Category Archives: Boulden B-1050

A Look at Life Cycle Costs – Part 3: Unplanned Events

Typical Life-Cycle Cost For A Pump System Infographic

Typical Life-Cycle Cost For A Pump System

Today we take a final look at the above graph. We have already looked at Energy and Maintenance costs. Today we look at Operating, Environmental, and Downtime Costs.

When you upgrade pumps with composite materials like Vespel® CR-6100, Boulden B-Series, or Metcar® composites, you eliminate the metal-to-metal contact points in the pump, which essentially eliminates the risk of pump seizure. The pump is far more likely to survive running dry at start-up or during off-design events.

Benefits of Upgrading Pumps With Composite Materials

These are hidden bonuses to upgrading your pumps with composite materials. High quality composite materials act like a safety net in your pump, and sometimes, the savings from this benefit pay for all of the composite upgrades your company will ever do. Consider the following case studies:

Case Study: Condensate Return Pumps

Many years ago, a refinery upgraded the vertical pump shaft bearings in one of their 3 condensate return pumps to Vespel® CR-6100. The other two pumps had their original bronze bearings. The pumps were located in the hot well of a condensing steam turbine. The turbine was driving a critical compressor in one of the refinery process units.

Something happened which changed the pressure in the hot well and the pumps started operating in a vacuum intermittently for 9 hours. The two pumps with bronze bushings seized and had to be removed from service. The pump with Vespel® CR-6100 survived and allowed the process unit to continue operating. An upgrade which cost about $2000 likely saved the refinery millions.

Case Study: Potassium Carbonate Pumps

Plant operators heard a loud noise coming from a hot potassium carbonate pump. They were concerned because if potassium carbonate is released into the atmosphere, it creates a respiratory hazard. They shut down the pump and switched to the spare.

When the pump arrived in the shop, they found a piece of metal had broken from a valve and lodged in the pump impeller. Fortunately, during the previous repair, the maintenance shop had upgraded the pump to Vespel® CR-6100 case rings. During the incident, the pump did not seize, the seals didn’t leak, and a potentially major incident was likely avoided. A $3000 upgrade to the wear rings likely saved hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Case Study: Hydrocracker Charge Pump

Improved efficiency can also translate into increased production. A refinery upgraded their 9-stage hydrocracker charge pump, operating at 6400 rpm to Vespel® CR-6100 wear rings with reduced clearance. This $25,000 upgrade increased unit throughput by 4% creating millions of additional revenue for the refinery over the life of the installation.

Pump Impeller with Vespel CR-6100 wear rings


Upgrading your pumps to composite materials reduces pump life cycle costs by making your pumps safer, easier to operate, more reliable and more efficient. When unexpected events occur or where you can increase throughput, a single installation can save you millions of dollars.

Take a look at the pumps coming into your workshop. Use the repair as an opportunity to make the pump better by upgrading to composite wear parts. Boulden has the material you need in stock and can deliver raw material or machined parts with very short lead times. Get in touch with us today!

A Look At Pump Life Cycle Costs – Part 1: Maintenance

Typical Life-Cycle Cost For A Pump System Infographic

Typical Life-Cycle Cost For A Pump System

Most of us have seen a graph similar to the one above. Over the life of an engineered pump, the energy consumption and maintenance will account for the majority of the life cycle cost. So, if you can make your pumps more efficient and more reliable, you will save a lot of money.
Over the years, we have collected several groups of data to suggest how much money you can save from using composite materials in your pumps like Vespel® CR-6100Boulden B-Series, or Metcar® composites. The savings come from two areas–improved reliability and efficiency.

Improved Pump Reliability = Maintenance Savings

Improving pump MTBR has been a primary focus of Rotating Equipment Engineers for decades. Longer life means fewer repairs, lower chance of downtime, and lower risk of environmental or safety incidents. There is no doubt that more reliable pumps save money. The question related to composite materials is how much of an MTBR improvement should be expected from the upgrade?
To answer that question, we have several data sets:
  • Between the years 2004–2006, a refinery upgraded 61 “bad actor” pumps to Vespel® CR-6100. In the 3 years prior to the upgrades, this group of pumps would result in 20-30 repairs. In the 3 years after the upgrades, this group of pumps averaged fewer than 10 repairs per year.
  • Another plant looked at 11 vertical pumps for 5 years before and 5 years after upgrading the shaft bearings and found repairs had been reduced by 64%.
  • Several other data sets have shown dramatic improvements in the overall plant MTBR when the site included Vespel® CR-6100 into their pump reliability improvement program.

