Tag Archives: case wear rings

When to Reduce the Clearance in Your Pump with DuPont™ Vespel® CR-6100

The industry “rule of thumb” says to reduce the wear ring clearance by 50%, but this isn’t always true.

Vespel® CR-6100 Upgrade Review

When you upgrade your pumps to Vespel® CR-6100, there are two steps:

  • Eliminate the metal-to-metal contact points in the pump
  • Reduce the running clearance (of the wear rings and throttle bushings)

However, you don’t always need to reduce the clearance. It depends on what you are trying to do and which component you are looking at. So, to determine whether or not to reduce the clearance, ask two questions:


What Problem am I Trying to Solve with Vespel® CR-6100?

Vespel® CR-6100 can be used to improve pump reliability and performance in many ways. Some benefits require reduced clearance, some do not. The following table gives some examples of where reducing clearance is needed vs. where it is not needed.


Reduced Clearance Required

Reduced Clearance Not Required



Is There Differential Pressure Across the Part?

Reducing the clearance can generally produce two beneficial effects in your pump:

  • Efficiency Improves: The leakage across the part will be reduced, improving pump efficiency and reducing the operating cost of the pump.
  • Improved Rotor Stability: The Lomakin Effect in the pump will be increased, increasing the hydraulic forces produce by the wear rings.

Both of these factors are driven by differential pressure across the part.


If the specific component you are upgrading to Vespel® CR-6100 is not exposed to differential pressure (i.e. vertical pump shaft bearing) there is no need to reduce the clearance.


Wear rings, throttle bushings, center bushings, balance bushings are all exposed to differential pressure. These are the parts where you want to reduce the clearance to obtain performance and rotor stability improvements. The rule of thumb is to reduce the clearance to 50% of the API minimum for metal parts. For most pumps in the hydrocarbon processing industry, this works.


These benefits are augmented using the patented PERF-Seal™ design from Boulden, which further reduces leakage across the part and dramatically increases the hydraulic damping from these components.


Exceptions to the 50% Wear Ring Clearance Rule

Because pumps come in all shapes and sizes, there are some places where we need to make exceptions and reduce the clearance by less than 50%.

  • Throat bushings-the throat bushing clearance often helps to control the mechanical seal flush rate. We recommend using the clearance recommended by your mechanical seal OEM to set the clearance of this part.
  • Wear rings in vertically suspended pumps-You don’t want to have the wear ring clearance tighter than the shaft bearing clearance. Therefore, our recommended minimum clearance for wear rings in vertically suspended pumps is the shaft bearing clearance + 0.002″ (0,05 mm).


Over the years, we have seen pump repair shops use a range of clearance values when applying Vespel® CR-6100 with great results. There is no single “best” way. That said, if you want to increase efficiency, you need to reduce the clearance of the parts exposed to differential pressure. If you are only trying to solve a run-dry or seizing problem, reducing the clearance is optional. For vertical pump shaft bearings, staying with the original design clearance is usually the best answer.


In any case, you can use our recommendations as a starting point. We supply these values in the clearance tables in our installation guide which you can download here:


Boulden Installation Guide for Vespel® CR-6100


Until next time, please feel free to contact Boulden if you would like to discuss the appropriate clearance for your pump upgrade. We’ll be happy to help and we have whatever material you need in stock in the USA, Europe, and Singapore.


Helpful Links on Vespel® CR-6100 and Wear Ring Clearance:

Standard Stock Sizes of Vespel® CR-6100

Vespel® CR-6100 Product Data Sheet

Vespel® CR-6100 Machining Guide

3MW Boiler Feed Pump Case Study

If you need any material or have any questions. Please contact us today. Until next time.

Case Study: DuPont™ Vespel® CR-6100 in 3MW Boiler Feed Water Pump with PERF-Seal™ design.

Better operability, reliability, and efficiency

The PERF-Seal™

A while back, we introduced the PERF-Seal™ design for center bushings, throttle bushings, and pump wear rings.


