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PREPARATION FOR ALIGNMENT Page 1

PREPARATION FOR ALIGNMENT

OBJECTIVE: At the end of this topic, the student will be familiar with the
technical terms and hardware associated with shaft alignment. The
student will understand the importance of pre-alignment checks.

Lock Out - Tag Out

l Make Sure The Machine


Train Has Been De-
Energized And Isolated
Before Starting Any Work

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Basic Alignment Tools

The tools most commonly used in the course of an alignment project include:

• Dial Indicators

• Indicator Holder

• Alignment Brackets

• Alignment Bars

• Magnetic Orthogonal Level

• Magnetic Bases With Goosenecks

• Adjustable Mirror

• Good Selection Of Mechanics Hand Tools

Make certain the tools are clean and in a good state of repair. Usually two or three
millwrights are required to do the mechanical work.

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Dial Indicators
• Measures relative position.
• The face of the indicator rotates to “zero” the indicator.
• The indicator has a spring loaded plunger that keeps it in contact with the
surface being indicated.
• When the plunger is pushed in, the needle moves clockwise and a (+) positive
reading results.
• When the plunger is moved out, the needle moves counterclockwise and a (-)
negative reading results.

Read Read
POSITIVE NEGATIVE
Displacement Displacement

Plunger Plunger
Movement Movement
TOWARDS AWAY from
Dial Dial

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Shaft Offset vs. Total Indicator Reading


There are two types of dial indicator readings; Actual and Total Indicated Reading
(TIR). When a dial indicator is zeroed on a shaft and rotated 180 degrees, a TIR
reading results. The actual shaft centerline offset is one half that amount. The dial
indicator reads the offset on both sides of the shaft, so the resulting TIR is twice
the actual offset. Later in the reverse dial alignment workshop you will be plotting
indicator readings. It is imperative that you remember to plot the actual offset and
not the TIR.

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Alignment Mounting Brackets


Alignment mounting brackets are fixtures used to hold the dial indicators over
coupling components. The brackets can be custom made for one machine or
adjustable for use on several different machines. Since there are usually hundreds
of different applications in each plant it makes sense to try to provide adjustable
brackets. Provision for adjustment of the bracket should be made both for shaft
diameter and coupling span. The brackets must be rigid enough to ensure
repeatable readings yet light enough to minimize bar sag. Several of the most
common types of brackets are shown below:

Simple Plate and Bar

Christmas Tree

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Pipe and Plate

Screw In Pipe

Chain Bracket

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Pre-Alignment Machinery Checks

1.)

2.)

3.)

4.)

5.)

6.)

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Foundation/Grout

1.)

2.)

3.)

4.)

Piping
Forces exerted by piping are often responsible for failures due to misalignment.
The static alignment of a machine may be perfect but piping forces can easily push
the casings into an unacceptable alignment condition. Visual inspection of the
entire piping system is highly recommended before any alignment process is
initiated. Look for ,
, or any obvious signs
of pipe movement near the machine.

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Generally, the shaft alignment is done before the piping is connected. The piping
is then brought up to the machine. The pipe flanges must be parallel to and
aligned with the machine flanges. The flanges must line up without the assistance
of come-a-longs, crow bars or 50 ton cranes!

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An excellent rule of thumb is “Pipe up the pump, don’t pump up the pipe”! If the
shaft alignment changes significantly (the amount of change that is acceptable
varies with each application but most of the time anything over 2 mils is
unacceptable. Occasionally, 4 mils may be allowed ) after the piping is attached,
the piping must be disconnected, the pipe strain relieved and the whole procedure
repeated.

Extreme cases of pipe strain have led to coupling, bearing or shaft failure. The
improperly restrained and supported suction pipe on a large pump operating at
high temperature caused the pump volute to break. You can well imagine the
safety concerns that were voiced due to that failure along with repair costs and
loss of production.

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Hold Down Bolts


There is no use in spending long hours perfectly aligning a machine if the
mechanism that holds it in place is defective. Worse yet is finding out that
mechanism is preventing you from aligning the machine properly.

Bolt Bound is the term used to describe the condition created when there is
insufficient clearance between the hold down bolt and the hole through the
machine foot to permit horizontal alignment. The ideal solution for that situation
is to send the machine to the shop and have the holes bored large enough to allow
horizontal alignment. What actually happens most often is that the hold down
bolts are sent to the shop and undercut to allow the movement. That is acceptable
as long as the undercut does not exceed minimum thread depth. The bolt should
also be straight with clean threads and corrosion free. Since the bolts require a
certain amount of tension in order to stay tight it is necessary that the bolts be long
enough to stretch to provide that tension. Don’t replace long bolt-collar
combinations with short bolts.

Shims
There are many different types of shims that can be used to correct the vertical
alignment. Carbon steel, stainless steel and brass are the most common. There are
also laminated shim stacks available. Shim stock can be supplied precut or in rolls
and sheets. The ideal shim for most situations is stainless steel precut. They are
available in assortments ranging from 1 mil to 150 mil thick. Shims and shim
stock are labeled in nominal thickness. Always use a micrometer to verify the
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actual thickness. If reusing existing shims make sure they are clean, flat and free
of burrs. Shims should be the same size as the machine foot. Shim material
should be 316 Stainless Steel (304 SS corrodes in water with chlorides).

There should be at least 125 mils of shim under each foot. Why?

Limit the total number of shims under each foot. How Many?

Why?

Soft Foot
A tripod always has its support feet resting in the same plane since it takes only
three points to define a plane. Most machine cases have at least four support feet.
Since three of those feet define the support plane, it is up to the person doing the
alignment to ensure the fourth foot rests in that same plane.

