You are on page 1of 8

Noah D.

Manring
Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
Department,
University of MissouriColumbia,
Columbia, MO 65211
Chris L. Wray
Engine and Vehicle Research Division,
Southwest Research Institute,
San Antonio, TX 78228
Zhilin Dong
Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
Department,
University of MissouriColumbia,
Columbia, MO 65211
Experimental Studies on the
Performance of Slipper Bearings
Within Axial-Piston Pumps
The objectives of this study are to experimentally investigate the performance character-
istics of similar slipper bearings using different socket geometries. In this study, the
lubrication equations for the bearing are derived based upon an assumption that the
bearing deformations are small and that they may be modeled linearly. This study is based
upon the hypothesis that variations in the socket geometry will impact the deformation
characteristics of the bearing and thereby have an effect on the overall performance of the
design. To test this hypothesis, bearings with different socket geometries are designed and
tested and compared to the original bearing design with standard socket geometry. The
experimental results are then used with the analytical results to numerically infer the
minimum uid-lm thickness and the magnitude of deformation for the bearing. Conclu-
sions are drawn from these results which indicate that socket geometry has a signicant
impact on the bearing performance and that both leakage and load-carrying capacity may
be altered by adjusting the location of the contact point within the ball-and-socket joint
relative to the center of the ball. DOI: 10.1115/1.1698936
Introduction
Background. Slipper bearings are used within axial-piston
pumps to carry large loads that exist between two surfaces moving
relative to each other at low sliding velocities. The objective of
the bearing is to maintain a uid-lm thickness between the two
surfaces and to thereby eliminate any possibility of surface-to-
surface contact. Furthermore, the pressure distribution between
the bearing and the thrust surface must be sufcient for carrying
the bearing load. Manufacturers of these bearings have learned by
experience that slipper bearings are very sensitive to manufactur-
ing tolerances and the bearing application, and that catastrophic
failure often occurs in an unpredicted manner. As a result, these
bearings have received considerable attention in the literature as
many researchers have tried to explain the nuances of these criti-
cal machine elements.
Literature Review. The available literature on slipper bear-
ings is extensive and cannot be adequately summarized in a paper
of this length. Even so, the standard design practices for these
bearings have been summarized in well-accepted machine design
texts 1,2. These design practices are based upon ideal circum-
stances in which the bearing and thrust surface are completely at
and without deformation of any kind. Recent research activities
have been directed toward investigations in which tilted geom-
etries and non-at conditions may exist. For instance, Kazama and
Yamaguchi 3,4 have considered two extreme conditions for the
bearing operation: 1 mixed lubrication conditions when the as-
perities on both surfaces are somewhat engaged, and 2 small-
scale deformations that occur at high-speed operation due to
elasto-hydrodynamic lubrication. Though both of these conditions
are observed in practice, the bearing is not intended to operate in
either one of these regimes. By its intended design the bearing is
to be completely separated from its mating surface without the
engagement of asperities, and it is designed to operate at slow
speedsnot high speeds. At high-speed operation, hydrodynamic
lubrication sufciently supports the bearing without the assistance
of hydrostatic effects. In other work, Pang, Zhai, and Shun 5
have experimentally investigated the deformation of a slipper
bearing under load using photo-elastic measurement techniques.
In this work, the bearing deformations were observed to be ex-
tremely small and somewhat difcult to believe. For instance, in
independent Finite Element Analysis FEA studies of similar
bearing designs, deformations have been observed to be much
larger than what is reported by Pang et al. In other research, Koc,
Hooke, and Li 6 have measured the uid-lm thickness between
the thrust bearing and the running surface within an actual appli-
cation. This work was conducted under high-speed conditions and
showed that a slightly convex bearing design was required for
successful operation. The authors also concluded that a more
stable design could be made if the supply ow to the bearing
was eliminated. In other words, the authors concluded that for
