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Ships propeller shaft -Thrust block & Shaft bearings

The transmission system on a ship transmits power from the engine to the propeller. It is made up of shafts, bearings, and Finally the propeller itself. The thrust from the propeller is transferred to the ship through the transmission system.

The different items in the system include the thrust shaft, one or more intermediate shafts and the tailshaft. These shafts are supported by the thrust block, intermediate bearings and the sterntube bearing. A sealing arrangement is provided at either end of the tailshaft with the propeller and cone completing the arrangement. These parts, their location and purpose are shown in Figure below.

Thrust block

The thrust block transfers the thrust from the propeller to the hull of the ship. It must therefore be solidly constructed and mounted onto a rigid seating or framework to perform its task.Solid propeller
Fig: A solid fixed-pitch propeller

It may be an independent unit or an integral part of the main propulsion engine. Both ahead and astern thrusts must be catered for and the construction must be strong enough to withstand normal and shock loads.

Thrust block arrangement
Fig: Thrust block arrangement

The casing of the independent thrust block is in two halves which are joined by fitted bolts (Figure above). The thrust loading is carried by bearing pads which are arranged to pivot or tilt. The pads are mounted in holders or carriers and faced with white metal. In the arrangement shown the thrust pads extend threequarters of the distance around the collar and transmit all thrust to the lower half of the casing. Other designs employ a complete ring of pads.

An oil scraper deflects the oil lifted by the thrust collar and directs it onto the pad stops. From here it cascades over the thrust pads and bearings. The thrust shaft is manufactured with integral flanges for bolting to the engine or gearbox shaft and the intermediate shafting, and a thrust collar for absorbing the thrust.

Propeller shaft arrangement
Fig: Propeller shaft arrangement

Where the thrust shaft is an integral part of the engine, the casing is usually fabricated in a similar manner to the engine bedplate to which it is bolted. Pressurised lubrication from the engine lubricating oil system is provided and most other details of construction are similar to the independent type of thrust block

Shaft bearings

Shaft bearings are of two types, the aftermost tunnel bearing and all others. The aftermost tunnel bearing has a top and bottom bearing shell because it must counteract the propeller mass and take a vertical upward thrust at the forward end of the tailshaft. The other shaft bearings only support the shaft weight and thus have only lower half bearing shells.

An intermediate tunnel bearing is shown in Figure below.

Tunnel bearing arrangement
Fig: Tunnel bearing arrangement

The usual journal bush is here replaced by pivoting pads. The tilting pad is better able to carry high overloads and retain a thick oil lubrication film. Lubrication is from a bath in the lower half of the casing, and an oil thrower ring dips into the oil and carries it round the shaft as it rotates. Cooling of the bearing is by water circulating through a tube cooler in the bottom of the casing.

Related information

Oil lubricated sterntube bearing, sterntube seals & shafting arrangement

Function of solid fixed pitch propeller & Propeller mounting

Controllable pitch propeller

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