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Hello everyone, I have a problem with high levels of vibration at the supports of the pinion

(fixed and floating bearings) of the cement ball mill. The kinematic scheme with the
measurement locations and several representative spectra and time waves are in the
attached file. The dominant vibrations are in the horizontal direction of measurement
while at the same time I noticed also high levels of axial vibration (dominated by the gear
mesh - GM of the pinion and a girth gear) at the end bearing of the gearbox (while at the
same time there are no high axial vibrations at the pinion's bearings...). The frequency
spectra are dominated by the harmonics of the gear mesh (around 60 Hz) and there can
be see some modulation with the pinion's speed (2.4 Hz). Gears (girth gear and pinions -
double drive) are new and from other manufacturer. Compared with the previous gears on
this mill, new gears have a larger modulus and different number of the teeth but with the
similar gear mesh - now 61.8Hz instead of 57Hz before. The old gears which were worn
had smaller vibration values - around 12 mm/s while now we have, with the new gears,
around 28 mm/s with gear mesh frequencies and their harmonics... The girth gear pinions
were aligned according to their standard procedure and within limit values. The axis of a
pinion shaft is well misaligned compared to the output shaft of the gearbox - I tried to
measure the alignment with lasers but I couldn't get the laser beam in my targets...
Anyhow between these two shafts is the 7 meter long shaft with gear couplings which,
they say, can compensate for some misalignment. Also when mill in operation large
movements of this shaft are visible. It would be logical to do the alignment between the
gearbox and a pinion but it is not possible to move the motor and a gearbox (in fact they
never did that - they used to align the gears using the same procedure as now and had
much lover vibrations with the old worn gears...). Now, when the mill is started, vibration
values are around 14 mm/s, first 4 harmonics of the GM, and then for about half an hour
they go up to 28 mm/s (again 4 harmonics of GM) - in horizontal direction while in the
vertical and axial direction there is no such change. There are some other guys included
in this problem and some have an opinion that this could be related to the resonance.
They did some FEM calculations and got some natural frequencies close to forces
frequencies. I did several bump tests on a girth gear and on a long shaft and I did not
record any of the natural frequencies near the GM and its harmonics. Also the peaks in
the spectra are very sharp and I suppose that if excite the resonance there should be
some visible haystack beneath the frequency component. Also if there is a natural
frequency excited: 1. I suppose that there would be a dominant peak and not harmonics
(am I right?). 2. The situation would be similar (if excited by the GM) in the case with the
old gears. When you look at the time averaged time waves recorded immediately after the
start and when the mill is warm - they are different. Both of them show 4 impacts in one
gear mesh cycle, but they occur at different locations in the gear mesh cycle. Also there is
one gear specialist involved and according to his calculations and measurements a tooth
interference is very possible. When I look at my time waves this hypothesis is logical (cold
- warm state difference) but at the same time the manufacturer could not find any proof of
the teeth interference, despite the gear guru - he saw the marks from the interference.
Does anyone have some experiences with similar problems in ball mills? Is it possible
that there is a resonance phenomena in the presence of such a frequency spectra
(harmonics of GM) and time waves (very visible and stable impacts from the gears - raw
and TSA time waves are similar). Generally the harmonics could be related to worn gears
and backlash but according to all measurement the backlash is OK. The manufacturer
suggested to move the pinions 0.5 mm out and to remeasured. If we get lower vibrations
the it confirms with an idea of interference but if not...? Thank you for your suggestions.
2.In your research to find the cause and then, of course, the solution to this problem, you
may wish to look at the bolting as one possibility. How were the GG bolts tightend? I was
on a recent project in Africa where the Mechanical Contractor had torque-tightened the
GG/Shell/Head bolts. Using a calibrated hydraulic torque wrench, the "proper" torque was
applied. However, when we checked the bolt preloads, they weren't nearly at the right
level.After noticing this on the first bolt, I suspected possible galling and hence had the
fastener disassembled. There was no noticable thread damage but, neither was there any
evidence of thread lubricant under the head of the nut. There was my answer. The same
situation was found on all of the others as well. I had the entire population of bolts
disassembled so that in addition to the lube on the threads, the bearing surfaces were
also lubed. Then, the same torque was applied and generated prelaods in the range that
we had expeceted. Of course, the torque applied to each fastener was modified to a
unique value to produce the specific degree of preload that we were looking for.

Had we not been there to provide QA for this critical assembly process, the GG would
have been installed too loosely even though the proper torque was applied to the
fasteners. I'm confident that it too would have been shaking, rattling and rolling upon

Here's a link to a Case History of a similar situation that might be of interest: Mill Girth
Gear Failure Averted

3.Hello BoltedJointIntegrity, I don't know anything on how they tightened the GG bolts. I
assume they used torque wrenches. I will go there to do the bump test at the supports
tomorrow and will check for the tightening details. If we have loosened bolts at the GG
and shell... I would expect axial vibrationsas well and also some nonstationarities in the
signal. I recorded a very stable - repeatable meshing. Also the vibrations in horizontal
directions are doubled in short time after the start. If we have a problem with the girth
gear bolts what would you expect with the girth gear warm up? Thank you for your

4. Hi Zuber
What was the procedure for pinion to girth gear mesh alignment? blue dye for contact
area? feeler guage for equal clearance along the 2 meshing faces?
An out of round or eccentric pinion gear will give you your 2.4Hz modulation or a single
damaged pinion tooth. Maybe something you could check next visit to site.
Maybe you should also put some effort into getting the gearbox to pinion shaft alignment
correct. After all it is something you have found that is incorrect and can be fixed and then
taken off the list as a possible cause?Just out of curiosity many teeth on the "long
shaft" gear coupling? is the lubrication correct in the coupling gears?

