Alignment: Symptoms of Misalignment and Solutions to Achieve Precision Alignment
All yacht captains, chief engineers, and/or crew will experience misalignment at one point or another, regardless of how sophisticated your maintenance plan is. Misalignment can make itself known, most commonly through vibration; however, leaking seals and increased fuel consumption can also be a canary in the coal mine. If left untreated, shaft line misalignment can cause premature wear of components such as seals and bearings; even lead to mechanical failures. In this blog post, we’ll shake down into common symptoms of misalignment as well as solutions to achieve precision alignment of your running gear.
Equipment running out of alignment causes friction, forcing parts to rub against each other. This causes equipment to vibrate and wobble. As such, vibration is a clear sign that there is an alignment issue is afoot! Over time, increased vibration will result in loss of running gear performance, usually due to aging, worn, and/or incorrectly installed components. If the shaft line is not up to snuff, it can cause increased fuel consumption and possibly lead to premature machinery breakdown, leaving your charter stranded!
Using laser and optical alignment technologies the lifespan of your machinery and components can be significantly increased. Optical alignments are performed with an optical alignment telescope and this must take place out of the water after the running gear is removed. For example, AME was called to correct the alignment of a 92’ yacht in Fort Lauderdale that had run aground. Our service technicians found that the struts were not rigidly mounted to the hull (click here to see how we used motion amplification to detect). This led to an AME technician and engineer dropping the struts to stiffen the strut pocket. Upon completion, we performed an optical alignment of the strut and bedded it firmly to the hull. It is imperative that the struts be precision aligned upon reinstallation to allow for a maximum lifespan of shaft cutless bearings and prevent vibrations from disturbing the Captain, Crew, and Passengers.
After all shaft line components were precision aligned, and running gear was reinstalled, the vessel was launched back into the water. AME then performed an in-water laser alignment between the engine and reduction gear, with the cardan shaft in place, using PRUFTECHNIK’s Rotalign touch laser alignment system. Laser alignment is an incredibly precise way to align machinery while minimizing the likelihood of human error. Engines are the fastest rotating component in the entire driveline, therefore it is so important to ensure alignment is precise as higher speeds magnify the effects of misalignment substantially. Results of these precision alignments were a smooth operating vessel and one happy customer!
Stay alert, and don’t overlook the misalignment symptoms mentioned above. Ensure your contractors have hands-on experience and access to state-of-the-art alignment systems and equipment. You’ll see an immediate and noticeable ROI.
AME pioneered the use of precision laser alignment on yachts in the Fort Lauderdale, Florida area. Click here to learn more.