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Keyless Bushing Simplifies Construction and Maintenance of European Theme Park Ride

A novel type of bushing has helped UK-based Gamendale Engineering to reduce costs on a mineshaft-style railway ride for a new European theme park. The Baldor• Dodge® Grip Tight® bushing system allows the drive wheels to be attached directly onto the shafts without the cost of machining keyways, providing a completely concentric grip.

The bushing’s 360-degree fit and easy disassembly mechanism simplifies routine maintenance of the ride, allowing trouble-free removal in seconds and eliminating the damage and corrosion that can often be caused by vibration-prone keyway-style couplings with set screws.

Garmendale Engineering has a considerable reputation in creating trains and rides for the leisure industry, with installations at almost all of the United Kingdom’s best-known theme parks. This latest project is an underground railway system with mineshaft-style wooden wagons.

Typically, Garmendale Engineering would couple this kind of wagon wheel to the shaft by machining a keyway and securing it with set screws. With this method, the machine and assembly time required for each wheel takes between one and two hours, adding in excess of 50 skilled labor hours onto the total cost of the project.

Keyway style mounting may also cause vibration, which shortens the life of the bearing and can lead to fretting corrosion, making wheels very difficult to remove during routine maintenance.

When Garmendale became aware of the new bushing system during a routine visit by one of its suppliers, Bearing Transmission & Pneumatics, the significant savings that could be achieved by using the new product were immediately obvious.

The Baldor-Dodge Grip Tight bushing is made up of two split sleeves and a locknut. The locknut draws the sleeves together, closing the inner sleeve around the shaft until the grip is tight. This provides a completely concentric 360-degree fit. As the nut is loosened, the spring makes the sleeves open slightly, allowing them to slide off. This simplifies routine maintenance, allowing the non-specialist maintenance personnel, often employed at theme parks, to remove the wheels without trouble in order to change treads and get access to the bearings.

“The Grip Tight bushing has saved us a couple of thousand pounds on this project and provides a number of performance and maintenance advantages to the end user,” says Chris Hurt, Garmendale Engineering’s lead engineer on this project. “The bushing system is ideal for many of the low-speed rotating shaft applications we design for leisure transportation, as well as many other forms of machinery and automation.”