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Applied Failure Analysis

Service Training Meeting Guide 001 SESV8001

December 2000




Service, service support and administrative staff personnel who understand the principles of engine and
machinery operation, and who are or may be involved in determining root causes of failures.

This presentation describes engine bearing function, structure, manufacturing, basic installation, normal
wear, abnormal wear, and some possible bearing problems.

After learning the information in this presentation, the student will be able to:

1. describe engine bearing functions;

2. describe engine bearing structure and general manufacturing steps;
3. describe normal used engine bearing appearance;
4. identify wear road signs of abrasion, adhesion, corrosion, cavitation erosion, erosion, fretting
corrosion and contact stress fatigue;
5. identify road signs of impact damage;
5. identify common manufacturing or installation problems.


Engine Bearings Applied Failure Analysis Reference Book SEBV0544

Engine Bearings Applied Failure Analysis Self-Paced Instruction Course SEGV8001

AFA STMG 013 Failure Analysis Management SERV8013
AFA STMG 017 Basic Metallurgy SERV8017
AFA STMG 014 Principles of Fractures SERV8014
AFA STMG 015 Principles of Wear SERV8015

Estimated Time: 5 Hours

Visuals: 54 Electronic Images
Student Handout: 1 Worksheet
Form: SESV8001
Date: 12/2000

© 2000 Caterpillar Inc.

AFA STMG001 -3-


INTRODUCTION ..................................................................................................................5

FUNCTION ............................................................................................................................9

STRUCTURE .......................................................................................................................17

MANUFACTURE ................................................................................................................19

INSTALLATION ..................................................................................................................27

OPERATION ........................................................................................................................29

NORMAL USED APPEARANCE ......................................................................................39

ABNORMAL APPEARANCE ............................................................................................56

FAILURE ANALYSIS PROCEDURE.................................................................................57

ABNORMAL WEAR...........................................................................................................79
Adhesive .........................................................................................................................80
Abrasive ..........................................................................................................................90
Cavitation Erosion ........................................................................................................109
Fretting Corrosion .........................................................................................................112

IMPACT DAMAGE ...........................................................................................................116

BEARING PROBLEMS.....................................................................................................119


SLIDE LIST........................................................................................................................142

STUDENT HANDOUT......................................................................................................144
AFA STMG 001 -4-

AFA STMG 001 -5-

• Engine bearing failure INTRODUCTION

This presentation covers engine bearing failure analysis.
AFA STMG 001 -6-

This presentation will review bearing function, structure, manufacture,

• Function installation, normal used bearing appearance, abnormal bearing
appearance, and possible bearing problems.
• Structure

• Manufacture In this module, the analyst will use the eight steps of applied failure
analysis and the principles of management, wear and visual examination
• Installation covered in earlier sections. Basic lubrication system facts are included as
necessary. Familiarity with these things will prepare the analyst to do
• Normal used
better bearing failure analysis.

• Abnormal appearance

• Bearing problems
AFA STMG 001 -7-

• Use the 8 Steps When using the eight steps of applied failure analysis, the analyst should
especially remember to get the payoff with customers by completing steps
• Get the payoff in
6, 7 and 8.
Steps 6, 7 and 8

• Find the root cause The information in this section will help identify root causes of failures
and help separate failures caused by abnormal system or loading
conditions from failures caused by bearings themselves.
AFA STMG 001 -8-

• Keep old reference Existing Caterpillar publications, such as SEBD 00531, "Engine Bearings
books and Crankshafts," are also helpful in failure analysis work.
AFA STMG 001 -9-

• Five bearing FUNCTION

Connecting rod and main bearings perform the following five important
1. Lubricity
functions in engines:
2. Conduct heat
1. Provide a slippery surface on start-ups and at other times when oil
3. Embed debris and film thickness is reduced.
conform to
2. Conduct surface heat to the bore.
4. Fatigue resistance
3. Provide a soft wear surface to embed debris and to allow the
5. Replaceable wear bearing to conform to the crankshaft journal profile.
4. Provide load carrying or fatigue strength.

5. Provide replaceable wear surfaces in connecting rods and block

AFA STMG 001 - 10 -

• Provide soft surface The bearing's first function is lubricity--protecting itself and the
layer which is slippery crankshaft journal on start-ups or at other times when there is only a small
and minimizes heat
amount of residual oil between the crankshaft and the bearings. Because
the bearing surface is soft and slippery, the hard crankshaft journal slides
on it easily, minimizing heat generation. Surface conditions shown here
are exaggerated for illustration purposes.
AFA STMG 001 - 11 -

• Bearing cutaway at This is a 400 power magnified view of a new bearing's lead-tin overlay.
400 power The light colored metal at the bottom is aluminum. Above the aluminum
is a very thin copper layer. The next darker layer is lead-tin overlay. The
showing the different
layers black above the lead-tin is specimen mounting material.

• Bright top layer is an

aluminum flash

• Darker color is lead-

tin overlay

• Aluminum is brighter
layer on bottom
AFA STMG 001 - 12 -

• Frictional heat is During start-up, generated frictional heat is removed only by conduction
removed by through the bearing to the rod or block. Bearings are therefore designed
conducting heat to the
and constructed to provide excellent heat transfer. This function is called
"heat conduction."
AFA STMG 001 - 13 -

• Drawing showing Debris is always present in lubrication systems and is removed by good
debris embedding in oil filters. When engines are started, or when change intervals are too
the lead-tin overlay
long, particles can bypass the filters. When debris enters the bearing area,
the particles are trapped by the lead-tin overlay, removing them from the
system. This bearing function is called "embedability."

The soft lead-tin overlay also moves somewhat with surface loading until
the bearing surface "fits" more exactly with the crankshaft journal profile.
This function is "conformability."
AFA STMG 001 - 14 -


• Bearing cutaway at This used bearing was cut in half and inspected with 400 power
400 power showing magnification. There are black particles embedded in the lead-tin overlay
embedded particles
similar to rocks sinking into mud. The lead-tin squeezes up around the
particles, protecting the crankshaft journal and bearing from abrasive
AFA STMG 001 - 15 -


• Bearings have high During full load operation, very high compressive and sliding loads are
cyclic compressive placed on rod and main bearings. At 1600 rpm, each rod bearing may feel
and sliding loads
this pressure 800 times a minute--and this severe cyclic loading can
• The bearing material continue for thousands of hours. When trapped oil layers are thin, such as
must not flex when idling or when heavy loads are applied at very low engine rpm, the
bearing must withstand even more severe loading without flexing. This
bearing function is called "fatigue strength."
AFA STMG 001 - 16 -


• Bearings need After thousands of hours of operation, normal wear removes some of the
periodic replacement bearings' soft surface material, reducing its lubricity and embedability
capabilities. Since bearings are inserts, worn bearings can be replaced
• Bearing insert style
makes replacement with new ones, restoring full bearing capabilities. This bearing function
easy is called "replaceability."
AFA STMG 001 - 17 -


• Bearings have several STRUCTURE

To perform its five functions the bearing must have a composite (many
- Tin flash
materials) structure. This exploded bearing view shows typical engine
- Lead-tin overlay bearing structure. Most of the bearing is steel which is overlaid with
aluminum or a copper/lead alloy, copper bond, lead-tin, and a thin tin
- Aluminum or flash. Each of these layers helps the bearing perform its five functions.
copper/lead alloy The steel back accounts for about 90 percent of bearing thickness, gives
the bearing its structural strength to stay tight in the bore, supports the
- Copper bond
aluminum load carrying layer, and conducts heat rapidly from the
- Steel back aluminum to the bore. The aluminum layer accounts for about 10 percent
of bearing thickness, is soft enough to provide good embedability, and yet
is strong and durable under heavy cyclic loading. It is also a good heat
conductor, transferring heat quickly from the bearing surface to the steel
back during operation. The copper bonding layer is about one ten-
thousandths of an inch thick, provides good bonding between the
aluminum and lead-tin layers, transfers heat quickly from the lead-tin to
the aluminum, and provides a soft wearing surface when the lead-tin layer
wears away. The lead-tin layer is about one thousandth of an inch thick
(or half as thick as a piece of paper), is very soft, and performs the
functions of lubricity, embedability and conformability. The tin flash is
only a few millionths of an inch thick, provides corrosion protection, and
gives the bearing a pleasing appearance.
AFA STMG 001 - 18 -


• Thrust bearings and Thrust washers and camshaft bearings usually do not have the lead-tin
cam bearings usually layer because they do not require the functions of lubricity and
do not have lead-tin
embedability. These bearings usually have only the steel back, the
aluminum or copper/lead alloy and the tin flash.
AFA STMG 001 - 19 -


• There are three MANUFACTURE

manufacturing steps:
Bearings are usually manufactured in three basic stages: bimetallic strip
- Making the
preparation, machining operations, and electroplating processes.
bimetallic strip

- Machining

- Electroplating top
wear layers
AFA STMG 001 - 20 -


• Steel back is: The steel back is made from a precision thickness low carbon steel sheet
in coil form. The sheet is uncoiled and degreased, after which one side is
- Precision thickness
roughened and cleaned in preparation for bonding to aluminum. (Grit
- Degreased blasting and belt sanding are two common roughening methods). The
back side must be smooth and free of blemishes, nicks, or gouges to
- Roughened insure complete bore contact.
AFA STMG 001 - 21 -


• The aluminum layer The aluminum begins as pig aluminum from which most bearing
is: manufacturers cast their own aluminum alloy and roll it into a thin sheet
in coil form. The coil is sent to the bimetal bonding line where it is
- Thick for machining
uncoiled, cleaned and roughened before bonding to the steel back.
- Cleaned

- Roughened
AFA STMG 001 - 22 -


• The steel and In the bonding process, the aluminum and steel sheets are preheated and
aluminum are squeezed together with high pressure rolls, forming a bimetallic (two
squeezed between
metal) strip. No bonding agent is used, the bond being formed
high pressure rollers
mechanically by forcing aluminum into the roughened steel surface at
- Heat is generated high pressure and temperature.

