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Combined Cycle Journal - Shaft grounding, remote monitoring of data collected

Important to attend user group vendor fairs for two important reasons: It's where the food and adult beverages are, and where you'll almost always see something of value that you were not aware of. In the CCUG/STUG exhibit hall there were 68 exhibitors and an "ah ha" moment for the editors came at the Cutsforth booth where they learned of the company's new shaft grounding system and companion monitoring system—perhaps a topic for discussion at the upcoming Generator Users Group meeting..

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Combined Cycle Journal - BEST PRACTICE: Regular inspection critical to avoiding collector-ring fires

Collector-ring fires on generator exciters should not occur, but they do, and more often than most generating plant personnel would believe. Regular inspections of brush gear are your first line of defense against damage. Cutsforth Inc's Steve Thompson, a frequent participant in user-group meetings, suggests monthly inspections…Visual inspections with the generator in operation can reveal problems such as short brushes, lead discoloration from carrying too much current, and grooving of the collector ring. But arming the technician with an ammeter and vibration probe makes him or her more effective. These instruments can help identify impending issues earlier than would a visual-only check.

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Combined Cycle Journal - Attention to detail critical for preventing collector-ring fires

Collector ring fires are not a new phenomenon. They've been occurring for decades, and the reasons for ring fires, and how to avoid them, have been discussed extensively at user-group meetings and in technical papers and articles. Yet they continue to happen, primarily because of inattention to detail. No finger-pointing here to assess blame, the goal is awareness. Plus, plant budgets must provide for quality consumables, inspections, equipment upgrades as necessary, and proper training of personnel.

What follows is the case history of an inspection and root-cause analysis of a recent ring fire conducted by engineers and technicians from Cutsforth Inc. It is a valuable learning experience that emphasizes key points made in the article referenced above.

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Cutsforth Puts the Wheels on Innovation

Cutsforth has always held to a tradition of doing things better than they have been done before, offering innovative products and out-of-the-box thinking. When the University of Minnesota solar car team needed help manufacturing custom wheels for their entry into the 2013 World Solar Challenge. Cutsforth's manufacturing team stepped up to assist them.

The wheels for the ultra-light solar vehicle were designed by University of Minnesota engineering students. Each wheel was CNC machined from solid aluminum to a tolerance under 0.003, making it so the wheels did not have to be balanced after the tires were mounted.Cutsforth's manufacturing team is accustomed to holding tight tolerances on turned pieces as they manufacture custom collector ring assemblies for large power generators.

In an innovative approach to space and weight savings, portions of the electric motors were designed to be housed inside the wheels themselves. Cutsforth produced wheels that allowed for space within the wheel to accommodate the windings of the motors. In collaboration with University of Minnesota engineering students, more than 80 hours of programming and CNC machining time went into the production of the custom wheels. All of the labor and materials needed to produce the four custom aluminum wheels were donated by Cutsforth.

The World Solar Challenge is held every two years in Australia and runs north to south from Darwin to Adelaide, a distance of over 3,000 km. The University of Minnesota team went on to finish the grueling race, placing fourth in their class.

"The electrical power industry is where we work, and this project allowed us to help the students working toward the advancement of alternative forms of energy. We were honored to be approached by the University of Minnesota, and take great pride in our manufacturing team's ability to hold tight tolerances.  Helping future innovators was a natural fit for Cutsforth.  We congratulate the University of Minnesota's Solar Car team for their creative work and for finishing the race."  —Benjamin Waurms, Cutsforth General Manager


Grand Rapids Economic Development Authority - DC Manufacturing Expands in Grand Rapids

Cutsforth Manufacturing will break ground the fall of 2012 to begin construction of a new 9,800 sf manufacturing facility in Grand Rapids. The $2.07M project, being located on a portion of a shovel-ready certified site owned by the Grand Rapids Economic Development Authority (GREDA), will provide expanded manufacturing space benefitted by improved shipping/receiving access, reliable three-phase power and other site amenities. With this expansion, Cutsforth Manufacturing will continue to grow their employment in the community, planning to add several new employees over the next two years, once relocated to their new facility in the spring of 2013.

Since their establishment in 1990, Cutsforth Inc.'s innovative approach to design, fabrication and maintenance of brush holders, generator collector rings, other related components of large turbine generators and other auxiliary equipment have cultivated a solid reputation for the company and an extensive national and international client base made up of many of the world's largest power companies.

With assistance from GREDA in; architectural pre-design/cost estimating, site selection and acquisition, grant request preparation and administration, coordination with IRRRB and other funding sources, and tax abatement consideration, Dave Cutsforth, co-owner and founder of the company, had this to say, "Choosing to expand and build a new building at a time when the present economic conditions in our country seem so unstable was not an easy decision. We were blessed that GREDA was able to give us the support needed to make the project feasible, and we are pleased to build at this location as we believe it is one more thing that will help us attract and keep high quality employees. All we can say is a big "THANK YOU" to Rob Mattei and his team."

