Metal Stitching Repair of Two-stroke Engine Bedplates

This post introduces metal stitching as an attractive solution to repair cracks in two-stroke engine bed plates.

Background

The term “metal stiching” is most commonly associated with the repair of cast iron parts, as an alternative to welding, to which cast iron does not lend itself easily. Due to its brittle nature, cast iron tends to fail again rapidly after welding, unless the welding takes place at very elevated and uniform temperatures. These conditions are hard, if not impossible, to achieve in most workshops, let alone at site.

It is less commonly known that metal stitching is also an increasingly often used process for the repair of steel parts, where welding actually would be possible. There are good reasons for chosing stitching over welding, even in steel.

First and foremost, metal stitching is a cold process and thus does not lead to deformation or latent heat-induced stresses in the part being repaired. Post-repair (in-situ) machining to correct these deformations is therefore rarely required.

Second, as we have shown through independent labaratory testing, a metal stitched junction that has been made by a qualified operator using Lock-N-Stitch tools and stitching components, exhibits a tensile and fatigue strength that is equal to, or better, than that of a welded junction.

During the last few years, QuantiServ have gained extensive experience in applying the metal stitching process to crack repairs in two-stroke engine bedplates and columns. Two instructive cases are discussed below, both involving container ships with 96-bore engines.

On the first vessel, the stitching was carried out in stages, during successive port stays. On the second, the repair was carried out during a regularly scheduled dry docking in China.

Case 1: Bed Plate Metal Stitching During Successive Port Stays

In the course of a crank case inspection, a 800 mm long crack was found in the main engine bedplate on board a 15,500 TEU container vessel in 2019.  Contacted by the ship owner, we carried out an assessment. It revealed that the crack would propagate quickly if the engine, a 14-cylinder, 96-bore one, would continue to operate at, or near, nominal speed.

We proposed to the customer to carry out the repair while the ship remained in service. As the thirteen year old vessel was engaged in a “high-rate/less-time” trade, the customer of course jumped at the opportunity to get the crack repaired without any vessel off-hire. Following a review of the vessel’s trading pattern, we decided to carry out the repair during successive port stays during the vessel’s Northern European loop.

Our specialists commenced their work as soon as the vessel was alongside in port and did not stop anymore until the engine had to be restarted. They then rested during the short voyage to the next port, where they continued in the same manner.

While working, our specialists discovered that the crack in fact was about 300 mm longer than had previously been reported by the crew. This meant that the time in Europe was insufficient to repair the crack in its entirety.

Our specialists revisited the vessel a few months later, again in Europe, to repair the previously unreported section of the crack. All in all, it took seven port stays of a few hours each to repair the bedplate.

Attendance Voyage Number of port stays
First Antwerp – London 4
Second Bremerhaven – Antwerp 3

In total, we repaired on this bed plate over 800 mm of crack in steel plates with thickness ranging from 18 – 50 mm, without a single day of off-hire or otherwise interfering into the vessel schedule.

To repair this bed plate, metal stitching was chosen over welding because it has the following advantages:

  • The vessel stayed in operation throughout the repair. The stitching was done in stages during port stays, a few centimeters at a time. With welding, this would not have been possible. The vessel would have had to be taken out of operation for around three weeks.
  • Lower costs, compared to welding. A competitor proposed to carry out repair by welding in 20 days. We repaired it by stitching in 12 days. Less time spent means less costs.
  • For metal stitching, a hot work permit is not normally required. Such a permit would be very difficult to get in container terminals, meaning that welding would not have been possible from a safety point of view.

Case 2: Bedplate Stitching During Dry Docking

The second case discussed here concerns an 8-year old, 13,000 TEU container vessel with a 12-cylinder, 96-bore main engine. The crack discovered on this engine was quite similar to the one described above.

Since the crack was discovered shortly before the vessel was scheduled to undergo a routine dry docking, it was decided to repair it during the docking period in China in 2020.

The crack extended over a length of 750 mm in steel plates with thickness ranging from 18 – 50 mm. Repairing it took our specialists eight days, working in single shifts.

The first two-stroke diesel engine that we have metal stitched has meanwhile accumulated 77,000 hours. We repaired a 600 mm long crack in the gear column (A-frame), in 2006. The repair is still in perfect condition today.

04 January 2021

The two repairs presented above were carried out using stitching components from the American company Lock-N-Stitch. We would like to stress that we have labaratory-tested other products available in the market and that we have found their strength to be insufficient for demanding applications like these.

Read more about metal stitching

 

Inspection of two 70 Year Old Marine Engines in Switzerland

One of our most-seasoned engineers recently had the rare opportunity to carry out an inspection and condition assessment on two 70-year old main engines installed on an inland cargo vessel in Switzerland. During its long history, the ship changed ownership two or three times and now belongs to one of Switzerland’s prime construction companies and is used to transport construction gravel to a cement plant, where the gravel gets recycled.

