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

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Blog entry by Gary Fixler posted 08-14-2010 08:18 AM 4413 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 1801 days

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

yep sure is very impressive
the nature never stop to impress

View Karson's profile


34889 posts in 3087 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


1586 posts in 1978 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?

-- "Sometimes even now, when I'm feeling lonely and beat, I drift back in time, and I find my feet...Down on Main Street." - Bob Seger

View Greg..the Cajun  Box Sculptor's profile

Greg..the Cajun Box Sculptor

5178 posts in 1995 days

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

Are you building something out of Lignum Vitae?

-- We all must start somewhere in our journey of doing what we love to do.

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