What is a journal bearing?


Journal bearings are being removed from a large steel mill gear box prior to doing shaft repair work.

Simply put, a journal bearing is a shaft or journal rotating in a bearing. The shaft rotates in the bearing with a layer of lubricant separating the two parts. Because journal bearings are designed to reduce load friction, they are often used when the load is light and the motion is continuous. With a journal bearing, there is no rolling element like in other bearings. This is why journal bearings are often called radial or sleeve bearings. Journal bearings can be made out of cast iron, Babbitt or hardened steel. Journal bearings are most often used in industrial machines that require high horsepower and high loads like turbines and pumps. With proper lubrication, journal bearings are durable and long lasting. The fluid lubricant prevents metal-to-metal contact and often the lubricant has a damping effect making the engines and motors quiet and running more smoothly. Journal bearings are often restored by the process of chrome plating and finish grinding.

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