An Australian company that specialises in both on-site and off-site pump refurbishment is finding that energy efficiency is an important driver in its refurbishment packages – and has included South African-manufactured Vesconite bushings as part of its energy-reducing refurbishment package.

FITT Resources’ Daniel Hechter said in 2017 that electricity costs in Australia, at 25+ AUS c/kWh at the time, were among the highest costs globally.

As a result, when the company retrofits 30 to 35-year-old pumps, besides increasing the life of a pump, there is a focus on improving the pump’s energy efficiency.

The company’s retrofitting is programme-orientated and includes several interventions to increase energy efficiency by ensuring that flow is better and that less electricity is used.

One of the retrofitting tasks is typically to install Vesconite bushings as interstage bushings in the multi-stage high and low-pressure pumps that it repairs.

The pumps that it repairs have used bronze bushings historically, which has been expensive and caused shaft damage.

The Vesconite bushings, in contrast, offer the advantage of being able to run with small clearances, which causes less recycle, or less movement of pressurised water from the previous stage to the next stage.

Hechter notes that it is difficult to determine the exact energy savings that can be attributed to the bushings, but energy consumption is reduced in general following a refurbishment package.

“Capital and labour are expensive in Australia, so it is important to use retrofitting to return original equipment manufacturer (OEM) equipment to its original if not better state,” he notes.

Water utilities in the region continue to rely on the pump refurbishment firm, which is also a supplier of OEM pumps, seals and filtration systems, to refit their multi-stage pumps, and in the last four years, several multi-stage pumps have been retrofitted with either Vesconite Hilube or Vesconite bushings.



Vesconite Bearings, a leader in advanced bearing solutions, recently received an order for 60 spherical Vesconite Hilube liners. This order came after less than one year of initial testing. 

These liners will be used in the GE90-SW plain spherical bearings at the articulation points of the S6000 tram fleet operated by an Italian tram operator in a busy urban environment. This order reflects the tram operator’s confidence in Vesconite’s low-friction, wear-resistant solutions, which have significantly reduced noise during normal operation.

Before the adoption of Vesconite Hilube liners, the S6000-series trams utilised PTFE (Polytetrafluoroethylene) liners in the articulation bearings.

Over time, these liners exhibited notable increases in noise levels, which were reported by both drivers and passengers as significant and disruptive. This noise pollution was exacerbated as the liners wore out, impacting the overall comfort and experience of tram journeys.

In May 2023, Vesconite Hilube liners were installed on four of the operator’s S6000-series trams, with six liners per tram, specifically aimed at replacing the originally specified material in the bearings.  

The articulation points between the tram cars are crucial for tram manoeuvrability and are subject to high stress levels and environmental exposure, including:

• Rain, mud, pollution, and leaves.

• Temperature variations from -10°C to 40°C.

• A stretch of 200 metres with an 8% gradient and other longer stretches with gradients between 4% and 5%.

• Minimum curve radius of 15 metres.

Vesconite Hilube liners were chosen for their superior performance characteristics including internal lubrication, which removed the need for greasing; the ability to withstand a range of temperatures; resistance to wear from abrasive materials; and low-friction properties that facilitate smooth turning.

The installation of Vesconite Hilube liners led to immediate and noticeable improvements. The Italian tram operator reported reduced noise levels in the passenger lounges ⎻ a factor which has enhanced the overall journey experience for both passengers and drivers.

This positive outcome was pivotal in the operator’s decision to place an additional order for 60 liners, with plans to eventually replace all liners on its fleet of 55 S6000-series trams.

Noise pollution from various sources, including trams, has been recognised as a public health issue in Europe. In response, European authorities have instituted measures to monitor and manage environmental noise, as outlined in Directive 2002/49/EC of the European Parliament and the Council of 25 June 2002. Consequently, tram and railway authorities are motivated to adopt technologies that mitigate noise, in the spirit of the regulations, and improve public health outcomes.

By reducing noise levels, the Vesconite Hilube liners not only enhance the comfort of tram journeys but also contribute to broader efforts to address noise pollution. This aligns with the European directive and showcases the operator’s commitment to sustainable and health-conscious urban transit solutions.



A company that specialises in African airboat ecotourism tours in 2018 switched to wear-resistant Vesconite as a support for the engine/ gear box – propeller system to ensure that its boats can cope with the rigours of an African boating experience.

The US manufacturer had built the engine stands with nylon dampers encased in stainless steel tubes, explains Airboats Afrika MD Chris Grosch.

However, the result was a significant number of cracks in the tubes due to the constant vibrations and strain, which worried Grosch as his expeditions would often take him to hippo and crocodile-filled African rivers where it would be difficult to access maintenance facilities.

“We are not in the Everglades and you can’t whip out a cell phone and call a buddy,” he says of the ease of accessing help in the US.

“In Africa, you can’t do that. So then we worked out a concept of all kinds of things we deemed reliable.”

Grosch’s engine-mounting solution was to make a metal cup holder into which a Vesconite disc is bolted, and on which the engine sits.

Through these means, vibration was lessened and steel-on-steel wear was eliminated. Vesconite also provided the advantage of being dimensionally stable and resistant to salt water, which were boons for the tour company, which had to chisel off salt off the original water-absorbing nylon support base in the past.

Grosch’s company advertises its availability for tours in Angola, Botswana, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, DRC, Republic of Congo, Gabon, Gambia, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe, as well as locations in Asia, Australia, the Caribbean and Latin America.

Since Africa does not have the deep navigable rivers that you find elsewhere, he opted for airboats, which can provide a cruising-type experience even in shallow waters.

Driven by an air propeller, airboats have no moving parts below the waterline. Their flat bottoms allow them to enter difficult terrain, including swamps, marshes, river deltas and estuaries, lakes, lagoons, coastal waters, snow and ice. They are also able to move on grass and sand, and can be manoeuvred from water, over land, and on to vehicles to transport visitors between water bodies.



Vesconite bushings have outperformed traditional bearings for timber mill debarker infeed and outfeed rollers. 

Previously roller bearings were used. These had to be replaced every year during annual shutdowns. They would generally fail once during the year’s production, leading to costly downtime. Failures were due to the dirt and sand damage to the conventional roller bearings. 

To facilitate the conversion to Vesconite bushings, simple housings were made to replace the conventional bearing housings. This allowed the use of a thin-walled bushing, a further cost saving. A Vesconite washer was placed between the bushing housing and roller as a spacer to take up any side play.

No bushing failures occurred in the four years after replacing the debarker roller bearings with Vesconite bushings. 

The initial cost of the Vesconite bushings has proved cheaper than the roller bearings used previously. 

Their far longer life, lower lubrication requirements and reduced downtime combine to make Vesconite bushings an extremely cost-effective solution for this bearing application.

The Vesconite bushings have lasted four years and were only replaced when the debarker rollers were removed for refurbishing as part of a general maintenance programme.

The change to Vesconite resulted in the following cost savings:

• The cost of Vesconite bushings is less than roller bearings

• No breakdowns or downtime in four years of operation

• Much longer life of Vesconite bearings than the roller bearings

• Less maintenance required



Some 30 years ago, wear-resistant self-lubricating Vesconite Hilube bushings first began to be used on roller chains and immediately proved their worth to the conveyor and mineral processing industries by extending the operational life of roller chains on two scraper reclaimers by an impressive fivefold. 

