Friction and Wear in a 24-Unit Speed-Increaser Gearbox
In an industrial application, 24 speed-increaser gearboxes were used to transmit 258 kW (346 hp) and increase speed from 55 to 375 rev/min. The gears were parallel shaft, single helical, carburized, and ground. The splash lubrication system used a mineral oil without antiscuff additives with ISO 100 viscosity. After about 250 h of operation, two gearboxes failed by bending fatigue. Investigation showed the primary failure mode was scuffing, and the earlier bending fatigue failures were caused by dynamic loads generated by the worn gear teeth. Testing of a prototype gearbox showed that the failure resulted from several interrelated factors: the lubricant viscosity was too low causing high temperatures; no antiscuff additives were used; a gearbox designed as a speed reducer was used as a speed increaser (the designer selected a long-addendum tooth for the pinion); the gear teeth were not provided with a coating or plating to ease running-in; and the gears were not run-in properly under reduced loads. The case suggests that such gear failures can be avoided if designers and operators recognize that the lubricant is an important component of a gearbox and appreciate that gear design requires the consideration and control of many interrelated factors.