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"Variac" brushes are made using anisotropic (grain-oriented graphite)
material. The electrical conductivity between stacked graphite crystal
planes is markedly higher than the resistance parallel to the crystal
planes. Brush manufacturers typically formulate a mixture of carbon and
oriented carbon-graphite that provides sufficient mechanical strength
while still maintaining a relatively high ratio of conductivity (~10:1)
A Variac brush is oriented so that the high-resistance axis is across
the "thin" dimension as the brush makes contact with the winding. This
reduces turn-to-turn short circuit current when the brush bridges a
couple of turns. Also, the main body of the brush "averages" the output
voltage between turns, smoothly and continuously varying the output as
the brush transitions from one turn to the next. Using a standard carbon
brush may cause overheating of the brush tips, arcing, and excessive
wear of the brushes and winding.
Following is a possible source for the proper material - you may need to
find a similar-size brush and then trim it to fit your unit.
I’ve found I need to replace the carbon contact on my Chinese variac (yes, I know). I made a cursory search online without success. Anyone know where I can find parts for same?
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