Thordon Bearings announced today at the HydroVision International trade show that it is now offering its self-lubricating ThorPlas-Blue range of wicket gate and operating mechanism bearings with a 15 year wearlife guarantee.

Thordon’s ThorPlas-Blue, designed to reduce maintenance costs and pollution risks associated with greased bearings, can operate in wet or dry conditions. However, for operators to benefit from the 15 year wearlife guarantee, bearings in locations with direct contact with river water must be fitted with Thordon’s Thorseal or an approved alternate dirt exclusion seal to minimize entry of abrasive particles into the bearing operating environment.

“After evaluating the performance and operational data of the turbines that operate with ThorPlas-Blue we found that bearing wear in service is negligible, providing optimum through life performance from what is already an exceptionally robust, environmentally-safe bearing,” commented Thordon Bearings’ President and CEO, Terry McGowan.

The guaranteed wearlife follows an extensive review of the wear performance of Thordon wicket gate and linkage bearings installed and operating in more than 150 power plants globally since 2001.

“We launched our ThorPlas-Blue wicket gate and linkage bearings more than 18 years ago as a higher performance alternative to costly metal backed bearings, and in that period, not a single hydro power plant has had to replace its ThorPlas-Blue bearings due to excessive wear,” said Thordon Bearings’ Hydro & Clean Power Business Unit Manager, Greg Auger. “Some of those turbines are operating in quite severe duty-cycle environments, including the toughest pumped storage applications. What our review indicates is that even after 15 years of continuous operation, bearing clearances are typically still well within their allowable limits, showing very limited wear. 

“We believe this 15 year wearlife guarantee will deliver confidence to those operators that continue to use greased bearings. ThorPlas-Blue not only provides unrivalled reliability, but significantly reduces the maintenance costs while safeguarding against any pollution risk to rivers.”

The first hydro power plant to benefit from the newly launched guarantee was Wallace Dam owned by Georgia Power, in the US, after installing its most recent set of ThorPlas-Blue servo-linkage bearings in December 2018. The station is now operating with ThorPlas-Blue in all four 54MW Francis vertical pump-turbines and two 58MW vertical propeller turbines.

In the same month, Thordon also supplied a full set of ThorPlas-Blue linkage bearings to Vietnam’s Son La hydro power plant as part of a maintenance project on a 400MW vertical Francis turbine.

The wearlife guarantee is limited to the supply of replacement bearings delivered to the end-user utility. It does not include replacement of any other Thordon supplied components nor any additional costs associated with the installation of replacement bearings.

The 15-year wearlife guarantee applies to all new or refurbished hydro turbines with ThorPlas-Blue wicket gate and linkage bearings having a shaft diameter equal to or greater than 50.8mm (2”).