- The aluminum layer

is extruded into the
roughened steel
AFA STMG 001 - 23 -


• Rough machining: On the rough machining line, the bimetal strip is uncoiled and sheared
into half shell bearing blanks. Each bearing blank is then bent into final
- Shears steel coil into
shape over a forming die that sets bearing free spread. (Free spread
means the bearing free diameter is larger at the parting faces than is the
- Bends steel blank bore diameter that requires a slight force to "snap" the bearing into the
into half shell bore on installation.) Chamfers, grooves, oil holes and tabs are then
- Makes tab slots,
grooves, holes
AFA STMG 001 - 24 -


• Final machining: Crush height and wall thickness are the last and most critical finishing
machining operations performed. Crush height (the amount the bearing is
- Gives proper crush
larger than its bore) is controlled by broaching the half shell parting faces.
Wall thickness (bearing thickness) can be controlled by either boring
- Gives proper wall (radial machining) or broaching (side to side machining). Each bearing
thickness half is precisely sized and continues processing individually. There is no
difference between rod bearing upper and lower half shells and most main
bearing upper and lower half shells differ only in oil grooves and oil
AFA STMG 001 - 25 -


• Electroplating is used After finish machining, the bearing half shells are ready for application of
to apply: the lead-tin and tin flash layers. Since lead-tin will not stick directly to
aluminum, a very thin bonding layer of copper is first electroplated onto
- Copper bond
the aluminum. After a water rinse, the lead-tin overlay is electroplated
- Lead-tin overlay onto the copper bonding layer. After another rinse, an extremely thin
layer of tin (called tin flash) is chemically plated on all bearing surfaces
• Chemical dip is used and the bearing is ready for inspection and packaging. Since the bearings
to apply tin flash
are made by the half, there is no "matched set;" i.e., an upper half is
packaged with a lower half.
AFA STMG 001 - 26 -


• Quality control New bearings have been carefully made but require proper installation to
thickness test marks give good performance. If there are small lines or marks on bearing
may be seen on some
surfaces as seen here, they are gauging marks made during quality control
new bearings
wall thickness testing.
AFA STMG 001 - 27 -


• Bearing bores should INSTALLATION

Bearings should be installed in clean, dry bores. This gives maximum
- Clean
heat conduction from the bearing to the bore, avoids hot spots caused by
- Dry debris under the bearing, and also improves the coefficient of friction
between the bearing and the bore to help prevent slippage. It is this
- Smooth and round frictional fit between the bearing back and the bore that prevents bearing
movement and slippage, not the locating tab. The purpose of the tab is to
• Bearings should be
properly align the bearing during installation. After the bearing halves are
installed with oil holes
aligned with block oil installed in clean, dry bores, their surfaces should be lubricated before
holes installing crankshafts, caps and retaining bolts.

Oil holes in bearings should be aligned with oil holes in bores during
installation. The oil hole in the main bearing is noticeably smaller than
the drilled passageway in the block, acting as an orifice to control oil flow
to downstream rod bearings.
AFA STMG 001 - 28 -


• Bearings are slightly Bearing diameters are slightly larger than bore diameters (crush height),
larger than bore and as bearing caps are installed, the bearing halves contact each other
diameters, giving
before the bore parting faces make contact. Then, as retaining bolts are
"crush" capability
tightened, the bearing halves are squeezed into the smaller bore diameter,
• Bearings can relax "crushing" the bearing. This crush is an elastic deformation (temporary
and conform to the physical change similar to compressing a spring) which forces the bearing
bore after long service tightly against the bore and prevents movement. Thus, if the bearing is
installed in a clean, dry bore and if bearing crush is proper, the bearing
should not move in the bore when loads are applied. Bearing movement
can occur if bearing cap retaining bolts are undertorqued, retaining bolts
are overtorqued, debris is left between the bore parting face during
bearing installation, parting or mating faces are too rough, service hours
are too long, etc.

These things can lead to fretting corrosion (loose part wear) between the
bearing and the bore.
AFA STMG 001 - 29 -



• Engines with good After careful assembly with quality parts, engines are ready to be put to
bearings are put into work.
service in a growing
number of
AFA STMG 001 - 30 -


• During operation, During operation, bearing service life depends on proper lubrication,
bearings need proper loading, and temperatures. It is a good idea to review some facts in these
lubrication, loading
critical areas.
and temperature
AFA STMG 001 - 31 -


• During start-up, When engines are started, bearing and crankshaft surfaces are separated
bearings usually have only by a small amount of residual oil. Until fresh oil arrives, surface
only residual oil
asperities make contact and generate heat. Therefore, loading and rpm
present and metal to
metal contact can should be kept to a minimum during start-up to avoid excessive heat
occur generation.

• Keep load and engine

rpm low until oil
arrives at bearings
AFA STMG 001 - 32 -


• Cat oil pumps supply The oil pump forces oil rapidly into passageways to the oil cooler and
more oil than is used filters. Caterpillar oil pumps supply more oil than is required by the
by the engine,
engine, continually bypassing part of their output back to the oil pan. As
bypassing the rest
back to sump engine wear occurs and clearances increase, more oil is required by the
engine and less oil bypasses at the oil pump. This explains why
• Bypass valves are Caterpillar engines have consistently high oil pressure throughout their
also located on the oil lives.
cooler and oil filter
Cold, thick oil and system restrictions cause oil pressure to rise. Bypass
• Bypass valves can valves are placed on the oil pump, oil cooler, and oil filters to allow oil to
open with cold, thick go around these components when restrictions are too great. Thus, high
start-up oil rpm on start-up with cold oil causes bypass valves to open and sends
unfiltered oil to bearings.
AFA STMG 001 - 33 -


• Oil filters control the Oil filters control not only the size but also the quantity of erosive and
size and quantity of abrasive particles in the oil. To do this, oil filters are carefully
debris in the system
constructed to work with the oil filter bypass valve; i.e., Caterpillar oil
• If debris causes filter bypass valve opening pressures are high and the paper has to not
abrasive wear, the only catch harmful debris at high flow rates, but the paper also has to
analyst should always withstand high differential pressures without rupturing as when partially
inspect the oil filter, blocked with debris.
look for debris, and be
sure it is a Cat filter Since the oil filter is readily accessible and is changed frequently, it
represents sales potential. Competitors have produced and sold oil filters
which fit Caterpillar engines but which may not have necessary
construction quality.

Any time there is abrasive bearing wear (often called debris damage), the
analyst should cut the oil filters open and carefully examine them for
defects and trapped particles.
AFA STMG 001 - 34 -


• When oil arrives at the When oil arrives at the bearings, the sliding of the crankshaft and bearing
bearing, the sliding of pull oil between the wear surfaces, building an oil film. This separates
the crankshaft and
the wearing surfaces and removes some of the heat that was generated
bearing pull oil
between the wear during start-up.
surfaces, building an
oil film During normal operation loads are transferred to bearings by the trapped
oil layer and heat generation is tremendously reduced. Only under start-
• After oil films are up or other marginal lubrication conditions do bearing surfaces make
established, bearings
direct contact with the crankshaft.
are separated from
The hole in the main bearing upper halfshell acts as the final orifice to
• The hole in the upper limit the amount of oil that flows downstream to the rod bearings.
main bearing halfshell
acts as a final orifice
to limit the amount of
oil flowing from the
AFA STMG 001 - 35 -


• Crankshaft rotation Some people think that system oil pressure creates the oil film thickness
causes oil film to at the bearings, but system oil pressure merely supplies oil to the bearing
form, not system oil
area. It is the rotating crankshaft that builds the oil film thickness--as the
crankshaft turns faster, it pulls more oil with it and makes the oil film
become thicker. Thus, oil film thickness can be decreased by low
rotational speed of the crankshaft. It can also be decreased by dilution,
unusually high temperatures, and low oil supply pressures.
AFA STMG 001 - 36 -


• Failure of a rod Failure of a rod or main bearing usually will not cause marginal
bearing usually will lubrication to any other bearings unless the engine is used at low rpm.
not cause an oil
When a bearing begins to fail (not yet spun), oil leakage will be limited
pressure drop at rated
rpm because the oil by the orifice hole in the main bearing and the oil pump bypass valve will
pump bypass valve begin to close and send more oil to the engine, thereby maintaining
will close and send system oil pressure.
more oil to the system
At low rpm, the oil pump does not pump much oil, the relief valve is
• Failure of a main
closed, and a failed rod or main bearing may leak enough oil to cause
bearing can cause a
small drop in oil reduced oil supply and other bearing damage.
pressure because the
final orifice is gone
AFA STMG 001 - 37 -


• Bearings today have: Bearing loading is much more severe today than it was in earlier diesel
engines, demanding greater bearing and crankshaft design and quality.
- Higher loading

In the old days, many diesel engines ran at less than 1500 rpm, had peak
- Higher rpm
cylinder pressures less than 10.3 MPa (1500 PSI), and had generous
• Bearing quality is bearing surface areas.
better than ever
before Today's diesel engines run over 3000 rpm, have peak cylinder pressures
over 13.8 MPa (2000 PSI), and have smaller bearing surface areas.

