The load carrying capacity of a hydrodynamic bearing depends on the formation of a fluid film in a converging wedge. In the diverging part of the wedge cavitation occurs. In this work an ultrasonic sensor has been installed into the bore of a rotating shaft in a journal bearing, to explore the regions of film formation and cavitation. The sensor emits discrete pulses of sound that travel radially through the shaft and reflect from the oil film. The reflected pulses are used to determine the thickness of the oil film between the journal and bush. The minimum film thickness compares well with classical hydrodynamic theory. However in the diverging section of the bearing cavitation occurs which causes an increased ultrasonic reflection and hence over prediction of the film thickness.

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