Centrifugal Pump Casing Repair Onboard Vessels: A Comprehensive Guide

Centrifugal pumps are critical components on board vessels, responsible for various fluid-handling tasks such as cooling, ballasting, and transferring liquids. They are simple and reliable machines that operate on the principle of converting mechanical energy to kinetic energy and then to pressure energy.

However, like any other machinery, they are subject to wear and tear and may require maintenance and repair from time to time. One of the common problems that affect centrifugal pumps is the damage or erosion of the pump casing.

Example of centrifugal pump casing

The pump casing is the stationary part of the pump that encloses the impeller and directs the flow of the fluid. It also converts the kinetic energy of the fluid to pressure energy. The pump casing can be damaged by various factors, such as corrosion, cavitation, abrasion, erosion, fatigue, or impact. These factors can cause cracks, holes, dents, or thinning of the casing wall, which can reduce the efficiency and performance of the pump and lead to leakage, vibration, noise, or even failure.

To mitigate these risks, it’s essential for maritime professionals to understand the process of centrifugal pump casing repair and its feasibility onboard vessels. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore whether it is possible to conduct centrifugal pump casing repair onboard, the equipment and materials required, the skills needed from the crew, and the operational precautions to take after the repair.

Is Onboard Centrifugal Pump Casing Repair Feasible?

Repairing centrifugal pump casings onboard vessels is not only possible but often necessary to maintain the vessel’s operational efficiency and safety.

Repairing the pump casing is an important task that should be done as soon as possible to prevent further deterioration and ensure the safety and reliability of the pump. Repairing the pump casing onboard vessels can be challenging due to the limited space, resources, and time available. Therefore, it is essential to have a proper plan and procedure for carrying out this task effectively and efficiently.

However, it’s important to assess the extent of the damage before deciding whether a repair can be carried out at sea or if the pump should be taken to a shore-based facility for more extensive repairs.

Feasibility Factors:

  • Extent of Damage: Minor casing damage, such as small cracks or corrosion, can typically be repaired onboard. Extensive damage may require specialized equipment and expertise available ashore.

  • Availability of Equipment and Materials: Vessels need to be equipped with the necessary tools and materials to perform casing repairs effectively. Having a well-stocked spare parts inventory is crucial.

  • Crew Skills: The onboard crew should have the required knowledge and skills to perform casing repairs safely and effectively.

  • Operational Considerations: It’s essential to consider the vessel’s operational needs and downtime constraints when deciding whether to repair the casing onboard.

How to Repair a Centrifugal Pump Casing Onboard

Repairing a centrifugal pump casing onboard a vessel involves a series of steps and requires specific equipment and materials:

  • Safety Precautions: Before starting any repair work, ensure the pump is shut down, and the associated systems are depressurized to prevent accidents. Isolate the pump from the system by closing the suction and discharge valves and locking them with chains. Switch off and lock the electrical supply to the pump and attach a warning notice. Drain the pump by opening the drain valves and cracking open the flange joints carefully.

  • Pump removal: Remove the pump from its location by using a chain block or a crane and place it on a suitable workbench or platform. Remove any external fittings or accessories that may interfere with the repair work.

  • Pump dismantling: Dismantle the pump by following the manufacturer’s instructions or using a general procedure. Remove the impeller, shaft, bearings, seals, sleeves, rings, etc. from the casing and inspect them for any damage or wear. Clean them thoroughly and store them safely for reassembly.

    Example of centrifugal pump sectional view after dismantling

  • Inspection: Carefully inspect the casing to assess the damage’s extent and location. Common issues include cracks, corrosion, and erosion. Measure the thickness of the casing wall using a caliper or a thickness gauge, if available, and compare it with the original specifications or acceptable limits. Mark the areas that need repair with a marker or a chalk.
  • Cleaning: Thoroughly clean the damaged area to remove any contaminants, rust, or debris. Proper cleaning ensures better adhesion of repair materials.