These demanding conditions mean that crankshaft, lubricant, and bearing

quality must be better than ever, and that application, operation and
maintenance must be correct.
AFA STMG 001 - 38 -


• At engine start-up: When surface temperatures are allowed to rise above 176 degrees C (350
degrees F), bearings can be damaged. Operators must insure low start-up
- Keep load low
rpm and good lubrication conditions.
- Keep rpm low

• This will keep

bearings from getting
too hot before oil
AFA STMG 001 - 39 -



• Normal bearing wear When application, operation and maintenance are correct, main and rod
progresses through bearings will develop wear patterns that we call "normal." Normal wear
the tin flash and lead- progresses through the thin tin flash, through the lead-tin overlay, through
tin overlay the copper bond, and into the aluminum layer. There should be no
melting or discoloration from heat.
• The bearing should
not have any melting
or discoloration from
AFA STMG 001 - 40 -


• The thin tin flash Because the tin flash layer is very thin (microinches), it readily wears
wears away on high through on high profile points. After the tin flash wears away, the darker
profile points
lead-tin layer beneath is exposed. This low mileage bearing has normal
• The darker lead-tin tin flash wear.
may be visible
AFA STMG 001 - 41 -


• Even closer view Magnification shows wear details more clearly. With magnification the
shows that the tin analyst can see that the tin flash has worn away on the higher ridges made
flash has worn away
by finish machining of the aluminum layer, and the machining was radial
on the higher ridges
made by finish on this bearing.
machining of the
aluminum layer
AFA STMG 001 - 42 -


• When using When using magnification, normal small surface irregularities may seem
magnification, normal too large and cause undue concern. It will take some practice with the
small surface
magnifying glass to become familiar with the appearance of normal and
irregularities may
seem too large and abnormal surface conditions. It is normal to find occasional small surface
cause undue concern blisters such as seen here.

• These are normal

AFA STMG 001 - 43 -


• At high mileage or At high mileage or long hours, the lead-tin in high load areas may either
long hours, the lead- wear off or develop fatigue cracks and break loose, as seen on these
tin in high load areas
644000 km (400,000 mile) main bearings.
may either wear off or
develop fatigue
cracks and break
AFA STMG 001 - 44 -


• Some bearings have Some bearings have lost bits of both lead-tin and copper bond, exposing
lost bits of both lead- the aluminum layer beneath. Sufficient lead-tin remains to provide
tin and copper bond
lubricity and embedability and there is no problem.
AFA STMG 001 - 45 -


• This is a type of This is a type of lead-tin overlay fatigue caused by movement of the lead-
lead-tin overlay tin under heavy load and is normal at high kilometers. The lead-tin loss
fatigue caused by
area is slowly growing wider and wider.
movement of the
lead-tin under heavy
load and is normal at
high mileage
AFA STMG 001 - 46 -


• After thousands of After thousands of hours the lead-tin layer can wear completely through,
hours the lead-tin exposing the copper bond and aluminum layers. The copper bond layer
layer can wear
will usually have a dark color due to oxidation while the aluminum layer
completely through,
exposing the copper will usually have a light color. Oil analysis readings will not show high
bond and aluminum copper levels as wear progresses through the copper bond layer because it
layers is very thin.
AFA STMG 001 - 47 -


• Only when abnormal, Only when abnormal, rapid fine abrasive wear occurs will the copper
rapid fine abrasive bond have a copper color.
wear occurs will the
copper bond have a
copper color
AFA STMG 001 - 48 -


• When surface layers When the tin flash, the lead-tin, and the copper bond layers are worn
are worn through, it is away in high load areas at high mileage, embedability and lubricity
time to install new
functions are reduced and it is time to install new bearings. Both color
and wear taper are normal on these high mileage rod bearings.
AFA STMG 001 - 49 -


• Although this set of Occasionally the analyst may see an erratic wear pattern and wonder if
rod bearings has there is an alignment or crankshaft journal profile problem. He needs to
noticeable variation in
remember that both the tin flash and the lead-tin overlay layers are thin,
its wear pattern, it is a
high mileage set with and that normal dimensional variations can cause thin surface layers to
no abnormal wear wear away over large areas. This can give a first impression that
misalignment is worse than it really is. Although this set of rod bearings
• Replace with new has noticeable variation in its wear pattern, it is a high mileage set with no
adhesive wear on the aluminum. There is no objectionable misalignment
of parts. Replacement with new bearings is all that is required.
AFA STMG 001 - 50 -


• Color variations are Sometimes several different colors are seen as wear progresses through
sometimes seen in the surface layers of bearings. These may be caused during bearing
high load areas
manufacture by either chemical cleaning processes or variations during
AFA STMG 001 - 51 -


• Polishing and fine Bearings can be run after the lead-tin overlay is worn away, as has been
abrasive cutting have done with these rod bearings. Polishing and fine abrasive cutting have
occurred in high load
occurred in high load areas because the functions of lubricity and
areas because the
functions of lubricity embedability have been reduced. There is little embedded debris and
and embedability have there is no melting present on the surface, showing that there has never
been reduced by wear been a lubrication quality or quantity problem. The wear pattern has little
through surface taper, indicating good alignment of parts. There is a fair amount of
cavitation erosion present, showing that these are high mileage bearings.
This information tells the analyst that everything is normal and that
bearing replacement is all that is needed.
AFA STMG 001 - 52 -


• Cavitation erosion Cavitation erosion occurs in low load areas of bearings and can work
occurs in low load through the lead-tin overlay and into the aluminum after thousands of
areas of bearings and
service hours. It is not unusual to find a small pocket of aluminum
can work through the
lead-tin overlay and removed by cavitation erosion on high mileage bearings as we see here.
into the aluminum Pieces removed are very small and float easily in the trapped oil film,
after thousands of usually causing very little downstream abrasive wear. Though very small,
service hours the removed pieces are much too large to be seen in oil analysis tests.
AFA STMG 001 - 53 -


• If bearings are kept in If bearings are kept in service too long, the aluminum layer may develop
service too long, the fatigue cracks. As surface cracks progress downward and run into each
aluminum layer may
other, spalling can occur. There is usually still aluminum bonded to the
develop fatigue
cracks: steel in the bottom of spalled areas. This rod bearing was run almost a
million miles and heavy aluminum spalling has occurred.
- Cracks begin at the
surface and
progress downward

- Aluminum is usually
still bonded to the
steel in the bottom
of spalled areas
AFA STMG 001 - 54 -


• High mileage bearings High mileage bearings may have an irregular, darkened appearance. Cat
may have irregular, bearings should have the Caterpillar trademark and the part number.
darkened appearance
caused by fretting of The dark places were the high spots that made contact with the bore,
the tin flash while the light areas were the low spots that did not make contact.
• The dark places were
the high spots that
made contact with the
bore, while the light
areas were the low
spots that did not
make contact
AFA STMG 001 - 55 -


• Machining of Some bearings may have black radial stripes on the backs. Machining of
connecting rods will connecting rods will sometimes leave very slight radial ridges which
sometimes leave very
make these dark stripes on the bearing back. These are high spots, but
slight radial ridges
which make these this has not caused any bearing problem or failure and can be considered
dark stripes on the normal.
bearing back
AFA STMG 001 - 56 -


• Abnormal conditions ABNORMAL APPEARANCE

seen on bearings
include: These bearings are typical of wear and damage caused by abnormal
conditions. From left to right are: impact damage, soft debris abrasion,
- Soft debris abrasion
hard debris abrasion, adhesive wear with oil, lead-tin melting, and
- Hard debris abrasion adhesive wear without oil.

