When Max Gremillion ran the welding and fabrication division at the Los Angeles County Fire Department (LACoFD), air operations would sometimes call him up to see if he could build them a better widget.
“I used to have coffee with them in the mornings and listen to what would make their lives easier, safer and more efficient,” recalled Gremillion.
Seven years ago, he and his wife, Colleen, took that knowledge and applied it to a business of their own, CWF Precision LLC — based in the small town of Williams, Arizona. Today, the company is known for custom fabricating, a lot of prototyping and one-off projects.
“Currently we do short and medium production runs,” Gremillion explained. “I’m a tool and die/welding fabricator with a background in structural steel and automotive welding and fabrication.”
He loves the creativity of the job, where he rarely encounters the same thing twice.
Through a close collaboration with Dennis Blumenthal, chief of helicopter maintenance at his former employer, LACoFD, Gremillion developed an innovative Rescue Hoist Maintenance Stand that helps mechanics work on a wide range of helicopter rescue hoists.
“It’s a universal apparatus to perform off-wing maintenance of multiple rescue hoists — Breeze-Eastern or Goodrich,” Gremillion said. “It allows the maintenance crew to remove the hoist unit or the entire hoist/boom assembly. They can put it up on this adjustable height pedestal, turn it 25 degrees counter-clockwise and drain out the oil, turn it upright, run through their systems checks and inspections, pay out their cable, oil the lines and rewind them. They can spin the unit 360 degrees.”
In addition, CWF Precision’s Rescue Hoist Maintenance Stand can be broken down for compact and easy storage and/or shipping.
The patent-pending device has since undergone extensive field testing in the maintenance shops of LACoFD, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE), and San Diego Fire Department, to name a few. In addition, Gremillion has received input from Collins Aerospace Goodrich, a manufacturer of several popular models of rescue hoists.
“Where it’s at right now, no further changes have been requested. I have a consensus between different operators and mechanics. We’re going to roll out this basic model first.”
Visitors to HAI Heli-Expo 2024 can see CWF Precision’s Rescue Hoist Maintenance Stand at Booth #5631, where Gremillion said it will be displayed alongside some of the company’s other ground support equipment.
“A lot of our equipment is specialized to the maintenance mechanic’s needs,” he explained. “We also have a stand for the Black Hawk’s GE T700 engine, and a PT6T Twin-Pac engine stand that is actually three stands all in one. It allows maintainers to pull the combining gearbox and/or either engine in any configuration — you can mix and match any of those three components.”
Gremillion said all of his stands help aviation mechanics to work safely and efficiently.
“Sometimes, mechanics come up with their own maintenance stands. However, it’s all contingent on how much their employer allows them to play in the shop,” he concluded. “Very few have put the time into manufacturing a comprehensive adjustable-height stand. Ours can be rolled up to the aircraft, and it lets them perform different duties like oil changes, clutch maintenance and cable maintenance. It is fully adaptable to the user’s needs.”