Below you can see the center bushing and case wear rings of a 2-stage pump which was upgraded to Vespel® CR-6100 with the PERF-Seal™ design

Center Bushing of a 2-stage pump.

Center Bushing of a 2-stage pump.

2-stage pump upgraded to Vespel® CR-6100 with the PERF-Seal™ design.

2-stage pump upgraded to Vespel® CR-6100 with the PERF-Seal™ design.

The holes drilled in the PERF-Seal™ create a turbulence field, thereby reducing leakage across the component–acting in a way similar to a labyrinth. However, unlike a labyrinth design, the PERF-Seal™maintains the same hydraulic stiffness as a plain wear ring and discourages tangential whirl of the process fluid.


Boulden worked with Mechanical Solutions to create an FEA model of the design and to create a custom test rig to validate the performance of the design. If you are interested in the results of this testing, Contact Boulden and we will be happy to share with you.


Boiler Feed Pump Case Study


We were approached by a power plant looking to upgrade their 3MW boiler feed pumps. Their process had changed over the years to require frequent cycling and they wanted to use Vespel® CR-6100 to avoid pump seizure. Due to the size of the pumps, increased efficiency was an added bonus.


We applied the PERF-Seal™ design to all of the stationary wear components–case rings, throttle bushing, and center bushing. The pump had demonstrated the following

  • No issues stopping and starting the pump during plant cycles
  • 10% lower power consumption during full load operation
  • Motors no longer run in the safety factor during full load operation

The pumps have now been running for 2 years. A full case study was recently published in POWER Magazine and is available here.


Until Next Time


Contact us if you have a boiler feed water pump you would like to upgrade.

If you need material, we have a huge inventory of standard stock sizes available for immediate shipment.

For details on how to install Vespel® CR-6100 into nearly any pump type, download the Boulden Installation Guide.

Today’s Photo

Skull Island, Trang An, Vietnam

Skull Island, Trang An, Vietnam

Contact Us Today To Learn More About Vespel and Boulden Company!

Contact Us Today To Learn More About Vespel and Boulden Company!








Upgrading Pumps With Composite Wear Components Part: 10

Upgrading pumps with composite wear componentsPart 10: Vertically Suspended Pump Installation Tips


We have discussed how upgrading your pumps with Vespel® CR-6100 helps to eliminate pump seizures, allowing you to reduce wear ring clearance, which improves pump efficiency and improves pump reliability by increasing the Lomakin Effect in the pump.

Quality repair and installation practices are an essential counterpart to the success of upgrading pumps with Vespel® CR-6100. This is true of all pump types–horizontal and vertical. When you are finished with the overhaul, the rotor should turn freely.

Vertically suspended pumps with their multiple fits and pilots require some additional consideration. To ensure the best possible results in these pumps, below are some tips which have been passed on to us from our customers.

Vespel CR-6100 for LPG Pumps

Vertically suspended LPG pumps fitted with Vespel® CR-6100.


Mechanical Alignment of Pump Components

Multi-stage vertical pumps pose a challenge for the shop performing the overhaul because there are multiple fits and pilots. Keeping the whole pump assembly concentric and square will give you the best results with your upgrade.

Good practices should be followed from the machine shop through the final alignment in the field.

In the machine shop:

  • Ensure all pilot fits within the pump are 0.002″ (0.05 mm) or better.
  • Ensure all mating faces of assembly elements are square.
  • If possible, assemble the pump in a vertical position.
  • Install Vespel® CR-6100 shaft bearings, bowl bearings, and wear rings, then final machine with the lathe indexed to the pilot fit of the part-this will ensure all bores at wear interfaces are concentric within the assembly. (Alternatively, all wear part fits can be machined concentric to the pilot fits prior to the installation of the Vespel® CR-6100 components.)
  • Install the Vespel® CR-6100 shaft bearings with the same clearance as the original design for the pump. If the original clearance is not available, See Table 3a (imperial) or 3b (metric) in the Boulden Installation Guide for recommended minimum clearances for vertically suspended pump shaft bearings.
  • When the assembly is complete, make sure the rotor turns freely within the pump with no hard rubs. If there are hard rubs, disassemble, try to find the source of the rub and correct the concentricity of the misaligned component. If clearances are very tight, consider a slight increase of the bushing clearance and re-check to make sure there is no hard rub.
  • Our recommended clearance for Vespel® CR-6100 wear rings in vertically suspended pumps is the shaft bushing clearance plus 0.002″ (0.05 mm) or 50% of the API minimum clearance for metal parts-whichever is larger.
  • If the pump is operating in very cold liquid (temperature below 0 C), increase the clearance at the shaft bearings by 0.002″ (0.05 mm) above the minimum values shown in table 3a or 3b.

