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Baseplates and Other Pump Supports

For very obvious reasons, it is desirable that pumps and their drivers be removable from their mountings.
Consequently, they are usually bolted and doweled to machined surfaces that in tum are firmly connected
to the foundations. To simplify the installation of horizontal-shaft units, these machined surfaces are
usually part of a common baseplate on which either the pump or the pump and its driver have been pre-

The primary function of a pump baseplate is to furnish mounting surfaces for the pump feet that are
capable of being rigidly attached to the foundation. Mounting surfaces are also necessary for the feet
of the pump driver or drivers or of any independently mounted power transmission device. Although
such surfaces could be provided by separate bedplates or by individually planned surfaces, it would be
necessary to align these separate surfaces and fasten them to the foundation with the utmost care. Usually
this method requires in-place mounting in the field as well as drilling and tapping for the holding-down
bolts after all parts have been aligned. To minimize such "field work," coupled horizontal-shaft pumps
are usually purchased with a continuous base extending under the pump and its driver (Fig. l3.1);
ordinarily, both these units are mounted and aligned at the place of manufacture.
As the unit size increases so does the size, weight, and cost of the base required. The cost of a
prealigned base for most large units would exceed the cost of the field work necessary to align individual
baseplates or soleplates and to mount the component parts. Such bases are therefore used only if
appearances require them or if their function as a drip collector justifies the additional cost. Even in
fairly small units, the height at which the feet of the pump and the other elements are located may differ
considerably. A more rigid and pleasant looking installation can frequently be obtained by using individual
bases or soleplates and building up the foundation to various heights under the separate portions of
equipment. (Fig. l3.2).
When a baseplate is used, whether it be under both the pump and its driver, or separate bases under
each piece of equipment, it is a fundamental element of the structural connection that maintains alignment


I. J. Karassik et al., Centrifugal Pumps

Chapman & Hall 1998
Baseplates and Other Pump Supports 299

Fig. 13.1 Baseplate under pump and driver, bolted to the foundation.

Fig. 13.2 Pump and driver on soleplates with stepped foundation.

300 Baseplates and Other Pump Supports




Fig. 13.3 Base supported by "stiff' foundation.

between the pump and its driver. Although this is clearly a very important requirement, it is frequently
sacrificed to cost, invariably at the expense of machine reliability.
Baseplates for horizontal axis pumps fall into two categories, which for this discussion can be termed
"supported" and "suspended." The distinction revolves around how the base is connected to and supported
by the foundation. Supported bases, the more common category, are bolted and grouted to a "stiff'
foundation (Fig. 13.3). Once installed, the function of a supported base is to transmit equipment loads
and drive reaction to the foundation. The remainder of the structural connection to maintain alignment,
bending, and torsion, is then provided by the foundation. Given these functions, supported bases are
designed for

1. Moderate bending stiffness; sufficient for handling as an assembled unit without yielding (taking a perma-
nent set)
2. High pedestal and foundation connection stiffness; sufficient to maintain coupling alignment under the
imposed equipment loads (e.g., piping) and the drive reaction.

It is important to note that torsional stiffness is not a design requirement because the foundation provides
it. This reduces the cost of the baseplate, but increases the installation cost since the baseplate must be
carefully leveled after positioning it on the foundation (see installation in Chap. 28).
A noteworthy consequence of the deliberate lack of torsional stiffness is that precise shop alignment
of the equipment is meaningless; the alignment will change when the unit is moved. Two things are
important in the shop alignment of equipment on supported bases. First, the equipment mounting surfaces
must be carefully leveled before aligning the equipment to mark out the mounting surfaces for drilling
or to make a final check of alignment. Second, the equipment alignment must be accurate enough to
allow precise alignment in the field.
Suspended bases, the second and less common category, are those that do not rely on a foundation
for the bending and torsional stiffness necessary to maintain alignment. They are used in the follow-
ing circumstances:
Baseplates and Other Pump Supports 301





Fig. 13.4 Flexibility mounted baseplate.

