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Practical Solutions to Machinery and Maintenance Vibration Problems

Table of Contents

Page No.

Section 1, Vibration Due to Rolling Element Bearings 2

Section 2, High Frequency/Ultrasonic Measurements 3

Section 3, Considerations for Evaluating Amplitudes Due to Bearing

Defects 5

Section 4, Importance of Pickup Mounting and Location 7

Section 5, Use of IBF Units to Accurately Determine Bearing Lubrication 8

Section 5, Use of IBF Units to Accurately Determine Bearing Lubrication 9

Section 7, Calculations for Bearing Defect Frequencies 12

Section 8, Further Considerations for Bearing Defect Vibration

Amplitude and Frequency Symptoms 15

Section 9, Estimating Remaining Bearing Life 16

Section 10, Vibration Symptoms of a Loose Bearing 17

Section 11, Further Considerations Regarding Calculated Bearing

Defect Frequencies 19

Section 12, Vibration Due to Oil Whirl (in Plain or Sleeve Bearings) 21

Section 1, Vibration Due to Rolling Element Bearings

One of the first points to make regarding vibration due to rolling element bearings
is that generally speaking, the bearing is not a source of mechanical trouble but
merely a result of other problems. Most often, when symptoms of bearing defects
arise, they are accompanied by other symptoms, such as for misalignment,
unbalance or lubrication. When dealing with rolling element bearing analysis, a
good rule is to not only analyze the symptoms of bearing defects but to also
determine why the bearing is defective. Look for symptoms of such sources as
unbalance, misalignment, poor assembly, etc.

There are many different symptoms of distressed rolling element bearings, and
much good information has been published on the subject. It is, therefore, not the
purpose of this section to supersede information that is likely already known, but
instead to highlight some of its more practical applications and strengthen certain

Figure 1: Major parts of a rolling element bearing

Section 2, High Frequency/Ultrasonic Measurements

One of the most difficult Bearing problems to identify is incipient failure (failure
that is just about to happen). Vibration velocity readings help us to identify bearing
defects in the latter stages of bearing life. However, in order to get the earliest
warning of impending trouble, it is necessary to monitor the ultrasonic vibration
levels. Most instruments now have the capability to measure very high frequency
vibration in the 5 kHz - 50 kHz range, (300 Kcpm - 3000 Kcpm). The terminology
for the particular unit of measurement varies from manufacturer to manufacturer,
such as "spike energy," shock pulse," "bearing defect energy," "high frequency
detection," etc., etc. However, they all measure pretty much the same thing. The
instrument manufacturers will be able to furnish a detailed definition and
description of their specific units of measurement. For the purposes of this text,
general terms will be used.

These high frequency measurements sense the low energy, repetitive, metal-to-
metal impacts that occur in the earliest stages of an incipient bearing failure. The
rate, amplitude and frequency are all combined to give a single "numerical" output.
To maintain impartiality, this text will identify all these units with the generic term
IBF (Incipient Bearing Failure) number.

The problem with all these units is that it is almost impossible to accurately
determine bearing condition based on a single measurement. Measurements are
very sensitive to a host of external influences such as differences in installation,
load, lubrication, pickup mounting, location and number of interfaces. Other
problems, such as cavitation, gear mesh and steam leaks, also have significant
effects in IBF numbers (i.e. it is possible to install two identical, brand new
bearings in two identical machines and get two different IBF readings).

The use of IBF readings excels when trended over a period of time. If used
correctly, IBF units will provide the earliest warning system for impending failure.
In this manner, change becomes more significant than absolute values. If this
technique is to be successful, accurate repeatable data has to be acquired.

Of all the vibration parameters measured, IBF units are the most sensitive to
transducer location and mounting. Small changes in location and/or mounting
techniques can produce large changes in IBF amplitudes, making it very difficult to
identify true changes in bearing condition.

Fig. 1 shows a typical IBF trend. Notice that the IBF number actually drops either
before or as the bearing fails. If a single IBF reading of, say, 0.5 is obtained, will
the bearing last another 5 years, 5 months or 5 days? This is not known unless
enough plots have been taken to show a trend. It is not recommended that a
diagnosis be made based on IBF units alone. Instead, always verify the diagnosis
with other vibration units such as velocity. Remember, trending IBF units provides
only an early warning system.

