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Compressor, combustion topics dominate GE F-frame roundtable

Posted on April 14, 2011 by Team CCJ


CTOTFs GE F-frame session featured a half day of user-only discussion focusing
on 7FA compressor and combustion issues. Rumbling engines, loose stator
vanes, dynamics issues, fuel-nozzle repairs, etc, all got air time.

A gremlin that rumbles

First item on the agenda was a request for assistance from an


owner/operator. The challenging issue is related to hot weather and low load
operation. The speaker called the condition combustion choke. The
phenomenon starts out as a low-frequency rumble at between 100 and 110-
120 MW. Vibration also is in evidence at the No. 2 bearing. Two ways to stop
the rumbling: increase load or take the unit out of service.

The gremlin inhabits more than one engine at the referenced peaker site. The
GTs have been tuned numerous times, but the gremmie, which goes into hiding
when a unit is returned to service, always reappears when the offending
conditions recur.

Some lean blowouts have been experienced, but not in the same can each
time. Another clue: Blowouts occurred when CO was creeping up and NOx
levels were particularly low. Riching up the fuel/air ratio helps, the group was
told.

A rigorous root cause analysis wasnt possible because data from the
combustion dynamics monitoring system (CDMS) was not going to PI at the
time. Installation of pressure transmittersparticularly at the ninth and
13th bleedsis being considered to collect information on blade passing
frequencies at the back end of the compressor.

A sympathetic colleague said some of his companys 7FA peakers also


suffered numerous blowouts in load-following service. Another reported a
rumbling condition in one of his machines and thought it might be thrust-
bearing instability. Someone in the back of the room asked, Might your gas-
valve servos be sticking? The speaker said all servos had been checked and
given a clean bill of health.

Perhaps the most practical solution was to install the capability to fine-tune
the fuel/air ratio. Operators could use the so-called trim station to tweak fuel
input when necessary. Two in attendance reported success with this solution.

How to compensate for hook-fit wear

Wear and tear on hook fits for Rows 14, 15, and 16 have many users evaluating
options for preventing inadvertent contact between stationary and rotating
airfoils. These include pinning and the OEMs so-called Bigfoot repair.
Most users are familiar with the popular pinning technique that gangs
together multiple vanes for rigidity. Two or three pins may be used depending
on conditions. Photo below shows two pins in R14 and R15 vanes; three in R16.
Users say pinning is effective and the least-cost solution. The vanes are
relatively inexpensive to remove, drill in a conventional machine shop to
accommodate the pins, and then reinstall.

The Bigfoot fix requires both field-machining of the damaged hook fits with a
boring bar and new airfoils having a thicker base to compensate for the
material removed. Compare the thickness of the hooks on vanes in Rows 14-16
with those in Rows 13 and 17 in the photo below.
User discussion revealed that vane segments now are available as an
alternative to individual vanes downstream of R4, thereby avoiding the need for
pinning and Bigfoot solutions. Recall that the first few rows of 7FA stator vanes
already are arranged in segments.

Elimination of shims used in vane rows was another topic. They can be
eliminated by making some of the vane bases slightly oversize and field-
grinding during installation to the dimensions required. Mention of load dams
for holding vane assemblies snugly in the hook fit closed out this portion of the
user exchange.

CDMS gets high marks from attendees

The discussion drifted to CDMS. One user expressed interest in pulling CDM
data into PI at his plant. By show of hands, most attendees said they were
doing that; some not. Only one was using the OEMs automatic tuning product.
If you go that route, he said, make sure the engine is tuned before engaging
the automatic feature. Another with auto tuning said it has protected his plant
from emissions excursions that would have required shutdowns. General
consensus was that CDM keeps GTs healthy and in compliance.

Are your units experiencing NOx creep?


A user said he looked over all the tuning and reliability events for his companys
gas turbines and concluded that the F-class units are not ageing gracefully.
Others in the group seconded the observation. Base-load NOx levels are
creeping up over time, the engineer said, and they are losing margin between
actual NOx emissions and the regulatory limit.

He also found that units firing unheated fuel are behaving worse than those
with heated fuel. Units burning unheated fuel and installed during the bubble
worked well for about the first half their current operating lifetimes, the user
continued, but have suffered NOx creep since.

Instrumentation checklist

A checklist of critical instruments for 7FAs with DLN 2.6 combustion systems
was provided by a central-office engineering manager participating in the
training of personnel for a new combined-cycle plant. The instrumentation
package is intended to assure reliable operation, avoid trips, accommodate
tuning and emissions compliance, and monitor performance. The list will be
posted at www.ctotf.comby the end of April.

The instrumentation topic drifted to humidity sensors used at the turbine inlet
and elsewhere in the plant. Someone said that the OEM was now in that
business although very little experience could be offered. An instrument with a
Scandinavian pedigree was the audience favorite.

Endnotes

* One dual-fuel plant with limited oil use reported it would conduct its first
combustion inspection at 16,000 hours, its first hot gas path at 32,000
hours, and its first major at 64,000 hours.

* Fuel-nozzle repairs produced a short but important exchange. One user


urged his colleagues to monitor such projects carefully on the shop floor.
Personnel changes can adversely impact job quality, he said, warning that
just because the last job was good, thats no guarantee that the next one will
be as well.
Consider eddy-current inspection of refurbished S3Bs prior to next use

Posted on June 20, 2016 by Team CCJ

Gas turbine owner/operators that do not send key personnel to user-group


meetings may be taking unnecessary financial and safety risks. There is,
perhaps, nowhere better to learn about issues you should be aware of. Consider
the recent liberation events associated with third-stage buckets (S3B) in 7FA
gas turbines. This was an agenda item of great interest to attendees at the
2016 conference of the 7F Users Group, May 9-13, at the Rosen Shingle Creek
Hotel in Orlando.

The group received an alert on S3B failures from a user at the 2015 meeting
and was reminded of it only a few weeks before this years conference by a post
on the 7F Forum describing another such failure. Yet another third-stage
liberation event was reported a week before the users would gather in Florida.
In sum, the editors identified six 7FAs that have experienced S3B failures, and
one 9FA.

The OEMs proactive response to the latest two incidents included a preliminary
explanatory message for posting on the 7F Forum prior to the meeting, a
formal presentation on the issue right after the keynote on GE Day (Thursday,
May 12), and a deep dive during the interactive hot-gas-path (HGP) breakout
Thursday afternoon, which included participation by about half of the user
attendees.

GEs experts said they believe the underlying cause of the failures is casting
defects that caused one blade in each of the affected machines to fracture. The
liberated airfoil segment then tore up other S3Bs (Fig 1), sending metal
fragments downstream as far as the heat-recovery steam generator (Fig 2). In
one instance, the trail of metal terminated at the first row of tubes in the HRSG,
with any remaining airborne shards entrained in the exhaust stream captured
by the field of finned tubes without damage to pressure parts (Fig 3).
1. Just the upper third of one third-
stage turbine bucket liberated and
caused all this damage 2. Pieces of turbine buckets liberated,
providing a pathway to the HRSG

3. The few remaining pieces of turbine buckets entrained in the gas-turbine


exhaust stream were stopped by the first row of finned tubes in the HRSG,
without damage to pressure parts

In the latest case, affected components have been sent by the OEM to a third-
party for analysis, to help determine the root cause. This could take until
yearend, or longer, depending on what investigators find. Believing casting
quality is likely the underlying issue, as a first step GE reviewed x-rays for
third-stage buckets made from three months before to three months after a
failed bucket was cast. Task takes one experienced person about 24 hours to
check x-rays for all 92 buckets in the third row. A positive result of this
investigation was that several units were shut down for inspection.
GE participants in the 7F meeting appeared confident that S3B failures of the
type experienced thus far were unlikely to occur after about 6000 hours of
service (for repaired buckets). They also viewed S3B fractures as a low risk for
operators, pointing to the companys experience in repairing and inspecting
more than 55,000 S3Bs over the years. The reliability of these airfoils was cited
at 99.2% through three HGP inspections.

The OEM is keeping an open mind regarding cause as the investigation


proceeds. Its plan is to follow up with the users in early summer with progress
report and to update owner/operators perhaps as frequently as monthly
thereafter.

Case histories

Key facts associated with each of the liberation events, as told to CCJ ONsite by
the owner/operators of the affected engines, are summarized below:

No. 1, 7FA.03, 2016

S3B failed 3600 hours following a major inspection (six months into a planned
four-year interval). Bucket row came from another of the companys units
following its refurbishment by the OEM in 2015 after 29,000 hours of service.
The crack migrated inward from the trailing edge about 1.5 in. before failure.
Note that S3B cracks typically are found between about 3 and 10 in. above the
base of the 18-in. airfoil. Unit maintenance is under an LTSA and the OEM
replaced the third stage with pre-owned buckets having about 2000 hours of
service and no repairs. Project took 20 days.

No. 2, 7FA.04, 2016

Failure happened after 800 hours of baseload operation following a major


inspection that included an AGP (advanced gas path) upgrade by the OEM with
new third-stage buckets. This was the only incident involving new buckets and
may be an infant-mortality issuedifferent from the other five failures
profiled here. They occurred on buckets that had been repaired at least once,
possibly pointing to the need for refinements to repair processes by all
participantsthird parties as well as the OEM.

No. 3, 7FA.03, 2015

Buckets repaired at 48,000 hours by the OEM, failure occurred in less than
3000 hours following a return to service. Damage to exhaust casing, flex seals,
and piping was experienced.
No. 4, 7FA.03, 2013

Rotor was replaced in the affected machine in 2003; the replacement rotor
came bladed with new second- and third-stage buckets. Those buckets were
removed for refurbishment by a third-party repair shop in 2009, after 48,000
hours of service. Following refurbishment, the set of buckets was warehoused
until installed in a different unit in 2013. The upper one-third of one bucket
liberated during a vibration event after operating for less than about 30 hours.

No. 5, 7FA.03, 2013

Buckets repaired at 48,000 hours by the OEM, failure occurred in less than
3000 hours following a return to service. Damage to exhaust casing, flex seals,
and piping was experienced.

No. 6, 7FA.03, 2013

Buckets repaired at 48,000 hours by the OEM, failure occurred in less than
3000 hours following a return to service. Damage to exhaust casing, flex seals,
and piping was experienced.

Rejuvenation

One independent metallurgist/repair expert told the editors he agreed with the
OEMs assessment that a casting flaw is the likely underlying cause of the
failures on repaired buckets. He said a scratchsuch as that incurred during
the removal, handling, or reinstallation of bucketsor casting flaw creates a
stress riser and a starting point for the failure to proceed. HIP or other heat
treatments, designed to heal certain fully internal flaws can exacerbate some
defects, in effect triggering the flaw.

High-cycle fatigue is generally thought to be the mechanism causing rapid


propagation of any crack that may develop shortly after a return to service. The
incident thumbnails above show all failures occurred, in round numbers, within
about six months and in less than 3500 operating hours following restart after
repair.

A second metallurgist/repair expert cautioned against jumping to conclusions as


to failure causes without proper metallurgical analyses of the failed buckets,
including the identification of any flaws that may have contributed to the
problem. Until this is done, he said, it really is difficult to properly identify the
role that any one factor, such as HIP, might have had on the failure.
The expert offered two possible scenarios of how damage might occur as a
result of the repair process. The first is where the casting contains one or more
near-surface defectssuch as those caused by shrinkage during the casting
process. In this case, there would be a thin membrane of material between the
flaw and the surface that can be effectively burst by the pressure of the HIP
gas.

The second is where there are tight oxide-filled cracks at the surface. The oxide
prevents detection by the fluorescent penetrant used to verify the buckets are
crack-free. The exposure to HIP, or vacuum heat treatment, can reduce oxides
and allow detection of defects by penetrant.

In both scenarios, the flaws already exist and are merely exposed to NDE by
the HIP process.

Inspection

For an understanding of inspection processes best suited to warn of possible


impending issues in turbine blades after repair or in service, CCJ turned
to Advanced Turbine Support LLC. In a telephone interview with Mike
Hoogsteden, director of field services, and inspection experts Dustin Irlbeck and
Brett Fuller, heres what the editors learned:

Ultrasound, radiographic, eddy current, and penetrant inspection techniques are


the alternatives. The OEM relies on fluorescent penetrant inspection (FPI) in its
shop repair process and recommends it for field checks. FPI has the benefits of
being inexpensive and unlikely to produce a false indication. However, it will not
recognize a tight crack or lurking problems just below the surface of the airfoil.

Radiography is a full-volume inspection method, used primarily in the shop to


check bucket internals. It relies on a density difference to identify a fault and a
crack might not be revealed. Plus, a radiographic inspection is extremely time-
consuming, taking perhaps four or five times as long as eddy current (EC).

Advanced Turbine Support suggests EC for 7FA S3B inspections. It is faster than
both ultrasound and radiography and can see surface cracks as well as
anomalies near the surface of the airfoil. The company has more than 18
months of successful experience inspecting last-row turbine blades in 501F and
501G machines. The protocol developed for this work has been used recently to
inspect last-row turbine buckets in 7FAs.
Focused discussion key to problem-solving

The 7F Gas Turbine Users Group consistently conducts a superior annual


conference. Three things stand out when reviewing meeting notes:

o User involvement. The 7F is the largest frame user group, with more
than 600 active members. Attendance at the annual conference over 200
user delegatesis double that of the next largest frame meeting.

o Practical content. The three day program has relatively few presentations
by non-users except for those conducted by the OEM (original equipment
manufacturer) on General Electric Day. It focuses on case histories and
group discussion of specific issues that concern the members.

o Comprehensive exhibition. The first evening of each 7F conference is


reserved for a four-hour vendor fair which includes reception and dinner on
the expo floor. Around 50 exhibitors participate annually. This year there
were 48, showcasing products and services ranging from inlet filters to
borescopes to compressor washing systems to lube-oil treatment and
services.

