Tricones: Sealed or Open Bearing, what does the job require?

There are a wide range of different tricones available and it can be confusing to select the correct one for the task ahead. Tricones care available in a range of different makes and styles; each one is designed for a specific kind of rock formation and estimated drilling depth. This article will be focusing on the different bearing systems commonly used in tricones, with the aim of helping you make better decisions about which tricones you’ll need for any upcoming project. Tricones will generally have Open Roller Bearings, Sealed Roller Bearings, or Journal Bearings. You can distinguish the type of bearing based on the 3rd digit of their IADC classification number. The type of bearing determines how often bits will jam, how much lubrication is applied, and the speed at which you can reasonably drill.

Open Roller Bearings: Starting with the basics of tricones

To function properly, tricones require each one of the “cones” to be able to rotate freely using ball bearings and roller bearings. Open roller bearings means that the roller bearings have no seal and outside debris can potentially enter through the cone and interfere with the ability of the cones to rotate. Significant debris can jam tricones and force a halt in drilling while debris is removed. The main advantage to Open Roller Bearings Tricones is the lower cost. This makes them ideal for shallow drilling projects where occasional delays are not time consuming and do not have a significant impact on the total duration of the project. For any more serious project you should strongly consider a sealed or journal bearing. Open Roller Bearing tricones are designated with a 1, 2, or 3 as the third digit in their IADC code . 1 is for standard roller bearings, 2 is for air cooled bearings, and 3 is for open bearing with gauge protection.

Sealed Roller Bearings: Protecting your investment

Sealed Roller Bearing tricones are largely similar to the open seal bearing tricones, but feature an O’ ring that protects any debris from reaching the roller bearings via the cone. These tricones almost always feature a grease or lubricant reservoir that prevents any blockages caused by debris and keep the bearings in motion. These factors make Sealed Roller Bearing tricones an obvious choice for deeper drilling projects where the cost in time to stop and clear debris is unacceptable. Eventually the O’ ring will wear out, however the tricones can still be used for some time as if they were Open Roller Bearings. Sealed Roller bearing tricones are designated with a 4 or 5 as the third digit of their IADC code . 4 is for standard sealed roller bearings, and 5 is for a sealed roller bearing with gauge protection. standard sealed roller bearings, and 5 is for a sealed roller bearing with gauge protection.


Journal Bearing Tricones: Standing up to the most difficult drilling

Journal Bearing tricones are designed for truly important projects and can withstand vast amounts of wear and tear. The most expensive option, but best suited to serious drilling projects. Journal bearings discard the roller bearings in favour of a “floating brush” seal which is combined with lubricant to allow the roller-head to rotate without any exposure to outside debris. This means journal bearing tricones can stand up to extremely prolonged and deep drilling sessions with minimal time spent on maintenance or tending to debris. Gauge protection is the norm with Journal Bearings due to the types of projects these tricones are used on; if a project requires the durability of Journal Bearing Tricones, it stands to reason it will also require the durability offered by gage protection. Journal Roller Bearing Tricones are designated with a 6 or 7 as the third digit of their IADC code . 6 is for a standard sealed journal bearing, and 7 is for a sealed journal bearing with gauge protection.


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