PRI Education: Bearing Trauma and Engine Harmonics

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As the weight of race components becomes lighter, horsepower increases, rpm continues to rise, and oils become thinner, which leads to new challenges with bearings and engine harmonics. Hear from experts in the fields of engine bearings and crankshaft balancing at their PRI Education seminar at the December PRI Show.


As engine building becomes more complex with newer technologies, it is critical to learn what is happening inside the engine.

The PRI Education program at this year’s PRI Show will include “Bearing Trauma and Engine Harmonics,” presented by Randy Neal, president and owner of CWT Industries; Kimm Karrip, MAHLE head of NA Corporate Research; and Dan Begle, MAHLE aftermarket technical sales engineer. Begle’s previous experience includes working 27 seasons in NASCAR engine shops and nine years as the reliability specialist at Roush Yates Racing Engines.

We will discuss the engineering and fluid dynamics involved in creating a reliable, functioning engine, and what happens when the bearing capacity is exceeded. An engine bearing is not simply a stamped piece of metal. New issues resulting in crankshaft grinding chatter and polishing lobing can have detrimental effects on the bearing. Do you really know how much oil pressure you have? Galley oil pressure is important, but we seek to provide a better understanding of what bearing film pressure is, how this affects film thickness, and the breakdown of results when either is compromised.

We will explain bearing wear and failure with a diagnosis of what caused these problems. A comprehensive explanation will be discussed about engine forces and how they can change based on engine components. A deeper review of the function of engine bearings and the wear they show will provide a clearer understanding of what is happening inside the engine. It is important to remember that all parts have a story to tell. Understanding what they are “saying” will help build better quality engines.

In theory, crankshafts appear to be a robust solid connection to transmit the power from engine combustion to the flywheel. Have you ever thought about the flex on a crankshaft inside the engine and the effects it has on overall engine reliability and performance? All crankshafts will have an Achilles heel: harmonics. This affects the balance, power, and ability to properly transmit the power of the engine, as well as its reliability.

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It is important to remember that all parts have a story to tell. Understanding what they are “saying” will help build better quality engines. Seen here is bearing wear as a result of crankshaft flex.

MAHLE will display FEA (finite element analysis) data to show what happens when an engine is operating and the impact of individual cylinders firing in a multiple-cylinder engine. An in-depth conversation on crankshaft balancing as it relates to multiple order vibrations and harmful harmonics will be covered by CWT (a leader in crankshaft balancing) and will include theories on proper balancing techniques and explanations of how improper balancing can create engine problems. Harmonic balancers can dampen the global torsions on the crankshaft, and an understanding of how the individual cylinder affects the front-to-rear torsion helps the engine builder create a more reliable and powerful product.

When an engine is operating, it creates its own harmonics or tone. Due to the technology changes, the overall harmonics shift how the engine components interact with each other. This educational presentation will aid in understanding the effects of harmonics in today’s engines and the resulting differences in performance. Issues such as main cap fretting on the main caps to block and/or fretting on the harmonic balancer to crankshaft can be seen. Some components, such as pushrods and valve springs, may not leave such visual indications, but they still are generating a frequency that can be detrimental.

We look forward to discussing these and more topics at “Bearing Trauma and Engine Harmonics,” on Friday, December 8, from 10:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. in ICC Meeting Rooms 234 and 235.

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