Military Use of True Lock Fasteners

Below is a list of supporting military documents on the effectiveness of the TRUE-LOCK fastener system on the M1 Abrams Track T158/T158LL End Connector.

Letter from Brigadier General Philip L. Bolte, USA Ret. to Colonel Christopher V. Cardine dated 9 January 1998
link to file

Summary :
US Army Brigadier General Philip Bolte concludes that tank crews still spend considerable amounts of time checking and tightening end connectors on tank tracks.   He is not convinced that the problem does not exist/has been solved as senior officers in the Armor Community state and thus they are not being true to its Armor soldiers.   The National Guard at Gowen Field has concluded that the True-Lock system on Abrams tanks with T158 track solves the current problem of end connectors loosening. CW3 Lowe and CW3 Medlin stated that end connectors often loosen and fall off and that crews spend much time on tightening these connectors. Captain Julian (Maint. Ofcr, 1st ATB) states that a considerable amount of money is spent in replacing end connectors.  CW3 Lowe states that there have been several accidents and subsequently damage to tanks due to loose/lost end connectors. 

Letter from True-Lock to Colonel Christopher V. Cardine dated 26 February 1998
link to file

Summary :
True-Lock offers the government to fabricate and design their own safety retention system for the grille doors on the M1 Tank.  That system will solve the deficiency of currently used J hooks, that do not have the needed toughness to withstand the pressure and extreme temperatures of the exhaust system.  This has been shown in tests at Gowen Field and evaluated by PM Abrams.  

Fax to Leslie Weinstein from Brigadier General Phil Bolte dated April 2, 1998
link to file

Summary :
Fax includes statistics that show the total l use and cost of bolts, wedges and kits used in six years by 262 M1A1 tanks over 1, 064,713 miles of use.  Furthermore Brigadier General Bolte states that troops during Desert Storm were told not to get out of their tanks due to unexploded munitions and mines on the ground and he furthermore wonders what crews should do if they lost end connectors, which has nothing to do with cost-effectiveness.

Fax to Leslie Weinstein from PM Abrams Tank System dated June 10, 1998
link to file

Summary :
This fax includes the test strategy for the True-Lock system on the M1 tank, which includes a comparison test (i.e. durability test until track failure) between the current systems used on the tanks and the True-Lock system

Letter from True-Lock to Tom Kraskiewicz PM Abrams dated 22 June 1998 
link to file

Summary :
True-Lock has permission to test its system on the M1 Abrams and is furthermore allowed to be actively involved in the preparation for the tests to be conducted in December 1998.  True-Lock wants to shift the focus of the test from “does the True-Lock system work” to “how will the True-Lock system allow dramatic change in how the vehicle is operated and maintained”.  True-Lock is convinced that their system will reduce the time spend on checking and maintaining the tank track, reduce track wear and costs normally used to replace lost parts.  This will enhance safety and reliability and mission effectiveness.  Other tests could be conducted on the locking systems for the center guide bolts on the track and the exhaust grill doors for which parts have been supplied that were tested at Gowen Field. 

Letter from True-Lock to Lt. Col. John Bryant MARCORSYSCOM dated 23 June 1998
link to file

Summary :
This letter provides Lt. Col. Bryant with an update on the upcoming test on the T158 track end connectors that will commence in December of 98.  True-Lock stresses that they want to conduct as demanding and thorough a test as possible and to shift the focus from “does the True-Lock system work” to “how will the True-Lock system allow a dramatic change in how the vehicle is operated and maintained”.  True-Lock is wondering if the Marine’s would like to conduct a test of their own, even though the Army has already approved testing of the True-Lock system. 