- Adhesive wear with


- Lead-tin adhesive

- Adhesive wear
without oil
AFA STMG 001 - 57 -



wear type can have
many root causes, the Since each abnormal wear type can have many root causes, the analyst
analyst must beware
must beware of preconceived ideas. Just because one customer had an oil
of preconceived ideas
leak which caused adhesive wear to many bearings does not mean all
customers who have adhesive wear also had an oil leak.
AFA STMG 001 - 58 -


• The safest way to The safest way to proceed in analyzing bearing wear is to use the eight
proceed in analyzing steps of applied failure analysis. This helps to gather necessary facts,
bearing wear is to use
identify wear types, and to follow the road signs to the real root cause of
the eight steps of
applied failure failure.
AFA STMG 001 - 59 -


• Gathering facts in During step 3 of the eight steps, basic application, operation and
Step 3 must be done maintenance background facts should always be gathered. Accuracy and
accurately and
completeness is critical in fact gathering. The oil level on the dipstick,
the quantity of oil drained from the pan, leaking or damaged hoses, and
other physical indicators of hostile environments should be carefully
noted. The analyst should also remember to investigate conditions a
month or two prior to the failure and look specifically for problems such
as unusual loads, high or low temperatures, corrected leaks, or low
pressures which could have started a bearing failure.
AFA STMG 001 - 60 -


• The analyst needs to The analyst needs to obtain, identify and protect all parts related to failure
obtain, identify and to do best bearing failure analysis.
protect all parts
related to failure to do
best bearing failure
AFA STMG 001 - 61 -


• Oil filters and oil Oil filters and oil analysis samples are often as important to the analyst as
samples are often as the bearings.
important to the
analyst as are
AFA STMG 001 - 62 -


• The analyst should The analyst should identify and inspect bearings during removal from
identify and inspect engines. Bearings should be numbered as they are removed from engines
bearings during
by scratching a number into the soft wear surface near a parting face.
removal from engines
Lower bearing halves can be identified with both a number and an L
• Bearings should be while upper halves need only a number.
numbered as they are
removed from engines
by scratching a
number into the soft
wear surface near a
parting face
AFA STMG 001 - 63 -


• When inspection When inspection requires transport to another location, bearings should be
requires transport to taped together in sequence and protected from physical and corrosive
another location,
damage. Bearings should not be taped on wear surfaces, and bearing tabs
bearings should be
taped together in should be arranged as they were located in the engine. For example, on
sequence and vee engines, tab slots alternate from rod to rod and the bearings should be
protected from taped together with tab slots alternating. Bearings are often lost,
physical and damaged, or thrown away when they are not immediately gathered,
corrosive damage
identified and protected.
AFA STMG 001 - 64 -


• Too often bearings are Too often bearings are not identified or protected before shipment and
not identified or suffer secondary damage which further confuses good analysis.
protected before
shipment and suffer
secondary damage
which further
confuses good
AFA STMG 001 - 65 -


• If foreign material has It is best if bearings are protected from contamination so they do not
been introduced after require cleaning before inspection. If foreign material has been
removal, the best way
introduced after removal, the best way to clean the bearing is to rinse it
to clean the bearing is
to rinse it with a fast with a fast evaporative solvent. If contaminants are more difficult to
evaporative solvent remove, washing with a soft bristle brush and a clean, non-corrosive
solvent may be necessary. Harsh cleaning methods, such as scrubbing
with a stiff bristle brush or wiping with a dry shop towel should be
AFA STMG 001 - 66 -


• Set of dirty, worn This is a set of dirty, worn bearings before cleaning.
bearings before
AFA STMG 001 - 67 -


• Same bearings after These are the same bearings after cleaning in different ways. The bearing
cleaning in different on the left has not been cleaned. The middle bearing has been "rubbed"
clean with a shop towel. The bearing on the right has been carefully
- Bearing on the left rinsed with clean solvent. There is a distinct darker color of the center
has not been bearing where surface dirt has been rubbed into the soft surface. Any
cleaned surface blisters or other fragile conditions of wear can also be distorted or
destroyed by rubbing the wear surface.
- Middle bearing has
been "rubbed" clean
with a shop towel

- Bearing on the right

has been carefully
rinsed with clean

• Facts can be distorted

or destroyed by
rubbing the wear
AFA STMG 001 - 68 -


• Four hundred power Four hundred power magnification of the solvent rinsed surface shows the
magnification of clean undamaged lead-tin overlay conditions.
solvent rinsed surface
shows clean
undamaged lead-tin
overlay conditions
AFA STMG 001 - 69 -


• Overall inspection After cleaning unwanted foreign material from bearings, an overall
with unaided eye is inspection with the unaided eye is the best way to begin visual
best way to begin
examination of bearings. Bearing sets should be laid out as located in the
visual examination of
bearings engine. Lighting should be good and magnifying glasses should be
available to study interesting areas more closely. Looking at all the
bearings orients the analyst as to whether there is a system problem or an
isolated bearing problem. These bearings clearly say that a lubrication
system problem was present that produced marginal lubrication to all
AFA STMG 001 - 70 -


• Analyst should next The analyst should next study wear types on individual bearings to
study wear types on discover what particular condition has damaged the bearings. For
individual bearings to
instance, adhesive wear has damaged these bearings, indicating that
discover what
particular condition marginal lubrication and high temperatures have been present. The
has damaged the analyst is now led to investigate both quality and quantity of the lubricant.

• Adhesive wear
damaged these
bearings, indicating
that marginal
lubrication and high
temperatures have
been present
AFA STMG 001 - 71 -


• All bearing surfaces All bearing surfaces should be inspected, not just the inside wearing
should be inspected, surface. Frequently the top half, bottom half, inside, front, back, parting
not just the inside
faces, tab slots and sides each have a part of the wear story. The analyst
wearing surface
should take the time to see what each surface is trying to tell him.
AFA STMG 001 - 72 -


• In addition to In addition to identifying wear types and amounts, the analyst should
identifying wear types especially look for evidence of unusual heat, misalignment or competitive
and amounts, the
parts. Heat says hostile environment was present. Misalignment says
analyst should
especially look for bent part or improper workmanship. Competitive parts say be careful to
evidence of unusual find root cause facts.
heat, misalignment or
competitive parts
AFA STMG 001 - 73 -


• Connecting rod and This connecting rod and bearing set shows extreme high temperature
bearing set shows evidence, both in the rainbow temper colors and in physical distortion.
extreme high
The blackened and extruded condition indicate both parts are results of
temperature evidence,
both in the rainbow high temperature exposure. The road sign here says to find out why there
temper colors and in was no oil supply to cool and lubricate the bearing. The analyst should
physical distortion first inspect the condition of other bearings to see if they have similar
damage, and then follow the road signs to the cause of poor oil supply.
• Road sign here says
to find out why there
was no oil supply to
cool and lubricate the
AFA STMG 001 - 74 -


• Misalignment causes Misalignment causes concentration of load on only a part of a wearing

concentration of load surface and results in accelerated off-center wear. Here upper and lower
on only a part of a
connecting rod bearing halves have been worn on opposite sides after
wearing surface and
results in accelerated running twenty minutes on a dynamometer. The operator reported an
off-center wear unusual thumping noise and stopped the test. Other bearings looked
normal. Investigation revealed that the connecting rod was bent in a prior
• Upper and lower failure and was not checked before reuse.
connecting rod
bearing halves have
been worn on
opposite sides
AFA STMG 001 - 75 -


• Sometimes Caterpillar Sometimes Caterpillar engines are rebuilt with competitive parts which do
engines are rebuilt not provide good service life. This competitive bearing failed at low
with competitive parts
hours due to bond separation between layers.
which do not provide
good service life
AFA STMG 001 - 76 -


• Back of this failing The back of this failing bearing does have the Caterpillar part number, but
bearing does have the there is no Cat trademark. It appears that there is no tin flashing to give
Caterpillar part
corrosion protection. Severe fretting corrosion is present, indicating that
number, but no Cat
trademark the bearing has not been tight in the bore.

• Appears that there is

no tin flashing to give
corrosion protection

• Severe fretting
corrosion is present,
indicating that the
bearing has not been
tight in the bore
AFA STMG 001 - 77 -


• Cat bearings have: Caterpillar bearings are marked with not only part numbers, but also with
trademark, supplier identification, and a date code to identify the date the
- Cat part number
part was manufactured. The date code on this bearing is 5NEOA.
- Cat trademark

- Supplier

- Date code
AFA STMG 001 - 78 -


• Analyst can use the The date code is called the NUMERAL KOD and describes the
manufacturing date manufacturing month and year for bearings. The translation of the code
information to verify
whether or not
bearings are original
or have been NUMERAL KOD
replaced, or whether
bearings are old or 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
For example, the previous bearing had date code 5NEOA. The 5 defines
the aluminum alloy used. The NEOA describes the month and year of
bearing manufacture. The N = 0 and the E = 3, so the month is the third
month, or March. The O = 8 and the A = 5, so the year is 1985. This
bearing was made in March, 1985.

