GRAPHALLOY Bushings and Bearings

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Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Replacing leaded bronze in pumps with Graphalloy®

An engineer writes:

Asarcon 520 was a lead impregnated bronze used for sleeve bearing in horizontal split pumps. I have not seen it in use since my days at Worthington Pumps in the late 70’s. It was a material highly specified by the marine industry for on board ships, boiler feed pumps and fire pumps. As you can imagine, lead impregnated bearings were capable of running for short periods of times un-lubricated without the rotor disintegrating. The material was readily available in bar stock, however with the issues associated with lead contamination today, I do not believe it is available in the market any longer. To make sure, I would call the local bearing distributor or and bar stock suppliers and see if a similar material is available under some other name.

Years later, while I worked for Exxon as a Rotating equipment engineer we began using graphite/metal Graphalloy (graphalloy- sleeve bearing for pumps and Thorlon for the slower running centrifuges. We retrofitted some old packing pumps with mechanical seals that operated in hot oil services. These pumps, by design, depended on the packing for shaft support. In order to support the shaft and allow the mechanical seal to live, I installed steel encased Graphalloy (with spiral grooves to convey cooling pumpage) between the bearing housing and the old packing box. This eliminated the run out and allowed the seals to run true and consequently not leak. The Graphalloy material can be used in plain stock or encased in a steel sleeve to add strength, depending on need. In either case you must calculate the loads to assure that the bearing is appropriately designed, can support the shaft loads and you do not located your support at a node in the flexural curve.