random #39: Lignum Vitae... hydroelectric turbine bearings?

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Blog entry by Gary Fixler posted 08-14-2010 08:18 AM 4706 reads 0 times favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 38: Watch where you park your bench! Part 39 of random series Part 40: outta time :(: »

I’ve often heard that lignum vitae (Guaiacum spp.) is the strongest wood – some 3.5x harder than red oak – but this is darn impressive. As per the link:

From the Army Corps of Engineers
“The original hydro turbine bearings made of Lignum Vitae, lasted from 1934 to 2001. The Lignum Vitae bearing design kept the hydro turbine in service for sixty-seven years!
Modern composite metal bearing materials such as Thoradon, Ryetex, Mycarta, and Phenolics are unacceptable materials due to their inability to match the characteristics of Lignum Vitae.”

-- Gary, Los Angeles, video game animator

4 comments so far

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10850 posts in 1936 days

#1 posted 08-14-2010 03:34 PM

yep sure is very impressive
the nature never stop to impress

View Karson's profile


34930 posts in 3221 days

#2 posted 08-14-2010 04:10 PM


I’ve used some as cool blocks on my old bandsaw. They worked great.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware †

View JJohnston's profile


1612 posts in 2112 days

#3 posted 08-14-2010 04:27 PM

I’ve heard they use Lignum for the propeller shaft bearings (bushings, actually) on submarines, because it gets slick when soaked with sea water, and it’s quieter than any mechanical bearing. Urban myth?

Hah – if I’d read a little further down, I’d have read it here, too.

I do take exception to their claim of “low construction cost” for hydroelectric plants. Maybe they’re not taking into account the dam that has to be built along with it?

-- "A man may conduct himself well in both adversity and good fortune, but if you want to test his character, give him power." - Abraham Lincoln

View Greg..the Cajun Wood Artist's profile

Greg..the Cajun Wood Artist

5432 posts in 2129 days

#4 posted 08-14-2010 04:36 PM

Are you building something out of Lignum Vitae?

-- Each step of every Wood Art project I design and build is considered my masterpiece… because I want the finished product to reflect the quality and creativeness of my work

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