The 2005 meeting was held in Peachtree City, Ga, close to GE Energys Atlanta
headquarters, allowing maximum interaction with key OEM personnel. More
than 100 of the manufacturers specialists were available on the second day to
make presentations, conduct interactive sessions, and answer questions across
a wide range of subjects.

In addition to the annual conference, the groups website, http://GE7FA.users-


groups.com, has been instrumental to the success of the organization. The
value of the website is demonstrated by a doubling of the number of user
delegates to the annual conference over the last few years.

The site enables members to communicate 24/7. Much of the information


shared forms the basis for the annual conference program. The groups steering
committee encourages other groups to contact the website operator at
newgrouprequests@users-groups.com if they have interest in increasing
communication among members to resolve O&M and other issues quickly and
efficiently.

Day One, for users only, concentrated on the compressor, turbine, combustion
system, and auxiliaries. There were more than a dozen presentations by users
and three group discussionsso-called roundtables on the
compressor/turbine, combustion issues, and auxiliaries. A special presentation
by a 9F user was rolled into the days activities (see sidebar).

GE Day began with a review of the latest technical information letters (TILs)
issued to 7F users worldwide, followed by hour-long presentations on the
turbine, compressor, and combustion system, and subsequent Q&A sessions.

Mark your calendar


7F Gas Turbine Users Group 2006 Conference
Emory Conference Center Hotel
Atlanta
May 8-11
Delegates and exhibitors contact:
Gail Silvers
Certified Meeting Planner
Voice: 678-784-3059s
E-mail: gail@vision-makers.com
Steering Committee, 2005-2006
Bob Holm, OxyChem
Scott Trantham, Progress Energy
Carine Bullock, FPL Energy
Art Hamilton, Calpine Corp
Peter So, Calpine Corp
Ed Fuselier, Direct Energy
Paul White, Dominion Energy
Joel Holt, Entegra Power Group
Marshall McDuffie, The Southern Company
Don Barnett, CPS Energy
Miles Valentine, Tampa Electric Co
Steven Bates, Suez Energy NA

Reliability and operational flexibility were among the key discussion topics,
including updates on remote services and trip-reduction initiatives. Bear in
mind that the global installed fleet of more than 540 7Fs is experiencing
increased cyclic operation, which places greater emphasis on operating
flexibility. Over 52,000 starts were recorded in the last year and the fleet added
1.8 million hours of operation.

Breakout sessions on the steam turbine, dual-fuel capabilities, and accessories


and controls highlighted the afternoon. A reception and product fair concluded
the day. The product fair included a first-hand look at the companys new
longer-life hot-gaspath (HGP) components, advanced repair capabilities, and
new maintenance services, which featured a remote tuning system
demonstration.

The final day, also for users only, concentrated on operational issues with
dual-fuel systems, generators, and balance-of-plant (BOP) systems and
equipment. It included five presentations by users and three more roundtables.

What follows is a collection of 13 case histories gleaned from presentations by


users and roundtables on the first and third days of the meeting. Notes from
presentations and discussion during GE Day conclude the report. The O&M
experience presented here is evidence of the significant value associated with
attending the 7F conference on a regular basis. Important details concerning
the 2006 meeting are presented in the sidebar on this page.

Compressor/turbine case histories

1. Compressor tip failure

Compressor section failure was caused by tight clearances and compressor


casing distortion on a unit that had 1900 fired hours and 350 fired starts.

Background facts:

o Bore scope inspections conducted on the compressors of three sister units


showed all had tight clearances. Two units had experienced Row 0 (R0) tip
liberation (1.5 in. 0.5 in.), the third an R0casing rub between the 10 and
2 oclock positions.

o R0 tip grinding and blending removed 0.010 in. to increase the clearance.

o Next bore scope inspection showed tip liberation had occurred again in one
unit on an R0 blade.

o Laboratory examination using a scanning electron microscope found a


crack on the convex side of the blade. Causes were identified as grinding
heat and high-cycle fatigue. Investigators noted that the second cause
might have been missed when the first blade repair work was conducted.
Metallurgist reported that many blade tips were off spec with regard to
hardness and surface finish.

o Hardness testing showed softening of the blade-tip material consistent with


C450 material exposed to temperatures of less than 1200F. Hardness levels
were brought back into spec by removing 0.020 in. of material.
o Lessons learned:

o Impact of compressor blade-tip rubs on the material properties of C450 is


significant. Blade-tip hardness testing is critical following a tip-rub event.

o Red dye penetrant is inadequate for nondestructive examination (NDE),


fluorescent dye is required.

o Blade-tip surface finish of RMS 64 is required after tip grinding.

2. Compressor failure, latter stages

Elongation of compressor discharge casing (CDC) on the Model 7221 machine


causes tight clearances in the back end of the compressor. Compressor failure
resulted in this case.

Background facts:

o Failure occurred with 56,562 fired hours on the unit. High vibration initiated
the trip. Three R13 and all R14 through R17 blades were destroyed.

o Recent history: R0 and R1 blade tips were ground in 2003 because blade
tip-to-casing clearances were too tight. IGV (inlet guide vane) shroud could
not be reinstalled because of clearance challenges.

o Accident investigators observed the following: (1) R13 and R15 blades
exhibited the characteristics of high-cycle fatigue, (2) rotor was found
sitting too far aft in the casing, (3) CDC also was too far aftby 0.125 in.
because of metal creep, (4) tight vane-torotor blade clearances caused by
CDC elongation contributed to R14 failure.

o Root cause analysis (RCA) confirmed that the failure was caused by
reduced axial clearances and that power augmentation placed additional
stress on the unit. Vane rock permitted contact between stator and rotor
blades.

o Lessons learned:

o The CDCs on early-model machines are made of carbon steel, which is


prone to creep. Later-model units have alloy steel CDCs, which reportedly
have not exhibited creep. Long-term solution is to replace the carbon steel
CDC with one of alloy steel.
o It is important to have the results of your RCA prior to machine
reassembly. Dig into the findings, asking the investigators lots of questions,
making sure to question answers that leave any doubt in your mind.

o Never assume that the repair work being done is routine.

3. R14 compressor outage

Warranty outage for R14 compressor tip rub and tip loss on a Model 7241 gas
turbine (GT) in simple-cycle service revealed additional compressor problems.

Outage summary:

o Machine had relatively few operating hours and under 50 fired starts.
Investigators found heavy rubs in the top half of the compressor casing.

o Tips were first ground on the R14 blades and then 0.020 in. was removed
from the R0, R1, and R2 blades when engineers decided clearances were
too tight at those locations.

o Owners policy to remove rubbed material from the inside of the case was
proved wellfounded: Cracks in the casing were identified at the ninth stage
after tip material was removed.

o On reassembly, R17 blades were considered too tight in the stator and a
0.040 in. shim was removed; EGVs (exit guide vanes) were too loose and a
0.120 in. shim was installed; final inspection before closing the case
identified one R14 blade that required blending.

4. Compressor clearances

CDC creep on Model 7221 machines will close up the A Set dimension, which
is conducive to contact between rotating and stationary blades (refer to Case
History No. 2).

Outage summary:

o Causal analysis was conducted on a 7FA GT with inlet fogging following


contact between R2 rotating and stationary blades. Investigators found
that 13 of the 32 R2 rotating blades had touched the stationary blades.

o Compressor RA measurements (distance between R17 blade tips and the


CDC) had been taken regularly to see if the CDC was showing signs of
creep. The compressor X clearance also was evaluated. Note that creep
will cause the CDC movement and contact between stationary and rotating
blades if the original A Set dimension is maintained.

o Stationary blades were cropped to open up the clearance between the fixed
and rotating blades.

Combustion system

5. HRSG stack noise

After analysis of acoustic noise and combustion-dynamics tuning, solution was


to install silencer panels in the HRSG exhaust stacks.

Project summary:

o Facility, located in a harbor area, received noise complaints from residents


in private homes and apartment buildings located on surrounding hillsides
above the stack elevation. Technicians measured 98 dBA at 580 Hz and 73
dBA at 1116 Hz 0.62 miles from the plant at loads above 130 MW.

o Unit had experienced problems associated with high combustion dynamics,


but measurements were taken with combustion dynamics at less than 1.5
psi peak to peak. System was retuned, but noise levels did not go down.

o User installed a specially designed stack silencer and the noise dropped by
23 dB.

9F users review fleet operating statistics, major issues


The 9F users, representing the 50-Hz sister to the 7F, also meet at the 7F Gas
Turbine Users Group annual conference because of machine similarities. The 9F
fleet comprises 116 units with a total of 3.2 million fired hours. Breakdown is
three 212-MW 9Fs totaling 200,000 fired hours; 39 226-MW 9FAs, 2 million
hours; and 74 256-MW 9FA+e units, 900,000 hours.
Turbine-section issues included the following:

o Cooling hole cracking on 9FA first-stage buckets.

o Platform distress on the 9FA+e first-stage buckets.

o Bucket tip deflection on the 9FA second stage.

o Inner sidewall oxidation/erosion on the 9FA+e first-stage nozzle.


Note that users have not reported any failures or forced outages to date
because of the bulleted issues above, just reductions in the lives of these parts.
During this portion of the meeting, passing mention also was made of a TIL
which addresses inspection of turbine wheels for cracking using eddy current
testing. Discussion on GE Day included a report on advanced first-stage buckets
now being tested on a 9FA in base-load operation. Test buckets have been in
service for more than a year and a half with no issues reported. Advantage of
the new design is better cooling without using more air from the compressor.
Combustion-system issues noted: dynamics following a combustor inspection
(CI), tuning difficulties, and high dynamics when burning unheated gas.
Improved flow testing procedures within GE Energy reportedly is facilitating
tuning. Dual-fuel users reported many problems. Some solutions are offered in
Improve GT operating flexibility, reliability with fuel-system mods in the 2006
OUTAGE HANDBOOK supplement included with this issue, p OH-22.
Two final notes: Extended-life hardware now is in field trials and users report
the capability to turn down to 60% of the full-load rating.
Compressor section issues reported were wheel cracking beyond the 17th
stage, rotor throughbolts coming loose, and cracking of the compressor stator
around the root. Failures reported in 2004-2005 included two R0 incidents
caused by corrosion/high-cycle fatigue and one because of an R1 tip rub.
Other problems noted include failure of a stainless steel inlet duct liner
because of poor welding that required complete replacement of the liner and
tearing of the exhaust-duct skin.
On the solutions side, one user reported installation of a GT exhaust debris
monitoring system (EDM), which measures particulate matter in the exhaust
stream, to identify material loss in the turbine section; another installed an
optical pyrometer to measure first- and second- stage blade temperatures while
the unit is in operation; still another installed exhaust spread analyzers to track
step changes in temperatures. Of course, the value in attending the 7F meeting
is to participate in such discussion, do appropriate networking, and have an
opportunity to ask questions that would enable decision- making at your plant.
Case history: Check it again
Most experienced plant managers will tell you that if you only checked
something once, you really havent checked it. Consider the following
unfortunate experience:
A borescope inspection revealed problems with a 9F compressor rotor that
required removal of the forward compressor casing. Problem was identified in
stage 2. Most expedient solution was to install a complete spare turbine rotor.
Upon restart, the unit tripped on high vibration. An R0 blade failure had
destroyed the compressor. Root cause of the failure was ingestion of a 1-ft-
square rubber lifting pad that had been left in the compressor inlet. Compressor
casing and compressor discharge casing had to be scrapped.
6. Early flameouts on shutdown

Group discussion concluded that early flameout during fired shutdown may be
caused by loss of the flame-scanner signal.

Facts presented to the group by a user:

o Model 7231 7FA+e DLN 2.6 equipped for dual-fuel firing and burning
unheated natural gas experienced early flameouts during fired shutdowns.
Trips were at 50% speed, but they should not have occurred until the
normal fuel trip at 20% speed.

o Trip occurs when any one scanner senses a loss of flame for 5 seconds.

o Data collection too slow to adequately evaluate the issue; better data
resolution is required. User built a log file into the Mark V control system to
help track the issue. However, operators must shut down the Mark V log
file after shutdown, or database will be overloaded.

o Flames canners , wiring , and related Mark V cards were replaced, but the
problem persists. If any subscribers to the COMBINED CYCLE Journal have
experienced this problem and have recommendations for the challenged
user, please write Editor Bob Schwieger at bob@psimedia.info and your
response will be forwarded.

7. Combustion dynamics

Group discussion concluded that combustion dynamics tuning is a developing


field. Observations by participants in the discussion included these:

o Combustion instabilities in GTs are not quantitative. Rather they are


corrected by a trial-anderror process that involves adjusting fuel
temperature, fuel splits, and other variables.

o Screech modes (high-frequency noise) are the most damaging combustion-


dynamics issue. Two forms of screech: radial and azimuth.

Auxiliaries

8. Lube-oil pump mods

User reviewed problems associated with lube-oil-pump upper bearing failures


and conversion of main lubeoil pumps to forced-feed lubrication.
Steps in practical problem solving:

o Model 7231 GT was equipped with a Mitten lube-oil skid and the Buffalo
pump mod suggested by a TIL had been completed.

o User was concerned that despite following TIL recommendations, the plant
would still have to pull the lube-oil pumps at 16,000 hours for re-
lubrication.

o Pumps were pulled and grease r emo v e d f r om t h e b e a r i n g s .


Next, plant personnel tapped into the line supplying cool and filtered lube
oil to the turbine and generator bearings and ran a small line back to the
pumps bearings. This line includes a check valve, 0.125 in. orifice, and
rotary flow sight glass to supply each pump.

o The only issue with the installation was that pump bearings required pre-
lubrication prior to each pump start. Operating procedure was changed to
start the dc lube-oil pump first to lubricate the main-lube-oil pump
bearings prior to main-pump start. No problems have been observed since
the mod was completed in November 2004.

9. Eliminating varnish in lube-oil systems

Reviewed problems with lube-oil system contaminationspecifically varnishing


and the steps required for system clean-up.

