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The temperature of numerous items must be known for an aircraft to be operated properly. Engine oil, carburetor mixture, inlet air, free air, engine cylinder heads, heater ducts, and exhaust gas temperature of turbine engines are all items requiring temperature monitoring. Many other temperatures must also be known. Different types of thermometers are used to collect and present temperature information.

Non-Electric Temperature Indicators
The physical characteristics of most materials change when exposed to changes in temperature. The changes are consistent, such as the expansion or contraction of solids, liquids, and gases. The coefficient of expansion of different materials varies and it is unique to each material. Most everyone is familiar with the liquid mercury thermometer. As the temperature of the mercury increases, it expands up a narrow passage that has a graduated scale upon it to read the temperature associated with that expansion. The mercury thermometer has no application in aviation.

A bimetallic thermometer is very useful in aviation. The temperature sensing element of a bimetallic thermometer is made of two dissimilar metals strips bonded together. Each metal expands and contracts at a different rate when temperature changes. One end of the bimetallic strip is fixed, the other end is coiled. A pointer is attached to the coiled end which is set in the instrument housing. When the bimetallic strip is heated, the two metals expand. Since their expansion rates differ and they are attached to each other, the effect is that the coiled end tries to uncoil as the one metal expands faster than the other. This moves the pointer across the dial face of the instrument. When the temperature drops, the metals contract at different rates, which tends to tighten the coil and move the pointer in the opposite direction.

Read more: Aircraft Temperature Measuring Instruments