Average Pump Repair Cost

We can use the study of 61 pumps to estimate the annual savings. The average repair cost of an API pump is about $12,000. Prior to upgrading to Vespel® CR-6100, this site had between 20 and 30 repairs per year–$240,000 to $360,000 annually to repair this group of pumps. After the upgrades, with fewer than 10 repairs per year annual repair costs were less than $100,000. That is a savings of around $200,000 every year. The upgrades to composite materials easily paid for themselves several times over.

Conclusion: Upgrade Pump Parts To Composite Materials

In short, using quality composite materials like Vespel® CR-6100 with reduced clearance in your pumps will lead to a big increase in pump life and significant maintenance savings. Next month, we’ll discuss energy savings.
Until then, whatever the temperature, chemical, or operating conditions for your pump, it is likely that Boulden has a non-seizing, non-galling composite material to help you improve your pump reliability. Boulden has a large inventory of material in stock and we can supply raw material or finished parts with very short lead times. We can provide all of the technical support required for you to make the upgrade a success.
Contact us today and use your next repair as an opportunity to upgrade your pump.


Save Money on Your Next BB3 Pump Overhaul

How to re-use the worn wear rings for better performance

Axially split, between bearings multi-stage pumps (API Type BB3) are used for some of the most important services in the hydrocarbon processing industry–charge pumps, boiler feed pumps, and product shipping/pipeline pumps.

The repair of these pumps is a great opportunity to upgrade with Vespel® CR-6100 or Boulden B-Series composite wear rings. In many situations, this will also be the most cost-effective way to rebuild the pump.

Cost of Repair
The reason these pumps offer a great value upgrade is because the case rings in axially split pumps can generally be re-used as holders for composite “inserts” as shown in figure 1.

This method of repair saves the cost of purchasing new case rings, or machining full rings with milled features. All of the work can be done on a lathe at the time of repair. First, you machine the inside bores of the existing case rings, throttle bushing, and center bushing. Then, you make the Vespel® CR-6100 inserts, press them in, and then final machine the parts to reduced clearance. This will increase the Lomakin Effect and efficiency of the pump.

Complete the remaining elements of the overhaul as you normally would. When the pump goes back into service, it should be easier to operate, more efficient, and more reliable.

Final Thoughts

If you have a BB3 pump coming through your shop for overhaul, consider upgrading to composite wear parts. Boulden can help you engineer the upgrade to Vespel® CR-6100 or Boulden B-Series and the patented Boulden PERF-Seal® design to ensure long-term reliable success. Contact us today. We have the material you need in stock.

Helpful Links:

Boulden Installation Guide for Vespel® CR-6100

Standard Stock Sizes of Vespel® CR-6100

Amine Stripping Pump Case Study

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A rainbow over rolling hills

Andrà Tutto Bene (Everything Will Be Alright)

Improve Your Wastewater Pump Reliability

Better shaft bearing materials lead to longer life


Vertically suspended pumps with separate discharge (API Type VS4, shown in Figure 1) are generally used for sump pumps or waste water pumps. These pumps are a frequent source of headaches. The shaft bushings wear out leading to chronic repairs. Even though these pumps are in a “utility” service, this is one of the most challenging services for vertical pump shaft bearing material.

There are a few different reasons the shaft bearings on these pumps fail, depending on the process conditions. These pumps can be installed in a wide range of conditions, so we should start by defining the service.

Define the Service

The first step is to clarify “sump pump” or “wastewater pump”, which are generic terms encompassing a wide range of services which tend to use the VS4 pump type. Some services are pumping primarily chemicals or chemicals mixed with water, and some of them are pumping primarily water mixed with dirt. Some services are very dirty, others are quite clean. Another variable is that the shaft bearings are flushed with different arrangements. Some of them are flushed with the process fluid, others with clean water, and others are greased.

diagram of a typical waste water pump

Figure 1: Typical waste water pump configuration

Given the range of service conditions, there are several different problems which can cause the shaft bearings to fail. However, there are some commonalities. First, by design, the shaft bearings are along the column of the pump with a separate discharge for the process fluid. The bearings can run dry at start-up until the flushing fluid arrives. Sometimes, the external water flush is turned off; sometimes the flush lines from the process fluid are plugged; sometimes the grease supply is inadequate. In a chemical sump, the mix of chemicals can cause corrosion with metal wear parts. In very dirty sumps where the bearings are flushed with the process fluid, abrasive wear tends to be the main problem.

Based on your conditions, frequency of failures, and damage witnessed, we should be able to help identify the main issues in your service and help you dramatically improve pump reliability. We have helped plants extend the life of these pumps from a few months to several years.

