We made an experimental investigation of the motions of the retainer in an instrument ball bearing during stable operation and during squeal. Radial motions of the retainer were measured with two fiber-light probes mounted 90 physical degrees apart. A signal analyzer was used to determine the phasing and frequency content of the probe signals. During squeal, a high-frequency retainer motion was found to be superimposed on the normal retainer ball group rotation rate. This high-frequency motion, which we call whirl, is a rigid-body translation in a circle. Whirl direction is opposite to the race for outer-race rotation, but in the same direction for inner-race rotation. Whirl frequency is approximately proportional to ball spin rate. The observations agree with predictions made from a squeal model based on retainer-to-ball frictional coupling that was originally presented in 1965.

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