7FUG 2020: Pioneer Motor Bearing Co. – Combined Cycle Journal

7FUG 2020: Pioneer Motor Bearing Co.

The “Care and Feeding” of Fluid Film Bearings


Lyle Branagan, Engineering Manager
P.E., B.S.M.E. (with Honors), M.S., Ph.D.,
The University of Virginia

After his undergraduate college years, Lyle began his career as a mechanical engineer with Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) in northern California, but after five years he took a leave of absence to obtain his Masters and Doctorate, based on his advanced research on temperature gradients in fixed geometry and tilting pad bearings. Returning to PG&E, Lyle excelled as a rotordynamics engineer, gaining solid design and hands-on operations experience with bearings and vibration in large turbomachinery. He was a hands-on member of the start-up team for PG&E’s Helms Pump Storage Generating Station and the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant. Since joining Pioneer in 1996, Lyle has gained an industry-wide reputation not only for his intellectual strength and accomplishments, but for his modesty, good humor, and pleasant personality. When Lyle is not traveling the world on business for Pioneer, he enjoys going to exotic destinations with his family. Lyle is a registered Mechanical Engineer in North Carolina and California.

Presentation Synopsis

This presentation is designed to be a discussion regarding typical damage mechanisms found in fluid film bearings that are found in motors, turbines, and generators. Topics such as theory of operation, basic design features, materials of construction, and lubrication will be briefly reviewed. This basic information will be used to discuss some typical damage mechanisms observed in today’s fluid film bearings with an eye toward prevention of recurrence and recovery from the problem. Please feel free to bring along your personal case studies for discussion during the virtual vendor exhibition.

Key Takeaways for Users

Attendees will be able to look at post-service bearings with a better perception as to how markings and damage to the bearing surface would affect the continued operation and long-term reliability of the bearing, and therefore of the overall gas turbine.

Attendees will be able to relate those damage markings which are appropriate indicators to some specific degraded conditions within the machine, such as shaft currents and misalignment.


Main Phone: 704-937-7000

General Manager: Edgardo Goyret

Dr. Lyle Branagan P.E.
Day Griffin, MSME, P.E.
Dr. Michael Branagan

Terri Smith
Robert “Bob” Swisher
Heather Bennett

About Pioneer Motor Bearing Co.

Now in our 100th year under the same family ownership, Pioneer Motor Bearing Company provides original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and owners and operators (“end users”) of very large rotating equipment (such as steam and gas turbines and generators for electric utilities) bearing engineering, manufacturing and repair expertise. Our mission is to help them design, build, maintain and upgrade large rotating equipment to operate more efficiently and reliably over an extended life.

We are the market-leading company for repair and service of large oil lubricated bearings, particularly in regards to engineering problem-solving work for end users in the aftermarket or for OEMs to help them service their customers. We are a licensee of Siemens Energy, GE, and Michell Bearings of the United Kingdom.

Products and Services

  • Babbitt Bearing repairs, new manufacture, reverse engineering, upgrades and custom designs, & technical support
  • Emergency services
  • Hydrogen Seals
  • Engineering services that utilize numerous bearing analysis codes
  • Fluid Pivot® Bearings
  • Comprehensive fluid-film bearing training




129 Battleground Rd.
Kings Mountain, NC 28086
United States

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