This improvement in lifespan was achieved by retrofitting the steel bushings of the chains with Vesconite Hilube sleeves, each with a wall thickness of 3 mm (0.12 inches).

Previously, the reclaimers used an original design comprising steel pins (EN19) and steel bushings (EN36). However, wear, due to insufficient lubrication and the abrasiveness of the phosphate rock and chloride slag being conveyed, led to frequent seizing of the pins and bushings. This issue was particularly pronounced when the chain links navigated the sprockets of the outer link plates. In search of a more reliable solution, the operator opted for Vesconite Hilube bushings.

Vesconite Hilube was selected for its exceptional wear resistance and self-lubricating properties, crucial for an abrasive environment and where lubrication could contaminate the conveyed product. 

Installed in November 1993, the Vesconite Hilube bushings faced the rigorous demands of handling 2,500 tons per hour of material, with particle sizes ranging from 250 to 300 microns and a bulk density of 1.9 tons/m³. The reclaimers had three 100 kN VBS-type roller chains with 400 mm (15.7 inches) pitch roller chain links.

After processing one million tons of material, the Vesconite Hilube bushings underwent their first inspection in July 1994. The inspection revealed polished steel pins and minimal wear on both the pins and the Vesconite Hilube bushings, showcasing the material’s durability.

An additional 1.5 million tons of phosphate rock were conveyed before the Vesconite Hilube bushings were removed in August 1995, nearly two years post-installation. Throughout this period, the bushings delivered outstanding performance.

Adopting Vesconite Hilube bushings in the scraper reclaimers showed that increased machinery efficiency and longevity were possible. By addressing the critical issue of wear and lubrication, Vesconite Hilube bushings demonstrated their value in enhancing overall machine performance, resulting in reduced maintenance and lower operational costs.



A Vesconite and Vesconite Hilube wheel and bushing combination has been deployed at a prominent hydroelectric company in New Zealand, expanding a growing set of hydroelectric reference cases for these bearing materials.

Since March 2024, this innovative wheel and bushing combination has been instrumental in ensuring the seamless operation of three weed-extracting screens crucial for maintaining the integrity of the intake water by preventing vegetation from clogging up the turbines used for electricity generation.

Eddie Swanepoel, the representative of Vesconite Bearings New Zealand, elaborates on the pivotal role of this technology, stating, “The wheel and bushing combination serves as a vital component of a chain mechanism responsible for lifting the weed-clearing screens. Each screen operates with three chains, featuring a tensioned loop at the top and a de-tensioned loop at the bottom. It is the underwater loop that incorporates the Vesconite Hilube bushing and Vesconite wheel.”

Designed to operate flawlessly in challenging underwater environments, the Vesconite Hilube low-friction bushing, housed within a stainless steel pin, facilitates smooth rotation of the wheel, on which the chain is manoeuvered, effectively mitigating stick-slip issues. Furthermore, the Vesconite wheel, positioned above the bushing, ensures smooth chain guidance, enhancing overall operational efficiency.

Swanepoel reaffirms the outstanding performance of the Vesconite Hilube bushing and wheel combination, emphasising their reliability since installation.

These components represent a crucial aspect of a larger-scale overhaul aimed at enhancing the effectiveness of the weed-clearing screens. With ten screens currently in operation, the hydroelectric company plans to gradually replace the remaining seven screens with similar designs, following successful testing of the new screen designs throughout the year.

This redesign is critical, considering the need to overhaul the existing mechanisms, installed over three decades ago.

The innovative design enables the screens, positioned at a 70-degree angle in the water, to function independently, effectively extracting weeds and vegetation from the dam and hoisting them onto a conveyor system for conversion into animal feed.

Swanepoel highlights the suitability of Vesconite and Vesconite Hilube for underwater applications, particularly in hydroelectric settings, citing their extensive track record and superior performance in dirty, abrasive underwater conditions. Notably, Vesconite Hilube’s low coefficient of friction makes it ideal for rolling applications, further enhancing its suitability for hydroelectric operations where there are moving or rotating parts.

In New Zealand, where hydroelectric companies face seasonal challenges such as melting ice caps, which bring rocks and vegetation downstream to the dams, effective weed-clearing screens play a pivotal role in ensuring uninterrupted electricity generation.

This successful deployment of Vesconite bearing materials at this site adds to the list of useful hydroelectric bearing and wear applications on several continents.



There is a growing adoption of Vesconite and Vesconite Hilube no-swell, wear-resistant lower bushings in Archimedes screw applications. 

Vesconite and Vesconite Hilube bushings with inner diameters of 100 mm, 115 mm, 130 mm, 165 mm and 202 mm have been successfully installed in various operations. These bushings have been recorded as supporting rotational speeds of 110 rpm, 100 rpm, 20 rpm, 90 rpm and 47 rpm, respectively. 

The bushings have assisted in bearing the weight of the Archimedes screws – the helical screws that have operated at an inclined angle (typically between 30º and 45º) – and allowed them to convey the desired medium to a higher site than the one at which the conveyed medium was located. Many of the cases in which Vesconite and Vesconite Hilube have been used have been subjected to significant loads, including at one notable installation where, even without the conveyed medium, the shaft with the hub and base plate weighed 723 kg and the screw body weighed 7.6 tons.

In collaboration with its clients, Vesconite Bearings has been instrumental in assessing the suitability of its bushing materials and designing bushings that meet specific application requirements. 

“Vesconite and Vesconite Hilube lower bushings for Archimedes screws have to-date predominantly been used in potable water and wastewater applications,” informs application engineer Jandri Ueckermann. 

“However, they can be used in other screw conveyor applications, which extend to industrial uses, including grain conveying, among other applications,” she notes.

Vesconite and Vesconite Hilube bushings demonstrate:

• Low friction: These materials reduce wear and extend component life.

• Internal lubrication: Eliminates the need for external lubrication, simplifying maintenance.

• Low swell: Ensures dimensional stability even in moist conditions.

• Close running clearances: Allows for precise engineering and improved efficiency.

• Abrasion resistance: Enhances durability in abrasive environments.

• No galvanic corrosion: Allows for use in potable and wastewater applications and extends the life of the bushing.



Vesconite king pin bushings have demonstrated exceptional durability, outlasting OEM kingpin bushings on a Yale forklift by an astounding 27 times.

In a challenging application at a metal recycling plant, a 2.5-ton Yale forklift was equipped with Vesconite king pin bushings and thrust rings. Operating under demanding conditions, including three daily shifts and navigating over broken concrete sections, the Vesconite components significantly outperformed the OEM needle roller bearings.

The OEM needle roller bearings typically lasted only two months before failing under these harsh conditions. However, after an impressive 4½ years of continuous operation, the Vesconite king pin bushings and thrust rings were inspected and found to be in excellent condition, showcasing Vesconite’s superior wear resistance and reliability.