The analyst can use this manufacturing date information to verify whether
or not bearings are original or have been replaced, or whether bearings are
old or new.
AFA STMG 001 - 79 -


• Abnormal wear on ABNORMAL WEAR

bearings usually
results from: Most abnormal bearing wear results from adhesion, abrasion, cavitation
erosion, fretting corrosion, or impact damage. There are several root
- Adhesion
causes which can produce each of these types of wear. It is also possible
- Abrasion for bearings themselves to have quality problems that cause failures. If
the analyst is familiar with key facts in basic bearing problem areas, he
- Cavitation erosion will recognize bearing problem road signs more quickly in the future.
- Fretting corrosion

- Impact damage

• Several root causes

can produce each of
these types of wear
AFA STMG 001 - 80 -


• Adhesive bearing Adhesive

wear results when
surface temperatures Adhesive bearing wear results when surface temperatures become high
become high enough
enough to cause the lead-tin or aluminum layers to melt and adhere to the
to cause the lead-tin
or aluminum layers to crankshaft. There are many, many root causes which can result in
melt and adhere to the adhesive wear such as:
1. No oil in sump
2. Low oil level that allows oil pump to lose suction
3. Wrong oil viscosity or type
4. Improper oil additives
5. Fuel or coolant dilution
6. Overspeed
7. Misalignment
8. Excessive clearances
9. Bypass valve malfunction
10. Etc.
AFA STMG 001 - 81 -


• Adhesive bearing Adhesive bearing wear starts with polishing of the tin flash. If
wear starts with temperatures rise, the lead-tin will soon melt and "smear." This set of
polishing of the tin
3208 rod bearings is typical of bearings operated with interrupted oil
supply. There is more damage present on odd numbered bearings than on
even numbered bearings. There are two reasons why the center of the
bearing gets hotter and melts before the edges do:

1. Under low oil supply conditions, there is less oil at the center of
bearings than at the edges because the oil hole in the crankshaft
collects oil from the bearing center. This depletes the trapped oil
film at the center and causes greater frictional contact and heat
generation than at the edges.

2. As the journal center gets hotter, it swells and gets larger in

diameter, further increasing the center frictional contact and heat.
AFA STMG 001 - 82 -


• Oil supply in typical The typical 3208 engine has even numbered rod bearing oil passageways
3208 engine has even drilled into the slanting odd numbered passageways for oil supply. As the
numbered rod bearing
crankshaft rotates, oil pressure and centrifugal force moves material in the
oil passageways
drilled into slanting slanting oil passageways out the intersecting passageways to even
odd numbered numbered rod bearings.
If oil pressure drops, only a little oil is in the rotating crankshaft and
• As the crankshaft centrifugal force will make it move to the even numbered bearings. Thus
rotates, centrifugal
the odd numbered rod bearings on 3208 engines will receive less oil and
force pushes oil in the
passageway out the show more damage than even numbered rod bearings when little oil is
first available hole, in present.
this case to the even
numbered rod In the same way, if debris is present in 3208 lubrication systems,
bearings. With limited centrifugal force will move it to the even numbered rod bearings, giving
oil supply, odd
even numbered bearings more severe debris damage than odd numbered
bearings would not
receive oil. bearings.

Other engines will have different drilled passageway locations, but

centrifugal force will still cause heavier materials to the exit first. If the
analyst studies the physical layout of the passageways, he can establish
which bearings will be most affected by lack of oil or by presence of
AFA STMG 001 - 83 -


• Contaminated or Sometimes it is not the quantity of oil, but the quality of oil that causes
wrong oil quality can adhesive wear. For instance, this customer operated his engine with a
cause bearing
massive coolant leak until the engine stopped. One rod bearing had
discoloration and
adhesive wear totally seized and others were in varying states of adhesive wear. Main
bearings had not seized. All bearings were darkened as seen here. This
• Oil to these bearings adhesive wear road sign is similar to the no oil road sign, but with coolant
contaminated with dilution there is the additional road sign of darkened lead-tin overlay.
massive amount of
AFA STMG 001 - 84 -


• Set of rod bearings This set of rod bearings was operated with 20 percent fuel dilution until a
operated with 20 knocking noise was heard from the engine. All rod bearings had
percent fuel dilution
developed adhesive wear and had spun. Two bearings have some
until knocking noise
was heard from evidence remaining on the wear surface.
AFA STMG 001 - 85 -


• Fuel dilution causes Closer inspection of these bearings shows that some lead-tin overlay
oil viscosity remains near the edges, but that it is worn away at both the center and
reduction, thin oil
extreme edges where temperatures have been higher and adhesive wear
films, and a
"hammering" action has occurred. Notice also that the color of the bearing is different from
which loosens either no oil adhesive wear or coolant dilution adhesive wear. Each
bearings and causes particular root cause produces a particular set of road signs.
them to spin without
adhesive wear Fuel dilution causes oil viscosity reduction, thin oil films, and a
"hammering" action which loosens bearings and causes them to spin
without adhesive wear.
•AFA STMG 001 - 86 -


• Bearings failed when Adhesive wear can progress very quickly through the aluminum and into
operator drained oil the steel bearing back. Bearing crush will usually keep the bearing from
during oil change and
spinning during meltdown of the aluminum while the engine is operating.
forgot to add new oil
before restarting However, as adhesive wear progresses into the steel back, the force of
engine seizure will become greater than the crush force and the bearing will stick
to the crankshaft and spin in the bore.

These bearings failed when an operator drained the oil during an oil
change and forgot to add new oil before restarting the engine. It was
operated only a few minutes under light load to do this damage. There
has been NO oil in the oil hole or groove in the upper half of the bearing.

Other clues were:

1. The oil pan was full of oil (correct quantity).

2. The oil was very clean (good quality).
3. The oil filters were Caterpillar filters and they looked new.
4. The oil filters had no oil or debris inside--looked dry and new.
5. There was no debris in the oil pan (good quality).
AFA STMG 001 - 87 -


• When bearings are When bearings are operated to failure without lubrication, temperatures
operated to failure will pass 430°C (1500°F) and the steel back will soften and extrude as
without lubrication,
seen here. These failures are usually more easily analyzed because the
temperatures will
pass 430°C (1500°F) cause of lack of lubrication is often still present at the time of failure.
and the steel back will
soften and extrude
AFA STMG 001 - 88 -


• Occasionally only one Occasionally only one bearing spins and others look normal, as seen here.
bearing spins and These bearing failures are often difficult to analyze because:
others look normal

1. the cause of the failure may have occurred months or hundreds of

• Often facts have been
destroyed and lost hours earlier, and because

• Analyst should look at 2. when the bearing spins, it destroys the facts which could have
the bearings and get identified the root cause.
facts from job site to
help understand the
failure Often only circumstantial facts are left at the customer's site, or in the
failed iron, to help define the most probable root cause.
AFA STMG 001 - 89 -


• All that the failed All that the failed bearing shows is that it had lubrication and cooling
bearing shows is that when the engine was last stopped. These failures are nicknamed
it had lubrication and
"unexplained single bearing failures" and will continue to be our most
cooling when engine
was last stopped difficult analysis challenge.
AFA STMG 001 - 90 -


• Abrasive wear occurs Abrasive

when foreign particles
or surface Abrasive wear occurs when foreign particles or surface irregularities
irregularities bridge
bridge oil film thickness. Bearing surfaces are cut and gouged if hard
oil film thickness
debris has entered, or scuffed and embedded if soft debris has entered.
• Because lubricants Because lubricants rapidly remove generated heat, surfaces remain near
rapidly remove normal temperatures during initial abrasive damage. When surfaces
generated heat, become so rough that oil films cannot separate them, frictional heat is
surfaces remain near
generated and adhesive wear can begin. There are many possible root
normal temperatures
during initial abrasive causes of abrasive wear which include:
1. Foreign material left in oil passageways during assembly
• When surfaces 2. Unfiltered lubricant with carbon particles and self generated debris
become so rough that 3. Rough wear surfaces
oil films cannot 4. Servicing debris
separate them, 5. Electrical discharge pitting or arc welding damage
frictional heat is
generated and
adhesive wear can It has been estimated that over half of field bearing failures result from
begin abrasive damage, with improper oil filtration the leading cause of
abrasives in the oil.
AFA STMG 001 - 91 -


• If abrasive wear has If abrasive wear has caused the failure, the analyst should next identify
caused the failure, the the particles causing the wear. The analyst should dig abrasive particles
analyst should next
out of the failed parts, if possible, and look for particles in filters, drilled
identify the particles
causing the wear passageways, sumps, and recesses. These are common abrasive particles
taken from a filter in a lubrication system. Regardless of care used during
• Dig abrasive particles engine assembly, operation and maintenance, these small bits of paint, dirt
out of the failed parts, and carbon will find their way into the oil. Using the Caterpillar oil filter
if possible
is the safest way to keep this material out of lubrication oil.
• Look for particles in
filters, drilled
passageways, sumps,
and recesses
AFA STMG 001 - 92 -