Project steps/results:

o Servos began to stick about 2.5 years after first commercial operation.
Problem was identified when unit load could not be reduced because of
hung-up servos. Oil analysis did not indicate any issues.

o Kept unit in service until a shutdown could be scheduled. Unit tripped


during shutdown on a gas-valve position mismatch.

o Investigation revealed that the problem was caused by excessive varnish in


the control oil system. Servos for the gas control valve and IGVs were
sticking and hydraulic-oil filters were plugged.

o Solutions: User decided to sweeten the hydraulic oil by removing 21% of


the oil-tank volume and refilling with new oil. In addition, an electrostatic
(ESP) oil cleaner was added to the system and weekly oil-sample analysis
using both colorimetric and gravimetric tests was initiated to track varnish
level. A total of four ESPs were installed.
o Next system inspection revealed very little varnish. Insulation and heat
tracing (set at 130F) was added to the hydraulic oil lines at the gas control
valves to prevent varnish fallout, which occurs in low-temperature areas of
the piping system.

o Two vendors supplied clean-up systems for the test: ISOPur Fluid
Technologies Inc, Rocky Hill, Ct, and UAS-Kleentek, Cincinnati. Many users
have purchased ESPbased cleaning systems and are finding them effective.

o Some users suspect that the operation of the hydraulic oil system to
provide lift oil when the unit is shut down is causing a phenomenon called
micro dieseling, which occurs when the oil is pressurized to 3000 psig and
the air bubbles entrained in the oil collapse creating a high temperature
that results in the formation of varnish. The problem has occurred in both
baseload and peaker plants but is more prevalent in the latter.

More background on this subject is offered in two articles contained in the 2006
OUTAGE HANDBOOK supplement in this issue: The lowdown on the sticky
subject of lubricant varnish, p OH-67, and Maintaining servos to ensure top
GT performance, p OH-63.

10. Gas valve reliability

Group discussion reviewed sticking/ binding problems that lube-oilsystem


varnishing has caused in the operation of gas control valves. Specific problems
were identified with floating seals and shaft galling.

o Users reported 12 unit trips in the last year that were caused by out-of-
position gas control valves. Failure modes: actuator shaft binding, nine;
servo failures, two; varnish, one. Issues have been reported with PM1,
PM2, PM3, and quaternary valves, but not with the speed ratio valve.

o Shaft galling was mentioned as the cause of actuator shaft binding,


produced by relative motion, side loading, guide-plate tolerances, oil
quality, valve movement (hunting), and/or floating seal design.

o Fix for problem-causing sharp edges on the inner faces of floating seals is
chamfering.

o Generous supply of spare parts was recommended to prevent forced


outages.

Generators
11. Findings on two major inspections

Loose blocking, wedges, and hard ware, and bearing and hydrogen seal
problems, were found during major inspection outages on two generators at a 2
1 combined-cycle plant operating approximately 6000 hours annually.

o During the major last fall on GT 1 (84 trips, 850 equivalent starts, 24,000
hours), the generator rotor was pulled and the following observations
made: 52 loose end windings, 26 loose body wedges, one missing support
block, loose hardware, broken ties (most of the end windings had to be
retied). All looseness was found at the collector end of the generator.
Repairs required a partial stator re-wedge. Outage to do the HGP
inspection and pull the generator rotor was planned for 19 days. A total of
two dozen people worked two 12-hr shifts; outage was delayed by four
days because the vendor did not have all the tooling required.

o Same inspection was conducted on the generator for GT 2 early this year.
Interestingly, this generator was of a later design than the one serving GT
1 despite being built only three weeks later. It was in much better
condition: No loose hardware was found, stator wedges were tight.

o Discussion following the presentation of this case history included the


following comments: (1) One user reported opening six generators and
finding some loose ties and wedges in each of them. (2) Several users
reported issues with coupling-bolt removal tooling supplied by the same
vendor. One attendee suggested that facilities having problems obtain the
users video from the supplier to ensure proper use of the tool.

12. Hydrogen seal damage

Hydrogen seal damage required an extended forced outage to make repairs.

o High temperature of hydrogen seals and low gas purity dictated an


inspection shutdown for a unit that had accumulated only 6400 hours of
operating time. Deep grooves (0.438 in. wide, 0.109 in. deep) were found
in the rotor shaft-seal area; babbitt was melted on seal surfaces and
varnish was visible on the seals. Rotor was removed and sent to a service
center for repair.

o An RCA identified foreign material in oil as the cause of the damage;


however, the user was not convinced of this. No other problems with the
generator were identified. Fix included increasing the seal clearance from 4
to 7 mils. Repairs took 41 days.
o User later experienced a failure of the oil seal on its second unit (73 starts,
8300 hours) and found 900 gallons of oil in the belly of the generator,
which occurred after unit shutdown. Inspection revealed seal damage
similar to that found on the first machine, but no shaft scoring. Seals were
replaced and clearances increased to 7 mils. Repairs were completed in 10
days.

Balance of plant

13. Failure of 345-kV breaker

Cycling of high-voltage unit breakers suggests more frequent inspections and


maintenance to prevent forced outages.

A 345-kV breaker arced and failed; loud noise. Breaker was removed and
shipped to the OEM but RCA not complete at the time of the meeting. User has
implemented a preventive maintenance program to test every 100 cycles. One
thought regarding the failure is that significant cycling requires use of the
breaker more than designers intended. User is concerned about the impact of
the failure on the steam turbine/generator.

A couple of final notes on compressor section issues from a group discussion


on the last day of the meeting:

o Six-point compressor clearance checks are recommended by several users


to ensure that future/required clearance changes can be identified.

o Tiny dent/ding indications on R0 blades can result in rapid failures.

General Electric Day

GE Day began with a review of unit operating statistics and implementation of


suggestions made by users at the 2004 conference. Latter includes more rapid
distribution of TILsto users within 48 hours of releaseand improvements in
web conferencing.

The company reported that the average 7FA operates 3500 hours annually.
During 2003, 7FAs averaged 38 hours/start; during 2004, 30. Duty breakdown
is as follows: peaking, 44%; cycling, 24%; mid range, 13%; base load, 19%.
Fleet composition in numbers of units: 7FA+e, 491; 7FA+, 30; 7FA, 44; 7F, 14;
7FB, 6.
Key recommendations of the TIL updates published since the 2004 meeting that
were reviewed by GE personnel:

o Test lube oil monthly for viscosity, composition, and contamination.

o For dual-fuel units, shut down on gas whenever possible after running on
fuel oil. Exercise regularly valves in the false-start drain system.

o Arrange coalescing filters and the natural gas heater in a manner that
prevents liquids from entering the combustion system both during normal
operation and on startup.

o Unit trips while peak firing now count as 10 starts.

o Hours on turning gear no longer must be recorded.

o GT should be placed on turning gear for one hour prior to restart following
a trip.

R0 update:

o R0 blades with the P-cut modification are 10 times less likely to have
leading edge wear than blades without the mod.

o Many users refrained from doing online water washes out of fear for R0
leading- edge erosion. However, units with the P-cut mod can conduct daily
30-min online water washes without concern.

o Since a TIL was released, the compressors have been inspected in 174
units. Fourteen have required blending, remainder had no leading-edge
root issues.

o Compressor rub risk is higher for units that hold at full speed/no load
(FSNL) when the IGV angle is low than when the angle is high

o There have been no R17 stator issues in the fleet since the TIL to modify
the control logic was implemented.

Combustion update. The 585 units in the 7F fleet have accumulated more
than 8.2 million operating hours (number at the time of the meeting) and more
than 228,000 starts. OEM goals include improving operational flexibility,
increasing part-load heat rate, boosting baseload capability on a cold day, and
increasing fuel flexibility/closed-loop dynamics control.
Accessories. IGV actuator shaft seals may leak on certain 7F units shipped
after 1999. Mechanical causes may be related to assembly, alignment, or
vibration. Environmental causes may be a result of oil temperature, condition,
or external contamination; system causes a result of transient fluid conditions,
servo-valve controls constants being incorrectly set (resulting in valve hunting),
hydraulic accumulators not being effective, etc.

At the time of the annual meeting, 185 units in the fleet equipped with one
manufacturers turning gear had suffered nine pinion-gear failures. GE currently
is testing a soft-start unit and expects to release a TIL shortly.

Varnishing. About 15% of the units in the fleet have reported varnish- related
issuesprimarily with the IGVs and gas valves.

Ideas:

o A cooling-sleeve mod has been effective in reducing coking of the distillate-


oil check valves. System uses a low-volume fan to blow air into the sleeve
that is installed around the check valve.

o Nitrogen purge system has been effective in allowing users to avoid weekly
switches to oil.

o A fuel-oil recirc system has been effective in keeping the oil system
available. The fuel oil recirc system requires an Mark VI control system to
handle the additional I/O. The Mark VI also must control the fuel
forwarding pumps. CCJ

F USERS GROUP 2010


Perhaps the best 7F meeting ever

Thats what many of the more than 180 owner/operators attending the 2010 7F Users Group
Conference and Vendor Fair told Chairman Richard Clark of SCE Energy and Vice Chair Sam
Graham of Tenaska Inc as the five-day meeting drew to a close last May. It was quite a
compliment given the rich history of the group, which celebrates its 20th anniversary in 2011.

Graham, the maintenance manager at the 3 x 1 Tenaska Virginia Generating Station (TVGS), took
the reins from Clark, operations manager for Mountainview Generating Stations two 2 x 1
combined cycles, at the end of the conference and will chair the group through the upcoming
meeting. Ben Meissner of Progress Energy is the vice chair. Other members of the 2010-2011
steering commit[tee are identified in Sidebar 1.

Dr Robert Mayfield, who serves on the steering committee, told the editors that one of the
reasons for the very positive unsolicited comments was a change in conference format to allow
for a more robust open forum between the users and GE engineers. The owner/operators had
more than a day and a half of face time with the OEMs experts and thoroughly covered such
timely gas-turbine topics as:

End-of-life recommendations.

Combustion and hot-gas-path (HGP) inspections.

Enhanced-compressor updates.

Outage lessons learned.

Best practices and safety.

Control-system enhancements.

In addition, there was a session on the users top-10 GE issues, another on the capabilities of GE
Energy Services repair shops, and a half-day D-11/A-10 steam-turbine workshop. Finally, the
OEMs team demonstrated, via its so-called Knowledge Caf, the following new tools for
customers: self-help portal, outage optimizer, on-site support, parts edge, and power smarts.

Mayfield assures that the 2011 meeting will exceed expectations once again. The Houston
location gives users the opportunity for a first-hand look at GEs repair facilities; tours will be
conducted on Monday, May 9. Highlights of the upcoming conference are presented in the box,
under the groups logo. For more detail and program updates as changes occur, plus information
on how to register, visit www.7Fusers.org.
The summary agenda may be a helpful addition to your request for permission to attend the May
meeting. It clearly shows this conference is a non-stop learning experience that starts daily at 7
am with informal discussions over breakfast, migrates to in-depth technical sessions from 8 to
nearly 6 pm with only an hour break for a collaborative lunch among colleagues, and concludes
with a vendor fair from 6 to 9:30 pm (different companies participate each day).

Do the math: This translates to 14.5 hours a day, or more classroom time in one week than you
would get in one semester for a three-credit college course. Think of the 7F meeting as a
compressed high-level education on one of the worlds most sophisticated pieces of rotating
machinery for less than $2000including conference registration, hotel accommodations, and air
fare. (Food is not a cost factor: Sheila Vashi and her colleagues from Marietta (Ga)-based Vision-
Makers will make sure youre well fed.)

The answer to the Whats in it for the company? question that youll probably get from
management: The best practices and lessons learned from the many user presentations, and the
knowledge gained on technological advances from the vendors, are sure to pay a minimum 10-
fold return on the tuition investment over the next year alone (Sidebars 3 and 4).

User presentations, discussion

First topic on the agenda of the closed user sessions at 7F meetings is the compressor. It usually
generates more interest than the combustion, turbine, generator, and auxiliaries segments of the
program because the open discussion encompasses the air inlet house as well as the compressor
and its issues.
The 2010 compressor session ran the
entire morning of Day Two and featured several of the more than one dozen user presentations
made in Atlanta. The session kicked-off with a presentation on tip-crack experience at two plants,
one a five-unit peaking facility and the other a 2 x 1 combined cycle.

Tip cracking

Recall that tip cracking of R0 and R1 compressor blades is caused by rubs and is an
acknowledged fleet-wide problem; consult Technical Information Letter (TIL) 1509, first issued in
May 2005. The OEM identified the following among the possible causes of rubs: over speed, fast
starts, open doors, foundation distress, and wet operation.

The speaker had long-term knowledge of the cracking issue. The


peaking plant went commercial in 2001 and the combined cycle in 2002 and both have suffered
chronic R1 rubs and have experienced cracking and tip loss. Important takeaways from this
presentation: Hard rubs are conducive to tip liberations over time and the guidance offered in
TIL-1509 may not be sufficiently rigorous to assure the level of equipment protection most
owner/operators desire. Further, poor blending and tip surface finish can create sites from which
cracks can propagate.

Peaker experience. One 7FA suffered the loss of a corner at the tip of an R1 blade within a year of
COD. A fluorescent penetrant inspection (FPI) was conducted to verify blade integrity after every
eight starts until repairs could be made. At the next outage, the R0 and R1 blades were tip-
ground and the damaged blade blended.
Tip cracking occurred on one R1 blade in 2003 and on another R1 blade in 2004. After the crack

was found in 2004, the R1 blades were roof-topped to remove any


microcracking that may have started from burrs (cracks start on the outer edges of the blade
tip).

The roof-topping process involves grinding off the square edges at the top of each rotating blade
from the leading edge to the trailing edge. The grinding angle is arbitrary; goal is to remove
about 20 mils of material. There is no impact on blade clearances.

For the next several years, borescope inspections and TIL-1509 inspections were conducted
annually. No further tip cracking was reported during this period. But damage to S0 and S1 stator
vanes on one unit was found during the fall 2008 inspection. A 30-day outage was planned for
the following spring to replace the S0 airfoils. By then, the affected engine had accumulated just
over 3200 fired hours of operation and nearly 450 starts (an average of about 60 starts per
year).

