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eNerGY-TECH.com December 2009
FeATUreS
When an HVAC technician is called out to perform
a shaft alignment on a cooling tower fan, it is always an
adventure, and seldom a pleasant one. Numerous challeng-
es are involved, not the least of which include the distance
to be spanned, vibration from surrounding fans, hazardous
wet conditions, and obstructions, both to line of sight as
well as mobility. Using dial indicators in the “face-face-
distance” method, the job might take many hours, and
much longer if soft foot is found and must be corrected.
The following application in a large hospital is illustra-
tive of a number of frequently encountered problems that
must be overcome, and how they were handled with a laser
alignment system.
The cooling tower in question has a 12’ Marley fan
whose gearbox is coupled to a Baldor 40 H.P. 1775 rpm
motor via a 60˝ jackshaft with single flex plane couplings
at each end. The fan enclosure consists of a fiberglass shell
constructed around a wooden framework, located outside.
The alignment could not be measured by shooting the laser
beam across both couplings simultane-
ously, since the jackshaft went through
a small aperture in the fiberglass shell
whose diameter was less than the cou-
pling’s O.D. This meant that the “two-
step” procedure would have to be used
to take alignment readings (just as with
indicators), whereby each coupling is
bridged across individually, as illustrated
in Figure 1. The results of the readings
from these individual setups are then
combined to obtain the actual position
of the machine to be moved, in this case
the motor.
To simplify the task, a Rotalign Ultra
laser alignment system was used. This
permitted the cooling tower drive train
to be configured as a three-machine
train, with the middle machine config-
ured as a “shaft,” to represent the jack-
shaft. (See Figure 3.)
Configuring this particular setup
makes it easy to take readings across the
two couplings individually; the instru-
ment then instantly calculates the neces-
sary corrections for the motor without
any need to manually combine results
from the two setups.
A cooling tower adventure in alignment
By Alan Luedeking
Figure 1. Single-shot setup without obstruction.
Figure 2. Cooling Tower Fan.
December 2009 eNerGY-TECH.com
n
11
The first signifi-
cant problem arose
when the Rotalign
Ultra revealed that
in order to align the
shafts, the motor
would have to be
lowered by 149.8
mils at the front
feet and 225.5
mils at the back
feet. There were
not enough shims
available under the
back feet of the
motor that could be
removed to allow
this correction to be
made! See Figure
4. This is the clas-
sic scenario where
a machine is said to
be “base-bound.”
Since re-machining the feet or the baseplate was out of
the question, both resource- and time-wise, an alternative
solution had to be found. This brought into play another
powerful feature of the Rotalign Ultra:
the ability to set specific pairs of feet as
stationary for purposes of performing
alignment corrections. The instrument
was told to make the back feet of the
motor stationary (since they could not
be lowered) and to make the front feet
of the gearbox movable. The tool then
instantly calculated an alternative solu-
tion (see Figure 5).
As can be seen, both the front feet
of the gearbox (on the left) and front
feet of the motor would now have to
be shimmed up by 24.2 mils and 36.9
mils respectively. The great advantage
of this solution is that it requires only
positive shimming to be done (which is
always easier than negative shimming!),
while minimizing the magnitude of the
necessary corrections. This solution is
traditionally called “making an optimal
move.”
After the shimming corrections were
performed, the Rotalign Ultra was recon-
figured to make all the motor feet mov-
able again, and new readings were taken
to determine the final horizontal adjust-
ment to be made. The horizontal move
would be monitored in real time with the
laser system, which
can eliminate the
need to stick indica-
tors against the feet
of the motor.
Now another
circumstance par-
ticular in many
cooling towers
came into play –
the laser could not
be mounted on the
stationary gearbox
shaft to monitor the
horizontal move
since the fan enclo-
sure blocked line
of sight between
the gearbox shaft
and the motor
shaft. Therefore, a
different arrange-
ment would have to
be used. Since the Rotalign Ultra laser serves only as a
stationary reference line when monitoring moves, the laser
can be attached to any fixed point, and does not have to be
FeATUreS
Figure 3. Two-step overview.
Figure 4. Basebound.
Tilt Pad Thrust Bearing
Renewal Parts Maintenance
4485 Glenbrook Road Willoughby, OH 44094
Fhooe. 800-44ë-411ë º www.8eoewaIFarts.coæ
Renewal Parts Maintenance
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º ßesiga
ßptimizatiaa
º FreJictahle 3kim
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Figure 5. Optimal.
Figure 6. Laser move setup.
