The fatigue life of rolling-element bearings has been the subject of numerous investigations. Most recently the influence of the lubricant on fatigue failure has been given added emphasis. This paper presents the results of an investigation which was undertaken in order to gain a better understanding of fluid behavior in the contact zone and to determine the influence of the lubricant on rolling contact fatigue life. The investigation had three distinct facets: (a) An analysis was performed on pressure and temperature distribution within the contact zone of rolling disks. In the analysis Reynolds, energy, and elasticity equations were solved simultaneously and fluid properties, such as viscosity dependence on temperature and pressure were included. (b) Dynamic stresses in two contacting cylindrical bodies were measured by means of photoelastic techniques. These measurements were used to test the validity of the analytically predicted stress distribution. (c) High-speed ball-bearing fatigue tests were conducted with two specially blended oils which had the same viscosity at the bearing inlet temperature, but widely different pressure viscosity characteristics. The physical characteristics of the oils were the same as those considered in the analysis. The paper summarizes the work and presents a hypothesis for the failure mechanism.

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