Section 3, Considerations for Evaluating Amplitudes Due to Bearing Defects

Whether plotted by hand or by computer, trends of IBF units or vibration units

(usually velocity) vs calendar dates are certainly valuable for monitoring how fast
a bearing may be deteriorating. However, such trends do not always accurately
predict the approximate time for failure. Usually trend plots of IBF units show
increases as the bearing deteriorates, but as actual failure occurs (such as cracking),
the IBF units may show a sharp decrease. When IBF units are still increasing, most
careful analysts monitor trends of velocity amplitudes as well. But again,
amplitude increase is not always present as a bearing deteriorates.

The difficulty is due to the entirely different nature of vibration amplitude

increases due to bearing defects, as compared to amplitude increases due to other
vibration sources such as unbalance, misalignment, bent shaft and so on. For
example, as fly ash builds up on a fan, its unbalance may progressively increase.
Increased unbalance shows increased amplitude at 1 x rpm. Or, for example,
greater shaft-to-shaft misalignment will give higher amplitudes for its frequencies.
Therefore, the analyst is tempted to think that greater defects at the source always
produce larger amplitudes. True for almost all vibration sources. However, not
necessarily true for bearing defects.

Sometimes bearing defect amplitudes increase as the defect gets worse -- but not
always. Amplitudes at bearing defect frequencies may not increase much at all and,
in some situations, may actually decrease as the bearing gets worse. Instead of the
bearing defect amplitudes increasing, they may instead increase the number of
sidebands. What may have started out as a relatively sharp peak may appear to be
spreading out to cover a wider frequency range. As with trends of IBF units, just
before or right at bearing failure, the vibration amplitude suddenly decreases.
Therefore, trend plots based on amplitude, may or may not give an accurate picture
of what is happening in the bearing.

Vibration amplitudes measured on the machine's case that are considered as

acceptable or even smooth if originated from, for example, unbalance, are not
acceptable for amplitudes due to bearing defects. For example, a pump's case
reading of 0.1 in/sec or 3 mm/sec is considered acceptable, but if that amplitude
originates from a bearing defect, that bearing is usually so bad that the defect is
visible to the eye (conversions between English and metric units are approximate).
Vibration amplitudes at bearing defect frequencies are usually very low. For a
"regular speed" machine, such as 1800 rpm or 1500 rpm, a bearing is considered
mildly bad at only 0.04 in/sec or 1 mm/sec. Although this amplitude appears mild,
the bearing can still immediately fail. For very slow speed machines, such as
papermachine dryer rolls (under 100 to 200 rpm), a bearing defect velocity
amplitude of only 0.02 in/sec or 0.5 mm/sec requires a bearing change.

(In Update's course Practical Solutions to Machinery and Maintenance Vibration
Problems Part II this subject is covered in considerably more detail and actually
takes a full day. However, this textbook is for Practical Solutions to Machinery and
Maintenance Vibration Problems Part I and the information provided is sufficient
for analysis of bearing defects in about 90 percent of all situations.)

Section 4, Importance of Pickup Mounting and Location

In order to accurately monitor and trend IBF units over time, it is necessary to
acquire accurate readings. Of all the various vibration units available, IBF units are
the most sensitive to pickup location and mounting techniques. Small changes in
location and/or mounting techniques can give rise to large changes in IBF
amplitude readings, making it very difficult to identify the genuine changes in IBF
number. The preferred location is as physically close to the bearing as possible and
preferably (but not essentially) in the "load zone." For the usual vibration units,
such as velocity or displacement, having one to a few interfaces between the
pickup location and the bearing itself is not very important. However, for IBF
measurements, each interface decreases the accuracy of the reading. Therefore, try
to choose a location with the least amount of interfaces between pickup location
and the bearing. As with all maintenance work, compromises may be necessary. If
so, IBF absolute numbers may have to become secondary to IBF changes from one
time to another.

For initial maintenance setup on large machines, it may be necessary to review the
engineering drawings in order to find an appropriate pickup location that will
provide a good transmission path. The location must be clearly marked on the
machine so that subsequent readings will be acquired in the same location.