1. Simplified installation-the unit is prealigned and can be positioned, connected, and started. Any attachment
to the foundation is nominal and usually three-point to be self-leveling.
2. Minimize structure-borne noise-The unit is suspended above the foundation on resilient mountings (springs
or elastomer pads).
3. Reduce piping loads-The unit is suspended on springs or stilts or free to slide so it can move to accommodate
piping expansion. A typical spring-mounted base is shown in Fig. 13.4.

Compared to supported bases, the additional design requirements for suspended bases are

1. High bending stiffness-sufficient to maintain pump to driver alignment under equipment weight and
imposed loads.
2. High torsional stiffness-sufficient to maintain pump to driver alignment under drive reaction and any torsion
from imposed loads.

These two additional requirements raise the baseplate cost. Both requirements add weight, although not
significantly if well designed, but providing torsional stiffness involves more difficult fabrication. To
achieve worthwhile torsional stiffness, the base must either have a closed cross section (undesirable for
corrosion resistance) or diagonal bracing. Conventional cross-bracing makes little or no contribution to
torsional stiffness, a fact quite evident in Fig. 13.5.
Today, baseplates are furnished in fabricated structural steel, fabricated stainless steel, cast iron, and
reinforced polymer. Regardless of the material, the principal design criterion is stiffness. Structural or
carbon-steel bases generally realize this at minimum cost by a simple arrangement of moderately heavy
pieces. In stainless steel, a more expensive material, lighter, more complex shapes are warranted to
minimize cost. Cast iron is only half as stiff as steel, so (he sections need to be heavier, with the increase
in weight sometimes offset by the ease of producing more complex shapes. Reinforced polymers are an
order of magnitude less stiff than steel, which limits their use in structures designed for stiffness. When
they are used, the sections and configurations are necessarily quite different to those for metals.
The virtue of fabricated baseplates is the flexibility of form allowed to the designer, ranging from a
simple inverted channel (Fig. 13.6) to a complex, suspended skid (Fig. 13.7). Structural or straight carbon
steel is the usual material since it is available in a wide range of shapes and sections, and is relatively

Fig. 13.5 Effect of section and bracing on torsional stiffness; (a) flat plate, (b) cross-bracing,
and (C) diagonal bracing.

Baseplates and Other Pump Supports 303

Fig. 13.6 Small frame-mounted centrifugal pump on inverted channel base.

Fig. 13.7 Offshore water injection pump with pump, driver, and accessories mounted on suspended,
three-point supported skid.
304 Baseplates and Other Pump Supports

- rA





Fig. 13.8 Base drain arrangements.

inexpensive. Austenitic stainless steel is used when corrosion is a concern. Frequently pumps handle
liquids that cannot be allowed to fallon or accumulate on the foundation, since they would then pose
a problem of corrosion or combustion. In these cases, the base must also serve as a collector of incidental
leakage. Two arrangements are in use: drip pan and drain rim. Figure 13.8 shows the essential difference.
Drip-pan bases offer an extensive sloping drainage surface but require careful design to ensure structural
integrity and are difficult to fabricate. Drain-rim bases are usually easier to design and fabricate. Most
designs, however, suffer from the disadvantage of the regions where leakage falls being flat, and thus
prone to some leakage accumulation. Bending a "crown" into the top plate overcomes this, although at
some additional cost and fabrication effort. Openings in drip pans and the top plate of drain-rim bases
must be collared or bossed to avoid leakage through the opening.
Cast iron is restricted to small baseplates for standard pumps, where the quantity being produced is
sufficient to justify the pattern expense. Since the base is cast, it is relatively easy to produce a rimmed,
sloping drainage surface between the equipment mounting pads (Fig. 13.9). Reinforced polymer bases
are sometimes used in place of stainless steel when base corrosion is a problem. As with cast iron, this
material is only viable when the quantities are high enough to justify the mold cost. Because the shape
is molded, a rimmed, sloping drainage surface is easily incorporated in the design.
By definition, supported bases must be designed for grouting. If the base is well designed (meaning
that its pedestals do not rely on grout for stiffness), the essential functions of grouting are to

