New Thordon shaft seal has Safe Return to Port feature

Written by Nick Blenkey
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Thordon’s Chief Research Engineer, Gary Ren, pictured with the BlueWater Seal featuring the newly developed RENFORM main seal ring.

Water-lubricated bearing specialist Thordon Bearings, Burlington, Ontario, has unveiled a new propeller shaft seal with a unique Safe Return to Port (SRTP) design.

The Thordon BlueWater Seal completes the company’s COMPAC open seawater lubricated propeller shaft bearing system and is specifically designed to meet commercial shipping industry needs for a low maintenance and robust shaft seal.

BlueWater Seal

Taking the company’s TG100 and SeaThigor seal products as the technical benchmark, the Thordon BlueWater Seal is a cost effective, commercial grade axial lip seal specifically designed for merchant shipping fleets.

Retaining many of the key features associated with the company’s existing seal portfolio, the new, more commercially focused, BlueWater Seal is a high performance product benefitting from the same level of reliability associated with Thordon products.

The BlueWater Seal also incorporates Thordon’s unique emergency Safe Return to Port (SRTP) capability, first used in the company’s TG100 and SeaThigor systems designed for the workboat and specialized naval vessel markets respectively.

The BlueWater Seal is the first SRTP seal designed for the merchant fleet.

“The BlueWater Seal meets growing market demand for a complete propeller shaft line solution from a single source,” said Thordon Bearings’ technical director, Anthony Hamilton. “Although we can offer the seal as an individual component, it forms a fundamental part of the Thordon COMPAC open seawater lubricated propeller shaft bearing system.”

Thordon COMPAC open seawater lubricated propeller shaft bearing system.

The COMPAC system includes Thordon’s proprietary seawater lubricated COMPAC bearings, shaft liners, ThorShield anti-corrosion shaft coating, a Thordon Water Quality Package, a Thordon Bearing Condition Monitoring System, and, now, the new BlueWater Seal.

The seal can be installed to all vessels with shaft diameters between 300 mm to 1,000 mm (11.8 inches to 39.4 inches) and is simple to install, operate and maintain.


“At first glance the Thordon BlueWater Seal may look like any other axial lip face seal out there,” said Hamilton. “But what makes this seal unique is its SRTP capability and revolutionary RENFORM main seal ring.”

The RENFORM technology, developed in-house by Thordon’s chief research engineer Gary Ren, allows the facing elements of the seal to operate almost without any friction. In practical terms, it means the seal is much better suited to variable and low draft conditions – a key benefit to a globally-operating merchant ship.

During comparative trials on Thordon’s full-scale test rig in Burlington, the seal operated without friction spikes and considerably less friction than similar seals leading to reduced wear, longer life and less maintenance.

“This seal minimizes water leakage and dramatically improves hydrodynamic and lubrication efficiency,” said Hamilton. “The development is a real boon to those ship owners and operators looking to adopt an open seawater lubricated shaft line arrangement as the entire propeller shaft line system can now be sourced from one company.”


“The introduction of our innovative seal technology to the wider shipping fleet means a seawater lubricated propeller shaft that is not only environmentally cleaner but even safer for ship and crew,” said Scott Groves, Thordon Bearings’ VP sales. “The seal incorporates a secondary Safe Return to Port emergency seal. This inflates in the event of damage to the primary seal, allowing the shaft to continue to turn, allowing the vessel and crew to return safely to the nearest port. I believe the merchant fleet has never before had this capability.”

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