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