Failure of Bearings Because of Wear of Labyrinth Seals
The drive-shaft hanger bearings failed after 300 to 400 h in service. The shaft, supported by labyrinth-sealed single row radial ball bearings of ABEC-1 tolerances, was made of aluminum 2024-T3 tubing (2.5 cm diam and 1.2 mm wall thickness). The bearings were lubricated with a paste-type mineral-oil lubricant (containing molybdenum disulfide and polytetrafluoroethylene particles) or grease conforming to MIL-G-81322 (containing thickening agent and synthetic hydrocarbons) and had two-piece spot-welded retainers. On visual examination, the balls were observed to be embedded in the inner-ring raceway which had been softened by the elevated temperatures reached during the failure. Broken retainers and worn and bent out of shape seals were found. Penetration of gritty particles, water and other corrosive agents and leakage of lubricant out of the bearing permitted by the worn seals was observed. It was concluded that overheating was caused by lubricant flow was permitted by wear of the labyrinth seals. Positive rubbing seals and MIL-G-81322 grease lubricant were found to have longer life than those with the labyrinth seals and mineral-oil-paste lubricant on testing under simulated environmental conditions and were installed as a corrective measure. Importance of dirt free supply and drainage of oil was discussed.