“How does a one dollar bolt stop a seven million dollar tank?”
link to file

Summary :
Over the past fifty years tanks have evolved dramatically and turned, in combination with modern technology, into the world’s finest armored fighting machine.  The M1 Abrams truly is that one superior tank, with one of a kind firing capability and accuracy, impressive speeds, tough armor, and the design of the track and suspension give this vehicle all terrain capabilities.  All these improvements have taken place over time, yet there remains one area that has not been improved and remains a problem to this day.  The track.  A failure of the track will render a tank useless and the crew at risk.  The track is held on by end connectors, which are secured by wedges and fastened with bolts.  The wedge bolts are subject to tremendous forces throughout the full range of motion of the track.  These forces are acting to loosen the wedge bolts.  Tank crews are instructed to constantly inspect end connectors for loose wedge bolts after twenty miles of travel.  Missing bolts are easily spotted, loose ones are not and thus this inspection takes a considerable amount of time, as each bolt must be individually retightened.  This procedure puts the crew in harms way as they spend time outside of the tank.  This procedure treats the symptoms, but does not solve the problem of the bolts coming loose in the first place.  The time it takes to inspect, repair and maintain the wedge bolts could instead be used to further train the tank crews.  True-Lock has the solution to this specific problem of wedge bolts coming loose.  The system can be retrofitted to existing tracks or included into new vehicle designs.  The True-Lock system is installed and tightened as normal as maintenance crews are used to and further retightening is not required.  Routine inspections are still necessary but are far easier as they can be done visually, because if the retainer is in place the wedge bolt cannot be loose.  True-Lock has been successfully tested on M1 tanks by the U.S. Army in Boise, Idaho and by the Marine Corps at Twenty-nine Palms, California.  These tests yielded that the bolts do not come loose and that track life extends.  True-Lock can be fitted to any existing nut or bolt application, from eyeglasses to heavy construction equipment.  This system also works on moveable parts such as axles and wheel bearing of vehicles and landing gear and engines of planes.     

Letter from Headquarters 1st 204th Regiment Armor to Lou Ashley, HQ AMC dated 27 June 1997
link to file

Summary :
In this letter SFC Gerard Dresher, who has extensive background as an armor instructor, states that there is a very real problem with wedge bolts coming loose on the M1-A1 T158 track and that the True-Lock system works.  SFC Dresher installed the True-Lock system on his own tank in 1994 and accumulated over 2,500 miles with the vehicle till 1997 when the track was removed.  The track was not completely worn, hadn’t lost any end connectors and no wedge bolts had to be retightened in those three years with the True-Lock system.  He goes on to state that the True-Lock system was tested on the improved T-158 track.  Inspection was much easier, as it only took a visual inspection to see if the True-Lock system was still in place, as it did not come loose.  With the other system each individual bolt had to be retightened to see if it was loose or not, which is a very time consuming task.  While other crews checked their tracks this way SFC Dresher was able to spend far less time doing a visual inspection.  Another benefit of the True-Lock system is reduced wear wedge bolts and other track components.  The end connectors without the True-Lock system had considerable wear and uneven wear on inner and outer areas.  The True-Lock system is simple and effective and reduces wear on parts and man-hours required to inspect vehicles.  This is an improvement in safety and combat reliability. 

Fax from Capt. Muller US Marine Corps Memorandum dated 3 July 1997
link to file

Summary :
Marine Corps Inspector-Instructor Captain Muller states that even though the T-158 track is an improvement over the older T-156 track, it still requires considerable number of man-hours to inspect and maintain the track.  The most common problem found is loose or missing wedge bolts, which secure the end connectors that join the individual track blocks together.  Captain Muller believes that the True-Lock system has the potential to solve the above mentioned maintenance concern, as it costs 3-4 man-hours a day to inspect the track and causes premature wear on the track.  This amounts to about 28 man-hours per drill weekend just used for this maintenance issue which could be reinvested in training and thus mission readiness.

