Marine Turbocharger Bearings – In-depth Guide


Bearings are a vital component of the marine turbocharger. Apparently, these parts boast a small and simple design interface. However, the failure to install the right item paired with quality lube oil can damage the pricy turbo system on the ship. Functional marine turbocharger bearings protect the rotor alignment and rotation during high speed, pressure, and vibrations.

In this blog post, we delve into the salient point of choosing quality turbo bearings for reliability, safety, longevity, and performance.

What are Turbocharger Bearings in Ships?

The turbocharger components are exposed to high temperature, pressure, speed, and vibrations when operating on light load conditions. Constant exposure to extreme stress makes the parts vulnerable to damage from heat and friction. Marine turbocharger bearings paired with lubricating systems carry the load and bear the axial force. With proper lubrication and timely maintenance, bearings can offer extended turbocharger service life.

Where are Marine Turbo Bearings Located?

The role of the turbocharger is to extract the gases from the engine exhaust using the turbine and supply compressed fresh air to the combustion space of the cylinder from the compressor. Both turbine and compressor are assembled to a single shaft a.k.a. Centre Housing & Rotating Assembly (CHRA). The turbo bearings are housed adjacent to the turbine housing in this CHRA, which unites the compressor and the turbine.

There are chiefly three types of marine turbocharger bearings

  • Roller bearings – carry the load and reduce friction in the turbocharger.
  • Slide bearings – support the accurate positioning of the rotor and rotation while reducing friction.
  • Thrust bearings – these bearings located in the turbine shaft maintain the precise axial positioning and resist the axial force.

Consequences of Failure in Bearings 

The turbo bearings are exposed to extremely high temperatures (up to 900°C) from heat received from the turbine house. However, those near the compressor housing generally have 40-50°C temperature. Marine engineers recommend using synthetic-based lube oils to prevent bearing wear and tear due to fluctuating temperatures.

However, the marine turbocharger bearings become susceptible to wear due to extreme heat, pressure, lack of proper lubrication, and continuous operation. Here is an overview of the impact of bearings failure on the turbocharger and its functioning:

Blockage in the Oil Feed Passage

The turbochargers operating on thrust bearings are at a higher risk of choking in the oil feed passage. Such turbo bearings wear out quickly due to poor oil quality, contamination, etc. Continued debris accumulation can further damage by blocking the oil supply to other parts of the device.

Slow Rotor Rotation Speed

Metal bearing failure can retard the rotation speed of the rotor causing irregular and slow movement. Slow rotor movement may happen due to various factors, such as:

  • lack of maintenance
  • incorrect, old, and dirty lubricant
  • worn out bearing parts

Shaft Crushing and Seizure

Poor lubrication and low oil pressure can cause oil starvation within the bearing system. Oil starving in the bearing assembly results in friction across various metals between the shaft and bearing. This is possible to identify by the change of colours of the internal components. Prolonged oil starvation can compel the shaft to break down and stop working.

Buy Genuine Cummins Bearings for Marine Turbochargers Online

Alfa Marine Spare Parts offers an extensive selection of OEM marine spare parts for top manufacturers, including Caterpillar, Doosan, Wartsila, Scania, Perkins, Yanmar, Volvo Penta, and others. We have a lineup of thousands of turbocharger replacement parts such as cartridge housing, cartridge assembly components, fuse cartridges, and bearing cartridges for turbo systems from Cummins and other brands.

Purchase from a vast range of turbocharger repair kits from Cat (part number 7E-1765), Cummins, and many other brands.

Visit our spare parts catalogue to view the entire range. Alternatively, you may contact us with the required part number to expedite the purchase. Our knowledgeable staff can arrange the parts in 2-3 business days.

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