• This 3600 rod bearing Abrasive damage caused by large, hard debris is easiest to recognize and
from a 200 hour identify. This 3600 rod bearing from a 200 hour factory test engine was
factory test engine
damaged by large steel chips left in the crankshaft at assembly. When the
was damaged by large
steel chips left in the engine was started, oil flow pushed the chips into the bearing, severely
crankshaft at gouging the center of the bearing and embedded hard debris randomly.
assembly All other bearings were extremely clean and undamaged in any way.
AFA STMG 001 - 93 -


• Vee-grooved Closer examination of the lower (unloaded) half shows that vee-grooved
machining was done machining was done by the steel chips, and that many of the chips
by the steel chips
embedded in the soft lead-tin and aluminum. Because most embedded
• Many holes present chips have worked loose and escaped, the abrasive cutting occurred much
where debris was earlier in the bearing's life and many hours of operation followed in order
dislodged to remove the embedded chips. Some heat has been present, as seen by
the polished lead-tin overlay near the damaged areas.
• The debris entered
many hours ago, not
AFA STMG 001 - 94 -


• Examination of the Closer examination of the upper (loaded) half of this bearing shows that
upper (loaded) half of the roughened surface has already caused secondary adhesive wear. The
this bearing shows
roughened surface lets oil films escape and the bearing can rub the
that roughened
surface has already crankshaft. High surface temperature has oxidized and darkened the lead-
caused secondary tin overlay on both sides of the center.
adhesive wear
Continued operation (especially during start-ups before oil arrives) allows
• Roughened surface the roughened surface to generate more and more heat, eventually leading
lets oil films escape
to adhesive wear into the steel back. The end result could be another
and the bearing can
rub crankshaft "unexplained bearing failure."
AFA STMG 001 - 95 -


• Bearing has less This bearing has less severe abrasive damage and is typical of damage
severe abrasive caused when filters are leaking internally or are bypassing oil and debris.
damage and is typical
of damage caused
when filters are
leaking internally or
are bypassing oil and
AFA STMG 001 - 96 -


• Bearings blackened Bearings that are blackened by excessive carbon embedment will begin to
by excessive carbon lose their functions of lubricity and embedability. On start-ups more
embedment will begin
friction will be present and more heat will be generated. The bearings
to lose their functions
of lubricity and will slowly deteriorate until secondary adhesive wear develops and a
embedability bearing locks up and spins.

• More heat will be

generated on start-
AFA STMG 001 - 97 -


• Carbon can build up Closer inspection of the worst main bearing shows that the surface has
in bearings if the oil is been fully embedded, and it appears that parts of the fully embedded lead-
thick and black
tin overlay have been pulled loose on start-ups by interlocking of
• Damage resembles crankshaft and bearing surface asperities. Then, like a scouring pad, the
carbon cutting loosened material has caused abrasive cutting before oil supply arrived to
sometimes seen flush it from the bearing area. This damage resembles the carbon cutting
above the top ring on sometimes seen above the top ring on pistons after hundreds of hours of
pistons after
hundreds of hours of
AFA STMG 001 - 98 -


• Bearing cutaway Cutting one of these abnormally embedded bearings in half and using
shows thickness of high power magnification shows the condition of the lead-tin overlay. In
steel back and
this cross-section of the bearing the bright aluminum layer makes up only
aluminum layers
clearly, but surface about 10% of the bearing thickness. It is difficult to see the lead-tin
lead-tin layer hard to overlay because it is so thin.
AFA STMG 001 - 99 -


• 400 power Four hundred power magnification shows that much of the embedded
magnification shows lead-tin overlay has already been torn away. There are also many large
much of embedded
black carbon particles embedded. With each start-up, more of the overlay
lead-tin overlay
already torn away can be damaged and removed. Eventually the damaged bearing can lose
oil film, begin secondary adhesive wear and spin.
• Many large black
carbon particles
AFA STMG 001 - 100 -


• Dull, black surfaces Dull, black surfaces suggest carbon embedment. When bearings look
suggest carbon black, or that are black with lead-tin overlay removed by fine abrasive
cutting, as seen here, the analyst should begin gathering facts about
• Look for facts about possible ways excessive carbon could have entered the oil.
ways excessive
carbon could have
entered oil
AFA STMG 001 - 101 -


• Main bearings have When main bearings are worn and polished to a chrome like appearance
chrome-like (with perhaps one totally failed), and when rod bearings are in relatively
good condition, the analyst should suspect that electric discharge arcing
• Rod bearings look has occurred. A careless person may jump to the preconceived idea that
relatively normal adhesive wear has occurred without doing necessary close inspection of
the bearing and crankshaft wear surfaces.
• Get facts about
possible electric
discharge pitting
AFA STMG 001 - 102 -


• Electric discharge pits Closer inspection of the bearing surface shows fine abrasive cuts and
will "heal" in the soft small healed spots that look like the "measles."
bearing surface
AFA STMG 001 - 103 -


• Crankshaft main The crankshaft has damage only to main bearing journals while rod
bearing journals will journals are in normal condition.
have damage, not rod
AFA STMG 001 - 104 -


• Close inspection of Closer inspection of a damaged main bearing journal shows a "frosted"
main journals shows a appearance except around the oil hole. The rod journals show some wavy
"frosted" appearance
discoloration caused by acceptable grinding chatter.
except around oil hole
AFA STMG 001 - 105 -


• Back of damaged The back of a damaged main bearing has irregular black oxide deposits in
main bearing may one or two areas. Within the black areas are a few small pits.
have irregular black
Identification marks verify that this is a Caterpillar bearing.
oxide deposits if
electric discharge
pitting has occurred This abrasive wear is caused by small electric arc discharge from the
crankshaft, through the main bearing, and into the block. The source of
• Abrasive wear caused the voltage buildup is usually an ungrounded alternator, caused by a
by small electric arc missing or broken ground strap between the engine and the vehicle
discharge from the
chassis. As electric current flowed from the alternator it could not flow
crankshaft, through
the main bearing, and easily back because the ground strap was missing. The next easiest path
into the block was through the crankshaft and main bearings, pitting both the bearing
and crankshaft surfaces. Bearing pits healed over, while crankshaft sharp
- Alternator not edged pits cut the soft lead-tin and aluminum bearing layers. The
grounded from
generated soft debris was so small that it floated in the oil through the
chassis to block
downstream rod bearings without causing damage.
AFA STMG 001 - 106 -


• Other electric Facts which reveal electric discharge pitting are a loss of about 70 kPa (10
discharge pitting facts psi) oil pressure at full load rpm, or a "thumping" noise at low idle rpm.
If the operator continues to use the damaged engine, secondary adhesive
- About 70 kPa (10 wear can develop and cause the bearing to spin.
psi) oil pressure
drop at rated rpm

- "Thumping" noise at
low idle
AFA STMG 001 - 107 -


• Bearing has heavy This bearing has heavy debris embedment and abrasive wear. The analyst
debris embedment may immediately want to follow this road sign, say that the oil was
and abrasive wear
contaminated with debris, and begin searching for filtration or
• Bearing damaged by maintenance facts. The analyst needs to remember to inspect all surfaces
arc welding electric and obtain all road signs during inspection of each part before proceeding
discharge through the to other fact areas.
main bearings to the
crankshaft This bearing was damaged by arc welding electric discharge through the
main bearings to the crankshaft.
AFA STMG 001 - 108 -


• Back of bearing has In particular, the back of this bearing has unusual information. There are
large melted pits some heavy pits surrounded by temper colors, indicating high
surrounded by temper
temperatures have been present at the heavy pits.

• Helps identify electric The analyst is now led in a new direction, such as possible electric arc
discharge root cause discharge which would produce the road signs seen on the front and back
of this bearing. It was found that machine welding repair had been done
with the ground strap attached to the block of the engine, causing high
current flow through the easiest path, the main bearings.
AFA STMG 001 - 109 -


• Cavitation erosion can Cavitation Erosion

break large pieces of
bearing surfaces Cavitation erosion is normal on rod and main bearings after long hours of
loose and cause
service. Trapped vapors in the lubricating oil will form bubbles in low-
downstream abrasive
wear pressure areas. When the bubbles enter a high-pressure area in the
trapped oil film they collapse, sending a high velocity jet of oil inward.
• Many possible root The speed of the oil jet can be supersonic, exerting tremendous force
causes of cavitation when it strikes a small area on the bearing surface. The lead-tin overlay is
soft, and after repeated implosions small areas develop fatigue cracks.
• Analyst must get facts Soon small bits of lead-tin break free and float downstream in the trapped
from many areas oil film, doing little abrasive damage as they exit. Severe cavitation
erosion means that trapped vapor bubbles were either too big, too
numerous, or both. Some possible sources of abnormal vapor bubbles
and resulting cavitation erosion include oil pump inlet restrictions, oil
pump bypass valve sending oil (and trapped vapor bubbles) back to the oil
pump inlet, wrong oil viscosity or extended oil change intervals which
cause the oil to be too thick and increase oil cavitation, high oil level
which allows the crankshaft to dip in the oil and introduce air bubbles,
low oil level which allows pickup of air at the suction bell, or oil suction
side air leaks which allow air bubbles to enter.
AFA STMG 001 - 110 -