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Soft Foot is the term used to describe the condition that exists when the support
feet are not coplanar. When the foot that is “soft” is tightened down casing
distortion occurs. Depending on the amount of soft foot present, the distortion
could range from undetectable to severe enough to cause catastrophic failure.
That failure occurs when the casing is distorted enough to cause bearing
misalignment and or the loss of internal clearances.

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There are several possible cause of soft foot:

1.)

2.)

3.)

4.)

5.)

Procedure To Check For Soft Foot

The following is the procedure used to check for and correct soft foot. The work
is best accomplished with the assistance of two millwrights. Hand tools, and dial
indicator with gooseneck and magnetic base are required.

1.) Shutdown/Lockout/Tagout

2.) Tighten all hold down bolts

3.) Position dial indicator over foot using magnetic base and gooseneck. Zero the

indicator.

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4.) Loosen the hold down bolt and record the dial indicator reading. Leaving the

dial indicator in place, retighten the bolt. The indicator should go back to zero.
If not, repeat the procedure until it does. Note that using impact or slug
wrenches can disturb the dial indicator.
5.) Repeat this procedure for each foot.

6.) Soft foot exists if any reading exceeds the others by more than two or three

mils.

Correcting Soft Foot

1.) Shim the foot with the largest reading. The amount of shim to use is equal to

the difference in that reading and the other foot readings.


2.) Soft Foot is 3-dimensional: The gap can exist at the sides, front and back.

3.) Angular soft foot must be step shimmed. The shims are stacked in a wedge

shape to fill the gap.


4.) Repeated measurements are necessary to ensure the gap is completely and

uniformly filled.
5.) Repeat the soft foot check for all feet.

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Shaft and Coupling Runout

Runout is the term used to describe the condition that exists when a rotating
surface does not revolve exactly around its geometric center. This “out of round”
condition is common when working with rotating shafts and couplings. The
readings are easiest to interpret if the indicators are equidistant

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Measuring Runout

1.) The lube oil must be turned on prior to rotating any shaft. If that is not possible

then provisions must be made to lubricate the bearings. Quite often during
rebuild, the bearings are lubricated with a very viscous fluid such as STP. That
fluid will provide adequate lubrication for the bearings while the shaft is turned
manually during the alignment process.

2.) Position a magnetic base on the housing above the coupling. Using a
gooseneck, position the dial indicator on the shaft. Zero the dial indicator and
rotate the shaft recording the runout every ninety degrees. Repeat the
procedure indicating on the coupling.

3.) The runout is excessive if any reading exceeds 2 mils on either the coupling or

the shaft for a machine operating at 3600 rpm or more. On low speed machines
more runout may be acceptable but it is best kept to a minimum. Consult the
O.E.M. or coupling manufacturer if you are in doubt.

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Checking Runout On Rim

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Checking Runout On Rim

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Checking Runout On Face

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Bar Sag
Bar sag is a gravity induced error that results when the alignment bracket falls
toward the indicated surface at the 12 O’clock position and away from it at the 6
O’clock position. The amount of error is influenced by both the stiffness of the
bracket and the suspended weight.

Procedure To Check Bar Sag:


Mount the indicator bar on a pipe that can be supported on both ends with V-
blocks. Mount the dial indicator on the bar. Rotate the pipe 180°. The reading on
the dial is the Total Indicator Reading (T.I.R.) Sag.

Indicator Bar Sag Check

T.I.R BAR SAG

V - Block Support

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Record the reading as “BAR SAG T.I.R.”. Scribe or stamp the reading into the
bracket for future reference. The actual bar sag is one-half the T.I.R. reading. The
T.I.R. sag reading is used to correct the T.I.R. dial indicator reading. Bar sag
results when the bar falls away from the indicating surface. That means the
indicator stem moves out resulting in a more negative number. Therefore, sag
readings will always be negative. The sag is subtracted from the indicator reading:
(-(- sag) = + sag). In other words the sag number is used to make the indicator
reading more positive.

Review

Pre-Alignment Checks:

1.) Ensure that the machinery needs .


2.) Check for a deteriorated .
3.) Check for . Piping should be disconnected before starting
and reconnected after alignment is completed.
4.) Ensure that the machine supports and baseplate pads are

relative to each other and free of such as burrs.


5.) Ensure that hold down bolts have enough clearance to allow for

.
6.) Ensure that the necessary tools and shim packs are on hand before starting.

7.) Lube oil should be while making all measurements.


8.) Ensure all dial indicators are and their stems
.

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9.) Ensure that the dial indicator mounting brackets are fastened securely to the

shaft or coupling hub to bar sag.


10.) Mounting brackets for the indicator bars should be fabricated of material that

sag.
11.) Before starting there should be non-rusting shims
with a total thickness of to under each
foot. The shims are necessary to allow for in
case the machine needs to be .
12.) Check for a soft foot condition. Using the ,
make sure each foot is bolted firmly to the base plate. Then, loosen the hold
down bolt of each foot, one at a time, while checking the foot’s rise relative to
the base. Re-tighten each foot before checking the next foot. A soft foot is
indicated if movement of any foot exceeds the others by more than
mils.
13.) Flexible couplings are designed to allow for
only, they are not intended for sloppy maintenance
practices.
14.) The amount of misalignment allowable depends on ,
and
The distance between the hubs and the amount of exposed shaft determines
what method of alignment will be used. If one machine cannot be rotated
(common problem with turbine generator sets) then reverse dial indication
cannot be used.

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15. Bar sag results when the bar falls away from the indicating surface. That
means the indicator stem moves _____________, resulting in a ___________
number. Therefore, sag readings will always be ______________.
16. The sag is______________ to / from the indicator reading. In other words the

sag number is used to make the indicator reading ___________ positive.


17. The following are possible causes of runout:

a.)

b.)

c.)

d.)

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