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What Is Slewing Bearings

July 1, 2011

Slewing bearings are ball or cylindrical roller bearings that can accommodate axial, radial and moment loads acting either singly or in combination and in any direction.

They are not mounted on a shaft or in a housing; the rings, which are simply bolted on the seating surface are available in one of three executions:

Without gears

With an internal gear

With an external gear

Slewing bearings can perform both oscillating (slewing) movements as well as rotating movements.

To “slew” means to turn without change of place; a “slewing” bearing is a rotational rolling-element bearing that typically supports a heavy but slow-turning or slow-oscillating load, often a horizontal platform such as a conventional crane, a swing yarder, or the wind-facing platform of a horizontal-axis windmill.

Compared to other rolling-element bearings, Slewing bearings are thin in section and are often made in diameters of a metre or more; the slewing bearings on the Falkirk Wheel are 4 metres diameter and fit over a 3.5 metre axle. Slewing bearings resemble oversize aircraft control surface bearings.

Slewing bearings often use two rows of rolling elements. They often use three race elements, such as an inner ring and two outer ring “halves” that clamp together axially.

Slewing bearings are often made with gear teeth integral with the inner or outer race, used to drive the platform relative to the base.

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