Friction: An Introduction to Tribology

Frank Philip Bowden and David Tabor, Anchor Books, 1973, 178 pages


Review | “Whenever surfaces rub over one another we are involved in some aspect of friction, lubrication, and wear. This area of interest is called tribology, from the Greek word tribos, which means rubbing.”

These two scientists have brilliantly written about the various aspects of friction in a clear style that laymen can easily understand. There is much information on various types of bearings, bearing materials, lubrication, brake materials and other related information highly useful to mechanics and designers. Have you wondered how engine valve tappets, cams and gear drives can survive with contact pressures of 100,000 pounds per square inch? It turns out that petroleum oils under that kind of pressure can increase their viscosity 10,000-fold and prevent metal to metal contact.

Want to know what makes bearings fail?

The important role that gases like oxygen and nitrogen play in boundary-layer lubrication is clearly covered, as is the field of extreme pressure additives. It turns out that pressure is not really the issue with them, but rather their ability to lubricate under higher temperatures.

Want to know what makes bearings fail? They explain clearly how and why failure happens and what things will prolong bearing life.

The nature of rubber and how friction works in tires is covered.

You machinists familiar with precision gage blocks and how tightly they can wring together will learn what keeps the blocks together.

This book is interesting from a theoretical standpoint that explains the science behind friction in mechanisms, and also because that knowledge has direct practical applications in vehicles and machinery of any kind. —J. B.