JOINT BASE BALAD, IRAQ -- When Maxx Pro Mine-Resistant Ambush-Protected (MRAP) vehicles began rolling onto to Joint Base Balad last month with bent or missing emergency quick release pins for their rear doors, the 1st Battalion, 402nd Army Field Support Brigade, Mobile Parts Hospital here went to work.

The Door Actuation Mechanism System uses on-board vehicle power to operate the rear door of these heavy vehicles. The pins act as part of the emergency quick release system. When the vehicle’s own power is not available, such as during a rollover, Soldiers can pull the pin and push the door open so they can get out safely.

Originally, the DAM Systems were made with rubber bushings and had a weaker, smaller diameter pin. On Iraq’s rough roads, or sometimes even just over time, the rubber would degrade and the pin would bend or break, causing the pin to stick or break. In an attempt to rectify the issue, the next fix was to replace the rubber bushings on which the weight of the door rests with Teflon bushings. However, the weight proved to be too much for the Teflon and the pins, according to the units, were arriving bent just coming from Kuwait to Balad.

The units came to the MPH for help. Two machinists, Al Ebner and Tim Gelios, redesigned the system to be stronger and much more durable. They replaced the rubber and Teflon with brass bushings. A soft, non-ferrous metal, brass is commonly used for bushings and anything that has to slide, pivot or bear considerable weight. Ebner and Gelios redesigned the pin to be slightly thicker and it is machined from 4150 steel, a very hard, heat-treated steel. The new pin can take a tremendous amount of abuse without bending or breaking as the old pin would.

A Soldier said that someone left a rear door open on his vehicle and a HMMWV accidentally backed into it. Even though subjected to that amount of force, the pin did not bend.

The MPH manufactures all six individual components of the DAM System emergency release system completely on-site in its facility in the 1/402nd AFSB sustainment maintenance area. These components are one pin, two large bushings, a smaller bushing, a nut, and a washer. The skilled machinists use a Mazak seven-ton computer numerically controlled lathe to produce the parts.

These craftsmen, who started manufacturing this upgrade three years ago, are currently finishing a lot of 150 upgraded pin sets and have an order pending for 500 more.