Experiments are reported where face-seat specimens were operated hydrodynamically at conditions close to thermal equilibrium. Changes in surface waviness and mean film thickness were monitored, and compared with theoretical predictions of thermal growth of waviness. Discrepancies were attributed to imperfect response of the gimbals to axial run-out. This run-out was increased by thermal effects at high sliding speeds and led to interactions which influenced the growth of two-lobed waves on the contact face. Operation proved stable, as predicted, under the carefully controlled operating conditions of fixed axial load and self aligning contact.

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