2019 – Ensuring Radial Gate Resilience Against Bearing Friction

Curt Davidson, Chris Lucas, Ingeborg Lassen Bue

Dam spillway gate collapse may have fatal consequences and cause severe structural damage due to flooding, additionally the dam owner will suffer substantial business losses. The repair work required to put a gate back in service can be time consuming, challenging, dangerous and costly. To ensure the reliability of radial gate operation, and depending on the type of trunnion bearing and the structural capacity of the gate arms, the bearing friction should be carefully monitored and gate performance evaluated to confirm the gate’s ability to withstand increases in friction over time. The frequency of monitoring requires careful consideration.

Radial gate arms are normally designed to withstand bending moments from nominal bearing friction. An inappropriate bearing, or a bearing in poor condition, might have friction sufficiently high to cause a gate arm to fail due to the excessive bending moment during gate operation.
An easy and non-invasive way of analysing the condition of the bearing, to ensure safe operation of radial gates where the arms might be prone to increased bending moment, is through friction measurement with the use of strain gauges. This paper briefly presents common radial gate design and some failure modes as a consequence of increased bearing friction, and a method of determining the bearing friction coefficient through strain gauge measurements and experience from the field is presented.

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