The paper describes an investigation into the dynamic behavior of a large steam turbine-driven boiler feed pump, following the failure of gearboxes, couplings and bearings. The line consists of a 17 MW turbine driving a four-stage high pressure pump directly and a single-stage booster pump via a 2:1 single-reduction gearbox. Flexural vibration was measured using accelerometers at the bearings and eddy current proximity transducers. The torque transmitted to the gearbox was measured using a four-arm strain gauge bridge mounted in a coupling spacer shaft, the signals being obtained via a telemetry system. The observations showed a complex vibration pattern which was compared with predictions from simple analytic models. A lumped mass system accurately predicted the order of magnitude of oscillatory torque as a function of frequency, given the inevitable errors in gear manufacture. It was shown that the choice of flexible coupling has a crucial effect on the response. The methods of calculation have been generalized to give an accurate model of a system with distributed mass. This is achieved formally using the dynamic Green’s function approach or, for detailed results by a finite-element technique. It was shown that a change of coupling alters the dynamic torque of the system. Hence the effects of a number of changes were calculated and a suitable combination of couplings and gearbox were chosen to implement the practical solution to the problem. The basis for the choice is described and the implications for more general design criteria are discussed.

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