Wiping may follow disruption of the oil film due to extreme operating load or due to shaft vibration that applies a large rotating load to the bearing.
Addressing the Damage
If the steady load is excessive, machine design changes to reduce the load may be required, or consult a bearing engineer for a bearing with a higher load capacity. Within limits it can be possible to make changes to the bearing materials or mechanical designs to increase the hydrodynamic bearing capability within the original space envelope and safely carry an unexpectedly large steady load.
Unexpected dynamic loads, such as an out-of-balance rotor, are inherently difficult for a hydrodynamic bearing to carry without damage. The solution is likely to be removal of the source of the vibration, and the advice of a specialist should be sought.
In general, dynamic loads are unusual in rotating machines with hydrodynamic bearings, which is why babbitt, with its limited fatigue strength, is still often the first choice bearing material. This is changing, however, as machine speeds and/or loads and temperatures increase. Special metallic material combinations and, in particular, polymer materials are available to meet these demands.