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Singing the praises of turntable bearings

Singing the praises of turntable bearings

Wakefield-based Brilliant Stages is leveraging the benefits of turntable bearings for stage sets used by some of the globe’s biggest-selling pop artists. Robbie Williams, Beyoncé and Jay-Z, and Helene Fischer – a successful singer in Germany who has sold more than 15 million albums worldwide – are all putting this innovative bearing technology to the test as part of extraordinary and elaborate shows.

Founded in 1983, Brilliant Stages is a world leader in the design, construction and integration of stage sets, complex constructions and motion control systems. With this in mind, when Brilliant Stages recently required a high-performance, robust turntable (TT) bearing for an exciting new project, it turned to RA Rodriguez. This essential component would prove pivotal in bringing the set to life for what promised to be a technically challenging series of concerts performed by Robbie Williams.

As part of the show, Robbie would appear sitting in a huge boxing glove at the end of an articulated arm. The Rodriguez TT bearing was required for the elbow joint, where it would provide the rotate movement. Clearly, first-class performance attributes, including reliability and safety, were paramount.

Dave Young, northern area and slewing bearings product manager, says: “Brilliant Stages is a fast-paced business which likes the fact that we offer Rodriguez TT bearings ex-stock on short lead times. Having developed our relationship, we now have a way of working where Brilliant Stages will call and tell us about the job and the loads involved. We will then provide a selection of ex-stock options, from which they will see what works best and design the mechanism around it. At Rodriguez we work in partnership with our customers to ensure we respond in the way that best suits the business model.”

Based on performance, quality, availability and competitive price, Brilliant Stages selected an 844mm KDM four-point-contact bearing (external geared, with mating pinion drive). Rodriguez KDM/KDMH bearings, which feature hardened raceways, have met requirements in various turntable applications for many years. These four-point-contact bearings are robust and proven in the toughest applications, absorbing both axial and radial loads, as well as tilting moments, making it ideal for the Robbie Williams application.

The versatility of Rodriguez TT bearings was further tested with the next request from Brilliant Stages, which needed a solution to rotate a large scissor lift that would operate throughout a breath-taking and ambitious stage set by Helene Fischer.

In this instance, a larger bearing was required, with Brilliant Stages opting for an 1155mm KDMH four-point-contact bearing, again external geared with mating pinion drive, and again supplied ex-stock.

KDM/KDMH TT bearings can be supplied ungeared or with gear teeth as an integral part of either the inner or outer ring. Furthermore, the bearings can be produced featuring limited clearance, with a centring ring or as heat-resistant bearings, in line with specific customer requirements. An NBR nitrile rubber seal is included on each side of Rodriguez TT bearings.

The quickest turnaround to date was reserved for the TT bearing needed for a stage set used by Beyoncé and Jay-Z on their recent tour. “I was on a train when Brilliant Stages called; it was a Thursday before a bank holiday weekend and the bearing was required for the following week as 14 days later the completed system had to be ready for the first concert,” says Young.

At 414mm, the selected Rodriguez KDLA TT bearing (external geared, with pinion) is smaller than those previously supplied, but the application was no less challenging. The bearing was used as part of a mechanism that raised, lowered and rotated Beyoncé high above the stage while she sat in an armchair.

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