Categories: Shaft Alignment

Don’t Bet Against Your Laser Shaft Alignment Tool!

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By on January 15, 2014

During the classroom portion of a Fixturlaser GO Pro training class, at a sheet metal processing plant, one mechanic insisted the GO Pro alignment results were not repeatable in the field. The mechanic had the opportunity to use their GO Pro once before the training class and was convinced it would not repeat

For the “OJT” portion of the class we set out to align the machine in question. The mechanic offered a “good natured” bet against the GO Pro which of course I declined. The machine is a 25 HP electric motor and pump set, operating at 1800 RPM. As the pump is pumping etching acid to clean sheet metal prior to painting the pump was behind a wall, for safety, with only the coupling end of the shaft in view. Unfortunately photos were not allowed to be taken.

The first set of results indicated the vertical and horizontal alignment slightly out of tolerance. The class made a Verti-Zontal Compound MoveTM by adding shims to correct the vertical misalignment then adjusting the motor horizontally to bring it into tolerance.

After tightening the hold down bolts and re-measuring the results showed the alignment to be worse then when we started.  Another set of measurements and different results, however still out of tolerance.

Non-repeating alignment results typically indicate something is loose. The sensor brackets, coupling backlash, hold down bolts, etc.  We checked all we could see and everything was tight.

Several more set of alignment measurements revealed the same non-repeatable results.  Something had to be moving on the pump end. As the acid had been drained from the pump we were allowed to open up the wall to view the pump.  What we found hit us in the head like a 2 x 4! Literally, that was the problem a 2 x 4!

One of the pump’s 4 feet had broken off and a piece of 2 x 4 was wedged under it. Closer inspection revealed that acid had eaten away the wood and the foot was not supported by anything. As the pump was no longer securely mounted we had been attempting to align the electric motor to a moving target.  All the mechanics had a good laugh at what we found.

Obviously, this pump had to be repaired or replaced before a precision shaft alignment could be performed, so we moved to another pump, and aligned it without incident.

Lesson(s) learned on the first pump?

1.       Never assume anything when it comes to alignment, examine all machines being aligned.

2.       You can’t align a moving target. Check that ALL hold down bolts are tight.

3.       If your alignment results are not repeating more than likely something is loose, it’s not the tool.

About the Author

James Pekarek joined VibrAlign in 2013. He has 18 years of experience in machine installation, electrical systems, maintenance and service management.

James began his career in the automation industry installing and maintaining various types of machinery and performing technical training to customers in the semiconductor industry. He spent 3 years with Cummins Industrial Power Generation as Service Manager. James also spent 3 1/2 years as lead Electrical Instructor at a vocational college serving the Wind Industry. While there, he gained his NFPA 70E certification as well as NEC 1910. James is also a certified Electrical Safety Instructor.

During his technical instruction career, James was introduced to VibrAlign and many of the products. He was impressed by the company philosophy and values and decided to pursue a career as a technical instructor with us.

James and his family live in Vancouver, Washington. He enjoys the outdoors, family time and building cars.

4 responses to “Don’t Bet Against Your Laser Shaft Alignment Tool!”

  1. Stan Riddle says:

    Great blog post!

  2. Mac says:

    Good catch, yes a moving target would be difficult to align to. 🙂

  3. Wayne Sayers says:

    Great article. It is amazing how basic practices seem to be forgotten until nothing else is working. Then it’s ‘I wonder if we have a bad foot.’

  4. Alan Lashley says:

    Makes for a long and frustrating alignment when you dont trust the tool, it is telling you something is wrong.