In the field:

Generally, vertically suspended pumps incorporate a rigid coupling and the pump does not have its own rolling element bearings. The purpose of the rigid coupling is to make the pump shaft and motor shaft act as one unit with the pump relying upon the rolling element bearings in the motor. When dealing with a rigidly coupled vertical pump, traditional alignment methods can introduce misalignment. You also cannot rely upon the register fits from the motor to motor mount to the pump to be concentric.

Here are some tips for aligning a vertical pump with line shaft bushings and no rolling element bearings. (The motor bearings carry the axial load and coupling is rigid)

  • The pump must hang as close to plumb (vertical) as possible. This requires inspection of the base plate at the sump to ensure it is flat and level, and inspection of the mounting plate on the pump to ensure it is also flat and square to the assembly. If the pump is hanging “at an angle” the shaft will bend as it tries to hang plumb and pump life can be reduced.
  • Install the pump without the seal installed
  • Verify that the pump is level on the base
  • Install the motor on the pump.
  • Mount a dial indicator on the motor shaft, reading the ID and face of the seal chamber
  • Correct any radial misalignment by moving the motor and/or motor mounts in their fits. Squareness should be corrected by machining mounting faces (shims are sometimes used).
  • Lock the motor in position (installing 2 dowel pins is a proven method).
  • At this point, you may want to couple the pump and check for any run-out.
    • Any run-out that shows up after the alignment is likely due to a fault in the coupling
    • If resistance is still encountered after alignment and run-out are corrected, the source of rubbing is likely eccentric pump internals, which will need to be corrected back in the shop.
  • Install the seal (if the motor must be removed to install the seal, care must be taken to ensure motor returns to aligned position)
  • Install the rigid coupling (Coupling should be dimensionally checked and checked for trueness in the lathe before installation)
  • Measure the shaft run out between the coupling and the seal. This should be as close to zero as possible. The purpose of the rigid coupling is to make one shaft out of the driver and driven shafts. The end of the motor shaft is the zero point, so just a small run out at 15 cm below the coupling translates into huge side loads on the shaft bushings 1-2 meters down the assembly.

Side note: if you experience misalignment of the rigid coupling, the evidence will likely be wear of the bushing and/or shaft concentrated at the top bushing in the pump.

If you have anything to add to the above notes, please contact us. We’d love to hear your thoughts.


We hope you have found this series on how to upgrade your pumps with Vespel® CR-6100 helpful. In future weeks, we’ll have a couple of bonus sections on special topics. Until then, if you need any Vespel® CR-6100, contact Boulden. We have whatever size and quantity you need in stock and ready for immediate delivery.

For information on how to install Vespel® CR-6100 into nearly any centrifugal pump type, download the Boulden Installation Guide.

The Sydney Opera House , just out of frame is the Sydney Harbor Bridge

The Sydney Opera House, just out of frame is the Sydney Harbor Bridge


Contact Us Today To Learn More About Vespel and Boulden Company!

Contact Us Today To Learn More About Vespel and Boulden Company!














Upgrading Pumps With Composite Wear Components Part: 8

Upgrading pumps with composite wear components

Part 8: Vertically Suspended Pumps (API Types VS1–3, VS6, VS7)


To date, we have addressed how to install DuPont™ Vespel® CR-6100 into the various horizontal pump types to eliminate metal-to-metal contact points in the pump and minimize the risk of pump seizure. This allows a reduction of clearance which improves efficiency and rotor stability.