  • Choose a suitable repair method for the pump casing depending on the type and extent of damage, availability of materials and equipment, and skill level of crew members. The most common repair methods are welding, brazing, soldering, epoxy resin filling, metal spraying, or chrome plating. Each method has its own advantages and disadvantages in terms of cost, durability, quality, ease of application, etc. Therefore, it is important to weigh these factors carefully before selecting a repair method.
  • Preparation: If welding or brazing is chosen as a repair method, preheat the casing to a suitable temperature to avoid thermal stress or distortion. If epoxy resin or other repair material application is chosen, prepare the casing surface for repair by roughening it with abrasive tools. This helps enhance the bond between the casing and the repair material.

Materials and Equipment in case of epoxy resin:

    • Epoxy Resin: Use a high-quality epoxy resin suitable for marine applications.
    • Fiberglass Cloth: Employ fiberglass cloth or mat for reinforcement.
    • Putty Knife/Roller: These tools help apply and smooth the repair materials.
    • Safety Gear: Crew should wear appropriate protective gear, including gloves and eye protection.

Application of Epoxy Resin: Mix the epoxy resin according to the manufacturer’s instructions and apply it to the damaged area. Place fiberglass cloth over the resin and apply more resin to saturate the cloth fully.

Curing: Ensure that there are no gaps or air bubbles in the repair material and that it covers the damaged areas completely and evenly. Allow the repair to cure for the recommended time. This may vary based on the resin used and environmental conditions. Monitor temperature and humidity levels.

Sanding and Finishing: After curing, sand the repaired area to achieve a smooth finish. This may require multiple passes with progressively finer sandpaper.

Painting: Apply an appropriate marine-grade paint to protect the repaired area from corrosion and improve aesthetics.

Crew Skills Required for Onboard Repair

Performing a centrifugal pump casing repair onboard requires a skilled crew with the following expertise:

  • Mechanical Knowledge: Crew members should understand the pump’s operation, its components, and the function of the casing.

  • Composite Repair Skills: Familiarity with composite repair techniques, including surface preparation, resin application, and curing processes, is crucial.

  • Safety Awareness: Crew members must prioritize safety, including following safety procedures, wearing protective gear, and handling chemicals responsibly.

  • Problem Solving: The ability to assess damage, determine the appropriate repair method, and troubleshoot issues during the repair process is essential.

Operational Precautions After Repair

After completing the centrifugal pump casing repair onboard, it’s crucial to take specific operational precautions to ensure the pump’s continued functionality and vessel safety:

  • Testing: Conduct a comprehensive test of the pump to ensure it operates as expected. Monitor performance, pressure, and temperature closely during testing.

  • Regular Inspection: Implement a regular inspection and maintenance schedule to monitor the repaired casing and identify any signs of wear or damage.

  • Documentation: Maintain detailed records of the repair, including the materials used, repair date, and crew members involved, for future reference.

  • Training: Train crew members on the importance of proper pump operation and maintenance to prevent future issues.

In conclusion, centrifugal pump casing repair onboard vessels is feasible and often necessary to ensure the vessel’s smooth operation and safety. By following the proper procedures, having the necessary equipment and materials, and employing a skilled crew, maritime professionals can effectively repair pump casings at sea. It’s essential to prioritize safety, adhere to manufacturer guidelines, and implement regular maintenance to extend the life of the repaired pump casing and avoid costly breakdowns at sea.

If you have any questions regarding above, please feel free to use our existing forum Seafarer’s World, Telegram Chief Engineer’s Log Chat or Instagram and will try to answer to all your queries. You can use the feedback button as well!

If you like my posts, please don’t forget to press Like and Share. You can also Subscribe to this blog and you will be informed every time when a new article is published.

Also you can buy me a coffee by donating to this website, so I will have the fuel I need to keep producing great content! Thank you!

Please feel free to leave a reply!