When a railroad operator becomes aware of a downturn in the performance and reliability of the valves that outfit the railcars that are tasked with transporting any number of valuable commodities – many of which can be dangerous or hazardous – there are usually three options to consider:
- Replace: This is the most straightforward option, with the old valve simply changed out with a new model. However, it is also the most expensive, especially when you consider that there may be many more years of serviceable life left in the old valve if any performance-related issues can be properly addressed and corrected.
Which brings us to options No. 2 and No. 3:
- Repair: The old valve can be removed from the railcar, broken down and cleaned before its soft parts (seals, gaskets, O-rings, etc.) are replaced. To aid in this process, most valve manufacturers offer repair-and-replacement kits that the railcar owner can use on-site to perform any necessary valve service.
- Remanufacture: This is a more thorough process that can only be performed by the valve’s OEM. The remanufacturing process features the same steps as the repair process – and then goes well beyond. The remanufacturing process begins with the testing of the valve to create a performance baseline before it is broken down and fully cleaned in order to remove all commodity, dirt and rust buildup. Once cleaned, a comprehensive inspection of the valve is performed with the findings compared to the valve’s OEM specifications. The valve is then machined to like-new condition, including the removal of all nicks, dings and corrosion from critical sealing areas, which enables the valve to be reliably put back into service.
Midland, an OPW product brand that has been producing standard-setting valves for the railcar industry for more than 70 years, is well aware that oftentimes the best, most cost-effective solution to an underperforming valve is not replacing it, but repairing or remanufacturing it. To that end, Midland has created its Valve Remanufacturing & Repair Program, with facilities dedicated to this program located at its headquarters in the Chicago suburb of Skokie, IL, and in Houston, TX.
When a railcar valve is sent to one of these facilities, a highly trained Midland technician deconstructs it piece-by-piece, examining and classifying the work that will be needed for each component. After the valves are restored to their original factory condition, they are thoroughly tested to ensure that they match or even exceed required performance levels – with the entire remanufacturing process performed and the valve returned to the owner in five days or less.
Additionally, during each step of the repair or remanufacturing process, data is recorded, compiled and reviewed. This allows Midland to compare the valve’s performance against industry standards while enabling the creation of valve-maintenance programs that are tailored to the specific needs of individual clients. Repaired and remanufactured valves also help the operator achieve and maintain compliance with strict regulatory orders while simultaneously improving fiscal responsibility.
For more information on Midland and the benefits its Valve Remanufacturing & Repair Program can deliver for your railcar fleet, please visit midlandmfg.com.