Cadet Blog: 2/C Heather Gaughan - Thursday, February 13, 2020

Submitted by Heather Gaughan on Thu, 02/13/2020 - 05:00

Seal of Approval
Mechanical Split Seal

I’ll admit that I’m not the most mechanically-inclined person, but the majority of my friends aboard the TS Kennedy are. When 3/C Colleen Weir, MENG, asked me to come down to the Engine Training Space to check out her most recent project, I thought it was a great opportunity to explore more of the engineering aspects of cadets’ training. Colleen was working on taking apart and rebuilding a mechanical split seal. What’s a mechanical split seal you may ask? Here’s a general overview:

notes explaining process from notebook
heather holding onto a pipe
Heather presses on pipe
Heather works on pipe
heather holding onto pike, looking at camera


working with pipe
working with pipe
turning pipe, straining
working with pipe
surprised look on heather's face


Mechanical seals are used to prevent any water from flowing out of the hole in the pump casing where the shaft goes in. Without them, the fluid being pumped would constantly be leaking from that hole.

Mechanical split seals have components that split into two halves. They allow for installation without dissembling equipment. They are designed to work like non-split seals. They effectively handle lower pressures, temperatures, and shaft speeds. The advantages of mechanical split seals include no equipment disassembly, and no sleeve wear. Their disadvantages include a higher initial cost, and limitations in application.

Nicholas Sirois, the Global Product Manager for Mechanical Seals for AW Chesterton, teaches the 3/C MENG cadets about Mechanical Split Seals and then shows them how to break them down and install them. For the past few sea terms, AW Chesterton has sent a representative to teach MENG students about these seals. Mr. Sirois had no problem with me sitting in on Sydney’s assessment.

After installing her mechanical split seal, the final test for Colleen would be to use the “boiler suit spill prevention method” to see if she was successful. Colleen would have to wrap the opening of her boiler suit around the seal to see if it would leak. If it did, then there was a problem with the installation, and she would end up with wet shorts. However, it was not Colleen who tested her seal. She had the great idea of giving me that honor. Sadly, her seal did leak, and I was soaked.

A few days later, I came back to the Engine Training Space and installed my own mechanical split seal. After participating in Mr. Sirois’ lecture, I felt confident in my ability to complete the task at hand. It took me a while, but I came out of that project with dry shorts.

split seal disagram


Until next time,
Blogger Heather Gaughan

Special thank you to:
AW Chesterton
Nicholas Sirois
3/C Colleen Weir (MENG)