Franklin Motor Starter or Franklin Pump Motor?

Discussion in 'Pumps and Tanks Well Forum & Blog' started by traveller, Sep 28, 2013.

  1. traveller

    traveller Member

    Messages:
    44
    Location:
    British Columbia
    I operate a small water system for a town of about 300 people. We have three wells that pump together on an auto cycle. The wells are all at sea level and they pump, through the water system, to a 130,000 gal. reservoir that is 220' above sea level.

    The well in question is 95' deep and has a 1.5 hp submersible Franklin motor coupled to a Myers pump. There is a yellow, red and black wire feeding the pump and a Franklin Motor Starter with two capacitors mounted on the wall of the pumphouse. The pump is mounted 33' below ground level.

    The pump (plus the other two pumps) is controlled by float switches in the reservoir; one at 75% to turn the pumps on and one at 100% to turn the pumps off. Because of this, the pump starts and pumps against a constant head of 253'. This allows it, when it was new, to produce 11.9 gpm.

    I noticed, about a year and a half ago, that a timed flow test on the pumphouse meter showed the production of this well to be down by about 15%. I just assumed it to be iron and manganese buildup in the impellers of the pump. However, this summer the production was down 50% and I began to suspect something was wrong with the motor.

    I should point out that this system was new in 2006 (we all had our own surface wells up to this point) and that each well was drilled in gravel and a 8" casing installed. As the flow of the wells was not particularly high, the drawings show that a 5" flow inducing sleeve was installed on the pump motor at each well. The 1.5 hp pump in this particular well had never been pulled before.

    Anyways, in early September this year, the 1.5 hp pump quit altogether. I arrived at the pumphouse to find the flow meter not moving and this horrible buzzing noise coming from the Franklin Motor Starter; a noise I had never heard from this starter before. I ordered a new pump and motor (no spare of either), received them and, yesterday, pulled the pump and motor from the well. The first thing we noticed is that the sleeve was kicked over at the bottom of it, blocking the flow of water to this side of the motor. A closer inspection showed the flow inducer sleeve was installed without centralizing pins to hold the motor in the centre of the water flow. Although there were no blue overheating marks on the motor itself, one side of the pump just above the motor had some rainbow discolouration, likely due to overheating. One bit of one side of the sleeve had a heavy iron deposit the length of the sleeve.

    To make a long story short, I installed the new motor, pump and sleeve and this time made sure there were centralizing pins on the sleeve. I recharged the pump with water pressure from the system and turned the pump on. To my dismay, the motor starter was making the same horrible buzzing sound and the meter did not appear to be turning at first. Within a few seconds, the meter was turning, but a flow test indicated only 7.9 gpm, instead of the expected 11.9 gpm.

    I shut the pump down and did a resistance test on the wires. Yellow to black was 2.4 ohms, yellow to red was 9.8 ohms. Figures from Franklin were yellow to black 1.7 to 2.2 ohms, yellow to red 8.0 to 9.7 ohms. I really hope that those few seconds it did not seem to be pumping did not overheat the motor. I did notice, when I was connecting the old well wires to the new motor, that the old wires were quite stiff and the insulation was quite hard and brittle when I stripped the ends. Could the wires near the motor have been overheated and be giving poor conductance?

    The other things I wonder about are the capacitors in the motor starter and the starting relay. Correct me if I am wrong but, I believe one is a start capacitor and one is a run capacitor. Is it possible these are defective and either led to the motor failure or failed as a result of the motor stopping? It sounds like it is the relay making the noise, any ideas?
  2. valveman

    valveman Moderator Staff Member

    Messages:
    4,426
    Location:
    Lubbock, Texas
    Submersible pumps don’t usually wear out gradually unless you are pumping abrasives like sand or silt. They usually run close to 100% capacity until they quit running all together. Gradual reduction in flow is usually from a plugged screen on the pump, well, or both. My guess is the well screen is plugging up. The well is now only making 7.9 GPM, the pump is trying to pump 11.9 GPM, it is sucking air, losing prime, getting hot, and that’s it.

    Get a new box, and check the well production rate.
  3. traveller

    traveller Member

    Messages:
    44
    Location:
    British Columbia
    I forgot to mention the water table is 12.5' from ground level. When I started the pump, the pump would have been 20' below the water table. With an 8" casing, this would mean there would be roughly 6.96 cubic ft. or 52 US gallons of water above the pump intake. With the pump output of 11.9 gpm, it would take just over 4.5 minutes to drain the well to the point of sucking air, if the well screen was plugged. For those 4.5 minutes, I should have seen a flow of 11.9 gpm on the meter, which I did not. For that reason, I believe it is a pump or box problem. Would the capacitors or relay in the box be able to create this problem?
  4. valveman

    valveman Moderator Staff Member

    Messages:
    4,426
    Location:
    Lubbock, Texas
    OK I agree. But the capacitors or relay can't cause that problem. So either the pump is worn down, which I doubt, or the pump intake and impellers are plugged up.
  5. traveller

    traveller Member

    Messages:
    44
    Location:
    British Columbia
    That is the strange part. This is a brand new pump and motor, right out of the box. I did not, however, install new wires going down the well, and they seemed to be quite stiff near where they spliced onto the motor leads, almost as if they had been overheated. The insulation I stripped from them was quite hard and brittle.

    P.S.

    Just a thought. I did notice, when I was bolting the new pump to the new motor, that there were mineral deposits on the new pump, which I thought strange. I just figured I had received a rebuilt pump instead of a new pump, though I could have sworn the company I purchased them from had said they were both new.
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2013
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