While most dieseltech auto-armor is complex, heavily armored, and specialized for specific roles, extremely basic models exist to serve as cost-efficient, general purpose man-amplifiers. These barebones models, known as utility skeletons, often see service in civilian contexts where capital is at a premium. Utility skeletons are most often found in construction and logistics roles where manual dexterity is needed in combination with heavy lifting. Utility skeletons are also seeing increased use in hospitals. Initially, medical utility skeletons were primarily used to help orderlies move patients around, but, with some modifications, utility skeletons have been modified to assist physically disabled patients to reclaim a modicum of mobility.
Utility skeletons are, as the name implies, simple, adjustible truss frames of hollow steel tubing which mount to hard points on an operator's jumpsuit. A miniaturized diesel power plant and air compressor is appended to the back of the suit. Pneumatic actuators assist the operator's movements, though a utility skeleton has fewer points of articulation and a more granular mode of movement than most suits of auto-armor.
Weapons & Armament
Utility skeletons are seldom armed in the traditional sense of the word, though the construction equipment they carry may be used as improvised weapons if necessary. While not technically armed themselves in such situations, utility skeletons sometimes assist in the operation of crew-served weapons, often carrying ammunition to be loaded or weapon components to be assembled for use by others.
Armor and defense
Utility skeletons are sometimes equipped with metal plates or glass enclosures to protect the wearer from exterior hazards. These enclosed suits tend to get hot if they are not properly ventilated, though this may be more of a feature than a bug in cold climes (i.e. in or on Godshead Rock). The armor of a utility skeleton is generally only proof against low-speed projectiles, such as pieces of rock liberated from an ore vein during excavation, though it can also work against cudgels in a pinch. This quality, along with the relative inexpensiveness and common appearnce of a suit, makes utility skeletons popular for use in organized crime or, in the case of the Vale Toil Front, 'labor disputes.' One example of this illicit use factors into the folk hero status of Sgt. Elios Sosayel of the Petalcap Vale Customs Authority. A corrupt union boss though he could use a utility skeleton to 'dispose' of the Sosayel, and sought to ambush him while he was inspecting a pallette of logs concealing drugs imported from the Rostran Archipelago Confederacy. Instead, Sosayel weathered several hard blows from the boss' vale gaff - swung hard as it was with the suit's enhanced strength - then turned and put a bullet squarely between the boss' eyes through the suit's faceplate. The nickname "Ol' Ironwood" (or the "Iron Verdial") stuck to Sgt. Sosayel after he came out of this incident surprisingly little worse for the wear. It should be noted that utility skeletons are seldom sealed against vacuum, pressure, hazardous gasses, or water. As such, operators expecting to work in such environments (i.e. in inflection layers should wear appropriate protective gear under their suits. For this reason, the HC-1 "Meantwig" Hazardous Condition Auto-Armor and purpose-built experimentals are more popular for use aboard skystations than utility skeletons regardless of the added expense.
Additional & auxiliary systems
Utility skeletons possess simple air line connectors to allow the suit to mount pneumatic tools, such as the JH-AA "Lance" Heavy Jackhammer. Suits which operate in industrial contexts are often festooned with light fixtures and enclosed with protective caging or splash shields.