Hi noknroll,
The alignment procedure involved the radial and axial clearance check and the blue dye
check. This is how they align the pinions and a girth gear. Once when the axis of the
pinion is defined by such a procedure, they are ready to start. My comments were that
now they have to align the pinion shaft and a gearbox. Physically, the gearbox , main
drive and the auxiliary drive can not be moved. Therefore my idea was to measure the
misalignment and to treat the pinion as a movable machine. Once when I get the
correction under the supports of the pinion, we can check if these corrections affects the
previously defined clearances. Unfortunately the misalignment is so huge that I could get
the laser beams inside the targets. The pinion's shaft and the gearbox are connected
through gear couplings with 80 teeth each. This gear mesh frequency (80 x 2.4 Hz) can
not be found in the frequency spectra. Also they opened the gear couplings and they
seem OK. Also they were well lubricated during the test. If there is a misalignment
problem, would you expect so much difference between the cold and warm state. Also I
would expects some harmonics of the pinion's shaft. As you can see from the spectra
only the harmonics of the gear mesh are evident. The lubrication between the pinions and
a girth gear is controlled and it is good. Thank you for your comments.

Are the gearbox and motor not movable because of grouting cement?
Moving the pinion to achieve alignment to the gearbox will disturb the pinion to girth gear
alignment. Normally I would treat the mill as the datum and align everything back to the
motor as the last adjustment.

Unfortunately the misalignment is so huge that I could get the laser beams inside the
A simple technique to get the laser dot on target is to do a manual 4 point sweep and
using a measuring rule as the target calculate the difference top to bottom and side to
side and measure the dot in "live mode" while making the adjustment to split the
there will be a difference (Thermal growth)
in the alignment between hot and cold state. You say that the long shaft can physically be
seen to have large movements....this could well be the source of your 28mm/sec reading.
7 metres is too long a span in my opinion not to have a support bearing placed
somewhere towards the centre of the span to prevent whipping.

Yes, the gearbox and a motor can not be moved due to the grouting cement. You are right
about choosing the datum - the drive and a gearbox should be movable but at the
moment they can not be moved. Can you give me more details on your procedure to get
the beam inside the target, since I am not sure if I understand it. What I tried to do is the
procedure for rough alignment (see the attachment) but I had no success in getting the
beam inside the target for 9 - 15 positions. In case of misalignment would you expect
such a spectra with so many GM harmonics? Thank you very much for your assistance.
Fixed 1 2 3 4 5
Shaft 1
5 43 21
Zuber the rough drawing I have attached is simulation of what i mentioned earlier with the
and is another way of doing what your attachment instruction are.
So if we take 4 measurements, 1 each at 12,3 6 &9 o'clock. on our fixed machine in the
attach we get results of 5,5,1 & 1 so if we 1/2 the error we should aim for 3. Do this by
leaving the laser turned on with an assistant watch the laser dot till you get to 3 on your
horizontal and vertical moves. Before you start you should use the laser dot thumbwheel
adjustor (or whatever adjustment method your laser head has) to find the middle of the
dots vertical and horizontal range.
I have some mills of similar configuration and on all 14 of these the pinion gearmesh
frequencies are dominant. To me your spectrum amplitudes dont look too out of control
except for the 28mms/sec and I would be looking at the large movements observed on
the long shaft as the source.

hi zuber,

currently we have problem same as u described but we have it on kiln girth gear.
spectrum high vibration is in horizontal direction. and pinion GMF harmonics are
After pinion inspection we saw impression of high load.
So suspection about misalignment was right which i made before to my manager.
Thank you nocknroll, So the procedure is similar to the dial method with the dial indicators
- measurements at the opposite directions. I will try that and send you the results. Yes
there is obviously the misalignment problem as well, but I have constantly in mind that
they had the similar if not the same misalignment with the previous gear pairs but still,
with worn gears, much lower vibration values. Thank you very much for your efforts.

Hi shebbirao, thanks for the comments. So you also had higher harmonics of the GM and
dominant values in the horizontal direction? Did you already aligned the long shaft i.e. the
gearbox and the pinion? I am interested if this really resulted in lowering the vibration

Hello Zurber,
Rule out gear alignment with temperature gun along the pinion. Herringbone gear should
mirror across the center and I believe that spur gear temperature is the same across the
contact line. You spectrum really look like alignment problem of the pinion. We had
synchronous motor so we first align the gearbox with the motor then the pinion with the
gearbox and finally the ball mill with the pinion. You need to pass lead gauge through the
gearing to ensure good meshing and at 8 positions around the girth. I will joint Falk
Good luck, Marcel