Stability tests were conducted with 3.8 centimeter-(1.5 in.-) diameter, 3.8 centimeter-(1.5 in.-) long, fixed geometry hydrodynamic journal bearings in water at 300 K (80 deg F) with zero load. Five fixed geometry bearings were rated in order of diminishing stability as follows: (1) three-tilted-lobe bearing (offset factor of 1.0), (2) herring-bone-groove bearing, (3) one-segment, three-pad, shrouded Rayleigh-step bearing, (4) three-tilted-lobe journal with axial grooves (offset factor of 1.0) mated with a plain bearing, and (5) three-centrally-lobed bearing with axial grooves (offset factor of 0.5). Maximum stability in lobed bearings and journals is achieved when the lobes are tilted so that the points of minimum film thickness occur near the trailing edges. The herringbone-groove journals had a maximum stability (maximum fractional frequency whirl onset speed) when the groove to ridge clearance ratio was closest to 2.1, as predicted by incompressible flow theory. The one-segment, three-pad shrouded Rayleigh-step bearing configuration was the most stable of the four step-bearing configurations tested. The tilted-lobe journals mated with plain bearings were unique in that, in some tests, the bearings could be run to a shaft speed twice the shaft speed at which initial fractional frequency whirl occurred before any sign of bearing distress was observed.

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