Forklift steer axles are usually fitted with needle roller bearings that are prone to wear, especially in dirty environments. These bearings often experience high static impact loads due to the slight oscillations of the king pins, leading to premature bearing failure. Vesconite’s oscillation-friendly bushings address these issues, offering unparalleled durability and performance.

Key benefits of Vesconite forklift king pin bushings:

• Extended service life: Lasted 27 times longer than OEM needle roller bearings.

• Enhanced durability: Withstood 4½ years of rigorous use without significant wear.

• High wear resistance: Ideal for dirty and challenging environments, including cold rooms.

• Superior performance: Handles high static impact loads effectively.

“We are thrilled with the exceptional performance of our kingpin bushings in this demanding application,” says Dr Jean-Patrick Leger, CEO of Vesconite Bearings.



Vesconite Bearings is celebrating more than 20 years of successful applications in sewage processing plants. 

One of Vesconite’s early triumphs in this sector dates back over two decades, involving the supply of the bottom bushings for Archimedes screws manufactured by a company in the Netherlands for a customer in Austria. This project highlighted Vesconite’s ability to supply suitable bushing solutions tailored to the rigorous demands of sewage processing.

The bespoke bushings, designed with a double flange to ensure secure retention in the housing, allowed for easy installation. 

The choice of wear-resistant Vesconite also addressed the critical issue of premature wear experienced with the previous material, which failed within 12 months of operation. The Archimedes screws equipped with Vesconite bushings demonstrated improved durability. After 18 months of continuous operation, the bushings showed no wear. 

Operating under challenging conditions, the bushings were used at a rotational speed of 20 rpm, an operating temperature of 40°C, and a surface pressure of 10 kg/cm² (1 MPa), while handling dirty sewage water. 

Key specifications of the application included:

• Shaft size: 130 mm
• Housing size: 160 mm
• Pumped medium: Dirty sewage water
• Bearing lubrication: Forced clean water

“Vesconite’s bushings are renowned for their low wear, low friction and exceptional dimensional stability in water, making them ideal for immersed applications,” says Dr Jean-Patrick Leger, CEO of Vesconite Bearings. 

“These attributes significantly reduce maintenance requirements and enhance the operational efficiency of sewage processing plants.”

“We are proud of our long-standing association with Archimedes screws in sewage processing plants and the proven performance of our bushings in such a harsh environment,” Leger adds.



At a Gulf Coast seawater cooling pump station, the resilience of Vesconite Hilube bearings in hypochlorite came to the forefront, showcasing their superiority in challenging environments.

Sodium hypochlorite, commonly known as bleach, is a staple in water treatment and cooling systems and is hailed for its potent disinfectant, anti-microbial and marine-growth-inhibiting properties. These properties led to hypochlorite being adopted at the Gulf Coast deepwater cooling application where seawater must be disinfected before use.

However, when its concentration was inadequately monitored at the pump station, the consequences were severe.

Pumps fitted with conventional A106 seamless carbon steel and bronze wear components suffered considerable damage due to exposure to concentrations of hypochlorite exceeding the typical 2-3 ppm concentrations.

In contrast, pumps fitted with Vesconite Hilube parts emerged unscathed, demonstrating remarkable resilience to the corrosive effects of hypochlorite. Even after eight years of operation in these conditions, Vesconite Hilube bearings show no deterioration.

Commenting on this development, Vesconite Bearings application engineer Louis Gouws remarks, “We are delighted to see our Vesconite Hilube bearings deliver exceptional performance in environments challenged by hypochlorite.”

“This reaffirms our commitment to providing solutions that withstand the most demanding conditions, ensuring uninterrupted operation for our customers,” he says.

Damaged pump with deteriorated bronze bushings.
Damaged pump with unaffected Vesconite Hilube bushings.

Vesconite Bearings’ chemical-resistance chart underscores the suitability of Vesconite bearings and wear parts for environments exposed to various chemicals, including acids, alkalis, organic compounds, solvents, oils, and fuels. Notably, Vesconite Hilube bearings can withstand sodium hypochlorite solutions, making them the ideal choice for water applications where hypochlorite is used.

The success of Vesconite Hilube bearings in this demanding application has prompted the scheduling of replacements for pumps fitted with bronze components, with Vesconite Hilube parts set to take their place. This transition reflects a strategic shift towards reliability and longevity in pump operation, mitigating the risks associated with chemical exposure.



In May, Vesconite Bearings, a global leader in bearing and wear solutions, delivered its largest rudder bearing order to a customer in the Netherlands.

The order, comprising four extra-large meticulously-crafted container ship rudder bearings, marks a significant achievement in engineering excellence and customer service.

These impressive bushings, produced from staves expertly strapped together, reinforced with cloth and resin, and machined to final tolerances, exemplify Vesconite’s commitment to quality and innovation in bearing technology.

The success of this project can be attributed to the exceptional teamwork demonstrated by Vesconite’s sales, logistics, and manufacturing teams.

Although the project had been in discussion with the client for approximately a year, the final specifications and project deadline were only solidified in late April.

Upon finalisation of the specifications, Vesconite’s manufacturing team swiftly sprang into action. They commenced the manufacturing process by leveraging a proprietary methodology and state-of-the-art machinery developed specifically for marine bearing production.

The team’s dedication and utilisation of new machines enabled the accelerated production of the bearings. Their hard work, coupled with attention to detail, ensured the timely completion of the order.

Simultaneously, Vesconite’s logistics team orchestrated the despatch in collaboration with a trusted courier partner. Through strategic planning and coordination, the courier company facilitated a direct flight to the Netherlands, delivering the shipment directly to Vesconite Bearings’ Netherlands warehouse before onward despatch to the customer.

The bearings, packed and ready for despatch in signature pink Vesconite crates.

Logistics Manager Zoë Anagnostou, Marine Applications Engineer Monique Potgieter, and Head of Department (Workshop) Francois van Zyl jointly confirm the exceptional nature of this order, weighing a total of 680 kg. The complexity of manufacturing and delivering numerous large components within a condensed timeframe underscores Vesconite’s expertise and dedication to customer satisfaction.

The order, delivered before the stipulated deadline, showcases Vesconite Bearings’ commitment to meeting and exceeding customer expectations. All four bushings were sent machined to their final sizes, ready for immediate installation.

“We are immensely proud of our team’s collaborative efforts and commitment to excellence, which have enabled us to successfully deliver our largest order for a Netherlands customer to date,” says Potgieter.

“This achievement underscores Vesconite’s position as a trusted partner for high-quality engineered marine bearing solutions.”



A South African manufacturer and supplier of concrete brick-making machines has started using Vesconite Hilube linear bushings as spare parts for its manual/electric brick-making machines and as standard components in its range of manual brick-making machines.

The Vesconite Hilube wear-resistant self-lubricating bushings are installed on the shafts on which the tamper guide system moves to compress the concrete aggregate to produce bricks.

Vesconite Hilube has become a standard feature in the manually-operated brick-making machines produced by the company. These machines cater to entrepreneurs and startup companies requiring low-output production, where reliability and ease of maintenance are paramount. Each hand-operated machine, known as an egg layer, incorporates eight Vesconite Hilube bushings, ensuring optimal performance and longevity.

