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Turbine Fuel Pump Extreme Teardown

Turbine Fuel Pump
Turbine Fuel Pump

Here’s a destructive teardown of an automotive in-tank turbine fuel pump, used on modern Petrol cars. These units sit in the tank fully immersed in the fuel, which also circulates through the motor inside for cooling. These pumps aren’t serviceable – they’re crimped shut on both ends. Luckily the steel shell is thin, so attacking the crimp joint with a pair of mole grips & a screwdriver allowed me inside.

End Bell
End Bell

The input endbell of the pump has the fuel inlet ports, the channels are visible machined into the casting. There’s a pair of channels for two pump outputs – the main fuel rail to the engine, and an auxiliary fuel output to power a venturi pump. The fuel pump unit sits inside a swirl pot, which holds about a pint of fuel. These are used to ensure the pump doesn’t run dry & starve the engine when the tank level is low & the car is being driven hard. The venturi pump draws fuel from the main tank into the swirl pot. A steel ball is pressed in to the end bell to provide a thrust bearing for the motor armature.

Turbine Impeller
Turbine Impeller

The core of the pump is this impeller, which is similar to a side-channel blower. From what I’ve been able to find these units supply pressures up to about 70PSI for the injector rail. The outside ring is the main fuel pump, while the smaller inner one provides the pressure to run the venturi pump.

Pump Housing
Pump Housing

The other side of the machined pump housing has the main output channel, with the fuel outlet port at the bottom. The motor shaft is supported in what looks like a carbon bearing.

Midsection
Midsection

Removing the pump intermediate section with the bearing reveals quite a bit of fungus – it’s probably been happy sat in here digesting what remains of the fuel.

Armature Exposed
Armature Exposed

Some peeling with mole grips allows the motor to come apart entirely. The drive end of the armature is visible here.

Motor Can
Motor Can

The outer shell of the motor holds yet more fungus, along with some rust & the pair of ceramic permanent magnets.

Brushes
Brushes

The other end of the pump has the brush assembly, and the fuel outlet check valve to the right. The bearing at this end is just the plastic end cap, since there are much lower forces at this end of the motor. The fuel itself provides the lubrication required.

Potted Armature
Potted Armature

With the armature pulled out of the housing, it’s clear that there’s been quite a bit of water in here as well, with the laminations rusting away. This armature is fully potted in plastic, with none of the copper windings visible.

Carbon Commutator
Carbon Commutator

The commutator in these motors is definitely a strange one – it’s axial rather than radial in construction, and the segments are made of carbon like the brushes. No doubt this is to stop the sparking that usually occurs with brushed motors – preventing ignition of fuel vapour in the pump when air manages to get in as well, such as in an empty tank.

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Silverline Polisher Fail

Commutator
Commutator

Since I seem to be the local go-to for any dead electrical equipment, this brand-new Silverline polisher has landed on my desk. Purchased cheap from an auction this was dead on arrival. Checking the fuse revealed nothing suspect, so a quick teardown to find the fault was required.
Above is a photo of the commutator with the brush holder removed, and the source of the issue. The connection onto the field winding of the universal motor has been left unsecured, as a result it’s managed to move into contact with the commutator.
This has done a pretty good job of chewing it’s way through the wire entirely. There is some minor damage to the commutator segments, but it’s still smooth, and shouldn’t damage the brushes.

Chewed Wire
Chewed Wire

A quick pull on what’s left of the wire reveals the extent of the problem. It’s entirely burned through! Unfortunately the stator assembly with the field windings is pressed into the plastic housing, so it’s not removable. An in-place solder joint was required to the very short remains of the wire inside the housing. Once this was done the polisher sprang to life immediately, with no other damage.
This unit probably ended up at an auction as a factory reject, or a customer return to a retail outlet. If the latter, I would seriously question the quality control procedures of Silverline tools. 😉

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Wheelchair Motors Part 2: Service

Cleaning, Replacement Parts & Reassembly

Housing Cleaned
Housing Cleaned

The housing of the contaminated motor was left to soak in diesel for a few hours to loosen the grok, this has come very clean. I couldn’t have used a stronger solvent here – the magnets are glued in place in the steel housing, I certainly didn’t want them coming loose!

Brushboxes
Brushboxes

Next into the diesel bath are the motor end bells with the brushgear. Attack with a stiff brush cleaned these up very well, some cotton buds served to clean out the brass brush holders.

Armatures After Skimming
Armatures After Skimming

Here are both armatures, having had their commutators resurfaced. I’ve completely removed all traces of the wear caused by the contamination, luckly the commutator bars are very heavy on these motors so can take quite a bit of wear before there’s not enough left to skim. I’ve not yet pulled off the old bearings, but they are all going to be replaced with new SKF bearings, as they’ve been contaminated with grok over the years of use. I’m also going to uprate the front motor bearings to rubber sealed instead of metal shielded, to help keep lubricant out of the motors if the gearbox seals ever fail again.

Gearbox
Gearbox

The gearboxes have been cleaned out with some elbow grease, assisted by a long soak in petrol, I’ve refilled them here with engine oil as temporary lube & to flush out the last remains of the old grease & solvent. The worm wheel in these boxes is bronze – so a GL4 gear oil will be required. (Some Extreme Pressure additive packs contain sulphur, and will readily attack copper alloys, such as brass & bronze).

Commutator End Bearings
Commutator End Bearings

Here’s the armatures, after the new SKF sealed bearings have been fitted to the commutator end, above, and the drive end, below. These will cause some extra drag on the armatures, and slightly higher power consumption as a result, but keeping the crap out of the motors is slightly more important.

Drive End Bearings
Drive End Bearings
Fresh Commutator Skim
Fresh Commutator Skim

The commutators have been lightly skimmed with abrasive cloth, and finished with 1500 grit emery. The armature on the right has been run for a short time to see how the new brushes are bedding in.

Old Seal Removed
Old Seal Removed

Finally, the old oil seals are pulled from the gearboxes. The worm gear bearing on the inside is actually a sealed version, with the external oil seal providing some extra sealing. I haven’t changed the gearbox bearings, as they seem to be in good order, this might get done at some point in the future.

New Oil Seals
New Oil Seals

The new seals ready to be driven into the bores.