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enginemanagement(http://www.knowyourparts.com/technicalarticles/system/engine/)>TypesofEngineBearingDamage

TypesofEngineBearingDamage
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Figure1:Overplatedcopperalloy
bearinggougedbycastiron
debris.Insetphotoshowsthe
microscopicdetailofthegouges.
Enginebearingsbothreduce
frictionbetweentherotatingpart
oftheengineandthestationary
partandsupportthecrank.The
bearingmaterialmustbeextremelystrongbecauseofthestressescaused
bytheexplosionsinsidetheinternalcombustionengine.Reducingfrictionis
accomplishedinpartbythefactthatdissimilarmetalsslideagainsteach
otherwithlessfrictionandwearthansimilarmaterialswill.

Figure2:Babbittbearingembeddedwithmachiningdebris.Theinsetphoto
showsmicroscopicdetailofthedebris.

Soanalloybearingmaterialdoes
amuchbetterjobofkeepinga
steelcrankshaftmovingthana
steelorcastironbearingdoes.
Althoughthematerialitselfmay
givetheenginebearingsome
frictionreducingproperties,its
performanceisenhancedbyalubricantbetweenthemovingandstationary
surfaces.Anotherofthebearingsdutiesistoestablishandmaintainafilm
ofoil.
Thebearingsusuallydoaverygoodjobatkeepingthemovingparts
movinghowever,whenabearingfails,theresultscanbecatastrophic.

Figure3:Thisaluminumbearing
wasdamagedbyembedmentof
glassbeads.Thisphotoshows
theextentofthedamage.
Evenwhentheyfail,itsusually
notthebearingsfault.Withabit
ofinvestigation,anenginespecialistortechniciancandiscoverand
eliminateoneofliterallydozensofreasonsforprematurewearorfailure.

DirtorDebris
Debris,suchasdirtordust,cancausesignificantdamagetoabearing
surface.
Ifitsinthelubricationsystem,dirtwillusuallyleavecircumferential
scratchesandwilloftenremainlodgedinthebearingssurface.

Figure4:Foreignparticlesinthebearingliningmaybetheresultof
impropercleaningorafailuretoreplacethefilterandmayincluderoaddirt
andsand.
Besuretoalwaysflushthelubricationsystemthoroughlybefore
reassemblinganenginetoavoidenginebearingdamage.

Anotherwaydirtcanplayhavocisif
theenginecomponentsarent
completelyclean.Aforeignparticle
trappedbetweenthebearingback
andthehousingwillcausearaised
areainthebearing.
Thislittlehumpcanleadtocontact
betweenthebearingandthecrank
journal.Youshouldalwaysensure
thebearingsareinstalledincleansurfaces.

InsufficientLubrication
Acompletelackoflubricationinthecrankcaseusuallyleadstoseizureof
thebearingandtotalfailureoftheengine.But,expertssayamorefrequent
issueregardinglubricationissimplyinadequateoiling.Theabsenceofa
properoilfilmwillresultinmetaltometalcontact,occasionallytojustone
bearingoroftentoanumberofthem.

Figure5:Lubricationisvital.This
showstheresultofadrystart.
Thebearingsontheleft,furthest
fromtheoilpumphavethemost
wear.
Whenthebearingisdamagedby
oilstarvation,youllfindavery
shinysurfaceandevidenceof
wiping.
Remember,thefailureoftheoilfilmcanbeseeninavarietyofwaysonthe
bearings.Checkonsuchthingsasblockedoilpassages,amalfunctioning
oilpump,improperbearingselectionorinstallation,oilsealfailures,fuel
dilution(oftencausedbyblowbyoffuelandairpastthepistonrings)or
foamingoraeration,caused,ironically,byanoverfilledcrankshaft.

Misassembly
Sometimes,failuresaretheresultofsimpleinstallationerrors.Forexample,
ifabearinghalfwithoutanoilholeisimproperlyputintoapositionwhere
theholeisneeded,thatjournalwillreceivenolubrication.

Figure6:Lowoilsupplyoroil
starvationdoesntjustsoundbad,
itdoesbadthingsinsidethe
engine.
Othertypesofassemblyerrors
mayalsobeseen.Ifaconnecting
rodormainbearingcapis
installedinthewrongposition,or
abearingisntsetintoplacesecurely,lubricationwillbeinsufficientand
causefailure.
Carefulinstallationproceduresare,ofcourse,criticalineveryaspectof
enginebuildingcarelesserrorsarealwaysexpensive.