• Cavitation erosion has Cavitation erosion has begun to remove the aluminum layer on this
begun to remove bearing, and some downstream abrasive damage has already been done.
aluminum layer on
Many other bearings in this set had similar damage. The erosion has been
bearing, some
downstream abrasive severe enough to dislodge larger bits of aluminum. Three pieces have
damage loosened at the bottom edge of the hole and are ready to break free and
move downstream.
• Damage can let oil
films escape through Cavitation erosion worse than this can cause secondary abrasive wear, let
cuts and scratches,
oil films escape through cuts and scratches, and shorten bearing service
and shorten bearing
service life life. The cause of the erosion should be determined and appropriate
corrective action taken. If erosion cause is due to severe, but necessary,
application or operation, then corrective action may be bearing changeout
at appropriate hours.
AFA STMG 001 - 111 -


• Because oil film Because oil film pressures rise ahead of high load areas, cavitation
pressures rise ahead erosion damage occurs in unloaded areas. This condition is noticeable
of high load areas,
and can alarm customers, but seldom causes failures as long as load areas
cavitation erosion
damage occurs in are not damaged.
unloaded areas

• Condition is
noticeable and can
alarm customers, but
seldom causes
failures as long as
load areas are not
AFA STMG 001 - 112 -


Fretting Corrosion

• Fretting corrosion Fretting corrosion occurs when bearings move in their bore under load.
occurs when bearings This can be the result of:
move in their bore
under load 1. Bearing size too small
• This can make pits in 2. Bore too big
the bore (stress risers 3. Bolt or nut torque too loose
which can cause
fractures) or high 4. Loading too severe
spots which jack up 5. Bore tapered or has irregular profile
the new bearing
6. Debris between parting faces at bearing assembly
• Bores must be clean
and smooth before It is not the fretting corrosion on the original bearing that does the most
installing new
damage, it is pits in the bore (stress risers which can cause fractures) or
high spots which jack up the new bearing. The replacement bearing is
often raised off the bore by fretting corrosion build-up from the original
bearing. This can cause hot spots and adhesive wear to the replacement

Bores must be clean and smooth before installing new bearings.

AFA STMG 001 - 113 -


• Front main bearing This set of 3208 main bearings operated only a few hours after engine
failed a few hours rebuild. Number one main bearing has spun in the block bore, ruining the
after rebuild
crankshaft and requiring line boring of the block. The lack of temper
• Other bearings have colors shows that the bearing was being cooled with oil when it failed, but
dark spots present other road signs on the bearing were destroyed when it spun. The analyst
needs to look for circumstantial facts on the remaining bearings to get
some ideas on what could have caused the number one main bearing to

Several main bearings appear to have hot spots, especially near parting
faces. In particular, the second bearing from the right deserves closer
AFA STMG 001 - 114 -


• Bearings were When the damaged bearing is moved to the side, a considerable fretting
installed on top of corrosion build-up on the bore is seen. This is a fretting corrosion deposit
fretting corrosion
from the previous bearing that moved in the bore. The deposit has
build-up and failed a
few hours later "jacked up" the new bearing, causing it to make contact with the
crankshaft and develop a hot spot in just a few hours operation.
• When bearings are
"jacked up" by It is probable that the failed front main bearing was even tighter than this
deposits in the bore, bearing, causing it to get hot and spin.
there is less clearance
with the crankshaft
and poor heat
conduction from the
bearing to the bore
AFA STMG 001 - 115 -


• Back of new bearing Inspection of the new bearing back shows that a broad area of the steel
shows fretting back never made contact with the bearing bore, reducing heat transfer in
corrosion contact
that area. Because many of these bearings have serious fretting corrosion
deposits under them, it is probable that the failed bearing also had
• Last repair was not considerable fretting corrosion present that could have caused it to seize
done properly. and spin.

• Bores damaged by As old bearings are removed, the careful serviceman inspects the back of
fretting corrosion and
each for evidence of fretting corrosion, and when he finds it, he takes
should have been
repaired appropriate corrective action before installing new bearings.
AFA STMG 001 - 116 -



• Impact damage can Impact damage can occur when bearings are released from their bores
occur when bearings during operation. This damage has distinct road signs, such as physical
are released from deformation or secondary abrasive wear caused after the bearing comes
their bores during loose and scrapes against other parts.
AFA STMG 001 - 117 -


• Generally no adhesive There is generally no adhesive wear and wearing surfaces are often in
wear and wearing their normal condition.
surfaces are often in
normal condition
AFA STMG 001 - 118 -


• Impact marks show Connecting rod bearing backs will usually have impact marks where the
bearing repeatedly parting face of the loose rod has been driven down against it, denting and
struck and physically
rotating the bearing slightly. Several such impact marks are usually seen,
rotated out of the bore
showing that the bearing was repeatedly struck and physically rotated out
of the bore.
AFA STMG 001 - 119 -


• Even when bearings BEARING PROBLEMS

have quality problems
they will generally last As the analyst looks for root causes of bearing failures, he should not
into midlife and will
forget the possibility that bearings themselves may be the root cause.
not cause low hour
failures However, he should remember that even when bearings have quality
problems they will generally last into midlife and will not cause low hour
• Bearings assembled failures.
improperly or used in
severe load or hostile
Bearings which are assembled improperly or are used in severe load or
temperature and
system environments
hostile temperature and system environments account for most bearing
account for most failures. Too often people are not careful enough in gathering facts in
bearing failures these areas before blaming the bearing itself for the failure.

The analyst must look for facts and road signs to identify the cause of the
problem, and let those facts tell him if it is the bearing itself, or if it is a
hostile environment that caused the failure.
AFA STMG 001 - 120 -


• Lead-tin overlay on The lead-tin overlay on new bearings may have occasional small blisters
new bearings may such as seen in this magnified view of a low hour bearing. This condition
have occasional small
can be caused by hydrogen gas bubbles forming on bearings during the
blisters caused by
hydrogen gas bubbles electroplating process as the bonding and the lead-tin layers are applied.
forming on bearings
during electroplating
AFA STMG 001 - 121 -


• As bearing is used, As the bearing is used, the top of the blisters are worn away, leaving a
top of the blisters are dark hole in the overlay. This appearance may lead the analyst to suspect
worn away, leaving a
corrosive attack or abrasive embedment, both ideas being wrong.
dark hole in the
Though no failures have been specifically attributed to presence of
• Appearance may lead blisters, they should be considered if an unexplained bearing failure has
analyst to suspect occurred.
corrosive attack or
abrasive embedment
AFA STMG 001 - 122 -


• Occasionally lead-tin Occasionally the lead-tin overlay may begin to flake away from the
overlay may begin to copper bonding layer. If this happens on a large scale, it is called lead-tin
flake away from
overlay "sheeting."
copper bonding layer
AFA STMG 001 - 123 -


• At times bearing Closer inspection shows that the lead-tin is clearly breaking loose from
manufacturers have the copper bond layer. At times bearing manufacturers can have process
process problems
problems which can cause weak lead-tin overlay bond.
which cause weak
lead-tin overlay bond
AFA STMG 001 - 124 -


• Total separation of the Total separation of the lead-tin overlay from the aluminum layer, as seen
lead-tin overlay from here, seldom occurs. This bearing problem did not cause a failure, but the
the aluminum layer
effectiveness of the lead-tin overlay has been lessened.
seldom occurs
AFA STMG 001 - 125 -


• Improper cleaning Closer inspection shows that improper cleaning after electroplating of the
after electroplating of aluminum has left a residue on the aluminum layer that weakened the
aluminum has left
bond between the copper and aluminum layers. With normal loads the
residue on aluminum
layer that weakened weakly bonded lead-tin layer separated from the aluminum. Pieces of
bond between copper lead-tin have broken free and caused downstream soft debris damage.
and aluminum layers
AFA STMG 001 - 126 -


• Aluminum layer can The aluminum layer can develop fatigue cracks from high loading,
develop fatigue inadequate lubrication, or low aluminum alloy strength.
cracks from high
loading, inadequate
These bearings came from an engine in a severe load application that
lubrication, or low
aluminum alloy caused high bearing stress. These are high hour bearings as can be seen
strength from the cavitation erosion and lead-tin overlay wear. The bearings show
considerable taper in the lead-tin overlay wear, suggesting possible
misaligned loading of the bearing and a need to gather facts about the
crankshaft journal profile and possible field regrinding.