The Road Map

Sump Type  Clean water flush  Greased Bearings  Product Flush
Process chemical sump
Water/dirt/chemicals        *

*In applications with a dirty water flush, a hard-coated sleeve under the shaft bearings is recommended.

Considering the above, we have created the following table to help you identify the type of service where your wastewater/sump pump is operating.


If you have waste water/ sump pumps failing at your plant, use the table above to identify your service type and contact Boulden today. We have bearing materials for these pumps which can run dry, resist abrasion, run with marginal lubrication, and resist all of the chemicals likely to be encountered. We have material in stock available for shipment almost anywhere in the world and we can help you with design and machining of the parts. Until next time, be safe and healthy.

Helpful Links:

Boulden B-Series Materials

Boulden Installation Guide for Vespel® CR-6100

Amine Stripping Pump Case Study

Today’s Photo

Hills in Black Forest Germany

Black Forest Germany


Comparing Pump Component Composite Materials

There is one material property that can tell you a lot about how a composite material is likely to perform in a pump: The coefficient of thermal expansion (CTE). If the value is too high, the material can deliver inconsistent results in challenging services.

Why CTE?
A low CTE is essential for reliable performance because components like wear ringsthrottle bushings, and vertical pump shaft bearings run with tight clearances. A low CTE allows the material to experience normal frictional heat generation during contacting conditions without significant deformation.

Conversely, it is difficult for a material with a high CTE to maintain a tight clearance. When exposed to normal frictional heat generation or higher temperatures, a high CTE can quickly cause the component to “grow” and close the clearance. When this happens, contact increases, frictional heat generation increases, and premature failure of the component can follow. This is likely what happened to the bushing in figure 1:

Failed vertical pump shaft bushing made from high CTE material

Figure 1: Failed vertical pump shaft bushing made from high CTE material

The difficulty from the user’s perspective is everyone selling materials for pumps claims that their material has a “low CTE.” What this often means is “low CTE relative to other plastics.”
How do you define low CTE?

At Boulden, we define “low CTE” to mean “equal to or lower than the CTE of the metal parts in the pump.” Common metals used to manufacture pumps are carbon steel, 400-series stainless, or 300-series stainless, so we want to be close to or below the CTE for these materials.

Boulden B-Series
Because we think CTE is so important, we developed our B-Series materials with this in mind. If you are currently using PEEK-based components, contact Boulden about upgrading to our B-Series materials. B-835 is our replacement for 30% carbon fiber filled PEEK; B-1050 is our replacement for “abrasive resistant” PEEK blends. B-920 is a non-PEEK proprietary blend, also for potentially dirty services.

CTE of composite materials

Material CTE (in/in/F) CTE (mm/mm/C)
Vespel CR-6100 3.1 5.6
B-920 3.5 6.3
B-1050 5.1 9.2
410 SS 5.5 9.9
Carbon Steel 6.0 10.8
B-835 8.7 15.7
316 SS 8.9 16
30% CF Filled PEEK 15 27



A low CTE is critically important to the performance of a composite wear part in a pump and one of the reasons Vespel® CR-6100 has proven so reliable over the past 20 years. Boulden-supplied materials also offer ease of machining, simple installation practices, and material availability. Boulden keeps the material you need in stock and can supply raw material or machined parts including our patented PERF-Seal® with rapid delivery.

If you want to make your pumps more reliable, easier to operate, safer, and more efficient, contact Boulden today. We can help you choose the best material for your application and provide detailed design assistance.

Boulden B-1050 Vertical Pump Shaft Bearings

Last fall, a power plant needed to replace the vertical pump shaft bearings on their cooling water intake pump. They contacted Boulden to find a solution.

Service Conditions

The cooling water intake pumps at the plant pump brackish water from the local harbor. The salty water creates corrosion issues, the silt in the water creates abrasion issues. The line shaft bearings are exposed to potentially high loads from the pump at an operating speed of 1500 rpm.

Boulden B-1050 cooling water intake bearings

Boulden B-1050 cooling water intake bearings

Bearing Design

Boulden selected B-1050 for the application due to its excellent dimensional stability, resistance to abrasive wear in dirty water conditions, and high load carrying capability. Unlike most plastic or composite materials used for this application, B-1050 has a coefficient of thermal expansion less than carbon steel. Boulden has found that a coefficient of thermal expansion less than carbon steel is probably the most important material property for the reliable performance and ease of design of a composite bearing or wear ring. For a complete data sheet, contact Boulden today.