This segment will discuss how to use Vespel® CR-6100 in vertically suspended pump types (API types VS1-VS7). These types can be further broken down as “discharge through column” (VS1, VS2, VS3, VS6, VS7) and “separate discharge” (VS4 and VS5).

Which Parts?

In vertically suspended pumps, we can upgrade the same components as horizontal pumps (wear ringsthrottle bushingsthroat bushings) for the same reasons-to eliminate the metal-to-metal contact areas in the pump and reduce the clearance resulting in improved reliability and efficiency.

Today we will focus on the components which are unique to vertically suspended pumps-the vertical pump shaft bearings: line shaft bearings, bowl bearings, and bottom bearings. Vespel® CR-6100 is ideally suited to this application, particularly in services which suffer from a lack of lubricity or may run dry at startup. Vespel® CR-6100 does not seize like metal alloys, it can survive running dry, and it can withstand mechanical impacts and thermal shocks so it doesn’t break like carbon or graphite.

Multi-stage LPG pump bowl assemblies being upgraded to Vespel® CR-6100.

Multi-stage LPG pump bowl assemblies being upgraded to Vespel® CR-6100.

One thing of note is that vertical pump shaft bearings do not have differential pressure across the parts, therefore, they do not impact pump efficiency. Because the clearance of these components tends to be rather tight, to begin with, a further reduction in clearance can easily lead to assembly issues with a limited upside associated with the tighter clearance. Therefore, our recommendation for these parts is to install the Vespel® CR-6100 into the spiders or bowl assemblies with the press fit shown in our installation guide, then final machine to the original design clearance.

In our installation guide, you will find two clearance charts–one for horizontal pump types, one for vertical pump types. Because we don’t want the wear ring clearance tighter than the shaft bushing clearance, we simply recommend making the wear ring clearance 0.002″ (0.05 mm) larger than the shaft bushing clearance in these pumps. In short, we highly recommend that you download the Boulden Installation Guide for Vespel® CR-6100.

Discharge Through Column

Vertically suspended pumps are often selected because the service offers poor suction conditions such as light hydrocarbon service or condensate. In a long-term study, a refinery upgraded 22 vertical pumps to Vespel® CR-6100 wear parts. The pumps were operating in light hydrocarbons, flare knockout drum, and several stop/start services like product transfer. In the 5 years prior to upgrading the pumps, this population of pumps comprised many “bad actors” with poor reliability. In the 5 years after upgrading the pumps to Vespel® CR-6100, there were only 8 repairs on the entire population of pumps and the MTBR of this group of pumps increased to more than 10 years!

The combination of excellent reliability with ease of machining and installation along with immediate stock availability has made Vespel® CR-6100 the material of choice in these applications.

Vertically suspended pumps assembled with Vespel®CR-6100 shaft bearings, wear rings, bowl bushings and bottom bearings

Vertically suspended pumps assembled with Vespel®CR-6100 shaft bearings, wear rings, bowl bushings, and bottom bearings

Vespel® CR-6100 can handle significant periods of dry running with minimal wear, making it easier to bring the pump online. When you upgrade your wear rings to Vespel® CR-6100 and reduce the clearance, you might also find the pump easier to start due to a reduction in the NPSHR (Net Positive Suction Head Required).

To be continued…

In the next two issues, we will address vertically suspended pumps with a separate discharge (API Type VS4) and then we will discuss installation and assembly issues unique to vertically suspended pumps.

Until then, if you have a vertical pump which is giving you headaches, consider upgrading the wear parts to Vespel® CR-6100. Contact us today. We have the Vespel® CR-6100 in stock in a wide range of sizes available for immediate delivery to nearly anywhere in the world.
For details on installing Vespel® CR-6100 into nearly any centrifugal pump type, download the Boulden Installation Guide.

Contact Us Today To Learn More About Vespel and Boulden Company!

Contact Us Today To Learn More About Vespel and Boulden Company!









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Today’s Photo

Gardens by the Bay, Singapore

Gardens by the Bay, Singapore

Upgrading Pumps With Composite Wear Components Part: 5

Upgrading pumps with composite wear componentsPart 5: Upgrading overhung pump types with DuPont™ Vespel® CR-6100.