high-speed operation, a slipper bearing was not needed at all and
that hydrodynamic lubrication could be depended upon for a suc-
cessful separation of surfaces. This work, of course, veried the
previous understanding that slipper bearings are intended for
slow-speed operation and are not necessary for high-speed appli-
cations. Most recently, the author has put forward a work that
considers linear deformations of the slipper bearing from a theo-
retical point of view 7. This research shows that concave defor-
mations of the bearing tend to increase the load carrying capacity
while convex deformations tend to decrease the load carrying ca-
pacity. It is also shown in this work that all deformations tend to
increase the leakage of the bearing. Furthermore, sensitivity stud-
ies show that the slipper bearing becomes less sensitive to bearing
deformations when the bearing pocket is made large and the seal-
ing lands are kept thin.
Objectives. The objectives of this study are to experimentally
investigate the performance characteristics of similar slipper bear-
ings using different socket geometries. In this study, the lubrica-
tion equations for the bearing are derived based upon an assump-
tion that the bearing deformations are small and that they may be
modeled linearly. This study is based upon the hypothesis that
variations in the socket geometry will impact the deformation
characteristics of the bearing and thereby have an effect on the
overall performance of the design. To test this hypothesis, bear-
ings with different socket geometries are designed and tested and
compared to the original bearing design with standard socket ge-
ometry. The experimental results are then used with the analytical
results to numerically infer the minimum uid-lm thickness and
Contributed by the Tribology Division for publication in the ASME JOURNAL OF
TRIBOLOGY. Manuscript received by the Tribology Division March 5, 2003; revised
manuscript received August 6, 2003. Associate Editor: M. Fillon.
Copyright 2004 by ASME Journal of Tribology JULY 2004, Vol. 126 511
the magnitude of deformation for the bearing. Conclusions are
drawn from these results which indicate that socket geometry has
a signicant impact on the bearing performance and that both
leakage and load-carrying capacity may be altered by adjusting
the location of the contact point within the ball-and-socket joint
relative to the center of the ball.
Bearing Description
A radial slipper bearing is shown in Fig. 1. As shown in this
gure, the bearing is connected to a piston using a ball-and-socket
joint and is separated from the thrust surface by a uid-lm thick-
ness, h. A passage at the center of the bearing and piston shown
in Fig. 1 as the restrictor is used for injecting uid into a circular
pocket on the underside of the bearing. In this research, the re-
strictor area is much larger than the area of the gap between the
bearing and the thrust surface and therefore the pressure drop
across the restrictor was negligible
1
. The volumetric ow-rate of
uid into the pocket is given by Q, which also describes the leak-
age between the bearing and the thrust surface. Similarly, the uid
pressure within the pocket is maintained at a constant value given
by P
0
. During the operation of the thrust bearing, a uid pressure
prole is generated between the bearing land and the thrust sur-
face. This pressure prole, and the constant pressure within the
pocket, acts to separate the bearing from the surface and the ap-
plied load, W, resists this separating force. View A-A in Fig. 1
shows the radial geometry of the bearing. The outside perimeter of
the bearing is given by the dimension R, while the pocket radius is
given by the dimension r
0
. The bearing of Fig. 1 is shown to have
a surface that is perfectly at with respect to the thrust surface;
however, under normal circumstances, the bearing undergoes de-
formation due to the load acting on the bearing. Slight deforma-
tions of this type can signicantly alter the pressure prole and
thereby tend to change the load carrying capacity and volumetric
ow-rate of the bearing 7. These nonideal circumstances will be
investigated experimentally in this research while considering sys-
tematic variations of the socket geometry.
Analysis
Figure 2 shows an exaggerated deformation of the slipper bear-
ing under load. The bearing deforms under load due to the pres-
sure acting on the cantilevered-type geometry of the bearing. In
Fig. 2, the enlarged view of the uid gap between the thrust sur-
face and the bearing land shows a minimum uid-lm thickness,
h
min
, at the pocket perimeter and an increasing uid-lm thick-
ness as the radial location increases. Since the deformations are
assumed to be small, the uid lm thickness is modeled linearly in
this research as
hh
min
h

