Saturday, May 15, 2010

#16 - What to do with flood-drenched machines - Part 1

We’ve had many areas under water from the flooding last weekend and I was thinking that there might be some folks who had their machines get drowned. So, I decided to pull in some resources to help me put out some practical information that some might find useful in this situation. My main resource for this column is my friend Bob Vaughan from Roanoke, VA. Bob and I go way back to my days at Delta Tech Service and he has been on the frontlines ‘fighting the good fight’ of keeping machines alive for longer than he’d care to admit, I’m sure.

If you have someone whose machines have been submerged in the flood water, please let them know about the next two columns- maybe they could use the advice.

First off, what we do NOT want to do is wash the machines off and just let them dry. Here’s why: Flood water carries silt which is fine, microscopic rock. These little rocks are very abrasive. In fact, it would not surprise me if sandpaper was made from silt rock. Point being, anything exposed to the water will have a fine coating of this abrasive on it. The flood water abrasive needs to be cleaned off of ALL working surfaces and shafts that are prone to friction. For instance, table saw trunnions, driven and drive gears, dovetail ways, ANY mating surfaces that move on each other must all be cleaned - not just dried.

The machine’s motor starter would need to be disassembled, wiped out and have its internal contact tips cleaned. If you only have a toggle style switch, I would suggest replacing it, unless it happens to be the kind of toggle switch that you can take apart and thoroughly clean.

The motor itself needs particular attention. The easiest motor to revive would be a 3-phase motor because it has no brushes or centrifugal switch to be concerned about. If you have a 3-phase motor, take it apart, wash it completely, change the bearings and let it dry a few days - preferably in a dehumidified environment. Reassemble it and it should be fine.

For a standard 1 phase motor, take it apart (including the capacitor housings if it has them), wash it completely, replace the bearings, clean the centrifugal switch and its contact tips and let it dry a few days (again, in the dehumidified environment). Once it is dry, put it back together and it should be good to go.

Next week we’ll talk about those little universal (brush) motors and your bearings.

Send your questions or comments to: and we’ll see what we can do to help you.
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