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"Effects of Dust on Motors" from Tactical and Technical Trends

The following report on the effect of dust on motorized equipment in WWII was originally published in Tactical and Technical Trends, No. 14, Dec. 17, 1942.

[DISCLAIMER: The following text is taken from the U.S. War Department publication Tactical and Technical Trends. As with all wartime intelligence information, data may be incomplete or inaccurate. No attempt has been made to update or correct the text. Any views or opinions expressed do not necessarily represent those of the website.]


When it comes to the question of the effect of dust on motorized equipment, dust works advantageously in one respect, but in other ways has a contrary action.

Up to a point, dust has a beneficial effect on camouflaged, externally painted surfaces and serves to blend those surfaces with the color of the surrounding landscape.

On tires and rubber parts, the erosive action of sand and dust considerably shortens the effective life of such articles anywhere from 50 to 80 percent.

The most injurious action of dust is found in its adherence to oiled bearing-surfaces, such as springs and shackles, axles, bushings, etc.

To guard against this condition, constant and thorough care must be exercised, particularly on those parts which are close-fitting. Protection of precision parts, such as axle bushings and front-wheel bearings, requires close watching. Where the moving part is covered with leather or other material, easily removable for cleaning (gun axles), or entirely dust proof (traversing gears), the need for special attention is obvious. In any case, whether totally or partially protected against dust, or where there is no such insurance, it is always necessary and advisable to make regular and frequent inspections for dirt removal and fresh lubrication.

Internally, since a motor breathes air, dust is present in varying quantities depending on the equipment furnished and the precautions and care observed. The problem of letting in dustless air has been solved almost completely by the motor manufacturers, but the driver of the vehicle and the motor mechanics of the unit must continually implement this excellent beginning. All concerned must be taught the far-reaching importance of dust wear, made dust conscious, and thoroughly educated to properly understand the harmful effect of grit accumulations in their motors.


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