rr
0
Rr
0

(1)
where h is the increase in the uid-lm thickness across the gap,
r
0
is the pocket radius, and R is the outer radius of the bearing. A
signicant portion of this research is devoted to determining val-
ues for h
min
and h using numerical techniques with the experi-
mental results and the analytical results that follow.
Using standard lubrication theory, which assumes that the Rey-
nolds number is much less than unity, the uid pressure between
the bearing and the thrust surface may be expressed as
1
The restrictor was 2 mm in diameter with a maximum pressure drop across the
restrictor of 0.250 MPa.
Fig. 1 Description and operation of the radial slipper bearing
Fig. 2 Bearing deformation under load and the geometry of
the uid lm thickness
512 Vol. 126, JULY 2004 Transactions of the ASME
P

P
0
0rr
0
P
0
r
r
0

r
0
rR
(2)
where
r
3h
min
Rr
0
2R3r
0
h h
min
Rr
0
r
0
h
Rr
0

2
h
min
h
2

3h
min
Rr
0
2r3r
0
h h
min
Rr
0
r
0
h
h
min
Rr
0
rr
0
h
2
2 ln

r
R
Rr
0
h
min
h
h
min
Rr
0
rr
0
h

(3)
Similarly, the volumetric ow rate through the bearing may be
expressed as
Q

3
P
0
r
0


h
min
Rr
0
hr
0
Rr
0


3
(4)
In this equation, is given in Eq. 3. By integrating the uid
pressure of Eq. 2 over the entire area of the bearing, the load-
carrying capacity of the bearing may be expressed as
W

A
PdA2

0
R
Prdr
P
0

h
min
Rr
0
r
0
h
3
h
min
Rr
0
r
0
h
r
0
h
min
h Rr
0
h
min

2
(5)
Again, is given in Eq. 3. For slipper bearings, it is conven-
tional to normalize the load carrying capacity by an ideal estima-
tion for its value. The idealized load-carrying capacity may be
obtained by setting h equal to zero in Eq. 5, which yields
WP
0

2
R
2
r
0
2

ln R/r
0

(6)
Dividing Eq. 5 by Eq. 6 yields the following normalized cal-
culation for the load carrying capacity:
W

