June 2003

Engineering Case Histories

Case 15: The thermally bowed shaft

Just a slight rub can self-generate more heat

Sofronas, A., Consulting Engineer

Many cases of bowed shafts have been caused by inappropriate warm-up procedures on steam turbines and compressors. Internal fouling can also result in seal rubs that can cause thermal bows. All are noted by an increase in the rotor vibration levels. Experienced engineers who have addressed this problem before sometimes use cycling procedures to eliminate the bow. Making these tough decisions online can be an extremely cost-effective approach, and are not for the faint hearted. However, a wrong diagnosis on the cause can result in disastrous results. When a site has never experienced such vibration and decides to try the

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