1. Ensure intimate contact between the base underside and the foundation.
2. Provide additional lateral restraint.

A secondary function is to fill voids in or under the base to prevent the accumulation of liquid or debris
or both. At one extreme the base is an open structure designed to be filled with grout (Fig. 13.10); at
the other, a closed structure designed for grouting to the underside of a drip pan (Fig. 13.11). Designs
with drip pans or deck plates require special features to ensure grout can completely fill the void beneath
Baseplates and Other Pump Supports 305

Fig. 13.9 Horizontal centrifugal pump and driver on cast-iron baseplate.

the plate or pan. If the void is not completely filled, there is a risk liquid will accumulate under the
plate, or the plate will "drum" and create unnecessary noise. Figure 13.12 shows the features necessary
for grouting under a drip pan.
Except for very small units, under, say, 225 kg (500 lb), the base generally includes provision for
lifting. In most cases the lift is four point, because rigging to equalize loading becomes complicated
with more than a four-point lift. The lifting lugs are positioned for balance. If equipment obstruction is
a problem, a spreader must be used for the lift.
Since baseplates are designed for stiffness, the volume of welding required in fabricated designs is
not high. Weld extent and size combine to give an actual weld volume greater than that required for
stiffness. Continuous welding is necessary for all joints. Intermittent welding should not be used because
joints so welded are prone to corrosion and subsequent distortion. Weld sizes are those necessary to
develop 50 percent of the plate strength.
As noted in the introduction to this discussion, the intention of a baseplate is to provide precision
surfaces on which to mount and accurately align the equipment. This function can only be realized when
the equipment mounting surfaces of the base are machined. When the fabrication involves extensive

Fig. 13.10 Grout-filled baseplate. Fig. 13.11 Grouted drip-pan baseplate.

306 Baseplates and Other Pump Supports

+ +
~ ,
+ l
J +

I -$-rn -$-
I c::=:=::J

+ I \ 1-
'L /
\ /
AT LEAST 1-19 SQ. I N.

Fig. 13.12 Design features necessary for grouting under a drip pan.

welding, it is usual to oven-stress relieve the base before machining. Doing this eliminates the risk of
subsequent distortion as residual stress is relieved over time. The separation of the finished machined
surfaces normally provides for at least 3 mm (0.12 in.) of shims under the driver. Provided the base is
not "sprung" (twisted out of shape) on the machine tool, the machined surfaces in each plane will be
coplanar within 0.15 mm per meter (0.002 in. per foot) of separation, a common specification requirement.
When deemed necessary by the designer or the purchaser, baseplates are furnished with a number of
t:efinements to aid installation and equipment alignment. Typical of these are leveling screws adjacent
to the foundation bolts in supported bases and jacking screws on the pedestals of both supported and
suspended designs.


For operation at high temperatures, the pump casing must be supported as near to its horizontal centerline
as possible to minimize the consequences of thermal expansion of the casing. Failure to do this will
result in distortion of the pump if it is three-point supported (Fig. 13.6) and misalignment of the pump
to its driver, both of which can ultimately cause significant damage to the pump. Centerline support is
generally adopted when the pumping temperature reaches 175C (350F). The real criterion, however,
is not the temperature, but the thermal expansion as the casing comes up to temperature. Unusually large
pumps therefore require centerline support at temperatures below 175C (350F).
Centerline support complicates baseplate design significantly, because the tall pedestals must be
sufficiently stiff to accommodate loads imposed on the pump without any significant change in the
alignment of the pump and its driver. This is particularly difficult with single-stage overhung pumps
Baseplates and Other Pump Supports 307

Fig. 13.13 Centerline-supported overhung process pump.

(Pig. 13.13), which are effectively only 2-point supported. To develop the required stiffness, the pedestals
usually must be closed (box section) and directly connected to the side beam of the base. Units with a
large amount of accessory equipment around them often require baseplates so large the pedestals cannot
be directly connected to the side beams. In these cases, the connection between the pedestals and the
side beams must achieve the same stiffness, which is usually done with judiciously designed lateral and
longitudinal bracing underneath the drip pan or deck plate. Inadequate stiffness in bases for centerline
supported pumps has caused a great of deal of difficulty in the refining industry. So much, in fact, that
API-61O [3.1], the usual industry standard for refinery pumps, now includes requirements for combined
base and pump stiffness, and specifies a simple means of testing to verify the design.
At temperatures significantly above 175C (350 0 P), say 290 to 315C (550 to 600 0 P), many designs
have added water cooling to the pedestals, the idea being to remove any heat passed to the pedestals
by conduction and convection from the adjacent casing. Tests to measure the amount of heat gained by
the cooling water show that it is so little as to be of no practical benefit. In the light of this, it is possible
to simplify the installation of high-temperature pumps by eliminating water-cooled pedestals.