2 ln R/r
0

R
2
r
0
2

h
min
Rr
0
r
0
h
3
h
min
Rr
0
r
0
h
r
0
h
min
h Rr
0
h
min

2
(7)
where the caret over the top indicates that this quantity is dimen-
sionless. Equations 4 and 7 will be used with the experimental
results of this research to determine the impact of the minimum
uid-lm thickness and bearing deformation on the overall bear-
ing performance.
Experiments
Test Device. The experiments of this research were carried
out on the test device shown in Fig. 3. A schematic of this device
is shown in Fig. 4. As shown in Fig. 4, the thrust bearing was
attached to a hollow piston using a ball-and-socket joint. The pis-
ton was mounted within a stationary block that held the piston-
bearing assembly in place while high-pressure uid was injected
into the piston chamber by a remote hydraulic pressure source.
The volumetric ow-rate into the device was measured using a
high pressure, positive-displacement ow meter. SAE 10W hy-
draulic uid was used in this experiment and the reservoir tem-
perature in the hydraulic power unit was kept constant at 36
Celsius. A series of stepped drill passages were used to commu-
nicate hydraulic uid down through the middle of the piston,
through the slipper bearing, and into the recessed pocket on the
underside of the bearing itself. See Fig. 1 for a better schematic of
this pocket. As shown in Fig. 4, the bearing was loaded by the
pressurized piston from the top and was forced against the thrust
surface of the test device. As the hydraulic uid slowly oozed out
from beneath the hydrostatic bearing, a thin lm of pressurized
uid developed between the bearing and the thrust surface. Within
the bottom plate of the test device, pressure taps were drilled at
evenly spaced radial-locations across the area on which the seal-
ing land of the bearing would make contact. See View A-A of Fig.
4. These pressure taps were joined by drilled passages for con-
necting the pressurized uid with the remote pressure sensors that
Fig. 3 The test device that was used to conduct the experi-
ments of this research
Fig. 4 Schematic of the test device used for conducting the
experiments of this research
Journal of Tribology JULY 2004, Vol. 126 513
were tted into the sides of the bottom plate of the test device. See
Figs. 3 and 4. Five sensors were used to measure the uid pressure
across the sealing land at locations r
2
, r
3
, r
4
, r
5
, and r
6
. An-
other sensor was used to measure the uid pressure in the center
of the bearing pocket, which was assumed to describe the pressure
across the entire pocket
2
. The bearing surface and thrust surface of
the test device were lapped nishes with an RMS surface rough-
ness of 0.15 microns. Flatness was held within 0.5 microns across
the entire face of the bearing surface for both the bearing and the
thrust surface.
Test Specimens. This research was based upon the hypoth-
esis that the socket geometry of the bearing would have an impact
on the deformation characteristics, and that these deformations
would impact the performance of the bearing itself. To study this
hypothesis, the standard original bearing conguration was
tested and compared to a specialized spherical bearing-design and
a conical bearing-design. These three congurations are shown in
Fig. 5. Note: the features of these bearings are identical with the
exception of the socket geometry. The location of the piston ball
with respect to the bottom of the bearing is shown by the xed
dimension Z.
The original design is characterized by a conforming spherical-
contact within the socket. The radius of the spherical contact for
the original design is given by
b
. Since the piston ball is slightly
smaller than the bearing socket for assembly purposes, the con-
tact point between the piston ball and the bearing socket is located
at the bottom of the socket and given by the dimension, .
The spherical design exhibits spherical conformity between the
piston ball and the bearing close to the top of the socket; but near
the bottom of the socket, a spherical relief has been machined into
the specimen. Again, the dimension
b
is used to show the region
of conformity between the piston ball and the socket. The dimen-
sion
c
is used to show the radius of the spherical relief that is
machined into the socket. The width of this relief, w, is used to
place the annular line of contact at a specic vertical distance
from the center point of the ball joint. Once again, this distance is
shown in Fig. 5 for the spherical design by the dimension .
For the conical design, a cone is machined into the specimen
for making a nonconforming contact between the piston ball and
the bearing socket. A spherical relief is machined into the bottom
of the bearing to avoid making contact with the piston ball in this
region. The angle of this socket cone is given by the dimension
and the cones position relative to the center of the ball joint is
determined by the radius of the spherical relief,
c
, and the width
dimension, w. The location of the contact point between the piston
ball and the socket cone is once again shown by the dimension .
For conducting the experiments of this research, the perfor-
mance of the original bearing design was tested and compared to
ve variations of the spherical design, and ve variations of the
conical design. For each design, the following dimensions were
used where they apply: Z19.557 mm, R18.415 mm,
b
11.436 mm,
c
12.725 mm, and r
0
13.572 mm. Other di-
mensions for the each test specimen are shown in Table 1. From
Table 1, it can be seen that the designs have been chosen such that
is the same for Sphere 1 and Cone 1, is the same for Sphere 2
and Cone 2, etc. The dimension is the primary design variable
that has been systematically varied for each design.
Test Procedures. For the experiments that were conducted in
this research, both pressure and ow measurements were taken.
2
This assumption was valid since the pocket depth was much greater than the
uid-lm thickness between the land and the thrust surface.
Fig. 5 Geometry of the test specimens
Table 1 Test specimen dimensions
Design

