Pump Shaft Sleeves PDF Print E-mail

Pump shafts are usually protected from erosion, corrosion, and wear at seal chambers, leakage joints, internal bearings, and in the waterways by renewable sleeves.


The most common shaft sleeve function is that of protecting the shaft from wear at packing and mechanical seals. Shaft sleeves serving other functions are given specific names to indicate their purpose. For example, a shaft sleeve used between two multistage pump impellers in conjunction with the interstage bushing to form an interstage leakage joint is called an interstage or distance sleeve.


In medium-size centrifugal pumps with two external bearings on opposite sides of the casing (the common double-suction and multistage varieties), the favored shaft sleeve construction uses an external shaft nut to hold the sleeve in an axial position against the impeller hub. Sleeve rotation is prevented by a key, usually an extension of the impeller key. The axial thrust of the impeller is transmitted through the sleeve to the external shaft nut.


In larger high-head pumps, a high axial load on the sleeve is possible and a design similar to that shown in Figure 1 may be preferred. This design has the advantages of simplicity and ease of assembly and maintenance. It also provides space for a large seal chamber and cartridge-type mechanical seals. When shaft sleeve nuts are used to retain the sleeves and impellers axially, they are usually manufactured with right- and left-hand threads. The friction of the pumpage and inadvertent contact with stationary parts or bushings will tend to tighten the nuts against the sleeve and impeller hub (rather than loosen them). Usually, the shaft sleeves utilize extended impeller keys to prevent rotation.

















Figure 1. A sleeve with an internal impeller nut, external shaft-sleeve nut, and a separate key for the sleeve.

Some manufacturers favor the sleeve, in which the impeller end of the sleeve is threaded and screwed to a matching thread on the shaft. A key cannot be used with this type of sleeve, and right- and left-hand threads are substituted so that the frictional grip of the packing on the sleeve will tighten it against the impeller hub. As a safety precaution, the external shaft nuts and the sleeve itself use set screws for a locking device.
In pumps with overhung impellers, various types of sleeves are used. Most pumps use mechanical seals, and the shaft sleeve is usually a part of the mechanical seal package supplied by the seal manufacturer. Many mechanical seals are of the cartridge design, which is set and may be bench-tested for leakage prior to installation in the pump.

For overhung impeller pumps that utilize packing for sealing, the packing sleeves generally extend from the impeller hub through the seal chambers (or stuffing boxes) to protect the pump shaft from wear. The sleeves are usually keyed to the shaft to prevent rotation. If a hook-type sleeve is used, the hook part of the sleeve is clamped between the impeller and a shaft shoulder to maintain the axial position of the sleeve. A hook-type sleeve used to be popular for overhung impeller pumps that operate at high temperatures because it is clamped at the impeller end and the rest of the sleeve is free to expand axially with temperature changes. But with the increased use of cartridge-type mechanical seals, the use of hook-type sleeves is diminishing.


In designs with a metal-to-metal joint between the sleeve and the impeller hub or shaft nut, a sealing device is required between the sleeve and the shaft to prevent leakage. Pumped liquid can leak into the clearance between the shaft and the sleeve when operating under a positive suction head and air can leak into the pump when operating under a negative suction head. This seal can be accomplished by means of an O-ring, or a flat gasket. For high temperature services, the sealing device must be either acceptable for the temperature to which it will be exposed, or it must be located outside the high temperature liquid environment. According to an alternative design used for some high-temperature process pumps, the contact surface of the hook-type sleeve and the shaft is ground at a 45-degree angle to form a metal-to-metal seal. That end of the sleeve is locked, but the other is free to expand with temperature changes.

When O-rings are used, any sealing surfaces must be properly finished to ensure a positive seal is achieved. All bores and changes in diameter over which O-rings must be passed should be properly radiused and chamfered to protect against damage during assembly. Guidelines for assembly dimensions and surface finish criteria are always listed in O-ring manufacturers’ catalogs.


I. J. Karassik, C.C. Heald: Centrifugal Pumps: Major Components, Pump Handbook, ISBN 0-07-034032-3, 2001.



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