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New Universal Drive Sets Turnaround Records

By John Brace


Industrial WaterWorld June, 2002 — A new Universal Cooling Tower Drive (UCT) is meeting the challenge of replacing cooling tower drives and spare parts in record time. The standard drive installation turnaround can run from six to 10 weeks, but turn around on the installation of the UCT drive can take as little as 24 hours. Additionally, Philadelphia Gear engineered its versatile new UCT drive to replace virtually any brand cooling tower drive.


The quick turnaround times are primarily due to the fact that the main gear set is not touched after it is manufactured and stocked. Only the smaller change gears need to be installed at the time the unit is ordered. By having to maintain far fewer parts on the shelf, and not having to manufacture individual sets of main gears, it is possible to provide the units in a fraction of the previously required time. The simplified manufacturing process means significant cost reduction without sacrificing quality.


The company's experience designing and engineering cooling tower drives resulted in this unique solution. The new drive replaces and consolidates five other existing Philadelphia Gear cooling tower drive models, with no limitations when compared to its predecessors, or competing cooling tower drives.

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The company's engineers designed this UCT drive with the versatility to replace almost any brand cooling tower drive. The changeover requires only unit and motor shimming. Base plate spacer adapters are used to adjust the centerline height of the input shaft so the drive is capable of fitting into virtually any legacy cooling tower application's footprint. One set of spacer adapters goes under the unit to adjust the vertical output shaft height, and another set raises the motor to the higher horizontal input shaft height.


Application of the UCT Drive

The use of cooling towers is most common in warm weather climes such as the Gulf Coast of the United States. Virtually all manufacturing and process industries use cooling towers. These industries will find the UCT drive is suitable for both wet cooling tower and dry cooling tower applications. For wet cooling tower applications, the UCT drive is ideal for a number of process-related manufacturing uses, particularly in power generation; petrochemical refining; pulp and paper manufacturing; and refrigeration. The use of cooling towers prevails in applications ranging from heavy refining and petrochemical to institutional and light commercial operations. Dry cooling tower applications include natural gas pipeline transmission and commercial air conditioning among others.


Cooling towers are often difficult to access for predictive maintenance, so durability is extremely important. This is certainly true in regard to process-related manufacturing, where water is often part of the inherent process. As such, plants are susceptible to production downtime if a cooling tower application goes offline. Cooling tower equipment, therefore, is a crucial part of the plant's operation. A versatile, easy to install and dependable cooling tower drive can be a life-saver for plant operations. Many industries, in fact, integrate cooling tower drives into their critical spare inventories.


Important Design Elements

Two primary design elements make the new cooling tower drive universal - its spacer plates and its change gears. There are two sets of spacers, one under the unit adjusts the vertical output shaft height, and another raises the motor up to the horizontal input shaft height. These spacer plates are easily adjustable, allowing for the centerline of the input shaft to be properly aligned with the drive shaft. Philadelphia Gear's design engineers ensured that adjustment, when required, would be a simple and effective process.



The Universal Cooling Tower Drive is designed to be installed into virtually any legacy cooling tower in as little as 24 hours turnaround.

Two primary design elements make the new cooling tower drive universal - its spacer plates and its change gears.


Simplicity was the driving force behind the design of the location of the change gears as well. Philadelphia Gear's engineering team designed the unit so that the spiral bevel gears within the main housing would not have to be modified to change the gear ratios. The unit was designed so that the change gears could be replaced and/or modified as necessary, through the change gear housing, leaving the main housing and gear-set intact. This allows the UCT drive to handle gear ratios from 1.241:1 to 3.235:1.


Improved Health & Safety

The new UCT also offers a low-noise health and safety advancement without additional increased replacement costs. The drive has been designed to exceed low-noise mandates prescribed by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Typically, cooling tower drives operate at a decibel level of approximately 85 decibels at three feet. By contrast, the decibel level of the UCT drive, at only 82 decibels at three feet, represents a significant reduction below the OSHA allowable level.


About the Author:

John Brace is general manager of Philadelphia Gear's Gulf Coast regional service center in Houston, TX.
His E-mail is


Author(s): John Brace





The Universal Cooling Tower Drive is designed to be installed into virtually any legacy cooling tower in as little as 24 hours turnaround.


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