High speed rotors supported on bump-type foil bearings (BFBs) often suffer from large sub synchronous whirl motions. Mechanically preloading BFBs through shimming is a common, low cost practice that shows improvements in rotordynamic stability. However, there is absence of empirical information related to the force coefficients (structural and rotordynamic) of shimmed BFBs. This paper details a concerted study towards assessing the effect of shimming on a first generation BFB (L=38.1 mm, D =36.5 mm). Three metal shims, 120° apart, are glued to the inner surface of the bearing cartridge and facing the underside of the bump foil strip. The shim sets are of identical thickness, either 30 μm or 50 μm. Static load tests show that shimming produces nonlinear static load vs. deflection curves leading to a larger structural stiffness than for the bearing without shims. Torque measurements during shaft acceleration also demonstrate a shimmed BFB has a larger friction coefficient. For a static load of 14.3 kPa, dynamic loads with a frequency sweep from 250 Hz to 450 Hz are exerted on the BFB, without and with shims, to estimate its rotordynamic force coefficients while operating at ∼50 krpm (833 Hz). Similar measurements are conducted without shaft rotation. Results are presented for the original BFB (without shims) and the two shimmed BFB configurations. The direct stiffnesses of the BFB, shimmed or not, increase with excitation frequency thus evidencing a mild hardening effect. The BFB stiffness and damping coefficients decrease slightly for operation with rotor speed as opposed to the coefficients when the shaft is stationary. For frequencies above 300 Hz, the direct damping coefficients of the BFB with 50 μm thick shims are ∼ 30% larger than the coefficients of the original bearing. The bearing structural loss factor, a measure of its ability to dissipate mechanical energy, is derived from the direct stiffness and damping coefficients. The BFB with 50 μm thick shims has a 25% larger loss factor — average from test data collected at 300 Hz to 400 Hz — than the original BFB. Further measurements of rotor motions while the shaft accelerates to ∼50 krpm demonstrate the shimmed BFB (thickest shim set) effectively removes sub synchronous whirl motions amplitudes that were conspicuous when operating with the original bearing.

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