The vessel was originally built in 1948/49 in a shipyard in The Netherlands as an inland cargo vessel. She is a twin-screw design.

When she was built, she had a displacement of 1’246 metric tons, an overall length of 83 meters, a beam of 9 meters and a draught of 2.6 meters. In 1969/1970, she was converted to a self-unloading gravel carrier. Her length was extended by 8 meters, resulting in a new tonnage of 1’447 metric tons.

The two main engines were build by Sulzer Brothers in Winterthur, Switzerland, in 1948 and are connected to the propeller shafts through reversible gearboxes. The engines are of the two-stroke, trunk-piston type and have the following specification:

  • Engine Type: Sulzer 6TW24
  • Bore: 240 mm
  • Rated Speed: 400 rpm
  • Rated Output: 450 hp each

As can be seen in the cross-sectional view on the right, the engines are equipped with piston-type scavenge pumps, which explains the for the time considerable power output of 450 horse power per engine, or 900 horse power (671 kW) in total.

Our engineer spent a few days on board, compiled an extensive report and after the visit continued to support the customer, for example to identify spare parts.

Because we have a soft spot for antique marine installations, we carried out this assignment and the subsequent customer support activities pro-bono.

 

 

An early picture of the vessel on the Rhine river.

An early picture of the vessel on the Rhine river

One of the two main engines

One of the two main engines, photo taken in 2020

Top view of the engine room

Top view of the engine room, photo taken in 2020

Photo credits:

  • www.commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=59313086
  • www.swiss-ships.ch
  • QuantiServ own

Flywheel In-situ Repair on the US East Coast

Starting up a handymax bulk carrier’s 48-bore, two-stroke main engine with its turning gear engaged resulted in the turning gear shattered and in damage to 12 consecutive teeth on the flywheel.

The turning gear was damaged beyond repair and had to be replaced. Not only was its housing shattered but the planetary gears were completely destroyed too.

Faced with the costly and unpalatable reality of most likely having to replace the flywheel as well, the ship management company turned to QuantiServ for help. Always liking a challenge when we see one, we engineered and delivered a comprehensive solution that consisted of the following:

  • Inspection on board
  • CAD and FEA modeling to engineer an economical yet structurally very strong solution
  • CNC machining of repair inserts in our workshop
  • In-situ machining of the flywheel on board
  • Stitching the repair inserts in place

Our in-situ machining and metal stitching specialists carried out the work in February 2019, during the vessel’s port stay in Florida, without interfering in her schedule.

QuantiServ carries out a number of gearwheel repair assignments every year, mostly for industrial, marine and mining customers.

Brand New Light Surface Grinding Tools Now Available for Sale!

We are asked frequently, whether we are selling the in-situ machining tools that we have developed and manufactured and that our specialists use in the field. While such requests are of course flattering and while we appreciate that other companies find our tools appealing and would like to purchase them, we have up to today always politely declined such request. The reason is that we first and foremost see ourselves as a top-notch in-situ machining company and not as a tool manufacturer. Our tools are thus a means to end – the more accurate and efficient they are, the better the result of our machining assignment that our customer comes to enjoy.

Our very newest Light Surface Grinding machine (LSG) has now proven to be so popular, that we have decided to break with tradition and to make it available for sale.

The machine was designed to be as compact and portable as possible. It has an adjustable base, no heavy adapter plates are therefore necessary. Its total weight is 30 kg (66 lbs). This is significantly less than any comparable machine currently on the market and means that it does not have to be sent as cargo to a ship or power plant, but can be brought along as checked-in luggage.

The tool’s main purpose is to quickly and accurately skim the cylinder liner landing surfaces at the top of medium-speed engine blocks. It can be used to machine diameters of 360 – 670 mm, which makes it suitable for engines with a bore size of 260 – 500 mm. Additional accessories to also skim the landing surface on the cylinder liner are also available.

The advantages of the Light Surface Grinder (LSG) are many:

  • High accuracy
  • Fast to set up and easy to use
  • Compact design
  • No adapter plates are necessary as the machine’s base is continuously adjustable
  • A single machine covers the range from ⌀ 360 – 670 mm
  • Total weight = 30 kg (66 lbs)

Contact us for more information, or to order one.

Contact us

 

 

Two-stroke Bedplate Line Boring in Mexico

When a six year old bulk carrier suffered main bearing failures on its Japanese-made main engine, QuantiServ was called in for an initial inspection and for discussions on how to arrange the repair in the fastest and most economical way. The inspection in Veracruz, Mexico, showed that main bearings # 7 and 8 failed and that the crankshaft as well as the main bearing pockets were damaged.

The crankshaft was beyond repair and had to be replaced by a new one. The bed plate, on the other hand, could be recovered by line boring. With the engine frame lifted up, QuantiServ’s in-situ specialists carried out

  • a thorough inspection of the bedplate, including NDT crack detection and hardness measurements
  • laser alignment checks before line boring
  • line boring of main bearing pockets # 7 and 8
  • laser alignment checks after line boring
  • blueing checks

The work was carried out successfully while the vessel was alongside in the shipyard in Mexico.

