Repeat Pump Failures
Results of Upgrading to Vespel® CR-6100
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?”
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.
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.
Recently, a pump repair shop bought some 2″ solid rods of Vespel® CR-6100. This was their first purchase of solid rods and they asked for instructions to machine the I.D. to size. Below is the method we use in our shop at Boulden:
Step 1: Drill Pilot Hole 0.375–0.500″ (10-12 mm) through the center of the bar
Step 2: Use a spade blade (or larger drill bit) to enlarge the hole
Step 3: Final machine with boring bar
If you have a pump in your shop where you would like to improve reliability, efficiency, avoid seizing, or reduce vibration, consider an upgrade to Vespel® CR-6100 wear rings with the Boulden PERF-Seal® design. Whatever the pump geometry, Boulden can help you fit the parts into the pump, make drawings and machined parts for you, or simply help you with tips and tricks to use in your shop. Contact us today.
Welcome to our series on upgrading pumps with composite materials. Over the next few months, we’ll cover the basics of why and how to use composite materials, specifically DuPont™ Vespel® CR-6100, to make your pumps more reliable, efficient, and safe.
Centrifugal pumps contain contact points between rotating and stationary parts. Most designs use replaceable wear components at these contact points: wear rings, inter-stage rings, throttle bushings, center-stage bushings, vertical pump shaft bearings, throat bushings. In the past, both the rotating and stationary parts would typically be metal.
With metal rotating and stationary components, there is a risk of galling or pump seizure. Galling can cause your pump to stick during assembly in the workshop, during alignment, or when the pump is slow-rolling in the field. This is a nuisance which can cause costly delays, returning the pump to the shop for disassembly, clean-up, re-assembly, and a return to the field. If a pump seizes during full-speed operation due to running dry, low flow, valve failure, bearing failure, shaft breakage, or another off-design scenario, the welding of metal parts together will generally cause the pump to stop abruptly, causing severe pump damage along with the potential for safety and environmental impacts.
At a very basic level, the reason to upgrade the wear components in your pumps to composite materials is because composite materials are completely dissimilar to metal. Due to the totally different material compositions, metal-to-composite contact does not result in seizure like metal-to-metal contact.
So, our first objective when we are upgrading our pump with composite materials is to eliminate the metal-to-metal contact points within the pump. When using Vespel® CR-6100, the rotating parts will typically remain metal and the stationary parts will become Vespel® CR-6100. With this simple change, we now have metal-to-composite contact points in the pump and the risk of seizure is minimized.
Eliminate the metal-to-metal contact points in your pumps by upgrading the stationary components to Vespel® CR-6100. This simple upgrade will minimize your risk of pump seizure, eliminate nuisance repairs from pumps galling during alignment or slow-roll, and will help mitigate the risks and damage due to off-design operational events including dry-running operation.
Because the risk of pump seizure is minimized, you can now safely reduce the clearance at the wear components, setting up several additional benefits. We’ll talk about reducing the clearance in Part 2.
Until then, if you have had troubles with a pump which galls or seizes, contact Boulden to discuss upgrading the wear parts to Vespel® CR-6100. We have a huge stock of Vespel® CR-6100 standard sizes in the USA, Europe, and Singapore available for immediate delivery to your workshop.
For application and installation details, download the Boulden Installation Guide for Vespel® CR-6100.
We hope you have had a chance to enjoy your summer holidays. From New Orleans to Narvik, it’s hot out there, so be safe, and wear sunscreen.
In our messages, we frequently highlight how Vespel® CR-6100 does not seize and therefore allows you to reduce the clearance at the wear parts in your pumps: wear rings, inter-stage rings, throttle bushings, and center bushings.
Today we want to look at things from another perspective–negative effects which can happen to your pump when you increase the clearance at the wear parts.
If a process plant has a problem with a pump seizing during operation or galling during commissioning, the traditional response has been to increase the clearance at the wear parts.
