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The radial-contact ball bearings (type 440C stainless steel and hardened) supporting a computer microdrum were removed for examination as they became noisy. Two sizes of bearings were used for the microdrum and a spring washer that applied a 50 lb axial load on the smaller bearing was installed in contact with the inner ring for accurate positioning of the microdrum. The particles contained in residue achieved after cleaning of the grease on bearings with a petroleum solvent were attracted by a magnet and detected under a SEM (SEM) to be flaked off particles from the outer raceway surface. Smearing, true-brinelling marks, and evidence of flaking caused by the shifting of the contact area (toward one side) under axial load, was revealed by SEM investigation of one side of the outer-ring raceway. The true-brinelling marks on the raceways were found to be caused by excessive loading when the bearing was not rotating or during installation. It was concluded that the bearings had failed in rolling-contact fatigue. The noise was eliminated and the preload was reduced to 30 lb by using a different spring washer as a corrective measure.

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Rolling-Contact Fatigue Failure of Type 440C Stainless Steel Radial-Contact Ball Bearings Because of Excessive Axial Load, ASM Failure Analysis Case Histories: Mechanical and Machine Components, ASM International, 2019,

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