The hand-operated brick machines that use eight Vesconite Hilube bushings.

Vesconite Hilube bushings are also offered as replacement bushings for the manual/electric brick-making machines that the brick-machine company sources from elsewhere. Supplied with steel bushings initially, the company offers Vesconite Hilube bushings as replacements, recognising their superior performance, longevity and good availability. These machines, equipped with 16 Vesconite Hilube linear bushings, cater for higher production demands.

The decision to adopt Vesconite Hilube bushings stems from their many advantages.

Foremost among these is the simplicity of installation and replacement. Traditional steel bushings supplied with manual/electric machines are prone to breakage, particularly during removal. Vesconite Hilube bushings have streamlined maintenance procedures because of their ease of installation and removal. They also minimise downtime since they are fit-for-purpose and include holes for the screws that attach the bushings to the blocks that are placed on the four shafts on which the tamper guide system is located.

A Vesconite Hilube bushing that is used in the brick making industry.

Moreover, Vesconite Hilube demonstrates remarkable resistance to wear and tear, a crucial requirement for brick-making machines exposed to harsh environments in which cement and dust are found. Operators are encouraged to clean the machines before and after shifts but, where this does not occur, maintenance challenges are increased and are more effectively managed where Vesconite Hilube bushings are in place.

The transition from steel bushings to Vesconite Hilube has also mitigated the issue of accelerated wear on shafts caused by metal-on-metal friction. This wear and tear had in the past necessitated shaft replacements, incurring additional costs and operational disruptions. With Vesconite Hilube in place, the brick-making machine supplier anticipates improving the durability of both bushings and shafts, translating into long-term cost savings and enhanced operational efficiency.

The Vesconite Hilube wear-resistant self-lubricating bushings are installed on the shafts on which the tamper guide system moves to compress the concrete aggregate to produce bricks.

Collaboration between the brick-making machine supplier and Vesconite Bearings, the supplier of the bushings, has been ongoing for several years, facilitating continuous improvement in bushing design and performance. With each iteration, the bushings have become increasingly snug on the shaft, promising further machine efficiency and reliability enhancements.

The brick-making machine supplier acknowledges the varying degrees of wear experienced on their clients’ machines, depending on usage and maintenance practices. However, the company reports no bushing-related issues since Vesconite Hilube bushings were introduced.



Over the past six years, Vesconite Bearings has witnessed a significant uptick in its supply of bearings to Mexico — a testament to the growing recognition of Vesconite Hilube’s superiority over bronze.

For decades, bronze had been the go-to material for manufacturing plain pump bearings in Mexico. Numerous local bronze foundries had historically been the backbone of the pump industry, supplying the industry with the various components that it needed. 

However, as demands are growing more stringent, especially in sectors such as mining, where acidic water poses challenges to corroded traditional material components, the limitations of bronze as a bearing material have become apparent. 

Vesconite Hilube is a bearing material that is resistant to acidic environments and the chemicals typically found in copper and gold processing. Where water acidity can wreak havoc on traditional materials, Vesconite Hilube stands resilient, maintaining its integrity and performance even in the harshest conditions.

In addition, unlike bronze, Vesconite Hilube bearings excel in dry start conditions, eliminating the need for external feed lines to prime pumps before startup and reducing wear and failure during startup — a common challenge in pump operations.

Besides these operational advantages, Vesconite Bearings has been able to back up its products with exceptional service and lead times, ensuring that manufacturers receive what they need when they need it, thus becoming a trusted supplier to various Mexican original equipment manufacturers.

While the merits of Vesconite Hilube are undeniable, Vesconite Bearings’ success in Mexico is also attributed to the company’s proactive approach to customer engagement, says Monique Potgieter, an application engineer with Vesconite Bearings.

She has been instrumental in fostering relationships with Mexican pump manufacturers and has undertaken five visits since 2021 to understand the unique needs and challenges of the market. 

Potgieter says that Vesconite Bearings offers a comprehensive range of pump components to the Mexican market, including line shaft bearings, bowl bearings, suction inlet bearings, stuffing box bearings and casing wear rings.



In May 2024, Virginia, in the Free State Province of South Africa, will witness the commencement of a transformative initiative: the development of the Meloding Early Childhood Development (ECD) Teacher Training Centre. 

Spearheaded by Dr Marianne Felix, wife of Vesconite Bearings CEO Dr Jean-Patrick Leger, this initiative marks a significant step towards enhancing the quality of early childhood education in the region.

The genesis of this endeavour owes much to the collaboration of various stakeholders. 

The Teachers’ Learning Centre, represented by Marietjie Gericke (Managing Director), assumes a pivotal role as the curriculum provider, facilitator trainer, and assessor of prospective teacher’s portfolios of evidence.

A not-for-profit organisation known as Love Trust ⎻ with 10 different affiliate ECD teacher training centres, besides its flagship Teacher Training Academy and Nokuphila School ( recognised as one of the best schools in Thembisa) ⎻ is represented by Silas Pillay (Director of Academics), Felicity Wyche (Contracts Administration Manager) and Michelle Peters (Head of Facilitation and Training), and will be offering support to training facilitators and assisting with administrative tasks to ensure teachers meet NQF Level 4 ECD training standards.

Integral to the project are Molyn Moshane, the Principal of Meloding Day Care Centre, and Masiu Majoro, a Grade R teacher, who will serve as training facilitators. With extensive teaching experience, Moshane and Majoro are poised to impart their expertise, having undergone initial training and possessing commendable classroom management skills and a wealth of knowledge about early childhood education.

Some of the key participants in the Meloding ECD Teacher Training Centre: Love Trust’s Felicity Wyche, Meloding Day Care Centre’s Masiu Majoro and Molyn Moshane and Teachers’ Learning Centre’s Marietjie Gericke.

The endeavour also enjoys generous support from organisations such as the Real Great Stuff (RGS) Group, Vesconite Bearings, and the Alain Leger Personal Trust. Their contributions, including educational materials and financial assistance, underscore a collective commitment to advancing early childhood education.

The initiative holds personal significance for the Leger family, honouring the legacy of Elizabeth Maire Leger, the wife of Vesconite Bearings’ founder Alain Leger. Elizabeth Maire Leger’s three-decade dedication to Meloding Day Care Centre epitomises a lifelong commitment to early childhood education. The ECD Teacher Training Centre is a testament to the enduring influence and steadfast friendship of Elizabeth Maire Leger with the Meloding Day Care Centre founder, Elizabeth Radebe.

As the May orientation approaches, 11 teachers have been selected to undergo NQF Level 4 ECD training over the next two years. Saturday sessions will enable them to enhance their skills, fostering their roles as invaluable assets within their respective institutions.

The programme’s success hinges on both the meeting and exceeding of yearly development goals by children and the completion rate of trained teachers.

The project aspires to redefine early childhood education in the broader Virginia area, challenging conventional notions of rote learning. Emphasising play-centred teaching, the curriculum aims to cultivate a holistic range of skills, fostering creativity and critical developmental skills among students.