12
n
eNerGY-TECH.com December 2009
mounted on the sta-
tionary machine’s
shaft. This meant
that the laser could
be attached to a
fixed location on
the motor side of
the fan enclosure.
In this case, a steel
angle-iron attached
to the wooden brac-
ing on the outside of
the fiberglass fan enclosure (on the motor side), provided
an ideal mounting location. The laser was mounted to this
angle iron using magnetic brackets. See an illustration of
this in Figure 6. With this convenient solution, no dial
indicators would need to be mounted against the feet of
the motor to control the motor’s move, and furthermore,
this laser setup also permits checking for soft foot on the
motor. The soft foot check and corrections were performed
after the rough alignment but prior to the final alignment.
The final alignment ended up well within tolerance, as
shown in the final result screen in Figure 7.
The entire job, including checking for and correcting
soft foot took less than three hours, most of which was
spent climbing up and down ladders and clambering care-
fully around the cooling tower structure. This resulted in
greatly reduced downtime and labor savings for the plant
operator.
Alan Luedeking is a training instructor and field service
engineer for rotating machinery alignment at Ludeca Inc.
Luedeking has a bachelor’s degree from the University of
Colorado and has 27 years field experience with all types of
machinery in a wide range of industries, including breweries,
mines, power plants, paper mills, chemical plants, oil refiner-
ies, food processing plants, shipyards and others. He holds an
ISO Level I certification in vibration analysis and is manager
of Alignment Tech Support and Training for Ludeca.
regarding spacer shaft tolerances
The machine train in question is a cooling tower
fan drive with just two machines (a motor and a
right-angle gearbox) directly coupled through a long
jackshaft, and not a three-machine train, as was set
up in the Rotalign Ultra. Thus, the aligner must either
manually apply spacer shaft tolerances to the mea-
sured alignment condition at each coupling, or tell the
Rotalign Ultra to do it for him or her. It is imperative
to do this, since the application of short coupling toler-
ances, at each coupling or elsewhere along the length
of the spacer shaft, is a self-defeating exercise since
such a result might not be attainable and also leads
to unnecessary work. For a thorough understanding of
why this is so, we refer the reader to an in-depth pre-
sentation on “Short Flex and Spacer Shaft Tolerances”
(Parts 1 and 2) on the Reliability Web, accessible
through a link under ‘Learning Center’ on Ludeca’s
Web site, www.ludeca.com/res_learningcenter.php.
Since we have set up single-plane couplings at
each end of the spacer, the Rotalign Ultra will by
default apply the “correct” short coupling tolerances
for this type of coupling. You don’t want that. Instead,
observe the angu-
larity results given
for each coupling
(see Figure 5,
which illustrates the
results for the motor
coupling on the
right) and simply
apply the correct
spacer coupling
angularity toler-
ances (see Figure
8) for the rpm
involved, and com-
pare these values
to the results.
In this case,
at 1,775 rpm,
you would apply
the tolerances for
1,800 rpm, which
dictate an excellent
value of 0.6 mils per inch. If your measured values
for angularity at each coupling are within this permis-
sible tolerance, the job is finished. Alternatively, the
Rotalign Ultra can do this for you automatically, but
you must first input the desired tolerance values via the
Maximum Values feature that lets you, the user, manu-
ally specify exactly which tolerances to apply at each
coupling in the train on a case-by-case basis, instead
of automatically applying standard industry tolerances
from the tables (see Figures 9 and 10.)
EnErgyTALK
Figure 8. Spacer tolerances.
Figure 7. Final results.
Figure 9. MaxVals Option.
Figure 10. MaxVals.