mm
w
mm

rad
Original 11.436
Sphere 1 7.000 18.084
Sphere 2 6.000 19.465
Sphere 3 5.000 20.570
Sphere 4 4.000 21.417
Sphere 5 3.000 22.061
Cone 1 7.000 11.233 1.315
Cone 2 6.000 13.609 1.103
Cone 3 5.000 15.671 0.904
Cone 4 4.000 17.513 0.714
Cone 5 3.000 19.115 0.530
Table 2 Pressure transducer accuracies
Transducer Location Full Scale Reading Accuracy
Pocket Center 51.70MPa 0.26 MPa
r
2
14.069 mm 51.70MPa 0.26 MPa
r
3
14.785 mm 20.70MPa 0.10 MPa
r
4
15.984 mm 6.90MPa 0.03 MPa
r
5
17.198 mm 3.40MPa 0.02 MPa
r
6
17.899 mm 1.40MPa 0.01 MPa
514 Vol. 126, JULY 2004 Transactions of the ASME
From the pressure data, an experimental result was obtained for
the load-carrying capacity of the bearing. The calculation of the
load-carrying capacity from pressure data will be discussed later.
Each bearing specimen was tested for a specic pocket pressure,
P
0
, which was maintained by the hydraulic power unit equipped
with a load-sensing pump. The pocket pressures were discretely
adjusted between 7 and 42 MPa using pressure increments of 7
MPa. The following procedure was used to conduct the experi-
ments:
1. The reservoir temperature in the hydraulic power unit was
stabilized at 36C.
2. The pressure setting on the hydraulic power units load-
sensing pump was set at the desired pocket pressure e.g., 7 MPa,
14 MPa, 28 MPa, etc..
3. Pressure and ow measurements were taken at a sample rate
of 2 Hz for 60 sec.
4. The collected data was averaged to obtain a steady-state
quantity for the pressure and ow measurements.
5. The test was repeated for another pressure setting and/or
bearing specimen. Testing was randomly conducted so as to avoid
any settling behavior of the system.
Pressure Measurements. Pressure measurements for these
experiments were taken at the locations shown in Fig. 4. Table 2
shows the full-scale readings and accuracies for all pressure trans-
ducers that were used in the experiments.
Flow Measurements. The ow measurements for these ex-
periments were taken using a high-pressure positive-displacement
ow meter. The ow meter was located in the supply line between
the hydraulic power unit and the test device i.e., near the top of
Fig. 4. In this location, the ow meter measured the total ow
into the test device including leakage past the outside of the pis-
ton, leakage past the ball joint of the piston, and leakage between
the slipper bearing and the thrust surface. Since the ow at the
thrust surface was the quantity of interest in this research, a spe-
cial test was conducted for each specimen in which the ow pas-
sage to the slipper bearing was blocked, and the leakage past the
piston and the ball were then measured for each pressure setting
of the load-sensing pump. These ow measurements were then
subtracted from the total ow measurements of each specimen to
obtain the volumetric ow-rate between the bearing and the thrust
surface. The full-scale reading of the ow meter was 4 lpm with
an accuracy of 0.02 lpm.
Load-Carrying Capacity Calculations. The load-carrying
capacity of each bearing specimen was calculated from the pres-
sure measurements that were taken in this study. Figure 6 shows a
schematic of the pressure measurements that were taken and their
radial locations corresponding to Fig. 4. The solid dots in Fig. 6
indicate the location of an actual transducer. In this gure it can be
seen that the pressure at the pocket radius is assumed to be the
same as the pressure at the pocket center. Also, the pressure at the
outside perimeter of the bearing land is assumed to be zero. For
calculating the load-carrying capacity, the pressure between nodes
in Fig. 6 is assumed to vary linearly according to the following
equation:
PP
n1
P
n
P
n1

rr
n1
r
n
r
n1

(8)
where n identies the node number as shown in Figs. 6 and 4.
From Fig. 6, it can be seen that P
0
P
1
P
0
and that r
0
0. By
using Eq. 8 with the denition of the load-carrying capacity in
Eq. 5, and summing the load-carrying contribution for all linear
segments of the pressure distribution, the nondimensional load
carrying capacity of the bearing may be determined from experi-
ments as
W