BearingCrush
Thetermcrushreferstotheoutwardforcecreatedbytheportionofthe
bearingthatextendsabovethehousingborewhenthebearinghalvesare
setintoplace.Thisextramaterialholdstheoutsidediameterofthe
bearingsfirmlyagainstthehousingborewhentheassemblyistorquedto
specification.
Byincreasingthesurfacecontactbetweenthebearingandconnectingrod
housingbore,crushminimizesbearingmovement,helpstocompensatefor
boredistortionandaidsinheattransfer.

Figure7:Toorichamixtureorblowbypastthepistonringcanleadto
dilutionoftheoil.Thisdamagecanbeseenhere.
Insimpleterms,bearingcrushiswhatholdsthebearinginplace.Thinkofit
asputting10poundsofsomethingintoafivepoundbag.Thetangor
locatortabontheshellthatfitsthesaddleisonlyforlocatingthebearing
duringassembly.

Whencrushiscorrect,slightly
ellipticalbearingshellsconformtoa
perfectcirclewhentheyretorqued
intoplace.Inthisway,the
crankshaftrotatesproperly.
However,whenthereisexcessive
crush,theadditionalcompressive
forcecausesthebearingtobulge
inwardatthepartinglinescausing
sidepinch.
Excessivecrushmaybetheresultof
anattempttoreduceoilconsumptionbyfilingdownthebearingcap,
assemblingthebearingcapstootightlybyovertorquingthefastenersor,in
somecases,usingtoofewshims.
Insufficientcrush,ontheotherhand,willresultinbearingsthatarenotheld
securelyinthebore,andremainfreetomovebackandforthwithinthe
housing.

Figure8:Excessivewearseennear
thepartinglinesofupperandlower
shellswascausedbybearingcap
shift.Thisresultsinmetaltometal
contactandexcessivepressure
causingdeterioration.
Becausecontactbetweenthebearingbackandhousingboreisnecessary
forcooling,thisconditionmeansheattransferawayfromthebearingis
impeded,resultinginoverheatinganddeteriorationofthebearingsurface.
Insufficientcrushmaybecausedbytheimproperattempttoachievea
betterfitbyfilingthepartingfaces,bydirtorburrsholdingthebearingcaps
open,improperlytorquingthefastenersduringinstallation,improperlysizing
thehousingboreor(ifneeded)usingtoomanyshimsintheassembly
process.

Figure9:Filletrideoccursiftheradiusofthe
filletinthecornerofeachcrankjournalis
largerthanneeded.Theedgesofthebearing
canthenrideonthosefilletsratherthanfitting
neatlybetweenthem.

OtherCluestoBearingFailure
Shinyareaswillbeseenonthebackofthe
bearingduetoitsrubbingbackandforth.In
somecases,discolorationmaybeseenwhereoil
hasworkeditswaybetweenthetwosurfaces
andburned.
Overloadingmaybecausedbyvehicleoperator
error.Excessiveidlingcanresultinanoilfilmthatcantsupporttheloadneeded.
Engineluggingcandistortthecrankcaseand/orcrankshaft,affectingthe
connectingrodand/ormainbearings.
Hotrodding,orforcingexcessiveloads,cansimilarlyaffectthebearings.Engine
tuningandoperatingconditionsshouldalwaysbefollowedandappropriate
bearingmaterialschosenfortheapplication.

Avehiclethatleaksoilhasitsshareofissues.But,somevehicleowners
whohavecarsortrucksthatdonotleakoilareinanevenmorepotentially
serioussituation.Atleasttheleakerletsyouknowitneedsoiladdednow
andthen,withfreshoilmaintainingitslevels.
Theenginethatseemstobeleakfreecanbeoverlooked,yetaftera
certainamountoftime,theoilbeginstodegrade.Theacidsintheoilthen
attackthebearingsurface.
Properselectionofbearingswillgoalongwaytowardasuccessfulengine
build.Andcheckingassembledbearingclearancestomakesurethe
bearingsarenottootightortoolooseshouldalwaysbedoneasafinal
checktomakesureoilclearancesarewithinthedesiredrangeforthe
engine.

Figure10:Whenthereisexcessivecrush,theadditionalcompressiveforce
causesthebearingtobulgeinwardatthepartinglinescausingsidepinch.

Attentiontothemachiningandmaterial
selectionprocessesatthefrontend
shouldhelpreducethechanceof
bearingfailuredowntheroad.But
shouldthosemysteriousbearingfailures
occur,youshouldeasilybeabletofind
thecause.

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