Stud mounting is the best, but obviously more expensive. A practical alternative
would be the magnetic holder. Use of an extension probe "stinger" or stem usually
does not produce as good results unless of short length and adequately tightened to
the pickup. Update also suggests small drill point holes on the case's measuring

Section 5, Use of IBF Units to Accurately Determine Bearing Lubrication

One of the challenges of maintenance departments worldwide is to develop

effective lubrication programs for the many grease lubricated rolling element
bearings. In an effort to ensure that a bearing is not lost due to lack of lubrication,
there is a strong tendency to over-lubricate rolling element bearings. Over-
lubrication is probably responsible for more bearing failures than under-
lubrication. There have been several approaches over the years to solve lubrication
problems of rolling element bearings. Some special instruments have built-in
computers. Strong claims are made for their effectiveness. Others use certain
features of their regular vibration instruments, such as measuring IBF units.
However, none of these approaches address the question of how much grease the
bearing needs. A fully sealed bearing does not require regreasing through the
course of its life, which if correctly installed in a machine that is well balanced and
well aligned, can run in excess of 10 years. Why is it, therefore, that relubricating
bearings can be called for every few months? The usual answer is, "To flush the
bearing of contaminants." However, if the bearing lip seals are in good condition,
there should be no contaminants and, therefore, no requirement for regular

This is not a section on bearing lubrication. Its focus is only on how some
specialists use IBF units to accurately determine the quality and quantity of bearing
lubrication in rolling element bearings. IBF measurements are made on a regular
basis, watching for significant change. When significant change occurs, the
technician verifies the initial data. Then, while monitoring the IBF reading, grease
is applied. After applying two or three pumps of the grease gun, the technician
pauses for a few seconds while observing the IBF reading. Typically, the reading
decreases. Grease is applied until no further reduction in the IBF reading can be
obtained. At that point, the bearing is considered to be properly lubricated. The
bearing should be monitored for 10 to 15 minutes after the process to ensure that
the IBF reading does not increase. If it does, the process is repeated. Sometimes
overgreasing will show an IBF increase.

The bearing should then be checked 24 to 48 hours later to ensure no further

increase has occurred. A return to previous levels probably means the bearing is
starting to fail. It is possible to temporarily reduce the IBF readings on severely
defective bearings by applying grease.

Section 6, Use of Velocity Spectra to Determine Bearing Condition

One of the keys to the successful analysis of distressed bearings is pattern

recognition. Since there are many different configurations, types and sizes of
rolling element bearings, it is very difficult to accurately determine one specific
frequency and amplitude that will be generated by a bearing defect. Therefore, it is
necessary to observe the familiar "patterns" developed by about 80 percent of
distressed bearings rather than their absolute amplitudes and frequencies.

Stage One:
Fig. 2 represents the velocity spectrum for the first stage of a bearing defect. An
increase in IBF units has occurred. Note that there is no change on the vibration
velocity spectrum. At this stage, it should be noted that there is no discernible
change in noise or temperature and no visual indication that the bearing is

Stage Two:
Fig. 3 represents the velocity spectrum for the second stage of failure. IBF
continues to increase. The first indication of a problem on the velocity spectrum is
what is often referred to as the bearing component's natural frequency. This low
amplitude vibration usually occurs somewhere between 30 Kcpm and 120 Kcpm
depending on the bearing. These frequencies are independent of operating speed
and non-synchronous. As the problem continues to deteriorate, 1 x rpm sidebands
begin to appear. As deterioration continues, the other component natural
frequencies appear, again developing 1 x rpm sidebands until the familiar
"haystack shape" has developed. The difference frequencies between sidebands
usually indicate the rpm of the defective bearing.

Section 7, Calculations for Bearing Defect Frequencies

Fig. 4 shows various formulas which can be used to calculate these frequencies.
Unfortunately, much of the information required is not always readily available, so
the use of the approximations given in Fig. 6 are recommended. The only
information required to calculate these approximations is the machine's rpm and
the number of balls. This information is usually available. Some bearing
manufacturers now offer databases and computer programs to determine bearing
frequencies. Another fact that assists in recognizing fundamental bearing
frequencies is that they almost occur at non-integer multiples of operating speed
(non-synchronous) such as 4.3 x rpm, 5.6 x rpm, 6.8 x rpm, etc. They do not occur
at full integer (synchronous) multiples such as 2 x rpm, 6 x rpm, 8 x rpm and so on.

All bearing frequency calculations are made with the assumption that pure rolling
contact is occurring. In practice, however, it is unlikely that this type of contact is
occurring perfectly, which can lead to small frequency errors. Also, errors in
accurately determining rpm, errors caused by FFT bandwidth, etc., require the
acceptance of a certain amount of approximation.

As with the component natural frequencies, the amplitudes of these peaks are
relatively small. As the bearing deteriorates further, 1 x rpm sidebands develop,
especially around the inner race frequencies. This is due to amplitude modulation
as the defect(s) passes in and out of the "load zone." They can occur at +/- 1 x rpm,
+/- cage frequency, or +/- ball spin frequency, depending on the situation.