Meloding Day Care Centre is a beacon of innovative ECD practices, boasting resources conducive to effective learning. Teachers embarking on NQF Level 4 training express optimism, viewing the centre as a catalyst for professional growth and career advancement in the field of ECD.

By nurturing a cadre of skilled educators and promoting progressive teaching methodologies, the initiative endeavours to leave a lasting imprint on the landscape of early childhood education in South Africa.



Custom-made wear-resistant low-friction Vesconite bearings and wear pads are being trialled on a BEISS tyre stripper machine by a company in the thriving tractor-tyre-changing industry.

The trial, conducted in Bultfontein, South Africa, at a company that specialises in tractor-tyre stripping and replacement, aims to prove the efficiency and durability of Vesconite in tractor tyre maintenance.

The wear pads, produced by Vesconite Bearings, were strategically installed on the slides of the hydraulic sled carriage, a crucial component of the tyre stripper machine. This carriage, carrying essential tools for tyre removal and replacement, moves repeatedly during tyre mounting and dismounting operations. Vesconite’s wear-resistant properties are expected to mitigate excessive wear, ensuring smooth and reliable performance over extended periods.

Vesconite wear pads have been installed on the slides of a hydraulic sled carriage on a BEISS tyre stripper.

Furthermore, Vesconite bearings have been deployed as rollers beneath the table used for positioning tractor tyres during maintenance procedures. The constant back-and-forth motion of this table often leads to wear on conventional components. By introducing Vesconite products, the company anticipates an increase in durability and longevity, providing a reliable solution for garage equipment used on large tractor tyres.

The Vesconite solutions were installed in January 2024, replacing conventional nylon wear pads and bearings that had worn out over three years. The client, introduced to Vesconite through positive word-of-mouth feedback, will provide information on the performance of the Vesconite components on the BEISS machine, which is exposed to the rigours of cumbersome tractor tyres.

Should the Vesconite bearings and wear pads outperform the traditional nylon products, Vesconite Bearings plans to expand its offerings to other tyre stripping operations specialising in tractors. This move aligns with the increasing demand for durable and efficient solutions in the agricultural sector, which is driven by a growing global population’s need for food, the rise in mechanisation in agriculture, and, in some cases, supportive government policies and subsidies promoting agricultural equipment purchases.

Vesconite Bearings remains dedicated to advancing innovation in the agricultural industry and the equipment that supports the farming sector.

Vesconite bearings have been deployed as rollers beneath the table used for positioning tractor tyres during maintenance procedures.



Vesconite Hilube bearings have performed well in prototype testing on the chain pulleys of a waste truck’s ejection system.

This is according to Vesconite Bearings, a manufacturer of low-friction, low-wear bearing materials for a wide range of industries.

The wear-resistant bearings were installed in the running surface of four pulleys, guiding a conveyor chain essential to the operation of the ejection system. This chain is responsible for propelling an ejection plate that compacts and ejects the garbage within a waste truck, aiding in optimising garbage collection and landfill use.

A recent report from the North American research and development arm of the prominent waste-truck development company that is testing the bearings highlighted the exceptional durability and reliability of Vesconite Hilube bearings. The dimensions of these bushings remained unchanged since installation, showcasing zero signs of wear even in the face of challenging conditions.

“Vesconite Hilube is specifically engineered to survive in dirty and corrosive environments, unlike conventional bronze bearings in steel housing that are prone to galvanic corrosion when exposed to acids, bases, and various dry and wet materials,” states Tristen Wintershoven, an engineer at Vesconite Bearings, of the difficult operating environment that the bearings face.

“Our bearing material ensures galvanic-corrosion-free performance, making it an ideal choice for applications such as waste-truck ejection systems.”

Wintershoven further elaborates on the rigorous testing process, which included load calculations to ensure the bearings could handle the heavy loads inherent in waste-truck ejection operations.

“The prototype testing required our bearings to withstand intermittent high loads during the ejection process, a challenge which Vesconite Hilube handled well,” he adds.

As a result of the successful testing, several recommendations were made, including enhancements to the running surface of the pins on which Vesconite Hilube operates. With these minor adjustments, Wintershoven is optimistic about the future of Vesconite Hilube in the waste management sector.

“The ejection plate movement within a garbage truck presents a unique and vital application,” Wintershoven emphasises.

“It plays a crucial role in improving garbage collection efficiency and optimising landfill usage, and Vesconite Bearings is pleased to be able to assist with these demands.”

Currently, Vesconite Bearings is actively developing various applications for Vesconite Hilube within the waste management industry, with several projects already in the prototype stage.



Vesconite Hilube NSF61-approved wear rings will be featured in an NSF61-approved submersible pump series developed by a well-known European original equipment manufacturer (OEM). 

The pump company confirmed that the pump series had been certified as NSF61 compliant.

The quality assurance manager at the European pump OEM expressed satisfaction with the recent approval, stating, “We are glad to announce that our pumps received NSF61 approval last week.” 

The NSF/ANSI 61 accreditation, “Drinking Water System Components – Health Effects”, is a highly-regarded US national standard that sets stringent health-effects requirements for chemical contaminants and impurities. The accreditation ensures that products, components, and materials used in drinking water systems meet the highest standards for protecting public health.

Production of the pump series is set to commence, and the product will hit the market in early 2024, said the pump company’s quality assurance manager. 

As part of this launch, orders will be placed for Vesconite Hilube wear rings, he noted.

Vesconite Bearings, the global provider of no-swell wear-resistant Vesconite Hilube wear rings and bearings to the pump industry, has been in discussion with the European OEM since 2016 when the first sample products were sent for evaluation and testing.

The engagement continued with additional samples sent in subsequent intervals. 

In October 2023, as part of the developing supplier relationship, it was announced that the pump series, incorporating Vesconite Hilube wear-resistant wear rings, had received NSF61 approval.

As part of the launch of multiple submersible pumps, approximately 10 different-sized Vesconite wear rings are expected to be ordered. 

The European pump company anticipates that the NSF61 pump accreditation will enhance its global exports. 

This accreditation is not only a mandatory requirement for all drinking water pumps in the United States but also serves as a recognised quality indicator in various international markets.

Vesconite Bearings is proud to be a contributor to this innovative and accredited pump series, providing a reliable and NSF61-approved solution that aligns with the highest standards in the industry. 

Vesconite Bearings looks forward to continuing its successful collaboration with the European OEM and contributing to the advancement of water system technologies worldwide.



When boating aficionado Roy McBride decided to develop repair kits for the Aries Wind Vane, he chose Vesconite Hilube for the bearings.

Aries Wind Vane self-operating steering systems are robust and can operate for 30,000 miles from purchase. When they need to be repaired, however, it is often only the POM (acetal) bearings that need to be replaced as they may have experienced sun damage and may have become immovable due to being fitted to stainless steel components that have seized due to corrosion or a lack of lubrication.

As a result, McBride decided to choose a premier self-lubricating low-friction material, known as Vesconite Hilube, for the bearings that he would install in refurbished wind vanes.

“It doesn’t make sense to use inferior products for the bearings since this is the only part that wears out,” says Mc Bride, noting that the bearings are only lubricated with water, so Vesconite Hilube’s self-lubricating properties are advantageous since some bearings tend to only be lubricated with water as they are not accessible.

