Thordon’s record rudder bearing

Self-lubricating polymer material used

Thordon Bearings said it has supplied the largest rudder bearing it has ever manufactured for a 7506TEU containership.

The 2001-built vessel, operated by a European owner, was retrofitted with a 1230 mm long, 1111 mm diameter SXL bearing after the vessel’s original bronze rudder bearing required replacement due to excessive wear.

Thordon’s authorized Distributor in the U.A.E. – Ocean Power International (OPI) – was contacted by Drydocks World-Dubai (DDW) to put forward an alternative rudder bearing solution, with OPI recommending Thordon’s grease-free SXL polymer bearing.

From receiving the order, it took just three days to manufacture, ship, deliver, machine and fit the record-breaking bearing using liquid nitrogen during the 12-day drydocking in November, the company said.

The bearing comes with a 15-year Rudder Bearing Wear Life Guarantee, which covers the provision of a replacement if the bearing wears out and requires renewal within 15 years of installation.

The SXL Bearing at Thordon Bearings’ headquarters in Canada before being air freighted to Dubai. (Image: Thordon Bearings)

“Thordon’s Burlington facility produced the self-lubricating polymer material in less than 24 hours,” said Rafid Qureshi, Managing Director of Dubai-based OPI. “The bearing was then loaded on to a scheduled Emirates Airlines flight to Dubai, where U.A.E. customs quickly cleared the product, delivered and installed in another 24 hours.”

Scott Groves, VP Sales, Thordon Bearings, said since there is no longer a requirement to grease the bearings, the associated labor, cost and pollution source is removed. Internal lubricants formulated into the material reduce friction, resulting in smoother, longer lasting, grease-free bearing operation, he said.

Thordon said its SXL material has a lower modulus of elasticity than other non-metallic bearings, resulting in significantly increased vibration dampening, accommodation of edge loading and better impact resistance. This reliability and performance are evident with almost 4500 rudder bearing applications on vessels.

OPI is also currently working with DDW on various projects to replace containership fairleads with Thordon’s grease-free ThorPlas-Blue bearings.


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