Although increasing the clearance might make the pump operable in the short term, there are several negative consequences from increased clearance.
|Hydraulic Effects||Mechanical Effects|
|Lower head||Reduced rotor stability|
|Lower flow||Potentially higher vibration|
|Lower efficiency–increased power consumption||Potentially higher shaft deflection|
|Higher NPSHR–greater risk of cavitation||Increased risk of shaft breakage|
|Higher motor load||Potentially shorter seal life|
|Need to run steam turbines at higher speed||Potentially shorter bearing life|
|Higher likelihood of needing to run pumps in parallel||Higher risk of motor over-heating or tripping from excessive load|
So, while you don’t want your pumps to seize, increasing the clearance can create some major issues. At a minimum increased clearance drives up the operating cost of the pump and likely compromises the long term reliability of the machine.
A while back, one of our clients had an 11-stage horizontal pump which was originally supplied with metal wear components. The pump seized soon after start-up, and the recommendation from the OEM was to increase the clearance. The pump seized again. The second recommendation was to use a “non-galling” metal alloy to address the problem. The pump seized again. The clearance was increased one more time. When the pump was started again, the overall pump vibration levels were beyond alarm limits. The multiple increases in clearance had resulted in a loss of rotor stability to the point that the pump was no longer operable.
The end of the story will be in our next email…
Until next time, if you have a pump in your shop which has galled or seized, contact Boulden to discuss an upgrade to Vespel® CR-6100. We will be happy to work through the details of the upgrade with you and we have material in stock and available for immediate shipment.
The National Geographic Channel used to run a show called Doomsday Preppers where survivalist families would prepare for apocalyptic disasters and societal collapse. Although that sounds like a lot of fun, at Boulden, we are more concerned with helping your pumps survive adverse process conditions with an upgrade to DuPont™ Vespel® CR-6100.
Last month, we outlined the measurements required for a Vespel® CR-6100 installation. When you have decided to go forward with the upgrade, the first step will be to prepare the metal parts to facilitate the installation.
Vespel® CR-6100 is used for stationary wear components–throttle bushings, case wear rings, center-stage bushings, inter-stage case rings, vertical pump shaft bearings, throat bushings, agitator bearings, API separator bearings-basically any product lubricated wear part.
The material is installed with a significant press fit. To facilitate the press fit operation, the metal bore into which you will be pressing the Vespel® CR-6100 requires a small chamfer or radius (Figure 1). It is very important that any corners or sharp edges are fully broken and smoothed with a stone so that the metal edge does not remove material from the outside surface of the Vespel® CR-6100 during the press operation.
Make Sure There is a “Shoulder” or “Step”
For any part exposed to differential pressure, it is important that the design features a shoulder or step at the low-pressure end (shown on the right side of Figure 1) to ensure the differential pressure does not dislodge the Vespel® CR-6100 during operation.
Some radially split multi-stage pumps (BB4 and BB5) pumps feature metal wear rings welded into the pump diffusers with no step or shoulder incorporated in the design. In this case, you can consider modifying the diffusers so that the case wear rings have an “L” shaped profile like the rings below which were used in a hydrocracker charge pump.
Vespel® CR-6100 can help you avoid pump seizure during extreme events like running dry. The temperature limit is 500 F (260 C), allowing it to survive infernal heat waves. The material is not affected by electromagnetic pulses. polar shifts, or solar flares. As an added bonus, Vespel® CR-6100 has an indefinite shelf life, making it an ideal material to stockpile in your underground bunker, and the material is likely to hold its value in the case of hyperinflation.
In reality, you don’t have to stockpile the material. Boulden carries a huge inventory of stock sizes in the USA, Europe, and Singapore. You can generally receive whatever material you need in a matter of days.
To prepare your pump for whatever the future holds, please contact Boulden with your application details and dimensions. We’ll be happy to walk you through the installation details–assuming we have not been wiped out by an asteroid strike.
All this talk of disaster is making me hungry. This is some excellent Bun Cha in Vietnam.
If you need any material or have any questions. Please contact us today. Until next time.
