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APU Connector Pin Wear

The following drawing illustrates a typical pin and socket arrangement. Whereas the actual socket mating will differ with manufacturer, this example will be representative enough to permit further explanation of this wear mode.

The socket does not mate with the pin along the entire pin length. Rather, the socket will mate with the pin at a contact point which is typically near the base of the pin when fully seated as illustrated below.

With this type of pin to socket mating arrangement, the relative motion between the two connector halves will appear as either fretting wear at the thread mating area, fretting wear at the pin to socket contact point or both. From an operational perspective, the wear at the pin and socket has a more immediate impact.

Pin to socket wear is typically more apparent on the pin surface as an eroded area at the socket to pin contact point. This eroded area may have a blackened appearance which may either be a loose, dust like, wear debris which is readily removed with alcohol or a blackened, electrochemically plated material which has bonded to the pin material and is not removable without further impacting the pin wear layers. This blackened plating may occur in areas other than at the socket to pin contact point but should be removable with alcohol. The construction of the socket does not lend itself to visual inspection, therefore, if pin wear is noted, it must be assumed by default that socket wear also exists. Further, because of the tolerances permitted for a military standard socket such as these, a socket retention check using a known good pin and comparing against the adjacent socket locations is not a reliable socket integrity testing method. The current investigation findings indicate that revising the connector mating method such that a solid connection is maintained (i.e. metal to metal) will reduce the potential for relative motion between the mating halves. If, however, thread wear has occurred with either mating half, then this motion reducing benefit will be reduced. Likewise, if the connector mating halves are solidly connected (as per this proposed change) and the harness is not secured firmly to the connector, then relative motion may be induced between the pin and socket for this cause and fretting wear will occur.

Pin 1 : Example of a pin with corrosive wear in two places with clearly defined edges and all gold removed from those areas. Other shaded areas demonstrate wear of the gold layer which appears as a dull or rubbed appearance. The gold layer is still visible beneath these areas. Pin 2: Example of a pin that has corrosive wear in three places with less clearly defined edges. Other shaded areas as described in Pin 1 above. Pin 3: Example of a pin with defined corrosive wear with less depth and a more blended appearance. The smaller wear area has a more clearly defined wear perimeter.

Pin 4: Example of a pin with wear to the gold layer that has not progressed through the gold at any point. Some localized wear concentration points are becoming visible which, after some time, will result in the loss of gold plating and the occurrence of corrosion in those areas. Pin 5: Example of a pin with a reduced level of wear than Pin 4. Pin 6: Example of a pin with no wear. Surface is shiny with no surface deformities whatsoever. Visually check connector (10) for evidence of damage to connector shell, threads and pins. Inspect contamination of the pins and grommet area. Pins of the connector except for the outer row of pins are easily seen. Any black or grey residue on the contacts and on the grommet near the base of the pins should be removed. Scrub lightly with a soft bristled brush and alcohol. If after cleaning residue is still present it can be assumed to be due to fretting. Use a high intensity light and available magnification and / or small concave mirror. The point at which a contact is worn beyond acceptable limits can usually be detected where the appearance of a spot or spots is black (electrically deposited contamination) rather than just a dull gold (rubbed or worn gold plating). Figure above depicts acceptable and unacceptable conditions of contact wear and need for connector replacement.