Mexico-based TZ Industrias has replaced the deck machinery bushing aboard the Caroil Transport Marine oil tanker Petion with ThorPlas-Blue, marking Thordon Bearings’ first large commercial vessel project in the country.

Thordon’s grease-free material replaced a competitor’s spherical split bearing on the 72,714dwt vessels’ deck crane during a recent drydocking at the TNG Veracruz Shipyard, Mexico’s largest ship repair facility.

According to TZ Industrias Managing Director Arturo Selvas, the bearing was delaminating due to a combination of excess grease, humidity and salt erosion. “The bearing was operating in a very harsh working environment and as a result the existing bearing was in poor condition,” he said.

After providing samples of Thordon’s proprietary polymer materials and discussing the proven performance of such a bearing in this type of application, the yard decided to retrofit the ThorPlas-Blue system during the vessel’s March 2021 drydocking.

As part of a turnkey contract, TZ Industrias, a member of the Thordon Distributor Network, supplied, machined and installed a 230mm (9in) fully finished bearing to the crane’s hydraulic arm.

“We had a very short window to complete the job,” said Selvas. “Another challenge was to replicate the spherical shape of the split bearing and its load capability. Using the original bearing as a template, we were able to machine the ThorPlas-Blue tube at our factory in Coatzacoalcos and get the new bearing installed and commissioned within the limited time frame.

“It was a unique project for us. We previously supplied Thordon products to the yard but these were installed on smaller vessels, workboats and patrol boats. This is the first time we have worked on a merchant vessel of this size. It’s our first tanker so we hope this ship type becomes a regular thing for us.”

The Veracruz Shipyard, the only facility in Mexico capable of drydocking large commercial vessels of 269m (882ft) in length and 36m (118ft) beam, is equipped with four drydocks, two repair berths and myriad machining and mechanical workshops.

Eng. Antonio Flores. Project Leader, Veracruz Shipyard, said: “We have worked with TZ Industrias on three projects over the past two years. The support we received from them gave us the confidence to partner with the company again for larger, more demanding projects. It also provided the opportunity for Caroil Transport Marine to switch from an unreliable and costly greased bearing to a more environmentally acceptable solution. We found ThorPlas-Blue delivers superior performance in this type of application.”

Jason Perry, Thordon Bearings’ Regional Manager – North America said: “This project represents a huge step forward for TZ Industrias and it really opens up the commercial market in Mexico for Thordon Bearings. TZ has made huge inroads with different companies and different markets.

“I think it has a lot to do with the support, technical knowledge and customer service that TZ provides. Arturo and his team know the products; they know the applications and are very hands on with the whole process. Not to mention, they are also supplying a superior product.”

The ThorPlas-Blue bearing can be used in all deck equipment applications and is the ideal replacement for bronze and other non-metallic bearings and bushings capable of operating pressures up to 45MPa (6,527 psi). It is available in a range of sizes and is easily machined to the dimensions required for fairleads, capstans, davits, gantries, pivot bushings, cranes, chain hoists, door and ramp hinge bearings, and steering gear ram and linkage pins. 

“The elimination of grease not only offers improved safety for the Petion’s crew,” said Perry, “but it also results in reduced operational and maintenance costs for the owner.”

Cyprus-based Caroil Transport Marine Ltd operates a fleet of oil tankers operating between the Caribbean islands of Bonaire, Curaçao and the Bahamas.