Reciprocating Compressor Mechanical Running Tests

API 618 reciprocating compressors are almost never run at full speed in the factory. Packaged and skid-mounted units are sometimes run unloaded at the compressor factory or at the packager’s shop. Alarms, shutdowns, gages, lube systems, and overspeeds may be functionally tested at this time to avoid problems in the field.

This test is described in API 618. Shops often lack power or fuel to conduct such tests. The mechanical running test is not as meaningful for the reciprocating machine as it is for the centrifugal compressor. Although the running test would check mechanical compatibility and the workability and heat loads of the lube system, generally the test is not cost-effective.

Class B machines going offshore tend to be considered for mechanical testing more often, but again the test facilities may limit the sizes of machines and types of drivers that can be tested. Mechanical testing of Class B machines is still not a common occurrence.

Because of their smaller size and rating, Class C and D compressors can be given a mechanical running test more easily. For the same reason, such a test may be more difficult to justify unless the service is semi-critical or offshore. The vendors should be consulted regarding their testing capability before specifying a mechanical running test for reciprocating machines.

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