Stage Three:

Fig. 5 represents the velocity spectrum for the third stage of failure. IBF has
reached a maximum. As the problem develops further, bearing defect frequencies
that can be calculated appear. Multiples or harmonics of these frequencies are also
common. The more harmonics of a bearing defect frequency, the greater the
deterioration. However, rpm must also be considered. Low speed machines show
considerably lower amplitudes, as well as less bearing defect harmonics, for the
same deterioration as in higher speed machines.

Stage Four:

Fig. 6 represents the velocity spectrum for the fourth stage of failure. This is the

detectable stage, and the IBF units have dropped. At this time, bearing defects start
to become less distinct as the noise floor rises. Multiple sidebands occur around
harmonics of fundamental bearing defect frequencies. Eventually the spectrum
becomes erratic, and broadband noise occurs. Notice that the amplitudes of
individual peaks have decreased. Due to the spread over a very large frequency
range, and much broadband noise, this stage is often confused with the symptoms
of cavitation. It is recommended, however, that when a significant increase in IBF
units occurs or "haystack" activity is present on the velocity spectrum, then data
collection time intervals should be considerably reduced.

Section 8, Further Considerations for Bearing Defect Vibration Amplitude
and Frequency Symptoms

As vibration amplitudes due to bearing problems are often relatively small when
compared to other vibration sources, "threshold-type" alarms that measure
"overall" vibration do not usually give adequate warning for impending bearing
failure. Instead, "power band-type" alarms, which measure "root mean square"
(rms) values, are most often more appropriate as they give a better idea of
"vibration defect energy."

Section 9, Estimating Remaining Bearing Life

The writer views all of the symptoms only as warnings. It is analogous to

measuring just how
much thickness of automobile tire rubber is left above the cords. Assuming a
"reading" that indicates that the tire's cords are about to be exposed, the driver
might ask if the car could be driven for three hours at the maximum speed without
experiencing a blowout. The answer can only be that there is just so much
thickness of rubber left, that the condition can cause a blowout within the first five
minutes but may not result in a blowout for several weeks or even several months.
Obviously, the rubber thickness measurement is only a warning of what can
probably happen. It may even predict what will more likely happen, but it is not a
sure indication of what will happen. The same is true for bearings showing more
and more symptoms via the spectrum, as failure approaches.

For bearings with symptoms of imminent failure, it is suggested that the analyst
indicate to the operator: "From the best vibration and IBF knowledge we have
today (which is incomplete), the symptoms indicate the machine should be shut
down as quickly as possible. However, if you have reasons to want to take your
chances and continue running, there is always a possibility that this particular
failing bearing may run much longer than symptoms indicate. But at this level, the
risk is yours. I can only report that I recommend changing the bearing." For
bearings that are deteriorating but not as close to imminent failure, a rough
estimate may be given, but in the same spirit as the analogy of the tire.

Operating under the same operating conditions as before, it is reasonably possible

to predict how long a bearing will last if the symptoms and data are compared with
that bearing's previous symptoms of failure. Most of the time, however, this
experience is not available, so it is not recommended that specific bearing life
predictions be made. Many factors other than bearing conditions, such as speed,
also affect decisions as to whether a bearing should be changed or allowed to run.
Try to avoid specific time predictions, since errors in time prediction often lead to
a loss of credibility even though the defective bearing has been correctly identified.

Section 10, Vibration Symptoms of a Loose Bearing

A bearing can be installed in such a way that "hand feel" indicates a proper fit.
However, when the machine is running, the bearing fit might not be tight enough
for operating conditions. While running, the fit is loose and the race that is not
supposed to rotate, rotates. This, of course, causes excessive rubbing and most
often produces symptoms similar to that of a rub or looseness.

If no bearing defects are present and the only problem is bearing looseness, the
usual symptoms are more harmonics of 1 x rpm than usual. For example,
unbalance alone produces almost no larger than usual harmonics, such as a 2, 3 or
4 x rpm. Shaft-to-shaft misalignment usually increases the amplitudes of the
harmonics in this low end of the harmonic range (see section "Evaluating
Harmonics for Complete Analysis to Determine Vibration Source"). Harmonic
amplitudes caused by misalignment usually diminish considerably after 3 or 4 x
rpm (unless magnified by resonance or produced by the segments of coupling
jaws). However, higher than usual amplitudes of harmonics due to bearing
looseness can occur in the same low end of the harmonic range (but most often do
not show until at least 3 or 4 x rpm) and continue on to still higher harmonic
frequencies. These harmonic frequencies are usually still in the range that Update
calls "lower harmonics" (approximately 10 x rpm and below).

