Influence of Surface Finish on Thrust Bearing Life

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by René A. Baudry, Electromechanical Engineering, Associates, Pittsburgh, PA, USA,
Donald H. Rielly, Electromechanical Engineering, Associates, Pittsburgh, PA, USA,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: Water Power '87:

Abstract: The original pivoted pad thrust bearing installed and fitted at the Holtwood Power Station in 1912 by A. Kingsbury has been operating continuously since that time without any difficulty. In 1987, trouble-free service of the above thrust bearings has thus been experienced for 64 years at Holtwood, where the generators were taken out of service in 1976, and for 63 years at Safe Harbor. Some lubrication between bearing surfaces is necessary at startup. Hand stoning left many small pockets of oil in the runner surface, which permitted the formation of a multitude of oil wedges upon startup. Scraping has a similar effect on the babbitted shoes. The combination of a smooth machine lapped runner and bearing shoes that are worn flat is susceptible to failure. Safe operation can be assured by proper attention to surface finish or by establishing an oil film before starting, either by jacking the rotor or by using high pressure oil lift. The knowledge of why many thrust bearings on the older machines worked well should be helpful in establishing maintenance procedures which assure trouble-free operation.

Subject Headings: Thrust | Power plants | Maintenance | Safety | Ports and harbors | Wedges |

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