During the outage, tip loss was found on two R1 blades, along with
collateral damage (Fig 1). For the blade at the left, the crack initiated from one of the blend
marks on the convex side of the airfoil tip in the roof-top area, 2 in. from the leading edge. The
failure was attributed to poor roof-top repair.

The rotor was not removed to replace the damaged stator vanes. A borescope identified the
affected lower-half vanes and the OEMs stator removal tool was used to remove the necessary
vane segments. The speaker said the tool was cumbersome to maneuver and destructive to the
segments; however, vanes were not damaged.

S0 and S1 vanes were replaced using the manufacturers NUV (non-uniform vane) stator solution
to limit the frequency response of R1 blades. One lower-half S2 segment and several upper-half
S2 segments were replaced as well.
Additional work included pinning of shims, opening of R0 and R1
clearances, blending of all damaged rotating blades, and polishing of R0 and R1 blade tips to a
more demanding specification than recommended by the OEM. A third-party contractor verified
proper tip grinding using the latest UT (ultrasonic test) tools.

The combined cycle gas turbines suffered heavy rubs within six months of its COD as was the
case at the peaker station. But as the speaker said at the outset, hard rubs are conducive to tip
liberations over time. In this case, it took six years, nearly 29,000 fired hours and more than
1100 starts for a 3 x 3 in. piece of an R1 blade to liberate. A root-cause analysis (RCA) revealed
the tip fracture indeed was from rub-induced stress with crack propagation caused by high cycle
fatigue (HCF).

Borescope inspections had been performed semi-annually and TIL-1509 conducted annually. In
spring 2006, an R0 tip loss was blended and an HGP inspection was done in spring 2008. The
compressor was carefully examined after the spring 2009 borescope inspection revealed the piece
missing from the R1 blade.

The OEMs team found more than 500 indications but was reluctant to condemn the rotor, the
speaker said, believing excessive blending and restricted operation were an optiontheoretically,
at least. The owner opted to purchase a new rotor and perform a Package 5 enhancement.
Outage was completed 51 days from discovery.

End notes. (1) A lesson learned: Record every compressor part removed and make sure you have
all the parts (and tools) you should have before buttoning-up the unit. Four days after this
outage, a stator blade that had been removed was found at a compressor bleed valve.
(2) A subject of ongoing debate: Might a
vibration profile and off-normal compressor discharge pressures/temperatures have indicated
animpending tip liberation. Blade health monitoring capabilities only recently have been installed
at some M&D (monitoring and diagnostic) centers; time will tell.

(3) Lingering questions: Can you grind down a tip rub to healthy material and repair? Might the
wound be permanent?

R0 dovetail cracking

An owner with considerable 7FA O&M experience reported multiple changes of R0 blades on a
flared compressor with uncambered inlet guide vanes (IGVs). In spring 2008, he said, an OEM
crew removed the original set of non-P-cut R0 blades from the unit after 233 fired starts, 2781
fired hours, and 10 trips. Dovetail cracking found during a scheduled inspection using phased-
array UT was the reason for replacing the row with a new set of standard non-P-cut blades.

Those new blades failed in the same manner, but 17 months later after only 115 fired starts,
1611 fired hours, and one trip. The second set of R0 blades was replaced by jacking up the
bellmouth case 18 in. without removing the turbine compartment roof or forward wall. Note that
an Alumazite coating was applied to the R0 dovetail side slot prior to installing the third set of
blades. Also worth noting: The third set of blades has the same part number as the second set,
but the airfoil profile is different (Fig 2).
Inlet guide vanes (IGVs) were not changed as part of this project. However, changes were
required to IGV angle and startup logic. Specifically, IGV mechanical stops were re-established to
allow an operating range of from 20.5 deg (fully closed) to 92.5 deg (fully open).

In addition, control-constant mods were made to change IGV position during startup and the
speed at which IGVs open. IGV position while on turning gear had been 26 deg, now 20.5; IGV
angle during startup was changed from 28.5 deg to 24; turbine speed when IGVs open was 85.5,
now 84.8; IGV position at full-speed no load (FSNL) remains the same at 45 deg.

In wrapping up, the speaker stimulated the group with the following comment: Buying new
blades requires an exchange-type program. Simply put, when you buy new blades, the OEM
makes you turn in the set removed. This means you cant hire a metallurgist to conduct your own
failure analysis and it raises questions regarding further use of blades inspected and found
healthy.

For example, what did the OEM do to recertify those healthy blades? How good are the blades
after having been subjected to stresses that cracked other blades in the same row? One attendee
suggested having a third party verify blade integrity before installation. Another said you might
want to consider using recertified blades in machines that would not have more than a couple of
hundred starts before the next overhaul. Yet another user essentially told the group not to worry
by sharing that his plant had one unit with 30,000 hours on recertified blades.

By show of hands, roughly two dozen owner/operators in the room said they have units that had
experienced R0 dovetail cracks.

Clashing conundrum
Clashing of rotating blades and stationary vanes in Frame 7 compressors has been reported by
many users, as well as by Rod Shidler of Florida-based Advanced Turbine Support Inc, at recent
meetings of the 7EA and 7F Users Groups.

The opportunity for owner/operators to compare notes on common issues of importance, and
their solutions, suggests attendance at user-group conferences be considered mandatory. If not
from colleagues, where else would you expect to learn about the next problem that will keep you
up nights? To illustrate: At a recent 7EA meeting one user discussed clashing on five of six
peaking units at one site, noting that clashing was found on the sixth unit a year later and only
20 fired starts/60 fired hours since the last borescope inspection when it had received a clean bill
of health. Several other plants represented at the meeting reported similar findings.

The OEM presented at the same meeting, quickly addressing the clashing issue. Its
representative said 12 incidents were reported at five sites (a poll of attendees alone revealed
more than that number of incidents) but no forced outages resulted. In most cases, the R1
blades had no damage. Suggestion was to catch clashing early and restake to prevent further
migration.

The presenter with the six 7EAs affected


by clashing reported that the OEM considered clashing insignificant in terms of posing a risk to
continued operation. It advised that the damaged areas be examined by FPI, blended smooth,
polished, and flapper-peened by one of its qualified technicians at the next opportunity.

As for root cause, there was no answer. The OEM considered that it might be a system-level
assembly issue causing casing distortion or concentricity/alignment offset.
Location: 6 oclock. Discussions among 7EA users focus on R1/S1 clashing; among 7F users the

focus is R2/S2. No matter: In virtually all instances, reports indicated


the clashing was concentrated at or near the 6 oclock position.

The first 7F speaker on the subject offered the following information on the six gas turbines
affected by clashing at his company:

All the engines are installed in 2 x 1 combined cycles. All went commercial in the 2001
timeframe; regular borescope inspections were clean up to within six months of the event.

Five of the compressors are unflared and have cambered IGVs (four of these units are at
the same site); one is flared with uncambered IGVs.

Clashing of the four units at the same site occurred between 1050 and about 1200 fired
starts and 35,000 and 45,000 fired hours (Figs 3 and 4).

Clashing on one unflared unit was caused by an IGV failure and affected both R2/S2 and
R3/S3.

The single event on a flared compressor was R3/S3 and occurred at a site with four flared
units.

Damaged blades and vanes were cropped as shown in Fig 5. Interestingly, only one machine
showed a drop off in performance after cropping, and that was very slight. The owner conducts
annual borescope inspections to verify compressor health and has initiated an RCA and a
proactive monitoring program. Last includes putting a trigger file in the Mark V control system
that looks at step changes in vibration and other critical variables, and collecting pressure and
vibration data through borescope plug holes with special transducers.

A quick poll of the audience before the next speaker presented on his companys experience with
7FA clashing revealed that attendees also responsible for 7EAs said 17 of those machines had
been damaged by R1/S1 clashing.

Peaker clashing. This case history focuses on clashing of R2 blades and S2 vanes on three dual-
fuel simple-cycle 7FAs at one site (Figs 6 and 7). All engines are equipped with unflared
compressors, static filters, and cambered IGVs. Each had recorded approximately 400 fired starts
and 2500 fired hours when the indications were discovered during routine annual borescope
inspections at the end of the winter run in spring 2008.
Here are some details on the unit that suffered the most severe clashing:

* It had recorded 39 fired starts since the previous borescope inspection, when no damage was
evident.
* The R2 blade-rub area on trailing-edge roots was approximately 1 in. long; depth of penetration
was 0.125 and 0.375 in.
* Seven S2 vanes were damaged at the leading edge.
* The owner/operator made several changes to its O&M procedures after examining the results of
the March 2008 borescope inspection, including these:
* Perform a 360-deg borescope inspection of R2/S2 at the end of the winter run season (typically
at the end of March) or after 20 starts at or below 32F.
* Record clearances between the R2 trailing-edge root and the S2 vane leading-edge tip (at a
point adjacent to the rotor body) on all 7FAs in the companys fleet when personnel have access
to take those measurements. Do the same for R3/S3.

A follow-up borescope inspection was conducted in July 2008 after a couple of dozen more fired
starts. The damage had not worsened since its discovery. But the good news didnt last for long.
The annual inspection in spring 2009 indicated that clashing damage had increased after the
winter run (total of 30 fired starts since the spring 2008 check-up).

The unwelcome observation prompted management to authorize a more extensive borescope


inspection of the entire R2/S2 row. Results: Damaged blades numbered 10; S2 vanes were
described as having smeared and rolled metal (Fig 8). Next, the trailing edges of all R2 blade
platforms, and the first 2 in. of the blades trailing edges, were examined using the latest eddy
current diagnostic tools. Close inspection of the damage areas on the 10 blades affected
(pressure and suction sides in the trailing-edge platform area) revealed no recordable indications.

Engineers continue to ponder the possible causes of clashing and how to prevent it. The first
presenter on the subject thought it might be trip-related given there were no indications on one
of its units following a no-trip year and there were indications the year a trip had occurred.

A check of thrust-bearing clearances offered no clues. The thought that clashing might be related
to cold starts cannot be supported because of incidents reported at one plant (at least) where no
freezing temperatures were experienced. Some experts now think the gremlin may be a surge
event, but this cannot be confirmed.

Learn more on the subject by attending the 2011 meeting in Houston.

Inlet bleed heat

Cracking of piccolo pipes for the inlet bleed heat system has been discussed recently at several
conferences focusing on maintenance of large GE frames. Recall that the IBH system injects hot
compressed air into the inlet air stream to prevent icing at the compressor inlet. A problem
experienced by many owner/operators is stress cracking on the piccolo pipes where they attach
to their respective pipe guides (Fig 9). Simply welding the cracks was not a solution; they just
cracked again.

The solution offered to 7F User Group attendees, which had been suggested by at least one other
user a year or so earlier, looks like it might qualify for an industry best practice and put the
subject to rest. The two-piece support system (Fig 10) which replaces the existing guide sleeve is
easy for plant personnel to install and costs less than 20% of the OEMs recommended solution.

New supports were installed during an HGP inspection in 2009 and have solved the cracking
problem (Fig 11). The speaker offered the following budget in round numbers: 5-in.-diam, Sch-
120, Type-316L stainless steel pipe$5000; 10 hours of machining time$1000; two welders for
four days$3000; and NDE inspection$1000.

Compressor discussion

The open discussion session following the compressor presentation went on for about an hour
before the subject shifted to the turbine end of the machine. Here are some snippets from the
compressor exchange:

One user familiar with the OEMs new compressor wash system reported seeing some
erosion of concern.

Filter-house air leaks: Sometimes looking for sunlight while standing inside doesnt tell you
everything. Consider using a fire hose; water will weep through any available opening,
supporters of the idea say.

Subject: R0 compressor blades. Everyone could get involved in this discussion. Whos back
to standard blades? Whos using the latest OEM solution? Whos still running P-cuts? No
consensus view.

Pinning of rocking stator vanes and rotor clocking received plenty of air time as well. All
alternative solutions discussed.

Loose shims got significant attention. Several users reported problems with shims going
through their units in the last year; several others said shim migration was revealed in
borescope inspections and corrected before liberation.

Forced-cooling philosophy generated some interest. There was general agreement that the
failure rate of HRSG tubes would go up significantly if forced-cooling were imposed
immediately following a GT shutdown. The solution: Wait an hour or two before starting
forced cooling

Rotor lifetime limits imposed by the OEM continue to be a discussion catalyst. Many users
still believe the limits are arbitrary and unsupportedat least to their satisfactionby
rigorous engineering analysis. One user recently told the editors during a plant visit that
one of his plants rotors with more than 5000 starts was resting on blocks waiting for the
OEM to change its criteria. He believed that would happen.

A user reported on a state-of-the-art compressor-blade health monitoring system installed


on two of three 7FAs at his site with the expectation of avoiding a possible catastrophic
failure. First installation was done in 2008 during a major; the second unit, in 2009. First
reports had been received by the plant owner just before the meeting.

System implementation requires drilling of the compressor casing and installation of sensors
to monitor blade displacement during startup; alarm is on a 40-mil deflection. User has no
screen at present, monitoring is done by the OEM.

Another attendee said GE already had installed the system on six to eight machines. A
question in virtually everyones mind: Would you trust the data to the degree that you
would take an engine out of service if the M&D center said to do so? There is no sure
answer today given the limited experience with the health monitoring system, but
diagnostics in place reportedly assure that the probes are working properly and the readings
are reliable.

Turbine section

High vibration that forced the shutdown of a 7FA+e engine was caused by forward migration
of first-stage buckets and resultant damage (Fig 12). The unit had 788 factored starts and
17,801 factored hours at the time of the incident. Buckets were made of a coated
directionally solidified, nickel-base superalloy (GTD-111).

The owner/operators engineering team believed the bucket lock wire was able to rotate in
the direction opposite to that of engine rotation, free itself from the groove (Fig 13), and
wriggle out dowel pins, which went downstream (recovered from the exhaust duct).

