"We are experiencing sleeve bearing failures on a piece of equipment. The main cause of failure is bearing wear due to mechanical misapplication of the equipment. We are not in a position to change the bearing type yet because we have to meet current production demands. Would a simple magnetic plug help to remove 'free' particles of entrained bearing material and slow down the rate of wear until we can correct the root cause?”

Unfortunately, magnetic plugs trap only large ferromagnetic wear debris (typically larger than 100 microns). Non-ferrous particles associated with babbitt used in sleeve bearings would not be removed, nor would ferrous particles (shaft metal, for instance) smaller than 100 microns.

Therefore, wear metal is unlikely to be trapped by a magnetic plug. Instead, try the following:

 - Fitting a couple of quick connects to the bearing housing (top and bottom) would allow a small portable filtering unit to clean up the oil very rapidly. On the assumption that you would need to turn over the volume seven times, a 5-liter-per-minute pump would take less than 10 minutes to clean up the oil to a very clean level. In conjunction with the new breather unit, this would minimize the main cause of wear.

 - Upgrade the breather/vent units if these are fitted. Bear in mind that a 10-micron particle entering through a vent plug is like a snooker/pool ball rolling through a doorway — there is little chance of stopping it. A good breather will help ensure that no additional contamination is entering.

 - If the machine is being stressed, oil temperatures are probably higher. The OEM-specified oil may be too thin at the higher temperatures. Consider a change of lubricant viscosity specification, perhaps even to a multi-grade or synthetic.