Carbon Brush Condition Guide

Diagnosing Brush Face Conditions

When carbon brushes wear quickly, it is common to assume that the problem lies with the brush grade.  However, inspecting the face of the brush can provide insight and tell a story about the operating conditions. Analysis performed by carbon brush experts can be utilized as a diagnostic tool to conduct a root cause analysis. If the earning signs presented by abnormal brush wear can be identified and proactively addressed in a timely manner, unexpected and expensive failures, such as flashover, can be avoided.


Factors that Influence Shaft Grounding Performance

Recognizing the need for shaft grounding for your electric motor is the first step towards solving a shaft voltage issue. Even if a protection kit is installed, it does not guarantee that your motor is protected. Many factors can influence the effectiveness of a shaft grounding solution.

Shaft Grounding Contamination Test by Helwig Carbon

Shaft Grounding Contamination Test

Grease is a common contaminant in industrial motor environments. When shaft grounding is necessary to protect bearings from damaging VFD-induced currents, it is important to know how the grounding performance is affected due to common contaminants, such as grease.  Helwig conducted a test to verify the performance of the carbon fiber ring and the Helwig Bearing Protection Kit (BPK) when grease gets onto the motor shaft.

hydro example - water over dam

Quality Upgrades for Hydro Generators

Helwig offers high-quality upgrades and custom designs to hydro generators that will ensure superior performance in the field. These upgrades are in addition to the expertly engineered turbine brush holders, adjustable slip ring holders, and constant force springs that deliver maximum reliability.

teflon coated brush holders

Teflon Coated Brush Holders for Pickling Line

In the steel industry, pickling operations are used to remove surface oxides and clean rust or scale buildup. These operations are very important for the manufacture of steel, but they are notorious for their corrosive atmosphere.

BPK Probe on a stand

From Probe to Patent

Helwig Carbon Products, Inc. is proud to announce that the BPK-Probe™ has been issued US Patent #10942203.  This major innovation provides a means to detect induced shaft currents in motors controlled by VFD drives.

graphic of K007: Exclusive Silver Graphite Brush Grade blog post

K007: Exclusive Silver Graphite Brush Grade

Helwig Carbon provides the shaft grounding industry the lowest resistant path to ground via a proprietary silver graphite brush grade to protect from damaging VFD-induced shaft currents.  This one-of-a-kind brush grade is 5X lower in resistance than

Constant Force Spring Differences Blog Post - image of Helwig Carbon constant force springs

What Our Research Says About Constant Force Spring Differences

Many times, brush holders that use constant force springs are not constant force at all.  A proper holder allows full spring force throughout the brush’s life.  Most holders are poorly designed and fail to be “constant force” for two main reasons:

Nitin Kulkarni Promoted to VP of Business Development

Nitin Kulkarni Promoted to VP of Business Development

Helwig Carbon Products, Inc. announces the promotion of Nitin Kulkarni to the position of Vice President-Business Development. In his new role, Mr. Kulkarni will be responsible for engineering, customer support, sales, and business development.

Best Value Add & Engineering

Helwig Is Awarded Best Value Add & Engineering from Wolong – GE

We are pleased to announce that we have received the 2019 BEST VALUE ADD & ENGINEERING award from our major customer as an appreciation for supplier performance.

Kevin Koenitzer at Helwig Carbon

Kevin Koenitzer Promoted
To Sales Manager

Milwaukee, WI, August 21, 2020 – Helwig Carbon Products, Inc. announces the appointment of Kevin Koenitzer to the position of Sales Manager.

Electrical Sliding Contacts & Molding Technology for the Future blog

Molding Technology for the Future

Helwig Carbon continues to excel in its ability to provide press-to-size parts to the electrical sliding contacts industry.  In recent years we have expanded our operations to provide additional capacity to meet this area of growth.  Thorough quality assurance steps have led to a significant reduction in lead time and eliminated unnecessary secondary machining operations that many of our competitors’ experience in their operations.

Lightning Wind Turbine

Lightning Protection Systems

A lightning strike is the result of a rapid discharge of electricity that occurs between the atmosphere and an object. The bright flash of a lightning strike, though it appears large to the naked eye, is actually only about one inch in diameter. Even with this seemingly small size, the impact of a lightning strike can be quite severe, leading to significant damage to both equipment and personnel.


WEG Motors with Bearing Protection Kits™

Helwig Carbon Bearing Protection Kits (BPKs) are now available on WEG motors. We’ve partnered with one of the world’s most respected motor brands to offer shaft grounding pre-installed on new motors!

test for shaft voltage

Testing Shaft Voltages for Bearing Current Protection

Motor bearings are essential components in electric motors that provide support and facilitate smooth rotation of the motor’s rotating shaft. However, as electrical currents flow through motor bearings this can cause damage and shorten your motor’s lifespan.

A span of 6 bpk brushes on our silver graphite brushes page, example of shaft grounding solutions from Helwig Carbon, Bearing Protector Comparison: Carbon Fiber Rings vs. BPKs blog post, BPK Spread 3D Renders

Why Motor OEMs Are Choosing Helwig’s BPK™ Shaft Grounding Solution

With a growing number of shaft grounding brush assemblies on the market today, it can be difficult to determine which solution works best for your particular application. As a supplier to OEM motor manufacturers for over 30 years, Helwig Carbon’s shaft grounding solutions have continually evolved to accommodate a wide range of applications. 

