Crankshaft Bearing Failures

30th September 2005

Crankshaft Bearing Failures

Initial Report

Report Text:

My pet hate is crankshaft bearing failures. The connecting rod bottom end bearing is the one most prone to failure and since the very beginning of the diesel engine, it has been possible to measure the temperature of the oil coming out of the bearing, and detect a temperature rise in the event of a bearing problem. Crankshaft bearing failures remain the most common category of insurance claim, and yet this technology is still not a requirement. There is a requirement for an Oil Mist Detector on some engines, but by the time there has been an overheating bearing sufficient to create an oil mist, the damage has been done.

Again, such an improvement is just a matter of a few lines of writing within SOLAS or Class rules, it is basic technology that has existed for years.

CHIRP Comment

Initially the Maritime Advisory Board were not certain this report fell within the scope of the Programme, so an open letter inviting opinions was written to the membership of IMarEST, through their publication MER.

Two views emerged; one related to the immediate safety risk to personnel close to a bearing and crankshaft failure, which was generally considered to be slight and another related to the safety risk associated with the impact of a bearing and crankshaft failure on the operational viability of the ship, which, in certain circumstances, could be significant.

On the balance of responses, the issue is considered to be one of safety, falling within the ISM Code. CHIRP is now seeking to gain some understanding of the frequency of bearing and crankshaft failure, the contributory factors and the extent to which the measure suggested, or others, might mitigate the risks.  Once these enquiries are complete the information will be forwarded to relevant organisations for their assessment.

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