Mc Bride has refurbished five Aries Wind Vanes since he started repairing this specific component two years ago.

Engineers who have seen his choice of bearings for the refurbishments have “backed him up 100%” on his choice, he says.

Several bearings may need to be replaced during any refurbishment, including bearings that fit to the cross shaft that the wind vane is fitted to and the top-hat bush that fits to the cross shaft that links to the water paddle below it.

These are all exposed to harsh environmental conditions, including salt water and UV radiation.

Mc Bride has extensive experience with Aries Wind Vanes having completed several South Atlantic crossings using what has become known as the “silent helmsman” –  a servo-pendulum rudder mechanism, connected to a wind vane, that steers through the ship’s rudder through ropes connected to the tiller arm.

He specialises in repairing UK-made Aries Wind Vanes that require imperial parts that are difficult to obtain.



Vesconite Bearings is expanding its manufacturing capabilities to meet the increasing demand for larger low-friction wear plates.

Responding to customer feedback and market trends, Vesconite Bearings is making a substantial investment in additional equipment to produce wear plates of unprecedented sizes, notes CEO Dr Jean-Patrick Leger.

The company aims to introduce 8 x 4 ft (2.44 x 1.22 m) wear plates within the next year or two.

This imperial size is a standard production size in the US and many parts of the world, and is likely to also be in demand by global customers calling for larger sizes.

Vesconite has been responding to customer requirements for different plates for many years.

Customers have expressed a need for longer, thicker, and wider wear plates to reduce wear in their applications and to enhance equipment lifespan.

In response, Vesconite Bearings has already extended its product range to include wear plates up to 20 ft in length, 6 inches in thickness, and widths of 24 inches and 39 inches.

Additionally, Vesconite Bearings can bend plates as needed, providing customers with a diverse range of shapes tailored to their specific requirements.

“We are excited to make this additional strategic investment in response to the evolving needs of our clients,” says Leger.

“The expansion of Vesconite Bearings’ product range reflects the company’s commitment to innovation and meeting the unique demands of various industries,” he states.



In celebration of Vesconite Bearings’ 65th anniversary, as well as in recognition of the long service of CEO Dr Jean-Patrick Leger, who has been with the company for 32 years, Vesconite’s artisans decided to show their design, programming and machining skills by producing a gift of the first chess set designed exclusively from Vesconite’s bearing materials.

The black chess pieces, representing Vesconite Bearings’ rich history, were meticulously crafted from standard Vesconite. This low-coefficient-of-friction bearing material, invented in 1969, was specifically designed to thrive in the challenging wet and dirty conditions prevalent in South Africa’s deepest mines.

Complementing the black pieces, the white chess pieces were formed from Vesconite Hilube, an even lower-coefficient-of-friction bearing material introduced to the market in 1987. This material reflects Vesconite Bearings’ ongoing commitment to innovation and technological advancement.

The chess board itself, moreover, was a masterpiece, with black and white squares (with rounded edges) made from Vesconite and Vesconite Hilube plates, respectively. The entire composition is elegantly framed by Vesconite Superlube, a cutting-edge bearing material introduced in 2013, and placed within a frame of standard Vesconite. Notably, Vesconite Superlube boasts a coefficient of friction lower than virgin PTFE, meeting the demanding requirements for load pads in the rail sector, among other applications.

Thin sections of pink Vesconite Superlube delicately separate the squares, adding a touch of sophistication and highlighting Vesconite Bearings’ artisans’ skill at machining the thinnest parts to a great degree of accuracy.

Artisan Gaylin Van der Sandt, one of the creative forces behind this exceptional chess set, expressed, “We decided to make everything from our materials. Only a small engraved metal plate was made elsewhere.”

Noteworthy is the advanced tooling and programming skills employed in the creation of chess pieces. Using Fusion 360, artisans designed intricate details for knights, kings, queens, rooks, and other pieces, which were cut precisely on a Haas ST 25-Y live tooling machine. The complexity of the designs pushed the team to explore new functions on Fusion 360 and gain insights into the capabilities of the machines and tools, said Van der Sandt of the collaboration between a factory team that included himself, Andre Schoonbee, Herschelle Cerfontyne and Barend Spies, with the idea for the chess set originally coming from Machine Shop HOD Boeta Swart.

Schoonbee said that the most challenging pieces were the king, whose crown had to be refined using manual programming, and the knight, which needed complex programming to perfect the ears, eyes and mane.

The chess board, meanwhile, was machined using a Haas VF4 SS, a high-power milling machine on which Vesconite artisans demonstrated their knowledge of using tooling to create detailed exact parts. Discussion and engagement between the factory teams making the board and the pieces ensured that the scale of the pieces matched the board.

In a heartfelt thank-you speech, CEO Dr Jean-Patrick Leger expressed his awe, stating, “This is absolutely incredible. To everyone who made it, thank you so much.”

Leger and his wife, Dr Marianne Felix, shared fond memories of their daughters growing up playing chess, a strategic activity that not only stretched their minds but also fostered socialization. The chess set, they noted, will become a cherished heirloom for future generations.

This extraordinary creation not only marks a significant milestone in Vesconite Bearings’ history but also serves as a representation of the company’s capabilities and the calibre of staff, who displayed their skills admirably, Leger and Felix said.



Vesconite Bearings, an innovator in bearing technology, is thrilled to announce a significant achievement – the creation of its thinnest-walled product to date. 

This groundbreaking accomplishment is attributed to Vesconite Bearings’ unparalleled technical ingenuity and advanced CNC programming capabilities.

The focal point of this achievement was the production of close-to-paper-thin wear-resistant Vesconite Hilube articulation bearing liners, which have recently undergone rigorous testing in GE90-SW-type bearings at the articulation points of S6000 trams operated by an Italian tram operator.

The bearing liners, boasting a wall thickness of 0.5 mm, have demonstrated exceptional performance and left a lasting impression on industry experts. 

Vesconite Bearings rail application engineer Jandri Ueckermann notes that her Italian tram operator client was extremely impressed with the engineering capabilities that Vesconite Bearings displayed.

The success of this project can be credited to the expertise of the machinist, Hannes Nel. He navigated the challenges associated with producing a bearing liner with such thin walls, employing unconventional methods to avoid the risk of shattering. 

A two-axes CNC lathe’s speed was significantly reduced, and meticulous tool selection ensured the precise profiling of the bearing liner’s outside and inside diameters to meet stringent tolerances.

Nel highlights the crucial role of CNC programming in ensuring the accuracy of the manufacturing process.

The dedication to precision and innovation is evident in achieving a wall thickness of 0.5 mm throughout the bowl liner – a historic milestone for Vesconite Bearings, he says, noting that this accomplishment surpasses the previous record of 0.7 mm, achieved with a less complex straight bushing.

Vesconite Bearings remains committed to pushing the boundaries of bearing technology, and this technical achievement underscores the company’s dedication to delivering cutting-edge solutions to meet the evolving needs of industries worldwide.



