Fluid Film Bearings - Selection, Troubleshooting and Repair

Scan M. DeCamillo, Research Manager
Matthew M. Marchione, Research Engineer
Kingsbury, Inc.


During every second of every day, machines all over the world are working to provide the products we demand. These machines rely on the successful support of bearings. If the machine goes off line, extreme pressure is placed on those involved to correct the problems. It is the intention of this presentation to assist the reader in problem solving by providing background on hydrodynamic bearings and failure modes.


Bearings which support rotating shafts can be classified into four basic categories:

  1. Rolling contact - load supported by balls or rollers.
  2. Hydrostatic - load supported by high pressure fluid.
  3. Hydrodynamic - load supported by a lubricant film.
  4. Magnetic - load supported by magnetic fields.

This presentation contains information on hydrodynamic, pivoted shoe bearings using oil as a lubricant. However, much of the information can be applied to hydrodynamic bearings in general. Section I describes the principles, parts, related parameters and operation of the bearing in order to provide a base for a better understanding of Section II.

Section II provides an overview of a structured troubleshooting approach, with information on modes of failures and recommended repair.

The remainder of this introduction gives some historical background and a listing of typical applications.

Download the Kingsbury Troubleshooting Guide