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Measurement guide

for replacement
Department Editor: Scott Jenkins seals

echanical seals play a pivotal role in the chemical Radial space available Shaft Tap depth
process industries (CPI). As the sealing interface around shaft center line or stud
Bolt/stud to top of length
between rotating process equipment and the Bearing bearing
materials contained inside, these devices prevent diameter Sleeve length
product leakage and fugitive emissions, while per- from mounting
mitting process machines, pumps and compressors surface
to operate at ever-increasing pressures, vacuums,
temperatures and speeds. Even the most basic Shaft/sleeve dia.
mechanical seal is a complex assembly. diameter Shaft length Vessel
Correct measurement of the machinery for (if any) from mounting I.D.
replacement seals can be an underappreciated Bearing surface
aspect of maintenance planning. shelf
to shaft Distance to Recess
The following steps outline basic procedures and Bolt/stud bearing from
Bearing center depth
considerations involved in measuring machinery for pattern height line
mounting surface (if any)
replacement seals.

Measuring For shaft seal replacement

Step 1. Shaft diameter MBC MBC
Measure the shaft diameter (ø) where the replacement seal will
be installed. It’s important to actually take a measurement of
the shaft and sleeve, rather than relying on dimensions from the
machinery’s blueprints.
The shaft diameter can vary slightly at different points along
its length, so take the measurement where the seal will be
positioned. This may mean removing the existing seal, or at least
sliding it out of the way.
The shaft may be worn or fretted, so obtain an average
measurement of the shaft. This can be accomplished by taking X
several measurements with a micrometer or caliper, then averag- MBC = X / cos 30 deg
ing them. An alternate way to get an average measurement of Verify MBC = Ø + 2(Z ) Verify MBC = Ø + 2(Z )
the shaft is to use a diameter-reading tape measure. These are
precision tapes with a vernier scale, which allows you to mea-
sure shaft diameters to within 0.001 in. MBC
After taking the most precise measurement possible of the Z3 Z2
shaft and the sleeve, if any, it may be useful to take a photo-
graph of the shaft if it is fretted or worn. Your seal supplier can
be a resource for more information. Y X

Step 2. Radial clearance Z

Using a rule or tape measure, measure the radial clearance around Z4 Z1
the shaft and identify the nearest radial obstruction. If more than
one obstruction exists, measure and mark all on a sketch.
Step 3. Axial clearance
MBC = √X 2 + Y 2 MBC = 2(X)
Measure the axial clearance to the first obstruction. This is usu- Verify MBC: if Z 1 = Z 2 = Z 3 = Z 4 Verify MBC = Ø + 2(Z )
ally the distance from the seal mounting point to the bearing or then MBC = Ø + 2(Z)
drive assembly. There may, however, be other closer obstruc-
tions, such as shaft couplings. A sketch can be helpful in com- MBC
municating your needs.
Step 5. Mounting surface
Step 4. Seal mounting Check the surface on which the seal
Determine how the existing seal is mounted. For example, are will be mounted. Is it flat or perpendic-
there bolts or studs fastening it in place? If so, how many are ular to the shaft? Use a straightedge
there, what size are they, and how are they distributed around and a machinist’s square to verify this
the diameter of the shaft? information, which will be important
Start by measuring the distance between the centers of each when mounting a new seal. Z
pair of adjacent bolts (X). Take this measurement for every pair Note that some equipment has a
of bolts — bolt spacings may not be equal around the circle. machined recess around the shaft
See the accompanying illustrations for how to convert com- cutout, where a boss on the seal is ⎛ ⎛
MBC = 2(X ) ⎜ sin 67.5 deg ⎜
mon bolt patterns to a mounting bolt circle (MBC). You can intended to fit for centering purposes. ⎝ sin 45 deg ⎝
check your work by measuring from the shaft outer diameter to If there is such a recess, measure Verify MBC = Ø + 2(Z )
each bolt center. Twice this distance, plus the shaft diameter, both the diameter and the depth.
should also equal the MBC dimension. Careful attention is
important here because the shaft may not be centered exactly Acknowledgements
within the bolt circle.
If studs are used for fastening, determine their lengths. Measure Material for this month’s Facts at Your Fingertips was provided by Woodex Bear-
lengths and provide details of thread length, as well as whether or ing Co. (Georgetown, Maine; general manager Starkey
not the studs are welded onto or threaded into the machine. Steuernagle, and seal designer Matt King.