4 ln R/r
0

3P
0
R
2
r
0
2

n0
7
r
n1
r
n

P
n1
r
n1

r
n
2

P
n
r
n

r
n1
2

(9)
Using the accuracy values for the pressure transducers shown in
Table 2 and the manufacturing tolerances for the pressure taps, it
may be shown that the uncertainty associated with the load carry-
ing capacity calculation of Eq. 9 is 0.013.
Fluid-Film Thickness Calculations. The analytical work of
this research has been used to generate closed-form expressions
for the volumetric ow-rate and the load-carrying capacity of the
bearing undergoing a linear deformation. These results are pre-
sented in Eqs. 4 and 5. As shown in these equations, the volu-
metric ow-rate and the load-carrying capacity depend upon the
minimum uid-lm thickness, h
min
, and the change in the uid-
lm gap, h. Since neither of these quantities has been measured
directly, it is necessary to infer their values from the experimental
results that have been obtained from the volumetric ow-rate and
the load-carrying capacity as determined by pressure measure-
ments. By inserting the experimental results for the volumetric
ow-rate and the load-carrying capacity into the left-hand-side of
Eqs. 4 and 5, a Newton-Raphson method may be used to itera-
tively determine the values for h
min
and h. The uncertainty in
these uid lm results depends upon the numerical accuracy of
the computer method as well as the physical uncertainty in the
ow measurements, pressure measurements, uid viscosity, and
the manufacturing tolerance for the pressure taps. Based upon all
of these considerations, it may be shown that the uid lm thick-
ness and the deection characteristics may be determined within
approximately 8.5% of their determined value.
Results and Discussion
Volumetric Flow-Rate. In Figs. 7 and 8, the volumetric ow-
rate measurements are presented for the spherical-shaped and
conical-shaped socket geometry, respectively. Both gures include
the ow measurement results for the original design for the pur-
poses of comparison. Note: these gures are presented in dimen-
sional form to give the reader a sense of scale. Figures 7 and 8
show that the volumetric ow-rate increases with pressure; which
is an expected result for the Poiseuille ow conditions of this
experiment. It is also shown in Figs. 7 and 8 that the volumetric
ow-rate increases as the specimen number increases. From Table
1, it can be seen that an increasing specimen number corresponds
to a decreasing , which identies the point of contact between the
piston ball and the socket. From Figs. 7 and 8 it can be seen that
as the contact point is moved to a higher location within the ball-
and-socket joint smaller , the bearing leakage tends to increase
and that at some points the leakage has actually been doubled.
Fig. 6 Schematic of the pressure distribution determined by
experiments
Journal of Tribology JULY 2004, Vol. 126 515
Since the power requirement to operate the bearing increases with
the volumetric ow-rate, it can be seen that the spherical and
conical shaped socket geometries are more expensive to operate
as compared to the original design.
Load-Carrying Capacity. In Figs. 9 and 10, the experimen-
tal results for the load-carrying capacity are presented respectively
for the spherical-shaped and conical-shaped socket geometry. Fig-
ures 9 and 10 include the load-carrying capacity results for the
original design as well. From Figs. 9 and 10 it can be seen that a
signicant difference in the load-carrying capacity exists between
the original design and that of the other test specimens. While the
original design shows a lower load-carrying capacity that tends to
monotonically decrease with pressure, the other test specimens are
grouped together with either less pressure dependence or even at
some points exhibiting an increase in the load-carrying capacity
with respect to pressure e.g., see Sphere 4 above 20 MPa. From
these results one may conclude that an increase in the load-
carrying capacity may be achieved by moving the contact point
within the ball-and-socket joint a sufcient distance away from
the bottom of the socket a smaller . Also, by making this
change, a more consistent less pressure dependent and even im-
proved load-carrying capacity may be achieved. This is a very
important identication to make for bearings that operate over a
wide range of loads as degradation in the load-carrying capacity
with pressure can result in catastrophic failure. Notice: Within the
spherical and conical test specimens, there is not a consistent
trend of improvement or degradation of the load-carrying capacity
with either pressure or ; but, all of the spherical and conical test
specimens exhibit improvements over the original design in every
respect. It is also observed that the spherical test specimens gen-
erally exhibit a higher load-carrying capacity as compared to the
conical test specimens.
Minimum Fluid-Film Thickness. Figures 11 and 12 show
the results for the minimum uid-lm thickness for the spherical-
shaped and conical-shaped socket geometry, respectively. The
minimum uid-lm thickness for the original design is included in
each gure as well. Note: these gures are plotted in dimensional
form to give the reader a sense of scale. From Figs. 11 and 12 it is
generally observed that the uid-lm thickness decreases with
pressure, which corresponds to an increasing load requirement for
the bearing. Though not consistent at every point, it can be seen
from Figs. 11 and 12 that the minimum uid-lm thickness gen-
erally increases as the specimen number increases and that the
original design exhibits the thinnest lm-thickness of any of the
specimens that were tested. In other words, the minimum uid-
lm thickness is greater for socket geometries that place the con-
tact point higher in the ball-and-socket joint smaller values of
as opposed to socket geometries that place this contact point
lower. This result is signicant because an increased lm-
thickness is more capable of keeping the bearing separated from
the thrust surface and thereby provides improved lubrication con-
ditions for the design.
Bearing Deformation. Figures 13 and 14 show the results for
the bearing deformation across the bearing land for the spherical-
Fig. 7 Measured volumetric ow-rates for spherical-shaped
socket geometry
