The wheels of industry turn on bearings, so why do the wheels often vibrate, clatter, squeak, drag, and overheat? Bearings for your vehicles and other equipment fail for many reasons. Most failures are related to lubrication and contamination, but myths and misconceptions help perpetuate many easily avoidable problems. These myths fall into three general areas of bearing use: installation, misapplication, and lubrication.

Installation myths

No. 1: It’s okay to hammer a bearing into position if needed–False.

Never strike a direct blow to a bearing. The rolling elements and raceway are hardened, but can still be damaged. A hammer blow can leave dents in the raceway that can cause noise and dramatically reduce bearing life. If installation is difficult, first check the shaft diameter, look for burrs, dirt, or corrosion on the shaft. If needed, use a press to slide the bearing on. Apply pressure equally on the face of the inner ring to avoid damaging the raceways and rolling elements.

Sources of bearing wear or failures
Emerson Power Transmissions Solutions Sources of bearing wear or failures

No. 2: Off-the-shelf TGP shafting is the best option–False.

It’s much more important to know the shaft’s tolerance range to be sure it meets your bearing manufacturer’s spec for diameter and roundness. Review the bearing manufacturer’s recommendations and measure/specify the correct shaft diameter.

No. 3: It’s fine to hand-tighten setscrews one at a time–False.

Setscrews should be tightened to the manufacturer’s recommended torque. Undertightening can allow the bearing to slip on the shaft. Overtightening can distort the raceway or crack the inner ring. Use the “half-full/full” rule for tightening setscrews. Tighten the first setscrew to half the recommended torque, the second setscrew to the full torque, then go back to the first setscrew and apply full torque.

Next page: Application myths