construction insert approval in 2005. At the time, the building was only approved for the 6,240-square-foot building that stands today.
“We didn’t get the additional storage at the time because the bids were coming back expensive,” said Robert LaPlante, 60th Maintenance Group facilities program manager. “We had to take the design that we put to bid and had to cut our design to 75 percent of the square footage. We ended up cutting the extra storage.”
Last year, the shop was finally approved and construction started on the $580,000 storage addition thanks to Scott Hagstrom, 60th Maintenance Squadron Aero Repair section foreman.
“We have tried to get the extension for the shop and regain the floor space,” Hagstrom said. “Finally, 10 years after the building was constructed, we are getting the space the mechanics need to perform their daily duties.”
With the addition of the new storage facility, the wheel and tire shop will have about 2,000 square feet of extra room to store tires.
Currently, the inside of the building is filled with rows of tires. The additional storage will free up space in the facility, allowing the team to be more organized.
“Right now, all the bearings are put on the floor because we have nowhere else to put them,” said Alonzo. “We will be able have the wheels moved into storage and now we won’t have to be on the floor inspecting the bearings because we'll have places to put them rather than working off the floor.”
The added storage also will help maintain security over the tires and eliminate the need to drop tires off outside the facility after hours.
“The new facility will increase the security of our tires,” said Alonzo. “We will be able to keep the tires locked up and more secure. When there are after hours jobs, the crew chiefs will have access to drop off and pick up tires in the locked facility rather than leaving them outside.”
The new storage facility is expected to be done Feb. 13.