Equipment Services Service Maintenance Services

Old Compressor Gets New Lease On Life

EP Editorial Staff | July 12, 2018

More than 50 years of grime coat the original Ingersoll Rand HHE-3 compressor frame, prior to refurbishment.

Aftermarket-services provider turns rust into gold for a process-plant operator.

Two aftermarket-service project technicians from Cook Compression, Houston (, were on a mission—and tight schedule—one fall day in 2014. Moving through the remains of an old Virginia oil refinery, they were on the hunt for a 2,500-hp main-drive motor that was destined for a Texas salvage yard. They found it amid one of the last stands of untouched equipment in the congested facility. The size of a school bus, it was coated in more than 50 years of grime.

Joking that the unit’s frame probably bore Thomas Edison’s signature, the technicians determined the process-cylinder design was obsolete and incapable of meeting current pressure-, flow-, and emission-specification requirements of the intended use, as were the instrumentation, motor, and auxiliary support equipment. The running gear, though, seemed as sturdy as a Sherman tank. A visual inspection of the internal workings confirmed the 1956 Ingersoll Rand HHE-3 compressor frame was in excellent condition.

Refurbished compressor assembly is ready for
delivery to customer.


Finding this used frame was just one piece in a complex project to supply a reciprocating compressor for a process-plant expansion. New-equipment proposals from OEMs had exceeded the customer’s cost justifications, threatening to kill the project. The alternate proposal of a refurbished compressor, however, kept it alive.

While the default sourcing process in many plants is to go through OEMs, a more cost-efficient solution may be to work with an aftermarket service provider. Beyond repairing equipment and providing replacement components, service providers such as Cook Compression offer expertise in equipment overhauls and upgrades, engineering studies, and project development and management.

In the case of this refurbished compressor, Cook Compression managed the entire project—from conception through procurement, assembly, and delivery. Among other things, having a single point of contact provides a smooth development process, simplifies order tracking, and reduces procurement costs. It also ensures that the aftermarket solution is delivered as ready to go as any new piece of equipment. Once installed, customers should expect to receive complete documentation. “As-builts” and manuals help sites monitor and maintain the equipment and avoid surprises regarding replacement of wear parts.


As found in that old Virginia refinery, the grime-covered compressor unit couldn’t meet performance requirements of the new process-plant expansion. Careful engineering of upgrades during the refurbishment, however, sufficiently increased the equipment’s capabilities. New technologies were also applied to the existing frame to meet modern emission specifications.

By the summer of 2015, the refurbished compressor was delivered to the customer, to await installation by an onsite mechanical contractor. Following startup of the new process unit, a third-party’s performance evaluation of the compressor confirmed that the design criteria had been achieved.

In the end, the aftermarket solution didn’t simply reduce costs: it made the process-plant expansion possible. EP

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