Experimental Measurements of Oil Films in a Dynamically Loaded Journal Bearing
This article describes the design of a journal bearing test platform capable of high-accuracy film thickness measurements via ultrasonic transducers permanently embedded in both the bearing and rotating shaft. A bespoke hydraulic loading system with programmable valves allowed the application of dynamic loads with defined loading patterns, including the simulation of loading patterns found in real components such as automotive connecting rod bearings. Tests under a range of rotation speeds, temperatures, and loading profiles allowed the detailed analysis of film thickness response to rapidly changing loads. Unlike conventional methods, the ultrasonic technique offers a noninvasive direct measurement of the shaft–bearing interface, thus enabling the study of phenomena such as squeeze film effects. Measurements were achieved by applying a novel referencing method, referred to as the “snapshot technique”. Via this method, squeeze time was shown to reduce with increasing shaft rotation speed, applied load, and bearing temperature. Results were compared against inductive sensors and numerical techniques and good agreement was observed.