Generator Terminals

On most large 24-volt generators, electrical connections are made to terminals marked B, A, and E. The positive armature lead in the generator connects to the B terminal. The negative armature lead connects to the E terminal. The positive end of the shunt field winding connects to terminal A, and the opposite end connects to the negative terminal brush. Terminal A receives current from the negative generator brush through the shunt field winding. This current passes through the voltage regulator and back to the armature through the positive brush. Load current, which leaves the armature through the negative brushes, comes out of the E lead and passes through the load before returning to the armature through the positive brushes.

DC Generator Maintenance


The following information about the inspection and maintenance of DC generator systems is general in nature because of the large number of differing aircraft generator systems. These procedures are for familiarization only. Always follow the applicable manufacturer’s instructions for a given generator system.

In general, the inspection of the generator installed in the aircraft should include the following items:

  • Security of generator mounting.
  • Condition of electrical connections.
  • Dirt and oil in the generator. If oil is present, check engine oil seal. Blow out dirt with compressed air.
  • Condition of generator brushes.
  • Generator operation.
  • Voltage regulator operation.

Condition of Generator Brushes

Sparking of brushes quickly reduces the effective brush area in contact with the commutator bars. The degree of such sparking should be determined. Excessive wear warrants a detailed inspection.

The following information pertains to brush seating, brush pressure, high mica condition, and brush wear. Manufacturers usually recommend the following procedures to seat brushes that do not make good contact with slip rings or commutators.

Lift the brush sufficiently to permit the insertion of a strip of No. 000, or finer, sandpaper under the brush, rough side out. [Figure 10-275] Pull the sandpaper in the direction of armature rotation, being careful to keep the ends of the sandpaper as close to the slip ring or commutator surface as possible in order to avoid rounding the edges of the brush.

When pulling the sandpaper back to the starting point, raise the brush so it does not ride on the sandpaper. Sand the brush only in the direction of rotation.

After the generator has run for a short period, brushes should be inspected to make sure that pieces of sand have not become embedded in the brush and are collecting copper.

Under no circumstances should emery cloth or similar abrasives be used for seating brushes (or smoothing commutators), since they contain conductive materials that will cause arcing between brushes and commutator bars.

Excessive pressure will cause rapid wear of brushes. Too little pressure, however, will allow “bouncing" of the brushes, resulting in burned and pitted surfaces.

A carbon, graphite, or light metalized brush should exert a pressure of 11/2 to 21/2 psi on the commutator. The pressure recommended by the manufacturer should be checked by the use of a spring scale graduated in ounces. Brush spring tension is usually adjusted between 32 to 36 ounces; however, the tension may differ slightly for each specific generator.

When a spring scale is used, the measurement of the pressure that a brush exerts on the commutator is read directly on the scale. The scale is applied at the point of contact between the spring arm and the top of the brush, with the brush installed in the guide. The scale is drawn up until the arm just lifts off the brush surface. At this instant, the force on the scale should be read.

Flexible low resistance pigtails are provided on most heavy current carrying brushes, and their connections should be securely made and checked at frequent intervals. The pigtails should never be permitted to alter or restrict the free motion of the brush.

The purpose of the pigtail is to conduct the current, rather than subjecting the brush spring to currents that would alter its spring action by overheating. The pigtails also eliminate any possible sparking to the brush guides caused by the movement of the brushes within the holder, thus minimizing side wear of the brush.

Carbon dust resulting from brush sanding should be thoroughly cleaned from all parts of the generators after a sanding operation. Such carbon dust has been the cause of several serious fires as well as costly damage to the generator.

Operation over extended periods of time often results in the mica insulation between commutator bars protruding above the surface of the bars. This condition is called “high mica" and interferes with the contact of the brushes to the commutator. Whenever this condition exists, or if the armature has been turned on a lathe, carefully undercut the mica insulation to a depth equal to the width of the mica, or approximately 0.020 inch.

Each brush should be a specified length to work properly. If a brush is too short, the contact it makes with the commutator will be faulty, which can also reduce the spring force holding the brush in place. Most manufacturers specify the amount of wear permissible from a new brush length. When a brush has worn to the minimum length permissible, it must be replaced.

Some special generator brushes should not be replaced because of a slight grooving on the face of the brush. These grooves are normal and will appear in AC and DC generator brushes which are installed in some models of aircraft generators. These brushes have two cores made of a harder material with a higher expansion rate than the material used in the main body of the brush. Usually, the main body of the brush face rides on the commutator. However, at certain temperatures, the cores extend and wear through any film on the commutator.

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