Forward migration of a bucket cuts off its cooling-air supply and the airfoil burns. Collateral
damage includes coating detachment from first-stage nozzles and melting of the base metal
(Fig 14), and denting of downstream buckets by the liberated pins (Fig 15).

The thorough inspection conducted by the owner/operator revealed scratch marks between
the bucket lock wire and dowel pins which were believed to have been caused by rotation of
the wire. If such detail is of interest, keep in mind that 7F User Group members can access
this and other user presentations at www.ge7fa.users-groups.com.

Engineers hypothesized as to why and how (1) the lock wire might rotate and (2) the
dowels might work themselves free. One thought was it might be thermal
expansion/contraction of the lock wire during startup and shutdown. Another was use of
inappropriate dowel pins and improper overlap location when the lock wire was installed (Fig
16). Yet another thought was that the lock wire and the wheel groove were mismatched in
size and the lock wire had freedom to move.

An attendee said he believed that improper installation of the lock wire and too much time
on turning gear are key causes of the situation described by the presenter. Regarding the
former, the owner/operator suggested others should check spare lock wire and pins against
the OEMs specifications and to store them in a manner to prevent damage.
Also, before installing, check that (1) the lock wire is smoothly curved and has no sharp
bends or kinks, (2) the groove is proper (use go/no-go gauge), and (3) there is no debris in
the groove. Finally, review TIL-1214-3R3 regarding proper installation of dowel pins.

Turbine discussion was limited by time. The noon hour was closing in. The first bit of
discussion developed around a users concern about first-stage wheel cracking of a 7241
model. Another attendee offered that his turbine wheels had been blended/polished/peened
at the first major.

He obviously considered this the right thing to doat least until someone else in the room
said, statistically speaking, you have a one-in-four chance of wheel cracking following b/p/p
and only a one-in-nine chance of cracking if you dont do anything. As is often the case in
open discussion forums, definitive answers/solutions are rare. However, you benefit greatly
from the diversity of opinion because it opens your eyes to how others think and the many
alternatives you should consider before making a decision.

Stage 3 strategy was the last topic before lunch. One user suggested changing third-stage
buckets at the second HGP and retaining fit nozzles and shroud blocks for continued service.

Outage case histories

There were three case histories of outage experiences in the nearly two days of user
presentations. Those three cases involved two stations, each equipped with two 2 x 1 7FA-
powered combined cycles.

The combined cycles at the first station had operated for nearly 10 years and there was much
work to do during the fall 2009 major inspection. The following describes key activities on the
first of the two blocks at that plant. Personnel tracked lessons learned on Block 1with the belief
they would facilitate work on the second 2 x 1. Everyone was encouraged to provide input and in
the end 239 lessons learned were documented, one third of them for the steam turbine.

Work scope for Block 1 called for 112,000 man-hours of effort; 127,000 were required. Despite
the 13% increase in man-hours, the outage budget was achieved. Actually it came in at 1%
under plan. Outage duration had been planned for 43 days, but 50 were required.

Operating history of the gas-only 7FA+e gas turbines (DLN 2.6), each of which had operated for
slightly more than 50,000 fired hours, included 2271 fired starts and 55 trips for GT1, and 2479
fired starts and 89 trips for GT2. Overhaul described below starts at the air inlet and proceeds
through the engine to the generator. Scores of suggestions/requirements in all applicable TILs
were completed during the outage.

The air inlet houses saw little refurbishment work over their lifetimes. In fact, the air filters
standard Donaldson-type conical/cylindricaland evap media had never been replaced. Plant
personnel believe they had extracted maximum value from the air filters; when removed, the
pressure drop through them was 5 in. H2O.
After the filter houses were stripped of evap media, drift eliminators, and filters, inspectors found
corrosion on parts of the support structures for those elements. The affected frames were
prepped for a new coatinga two-part epoxy, Carbomastic 615HS, from Carboline Co.

The speaker mentioned that a grit blast was not acceptable for coating prep work because media
could carry over into the turbine. Instead, pneumatic/mechanical needle scalers were used to
remove rust from the frames. Aggressive cleanup procedures were put in place to assure that all
particulate matter was removed from the inlet house prior to engine restart.

Note that the filter house is made of carbon steel, but lined with stainless from the silencers to
the downward transition duct to the compressor inlet. Ductwork from the air inlet to the
compressor bellmouth was carefully inspected for opens using daylight and water. No serious
deficiencies were noted.

Rehab work complete, the drift eliminators could be reinstalled along with new evap media, and
the new air filters. All seams in the evap-cooler section were sealed with Sikaflex, the
tradename for a family of one-component polyurethane adhesives, sealants, and coatings.

Gas turbines. The rotors for both gas turbines were pulled and sent to Sulzer Turbo Services
Houston shop for inspection. Several R0 compressor blades in GT1 had crack indications on their
respective roots. A replacement set, supplied by the OEM, was installed at the third-party shop
under the direction of the owners engineers. Third-stage turbine parts on both rotors were
evaluated by metallurgists and found suitable for continued use.

The GT2 rotor had a runout of 4.5 mils at the marriage joint. The joint was broken and the
compressor and turbine rotors destacked and refurbished by Sulzer under the direction of the
owners engineers and Turbine End-User Services Inc (TEServices), a Houston-based consultant
specializing in such work. To learn more about whats involved in correcting runout, visit www.ccj-
online.com/archives.html, click 4Q/2009, click Rotor overhaul. . . on cover.

Shop time for the GT1 rotor was 14 days; that for the GT2 rotor, 21 days.

The generators for both 7241s were inspected by AGT Services Inc, Amsterdam, NY. The third-
party services provider found the stator and field acceptable for continued service without wedge
or rotor work and the owners engineers concurred. The collector was resurfaced using a
stationary method.

Heat recovery steam generators. Valves were the focus of the HRSG overhauls. In-situ
inspections revealed extensive cracking in the high-pressure (HP) valve bodies, which was not
expected. Valves were removed from their respective main steam lines, weld-repaired at a
qualified shop, and welded back in place. Based on this experience, replacement valves were
ordered for Block 2 and for one of the companys other plants.

All safety and relief valves were inspected, repaired, and tested for continued service. No flow-
accelerated corrosion (FAC) was found in the HRSGs. Four P91 elbows were checked and one
crack identified. Feedwater heater modules at the boiler stacks were CO2 blasted to remove
foreign material from tube external surfaces.
Steam turbine. In November 2006, Stellite liberated from the seat of the main stop valve (MSV)
damaging the HP nozzle and the first few rows of blades in the HP turbine (Figs 17-19). The
owner chose to derate the unit by 10% and operate it as is until the 2009 major.

Shop repairs regained the lost performance. The first three rows of HP blades were replaced and
the remaining damage was blended with acceptable service limits. Three L-1 blades in the LP
section were found with leading-edge cracks, which were an unwelcome surprise. The owners
engineers, Sulzer personnel, and third-party experts collaborated on a successful in-situ blending
solution. The LP turbine work was the primary reason for the stretch-out in the outage schedule

The generator required a full re-wedge by AGT Services. The collector was resurfaced in the same
manner as the collectors were refurbished for the GT generators.

Other work accomplished during the major included the following:

Condensate/feedwater system was inspected for FAC; no indications were found.

High-energy pipe inspection. Four P91 elbows were checked by Gas Turbine Materials
Associates (GTMA), San Antonio. A crack was found adjacent to a weld on one of the four
elbows and repaired. A formal high-energy pipe inspection plan was put under development.

Cooling towers: Structural repairs, removal of sediment from the basin, replacement and
calibration of blowdown control-valve actuators.

Vibration monitoring. Replaced vibration monitoring equipment on the steamer. New system
has the capability to analyze rotor stability anomalies in real time.

There were two more outage case histories presented at the meeting. Both had to do with
problems identified during restarts after major overhauls. The first issue occurred while starting
up one of the gas turbines at a 2 x 1 combined cycle.

The details: GT came up to FSNL as expected; unit walk-downs suggested everything was fine.
The unit was auto-synched and placed in exhaust-temperature matching with a 700F setpoint for
a steam-turbine cold start. At about 90 minutes into the startup (850F on the temperature-
matching setpoint) the roving operator reported smoke coming from the No. 2 bearing-tunnel
vent.

Unit was tripped and flames were noticed coming out of the tunnel via the lube-oil return
penetration. CO2 was discharged manually to this area.

Action taken: Unit was spin-cooled and the bearing tunnel entered by way of the outlet vent.
Wires were found in good shape; however, tunnel surfaces were covered with soot. Oil was found
at the bearing end of the tunnel with no evidence of its source.

All of the lower piping and control wiring were removed from the lower half of the bearing tunnel
to allow removal of the arch plates lining the lower half of the tunnel. This task is particularly
difficult with the unit assembled.
Once the plates were removed, the inspection team found that the lower insulation pads were
saturated with oil and that free oil was trapped between the outer tunnel wall and the insulation.
Investigators learned that a portable electric-power pack had been turned over by the
maintenance crew and the oil ran out. Visible oil was cleaned up, but the spill was not reported to
personnel responsible for managing the outage.

The entire lower half of the bearing tunnel had to be stripped, wiped down, reinsulated, and
reassembled, adding three days to the outage. Lesson learned: Protect this area with plastic and
oil-soak pads during the outage and establish hold points with contractors to inspect the area
before reassembly.

The final case history illustrated once again the importance of thoroughly checking work by
contractors. The abbreviated version of what happened is this: An error during re-termination of
CTs to field wiring that reversed polarity on one phase permitted an uncontrolled ramp from FSNL
to rated output on a freshly overhauled GT. Ramp rate was 77 MW/min, allowing the breaker to
close at 154 MW in two minutes.

The OEM, which performed the major, showed little concern, according to the speaker. The unit
was dispositioned to run with no further investigation. There had been no issues at the time of
the presentation that could be tied back to the fast-load event. An RCA showed the wires and
their terminal points were clearly marked; the I&C tech just connected the wires incorrectly and
no one caught the mistake. Get the details, including wiring diagrams, at http://ge7fa.users-
groups.com.

The second discussion session focused mainly on safety. Group consensus was that most injuries
seem to occur on first-time eventssuch as lifting GT rotors, removing generator rotors, etc
where institutional knowledge on actions to be taken, and where people should be and not be,
are limited.

Most also agreed that there was a general lack of expertise in the industry on rigging. Its
incumbent on the plant owner, one attendee said, to assure that the contractors usedwhether
they be union or nonunionhave the capabilities and experience to make critical lifts. More plant
training should be done in the rigging area, another user said, so staff understands what must be
done and what their roles are.

Confined-space rescue and yo-yo tie-offs also got air timethe latter especially where scaffolding
is required. Two points made: You probably dont understand how difficult it is to extract a 200-lb
person from a confined space until youve tried. Suggestion was made to get a 200-lb dummy
and attempt it. You also probably do not know how difficult it is to handle extractions when those
being rescued are combative. You never can be over-prepared where safety is involved.

The safety give n take ran a solid 20 minutes and was particularly meaningful. There were many
examples of what works, what doesnt, and the injuries (and deaths) that result when risks are
underestimated and staff is not properly trained. You can get plenty of ideas of what to include in
your plants safety program by accessing www.ccj-online.com, click 1Q/2010, and click Best
Practices Awards, Safety on the cover. Then go backwards in time to get even more ideas from
previous first-quarter issues.

A non-safety topic in this discussion session concerned long-term service agreements, contractual
service agreements, parts agreements, etc. An informal show-of-hands poll revealed that the
trend away from OEM long-term agreements continues. Attendees indicated that about 40% of
their agreements are now with third partiesincluding OEMs playing in another manufacturers
sandbox. A similar poll two years ago had third parties holding only 25% of the GT service
business.

An international owner/operator with four 1 x 1 7FA+e-powered combined-cycle plants told the


group about his companys experience with a fractured diffusion-air pipe on a DLN 2.6 combustor.
Plant began commercial operation in April 2009 and completed its first combustion inspection in
winter 2010.

A month later, just six weeks before the 7F Users Group meeting, operators received alarms of
High concentration of fuel gas and High temperature in the GT enclosure. Concurrently, the
strength-of-flame detector for No. 12 combustor jumped from 70% to 100%. The unit was shut
down immediately and an inspection initiated.

The No. 12 fuel nozzle was changed the next day. Engineers found the dummy nozzles in PM2
and PM3 melted by the radiant heat of the flame. Also, evidence of HCF was present (Fig 20). The
crack initiation point (yellow circle) was analyzed using a scanning electron microscope, which
revealed no significant crack, defect, and/or corrosion.

Next step was to measure the vibrations and stresses on diffusion-air pipes Nos. 2, 8, and 12 (Fig
21). Strain gages also were installed on PM1, PM2, PM3, and atomizing air pipes. Engineers found
the highest strain at the starting point. Also, strain amplitudes were proportional to output power,
and on combustor 12 they were larger than on the other combustors examined.

The RCA was not successful in identifying the root cause by fracture analysis. Heres what the
analysis team found, and didnt find:

Material. No material defect could be identified.

Welding. Quality was not good.

Acoustic vibration. There was none when the combustor was operating.

Operational vibration. The level of stress did not exceed the materials fatigue limit, but the
margin to that limit was relatively small.

Excessive stress. Striations characteristic of HCF were found.


Creep. There was no creep fracture.

Stress corrosion cracking. No corrosion found.

Low cycle fatigue. Not in evidence.

Conclusion was that poor welding and high stress attributed to vibration might have been the
underlying causes of the failure. Action: Review weld quality on other combustors and improve as
necessary.

Another user reported a trip on high compartment temperature. Flame burned through blanks in
the combustor end cover provided for dual-fuel use. This unit had no oil capability. The speaker
thought that the end cover might not have been bolted snugly. Or possibly a brazed joint might
have been cracked, allowing fuel to leak into the open space. Flame cooked the IGV actuator
line; a new actuator was installed.

An attendee said his plant had a similar incident. No root cause was offered by either of the
affected parties.

Discussion moved to HGP hardware performance and interval extension. Experience at 24,000
hours was noted.

