January 2008

Engineering Case Histories

Case 42: Torsional vibration problems can be costly

The results are hammering of the gears and fretting of the splines

Sofronas, A., Consulting Engineer

Early in my career I was employed as a torsional analyst for locomotive and ship systems. It was then I learned that torsional vibration failures don't occur often, but when they do, they can be very costly to solve. Torsional vibrations occur when a mass is twisted and released on a shaft and  continues to vibrate, much like twisting a mass on the end of a coiled spring and releasing it. The vibration "dies out" unless a torsional frequency that coincides with one of the system's natural frequencies is present. When that occurs large vibratory amplitudes are possible and the system is said to be in resonance. Fig. 1 consists of a pump, gearbox and diesel engine simplified into a tw

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