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he Flex-Hone Tool characterised by the small, abrasive globules that are

permanently mounted to flexible filaments has long been used for everything from automated metal finishing to factory production and maintenance operations. Now it can add one more claim to its resume: playing a small but important role in one of the largest engineering feats in marine history: the raising of the shipwrecked Costa Concordia. The 952 foot long, 17 deck cruise ship was wrecked off the coast of Isola del Giglio, Italy on 13 January 2012. Considered a total loss, the ship eventually settled on its starboard side in shallow waters with half the boat still submerged. Concerned about a potential

environmental disaster a salvage effort to move the ship to a suitable port where it could be properly dismantled was commissioned to American salvaging firm Titan Salvage and Italian underwater construction firm Micoperi. Ultimately costing an estimated two billion dollars and taking several years, the endeavor to raise the Costa Concordia enough to move it involved a series of complex steps, several of which had not been attempted in decades. Hollow, watertight tanks (sponsons) had to be attached to the exposed port side of the ship. When flooded with seawater they exert a downward pull on that side of the ship. With the assistance of winches (parbuckling) the ship was pulled into an upright position on top of the underwater platform. Once the ship was vertical, water-filled sponsons were attached to the starboard

Salvage of cruise shop Cost Concordia was made possible in part by the use of a honing tool widely used in manufacturing, finishing and maintenance operations across industry

Micoperi contacted Vogel, an Italian

side as well. Then both sponsons were emptied of water to create the required buoyancy to raise the ship so it could be towed to port. The challenge for Micoperi was to find a way to attach 15 massive steel sponsons to each side of the ship; their combined weight was 11,500 tons. The plan was to weld them to the hull of the ship and join them together to form ‘one single, robust, stable body’ similar to an integral floating chamber. Male and female ‘joints’ were attached to each container so they could be connected to each other. A tubular frame would then be run through each of these joints to attach all the containers together. Hydraulic pistons within the tubes

would pressurise the system to further hold the tanks together as one unit.

REMOVING EXCESS MATERIAL FROM WELDS To remove excess material from the welds as they were created – both on the interior and exterior of the tubing – Micoperi required a tool that could remove the excess material and worked on an industrial hand-held drill.


Leicester Precision Components (LPC) has installed a second aqueous washing machine from MecWash as part of a £2,000,000 investment which includes expansion to its UK production facility. A MecWash Midi and an Aqua-Save waste water

recycling unit have been installed to ensure the company is able to meet the stringent cleanliness specifications demanded by a significant new client. LPC recently secured a substantial contract to produce volume precision machined parts destined for use in high-end automotive vehicles. The deal warranted the investment in a range of new machinery including the MecWash Midi and the latest Mazak turning and milling machines which offer five axis machining capability and automated


systems. From the outset of the new contract LPC worked closely with the client to ensure it had a comprehensive understanding of their requirements. Following a rigorous trial period at MecWash’s facility LPC commissioned the MecWash Midi after it was proven that it could remove metal particulates along with cutting fluid residues from the parts - exceeding its stringent customer specifications. “The Midi ensures constant high quality cleaning

results for volume work which is precisely what we need and the Aqua-Save unit means we remain compliant with our ISO14001 accreditation,” says sales manager Robert Wortley.

MecWash Systems

A tool was required that could remove the excess material and work on an industrial hand-held drill

distributor of machine tools, industrial equipment and metals. Among its offerings is the Flex-Hone from Los Angeles-based Brush Research Manufacturing. Available in many sizes, 11 abrasive types and eight grits it works well when hand-held because the design is automatically self-centering. Using the tool, parts such as carbide bushings, bore sleeves, hydraulic and pneumatic cylinders and other cylindrical cavities can be surface finished on the production line or resurfaced in the field using a relatively inexpensive tool that requires little set-up time. “Micoperi called us and together we determined that only the Flex-Hone would be suitable,” says Sven Pilling of Vogel. “Other tools like abrasive nylon brushes would not guarantee enough stock removal.” Micoperi purchased Brush Research

Manufacturing’s BC 3” SC 60 and BC 3” SC 80 Flex-Hone Tools. The Flex-Hone served a further important function by smoothing the way for the hydraulic pistons that were introduced into the tubes. The Flex-Hone tool is already widely used to manufacture all manner of hydraulic cylinders, pumps, jacks and valves used in factory equipment. Hydraulic toolmakers often used the tool to obtain the proper finish in the cylinder bore. If the hydraulic cylinder finish is too rough, U-cups and seals can wear out. If the cylinder surface is too smooth, hydraulic seals may leak. “In order to allow a smooth movement of the pistons and avoid leakages the internal tube walls were cleaned and polished successfully with the Flex- Hone,” says Pilling. Although the Costa Concordia project is

now complete the Flex-Hone remains a go-to tool for not just marine applications but manufacturing, overhaul and repair of factory equipment. It is used for cylinder refinishing of big bore (up to 40-inch diameter) diesel engines as well as smaller diesel generators and can be used for cleaning pipe bores for pipes or other cylindrical bores including valves on some pump designs.

Brush Research Manufacturing T: (323) 261-2193


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