"GREDA and the City of Grand Rapids are very excited to have Cutsforth Manufacturing locate their expansion in our community" said Rob Mattei, Community Development Director and GREDA Executive Director. "Their company is as a brilliant example of the entrepreneurial spirit we seek to foster. In the coming years, we hope to be working with them on their next expansion."


Combined Cycle Journal - 7FA ring fire suggests shift from peaking to base-load duty is not as simple as just running longer

The day after the CTOTF meeting ended, and the morning after NEC's W Howard Moudy spoke to attendees about the risks associated with ignoring OEM-suggested maintenance of exciter collector rings and brush systems, Cutsforth Inc's Senior Application Specialist Steve Thompson called to report a damaging ring fire that required immediate attention. Plant personnel told Thompson the fire was so intense that material literally blew out of the housing, as evidenced by the holes shown in the photos. Cutsforth normally is able to repair/refurbish/upgrade brush rigging onsite, but the severity of the damage here was such that the entire housing required a shop visit for a complete rebuild.

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Combined Cycle Journal - How to solve brush and brush holder problems

Cutsforth Inc's Mike Biroschak conducted a short clinic on common brush and brush holder problems and how to deal with them. He closed out his presentation with a solution for bearing wear and tear caused by ineffective shaft grounding systems.

Biroschak began by saying that the buildup of carbon deposits in brush holders is the primary cause of collector-ring fires.

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Combined Cycle Journal - Prevent the damaging effects of stray voltages on rotating shafts

Some rotating machines, because of their electrical or mechanical characteristics, induce an electrical potential (voltage) on their shafts during

operation. Experts at Bently Nevada, Minden, Nev, warn that if this voltage is not managed, or if the grounding system fails, the voltage seeks an alternative path to ground. That path is the metal component closest to the shaft—typically a bearing or seal.

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PR Web - Cutsforth Introduces Innovative Shaft Grounding System Featuring Dual Copper Grounding Ropes, Mounting Flexibility, and In-service Metering

Advanced design maintains low voltage, simplifies maintenance, and reduces outage costs. Building on the success of its EASYchange Online Removable Brush Holder, Cutsforth Inc. has introduced an innovative Shaft Grounding System that maintains lower voltage than OEM solutions and offers universal mounting capability and system redundancy.

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PR Web - Cutsforth's Growth Continues as Company Distribution Center Moves to Bloomington, MN

Cutsforth, a company specializing in removable turbine generator brush holders and Online Collector Ring Truing services, continues its growth by strategically relocating their distribution facility in Bloomington, MN. read more>>

PR Web - Cutsforth's New Height Setter Tool Allows Turbine Generator Plant Maintenance to Easily Re-Install the Easychange Online-Removable Brush Holder

This new end-user tool simplifies the re-installation of EASYchange - the online-removable brush holder system for turbine generators.

Cutsforth has created an easy to use tool to create the perfect height adjustment between the EASYchange mount and the collector ring. This adjustment is critical for proper brush, holder and collector ring function.

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Combined Cycle Journal - Dave Cutsforth gives presentation at EPRI on "The Root Causes of Collector Ring Fires."

Flashovers in generator exciters have gotten considerable attention in the last couple of years as powerplant owner/operators have stepped up efforts to make their facilities safer workplaces. Today, the industry generally recognizes that collector-ring fires can be prevented by closer observation of exciter operation on rounds and proactive maintenance. read more>>

Combined Cycle Journal - Exciter Brush Maintenance Video Series

Cutsforth Inc's EASYchange® brush holder system is designed for safe removal of the brush and brush box from the exciter as a unit within seconds—while the generator is operating. This allows inspection and maintenance away from the exciter in a comfortable environment. read more>>


Combined Cycle Journal - Improved brush change-out procedure

Cutsforth Brush Holders wins Combined Cycle Journal's user-based "Best Practice Award" in the O&M Major Equipment Category . Nominated by Whiting Clean Energy Plant. read more>>

Industrial Equipment News - Cutsforth Reports Record Sales, Invests In The Future

At a time when many companies continue to report declining sales, operating losses, production cuts and corporate reductions, Cutsforth Products reports that sales for the first half of 2008 are dramatically ahead of projections. read more>>

Power Engineering - Brush Holder System Minimizes Opportunity for Collector Ring Wear

Most power plant operators are familiar with generator maintenance problems such as collector rings going out of round and photographing on the ring surface. The primary cause of collector ring wear is improper contact pressure between the brush and the ring. Too much pressure causes excessive mechanical wear. Too little pressure causes electrical wear. read more>>

Cutsforth to speak at annual Predictive Maintenance and Reliability Engineering conference in South Africa

Dave Cutsforth (Founder) and Steve Thompson (Director of Sales & Marketing) will present white paper on "Root Causes of Collector Ring Fires and Flashovers "at annual Predictive Maintenance Conference in Johannesburg South Africa on October 4-5, 2011. This conference focuses on global trends in predictive maintenance, relibability-centered and condition based maintenance. Sponsored by ABB and Martec. read more>>