Vesconite Bearings is pleased to announce its success at the South African Capital Equipment Export Council (SACEEC) Exporter of the Year Awards.

The company proudly received the award in the XX-Large category, recognising outstanding export performance among companies with an annual turnover ranging from R150 million to R200 million.

The prestigious SACEEC Exporter of the Year Awards ceremony took place on the 21st of November 2023 in Johannesburg, South Africa. This event serves as a platform to celebrate and acknowledge the passion, dedication, and innovation exhibited by industry members in both local and export markets.

Entries across various categories underwent rigorous evaluation based on criteria such as marketing strategy, export turnover, local content, and active participation in national and regional export promotion activities, as well as engagement in export council member events.

One of the staff members accepting the award on behalf of Vesconite Bearings was Cassandra Peens, a dynamic young engineer at the company. Peens has played a crucial role in export promotion initiatives in 2023, participating in various export-promotion trips, notably to Europe and the United States. She has first-hand experience with Vesconite Bearings’ export promotion strategy, which has involved establishing relationships with existing and new clients through outreach programmes.

Peens expressed her pride in Vesconite Bearings’ achievements, stating, “Vesconite Bearings is particularly pleased that it has close to doubled its exports in three years.”

“We are committed to further increasing the contribution of exports to our total sales, with the goal of exports constituting 75% of turnover.”

“This goal has already been achieved in some individual months, showcasing our dedication to international growth.”

The SACEEC Exporter of the Year Award is a testament to Vesconite Bearings’ commitment to excellence, innovation, and strategic growth in the global market. The company remains focused on driving success and contributing to the advancement of South African-made products abroad.

Vesconite Bearings’ Cassandra Peens, who has played a crucial role in Vesconite Bearings’ export promotion initiatives in 2023, holds up Vesconite Bearings’ award certificate.



Vesconite Bearings is taking strides towards sustainability and environmental responsibility by implementing a comprehensive solar energy solution at its Free State-based factory in South Africa.

The initiative, spearheaded by Factory Manager Robin Crabb and CEO Dr Jean-Patrick Leger, involves a significant investment in solar infrastructure to reduce the factory’s reliance on the power grid and make substantial progress in becoming more environmentally friendly.

As of mid-November, Phase I of the project is 80% complete, with the installation of steelwork on concrete slabs to support 325 kVA of solar panels. The panels are being loaded at present, marking a crucial milestone in the transition to solar energy.

Simultaneously, Phase II is underway, encompassing the installation of an additional sub-station, the installation and commissioning of two generators, inverters with a capacity of 700 kVA, and a 500 kVA uninterrupted power supply (UPS) system.

According to Crabb, “Making the sub-station live is a significant step forward, with approximately 25% of Phase II already completed”.

The completion of Phases I and II is targeted for the end of 2023, contingent on timely equipment deliveries from suppliers.

Phase III, scheduled to commence in late December, aims to double the solar capacity by an additional 325 kVA. Challenges in steel supply may influence the timeline, but Vesconite Bearings remains committed to its sustainability goals.

Additionally, consideration is being given to purchasing a 1 MW battery system, enabling the storage of solar energy for peak consumption times during the night. This investment aligns with Vesconite Bearings’ vision for its ‘lights-out’ facility, intended to operate 24/7 for large-volume order production, circumventing challenges posed by load-shedding from South African electricity provider Eskom.

To enhance security, the company is also installing a 1.8 m electric fence around the solar system.

Leger expressed optimism about the project’s potential impact, stating, “We aim to reduce dependence on traditional energy sources, cut costs, and significantly decrease our carbon footprint”.

Vesconite Bearings is confident that these solar investments will fortify the company’s resilience against energy challenges and contribute to a greener, more sustainable future for South Africa and beyond.

The company remains dedicated to achieving its environmental and operational objectives through innovation and responsible business practices.



Vesconite Bearings, a global leader in high-performance bearing and wear part solutions, is thrilled to announce the launch of its new jet-ski webstore. The webstore can be accessed at

The Vesconite jet-ski webstore offers a comprehensive range of replacement SeaDoo jet-ski pump sets, specifically designed to meet the needs of jet-ski owners and repairers.

These replacement pump sets are compatible with jet-ski pump units manufactured between 2004 and 2023, providing a reliable and efficient solution for maintaining and enhancing jet-ski performance.

Vesconite wear rings, which are incorporated into the replacement pump sets, have a variety of exceptional characteristics that set them apart:

  • More power with reduced starting clearances: The design of Vesconite wear rings reduces starting clearances, improving efficiency and reducing energy consumption during start-up.
  • Longer wear life: These wear rings are engineered to withstand prolonged usage, resulting in extended operational lifespan and reduced maintenance requirements.
  • No swelling and softening: Vesconite wear rings maintain their structural integrity, unaffected by water absorption, ensuring consistent performance over time.
  • Handle abrasive sand: Vesconite wear rings are highly resistant to abrasive sand particles, ensuring reliable performance even when started close to shore.
  • No delamination or corrosion: Vesconite wear rings are immune to delamination or corrosion, providing a robust solution that maintains its integrity throughout its service life.
  • Precision machined for better power and higher speed: Vesconite wear rings are machined and not moulded, so they will remain circular.

“We are excited to bring our expertise in bearing and wear parts solutions to the world of jet-ski enthusiasts,” says Vesconite Bearings engineer Louis Gouws.

“Our jet-ski webstore offers a convenient platform for jet-ski owners and repairers to access top-quality replacement pump sets that enhance their watercraft’s performance and durability.”

Jet-ski owners and repairers seeking reliable replacement pump sets that offer unparalleled performance and longevity are encouraged to visit the Vesconite jet-ski webstore at  to explore the range of products and experience the benefits of Vesconite wear rings.



The leading global copper producer has achieved exceptional results through the implementation of Vesconite Hilube wear-resistant bushings on load haul dump machines (LHDs).

Departing from traditional bronze bushings, the mining company’s adoption of Vesconite Hilube on Sandvik and Caterpillar LHD booms has led to an unprecedented increase in bushing lifespan, exceeding their initial expectations.

Previously, the company relied on bronze bushings and had a mere 1.5 months of operational life. Vesconite Hilube bushings were introduced in December 2022, with an initial goal of extending bushing life to three months.

The remarkable reality, however, has far surpassed this objective, as the Vesconite Hilube bushings have endured for an impressive nine months and counting.

This transformation has been particularly significant, with the Vesconite Hilube bushings fitted to 30 LHD booms in 2023, and only one instance of a boom fitted with Vesconite Hilube bushings requiring repairs.

Notably, the company’s repairer has reported that the bronze bushings occasionally suffered from cracking, making it clear that this is not a recurring issue with Vesconite Hilube bushings.

The copper producer has expressed its satisfaction with the results obtained and is actively exploring the expansion of Vesconite Hilube bushings for other applications.

These include trials on mining jumbos and larger LHD loaders, as well as applications for bushings associated with rear shaft oscillating movement.

Vesconite Bearings’ Argentine distributor, Vesarg, plays a pivotal role in supplying the mine with Vesconite Hilube bushing stock.

