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Installation And Inspection Of Screw Jacks, Lever Devices Push Pull Rod Systems

Screw jacks
There is little maintenance to be carried out on screw jacks, apart from regular greasing of all the exposed threaded portions and checks for backlash between the nut and the screw. Some screw jacks are in the form of actuators and some are used to drive flaps and other aerodynamic devices. A screw jack actuator (refer to Fig 1) is a fairly simple design and correct maintenance is vital because it is part of the flying controls. The actuator has a grease nipple fitted, which allows not only the bearings to be kept well lubricated, but the screw will also pick up some grease when the actuator is extended and retracted. In-service checks, other than lubrication will probably only include backlash checks on the actuating shaft. These will probably mean no more than a side-to-side hand movement of the rudder trim tab, which ensures that the movement is not excessive.

Thrust Bearings Control Surface Attachment

Control Input

Threaded Screw Shaft Screw Jack Actuator Fig. 1

Another form of screw jack is that used to drive flaps up and down. This form of jack will usually be found with a drive gearbox, transmitting the motive power to the screw and ball nut, that connects to the flap structure. The rotation of the flap motor drives a number of the gearboxes simultaneously, which transmit rotation to their respective screws. The ball nuts are all driven down the screws and these push the flaps to their selected position. Because the screw jacks and their ball nuts are exposed to the elements, it is essential that all checks and lubrication required must be thoroughly done. As previously mentioned, the screw jacks must be thoroughly greased but only after all dirt, sand and other materials have first been completely removed. The nuts will be checked for wear at regular intervals and this check will probably require special tools and measuring jigs. On a day-to-day basis, the backlash on the nut/screw combination can be checked by an up and down movement of the flap trailing edge.

Range of Movement

Engine Fuel Control Unit Push-Pull Rods

Pivot Point


Range of Movement

Support Arm

Push-Pull Rod Mechanisms Fig. 2

Lever devices
Levers can be found in numerous places within an aircraft and maintenance of these items can vary, depending on their location and purpose. As a rule, levers will be used to transmit thrust from one medium to another. For example, a push/pull system may drive a lever that operates a service, with an increase or decrease of mechanical advantage or a change of direction. Apart from the bearings of the lever requiring lubrication, (unless they are sealed-for-life bearings), there is little maintenance required, other than physical checks for damage, distortion and cracks.

The majority of aircraft push-pull systems can be found in both the flying and engine controls (refer to Fig. 2). They may consist of a series of hollow aluminium tubes, which have either fixed or adjustable end fittings. Sometimes, to prevent the tubes vibrating, their length is kept short and idler levers are fitted between each pair of tubes. As an alternative, rollers or bushes can be installed along the length of the push-pull tubes to provide support. The maintenance required for this type of control consists generally of inspection and rigging. As the bearings in both the idler levers if fitted, and the end fittings are normally sealed for life, the only inspections to carry out are for signs of damage and overheating. If the pilot complained of stiff controls, then a check of each bearing assembly would be required, to check which bearing was stiff. Rigging of push pull rods is relatively simple. The rigging pins hold the rods and levers in the datum position and the adjustable ends are altered until all the connecting bolts can be inserted without any force being required.