In recent years, compliant bearings, having one surface of an elastomer, have been studied both theoretically and experimentally. A technique for studying the lubricant film in such a bearing has been developed at BHRA Fluid Engineering in a study of the lubrication of reciprocating elastomer seals. The technique employs optical interference and can determine the film thicknesses to within a few microin. under static, dynamic, and pressurised conditions. The present paper describes the development of the technique and some results which amply illustrate the difference between rigid and compliant bearings.

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