Pillow block bearing

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An early pillow-block with a whitemetal plain bearing

A pillow block bearing (or plummer block) is a pedestal used to provide support for a rotating shaft with the help of compatible bearings and various accessories. The assembly consists of a mounting block which houses a bearing.[1] The block is mounted to a foundation and a shaft is inserted allowing the inner part of the bearing / shaft to rotate.[1] The inside of the bearing is typically 0.025 millimetres (0.001 in) larger diameter than the shaft to ensure a tight fit.[2] Set screws, locking collars, or set collars are commonly used to secure the shaft.[2] Housing material for a pillow block is typically made of cast iron[1] or cast steel.

Typical plummer block


A pillow block usually refers to a housing with an included anti-friction bearing, wherein the mounted shaft is in a parallel plane to the mounting surface, and perpendicular to the center line of the mounting holes, as contrasted with various types of flange blocks or flange units.

Bearing types[edit]

A pillow block may contain a bearing with one of several types of rolling elements, including ball, cylindrical roller, spherical roller, tapered roller, or metallic or synthetic bushing.[1] The type of rolling element defines the type of pillow block.

Plummer blocks[edit]

Pillow blocks differ from "plummer blocks" which are bearing housings supplied without any bearings and are usually meant for higher load ratings and a separately installed bearing.[1] Plummer block bearings are designed for more corrosive environments.[1] The fundamental application of both types is the same, which is to mount a bearing safely enabling its outer ring to be stationary while allowing rotation of the inner ring. The housing is bolted to a foundation through the holes in the base.


Bearing housings may be either split type or solid type.[1] Split type housings are usually two-piece housings where the cap and base may be detached,[1] while solid are single-piece housings.[1]

Dust and water protection[edit]

Various sealing arrangements may be provided to prevent dust and other contaminants from entering the housing. Thus the housing provides a clean environment for the environmentally sensitive bearing to rotate free from contaminants while also retaining lubrication, either oil or grease, hence increasing its performance and duty cycle.


Bearing housings are usually made of grey cast iron.[1] However, various grades of metals can be used to manufacture the same, including ductile iron, steel, stainless steel, and various types of thermoplastics and polyethylene-based plastics.

The bearing element may be manufactured from 52100 chromium steel alloy (the most common), stainless steel, plastic, or bushing materials such as SAE660 cast bronze, or SAE841 oil impregnated sintered bronze, or synthetic materials.


ISO 113 specifies internationally accepted dimensions for plummer blocks.[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j TL, Prabhu (2019-11-12). Principles of MECHANICAL ENGINEERING: Vital Concepts of Mechanical Engineering. Nestfame Creations Pvt. Ltd. Retrieved 2020-09-19.
  2. ^ a b Renner, Barbara (2 October 1998). Hands On Water and Wastewater Equipment Maintenance. CRC Press. pp. 40–43. ISBN 978-1-56676-428-5. Retrieved 2019-09-19.
  3. ^ Childs, Peter R. N. (2 September 2013). Mechanical Design Engineering Handbook. Butterworth-Heinemann. ISBN 978-0-08-098283-0.