By Susan Mardele
Curtis Roys and Ray Dolan have worked together in many different capacities over the years, but they always come back to their single uniting theme. Both aim to ensure compressors worldwide are correctly lubricated and protected should the force-feed divider block system deteriorate, which always extends the reliability and longevity of compressor wear components. Their friendship began in 1977 when Roys and Dolan met while attending Lincoln Industrial’s (Lincoln) lubrication training in St. Louis. Since then, the two men have been both competitors and vendors. They recently agreed to collaborate for a common goal, correcting deep-rooted and ongoing problems found in all compressor force-feed divider block systems. The result is a new kind of business relationship between Patton Divider Block Systems (Patton) and Bill Spitzer and Associates (Spitzer), termed Installation, Training, and Technical (ITT) Support.
AN ACCIDENTAL DISCOVERY
“Our focus is divider block lubrication systems, or more accurately, compressor force-feed divider block systems,” said Curtis Roys, president of Patton. “A divider block system is designed to inject a specific quantity of oil into a compressor’s cylinders and rod packing based on the size of the piston in each divider block. By accident, we discovered a serious flaw in all compressor divider block systems. The divider block systems we thought were injecting the designed quantity of oil were actually impaired due to each divider block piston working against different pressures needed to inject oil in cylinders and rod packing,” said Roys. “Specifically, the pistons in the divider blocks were short-stroking, a condition we’ve phrased as differential pressure short stroking (DPSS). The pistons weren’t traveling the correct distance inside the divider block when working against differential pressures in the same assembly, causing a serious reduction in lubrication to several of the lubrication points.”
Historically, if lubrication for the wear components was insufficient and premature wear or failure was occurring, compressor operators would adjust the lubricator pump so it would inject more oil. Roys discovered that many force-feed systems were still under-lubricating the rings, rods, packing, and cylinders, causing maintenance problems for the divider block system and compressor wear components, unplanned downtime of the compressor, and increased oil consumption, which increased the operational costs for the contract compression company. “Oil has become the number one cost when operating a gas compressor, and contract compression companies are wanting to reduce oil usage of the compressor. Now the industry has begun evaluating and reducing lube oil consumption to the compressor cylinders and rod packing,” said Roys. “I’m all for reducing the cost associated with oil usage, but you can’t cut back the amount of oil you’re putting into a cylinder or rod packing unless you know the exact amount of oil the force-feed system is injecting into each lubrication point when the compressor is running and fully loaded.”
Patton has developed a DPSS system that monitors the pressure needed to inject oil into each lubrication point via a Bluetooth pressure transducer and determines the exact quantity of oil that is being injected into the lubrication point down to 1/100th of a pint per day. “The DPSS monitor has proven divider block systems have not been injecting the correct amount of oil into cylinders and rod packing for decades,” said Roys.
DISRUPTING AN INDUSTRY
Patton and Spitzer have formed ITT Support, “a new vision and relationship focused on correcting the compressor industry’s problems associated with improper lubrication caused by divider block systems operating against differential pressure, reducing oil usage for contract compression companies, and developing innovative products that will reduce the carbon footprint,” said Roys.
“One thing that is key in all this is the cultural aspect,” said Steven Logan, vice president of sales with Spitzer. “The things that Patton and Spitzer value are the same. Both companies thrive on taking care of the customer and … Click here to continue reading this article in digital issue of May 2023 Gas Compression Magazine.
Not a subscriber? Sign up for free and never miss an issue. Choose print, digital, or both and receive Gas Compression Magazine each month at no charge.
Click here to subscribe for free.