Armature Reaction Current flowing through the armature sets up electromagnetic fields in the windings. These new fields tend to distort or bend the magnetic flux between the poles of the generator from a straight-line path. Since armature current increases with load, the distortion becomes greater with an increase in load. This distortion of the magnetic field is called armature reaction. [Figure 10-269] Armature windings of a generator are spaced so that, during rotation of the armature, there are certain positions when the brushes contact two adjacent segments, thereby shorting the armature windings to these segments. When the magnetic field is not distorted, there is usually no voltage being induced in the shorted windings, and therefore no harmful results occur from the shorting of the windings. However, when the field is distorted, a voltage is induced in these shorted windings, and sparking takes place between the brushes and the commutator segments. Consequently, the commutator becomes pitted, the wear on the brushes becomes excessive, and the output of the generator is reduced. To correct this condition, the brushes are set so that the plane of the coils, which are shorted by the brushes, is perpendicular to the distorted magnetic field, which is accomplished by moving the brushes forward in the direction of rotation. This operation is called shifting the brushes to the neutral plane, or plane of commutation. The neutral plane is the position where the plane of the two opposite coils is perpendicular to the magnetic field in the generator. On a few generators, the brushes can be shifted manually ahead of the normal neutral plane to the neutral plane caused by field distortion. On nonadjustable brush generators, the manufacturer sets the brushes for minimum sparking. Compensating windings or interpoles may be used to counteract some of the effects of field distortion, since shifting the brushes is inconvenient and unsatisfactory, especially when the speed and load of the generator are changing constantly. Compensating Windings The compensating windings consist of a series of coils embedded in slots in the pole faces. These coils are also connected in series with the armature. Consequently, this series connection with the armature produces a magnetic field in the compensating windings that varies directly with the armature current. The compensating windings are wound in such a manner that the magnetic field produced by them will counteract the magnetic field produced by the armature. As a result, the neutral plane will remain stationary any magnitude of armature current. With this design, once the brushes are set correctly, they do not need to be moved again. Figure 10-270A illustrates how the windings are set into the pole faces.