Soleplates are cast-iron or steel pads located under the feet of the pump or its driver and embedded into
the foundation. The pump or its driver are doweled and bolted to them. Soleplates are customarily used
for vertical dry-pit pumps and also for some of the larger horizontal units to save the cost of the large
bedplates otherwise required.


The foregoing discussion of bedplates and supports for horizontal shaft units assumed their application
to pumps with piping setups that do not impose hydraulic thrusts on the pumps themselves. If flexible
308 Baseplates and Other Pump Supports

Fig. 13.14 Vertical-shaft installation of double-suction single-stage pump.

Casing is provided with mounting support flange .

pipe connections or expansion joints are desirable in the suction or discharge piping of a pump (or
in both), however, the pump manufacturer should be so advised for several reasons. First, the pump
casing will be required to withstand various stresses caused by the resultant hydraulic thrust load.
Although this is rarely a limiting or dangerous factor, it is best that the manufacturer have the
opportunity to check the strength of the pump casing. Second, the resulting hydraulic thrust must
be transmitted from the pump casing through the casing feet to the bedplate or soleplate and then
to the foundation. Usually, horizontal-shaft pumps are merely bolted to their bases or soleplates so
that any tendency to displacement is resisted only by the frictional grip of the casing feet on the
base and by relatively small dowels. If flexible pipe joints are used, this attachment may not be
sufficient to withstand the hydraulic thrust. If high hydraulic thrust loads are to be accommodated,
the pump feet must be keyed to the base or supports. Similarly, the bedplate or supporting soleplates
must be of a design that will permit transmission of the load to the foundation. (For a more
complete discussion of flexible expansion joints, see Chap. 28.)
Baseplates and Other Pump Supports 309

Fig. 13.15 Large vertical-shaft double-suction single-stage pump. Note: outrigger supports for driver,
and tooling for removing and installing front-half casing.
(Courtesy Thompsons, Kelly and Lewis Pty. Ltd.)


Vertical-shaft pumps, like horizontal-shaft units, must be firmly supported. Depending on the installation,
the unit may be supported at one or several elevations. Vertical units are seldom supported from walls,
but even that type of support is sometimes encountered.
Occasionally, a nominally horizontal-shaft pump design is arranged with a vertical shaft and a wall
used as the supporting foundation. The regular horizontal shaft unit shown in Fig. 13.9 could be used
for this purpose without modification, except that the bedplate is attached to a wall. For such installations,
it is advisable to lock the pump feet to the bedplate by keys or dowels rather than to rely strictly on the
friction between the pump feet and the pads of the bedplate. Of course, it is assumed that careful attention
will have been given to the arrangement of the pump bearings to prevent the escape of the lubricant.
Installations of double-suction single-stage pumps with the shaft in the vertical position are relatively
rare, except in some marine and navy applications and waterworks installations where floor space is at
a premium. Hence manufacturers have very few standard pumps of this kind arranged so that a portion
of the casing itself forms the support (to be mounted on soleplates). Figure 13.14 shows such a pump,
which also has a casing extension to support the driving motor. As the size of the pumps arranged in
310 Baseplates and Other Pump Supports

this manner increases, so does the need to pay particular attention to the design of the pump casing, the
pump support beneath it, and the motor support above it to ensure the structural stiffness is high enough
to maintain alignment and avoid resonant vibration. For large pumps, typically those for waterworks, it
is sometimes necessary to provide outriggers (Fig. 13.15) to achieve the required stiffness.
A complete discussion of the methods of supporting pumps that are specifically designed for vertical
mounting is given in Chapter 14.