Installing motor bearings correctly is critical to long bearing and motor life with optimal performance. This post explores procedures for proper bearing preparation and installation in order to minimize the possibility of bearing and motor failure. Many bearings fail or will fail upon installation if proper shop procedures are not observed.
Proper bearing installation
To start with, bearings should be installed in an area of the shop that is clean and free from contaminating activities such as grinding, torch work and welding. Avoiding contamination, however, is just the beginning. Bearings should be installed using a bearing installation kit that is designed for the purpose, such as those made by SKF and others. These kits feature properly installation tools and accessories that will help assure a good install without damaging the bearing. These kits are readily available and should be part of any bearing installation procedure, and accessible to everyone responsible for bearing installs.
Choosing the right heating method
Another area of concern is how bearings are heated prior to installation. Tolerances of literally tens of thousands of an inch require proper heating methods to assure a good fit while avoiding damage to the bearing. Unfortunately, some motor shops and technicians are still using outmoded methods of heating. Any bearing heating procedure must include the following:
- Over-temp protection to avoid heating the bearing beyond its desired temp. Temperature set point will be indicated on the display included in the bearing heating system.
- Temperature indication assures that the bearing is heated to the right temperature. A good bearing heater can be set to the desired temperature, and not more or less. Good quality heating systems will shut down upon reaching the target temp, which means that the bearing won’t be overheated if the tech is called away during the procedure.
- A sound method of degaussing the bearing after heating. This is vital to avoid introducing magnetic fields into the bearing. Some methods of bearing hearing lack this essential feature.
A modern induction heater (see photo) offers the above benefits that are simply not available with older heating methods such torches, oil baths, or non-temperature controlled heaters. All of these suffer from problems with consistency, hazardous practices and the possibility of introducing contaminants into the bearing itself.
With up to 40% of motor failures related to the bearings, it’s essential that bearings be handled properly prior to and during installation.
Here are a few questions to ask before your next bearing replacement project:
- Do you or your motor repair shop use professional bearing installation equipment – install kits and induction heaters?
- Is there an established procedure to install bearings?
- What procedures are in place to reduce possible bearing contamination?
Here are a couple useful links for more information –