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What is Bearing
The Oxford English Dictionary defines a bearing ``as a part of a machine that allows one part to rotate or move in contact with another part with as little friction as possible Leonardo da Vinci incorporated drawings of ball bearings in his design for a helicopter around the year 1500 A patent on ball bearings,, was awarded to Jules Suriray, a bicycle mechanic, in 1869

Drawing of Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519)

How it Works
Main Parts

Main Characteristics
Functions include the transmission of loads and enabling the accurate location of components. A bearing may have to sustain severe static as well as cyclic loads while serving reliably in difficult environments. Steels are well-suited in this context, and in their many forms, represent the material of choice in the manufacture of bearings Bearings consist of rolling elements (balls, cylinders or barrel shapes) and rings which form the raceways. The vast majority of rolling elements and raceways are made using steel

Types of Bearing
Deep Groove Bearing
The balls fit well into the deep grooves Support axial loads in both directions, in addition to radial loads.

Thrust Ball Bearing

Can support an axial load in one direction. Not designed to accommodate radial loads. The bearing components can easily be separated.

Tapered Bearing
Both of the rings and the rollers are tapered simultaneously support axial and radial loads. The ratio of the loads supported depends on the angle between the roller and bearing axes.

Needle Roller Bearing

Long and thin rollers The design is suited for applications where radial space is limited

Cylindrical roller bearing

The cylindrical rollers are able to accommodate large radial loads

Wheel hub bearing

Sealed Bearings
Seal/Shield Seals retain grease inside and keep contamination out

Backlash/Play Maximum distance through which one part of something can be moved without moving a connected part

Inspection of Bearings
Bearing should be inspected for signs of failure Some of the more common being: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. Normal Fatigue Excessive Loading Installation and Misalignment Loose Fitting or Spinning Brinelling Overheating and Lubrication Deficiency Contamination and Corrosion

Normal Fatigue
Normal fatigue failure is often shown as a fracture of the running surface, Subsequent removal of small particles of metal (spalling) It occurs on both rolling elements and raceways, Accompanied by an increase in vibration. Moderately spalled areas show the bearing has reached the end of its normal service life.

Excessive Loads
Excessive loading of a bearing is usually the same as normal fatigue The rolling elements wear path is usually heavier. There is also increased evidence of Overheating with a widespread and deeper fatigue or spalled area Causes premature bearing failure

Installation and Misalignment

Installation damage is usually the result of an impact that occurs when a bearing is fitted incorrectly. This may be due to a sharp strike from a drift or pressing the wrong raceway when mounting the bearing. Misalignment damage can be seen on the raceway of the non-rotating ring Excessive misalignment can cause high temperatures as well as heavy wear of the cage.

Loose Fit
A bearing should always be mounted onto a shaft or housing with an interference fit. If the raceway becomes loose then it will rotate on these surfaces and cause fretting. This fretting will remove metal particles, which oxidise and leave a distinctive brown colour. The external surface of the raceway will be scored and discoloured as a result of a loose fitting bearing

Brinelling is a material surface failure caused by contact stress that exceeds the material limit Result is a permanent dent or "brinell" mark They are described as being either a) True Brinell b) False Brinell

Brinelling Marks

True Brinelling
Occurs when loads on the bearings raceway exceed the elastic limit of the raceway material. Brinell marks are indentations on the rolling element caused by an excessive static or dynamic loads. The indentations can be seen on the raceways and will increase bearing noise and vibration, Leads to the bearings premature failure

False Brinelling
Occurs when there is only small relative motion between the rolling elements and raceways during non-rotation periods It is characterized by elliptical wear marks in the axial direction at each rolling element position If the bearing is not turning then an oil film cannot be formed to prevent raceway wear. False Brinelling marks are normally perpendicular to the line of motion

Overheating and Lubrication Failure

Excessive heating of a bearing manifests itself as discoloration of the rings, rolling elements and cages from gold to blue. Excessive temperatures will usually be in excess of 400C. In extreme cases the rolling elements and raceways will deform. A blue/black colour indicates an area close to the heat source and changes to a silver/gold discoloration the further you move away. Failure or lack of lubrication often has similar signs as overheating because good lubrication should cool the material and transfer away any heat produced during rotation. Restricted flow and excessive temperatures can also degrade the chemical composition of the oil, making it ineffective and increase wear rates. The outcome of either overheating or lubrication failure will always result in the eventual failure of the bearing.

Contamination and Corrosion

Contamination is one of the leading causes of premature bearing failure. The symptoms are dents or scratches embedded in the bearing raceway and rolling elements, resulting in bearing vibration and wear. (Refer Fig. 4 Left) The contaminant would be an abrasive substance that gets into the bearing, such as sand, grit or dust. The principal sources are dirty tools, contaminated work areas, dirty hands and foreign matter in the lubricant or cleaning solutions. Corrosion is usually the result of a chemical attack on the bearing material by an incompatible fluid such as moisture. It manifests itself as either black pitting marks or red/brown rust coloured areas on the rolling elements, raceways, or cages. It usually results in increased vibration followed by wear. (Refer Fig. 4 Right).

Bearing Failure

The cleaning of bearings for inspection normally involves the use of solvents, so the appropriate PPE should be worn. This will include respiratory, eye and skin protection by using breathing masks, goggles and inspection gloves. The moisture from the human hand may contaminate a bearing surface, as easily as the lubricant can cause damage to the skin through dermatitis.

If a bearing is to be used immediately after inspection, it should be lubricated with correct lubricant and installed. If there is liable to be a delay before installation, then the bearing should be Coated in rust-preventing oil Wrapped in greaseproof paper Boxed and labelled The bearing should always be stored horizontally, in a clean dry atmosphere.