2 mils and 36. and new readings were taken to determine the final horizontal adjustment to be made. a Figure 6. This is the classic scenario where a machine is said to Figure 4. the motor would have to be lowered by 149.8 mils at the front feet and 225. the laser can be attached to any fixed point. an alternative solution had to be found. Now another circumstance particular in many cooling towers came into play – Figure 5. both the front feet of the gearbox (on the left) and front feet of the motor would now have to be shimmed up by 24. and does not have to be Tilt Pad Thrust Bearing Renewal Parts Maintenance Renewal Parts Maintenance 4485 Glenbrook Road Willoughby. Laser move setup. As can be seen. Since the Rotalign Ultra laser serves only as a stationary reference line when monitoring moves. Therefore. This solution is traditionally called “making an optimal move. different arrangement would have to be used. This brought into play another powerful feature of the Rotalign Ultra: the ability to set specific pairs of feet as stationary for purposes of performing alignment corrections. while minimizing the magnitude of the necessary corrections.” Since re-machining the feet or the baseplate was out of the question.FeATUreS The first significant problem arose when the Rotalign Ultra revealed that in order to align the shafts. There were not enough shims available under the back feet of the motor that could be removed to allow this correction to be made! See Figure 4.com n 11 . The tool then instantly calculated an alternative solution (see Figure 5). The great advantage of this solution is that it requires only positive shimming to be done (which is always easier than negative shimming!). mils at the back feet. both resource.5 Figure 3. The instrument was told to make the back feet of the motor stationary (since they could not be lowered) and to make the front feet of the gearbox movable.and time-wise. The horizontal move would be monitored in real time with the laser system. Basebound. OH 44094 December 2009 eNerGY-TECH. which can eliminate the need to stick indicators against the feet of the motor. the Rotalign Ultra was reconfigured to make all the motor feet movable again.9 mils respectively. Optimal. Two-step overview. be “base-bound.” After the shimming corrections were performed. the laser could not be mounted on the stationary gearbox shaft to monitor the horizontal move since the fan enclosure blocked line of sight between the gearbox shaft and the motor shaft.

but you must first input the desired tolerance values via the Maximum Values feature that lets you. If your measured values for angularity at each coupling are within this permissible tolerance. and furthermore.775 rpm. accessible through a link under ‘Learning Center’ on Ludeca’s Web site. Thus. mounted on the stationary machine’s shaft. is a self-defeating exercise since such a result might not be attainable and also leads to unnecessary work. the Rotalign Ultra will by default apply the “correct” short coupling tolerances for this type of coupling. www. Instead. You don’t want that. The final alignment ended up well within tolerance. food processing plants. instead of automatically applying standard industry tolerances from the tables (see Figures 9 and 10. The entire job. the job is finished. Luedeking has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Colorado and has 27 years field experience with all types of machinery in a wide range of industries. For a thorough understanding of why this is so. Spacer tolerances. It is imperative to do this. as was set up in the Rotalign Ultra. and compare these values to the results. at each coupling or elsewhere along the length of the spacer shaft.com December 2009 .) Figure 8.800 rpm. This resulted in greatly reduced downtime and labor savings for the plant operator. no dial indicators would need to be mounted against the feet of the motor to control the motor’s move. we refer the reader to an in-depth presentation on “Short Flex and Spacer Shaft Tolerances” (Parts 1 and 2) on the Reliability Web. the aligner must either manually apply spacer shaft tolerances to the measured alignment condition at each coupling. regarding spacer shaft tolerances The machine train in question is a cooling tower fan drive with just two machines (a motor and a right-angle gearbox) directly coupled through a long jackshaft. provided an ideal mounting location. This meant that the laser could be attached to a fixed location on the motor side of the fan enclosure. Alternatively. mines. the Rotalign Ultra can do this for you automatically.6 mils per inch. since the application of short coupling tolerances. oil refineries. See an illustration of this in Figure 6. With this convenient solution. spacer coupling angularity tolerances (see Figure 8) for the rpm involved. 1. 12 n eNerGY-TECH. The soft foot check and corrections were performed after the rough alignment but prior to the final alignment. a steel angle-iron attached Figure 7. Final results.com/res_learningcenter.EnErgyTALK observe the angularity results given for each coupling (see Figure 5. power plants. most of which was spent climbing up and down ladders and clambering carefully around the cooling tower structure. which dictate an excellent value of 0. the user. In this case. paper mills. shipyards and others. or tell the Rotalign Ultra to do it for him or her. Since we have set up single-plane couplings at each end of the spacer. as shown in the final result screen in Figure 7. manually specify exactly which tolerances to apply at each coupling in the train on a case-by-case basis. to the wooden bracing on the outside of the fiberglass fan enclosure (on the motor side). MaxVals Option. this laser setup also permits checking for soft foot on the motor. The laser was mounted to this angle iron using magnetic brackets. MaxVals. He holds an ISO Level I certification in vibration analysis and is manager of Alignment Tech Support and Training for Ludeca. which illustrates the results for the motor coupling on the right) and simply apply the correct Figure 9. including checking for and correcting soft foot took less than three hours.ludeca. Alan Luedeking is a training instructor and field service engineer for rotating machinery alignment at Ludeca Inc. at 1. chemical plants. In this case. and not a three-machine train.php. including breweries. you would apply the tolerances for Figure 10.