Upgrading Pumps With Composite Wear Components Part: 1

Part 1: Minimize the Risk of Pump Seizure

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.

Metal Parts Seize

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.

 

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Vertical LPG pump with metal shaft bushings seized, shaft broke, impellers and bowl assemblies destroyed.

Eliminate the Metal-to-Metal Contact Points in Your Pump

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.

Horizontal LPG pump ran dry with Vespel® CR-6100 case rings. No damage to impellers, case, shaft, or bearing housings. Photo: Vespel® CR-6100 wear ring as found during disassembly

Horizontal LPG pump ran dry with Vespel® CR-6100 case rings. No damage to impellers, case, shaft, or bearing housings. Photo: Vespel® CR-6100 wear ring as found during disassembly.

Conclusion

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.