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

 

Four-stroke Engine Block Metal Stitching and Crankshaft Machining

Over the years, medium-speed diesel engines have become very popular for a variety of applications, most notably in ship propulsion and in power generation. Accordingly, the number of such engines in service is very large.

Due to their large number and to the relatively high nominal speeds, combined with significant mass inertias, one would from a theoretical stand point expect more fequent and more severe damages on medium-speed, four-stroke diesel engines than on low-speed, two-stroke ones. That this is indeed the case in practice is evidenced be the fact that we are frequently contacted and subsequently repair a few dozen cases of severe engine damage every year.

Here is a typical example, one of many:

A Korean-made auxilliary engine with eight cylinders, 210 mm bore and 320 mm stroke suffered a serious bearing failure on crankpin #1. The engine block and crankshaft both got severely damaged, due to the connecting rod impacting both. The accident happened while the vessel, a Ro-Ro ship, was trading in East Africa.

Her next port of call was in Florida, United States, where our technicians went on board for a thorough inspection. They determined that both the crankshaft and engine block were repairable. As in addition to crankpin #1, which was badly damaged, all other pins were found with corrosion and scratch marks, we suggeted to the customer to offload the engine and to sail a few weeks without it. The customer agreed.

The engine was offloaded in Freeport, Texas, for repair and was delivered back to the vessel 46 days later in the same port. In the meantime, the vessel continued to sail with one engine less. The duration of the voyage, 46 days, was more than sufficient for our specialists to repair the crankshaft and engine block according to our very exacting standards.

Repair of the crankshaft

Due to the damage sustained by the accident, crankpin #1 had to be machined to – 3.00 mm. This was necessary to clear all dent marks. And as the other seven crankpins were suffering from scratches and/or corrosion, it was decided to machine them all to – 0.50 mm.

Repair of the engine block

Repair of engine block before and after

The cavity in the block caused by the accident was fairly substantial. A total volume of about 6’000 cm³ (366 in³) of material was missing and cast iron plates with a thickness of 19 – 51 mm (0.75 – 2 in) had to be repaired.

Our cast iron repair specialists scanned the damage with a 3D scanner. The data thus acquired was then used to fabricate a perfectly-fitting cast iron repair patch. The repair patch was stitched in place with stitching components, chiefly Castmaster stitching pins and locks, that are sold by Lock-N-Stitch.

After the repair was completed, it was hardly visible and the customer was very pleased with the outcome.

Here is a step-by-step description of how the block repair work was carried out:

 

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.

Metal Stitching: Why we Use the Best Stitching Pins in Existence Today

The Castmaster stitching pins that we use for our metal stitching repairs are manufactured by Lock-N-Stitch in the United States. They feature the patented Spiralhook thread, which makes them the best choice to carry out very strong, permanent metal stitching repairs.

This animation shows the working principle of the Spiralhook thread and explains why, unlike other products, these stitching pins do not create a radial spreading force during tightening.

 

These stitching pins are available in various diameters and lengths and are suitable to repair cast iron, steel, aluminium and bronze parts that are from 4 to 200 mm (1/6 to 8 inches) thick.

Read More

Our Brand-new Case Study Page is now Online!

The new QuantiServ Case Study page is now online. It introduces recent work that we have done for customers coming from a variety of industries ranging from Marine, Mining, Hydro and Thermal Power Plants to Oil & Gas.

The cases are sortable by industry and cover services such as in-situ machining, metal stitching, reconditioning and many more. They each include a short description of the problem that the customer was facing, the solution and include many before/after and in-process pictures.

Case Studies

 

QuantiServ at the Norshipping 2017 Exhibition in Oslo

Our participation at the recently held Norshipping 2017 exhibition in Oslo, Norway, was very successful. We displayed our exciting metal stitching, in-situ machining and reconditioning solutions. These solutions created quite a lot of customer interest and led to many interesting discussions. It was also nice to meet many existing customers again and to know some new ones too.

Our next stop will be the Philmarine 2017 exhibition, which will be held from 12 – 14 July 2017 at the SMX Convention Center in Manila. We will be at booth 111/118. Come and visit us there.

QuantiServ at the Sea Asia 2017 Exhibition in Singapore

Sea Asia Exhibition 4Our participation at the recently held Sea Asia 2017 in Singapore was a big success. We displayed our metal stitching and in-situ machining solutions, as well as the refurbishment of four-stroke cylinder covers by furnace brazing, which we are particularly proud of. These solutions created quite a lot of customer interest and led to many interesting discussions.

Our next stop will be the Norshipping Exhibition in Oslo, 30 May – 02 June 2017, where we will be at booth D 05-34. Come and visit us there.

Crank pin machining mock-up

Crank pin in-situ machining mock-up

Furnace brazed 32-bore 4-stroke cylinder cover

Furnace brazed 32-bore 4-stroke cylinder cover

Fully reconditioned 35-bore 2-stroke cylinder cover

Fully reconditioned 35-bore 2-stroke cylinder cover

Metal Stitching of an Engine Block in Tehran, Iran

 

Metal stitching on an auxiliary engine block

Our metal stitching expert traveled to Tehran, Iran, last week to repair a four-stroke main engine block on board a tug boat. It had a crack between the charge air space duct and the cooling water space around one of the cylinder liners, as well as some dents. Cooling water was leaking into the charge air space.

To repair the damage took our expert just one full day of work. The customer was very pleased with the result and was impressed by how fast the repair was being carried out.

Once again it was proved that metal stitching is a quick and reliable solution for cast iron repairs – for jobs big and small!

 

 

Enjoying a cup of tea in the engine room after a job well done

Enjoying a cup of tea in the engine room after a job well done

Metal stitching

A very happy customer

Metal stitching test piece resists water pressure of 12 bars

Metal stitching test piece resists water pressure of 12 bars

Metal stitching, as long as it is carefully and properly carried out by trained technicians, is tight against gases and liquids. To demonstrate this, QuantiServ has manufactured two cast iron half-shells and has joined them together by metal stitching. The resulting container was successfully pressurized to 12 bars (175 psi) and no leak was observed.

This proves that there is no issue to repair cooling water spaces in for example engine blocks, where the cooling water pressure typically lies around 3 – 4 bars (44 – 58 psi), by metal stitching. In fact we knew this well, because we have done it successfully many times. But that the stitching could easily withstand 12 bars impressed even us.

 

 

No job too small – if it solves the customer’s problem

No job too small – if is solves the customer’s problem

A ship’s crew received a new cylinder liner in a mid-eastern port. Unfortunately, while lifting it onto the vessel, a sling came lose and the liner crashed hard on to the deck. Luckily no one was injured, but it caused a piece of cast iron at the circumference to be chipped off, rendering the liner unusable.

Instead of scrapping the liner, the Superintendent contacted QuantiServ and sent us pictures. After we confirmed that we could salvage the liner, he shipped it to our workshop in the Netherlands.

repair-mill

There our skilled machinists milled off a section of the liner and confirmed that there were no further cracks in the material. They then produced on a CNC milling machine a new piece that perfectly resembled the size and shape of the missing material. This they locked in place with glue and screws, thus saving a liner that otherwise would had to be scrapped.