Let’s face it: engine bearings are not sexy. They aren’t manufactured from billet materials, they aren’t visible when installed, and they do their dirty work covered in a film of oil. But they could quite possibly be the most important part of the engine, because without engine bearings in place and quietly doing their job, the engine’s operation comes to a crashing halt. Thankfully for speed demons like us there are companies like King Engine Bearings, who do find engine bearings sexy, and work every day to manufacture products which keep our race engines healthy and operating at peak performance.
The dudes at High Performance Academy caught up with Ron Sledge from King Bearings at the 2017 PRI Show, and cornered him to chat about a wide range of engine bearing topics. Sledge has participated in numerous articles with us here on EngineLabs previously (Polymer Coatings, Engine Bearings, And The Science Behind Them, Ron Sledge: King Bearings For Custom Engines, Tech: Choosing The Proper Bearings For Your Engine) and is a veritable authority on engine bearings and their construction.
The 12-minute discussion centers around a number of different topics. When it comes to engine bearings, three concepts rule the day: embedability, conformability, and fatigue strength.
Despite what many people may believe (we hope you faithful EngineLabs readers aren’t part of the crowd!!) the crankshaft and connecting rods don’t actually ride on the engine bearings; instead, they ride on a protective oil wedge. This is where oil pressure is so critical, but also where embedability comes into the picture. Although the surfaces should never touch metal-to-metal, there will be small pieces of debris which find their way into the oil from time to time, and the bearing surface must be able to accommodate this debris without causing damage to the crankshaft or connecting rod journals.
It’s an interesting and informative watch, so if you’re curious about the hows and whys of engine bearings, set aside a small slice of your day to watch the whole video.