How Do You Install a Flange Bearing?

The first step in installing a flange bearing is the same as the first step for installing just about anything else: read the documentation. But while you’re waiting for the bearing and the docs to arrive, let’s walk through the process so you can plan for what’s ahead.

Start with a visual inspection of the surface that you’ll mount the bearing on, the bearing itself and the shaft.

Make sure the mounting surface is flat, that the flange bearing surface is clean and that the shaft is clean and smooth. If the shaft has any burrs or rough areas, you can take care of those with emery paper or an abrasive pad. Make sure, though, that you don’t leave behind any debris from the cleaning or smoothing process. Emery paper, in particular, can solve one problem and leave another, namely, the little specks that do the abrasive work.

Flange BearingsNext, verify all the measurements and tolerances between the shaft and the bearing. It’s not enough to rely on the product labels or “what we ordered.” The bearing’s documentation will include all the specs.

Depending on the application and your in-house standards, you may be taking multiple measurements around the shaft. This ensures adequate clearance to prevent excessive friction and premature bearing damage, and the appropriate tightness to prevent vibration and the shaft “walking” along the bearing.

Tolerances are not the only thing you’re verifying with the shaft measurements. You’re also ensuring the shaft is truly circular. Obviously, if we’re working with a circle, the distances will be the same at any point. If you detect one that varies, the shaft has deformed in some way – become a bit eccentric – and is unfit for use.

Once everything is verified, the actual installation begins. Lubricate the shaft, if called for, and slide the bearing onto the shaft and into position. Ensure that the bearing housing is facing the right way to be mounted onto whichever surface. Position the bearing at the proper place on the shaft, and then secure the housing to the mounting surface. If the bearing housing has two set screws, alternate tightening them until the set screws reach the required torque. If the bearing housing has four or more set screws, check the documentation to see what the tightening pattern is (like rotating tires on a car).

The most important step in how to install a flange bearing – other than reading the documentation – is machining the bearing housing to your precise specifications. This might not be necessary, and you may not know how much you need to do until you take those shaft and bearing measurements. But more so than any other part of installing a flange bearing, ensuring the right fit will have the greatest effect on bearing life and process performance.