Summer is arriving. We’ve had lots of sunshine and thunderstorms with rain these days. For sunshine, you protect yourself with lots of sun screen with a high protection factor. If it rains, you put on a raincoat and wellies. So, if you want to protect what is dear to you, you cover it with the appropriate cover. Hmm, if your pump gets eroded by your mixture, you cover it with a protective layer. Right?
So, let’s see what options we have? Common solutions to protect the wear parts of the pump are:
- Vulcanise a rubber film over a new cast wear part. Usually, the pump parts are designed to receive an additional layer of several mm to a couple of cm. Astoundingly, the soft rubber, lasts longer than the hard alloy. This is due to the elasticity of the rubber. Impacting particles are bouncing back into the fluid and don’t damage the metal1. There have been several developments, where polyurethane2 can be a viable alternative to rubber with the same protective principle. Rubber and polyurethane have to be applied by specialised companies under controlled conditions. One warning though, rubber can be cut. When dredging shells or coral, the rubber is sliced to pieces and the flow peels away sheets of rubber or PU.
- Instead of the flexible rubber, also hard chemical compounds have been developed to be applied as protective layer. This layer can be applied on a virgin part, that can accommodate the layer by design, just like the rubber cover. Or it can be used to restore an already worn down part and extend the lifetime that way. The pastes have been engineered to be applied in the field: wet, rust, salt and dirt. As it easily applied, many owners are very fond of this solution. Although lifetime is not extended as much as the first option.
- Another process for new builds and restoration is hard-facing3. On a suitable base alloy, the vulnerable surface is cladded by welding a layer of very hard metal onto it. The hard-facing can be much harder than the sand particles (Mohs remember) and that the added material is brittle as glass doesn’t matter as it is carried by a much more ductile base material. As the base material is also softer, once the hard layer is away, the wear rate will become unexpectedly rapid. Especially as such local wear spots tend to eat through the material, due to the increased turbulence. Special care should be taken, when the wear part is not completely covered in hard-facing, but only partially covered. The discontinuities are hot spots of wear. Discontinuities can also appear from the hard-facing itself. The different material properties of cladding and base material cause to be vulnerable to check cracking and flaking4.
All three solutions are labour intensive. especially vulcanising and hard-facing takes many hours. And applying the wear paste has to be done more often. Even if labour is cheap in your operation, you still have to take it into account in your spare part strategy. More so, if you only rely on just one wear part and don’t have one on stock and the dredge is idle, you’ll lose a lot of money on income.
Another consideration might be the environment. An all metal wear part can be recycled easily. Rubber, PU and paste can be a pain to get rid of, responsibly.
Off course, I am an engineer at the manufacturing side and the above perspective may be biased, but I like to be proven wrong. Until then, I would rather purchase a durable all metal wear part, than go to the trouble and costs of the extra handling. Whatever your final wear part strategy, it should revolve around having the correct spare parts at the right time at the right location.
- Elastic collision, Wikipedia
- Synthetic applications, W&TS
- Hardfacing, Wikipedia
- Frequently asked questions about hardfacing, The Fabricator