Reconditioning of Fourteen 96-bore Cylinder Covers

In November 2017, our Reconditioning Centre in Shanghai carried out reconditioning of fourteen cylinder covers for a major European ship owner. These covers came from one of the world’s largest container ships, equipped with a 14-cylinder, 96-bore main engine.

All fourteen cylinder covers and all fourteen exhaust valves were reconditioned within a period of less than one month, while the vessel was undergoing steel work at a shipyard in Qingdao.

This was the third vessel out of a series of similar vessels for the same customer. QuantiServ carried out the reconditioning work for all these vessels.

Significant Reconditioning and Field Service Job in Shanghai

In September our Reconditioning Centre in Shanghai carried out a a major reconditioning and field service order for an Iranian-owned tanker that was docked in a Chinese shipyard. This example shoes well the breadth of QuantiServ’s offering.

The following components were reconditioned:

  • 8 piston rods
  • 7 piston crowns
  • 7 cylinder covers
  • 6 exhaust valves
  • 7 crosshead pins
  • plus a number of smaller, related components

We also sourced for the customer a couple of new crosshead and crankpin bearings while we re-babbitted others, such as for example guide shoes.

QuantiServ engineers also carried out the overhaul work on board, supervised the oil flushing and attended the seatrial after the docking. We also replaced the stern tube shaft seals and in-situ polished some of the crankpin journals.

All the work was completed in 32 days.

Polishing All Main Journals and Crankpins on World’s Largest Engine

QuantiServ in-situ machining specialists from China, Sweden and Singapore joined forces in a shipyard in China to carry out in-situ polishing on one one of the world’s very largest diesel engines. The 14-cylinder, 96-bore engine is installed on a 14,000 TEU container ship.

Our engineers and technicians worked in two shifts, around the clock, seven days a week to machine-polish 17 main journals and 14 crank pins while the vessel was docked in Beihai Shipyard, Qingdao, undergoing steel work. It was one of the most extensive polishing jobs that we have ever carried out. And it was done in record time!

All the necessary dismantling and reassembling work was carried out by us as well. In a case like this it pays off that many of our in-situ personnel are multi-skilled – they don’t only do the machining work, but can conduct any mechanical work as well if required.

In addition, our reconditioning centre in Shanghai also carried out cylinder cover reconditioning for a sister ship, belonging to the same customer, that was docked in the same shipyard a few weeks earlier.

In-situ machining of lateral surfaces on 20V32 engine block in Bangladesh

Lateral surfaces before and after in-situ machining

Lateral surfaces before and after in-situ machining

In-situ machining of lateral surfaces on a 20V32 engine block in a power plant in Bangladesh

In October 2016, QuantiServ received an urgent request to carry out in-situ machining on a 20-cylinder 32-bore engine block in a power plant in Bangladesh. During the replacement of the crankshaft it was noticed that both lateral surfaces of main bearing cap number 5 showed signs of severe fretting and were in need of machining.

Immediately, in-situ machining equipment was prepared at QuantiServ’s Dubai workshop and was sent to site. Once the equipment had arrived at site, QuantiServ’s engineers from Dubai performed in-situ machining on the engine block to achieve a clean surface that was free from damage. The in-situ machining process was constantly monitored by laser to ensure perfect alignment and adherence to very tight machining tolerances.

The main bearing cap was sent to a local workshop in Bangladesh for machining and installation of compensation plates. This process was supervised by QuantiServ’s engineers. Once the machining was completed, all mating surfaces for the main bearing cap were checked with marker blue to ensure a perfect fit.

Once the work was completed, a final check by laser on the assembled bearing cap showed that both the bore alignment and diameter fully conformed to the engine maker’s specification.

In-situ flywheel repair on a 3400 TEU container vessel in Mombasa, Kenya

milling-and-tapping-quantiserv

Milling and tapping, preparation for the teeth inserts to be installed

In-situ flywheel repair on a 3400 TEU container vessel in Mombasa, Kenya

QuantiServ received a request from a customer to repair the serration on a main engine flywheel. The vessel called Dubai, where QuantiServ engineers carried out an inspection. They found that five teeth were missing; an isolated one and four in a row.

While the vessel continued her voyage to Africa, our technicians manufactured new teeth and fitted bolts at our workshop in Dubai. They then brought these jointly with the required in-situ machine tools to the vessel, which had meanwhile reached the port of Mombasa in Kenya. There, the machining and installation work was carried out by four engineers in two shifts, around the clock, while the vessel was undergoing cargo operations.

Prefabricated teeth and fitting bolts

Prefabricated teeth and fitting bolts

The work was completed successfully within a tight time window of 72 hours without delaying or otherwise interfering with the vessel’s normal sailing schedule.

The final result, five missing teeth replaced

The final result, five missing teeth replaced