Categories: Shaft Alignment

The Return of Soft Foot


By on May 19, 2012

Previous alignment blog postings have discussed the negative effects of soft foot on rotating machinery reliability and the importance of checking and correcting soft foot before proceeding with a shaft alignment. The question is: “does soft foot need to be checked during an alignment?” Possibly.

During a recent GO Pro training class an alignment check was performed on a Goulds 3196 pump, driven by a 20 HP electric motor at 1765 RPM. The pump runs intermittently–only several hours a day.

The initial set of shaft alignment measurements were taken with the following results:

Goulds pump shaft alignment before

As indicated by the four red coupling values and when compared to the 1800 RPM tolerances on VibrAlign’s tolerance table the alignment was out of tolerance in both the vertical and horizontal planes.

Before making a Verti-Zontal compound move, obvious and final soft foot were checked and found to be nonexistent. The Verti-Zontal compound move was completed including correcting for a bolt-bound condition in the horizontal plane.

As the mechanics where tightening the hold down bolts they noted the right rear foot now had soft foot. Where did that come from?

A 15 mil shim was required to correct the soft foot. After the hold down bolts were tightened, final soft foot was checked and found to be in tolerance (2.0 mil or less).

A light “touch up” to the shaft alignment was required after taking a set of measurements. A final set of alignment measurements revealed a final alignment position of:goulds pump shaft alignment after

So why did the right rear foot develop soft foot during the alignment?

The answer is in the initial alignment results. The horizontal angular misalignment was almost 12 times the allowable angular tolerance resulting in the rear feet being 172 mils out. Once the rear feet were moved over 1/8”, variations in the base or other base-related factors caused the soft foot to mysteriously appear.

When training classes to use our Verti-Zontal alignment process, we stress the importance of performing pre-alignment steps. The first step is to “rough in” the alignment to 20-30 mils vertically and horizontally for several reasons. One being the movable machine is close to the final vertical and horizontal position and the aligner is not suddenly surprised by the mysterious appearance of soft foot.

Has this ever happened to you?

About the Author

Brad Case has been associated with VibrAlign since 1990, first as a manufacturer’s representative, than joining the company as a direct employee in 2005. He has over 35 years experience in aligning industrial machinery. Brad attended Texas Tech University, in Lubbock, TX.

Brad began his career in the automotive industry providing technical training, sales, and service for Murray Goldseal an aftermarket air conditioning component manufacturer. His background includes 25 plus years experience in sales, service and training, of Centralized Lubrication Systems, Couplings, Gearing, and Gear Reducers.

Brad and his wife currently live in Clifton, TX.

2 responses to “The Return of Soft Foot”

  1. jimmy acton says:

    i would like to find out more on the news letter.

  2. Hey Jimmy–I passed along your info to receive our newsletter. The newsletter is published quarterly. Take a look through the blog–we appreciate the comments!