Hydraulic V-Seals

The V-ring is one of the most frequently used dynamic seals in ship service although its identification, installation, and performance are probably most misunderstood. Properly selected and installed, V-rings can provide excellent service life; otherwise, problems associated with friction, rod and seal wear, noise, and leakage can be expected.

The V-ring is the part of the packing set that does the sealing. It has a cross section resembling the letter V, (fig. 7-3) from which its name is derived. To achieve a seal, the V-ring must be installed as part of a packing set or stack, which includes one male adapter, one female adapter, and several V-rings (fig. 7-4). The male adapter is the first ring on the pressure end of the packing stack and is flat on one side and wedge-shaped on the other to contain the V of the adjacent V-ring. The female adapter, the last ring of the packing stack, is flat on one side and V-shaped on the other to properly support the adjacent V-ring. Proper design and installation of the female adapter has significant impact on the service life and performance of the V-rings because the female adapter bridges the clearance gap between the moving surfaces and resists extrusion.

The packing set is installed in a cavity that is slightly deeper than the free stack height (the nominal overall height of a V-ring packing set, including the male and female adapters as measured before installation) and as wide as the nominal cross section of the V-rings. This cavity, called a packing gland or stuffing box, contains and supports the packing around the shaft, rod, or piston. Adjustment of the packing gland depth through the use of shims or spacers is usually necessary to obtain the correct squeeze or clearance on the packing stack for good service life.

Two basic installations apply to V-ring packings. The more common is referred to as an outside packed installation, in which the packing seals against a shaft or rod, as shown in figure 7-4. The inside packed installation, is shown as a piston seal in figure 7-5. When V-ring packing is to be used in an inside packed installation, only endless ring packing should be used. Where pressures exist in both directions, as on a double-acting piston, opposing sets of packing should always be installed so the sealing lips face away from each other as in figure 7-5. This prevents trapping pressure between the sets of packings. The female adapters in inside packed installations should always be located adjacent to a fixed or rigid part of the piston.

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