Enough cant be said about having an experienced crew patrolling the aisles with microphones to
ensure that everyone can hear all questions and comments. Anyone can carry a portable
microphone, but knowledgeable steering committee members with mikes contribute to the
dialog and keep it moving. Its rare that someone on the steering committee wouldnt have had
experience to contribute on any topic that comes up in a 7F meeting.

1. Classic tip crack is shown at the left with crack initiation about 2 in. from the leading edge.
Impact caused the damage at the right

2. Stake marks indicate this is the third set of R0 blades. The next change-out will require the
OEM to install its Biscuit mod before installing the blades

3. Damage to trailing edge of rotating blades. More specifically, deformation and some lift-up of
material near the platform at the trailing edge

4. Damage to S2 leading-edge tip. Most damage was from the 6 oclock position to the horizontal
joint

5. Cropped S2 leading edge during an outage. Technicians took precise measurements of the
damaged area on each vane then cropped the worst airfoil and cut back the entire row to the
same point

6, 7. R2 blade trailing-edge (left) and S2 vane leading-edge (right) clash indications typically look
like this when viewed through a borescope

8. Smeared and rolled metal on adjacent stator vanes (damage area on vane at left, 1 x 0.25 in.;
at right, 1 x 0.375 in.) proved clashing was increasing in severity since its discovery a year earlier
9. Stress cracking is relatively common on piccolo pipes where they attach to their respective
pipe guides and in the areas where pipe guides attach to the floor. Stress cracks also may be
found in the duct floor and in the pipe guides themselves

10. Redesigned guide sleeve for piccolo pipes is easy to make and doesnt require cutting the
existing pipes

11. Installation of the new guide sleeves went according to plan and has eliminated the need for
annual crack repair

12. Bucket damage at the leading edge and coating detachment resulted from forward migration
of the airfoils

13. Lockwire is clearly out of the groove provided, compromising its ability to hold buckets in
position

14, 15. Fallout from the first-stage bucket migration issue includes damage to first-stage vanes
and second- and third-stage buckets

16. Inner tip of the lock wire should point in the direction of rotor rotation to help prevent the
lock wire from moving

17. Steam turbines MSV threw some Stellite (see insert) from its seat in November 2006,
damaging HP nozzles and blades (see Figs 18 and 19)

18. HP nozzle block was repaired and returned to service

19. Blades in the HP section (first stage shown) were banged up badly by liberated Stellite

20. Analysis of fracture surface revealed striations characteristic of HCF along the red arrows.
Starting point of the cracks appeared to be in the yellow circle at the back ends of the arrows

21. Vibration sensors and strain gauges were installed on the diffusion-air pipes serving
combustors Nos. 2, 8, and 12

Compressor section

User presentations stimulated much of the discussion during the compressor session, which ran
until lunch on Day Two. First-hand accounts of problems/solutions by owner/operators are the
lifeblood of user-group meetings. The 7F steering committee, in particular, places great value on
the participation of plant personnel from the podium. In Greenville, 15 users presented (Sidebar
5); next years goal is 20.

To get to that level, and beyond, the committee developed an essay on how to select and develop
a plant experience for presentation (p 132). Its a valuable roadmap for first-time presenters
and a good review for many others. The essay also offers guidance on how to prepare for your
deliverythis to ensure that the experience is both professionally rewarding and enjoyable.

Inlet filters were scheduled first. Subject was one plants experience with a service firm that
tracks filter cleanliness, removes them when a specified pressure drop is reached, cleans filters
with high-pressure air, and reinstalls them. Filter integrity is verified using standard industry
tests.
Firm also disposes of used filters in an EPA-approved manner for customers that want that
service and rents warehouse space for spare filters. Back-of-the-envelope arithmetic probably is
sufficient to decide if this type of service is more cost effective than just replacing filters in-kind
using plant staff.

Those users opting to buy filters and in need of a quick refresher on filtration basics are referred
to www.combinedcyclejournal.com/archives.html, click Spring 2004, click Selecting gas-turbine
inlet air systems. . . on cover.

Inlet bleed heat. A 300-series stainless-steel expansion joint in the IBH system for a 7FA+e
engine in daily cycling service failed. Recall that the IBH system protects the compressor in cold
weather and permits GT operation at loads perhaps as low as 50% of rated output while holding
emissions in check. The systems inlet valve is closed when the unit is at full capacity and opens
as load drops, admitting 130-psig compressed air.

Failure of the expansion joint was identified by a loud, high-pitch (20 kHz) noise which could be
heard 100 yards from the unit. Noise was caused by air whistling through cracks in the
convolutions. Ultrasonic probe identified crack locations, most often on inner convolutions.
Analysis revealed that crack propagation generally was slow. Plant personnel think at least some
cracks may have been visible for as long as six months before whistling began. Longest crack was
just under a foot in length.

Important to note is that IBH systems are not part of the OEMs scope. They are installed by the
mechanical contractor, which means each system is unique. Another thing plant personnel
discovered was that GE documents do not discuss life-cycle requirements.

This system was designed for the base-load service intended; however, the plant now serves the
5-min market and GT load can change by 30 MW within that time period. Engineers found that
the expansion joint was designed for 1400 cycles, which translates to a lifetime of 2.5 years in
peaking duty. The joint did better than that, however, lasting 2200 cycles.

The entire expansion-joint assembly was replaced with one designed for 20,000 thermal cycles
(40-yr life expectancy); cost was only double that of the original. Speaker suggested that his
colleagues check their IBH systems and compare design conditions to actual. He also warned that
noise might not precede failure.

Someone in the audience suggested that plants located on the seacoast may be especially
vulnerable because there was the possibility that chlorides would attack the 300-series stainless.

Inlet guide vanes. A user said that the IGV actuator arm failed in fatigue on a 7FA that
operates continuously at up to full load. Another reported the same type of failure. He found a
great deal of wear and backlash on the rack-and-pinion drive and thought that might have had
something to do with the failure. Yet another user thought some actuator arms supplied to the
OEM might have been beefier than others.

There was considerable discussion on this and other actuator problemsincluding Belleville
washers being installed incorrectly (upside down) by the OEM.

How did that happen? Damage to one R7 blade near its root was found on a base-load Model
7231 DLN2.6-equipped 7FA. Initial thought was that it might have been caused by something left
in the machine during the last hot-gas-path inspection in 2004. However, no other damage
upstream or downstreamwas in evidence. Might the damage have occurred during reassembly?

Plant has an LTSA and the OEM provided detailed engineering instructions on how to blend,
polish, inspect using fluorescent penetrant, and peen the affected area. It would have been a big
deal to replace just one blade.

This case history ignited much discussion on precautions to ensure that nothing is left inside the
GT after an outage. One user said his company has well-defined procedures for entering the work
area when the compressor and/or turbine upper casings are removed. Equipment, tools, parts
that enter/leave this area are carefully monitored. Strict rules require reporting something that
dropped, where it dropped, what was dropped (and removed).

One potential source of debris thats easy to forget is work shoes. Its easy for rocks to get
wedged between the treads on shoe soles/heals. Boots must be checked, even vacuumed at
times. Someone suggested that the experience described from the podium might very well have
been caused by a pebble. One of the conclusions of the group: You have to weigh carefully the
push for ever-faster inspections and repairs against the time required to assure something
important wont be overlooked.

Stacking-bolt failure. Owner with a dozen and a half 7FAs presented on a stacking-bolt failure
that initiated a forced outage on high vibration in late July 2007. The rotor, for a Model 7221 7FA,
had more than 65,000 total operating yours and more than 1000 starts over its lifetime. It had
been installed in one unit from 1996 to 2003 and in another from 2004 until the time of failure.
Unstable vibration signatures first appeared in May 2006. Secondary damage caused by the
stacking-bolt failure included dents in and cracking of 17th-stage compressor blades, plus
wear/missing metal on the inner barrel.

More pertinent facts: The unit was taken out of service for a combustor inspection about five
months before the forced outage. A field balance was done at that time and it reduced shaft
vibration from about 8 mils to 2. During the week before the outage vibration increased to 12
mils.

Disassembly revealed deterioration in the form of a little dip on the surface of the compressor
rotor wheel at the aft nut. No defective assembly was noted from records. The rotor had been
overhauled and reassembled by GE twice and stacking bolts/nuts had been replaced. Crack initia-
tion was at three points on the inner side of the rotor. Main crack propagation was from the inner
to outer side. A corrosion pit was thought to have initiated the crack.

Low- and high-cycle fatigue during start/stop operations caused the bolt failure at the aft nut.
Crack is detectable by doping the vibration monitoring algorithm, but this owner developed an
ultrasonic inspection device/procedure to check its other units. Such failure reportedly is most
likely to occur on non-robust-back-end rotorstypically 7221s and some 7231s.

Compressor roundtable. Many items were discussed and many observations were made during
the compressor-roundtable discussion. Bullet points below hit some of the highlights:

o Two users with Model 7231s reported damage to the trailing edges of R3 blades. Migration
of S3 vanes was said to have been the cause. OEM attributed the damage to relatively
minor surge and blended the blades.

o An owner reported losing an S1 shim from the upper half of the casing and had to blend
several blades where damage occurred. This generated considerable discussion on shim
fixesincluding both GE and non-OEM techniques. General feeling was that for R0 through
R4, protruding shims should be pulled out if possible. Reason: the ring segments that
characterize the first five stator rows typically are rust-welded in place and wouldnt move
with shims missing.

o One participant commented on the OEMs new water-wash system. He said erosion happens
and his concern is that the unit makes it through a major-inspection interval without major
work. Technology came into question, but users with LTSAs say they dont have options and
are not concerned.
o A user reported that the titanium nitride sacrificial coating to protect the base metal of
compressor blades against water erosion seems to work, but for only a couple of thousand
hours.

o A participant reported that two regular (non P-cut) R0 blades cracked at the base; online
water washing was not employed. Discussion was dizzying, all over the lot: What can you do
with what type of compressor blades, the old online washing system, the new online
washing system, in a chloride environment, in a non-chloride environment, etc?

o Two types of blade cracking noted: suction side (less prevalent) and down in the dovetail,
below the platform. Fretting leads to cracking; under-cut to relieve stress. Much discussion
on this, many affected.

o Restart logic after a shutdown: Can restart from immediately after shutdown until two hours
later; cannot restart between two and eight hours after shutdown because the case cools
faster than the rotor and rubs result; eight hours or more after shutdown you can restart at
any time.

However, if you grind down tips you can start at any time. OEM says its a site-by-site thing.
Language in the applicable technical information letter is very strict, but the OEM will relax
suggestions depending on site conditions and specific parameters. Some users say they were told
that the TILs are guidelines.

Lube-oil systems

Ask a plant manager where his or her biggest headaches originate and theres a good chance
they will be linked to water or lube-oil chemistry. Maintaining lube-oil in top condition at a
combined-cycle plant can be particularly challenging. First, you have to learn the basics of a fluid
chemistry and testing procedures that werent taught in any chemistry class you took in high
school or college.

Once you think you understand the language of lube oil, the real learning begins. Another
challenge: You have to deal with independent lube-oil systems for each gas turbine/generator and
the steam turbine/generator. Yet another: The prime movers hydraulic and lube-oil systems often
are served by a common sump, complicating oil selection and treatment.

An owner reported to the group about its efforts to extend lube-oil life. A key element of this
program is to standardize where possible lube-oil specifications, testing, and treatment across a
fleet of more than two dozen 7FAs at nearly a dozen sites. A fleet of this size certainly can justify
a subject specialist in central engineering.

First step was to conduct a fleet baseline assessment by gathering pertinent data for each unit
such as particle counts and the potential for varnish formation. Particle counts were obtained
using ISO (International Standards Organization) Cleanliness Code 4406, varnish-potential rating
using Quantitative Spectrophotometric Analysis (QSA). Here are a couple of things this user
learned during this phase of the project:

o Oil tested immediately looked good; 72 hours later the still, cooler sample produced much
different numbers.
o ISO 4406 tests may be conducted using a laser particle counter or pore-blockage technique.
Laser accuracy is impacted adversely when the oil contains water; particle counts run
higher.

o Sampling location is important. To illustrate: The speaker reported a 3-in. layer of foam
where No. 1 bearing drains into the sump.

o Tests using an electrostatic oil cleaner produced mixed results. The unit ran for two weeks
on oil at room temperature and the varnish potential dropped dramatically. Oil was allowed
to sit for a week and a follow-up test revealed varnish potential had shot up again. The
electrostatic oil cleaner then was retested with a new filter element. Much better results
were achieved in only three days; a week later, varnish potential was up, but not by much.

o Test of a chemical treatment to put varnish back into solution got good results. Was much
less expensive than changing oil, which could have easily cost more than $100,000 by the
time you pay for the oil, cleaning the system, and disposing of the waste.

o Temperature impacts the clean-up process. This user believes the electrostatic oil cleaner
meets expectations only when the oil is cool. Good results were achieved on hot oil with a
high-end specialty filter.

o Tests using an anti-spark filter were promising. There was virtually no evidence of static dis-
charge.

o One of the major suppliers of turbine oil has reformulated a product associated with high
particle counts.

Share your knowledge at the next meeting with a short presentation

Presentations by plant and central-engineering personnel are the lifeblood of user-group


meetings. The main reason owner/operators meet is to learn from the experiences of their
colleagues. Everyone knows its foolhardy to pay twice for the same lesson.

Equipment manufacturers and services providers do a satisfactory job from the podium
primarily because the steering committees for the various gas-turbine user groups encour-
age them stick to the technical content promised and refrain from sales pitches. But these
speakers dont live with the idiosyncrasies and faults of what they sell and this limits their
access to information that usually is most beneficial to you.

The bottom line: If users generally get the best ideas for improving plant practices,
performance, and safety from other users, it follows that the more presentations by users
the greater a meetings value. Think of it simply as quid pro quoyou help me and Ill help
you.