Some key properties of B-1050 are shown in Table 1:

Boulden B-1050 key properties

Boulden B-1050 key properties



Tough, wear resistant shaft bearings from Boulden

Boulden supplied the B-1050 bearings mounted in Duplex Stainless shells. The old bearing spiders were corroded and needed to be re-machined; therefore, the shells were machined to fit after the modification to the spiders. The bearings ran against a 7″ (180 mm) diameter shaft. One line shaft bearing design was 9″ (225 mm) long; the other was 11″ (270 mm) long. The components were manufactured in a few weeks, delivered and installed without issues.


If you are looking for better materials for your vertical shaft bearings, contact Boulden. Consider B-1050 for your cooling water pumps, waste water pumps or other services where you need the ability for the bearings to run in potentially dirty service plus survive off design conditions such as running dry. We have a portfolio of materials with B-Series and Vespel® CR-6100, so whatever your vertical shaft bearing application, we can help.

For consultation on the best material for your application or design assistance, contact Boulden today. We have the material you need in stock and can supply raw material or machined parts with rapid delivery.

Mistakes to Avoid When Upgrading to Composite Pump Components

Upgrading your centrifugal pumps to composite wear parts is one of the easiest, fastest and most reliable ways to make your pumps better. While this upgrade is easy and reliable, there are a few pitfalls to avoid in order to ensure success.

The normal rule of thumb for upgrading to composite materials like Vespel® CR-6100 or Boulden B-Series is to reduce the clearance by 50% compared to API values for metal parts. This can increase pump efficiency and increase the Lomakin Effect in your pump, making the pump more reliable.

#1 Rotor Concentricity

However, reduced clearance requires that the pump be rebuilt to a good standard with a concentric rotor. Just because the Vespel® CR-6100 parts will not seize does not mean that the shop can do a sloppy job. The standard check used for metal parts–that the rotor must turn freely after assembly and coupling in the field still applies. Friction from rotor sag is acceptable, hard mechanical interference from poor alignment of internal parts is not.

#2 Clearance within Vertically Suspended Pumps

As mentioned in item #1, you can reduce the internal running clearance for wear rings. For vertically suspended pump shaft bushings, however, reducing the clearance doesn’t offer much benefit. There is generally no significant differential pressure across these parts. Therefore, reducing clearance at these parts will not increase pump efficiency or do much for rotor stability. If you reduce the clearance of these components too much, you will gain very little and make it very hard to keep the rotor concentric.

internal component parts

internal component parts

Download the Boulden Installation Guide and note the different tables for vertical and horizontal pump wear parts to avoid this issue

There are a lot of problems you can solve when you upgrade your pump to composite wear parts. You can help your pump survive dry running, avoid seizure, reduce cavitation, reduce vibration, help your seals last longer, and improve efficiency. In general, however, the composite materials used for wear parts are not the best choice for services that cause severe erosion of metal parts. The rule of thumb is that if standard metal parts do not show signs of abrasive erosion, you can consider composite materials.

vertically suspended pumps

vertically suspended pumps

#3 Expecting to Solve Abrasive Wear Problems

To put it in perspective, refined products, boiler feed water, chemicals, and utilities are a great place to use Vespel® CR-6100 and Boulden B-Series. For vertical pump shaft bearings in dirty service like wastewater and river water intake pumps, Boulden B-1050 is a good choice. If it is a true slurry service, composites are not the right choice.

Several times over the years skeptical customers have asked us: “We tried black plastic in our pumps 10 years ago. It didn’t work. What makes you think your material will be any different?”

#4 Using a Material with a High Coefficient of Thermal Expansion

Almost invariably, what we find is that the site had used a material with a high coefficient of thermal expansion. One of the reasons Vespel® CR-6100 has proven incredibly reliable is that the coefficient of thermal expansion (CTE) is about 60% lower than carbon steel. The earlier generation of composite materials on the market had CTE values around 3X higher than carbon steel. In practice, a high CTE will make problems in the pump worse–because the material will tend to “grow into” the rubbing or contact in the pump, reduce the clearance, and rapidly fail. Because Vespel® CR-6100 has a low CTE, it does not do this. It remains dimensionally stable until normal operation is resumed.

Boulden believes that CTE is so important, we developed our entire B-Series line of materials to have CTE values very close to or less than carbon steel.

In Conclusion

After 20 years and over 10,000 pumps upgraded with composite materials, problems have been few and far between. Using our experience in application and design, we want to be sure all of your upgrades are successful. We can supply raw material from our inventory, CAD drawings, and machined parts. Boulden has a huge inventory with the best lead times and service in the business. Contact us to upgrade your next pump today.

Today;s photo!

Yummy pie! Stay safe!

Yummy pie! Stay safe!