Jun 1, 2010

Engine, door-handle problems plague M-ATVs

By Dan Lamothe - Staff writer
Posted : Tuesday Jun 1, 2010

MARJAH, Afghanistan — Problems persist with the Corps’ new mine-resistant vehicle involving its engine wiring and door latches.
The Corps has been aware of the engine problem in the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected All-Terrain Vehicle, or M-ATV, for several months, Marines here say. Wires running from the vehicle’s computer system are prone to overheating, shrinking and disconnecting from the engine, said Cpl. Michael Bird, a motor transport mechanic with 3rd Battalion, 6th Marines, out of Camp Lejeune, N.C. When this occurs, a flashing light appears on the dashboard suggesting the vehicle’s engine communication has been lost.
“When wires heat up, they shrink down,” Bird said. “There’s not enough slack …, and they’re close enough to the rest of the engine where they get hot.”
In January, the vehicle’s manufacturer, Oshkosh, sent an employee downrange to conduct a class for motor transport mechanics at Camp Dwyer in Helmand province, Bird said. Mechanics with 3/6’s weapons company have become so proficient since then that they can fix the problem on most vehicles in about 10 minutes.
The Corps still is researching the wiring issue, said Barbara Hamby, a spokeswoman with Marine Corps Systems Command. She urged Marines who have seen the problem to report it.
The Corps first acknowledged the door-latch problem in March, after troops in Afghanistan spoke with Marine Corps Times about it. It has persisted ever since, with Marines and soldiers who use M-ATVs struggling to open the vehicle’s doors from the outside, possibly because of the door’s weight. When the problem occurs, they will access the vehicle through another door, then crawl over the seats and use the inside handle to open the one that’s stuck.
Marine mechanics said they can temporarily fix the problem by popping off a plate covering the latch on the inside of each door and tightening some of the pieces, Bird said. They have found also that lubricating the door hinges with the same CLP lube used on smallarms often helps it open and close more easily, though the problem with the sticking latch is likely to happen again.
Hamby said the door-latch problem prevents the handles from freely returning to their idle position. Some doors also were reported to be sagging.
“The Joint Program Office identified several root causes, which have been and are being resolved through modifications at the manufacturer’s production line, and by field service representatives supporting our troops in theater,” she said.
Oshkosh won a $1 billion contract last summer to produce up to 10,000 M-ATVs, pronounced “Matvees” by many Marines downrange. Ultimately, the Corps plans to field 1,454 of the vehicles. As of May 6, 993 had been fielded, Hamby said.

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