Not Giant Bearings, But They Make A Big Difference

No, that isn’t a picture of the world’s largest throttle body dwarfing a Volkswagen Illtis all-terrain vehicle that’s about to run into a pair of needle roller bearings.

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No, that isn’t a picture of the world’s largest throttle body dwarfing a Volkswagen Illtis all-terrain vehicle that’s about to run into a pair of needle roller bearings. What it is is a model of said vehicle, which harkens back to the 1980 Dakar Rally and a challenge faced by engineers from the Schaeffler Group, as they needed to determine the ways and means to prevent the fine Saharan dust from causing throttle valves to jam, which is certainly not what you want to have happen somewhere in the Sahara on your way to Senegal. Their solution was a compact, specially sealed needle roller bearing.

According to Schaeffler, which has produced millions of these bearings during the past 30 years for regular vehicles as well as those that go pounding through the desert (on the order of 450 million throttle valve bearings), a real challenge today is not dust but protecting the engine from secondary air and pressure peaks from the combustion chamber. The bearings are key for turbocharged engines, as well.

Admittedly small vis-à-vis a vehicle, but they make a big difference. . .almost as big as that throttle body. . . .