Letter by Gary Scott Summary of Progress dated August 15, 1996
link to file

Summary :
Mr. Scott states that there is a lot of difference in opinion on whether there is a problem with wedge bolts coming loose or not.  This difference in opinion has such a wide range because it depends on what is considered a problem and how far that person is removed from working with the vehicles.  In discussions with maintenance personnel it turned out that wedge bolts do come loose and that and nothing the military has to offer can fix that problem.  The only way to solve the problem is to check and retighten each wedge bolt individually.  This consumes large amount of man-hours, which is a problem to the tank crews and personnel.  The True-Lock system can fit this problem once and for all and reduce track inspection to a visual inspection.  That means if the bolt is in place it is tight and hence reduces maintenance man-hours and track wear increases mission capabilities and improves crew safety.

Letter from True-Lock to US Senator Kempthorne dated August 20, 1996
link to file

Summary :
This letter explains that the military has two different answers to wedge bolts coming loose on tracks.  The first being that there is no such problem and the second being that this problem did exist in the old T-156 track but not on the new T-158 track and if it does then the maintenance crews are installing the components incorrectly.  Testing conducted by True-Lock with tanks at Gowen Field and with the Marines at 29 Palms has shown that the True-Lock system solves the issue of wedge bolts coming loose.  It is suggested that the Senator have a meeting with the people who work with the vehicles to get to the core if the issue.  A number of questions that could be asked are suggested in the letter as well.  This meeting would provide a good understanding as what is really going on with the tank tracks.

Letter from True-Lock to Col. Chris Cardine dated 10 August 1995
link to file

Summary :
This letter informs Col. Cardine that the True-Lock system was tested by the Army National Guard in Boise and the Marine Corps at 29 Palms.  The tests prove that the system works and eliminates the need for continual inspection and re-tightening of wedge bolts.  True-Lock has only received positive feedback by the crews involved in the testing.   Below are two accounts of personnel involved in the testing of the True-Lock system:

  • SFC Kulm, a maintenance supervisor states that those end connector bolts that had the True-Lock system installed were not lost, while those end connectors that did not have the True-Lock system installed were lost. 

  • MAJ Bishop states that the True-Lock system has significantly reduced the long-standing problem of loose end connectors. 

Letter from MSgt Segura USMC to Leslie Weinstein dated 12 September 1995
link to file

Summary :
MSgt Segura has seen many items being tested on the M1A1 tank and the True-Lock system was the most impressive, simple, common sense item he saw.  In his twenty years of tank experience the one problem he noticed that never was solved was that of missing end connector bolts.  During the field operations the different crew always requested end connectors bolts and nuts, except the tank that was equipped with the True-Lock system. 

Letter from Sgt. Murphy IDARNG to Leslie Weinstein dated 25 October 1995
link to file

Summary :
Sgt Murphy states that it takes about two to two and a half hours to install the True-Lock system on each end connector on the track before mounting it on the tank.  But this time would be more than off-set by the time savings at the operator level as the system allows for visual inspection of the end connectors rather than manually testing each bolt with a socket.  The True-Lock system maintains torque value on bolts, which prevents these from failing, which results in broken and/or lost bolts.  That will ultimately contribute to a saving in parts.

Letter from SFC Drescher to Col Cardine PM Abrams dated 25 October 1995
link to file

Summary :
SFC Drescher explains in his letter that he has been involved with tanks since 1969 and that his tank was chosen to have the True-Lock system installed and tested.  He has not experienced any loosening/loss of bolts since the initial installation of the system.  And while he visually inspects his track, other crews are out replacing/retightening wedge bolts, which SFC did not have to do yet.  When inspecting the end connectors with the True-Lock system installed reveals even wear of the exterior and no wear on inner portions of the end connector.  Those connectors without the system had uneven wear on the exterior and some wear on the interior.  The True-Lock system works and allows SFC Drescher to spend more time training students and save the Army money

 

 

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Wire ties, cotter pins and friction type locks are outdated, prone to failure and can be very time consuming to install.Both design and quality of materials used in manufacturing assure the highest standards for the FAA. Details