Newly Available to Maritime Mechanics: The Massive Diameter Ball Hone Goes to Sea

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While many available abrasive tools share fundamental characteristics, there is a significant quality difference between a generic catalogue tool a custom-adapted flexible hone.

Servicing the big bore diesel engines on hard-working container ships requires fast response as well as the right abrasive technology. For American Diesel, one of those tools is the portable but mighty ball-style hone. When American Diesel gets a call for service, the company prides itself in providing a rapid response. Oftentimes within minutes American Diesel mechanics are on the move from the firm's New Orleans shop or from any number of locations in the field.

"We're in the standby mode all the time because our customers, typically container ships, need fast service," explains Al Guevera, American Diesel general manager. "Cargo ships today are real workhorses that spend most of the time at sea. If they are dead in the water from an engine failure, that is tremendously expensive. And since many maritime crews today don't have diesel mechanics, it is more important than ever that we are able to provide the needed repair or overhaul services quickly and thoroughly."

The oceangoing engines that American Diesel services include most of the international big bore models, including those from Sulzer, Yanmar, Daihatsu, Man B&W and MAK.

"The main engines are big bore diesels with cylinders ranging up to 40-inch diameter," says Guevera. "We also work on the generators, which are pretty big too, with average bores of 20 inches or so."

When doing overhauls or repairs that involve cylinders, it is predictable that cylinder liners will have to be deglazed and crosshatched. For those jobs Guevera uses a compact, portable and highly efficient abrasive tool, the ball hone.

Widely known by the brand name Flex-Hone, the ball-style hone is a highly specialized abrasive technology tool that is instantly recognizable by its unique appearance. Featuring small, abrasive globules that are permanently mounted to flexible filaments, the product is a low-cost tool for deglazing, de-burring, edge blending and crosshatching.

Guevera says the ball hone is available in a range of radius sizes, including the larger ones needed to service cylinders of 40-inches and larger. The Flex-Hone's independently-suspended, abrasive globules both self-center and self-align to the bore as well as compensate for wear, all of which facilitate close-tolerance finishing work.

Another important capability of a flexible hone is its plateau finishing capabilities, a process by which cylinder walls are subjected to a bore finishing procedure that increases the life of both the cylinders and the piston rings. The purpose of plateauing is to remove loose, cut, torn and folded material within the cylinder, create valleys and remove peaks that would otherwise damage rings or seals. The result is that more lubricant is retained, improving engine startup and performance.

Guevera says he discovered the ball hone over 20 years ago when he worked on gasoline engines as a teenager. "I used ball-style hones for those small bore engines," he says. "Years later at American Diesel I contacted Brush Research Manufacturing, Co and asked if they had those same hones for larger bores. Although they didn't have a standard line of bigger sizes, they said they would supply whatever we needed, and we've been relying on their flexible hone ever since."

Contact Info:
Heather Fowlie
Brush Research Mfg. Co., Inc.,
4642 East Floral Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90022;
Phone: (323) 261-2193;
Fax: (323) 268-6587;
web site:

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