Power Track Strength Concerns

Friday, August 27, 1999
When the Snorkels were first delivered, there was concern the power track used to hold the hydraulic hoses wasn't strong enough. Norshipco is so oriented to steel components, they were afraid the composite Snorkel power tracks wouldn't hold up. They were wrong. In fact, the material used in them tolerates the wear of grit better than metal power tracks and isn't susceptible to salt water corrosion. And, if a link is broken, it can be individually replaced without disassembling the entire system. There is also a metal cover over the tracks protecting them from welding splatter; and if they're dented, the cover can easily be straightened in Norshipco's shop. Another feature appreciated at the operational level is the design of the Snorkel hydraulic system. The layout of the Norshipco facility requires some machines be stored about a mile from the dry-dock where they're used. When a machine is called into service, it must be driven down to the dock. With other machines, workers found the hydraulic oil overheated while driving the machines the extra mile. The Snorkel booms use variable displacement, load sensing hydraulic pumps, similar to the pumps used in aircraft, which compensate for pressure and flow. They're reliable, lightweight and don't generate unnecessary heat. Some machines use fixed displacement gear pumps continuously delivering full pressure and full flow, varying only with engine speed. Since only a portion is used to operate a particular function, the remainder of the oil flow and pressure returns to the hydraulic tank, creating heat, wasting energy and substantially reducing operating efficiency. Larger tanks are needed to hold the fluid in systems using fixed displacement pumps; and in some cases, a heat exchanger may be required to dissipate excess heat.

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