Although more harmonics of higher than usual amplitude are present, they are not
absolutely sequential. For example, the harmonics created by looseness at 2 and 3
x rpm may be small and appear higher than usual at 4, 5 and 6 x rpm. For greater
looseness or harder rubs, the harmonics can continue, for example, on up to say 8 x
rpm; but occasionally intermediate harmonics may be missing, such as the 4th and
7th harmonics. For extreme cases, these harmonics can continue on up to very high
frequencies. Synchronous time averaging will not eliminate the true harmonics of 1
x rpm. As this condition is not an actual bearing defect, such as a spall, pit or
crack, the harmonics created are not considered to be "bearing defect frequencies."
True bearing defect frequencies, such as spalls, cracks and pits, emit frequencies
that are non-synchronous with running speed. So when there is question as to
whether a peak is due to a bearing defect frequency or due to some other source,
it's a good idea to determine whether it is synchronous. Spectra showing rubs or
looseness always vary from machine to machine. Only a general idea can be
formed by pattern similarity.


1. IBF units are an early warning system only.

2. IBF units should be trended over time where change is more significant than
absolute values.

3. IBF units are sensitive to outside influences such as cavitation, transducer
mounting, lubrication and so on.

4. When observing velocity spectra, pattern recognition rather than absolute

amplitude values are most important.

5. All bearing defects (other than too much clearance or looseness) create peaks at
frequencies non-synchronous with running speed.

6. As defects progress, look for increased sideband activity.

7. Difference frequencies between sidebands usually indicate the rpm of the

defective bearing.

8. Don't attempt to be too specific in predicting time to failure.

Section 11, Further Considerations Regarding Calculated Bearing Defect

A common error is to suppose that most calculated bearing defect frequencies will
be present almost always in the higher frequency portion of the vibration spectrum.
This, of course, can occur; but most bearing defect frequencies that can readily be
calculated, are revealed at frequencies that are relatively low and can easily be
mixed up with those from other vibration sources.

For example, sometimes bearings have defect frequencies and harmonics of those
frequencies in the range that normally shows the lower harmonics due to
shaft/coupling misalignment. If the instrument resolution is not high, accuracy is
sacrificed and sometimes bearing defect frequencies are confused with frequencies
such as those originating from electrical hum, misalignment harmonics of 2 x and
3 x rpm, vanepass frequencies, and so on.

The calculated frequencies for a defective cage or retainer are almost always in the
range of less than 50 percent of rpm. Typically, the frequencies are from a little
over 30 percent to slightly under 50 percent of rpm. A surprising number of
bearing cage defect frequencies are in the range of 41 to 48 percent of rpm, causing
the symptom to look like that for oil whirl. Yet, rolling-type bearings are not
subject to oil whirl!

Another characteristic of a cage defect frequency is that the calculated amount (less
than 1 x rpm) often does not appear on the spectrum. Instead, a harmonic of that
number does (such as 2 x the bearing cage defect frequency). This can come
surprisingly close to the 1 x rpm frequency and be revealed only with proper

For example in Fig. 7, consider the spectrum's first peak at 28.0 Hz and its third
peak at 96.2 Hz. At first glance, the first peak looks as if it's surely a ½ x rpm sub-
harmonic. Through a quick calculation, it is shown to be a non-synchronous 0.47 x
rpm. The third peak appears to be its third harmonic but calculates to be 3.44 x 28
and, therefore, not its full integer multiple (therefore non-synchronous).
Calculation indicates it is also close enough to appear to be 1 ½ x rpm.

Also notice that the frequency range goes up to 800 Hz. If 400 lines were used, the
range for each line would be 2 Hz (120 cpm). Reducing the top frequency to 200
Hz gives 0.5 Hz (30 cpm) per line. Increasing the number of lines to 1600 gives a
resolution of 0.125 Hz or 7.5 cpm. Obviously, data collecting for routine predictive
maintenance requires fast procedures, but when a bearing or some other defect is
suspected, a further set of very accurate data is required for proper analysis.

Section 12, Vibration Due to Oil Whirl (in Plain or Sleeve Bearings)

Oil whirl (sometimes called "oil whip") is one of the easiest vibrations to recognize
as it is one of those rare vibrations with a frequency of well below 1 x rpm running
speed. Its frequency has been reported to be anywhere from approximately 45 to
almost 50 percent of rpm. Simply view oil whirl vibration frequency as "slightly
less than ½ x rpm.