Its difficult to get some users to the front of the room. Reasons typically include: I have no
new ideas. I dont have time to prepare a presentation. Ive never made a presentation
before. One of the steering committees responsibilities is to help colleagues think more
positively of what they have to offer the group and to provide the encouragement and help
necessary to make their presentations happen.
Members of the steering committee for the 7F Users Group compiled their thoughts on how
to develop and deliver a winning presentation for a user-group conference. Having an
audience of receptive colleagues makes the experience particularly gratifying.

Begin with a goal. The committee recommends beginning by writing down the goal of your
proposed presentation. It should be to convey concisely information you wish someone had
told you so you could have (1) anticipated or avoided a situation, (2) made an improvement,
(3) controlled or reduced costs or minimized schedule impact, and/or (4) improved plant
practices.

Pick your topic. It may take a while to convince yourself that you have the knowledge and
experience others would benefit fromthats normal. Once youre convinced, its also normal
for your mind to race off in many different directions because you suddenly realize you have
lots of ideas to share.

Pick one event or issue that you were/are personally involved with. Experienced presenters
advise that focus is a prerequisite for success at the podium. Save the other ideas for future
meetings. To help you select a manageable topic for your first/next presentation, the
steering committee offered the following suggestions:

o Discuss a forced-outage event with significant consequencessuch as downtime,


equipment damage, sister units inspected that reveal the same distress, etc. Consider
inviting OEM participation to provide technical details and/or to answer specific questions.

o Provide details of a root cause analysis (RCA) to help your colleagues better understand
the reasons behind a particular operational anomaly or equipment failure and what they
should anticipate, inspect, trend at their plants.

o Cover maintenance issues, outage practices, outage findings: Can be general, as-found
condition, or something specific to the outage scope (planned or unplanned).

o Review inspection methods, especially experience with in-situ nondestructive examination


techniques that help you make better decisions faster.

o Discuss repair methods, particularly new onsite or in-shop techniques that offer quality,
cost, and/or schedule benefits.

o Offer improvements in plant practices and performance, equipment monitoring, etc.

o Present first-application experience with a new fix or product (OEM beta test, for
example).

How to proceed. Once you have decided on a topic, contact someone on the steering
committee. Do this several months in advance of the conference if you can. E-mail is the
best way to communicate because its easy for the addressee to relay your idea to others on
the committee with his or her recommendation.

Provide sufficient information to facilitate decision-making. For example, include a three- or


four-sentence summary of your proposed presentations content as well as three or four
sentences on your experienceboth general and how it relates to your chosen subject.
Dont forget to include office and cell phone numbers in case the committee wants more
detail. With people as busy as they are these days, it typically takes about a month for the
steering committee to get back to you with a decision and comments/suggestions.

This should allow sufficient time to get the necessary travel approvals, make reservations,
and prepare your presentation.

Preparing your presentation. Start by gathering the photos and illustrations that support
your observations, conclusions, work done, etc. Some topics benefit from many photosa
rotor disassembly and life assessment, for example. Others, such as a new procedure, might
require only one or two block-type diagrams.

Make sure your photos are crisp and bright. Use callouts and/or arrows to focus audience
attention on specific elements of the photo; put circles around key findings, such as weld
inclusions in an x-ray. Callouts and/or captions for photos and illustrations should be terse
and in large type so they can be read from the back of the room where the seats always
seem to fill up first.

Present important details in bullet-point format. Stick with technical facts; avoid commercial
issues. Be sure to start by stating your goal clearly and concisely.

Just because computers allow use of videos, animation, etc, to enhance a presentation, that
doesnt necessarily make them a good idea. Resist irrational exuberance. In certain
instancessuch as demonstration of fog-nozzle performance for an evaporative cooling
systemvideo streaming is valuable and should be considered seriously. But dont bet the
farm it will work properly in the meeting room unless you communicate special needs with
the steering committee well in advance of the conference.

Note, too, that your presentation doesnt require both a beginning and an end. Its perfectly
acceptable to present a problem youre faced with, the facts you believe are pertinent to
arriving at a solution, what youve tried already and the results obtained. Ask the attendees
for their thoughts/ideas. Odds are good that someone in the room has had a similar
perhaps even the sameproblem. If not, then the group quite possibly is learning about an
emerging problem. Everybody wins.

If your presentation is of the problem/solution type, remember to explain concisely how the
solution was arrived at, what was considered but didnt work, lessons learned, etc.

Final steps. After completing your presentation, run through it a couple of times alone and
in front of a mirror. Dont be too critical, you always come across better than you think. Time
yourself on the second practice run. If you took more than about 15 minutes, theres
probably too much detail. Shorten up your explanation and/or pull a few of the least-
important slides. If the audience needs more information youll be asked for it during the
Q&A period.

Now youre ready for a dry run in front of colleagues. A good place to do this is in the
break room at the plant, a relaxed and informal setting. Best to have three or four listeners
(including at least one unfamiliar with the subject matter), but you can get by with a couple
if need be.

Ask your peers what they (1) learned from the presentation, (2) thought of your body
language and if you came across as knowledgeable and relaxed, (3) wanted to know in
addition to what you told them, etc. Factor in relevant comments and finalize the
presentation.

Load the presentation on a CD or flash drive and send it to the steering committee member
assigned to work with you. Chances are you wont hear anything but a looks good before
you show up for the conference. That means its fine.

When you pack for the conference, be sure to bring an electronic copy of your final
presentation on a flash drive as well as a hard copy in case you present from behind a
podium without a clear line of sight to the screen. You might also consider saving to the
stick, additional photos pertinent to the discussion. They may be of value during the Q&A
session. A watch may prove helpful, so might a backup laser pointer.

Showtime. The morning of your session, visit the meeting room early to see where youll be
presenting from, how to operate the projector and laser pointer, verify that your program
loads properly, and reserve a seat a few rows back from the front of the room with easy
access to the aisle.

When your name is called, relax by walking deliberately to the podium and checking the
time. Open by introducing yourself and your company by name. Say a few words about your
responsibilities to connect with the audience and begin. Check your watch once to be sure
youre sticking to the presentation and not adding superfluous information; never worry
about wrapping-up early. When you finish, thank the audience and ask for questions. If time
is tight, suggest meeting in the foyer during the next coffee break.
Youll do well.

The floor discussion that followed this presentation might have gone on forever had it not been
for lunch. When it comes to lube oil, everyone has at least some experience and most have an
opinion or two. The takeaway from the dialog was that the electrostatic oil cleaner was good for
cleaning up hard particles while an alternative particle agglomeration device was particularly
effective on soft particles.

A couple of attendees said they saw little, if any, improvement in oil quality when using the
electrostatic unit on an operating turbine. A concern with the system agglomerating soft
particulates was that some of the agglomerated material would be squeezed through the filter.

Lube oil was back on the program Friday morning. Speaker began with a review of problems
encountered during six years of base-load operation with conventional turbine oil, including much
varnish and several trips attributed to it. No single element was ever identified as the main
culprit. Turbine oil lasted about two years or so before varnish buildup became an issue. Servos
fouled and adversely impacted operation of gas valves. Electrostatic oil clean-up system removed
only insoluble varnish; varnish byproducts remained in solution until they agglomerated into large
particles.

Solution for this user: Dont try to manage varnish, just dont make it. Plant switched to
polyalkaline glycol (PAG). Presentation was made after six months of operating experience with
the new fluid. Tests conducted just prior to the meeting showed additives still were in their
original concentrations, so it was assumed that the fluid had not degraded.

Other important points made:

o PAG can oxidize at high temperatures, but byproducts are soluble in the base oil.

o PAG-compatible materials must replace all rubber and paper in the systemfor example, O-
rings, gaskets, etc.

o The small amount of original oil that remains in the system after draining does not
adversely impact PAG, so a detergent flush is not needed.

o Verify proper operation of the emergency dc lube-oil pump with the higher-gravity PAG.
Power draw will increase.

o PAG is the base fluid. Additives determine its suitability for lube-oil and hydraulic control
purposes.
o Most heavy industrial experience with PAG has been in turbocompressors. One unit was said
to have operated for more than 80,000 hours.

Interestingly, equipment/services suppliers directly involved in the lube-oil projects profiled


above, and firms with similar offerings, were available for consultation at the vendor fair
specifically, American Chemical Technologies Inc, Analysts Inc, C C Jensen Inc, EPT Inc/CleanOil,
ISOPur Fluid Technologies Inc, and Kleentek.

The beehive of activity on the exhibition floor suggested users were actively looking for additional
information on subjects addressed by colleagues from the podium or during the open discussion.
Behind closed doors, supplier names are mentioned.

Readers can get useful background on lube-oil issues by accessing back articles at
www.combinedcyclejournal.com/archives.html: Click Summer 2004, click Maintain lube oil within
spec. . . on the issue cover; click 3Q/2005, click The lowdown on the sticky subject of lubricant
varnish; click 3Q/2006, click Gas-turbine valve sticking. . . and Assess the condition of your
oils. . . .

Turbine session

There were two user presentations in this session before the open discussion period. First
described an in-situ first-stage wheel repair for a 7FA+e. Damaged wheel had a burr in a dovetail
groove; shot-peening was essential because of the burrs location. Repair was successful. The
speaker also reported on repairs on a sister unit. First- and third-stage wheels were damaged by
a balance weight. They also were successfully repaired and shot-peened in place.

A failure of the cooling tip cap on a first-stage bucket for a 7FB was reported on next.
Operating data gave no indication of the problem. Unit had fewer than 6200 fired hours and only
450 starts since commercial start. Speaker said another user had the same experience,
accompanied by extensive leading-edge oxidation.

Platform creep indications were identified on first-stage buckets; bucket migration was in
evidence. The buckets were installed a year earlier during a combustor inspection and had seen
fewer than 2200 fired hours. They were removed and inspected using an immersion UT process.
Speaker said the OEM was working on a new bucket design.

Recommendations from the podium: Conduct borescope inspections annually, be ready for
surprises, and line up a set of replacement buckets in case theyre necessary.

Other issues discussed concerned the forward seal pins and a bucket lockwire that was found
disengaged. Improper installation if the lockwire was thought to be the cause of that issue. Users
were urged to carefully monitor unit repairs and to ensure rigorous QA/QC during installation of
locking hardware.

The roundtable discussion that followed the prepared presentations covered a wide range of
issues and observationsincluding high wheel-cavity temperatures, second-stage bucket shroud
failures, starts limit for second-stage buckets, condition of third-stage buckets, casing galling,
weld repair of turbine cases, quality issues associated with the various casting houses supplying
buckets and nozzles (defects can be traced by serial numbers), etc.

The 7F Users Group steering committee does a particularly good job guiding the roundtable
discussions. The discussion leader is at the front of the room and there are committee members
working the aisles with handheld microphones. That is not unusual.

However, this is a big group.

Holding the interest of the audience through the entire roundtable and keeping 250 people
focused on a single subject is a difficult job. Good equipment is a must. Also, participants in the
audience must be accessed with a mike quickly. A few extra seconds of dead time spawns local
conversation groups that would kill the session. Having four or five motivated floor stewards who
can fly up and down the aisles is necessary.

Another thing you learn sitting through one of these sessions is that while everyones either an
owner and/or operator of a 7F there a many different versions of this machinenot just 7221s,
7231s, 7241s, but also units with components made of different materials, slight but meaningful
design variations, etc. Perhaps the most outstanding attribute of the floor stewards is their
intimate knowledge of the entire product line.

When someone asks a question that leaves others scratching their heads, at least one member of
the floor team understands and can translate. Thats necessary to keep the dialog moving. Also
necessary are floor stewards like these who are not tempted to make a presentation themselves
another discussion killer.

Combustion session

A user presentation on the Modified Wobbe Index and the impact of variable fuel-gas quality on a
DLN2.6 combustion system drove the entire session. Discussion included liquids in the gas
supply, flashbacks, combustion dynamics, emissions, flame stability, the OEMs OpFlex Wide
Wobbe control system, etc.

GE Day

GE Energys 7F technology team presented on Thursday morning the companys latest


modifications and improvements for the compressor, including R0 blades, as well as for the
turbine, stator vanes, and auxiliaries. The team leader discussed the benefits of technology
investment. The afternoon was dedicated to breakout sessions on combustion, controls, and
accessories that included a Q&A period.

F-class technology milestones achieved in 2007, as reported by the OEM, included the following:
The 1000th unit shipped; fleet surpassed 20-million operating hours; fleet achieved 99.4%
operating reliability, 98.8% starting reliability, and 95.5% availability.

Looking ahead, GE expects commercial rollout of a redesigned compressor for the 7F fleet during
2Q/2009 (concurrent introduction for new units and the installed base), 2Q/2010 for the 9F fleet,
and 4Q/2010 for the 6F fleet.

Auxiliaries, generators

User presentations on auxiliaries included a steam-turbine Mark V to Mark VI upgrade, bolting


and gasket issues, and failure of an atomizing air compressor. One might think that such a
pedestrian subject as bolting and gasketing would have no place at an F-technology meeting;
guess again. The speaker detailed numerous gas leaks on startup after maintenance on a 7FA+e
because of improper gasket selection, poor gasket installation, and/or loose or uneven tightening
of flange bolting. Last might have been caused by galling experienced with the GE fasteners.

Here were the steps taken by this owner to minimize the possibility of a similar experience in the
future:

o Color-coded gaskets.

o Replaced the OEM-supplied bolts and locknuts with studs, nuts, and lockwashers.

o Established torque ratings.

o Developed check-off sheets for QC personnel to ensure proper gasket material is installed,
proper arrangement of studs/nuts/lockwashers is employed, and proper torque is applied.
The last user case history was particularly interesting. The atomizing air compressor for this
dual-fuel 7FA commissioned in the mid 1990s was compromised by standing water in the unit
that caused rapid deterioration of the impeller, shroud, and housing. A standby compressor was
available and placed in service. Speaker noted that if you lose atomizing air you have 11 seconds
before you start losing metal.

Water was thought to accumulate when the compressor was on standby during gas firing. Lesson
learned: Just because you see water coming out of the drain doesnt mean theres no water level
in the compressor.