In South Africa, when you make a statement that someone agrees with, they say “100 %”–similar to how other English speakers say “absolutely.” With that in mind, we want the pumps upgraded to Vespel® CR-6100 to be upgraded 100% whenever possible.
When you upgrade your pumps to Vespel® CR-6100, there are two steps:
Upgrading your pumps to Vespel CR-6100 Step #1
Our recommendation when upgrading to Vespel® CR-6100 is to convert all of the stationary wear parts to Vespel® CR-6100. All of the rotating parts remain metal, thus eliminating all of the metal-to-metal contact points in the pump. This essentially eliminates the risk of pump seizure.
Yet, once in a while, customers try to make a small change instead of fully upgrading the pump. The three partial upgrades we run into are:
Older pumps with long slender shafts (high L/D ratios) create problems for mechanical seals due to excessive shaft deflection. If you want to increase the rotor stability of these pumps using the wear parts, you will want to upgrade the wear rings to Vespel® CR-6100 and reduce the clearance.
The reason is that the Lomakin Effect-the hydraulic force which stabilizes the rotor-is driven by differential pressure and the surface speed at the differential pressure interface. Wear rings have significant differential pressure and high velocity, creating a lot of stability from the Lomakin Effect. Throat bushings? Not so much.
If a horizontal multi-stage pump like a boiler feed water pump seizes, it will usually occur at the center bushing or throttle bushing, depending on the pump type. These two components generally have the tightest clearance in the pump and will be the first points of contact. In these services, there is a temptation to only upgrade the one or two components which seized.
While this approach has been successful in reducing pump seizures, there are some limitations. Metal-to-metal contact points remain and thus there is still a possibility of seizure. If all of the wear parts are upgraded, the risk of seizure is essentially eliminated. Furthermore, the wear rings also add to the rotor stability and efficiency of these pumps. Upgrading the wear rings as well as the center and throttle bushings will make for a much better pump. Especially if you use the Boulden PERF-Seal™ design (patent-pending).
Vertically Suspended Pumps
Vespel® CR-6100 is a great material for vertically suspended pump shaft bearings in LPG, butane, natural gas liquids (NGL), and other flashing products. It can survive running dry at start up with limited wear. It doesn’t break like a carbon part. This application for Vespel® CR-6100 is so common that Boulden carries a huge inventory of standard stock sizes for the dimensions typically used for shaft bearings.
What some users miss is the opportunity to also upgrade the case rings of these pumps and reduce the clearance. This addition to the upgrade eliminates the other potential seizing points in the pump. Furthermore, reducing the clearance increase the pump efficiency and reduces the NPSHR–all of this making the pump easier to operate.
The only partial upgrade above which we do not recommend is trying to stabilize a rotor with a throat bushing. In our experience, this approach is marginally successful at best. The other partial upgrades have worked and there are situations where they are necessary. But, given the choice, why not do the job 100%?
The main point is to recognize that the maximum improvement in reliability, safety, and efficiency will be achieved if you upgrade all of the wear parts (Table 1) in your pump to Vespel® CR-6100.
Table 1: Components to upgrade to Vespel® CR-6100
|Overhung Pumps||Between Bearings Pumps||Vertically Suspended Pumps|
|Case Wear Rings||Case Wear Rings||Case Wear Rings|
|Throat Bushings||Throat Bushings||Throat Bushings|
|Inter-Stage Bushings||Line-shaft bearings|
|Center-Stage Bushings||Bowl bearings|
|Throttle Bushings||Bottom bushings|
If you have a pump operating at less than 500 F (260 C) where you want 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 in a wide range of sizes available for immediate delivery.
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.
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.
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)
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.
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).
In vertically suspended pumps, we can upgrade the same components as horizontal pumps (wear rings, throttle bushings, throat 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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
DuPont™ Vespel® CR-6100 is a composite material which is used for the stationary wear parts of your pump and can be used in nearly all process chemicals from cryogenic temperatures to 500 F (260 C).