Fig. 8 Measured volumetric ow-rates for conical-shaped
socket geometry
Fig. 9 Normalized load-carrying capacities for spherical-
shaped socket geometry
Fig. 10 Normalized load-carrying capacities for conical-
shaped socket geometry
516 Vol. 126, JULY 2004 Transactions of the ASME
shaped and conical-shaped socket geometry respectively. The
bearing deformation for the original design is included in each
gure as well. As shown in Figs. 13 and 14, the original bearing
design tends to deform more than the other specimens that were
tested in this research and the spherical test specimens deform less
than the conical test specimens. By comparing these results with
Figs. 9 and 10, one can see that increased bearing deformations
tend to reduce the load-carrying capacity of the bearing as well. It
can also be observed from Figs. 13 and 14 that the majority of the
bearing deformation occurs at low pressures and does not gener-
ally change much for pressures above 14 MPa. A comparison of
Figs. 11 through 14 shows that the bearing deformations are less
than, but approaching, the order of magnitude of the minimum
uid-lm thickness, which provides the rationale for the reduced
load-carrying capacities reported in Figs. 9 and 10.
Conclusions
The following conclusions are supported by the results of this
research:
1 Due to the Poiseuille ow conditions, the volumetric ow-
rate for the slipper bearing increases with increased pocket pres-
sure.
2 Socket geometries that locate the contact point higher in the
ball-and-socket joint smaller values of create more leakage and
power loss than bearings with lower points of contact. For some
measurements in this research, the leakage and power require-
ments were actually shown to be twice that of the original bearing
design.
3 In general, the modied spherical and conical test specimens
have been shown to be more expensive to operate requiring more
power than the original test specimen.
4 The original test specimen consistently exhibits a lower
load-carrying capacity than the spherical and conical test speci-
mens.
5 The original test specimen exhibits a load-carrying capacity
that degrades with increasing pressures. For bearings that operate
over a wide range of pressures, this degradation may be the source
of catastrophic bearing failures that have been observed in prac-
tice.
6 The spherical and conical test specimens exhibit load-
carrying capacities with either lower pressure degradation as com-
pared to the original design, or an improved load-carrying capac-
ity as the pressure increases. This pressure-dependent feature of
the spherical and conical test specimens may be used to ones
advantage for possibly avoiding bearing failures that classically
occur at high pressures.
7 Spherical test specimens tend to produce a higher load-
carrying capacity as compared to conical test specimens.
8 The minimum uid-lm thickness between the bearing and
the thrust surface decreases with increased pocket pressures and
bearing loads.
9 The minimum uid-lm thickness between the bearing and
the thrust surface is greater for socket geometries with a higher
contact point within the ball-and-socket joint smaller values of
as opposed to a lower contact point. This feature may be used to
Fig. 11 Minimum uid-lm thickness calculations for
spherical-shaped socket geometry
Fig. 12 Minimum uid-lm thickness calculations for conical-
shaped socket geometry
Fig. 13 Calculated change in uid-lm thickness for spherical-
shaped socket geometry
Fig. 14 Calculated change in uid-lm thickness for conical-
shaped socket geometry
Journal of Tribology JULY 2004, Vol. 126 517
avoid surface-to-surface contact between the thrust surface and
the bearing and to minimize the wear difculties that are often
experienced with these designs.
10 The original bearing design exhibits a greater magnitude of
deformation than any of the spherical or conical test specimens.
11 The spherical test specimens deform less than the conical
test specimens corresponding to a higher load-carrying capacity
for spherical designs as opposed to conical ones.
12 The majority of bearing deformation occurs at low pres-
sures and does not generally change much for pressures that ex-
ceed 14 MPa.
13 Deformations for the slipper bearing are smaller than, but
approaching, the order of magnitude of the minimum uid-lm
thickness between the thrust surface and the bearing.
In summary, this research has shown that adjustments to the
socket geometry can change the performance of the slipper bear-
ing. The results of this research indicate that the volumetric leak-
age and power requirement for the bearing may be reduced by
locating the contact point within the ball-and-socket joint closer to
the bottom of the socket larger values of . On the other hand,
the results of this research show that the load-carrying capacity of
the bearing may be improved across a wide range of operating
pressures by locating the contact point within the ball-and-socket
joint closer to the top of the socket smaller values of . Unfor-
tunately, these two advantages tend to compete with one another
and therefore an optimal solution must be sought for a specic
application of the bearing.
Acknowledgments
The authors wish to thank the National Science Foundation
DMI 0100279 and Caterpillar, Inc. for their support of this work.
Nomenclature
h uid-lm thickness between the bearing and the
thrust surface m
h
min
minimum uid-lm thickness between the bearing
and the thrust surface m
P uid pressure between the bearing land and thrust
surface Pa
P
0
uid pressure within the pocket of the bearing Pa
Q volumetric ow-rate through the bearing m
3
/s
R outside radius of the bearing m
r radial coordinate extending from the center of the
bearing m
r
0
radius of the bearing pocket m
W load-carrying capacity of the bearing N
w width of the spherical relief that is cut into the bot-
tom of the spherical and conical socket geometry m
z vertical coordinate normal to the thrust surface m
h increase in the uid-lm gap across the bearing land
due to bearing deformation m
Z vertical dimension from the bearing surface to the
center of the piston ball m
vertical dimension from the point of contact within
the ball-and-socket joint relative to the center of the
ball m
uid viscosity Pa s