Understanding Circulating Currents

Understanding Circulating Currents

Electric motor bearings fail for a variety of reasons but the two most common reasons for electrical failure are circulating and common mode currents. Circulating currents are found in all motors. The severity of the problem and therefore the risk to the motor bearings is proportional to the motor frame size — meaning the larger the motor frame the greater the risk. In this article, we will take a look at circulating currents, including the cause, their impact on motor bearings, and effective strategies to mitigate damage.

Helwig Carbon logo on black, COVID-19 Update - Helwig Carbon is an Essential Business

COVID-19 Update

Helwig Carbon Products Is Considered An Essential Business And Will Remain Open During The Safer At Home Order From Wisconsin Governor, Tony Evers. As of 3/24/2020

logo of Helwig Carbon

COVID-19 Announcement – Helwig Carbon Is Still Supporting Your Critical Applications

Helwig Carbon Is Still Supporting Your Critical Applications As of 3/17/2020

Celebrate With Us | 50 Years of Brush Holder Innovations | Helwig Blog featured image

—50 Years of Brush Holder Innovations—

Celebrate With Us President – Mark Umhoefer Our mission is to provide genuine overall value to our customers. Nothing demonstrates that commitment better than our decision 50 years ago to add high-quality brush holders to the line of products we manufacture. Today more customers than ever come to Helwig Carbon Products to be supplied with the best possible holder and brush solution – a custom engineered solution provided by a team with unparalleled levels of expertise and experience.

Helwig Carbon Products, Inc. is pleased to announce the acquisition and integration of the brush holder product line of J. Ream Manufacturing, Inc.

PRESS RELEASE: Helwig Carbon Products, Inc. acquires J Ream Manufacturing, Inc.

Acquisition & Integration of Brush Holder Product Line   Milwaukee, WI, February 28, 2020– Helwig Carbon Products, Inc. is pleased to announce the acquisition and integration of the brush holder product line of J. Ream Manufacturing, Inc.

Fractional Horsepower Brush Design | Fractional HP Brushes | Helwig Blog

Fractional Horsepower Brush Design

Fractional HP (FHP) motors are multi-purpose motors used for a wide range of applications. As space is limited and performance is key, brush-type DC FHP motors offer a significant advantage over

BPK Probe ROI Blog, the BPK-Probe™ is an easy to use instrument specifically designed to measure the risk for damage to motor bearings, gearboxes, or other devices.

Achieving an ROI with the BPK-Probe™

Problem Overview: The Patent Pending BPK-Probe™ is an easy to use instrument specifically designed to measure the risk for damage to motor bearings, gearboxes, or other devices that are susceptible to electrical discharges, also known as common-mode. These discharges are typically the result of

Even the strongest Juggernaut needs a little help from a small silver graphite brush.

Even the strongest Juggernaut needs a little help from a small silver graphite brush.

Even the strongest Juggernaut needs a little help from a small silver graphite brush. The Century® JuggerNaut® condenser fan motor from Regal Beloit® comes standard with a BPK-IM2, our smallest shaft grounding option.  The IM2 will provide many years of protection against harmful common mode currents passing through the motor bearings. These motors are designed as a drop-in replacement for existing models, to work with VFDs, and withstand high operating temperatures.

How to handle a request for a harder or softer carbon brush grade and our carbon motor brushes, ac motor brush.

How to handle a request for a harder or softer brush grade.

Customers frequently make requests for a harder or softer carbon brush. For instance, they might request a harder brush grade in order to get better brush life or to prevent excessive dusting. Before proceeding with their request, it’s important to understand the application and get to the root cause of the problem. Often, the carbon brush grade is not the reason for poor performance in the brush circuit.

wind turbines, used for blog post on silver graphite grades

New Silver Graphite Grade Excels in Grounding Applications

The function of a carbon brush on power ring vs. a grounding ring is significantly different! Many customers use copper graphite for power rings and use similar copper graphite grades for grounding rings. This typically results in grooving of the ground rings. The function of the carbon brush on power and ground slip ring is significantly different. This is where Helwig’s silver graphite grade K297 excels. This grade was specifically designed for grounding applications and is becoming popular in the wind turbine market.

slip ring carbon brush life - image of streaking

3 Reasons Motor Brushes Wear Out Fast

A common question from those handling DC motor maintenance is, “why are my motor brushes wearing so quickly?”. Rapid brush wear is a problem that can be caused from a multitude of factors. There isn’t one easy answer to this question, as each situation can be different. A natural answer to this question that many will quickly jump to is the carbon brush grade. However, we’ve seen that, more often than not, the brush grade is not the culprit. Here are three of the most common reasons for rapid carbon brush wear:

BPK group, used for image in blog outlining New Application Brief and VFD Bearing Damage

New Application Brief: Bearing Protection Kits in Universities

Check out our newest application brief: “Bearing Protection Kits in Universities”.  This application brief covers the usage of Helwig’s Bearing Protection Kits at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. UNL was looking for reliable bearing protection after they experienced motor failure due to VFD bearing damage, despite using a popular competitor’s solution. They tested our BPK-4 shaft grounding solution and were convinced that our unit would protect their motors from harmful shaft discharge. UNL now has Helwig’s BPK solution specified into their requirements for any motors controlled by VFDs, thus preventing further VFD bearing damage.


Stay Up-to-Date with Helwig!

Follow us on LinkedIn for our latest articles, photos
and product highlights.

View Our LinkedIn Profile