The generator session featured a users viewpoint on the failure of a generator breaker
disconnect switch, and a presentation by Howard Moudy of National Electric Coil, Columbus, Ohio,
on generator issues and maintenance. The latter closes out this report.

As a leading provider of generator services, NEC typically gets a call when a large electrical
machine is ailing. Those most likely to respond from NEC are the service managers, one of whom
is Moudy, who probably has witnessed just about every problem a generator could have. He is a
confident speaker at industry meetings, where his experience and encyclopedic memory are
valuable assets for helping users meet managements expectation of high availability.

In Greenville, Moudy focused on the 7FH2 and 324 generators that most attendees had, dividing
his presentation into three parts: basic observations, general maintenance practices, and specific
issues concerning the rotor. He began by urging users to check end windings for looseness and
vibration every outage; visual indications include dusting and greasing. But that was not enough
for this group, attendees wanted to know the source of the damaging vibration.

Moudy explained: Steady-state forcessometimes called slot pounding forcesare a function of


the 120-Hz (twice the operating frequency) vibration forces that result from the magnetic flux
traveling through the rotor and stator. These pounding forces cause the coil to vibrate radially in
the slot. End turns overhang the core and if not properly supported, they will vibrate.

Transient (surge) forces usually occur during a generator fault. If sufficiently large, these forces
can break ties and loosen windingseven displace them. Moudy said a bump test to assess your
generators susceptibility to damaging vibration should be conducted as part of every major
outage. It identifies mechanical resonances excitable by the 120-Hz electromagnetic forcing
frequency. You want to tune the unit to avoid resonances in this range.

Maintenance practices. Moudy urged users to do all they could to maintain industry-standard
maintenance practices during changes of ownership, workforce reductions, budget cuts, and
other distractions. This is a prerequisite for assuring high reliability, he said. Knowledge
management is particularly important, he continued, because without historical records it is
harder to diagnose a generators condition or get to the root cause of the failure quickly. To help
users objectively evaluate their generator preventive maintenance programs, Moudy offered
these guidelines:

Standard equipment monitoring

o Temperature: Monitor continuously, to ensure it is within manufacturers limits.

o Grounds: Continuously, to guard against insulation failure.

o Vibration: Continuously, to identify bearing problems, loose components, possibility of


imminent failure.

o Lube oil analysis: Semi-annually, or more often, to check for contamination and indications
of bearing babbitt deterioration.
Visual inspection

o Stator winding: Look for dust, grease, oily surfaces, broken ties, discoloration, and foreign
object damage before every outage to help determine scope.

o Stator core: Inspect for damaged iron, loose iron, discoloration, and foreign objects during
every major outage with the rotor out.

o Rotor: Look for discoloration from overheating, loose or shifted blocks, and arcing during
every outage with the rotor out.

Stator electrical tests

o Insulation resistance or Megger with PI (Polarization Index), to determine presence of


contamination, every outage.

o Winding resistance, to verify integrity of brazed connections, every outage.

o Hi-pot, to stress insulation to prove its integrity, every major outage.

o DC ramp, to determine insulation strength, every major outage.

Rotor electrical tests

o Insulation resistance or Megger with PI, to determine presence of contamination, every


outage.

o Winding resistance, to verify integrity of brazed connections and find broken conductors,
every outage.

o Flux probe, to identify shorted turns when the unit is in operation, annually.

o Pole balance, to identify shorted turns when the unit is stationary, every major outage.

Specialty tests

o ElCID (Electromagnetic Core Imperfection Detection), to identify shorted laminations, every


major outage.

o Core loop, to detect shorted laminations, after rewinds or core repair.

o Wedge tightness, to locate loose wedges, every major outage.

o Partial discharge, to identify insulation deterioration and verify coil tightness in slot, yearly.

o Bump, to detect end-winding resonant frequencies, every major outage.


NDE tests

o Magnetic particle, to locate surface cracks in magnetic steel components, fans, rings,
wedges, shaft, coupling, and hubs, every major outage.

o Dye penetrant, to find surface cracks in nonmagnetic parts, fans, rings, and wedges, every
major outage.

o Ultrasonic, to pinpoint interior cracks in metal components, rings, and shaft, every major
outage.

Rotor issues. Moudy discussed two rotor issues specific to 324 generators serving 7FA gas
turbines: turn-insulation migration and dovetail-groove cracking. The experienced users in the
room had heard all about this before and probably had taken corrective action. So there was an
opportunity for them to turn off the concentration button for a moment. But with more than
half of the attendees first-timers there were plenty of people who wanted to hear what Moudy
had to say.

Turn-insulation migration occurs when the resin bond between the insulation and copper
separates and the insulationfor lack of a better termmigrates. Peaking units are said to be in
the highest-risk group. Moudy suggested monitoring and inspection to identify the problem if it
exists, then discussed NECs Specialized Engineering Solution as one corrective procedure (visit
www.national-electric-coil.com to learn more).

Dovetail groove cracking in the rotor forging of 324 generators predates identification of turn-
insulation migration, which the OEM acknowledged as an issue in early 2000. Concern is that the
cracks could initiate catastrophic damage to stator and rotor.

The background: Rotor dovetail cracks can be initiated by fretting at the interface
between steel wedges in slot No. 1 and the surface of the rotor dovetail-shaped slot. Crack
propagation is a result of high-cycle fatigue caused by rotor bending. The higher the rotor L/D
ratio, the easier the rotor bends; thus L/D ratio is a possible correlator with this failure.

A collateral problem is created during severe negative-sequence current eventssuch as when


motoring during turning-gear operation or with the rotor at rest. What happens is that material in
the vicinity of the crack overheats, significantly changing material properties. Moudy said that
independents like National Electric Coil have developed effective methods for addressing this
problem

Focused discussion key to problem-solving


The 7F Gas Turbine Users Group consistently conducts a superior annual conference. Three
things stand out when reviewing meeting notes:

o User involvement. The 7F is the largest frame user group, with more than 600 active
members. Attendance at the annual conference over 200 user delegatesis double that of
the next largest frame meeting.

o Practical content. The three day program has relatively few presentations by non-users
except for those conducted by the OEM (original equipment manufacturer) on General
Electric Day. It focuses on case histories and group discussion of specific issues that
concern the members.

o Comprehensive exhibition. The first evening of each 7F conference is reserved for a four-
hour vendor fair which includes reception and dinner on the expo floor. Around 50 exhibitors
participate annually. This year there were 48, showcasing products and services ranging
from inlet filters to borescopes to compressor washing systems to lube-oil treatment and
services.

The 2005 meeting was held in Peachtree City, Ga, close to GE Energys Atlanta headquarters,
allowing maximum interaction with key OEM personnel. More than 100 of the manufacturers
specialists were available on the second day to make presentations, conduct interactive sessions,
and answer questions across a wide range of subjects.

In addition to the annual conference, the groups website, http://GE7FA.users-groups.com, has


been instrumental to the success of the organization. The value of the website is demonstrated
by a doubling of the number of user delegates to the annual conference over the last few years.

The site enables members to communicate 24/7. Much of the information shared forms the basis
for the annual conference program. The groups steering committee encourages other groups to
contact the website operator at newgrouprequests@users-groups.com if they have interest in
increasing communication among members to resolve O&M and other issues quickly and
efficiently.

Day One, for users only, concentrated on the compressor, turbine, combustion system, and
auxiliaries. There were more than a dozen presentations by users and three group discussions
so-called roundtables on the compressor/turbine, combustion issues, and auxiliaries. A special
presentation by a 9F user was rolled into the days activities (see sidebar).

GE Day began with a review of the latest technical information letters (TILs) issued to 7F users
worldwide, followed by hour-long presentations on the turbine, compressor, and combustion
system, and subsequent Q&A sessions.

Mark your calendar


7F Gas Turbine Users Group 2006 Conference
Emory Conference Center Hotel
Atlanta
May 8-11
Delegates and exhibitors contact:
Gail Silvers
Certified Meeting Planner
Voice: 678-784-3059s
E-mail: gail@vision-makers.com
Steering Committee, 2005-2006
Bob Holm, OxyChem
Scott Trantham, Progress Energy
Carine Bullock, FPL Energy
Art Hamilton, Calpine Corp
Peter So, Calpine Corp
Ed Fuselier, Direct Energy
Paul White, Dominion Energy
Joel Holt, Entegra Power Group
Marshall McDuffie, The Southern Company
Don Barnett, CPS Energy
Miles Valentine, Tampa Electric Co
Steven Bates, Suez Energy NA

Reliability and operational flexibility were among the key discussion topics, including updates on
remote services and trip-reduction initiatives. Bear in mind that the global installed fleet of more
than 540 7Fs is experiencing increased cyclic operation, which places greater emphasis on
operating flexibility. Over 52,000 starts were recorded in the last year and the fleet added 1.8
million hours of operation.

Breakout sessions on the steam turbine, dual-fuel capabilities, and accessories and controls
highlighted the afternoon. A reception and product fair concluded the day. The product fair
included a first-hand look at the companys new longer-life hot-gaspath (HGP) components,
advanced repair capabilities, and new maintenance services, which featured a remote tuning
system demonstration.

The final day, also for users only, concentrated on operational issues with dual-fuel systems,
generators, and balance-of-plant (BOP) systems and equipment. It included five presentations by
users and three more roundtables.

What follows is a collection of 13 case histories gleaned from presentations by users and
roundtables on the first and third days of the meeting. Notes from presentations and discussion
during GE Day conclude the report. The O&M experience presented here is evidence of the
significant value associated with attending the 7F conference on a regular basis. Important details
concerning the 2006 meeting are presented in the sidebar on this page.

Compressor/turbine case histories

1. Compressor tip failure

Compressor section failure was caused by tight clearances and compressor casing distortion on a
unit that had 1900 fired hours and 350 fired starts.

Background facts:

o Bore scope inspections conducted on the compressors of three sister units showed all had
tight clearances. Two units had experienced Row 0 (R0) tip liberation (1.5 in. 0.5 in.), the
third an R0casing rub between the 10 and 2 oclock positions.

o R0 tip grinding and blending removed 0.010 in. to increase the clearance.

o Next bore scope inspection showed tip liberation had occurred again in one unit on an R0
blade.
o Laboratory examination using a scanning electron microscope found a crack on the convex
side of the blade. Causes were identified as grinding heat and high-cycle fatigue.
Investigators noted that the second cause might have been missed when the first blade
repair work was conducted. Metallurgist reported that many blade tips were off spec with
regard to hardness and surface finish.

o Hardness testing showed softening of the blade-tip material consistent with C450 material
exposed to temperatures of less than 1200F. Hardness levels were brought back into spec
by removing 0.020 in. of material.

o Lessons learned:

o Impact of compressor blade-tip rubs on the material properties of C450 is significant. Blade-
tip hardness testing is critical following a tip-rub event.

o Red dye penetrant is inadequate for nondestructive examination (NDE), fluorescent dye is
required.

o Blade-tip surface finish of RMS 64 is required after tip grinding.

2. Compressor failure, latter stages

Elongation of compressor discharge casing (CDC) on the Model 7221 machine causes tight
clearances in the back end of the compressor. Compressor failure resulted in this case.

Background facts:

o Failure occurred with 56,562 fired hours on the unit. High vibration initiated the trip. Three
R13 and all R14 through R17 blades were destroyed.

o Recent history: R0 and R1 blade tips were ground in 2003 because blade tip-to-casing
clearances were too tight. IGV (inlet guide vane) shroud could not be reinstalled because of
clearance challenges.

o Accident investigators observed the following: (1) R13 and R15 blades exhibited the
characteristics of high-cycle fatigue, (2) rotor was found sitting too far aft in the casing, (3)
CDC also was too far aftby 0.125 in.because of metal creep, (4) tight vane-torotor blade
clearances caused by CDC elongation contributed to R14 failure.

o Root cause analysis (RCA) confirmed that the failure was caused by reduced axial
clearances and that power augmentation placed additional stress on the unit. Vane rock
permitted contact between stator and rotor blades.

o Lessons learned:
o The CDCs on early-model machines are made of carbon steel, which is prone to creep.
Later-model units have alloy steel CDCs, which reportedly have not exhibited creep. Long-
term solution is to replace the carbon steel CDC with one of alloy steel.

o It is important to have the results of your RCA prior to machine reassembly. Dig into the
findings, asking the investigators lots of questions, making sure to question answers that
leave any doubt in your mind.

o Never assume that the repair work being done is routine.

3. R14 compressor outage

Warranty outage for R14 compressor tip rub and tip loss on a Model 7241 gas turbine (GT) in
simple-cycle service revealed additional compressor problems.

Outage summary:

o Machine had relatively few operating hours and under 50 fired starts. Investigators found
heavy rubs in the top half of the compressor casing.

o Tips were first ground on the R14 blades and then 0.020 in. was removed from the R0, R1,
and R2 blades when engineers decided clearances were too tight at those locations.

o Owners policy to remove rubbed material from the inside of the case was proved
wellfounded: Cracks in the casing were identified at the ninth stage after tip material was
removed.

o On reassembly, R17 blades were considered too tight in the stator and a 0.040 in. shim was
removed; EGVs (exit guide vanes) were too loose and a 0.120 in. shim was installed; final
inspection before closing the case identified one R14 blade that required blending.

4. Compressor clearances

CDC creep on Model 7221 machines will close up the A Set dimension, which is conducive to
contact between rotating and stationary blades (refer to Case History No. 2).

Outage summary:

o Causal analysis was conducted on a 7FA GT with inlet fogging following contact between R2
rotating and stationary blades. Investigators found that 13 of the 32 R2 rotating blades had
touched the stationary blades.

o Compressor RA measurements (distance between R17 blade tips and the CDC) had been
taken regularly to see if the CDC was showing signs of creep. The compressor X clearance
also was evaluated. Note that creep will cause the CDC movement and contact between
stationary and rotating blades if the original A Set dimension is maintained.
o Stationary blades were cropped to open up the clearance between the fixed and rotating
blades.