Field identification of fluid film bearing parameters is critical for adequate interpretation of rotating machinery performance and necessary to validate or calibrate predictions from restrictive computational fluid film bearing models. This paper presents a simple method for estimating bearing support force coefficients in flexible rotor-bearing systems. The method requires two independent tests with known mass imbalance distributions and the measurement of the rotor motion (amplitude and phase) at locations close to the supports. The procedure relies on the modeling of the rotor structure and finds the bearing transmitted forces as a function of observable quantities (rotor vibrations at bearing locations). Imbalance response measurements conducted with a two-disk flexible rotor supported on two-lobe fluid film bearings allow validation of the identification method estimations. Predicted (linearized) bearing force coefficients agree reasonably well with the parameters derived from the test data. The method advanced neither adds mathematical complexity nor requires additional instrumentation beyond that already available in most high performance turbomachinery.

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