b
radius of the spherical socket geometry m

c
radius of the spherical relief that is cut into the bot-
tom of the spherical and conical socket geometry m
angle of the conical socket geometry rad
References
1 Hamrock, B. J., Jacobson, B. O., and Schmid, S. R., 1999, Fundamentals of
Machine Elements, WCB/McGraw Hill, New York, NY.
2 Dimarogonas, A. D., 2001, Machine Design: A CAD Approach, John Wiley &
Sons, Inc., New York, NY.
3 Kazama, T., and Yamaguchi, A., 1995, Experiment on Mixed Lubrication of
Hydrostatic Thrust Bearings for Hydraulic Equipment, ASME J. Tribol., 117,
pp. 399402.
4 Kazama, T., and Yamaguchi, A., 1993, Application of a Mixed Lubrication
Model for Hydrostatic Thrust Bearings of Hydraulic Equipment, ASME J.
Tribol., 115, pp. 686691.
5 Pang, Z., Zhai, W., and Shun, J., 1993, The Study of Hydrostatic Lubrication
of the Slipper in a High-Pressure Plunger Pump, STLE Tribol. Trans., 36, pp.
316320.
6 Koc, E., Hooke, C. J., and Li, K. Y., 1992, Slipper Balance in Axial Piston
Pumps and Motors, ASME J. Tribol., 114, pp. 766772.
7 Manring, N. D., Johnson, R. E., and Cherukuri, H. P., 2002, The Impact of
Linear Deformations on Stationary Hydrostatic Thrust Bearings, ASME J.
Tribol., 124, pp. 874877.
518 Vol. 126, JULY 2004 Transactions of the ASME