Looking inside the gearbox -- Internal examination

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The association of Danish wind turbine owners has equipped its technical department with an endoscope for internal examination of gearbox bearings in situ. A 3.5 metre flexible tube with a diameter of 4.4 millimetres is fed into the gearbox through which photos can be taken of the condition of the bearings and gear surfaces.

The endoscope can be positioned to photograph most of the surfaces, says Strange Skriver, the association's chief technical consultant. First uses of the endoscope in the field have revealed pitting of bearings and wear caused by foreign particles.

By better documenting gearbox wear, owners are in a stronger position to demand repairs while a wind turbine is still under manufacturer guarantee, explains Skriver. Not all gearboxes make endoscope investigation possible, but the wind association will document which models can and cannot be subject to internal inspection.

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