A Theory of the hydrodynamic film thickness in centrally pivoted oil-lubricated plane-pad thrust bearings

L. Chang, Y. Yan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


An analytical model is developed in this article for pivoted, oil-lubricated rectangular plane-pad thrust bearings considering the thermal effects of oil viscosity. The model is governed by three dimensionless parameters: the pad length-to-width ratio, the location of the pad pivot, and the bearing load parameter that prescribes lubricant thermal properties and applied load. Analyses were carried out for centrally pivoted bearings of a number of pad length-to-width ratios and a number of bearing load parameters. The results suggest a theory that, for bearings with a square pad or wider, the oil viscosity thermal effect enables a centrally pivoted bearing to develop a hydrodynamic film thickness of about one half of the film thickness that would be developed under isothermal conditions with the pad pivoted at its maximum-load-capacity optimal position. This level of relative film thickness could be developed under all design conditions of practical interest. The theory is fairly general and may be applicable to fan-shaped thrust bearing assemblies with the concept of equivalent length-to-width ratio of the bearing pad. The validity of the theory is modestly evaluated and should be further validated in time through various means and in various settings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)149-160
Number of pages12
JournalTribology Transactions
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Surfaces and Interfaces
  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films


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