Simple Technique for Visually Inspecting Oil Sump Bottoms

Bob Maglitto, Kinder Morgan Inc.

We have been trying to determine the condition of the oil sump tank bottoms on our turbine packages. We came up with a pretty easy (and cheap) way to inspect them. Use a 1/2" PVC pipe that is long enough to reach the bottom of the sump. Glue a collar on one end with a piece of clear Lexan glued into it. Feed the pipe into the sump until the "viewing window" is close to the bottom. Then insert a borescope into the pipe.

It works like wearing a divers mask underwater, allowing you to see the debris clearly and then document it's condition. We did this on several units and have found that over the years, a lot of debris collects at the bottom of the tank.

Below are some pictures taken with this this system.

Useful comments we received about this article:

  • "I have recently purchased a hand held tool from Snap-On for this very task it was about $600 dollars aust and works well for this task. It has an LCD screen and a flexible probe about 500mm long. It works well as it has a light inbuilt and you can focus it easily. I have not found any problems with it so far. Snap-On part no BK5500."

  • "Excellent idea Bob. We use something simular (product made by Ridgid & is called the See Snake). This has a colour monitor & light with flexible 3ft optic extension. But can not be directly used in oil."

  • "On some of our equipment we run crackle tests to check for water in the oil. We've caught some issues and change fewer bearings out since starting this program."


Sump Debris

Sump Debris

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