I was an electrician on F4 Phantom jets whilst an active Marine. At least for a while. Thermocouples and a whole slew of other sensor types are an electricians responsibility. Oddly the final plug to be hooked to a detachable tactical nuclear weapon for which the Cold War Phantom was designed to carry was not the responsibility of Ordanance but the duty fell to the electricians. A somber moment indeed stepping back from a idling Phantom and giving the thumbs up on that one being ready to go… I will limit the discussion to thermocouples here…
Thermocouple is short for thermocouple pair. It simply means two wires of different metals twisted together at one end and left open at the other end of the pair to connect to a meter. When any two dissimilar metals are in physical contact with each other there is a difference of electrical energy potential between the two metals. As I recall the reason two metals do this was deemed by my Marine Corps instructor to be caused by FM (effing magic) and left it at that when asked.
The charge carried by the metal is directly related to the temperature of it in a linear fashion. When it gets hotter the charge is greater than when it is cooler. The metals will increase their charge they naturally hold (FM) but at different rates from one another as they get hotter. The difference of electrical potential is then measurable by a pretty simple circuit. The terms “voltage” and “difference in electrical potential” are 100% interchangeable.
The type of thermocouple like K just defines what two types of metal wire are twisted together so then a known circuit can be employed. Alumel and chromel were used I believe for a lot stuff like this. My point in explaining all this is that a “thermocouple” is maybe encased in something and maybe has a special plug at the open end but it is simply two dissimilar wires twisted together at the hot end.
When my thermocouples go bad because I bend them around or spill on the junction and such I have no problem at all chopping off the end and stripping and twisting the wires together. Presto. Thermocouple fixed lolz. The twisted wires will corrode at the junction and in fact rust is a direct result of two dissimilar metals in contact with each other but in the form of intergranular metal contamination contact that is unavoidable. Most often chopping off the end of thermocouple pairs and twisting them back will “fix” the pair of wires.
I can tape my thermocouple pair twisted like that to the outside glass at any point in my rig with aluminum heat tape from 3M but normally now just poke the wires between the mantle and the glass.
Do we get paid by the word on this blog?
NOTE: The metal shielding you see on thermocouples can cause hella big headaches and imo are for show only…ducking now… tomatoes fly overhead…
What that shielding actually does in reality is provide multiple opportunities for the worst of the worst of electrical trouble shooting nightmares called simply “ground loops” . I know how to wire to avoid ground loops but as a rule stripping that crap off is precisely what I would do for a fixed permanent install instead of my cobbed up protype lol.