The effect of a geometrical imperfection, such as the axis flexural deformation, on the large-amplitude vibrations of a horizontal rotating shaft is analyzed with the aid of the Multiple Scales Method. Internal viscous damping and linear elasticity are assumed in the model. It is then seen that no matter how small the imperfection is, a “critical” speed of the order of half the classical critical speed arises, with relevant practical implications. A number of reported large-amplitude cases may eventually be explained this way. It is possible that events such as this will not appear in systems with high dry friction.

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