Bearing Lubricants

Methods of Lubrication.—There are numerous ways to supply lubricant to bearings. The more common of these are described in the following.

Pressure lubrication, in which an abundance of oil is fed to the bearing from a central groove, single or multiple holes, or axial grooves, is effective and efficient. The moving oil assists in flushing dirt from the bearing and helps keep the bearing cool. In fact, it removes heat faster than other lubricating methods and, therefore, permits thinner oil films and unimpaired load capacities. The oil-supply pressure needed for bushings carrying the basic load is directly proportional to the shaft speed, but for most installations, 50 psi will be adequate.

Splash fed applies to a variety of intermittently lubricated bushings. It includes everything from bearings spattered with oil from the action of other moving parts to bearings regularly dipped in oil. Like oil bath lubrication, splash feeding is practical when the housing can be made oiltight and when the moving parts do not churn the oil. The fluctuating nature of the load and the intermittent oil supply in splash fed applications requires the designer to use experience and judgment when determining the probable load capacity of bearings lubricated in this way.

Oil bath lubrication, in which the bushing is submerged in oil, is the most reliable of all methods except pressure lubrication. It is practical if the housing can be made oil tight, and if the shaft speed is not so great as to cause excessive churning of the oil.

Oil ring lubrication, in which oil is supplied to the bearing by a ring in contact with the shaft, will, within reasonable limits, bring enough oil to the bearing to maintain hydrodynamic lubrication. If the shaft speed is too low, little oil will follow the ring to the bearing; and, if the speed is too high, the ring speed will not keep pace with the shaft. Also, a ring,revolving at high speed will lose oil by centrifugal force. For best results, the peripheral speed of the shaft should be between 200 and 2000 feet per minute. Safe load to achieve hydrodynamic lubrication should be one-half of that for pressure fed bearings. Unless the load is light, hydrodynamic lubrication is doubtful. The safe load, then, to achieve hydrodynamic lubrication, should be one-quarter of that of pressure fed bearings.

Wick or waste pack lubrication delivers oil to a bushing by the capillary action of a wick or waste pack; the amount delivered is proportional to the size of the wick or pack.

Lubricants: The value of an oil as a lubricant depends mainly on its film-forming capacity, that is, its capability to maintain a film of oil between the bearing surfaces. The filmforming capacity depends to a large extent on the viscosity of the oil, but this should not be understood to mean that oil of the highest viscosity is always the most suitable lubricant. For practical reasons, an oil of the lowest viscosity that will retain an unbroken oil film between the bearing surfaces is the most suitable for purposes of lubrication. A higher viscosity than that necessary to maintain the oil film results in a waste of power due to the expenditure of energy necessary to overcome the internal friction of the oil itself.

Grease packed in a cavity surrounding the bushing is less adequate than an oil system, but it has the advantage of being more or less permanent. Although hydrodynamic lubrication is possible under certain very favorable circumstances, boundary lubrication is the usual state.