Similar to numerous industrial fasteners out there, the primary role of retaining rings is to lock the components of a machine in their place so that it functions properly. The retaining ring is a round-shaped fastener that can stretch and compress, making it a good choice for applications like automobile transmission systems or generator systems. The fastener is commonly installed in a recessed slot or a groove, as this way the components can be fastened together in an opening. These types of assembly joints can be formed by inserting the retaining ring externally, overlaying the shaft or internally, by adding some sort of housing.
When exposed to excessive mechanical loads or corrosive agents, the retaining rings tend to wear very easily and cause machine malfunctions or complete shutdowns. Because retaining ring failures translate into prolonged and expensive repairs, it is important to recognize the warning signs and act immediately.
Indicators of retaining ring malfunctions in generators
If ignored, a minor issue with the retaining ring can transform into a serious problem that will alter the overall functionality of the entire assembly. For instance, the retaining rings utilized in generators are subjected to both axial and tangential forces specific to the assembly. In case they cannot withstand these forces, the fastener's integrity will be compromised, the ring will eventually fracture and the generator will stop working.
Besides the mechanical forces, the retaining ring in a generator can develop stress cracks. Once these tears grow beyond the fastener's tolerance threshold, the ring will tear. Alternatively, a piece of the said tear could eat into the insulation scratching the rotor and exponentially increasing the risk of fire. The bottom line is that regardless of the cause of the crack in the retaining ring, they are all clear indicators of an inevitable ring failure.
Sings of a retaining ring failure in automobile transmission systems
In automobile transmission systems, the retaining ring has the role of holding the countershaft secure in the transmission case. Due to the nature of the system and the fact that the car throttles, it is normal for the assembly to experience internal loads fluctuations. As long as the ring is intact, the countershaft remains stable in the case and the transmission works properly.
However, once the fastener is damaged, it tends to shift or even become detached from its original groove. Moreover, if it is exposed to high pressure then it could start to bend and will break apart sooner or later. To prevent transmission system malfunctions, the gearshift must be inspected regularly. In the event that it moves back and forth freely, then it is a clear indicator of a ring failure. An additional sign to watch for is whether the transmission makes a grinding sound during gear shifting.
Can these failures be prevented?
Scheduled, regular inspection and machine maintenance are two efficient methods to avert retention ring failures and the problems associated with them. While it is true that tears and damage to the ring are both hard to predict, replacing the fasteners when they show the first signs of wear will prevent a machine breakdown and save you a lot of time and money in the long run.
Started my career in the fastener world in 1969 at, Parker Kalon Corp. a NJ based screw manufacturer located in Clifton, NJ working in inventory control, scheduling secondary production and concluding there in purchasing. In 1971 I accepted a sales position at Star Stainless Screw Co., Totowa, NJ working in inside sales and later as an outside salesman, having a successful career at Star I had the desire with a friend to start our own fastener distribution company in 1980 named: Divspec, Kenilworth, NJ. This was a successful adventure but ended in 1985 with me starting Melfast in August 1985 and have stayed competitive and successful to date. Melfast serves the OEM market with approximately 400 accounts nationally.