2008

Alignment Pins for Assembling and Disassembling Structures

Simple tooling prevents damage to structures.

Simple, easy-to-use, highly effective tooling has been devised for maintaining alignment of bolt holes in mating structures during assembly and disassembly of the structures. The tooling was originally used during removal of a body flap from the space shuttle Atlantis, in which mis-alignments during removal of the last few bolts could cause the bolts to bind in their holes. By suitably modifying the dimensions of the tooling components, the basic design of the tooling can readily be adapted to other structures that must be maintained in alignment.

The tooling includes tapered, internally threaded alignment pins designed to fit in the bolt holes in one of the mating structures, plus a draw bolt and a cup that are used to install or remove each alignment pin. In preparation for disassembly of two mating structures, external supports are provided to prevent unintended movement of the structures. During disassembly of the structures, as each bolt that joins the structures is removed, an alignment pin is installed in its place. Once all the bolts have been removed and replaced with pins, the pins maintain alignment as the structures are gently pushed or pulled apart on the supports. In assembling the two structures, one reverses the procedure described above: pins are installed in the bolt holes, the structures are pulled or pushed together on the supports, then the pins are removed and replaced with bolts.

The figure depicts the tooling and its use. To install an alignment pin in a bolt hole in a structural panel, the tapered end of the pin is inserted from one side of the panel, the cup is placed over the pin on the opposite side of the panel, the draw bolt is inserted through the cup and threaded into the pin, the draw bolt is tightened to pull the pin until the pin is seated firmly in the hole, then the draw bolt and cup are removed, leaving the pin in place. To remove an alignment pin, the cup is placed over the pin on the first-mentioned side of the panel, the draw bolt is inserted through the cup and threaded into the pin, then the draw bolt is tightened to pull the pin out of the hole.

This work was done by Oliver C. Campbell of United Space Alliance for Kennedy Space Center. For further information, contact Oliver C. Campbell at (321) 861-5080. KSC-12785