Upgrading your pumps with Vespel® CR-6100 wear parts allows you to eliminate the metal-to-metal contact points in the pump and reduce the clearance at the wear parts. This simple change allows you to minimize the risk of pump seizure and helps to improve pump reliability and efficiency.
Today, we cover the details on using Vespel® CR-6100 to upgrade your between-bearings, axially-split pumps. The components we want to upgrade in these pumps are the case rings, center bushing, throttle bushing, and throat bushings.
Single and two-stage BB1 style pumps are often used in product transfer, water, or low NPSH applications. Upgrading the wear rings (and inter-stage bushing in two-stage designs) with Vespel® CR-6100 will help maintain rotor stability and improve efficiency. Reducing wear ring clearance can also help reduce the pump NPSHR
Multi-stage BB3 designs are used in several ideal applications for Vespel® CR-6100: boiler feed water, naphtha charge, amine stripping, and product pipeline and shipping applications. These pumps are designed with inherently flexible rotors which rely upon the Lomakin Effect for rotor stability. Upgrading these pumps with Vespel® CR-6100 and reducing the clearance can reduce vibration levels and make your pump more reliable.
These designs also experience significant efficiency gains when you reduce the clearance at the wear rings, center bushing, and throttle bushing. Most of the multi-stage designs will show at least 3-4% efficiency gain and several customers have reported efficiency gains in excess of 5%.
The first question to address with an axially split assembly is whether or not to make the components out of solid Vespel® CR-6100 or to use Vespel® CR-6100 as an insert into a metal holder (figure 1).
Consider that Vespel® CR-6100 has a coefficient of thermal expansion which is about 60% less than carbon steel in the radial plane. In a hot pump, the metal parts are going to thermally expand more than the Vespel® CR-6100 parts. We compensate for the thermal expansion difference by installing the Vespel® CR-6100 with a press fit into a metal holder. As the metal holder expands, part of the press fit is relieved, and the Vespel® CR-6100 “follows” the growth of the metal parts.
Therefore, if your pump operating temperature is > 140 F (60 C), the Vespel® CR-6100 needs to be installed as an insert into a metal holder to maintain the clearance up to pump operating temperature. If it is an ambient temperature application, you can install Vespel® CR-6100 as a solid component or as an insert, whichever is easier for you.
One advantage of using inserts in these pumps is that during a repair, you can often salvage the used metal parts, machine the bores and reuse the old parts as holders for the Vespel® CR-6100 inserts. This can save time and reduce the cost of upgrading the pump with Vespel® CR-6100.
Another feature unique to axially split pumps is that the center bushings and inter-stage rings might also be axially split (Figure 2).
When the parts are split, we apply the same rule concerning solid or insert parts based on operating temperature. If the pump is operating at ambient temperature, the parts can be manufactured from solid Vespel® CR-6100; if the pump is operating at elevated temperature, we need to install the Vespel® CR-6100 as an insert with a press fit.
The press fit for split parts is achieved by modifying the metal components such that they bolt together. The bolting force is sufficient to create the press fit of the Vespel® CR-6100 component.
If you need to fabricate split parts, please contact Boulden and we will send you specific instructions based on your application details.
Another unique characteristic of multi-stage axially split pumps is that the center and throttle bushings can be exposed to high differential pressures. For these components, Boulden has developed a patent-pending design called the PERF-Seal™ (also shown in Figure 2) which improves the performance and dramatically increases the differential pressure capability of composite materials used in these positions.
Boulden recommends the PERF-Seal™ design for all center and throttle bushings in multi-stage pumps. Contact us and we can either supply machined parts or provide drawings for you to manufacture the components in your shop for the upgrade.
In the next months, we will discuss radially-split between bearings pumps and vertically suspended pumps.
Until then, if you have an axially split 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 in stock in a wide range of sizes available for immediate delivery.
For details on installing Vespel® CR-6100 into nearly any centrifugal pump type, download the Boulden Installation Guide.
Chris Froome in Mondorf Les Bains, Luxembourg, ville-départ, Tour de France, Stage 4 on July 4th, 2017. Walking distance from Boulden’s European Office