So far, we have discussed how upgrading your pumps with composite wear parts can help avoid galling and seizing, which allows you to reduce the clearance in your pump. This small change increases the Lomakin Effect and makes your pump more reliable. Reduced clearance also improves pump efficiency, leading to a lower pump life cycle cost.

Last month, we highlighted that Vespel® CR-6100 is installed in compression in the stationary parts of your pump–wear rings, throttle bushings, throat bushings, and vertical pump shaft bearings–and can be used in nearly all process chemicals from cryogenic temperatures to 500 F (260 C).

Today, we start discussing how to install Vespel® CR-6100 to upgrade your overhung pumps, which typically make up the majority of the centrifugal pump population in a process plant. For most designs, there are only three parts to upgrade to Vespel® CR-6100: two case wear rings and the throat bushing.

Manufacturer Case Wear Rings from Vespel® CR-6100

You can usually manufacture the case rings from solid Vespel® CR-6100 and press them directly into the case and head of the pump. Because the pump casing can often be quite large and difficult to handle, it is generally easiest to design the case rings such that they do not require final machining. The way to do this is to assume there is a 1:1 ratio between the press fit and the closure of the inside diameter during the press fit.

For example, if your case rings require 0.020″ (0.50 mm) press fit, machine the inside diameter 0.020″ larger than the final target dimension before the press fit. After the ring is pressed into place, the inside diameter will decrease by 0.020″ and will match the target dimension (give or take a small tolerance).

Alternatively, you can use a metal ring as a “holder”. First, press the Vespel® CR-6100 into the metal ring and then final machine the Vespel® CR-6100 to the desired clearance. This is sometimes a better choice for case rings with very large radial walls or rings with “L” shaped profiles (See Photo 1). By using an insert you can use standard stock sizes of Vespel® CR-6100.

case rings with Vespel CR-6100

Photo 1: Insert into “L” profile case ring

Vespel® CR-6100 can be used for the Throat Bushings

Several mechanical seal flush plans require a close clearance throat bushing to increase the seal chamber pressure, to isolate cooled seal flush fluid from hot process fluid, or to isolate clean seal flush fluid from dirty or corrosive process fluid. Vespel® CR-6100 can be used for the throat bushing.

To set the clearance of the throat bushing, consult your mechanical seal supplier. They should recommend a clearance based on your seal flush plan such that your seal operates with the correct pressure and flow rate of seal flush.

Which Pumps

Reducing the clearance at the wear rings will improve the efficiency of all of your overhung pumps. That said, some pumps can be considered with higher priority than others.

The first place to look is older pumps with long slender shafts with high L/D ratios (see Photo 2), especially two-stage overhung pumps. These pumps were typically built for packing and have been converted to mechanical seals. These designs often excessive shaft deflection, making it difficult for seals to meet current reliability and emissions standards. Closing the wear ring clearance will add stability to the rotor and provide the seals a better operating environment. On the two-stage overhung pumps, you can also upgrade the bushing between the stages for additional support.

Overhung pump

Photo 2: Overhung pump with high L/D ratio

Next, look at your largest overhung pumps. These pumps will typically have higher radial loads when running away from their design point and potentially experience more shaft deflection. Plus, they will consume the most power, generally offering the best payout for efficiency gains.

Finally, consider upgrading your OH4-vertical inline, rigidly coupled pumps. Because these pumps have no bearing housing, they rely upon the motor bearing and the wear rings for radial stability. Reducing the wear ring clearance can often improve the reliability of these pumps.

Upgrading Pumps to be continued…

In the next months, we will discuss upgrading horizontal between bearings pumps and vertically suspended pumps.

Until then, if you have an overhung pump where you would like to improve the reliability or efficiency, contact Boulden today. We can provide you all of the details required for your upgrade and have the Vespel® CR-6100 material required for the upgrade in stock is a wide range of sizes available for immediate delivery.


To Learn More About Vespel CR-6100 Click here!