George Young Group — a specialist in rigging, millwrighting, transport and mechanical — is lifting hundreds of tons and setting them to thousands of an inch tolerance to rehabilitate Amtrak’s Converters in Lamokin, Chester, Pa.
Known as the “Lamokin Converters”, the three motor-generator sets were placed in service in the 1920s. Since then, they have been part of the Pennsylvania Railroad’s electrification of its mainline between Philadelphia and Wilmington, Del. — the so called Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor (NEC). Moreover, the three 16-megawatt motor-generator sets have been in continuous use to convert commercial electric power (operating at 60 Hertz alternating current), to the 25-Hertz alternating current, which powers Amtrak and commuter trains driving along the NEC.
After more than eight decades of continuous use, the frequency converters needed a major rehabilitation to ensure their reliability for generations to come in the future. Power outages that tied up Amtrak and commuter rail service in the Northeast on various occasions in 2006 were caused by frequency converter equipment. These incidents showed that the reliable supply of electric power still is essential to the NEC.
The rehabilitation of the Lamokin Converters included the disassembly, rebuilding and reassembly of both the generators and motors. This is where General Electric (GE) and its prime sub-contractor, George Young Group, came into play.
George Young Group was engaged to dismantle the generators, motors and associated component parts, enabling GE to rebuild the components. Young would then re-install the components with exacting precision to tolerances as small as ten-thousandths of an inch. Multiple components weighed in excess of 100-tons (90 t) and a combination of site over-head cranes and George Young Group’s hydraulic telescopic power tower gantries were utilized to handle the components.
A challenge George Young Company faced is the highly precise alignment and leveling of all of the components during reassembly. Precision alignment reduces friction and bearing wear, lessens maintenance costs and allows improved efficiency through decreased energy use. Young’s Millwright specialists combined their decades of experience with sophisticated lasers specifically designed for aligning rotating equipment to a thousandth of an inch.
George Young Mechanical faced differing challenges. Attempting to identify clogged or wearing portions of the 80 year-old high and low pressure piping systems that lubricated the converters, would require time and leave less than reliable systems. This is why George Young Mechanical chose another approach.
With no existing piping diagrams, GYM diagrammed the entire systems, fabricated new oil coolers and specified new copper and stainless steel piping and hanger assemblies. Furthermore, it fabricated and installed new piping systems and performed pipe flushes and pressure tests to promote a reliable start-up.
The second of three converters successfully came on line in late September and completion of the project is scheduled for Feb. 11, 2011.
As many different companies and also different specialists within one company worked together on that enormous project, it was necessary to communicate with each other. Representatives of every company came together on weekly meetings to discuss milestones for the next steps and time schedules.
After the project is completed, an increase of 35 percent in the output of the converter station is expected.
George Young Group, headquartered in Swedesboro, N.J., is specialized in rigging, millwrighting and transport of items. Founded in 1869, the Group is organized into three business units: George Young Company (GYCO), George Young Mechanical (GYM) and George Young Installations Puerto Rico (GYIPR).
For more information, call 856/467-1316.
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