Precision Alignment and Paint Just Don’t Play Well Together

Maintenance & Reliability
Stan Riddle Precision Alignment and Paint

Precision Alignment and Paint Just Don’t Play Well Together

Contributor: Stan Riddle, VibrAlign, ACOEM Group

The VibrAlign trainers LOVE to go out into the plant, to conduct the field portion of our alignment training.  Since we’re all maintenance guys ourselves, we like getting our hands dirty. And in typical maintenance “bravado”, we don’t think there’s anything we can’t align-

-until we see something like this.

This plant was built in the 1960’s.  And it appears that this particular pump has experienced an annual paint job every year since!  Obviously, there was a good amount of clean-up to do. So, just for curiosity’s sake, I decided to measure the paint thickness on this shim with a micrometer.

Almost 50 mils of paint!  It was so thick on the bolt that we almost couldn’t get the right size wrench on it.

Stan Riddle Precision Alignment and Paint image 2How do you align a machine in this kind of mess?  You don’t. You MUST clean up first. Even if you throw away the painted shims, and start from scratch (which we did), you must clean up before you EVEN TRY to perform a precise alignment.

We chipped, scraped, and blew down the feet, base, and anywhere we needed a clean, flat surface, and started from scratch with new bolts.  Cleaning took 20 minutes, as did the alignment.

There is a quote, attributed to Abraham Lincoln, which says, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree, and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe”.  In this case, 20 minutes of cleaning made for a 20 minute alignment job..

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