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Bearing distress

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I have read a report that says 55% of all bearing failures are attributable to the presence of dirt. Referred to more accurately in the report as “foreign body contamination” in this context, dirt is defined as being “any impurity, be that fine dust up to coarse casting sand or metallic particles resulting from machining swarf, iron, aluminium or copper”. It’s an interesting statistic, and one that engine manufacturers make every effort to minimise to the point...

Crankshaft bearing selection

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Although the theory of designing crankshaft bearings is now so much more sophisticated, the practice of building the engine to the correct clearances is still a bit of a challenge. With the running clearance between bearing and journal measured in microns, and the difference between too little (resulting in seizure) and too much, leading to excessive wear and hence early failure, the selection of this gap is always likely to be critical. Typically a cylinder block machining line may...

Bearing wear

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There is a lot more to designing and manufacturing modern crankshaft bearings than many people realise. Designed to run reliably over a wide range of operating conditions, and using lubricants with viscosities so low they would have made engineers laugh as recently as 15 years ago, the high power ratings of modern engines places a growing demand on them. But with bearing shapes nowhere near circular and clearances between shell and journal measured in microns these days, how do we...

The ceramic revolution?

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It’s amazing what you find out some days. While chatting to a colleague recently just before dinner he happened to mention that for 2014 the latest set of revised Formula 1 regulations allow – shock horror – rolling element bearings not only made from iron-based alloy (steel to you and me) but also from ceramic materials. And he’s right – regulation 5.16, subsection 7, paragraph (b) clearly states that despite being included in a long list of materials for other...

The small-end bearing

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As critical as it is to the reliable running of any internal combustion engine, the operation of the small- or little-end bearing and its associated gudgeon (or, as often referred to nowadays, the piston pin) is still a bit of mystery. So if at the other end of the con rod, the big-end bearing has been subject to much analysis to aid understanding, the smaller end would seem by comparison to be still shrouded in folklore. And the reason for this to me is very simple: if it ain’t broke...