Referring to the diagram showing the normal running conditions between a shaft
and a plain bearing, notice that the shaft is very rarely operating and running with
its own centerline coincident with the bearing's centerline. Therefore, there is a
section wherein the clearance for lubricant would be less than in other areas. This
could be the normal result of the weight of the rotor, the always present partial
coupling and shaft misalignment, and so on. The narrow gap area acts to build up
the pressure of the rotating oil, forming a higher pressure point between the shaft
and bearing. As the speeds increase, pressure increases, thereby pushing the shaft
and rotor further upward (in most cases), and/or toward one side. This allows the
gap to widen at the pressure point and move the new pressure point to a position
closer to the shaft's bottom. All described so far apply to rotors without oil whirl
and are considered normal.

However, if the load is too light (rare), the clearance too great (also rare), or if
there is any other reason why the pressure point proceeds to a place whereby the
higher pressure can lift the shaft high enough so that the higher pressure section
can "escape," then oil whirl results. The shaft that is lifted high enough to allow the
escape of the higher pressure section is now no longer supported in this position.
The shaft suddenly drops -- the gap narrows again -- and the higher pressure again
develops. The process repeats itself cyclically; pressure lifting the shaft -- escape
of pressure -- dropping of shaft -- pressure buildup -- lifting of shaft -- escape of
pressure -- dropping of shaft -- pressure buildup -- lifting of shaft -- and so on. The
cyclical frequency of all this is the average oil velocity. The oil's velocity right on
the shaft's surface is equal to that of the shaft's surface speed. The oil's velocity
right on the bearing's surface is zero. The average velocity is 50 percent of the
rotor's rpm. With a little slippage, the actual velocity is slightly less than ½ x rpm.
Do not confuse it with vibration at exactly ½ x rpm, which does not originate with
oil whirl but instead is most often associated with bearing looseness or a rub.

The most common published reason for oil whirl is that the bearing loads are too
light, relative to the oil pressures built up by higher speeds. Yet in maintenance
work of already built machinery with more established design, it has been found
that this is the least probable source. (Yet, it is a common source for newly
designed machinery that hasn't been de-bugged.)

Another reason given is bearings that have too much clearance. Again, with
established designs, it is doubted this is very common. An approach used by
Update is to first remember that when rotors vibrate for any reason, the centerline
of the shaft will be tracing an orbit around the actual axis of rotation. Visualizing
the shaft's surface relative to the bearing's inside diameter, the distance between the
two will be changing at a rate equal to the vibration frequency. When shaft
vibration reaches several mils, the opening and closing of the oil gap for the film
will also be equal to several mils.

The orbit that seems to create oil whirl most often is from large coupling or shaft
misalignment. The misalignment, for example, can position the shaft at a location
so as to more easily lift the shaft and thereby allow escape . Misalignment can
cause bearings and shafts that do not normally result in oil whirl to be in a
threshold position for it.

The solution is not to change the bearing, decrease the clearance, or increase the
load (although each of these could work), but to first analyze the vibration at the
lower end of the frequency range, such as at 1 x and 2 x rpm and so on, so as to
determine if there is a large unbalance or large misalignment. If there is, the
unbalance or misalignment can usually be corrected more easily than making
bearing alternations.

For most process plant machinery that can't readily be shut down for bearing
changes, rebalancing or realignment, there are some relatively successful methods
for curing oil whirl temporarily until permanent changes can be made. The most
common successful method reported is to increase the oil's temperature, usually by
approximately 10 percent. Although this seems to work more frequently than
cooling the oil, there are cases reported whereby the oil whirl problem worsened
with increased oil temperature, instead cooling the oil eliminated the oil whirl.

Some have accomplished the desired results by decreasing the oil's viscosity (most
common success), whereas certain situations required raising the viscosity to
eliminate the oil whirl.

For altering the bearing itself, several methods have been reported. One is to make
the bearing ID egg-shaped, usually scraping material away in the 9:00 and 3:00

o'clock positions. Another way is to form a dam or step on the top of the bearing's
ID so that the oil will produce a back pressure -- and therefore higher pressure on
the top of the shaft -- preventing it from lifting enough to cause the previously
described oil pressure section escape. Another has been to reduce the surface area
with grooves, especially at the bottom half, so as to increase the bearing load.

This section is not complete. Bearing and rotating machinery manufacturers have
much more experience and knowledgeable details on the subject. Considering the
high cost of shutdown and the high cost of a mistake, it is suggested that such
sources be consulted in the event bearings are to be altered as a solution.