The bearing on the far right has more severe damage than do the others,
and deserves closer inspection.
AFA STMG 001 - 127 -


• Aluminum layer The aluminum layer has already developed cracks down to the steel back
developed cracks in the load area, and fatigue fracture of the loose aluminum has developed
down to steel back
several cracks, sending small pieces of aluminum steadily downstream
into the bearing. The bearing has not failed or caused another to fail.
•AFA STMG 001 - 128 -


• Debonding removes The aluminum (or copper alloy) layer can debond from the steel back and
large areas of thicker send pieces of bearing material downstream. Often the steel back will be
surface material,
exposing steel back

This can cause downstream abrasive wear, and put self-generated foreign
material in the oil pan or oil filters. If the aluminum layer separates from
the steel back, and (1) no abnormal loading or extended service has
occurred, or (2) no adhesive wear is present (the lead-tin and aluminum
layers have no melting or smearing), the analyst can correctly suspect
weak bond of the aluminum to the steel.
AFA STMG 001 - 129 -


• No high temperature Closer inspection shows the side-to-side machining marks on the steel
present back and the small fatigue cracks in the highly loaded surrounding lead-
tin surface. There has been no high temperature present, and only soft
abrasive damage has been done as pieces of aluminum have broken loose
and traveled through the bearing.
AFA STMG 001 - 130 -


• If kept in service Eventually all the aluminum layer will separate if a bearing with bond
bearing would have failure is kept in service. This bearing was carrying the load on only the
made steel-to-steel
small high spots of remaining aluminum. If kept in service any longer
contact and generated
enough heat to this bearing would have made steel-to-steel contact and generated enough
surface weld (adhere) heat to surface weld (adhere) to the crankshaft and spin the bearing.
to crankshaft and spin
AFA STMG 001 - 131 -


• Bond separation has Aluminum bond separation such as this is often blamed on bearing
occurred only at quality, but this bond separation has occurred only at the center where the
center where bearing
bearing surface has been very hot. When surface temperatures rise above
surface has been very
hot 370 degrees C (700 degrees F), and the steel back remains cool because of
good heat conduction to the bore, the bond between the aluminum and
• May be an operation steel layers is stressed by thermal expansion. When adhesive wear and
or maintenance aluminum bond separation are present at the same time, the aluminum
bond separation may be the result of high temperatures. The "road sign"
here tells the analyst to look for the cause of high surface temperature
next. Customer operation and maintenance should be checked.
AFA STMG 001 - 132 -


• Is it a Cat part or a When it is determined that a part caused the failure, the analyst should
competitive part? always make sure it is a Caterpillar part and not a competitive part. Cat
engines can be rebuilt by competitors with competitive parts.
AFA STMG 001 - 133 -


• Caterpillar bearings Caterpillar bearings are not only carefully designed and manufactured, but
seldom cause failures also carefully checked after manufacture to assure quality construction.
Few bearing problems have caused failures. Caterpillar bearings seldom
cause failures. Bearing failures most often are the result of workmanship,
application, operation, or maintenance problems.
AFA STMG 001 - 134 -



• Analyst should use At the end of any failure analysis, the analyst should use the "double-
"double-check" check" question, "Is there any way the other party could have caused this
question failure?", before stating his opinion. For instance, when the analyst finds
adhesive wear on bearings, he should list ways that the Cat dealer or
factory could have caused marginal or no lubrication (such as oil pump
failure, wrong oil dipstick or wrong oil pan) before stating that the
customer must have run the engine low on oil.
AFA STMG 001 - 135 -


• Use the 8 Steps This presentation covered bearing function, structure, installation,
operation, failure analysis, and possible bearing problems and emphasized
use of the 8 Steps to do the analysis.
AFA STMG 001 - 136 -


• Do not follow The analyst should not follow preconceived ideas or guess at root causes.
preconceived ideas

• Do not guess at root

AFA STMG 001 - 137 -


• Mistakes and The analyst who guesses and makes mistakes can expect to see fewer and
guessing drive fewer customers at the door.
customers away
AFA STMG 001 - 138 -


• Happy customers Happy customers purchase product, parts and service.

return to purchase
products, parts and
AFA STMG 001 - 139 -


• Get the payoff by After organizing, gathering the facts, thinking with the facts, and figuring
completing the last out the most probable root cause, the analyst needs to remember to "get
three steps with
the payoff" by communicating, making professional repairs, and
following up with the customer.
AFA STMG 001 - 140 -


• Happy customers will This will help insure that each customer keeps coming back to buy CAT
continue buying from product, parts and service.
AFA STMG 001 - 141 -

1. Bearings title slide 42. Normal wear through of lead-tin layer
2. In This presentation 43. Rapid abrasive wear showing copper layer
3. Eight Steps of Applied Failure Analysis 44. Set of bearings with tapered wear pattern
4. Engine Bearings and Crankshafts 45. Set of bearings with varying wear pattern
5. Bearing Functions 46. Close up of varying wear pattern
6. Lubricity 47. High hour bearings with cavitation erosion
7. 400x bearing cutaway showing lead-tin 48. Close-up of normal cavitation erosion
8. Heat being removed by the bore 49. Bearing half with severe aluminum fatigue
9. Embedability and Conformability 50. Back of bearings showing black patterns
10. 400x bearing with embedded debris 51. Back of a bearing with radial black stripes
11. Fatigue Strength 52. Abnormal Conditions
12. Replaceability 53. Beware of Preconceived Ideas
13. Bearing Structure 54. Analyzing Bearing Wear
14. A thrust bearing 55. Eight Steps of Applied Failure Analysis
15. Bearing Manufacture 56. Obtain, identify, protect parts
16. Steel Preparation 57. Oil filter, oil sample, set of bearings
17. Aluminum Preparation 58. Bearings with scratched numbering
18. Bimetal Preparation 59. Set of bearings with one failed
19. Rough Machining 60. Box of used bearings
20. Finish Machining 61. Bearing with a brush
21. Electroplating 62. Dirty bearings
22. Installation 63. Three bearings cleaned different ways
23. Putting a bearing in a bore 64. 400x view showing dark spots
24. Crushing a bearing in a bore 65. Set of bearings with adhesive wear
25. Operation 66. Close-up of center melting
26. Critical Operational Areas 67. Inspect All Surfaces
27. Bearings when starting up 68. Especially Look for Evidence of:
28. Schematic of oil passageways 69. Hot rod and extruded bearing
29. Oil filter drawing 70. Rod bearing with opposite side wear
30. Bearing during operation with oil supply 71. Set of bearings with bond separation
31. Drawing of oil pump and a bearing 72. Back of competitive bearing
32. A main bearing feeding a rod bearing 73. Back of a Cat bearing
33. Today’s Bearing Loading 74. Numeral Kod
34. Control Bearing Temperature 75. Common Abnormal Wear
35. Normal Bearing Wear 76. Adhesive Wear
36. Bearing with initial polishing 77. Set of bearings with odd bearings melting
37. Close-up of bearing with initial polishing 78. Schematic of oil flow
38. Very close view showing normal blisters 79. Dark bearings with some adhesive wear
39. High mileage set of bearings 80. Spun bearings with little heat
40. Close-up showing lead-tin missing 81. Close-up of a spun bearing
41. Another view of lead-tin missing 82. Bearing with aluminum adhesive wear
AFA STMG 001 - 142 -

83. Black, extruded bearing shell 122. High hour bearings with aluminum fatigue
84. Set of bearings with end bearing spun 123. Close-up of cracks in the aluminum layer
85. Close view of spun bearing 124. Bearing with large surface piece missing
86. Abrasive Wear 125. Close-up of missing surface area
87. Abrasive particles on filter paper 126. Bearing with most of surface missing
88. Abrasive center cutting on a bearing set 127. Surface missing in middle with melting
89. Close-up view of abrasive center cutting 128. Competition
90. Close-up view of cutting and discoloration 129. Cat Bearings Seldom Cause Failures
91. Set of bearings with smaller abrasive cutting 130. "Double Check" Question
92. Dark bearings with abrasive cutting 131. Use the 8 Steps
93. Close-up view of dark and abrasive cutting 132. Beware of Preconceived Ideas
94. Dark bearing cut showing end view 133. Door with cobwebs
95. 400x close-up of end view 134. Sad and happy customer situations
96. Bearing with more distinct embedment 135. Get the Payoff!
97. Polished bearings and fine cutting 136. Sales!
98. Close-up of fine cutting showing pitting
99. Crankshaft general view
100. Close-up of a crankshaft journal
101. Back of a bearing with dark deposits
102. Crankshaft journal with adhesive wear
103. Bearings with large, dark spots
104. Back of bearings with melted area and heat
105. Cavitation Erosion
106. Close-up of abnormal cavitation erosion
107. Close-up -- normal cavitation erosion
108. Fretting Corrosion
109. Main bearings with No. 1 spun
110. Bearing moved to side with fretting below
111. Back of bearing with fretting rub marks
112. "Chomped" bearings (impact damage)
113. Another bearing with impact damage
114. Back of bearings showing impact marks
115. Bearing Problems
116. Large, numerous blisters
117. Blisters with top removed by operation
118. Bearing with lead-tin coming off -- sheeting
119. Close-up of sheeting
120. Bearing with lead-tin coming loose
121. Close-up showing loose lead-tin
AFA STMG 001 - 143 - Student Handout

Applied Failure Analysis Laboratory Worksheet

What do you see? What does it mean? Where do you go next?

SESV8001 Printed in U.S.A.