During a visit to the Chilean site, close to Santiago, where booms were being fitted with Vesconite Hilube, Leandro Panzini of Vesarg was briefed on the impressive outcomes of the Vesconite Hilube bushing testing.

This remarkable success story underscores Vesconite’s commitment to providing cost-effective high-performance solutions to the mining industry, and its capacity to transform operational efficiency and longevity.

“As the world’s leading copper producer explores broader applications for Vesconite Hilube, the mining industry, where Vesconite first proved itself, is showing itself to be an important market for Vesconite products,” says Panzini.

“Vesconite Hilube lasts much more than three times the length of bronze in this application,” he notes.



Maharba Builders, a prominent construction and building company operating in the Limpopo Province of South Africa, has recently begun to enhance the performance of its equipment by replacing traditional bushings with Vesconite low-friction no-grease bushings.

This strategic decision stems from the keen insight of Maharba Builders’ leaders, Abraham and Japie van Staden, who drew inspiration from their collective industry experience and the endorsement of Vesconite bushings within their family.

The Van Staden brothers, seasoned professionals in the construction sector, identified the distinct advantages of Vesconite bushings during their tenure at other construction firms. In addition, Japie van Staden’s father-in-law, a skilled fitter and turner, also shared his enthusiasm for the material. The confluence of these influences has propelled Maharba Builders towards the adoption of Vesconite bushings.

A key factor that has piqued Maharba Builders’ interest in Vesconite bushings is their self-lubricating properties. In the demanding environment of construction sites, where equipment maintenance is often challenging, Vesconite’s self-lubricating properties are invaluable. This allows equipment to continue operating smoothly even when greasing intervals are not perfectly adhered to, preventing costly equipment seizures.

A significant step in this transition occurred a month ago when Maharba Builders installed multiple Vesconite bushings on various pieces of equipment, including the H-frames that lift the buckets of a CAT 428F TLB (tractor loader backhoe), CAT 216B skid steer loader, and a Hitachi loader. The positive results from this initial implementation have fueled Maharba Builders’ determination to extend the use of Vesconite bushings to other equipment within the company as needed.

Maharba Builders is actively engaged in several building projects, including three house construction sites, one house renovation site, a shopping complex project, and an abattoir. In support of this transformative change and the requirement to not have machinery idle during repairs, the company orders Vesconite bushing stock and undertakes in-house machining to produce the bushings it needs to its exact requirements.

Japie van Staden expressed his enthusiasm for the shift to Vesconite bushings, saying: “Because we are on a building site, sometimes staff grease the bushings and sometimes they don’t. It’s easier for me to put something in like Vesconite, that you don’t need to grease every single time. If staff forget to grease, then it is not a problem.”

The adoption of Vesconite bushings by Maharba Builders marks a pivotal moment in the company’s ongoing commitment to delivering high-quality construction services and should increase its equipment’s longevity and performance.



Vesconite Bearings has recently produced what is believed to be both the smallest and largest vanes in its history.

This achievement underscores Vesconite Bearings’ commitment to the vital engineering part that is used in air motors, vacuum pumps and concrete vibrators, ensuring their efficiency, reliability and performance.

In June, Vesconite Bearings successfully crafted the tiniest vanes to date, measuring a mere 1.3 mm in thickness, 6.3 mm in width, and 30 mm in length.

These precision-engineered vanes were specifically produced for testing by an air motor manufacturer based in Italy.

Each air motor incorporates five of these vanes, showcasing the precision and craftsmanship for which Vesconite Bearings is known.

The small vanes are made from Vesconite Hilube and Vesconite Superlube wear materials, both of which boast low coefficients of friction. Particularly noteworthy, Vesconite Superlube stands out as an ultra-low-friction wear material with friction levels even lower than virgin polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE).

Testing is underway to determine the optimal wear material for this application.

Meanwhile, Vesconite Bearings has also achieved production success in the opposite direction, producing what are possibly the largest vanes it has produced to date.

Measuring an impressive 510 mm in length, 20 mm in thickness, and 150 mm in width, pairs of these sizable vanes are destined for trial in vacuum pumps by a South African vacuum pump repairer and supplier.

Crafted from Vesconite Superlube, Hitemp 160, and Hitemp 150 wear materials, these vanes offer different characteristics, including an ultra-low coefficient of friction in the case of Vesconite Superlube; incredible chemical resistance in the case of Hitemp 160; and excellent abrasion-resistant properties in the case of Hitemp 150.

The coming months will see comprehensive testing of each material – Vesconite Superlube in September, Hitemp 160 in October, and Hitemp 150 in November – to determine the most suitable wear material for this application.

Vesconite Bearings senior sales consultant Phillip de Villiers and Vesconite Bearings engineer Jandri Ueckermann describe how the manufacturing process for these vanes showcases Vesconite Bearings’ dedication to precision engineering.

For the small 1.3 mm thick vanes, the manufacturing procedure involved the challenges of machining thin plates to the desired thickness, and then profiling to shape.

“We are excited to have these large and small reference case studies that demonstrate our vane production capabilities,” says Vesconite Bearings senior sales consultant Phillip de Villiers.

“Our ability to manufacture both the smallest and largest vanes, along with our expertise in developing wear materials for distinct operational conditions, reflects our commitment to providing tailored solutions for our clients,” he notes.

“Vesconite Bearings continues to push the boundaries of engineering and innovation, reaffirming its position as an industry leader in bearing and wear solutions,” adds Ueckermann.

“With a proud history of addressing diverse needs and a forward-looking approach, the company remains at the forefront of delivering cutting-edge solutions to a global clientele,” she says.



Vesconite Bearings, a pioneer in providing innovative solutions to the heavy-transport industry, has long been associated with the successful use of Vesconite bushings in the 5th wheel of freight-carrying trucks.

Its first use in this application was on the fifth wheel of an Oshkosh 66-ton truck in the 1990s.

Its use in the application demonstrated Vesconite Bearings’ commitment to delivering advanced solutions that enhance performance, durability, and cost-effectiveness.

Fifth wheels, to which trailers attach to trucks, are critical components that experience substantial wear and tear during operation.

In particular, the bearings associated with them can be damaged with frequent braking and accelerating.

As a result, when the owner of the Oshkon 66-ton truck found that his fifth-wheel phosphor bronze bushings needed to be replaced, he turned to Vesconite.

Unlike traditional bushing materials, Vesconite bushings offer numerous advantages that significantly improve the overall efficiency and longevity of the application, including:

  • Extended service life: Vesconite bushings are designed to provide longer life compared with conventional materials, ensuring reduced downtime and maintenance costs.
  • Lower shaft wear: Vesconite bushings effectively reduce shaft wear, contributing to the smooth operation of the 5th wheel and the entire truck and trailer assembly.
  • Cost savings: Vesconite bushings offer an economical alternative, costing only two-thirds of the original OEM parts, without compromising on performance or durability.
  • Machinability: Vesconite material is easy to machine to the required size, allowing for simple adaptation to worn shafts or housings. This eliminates the need for complete shaft rebuilding or housing repairs.

The successful application of Vesconite bushings in the Oshkosh 66-ton truck’s 5th wheel marked a significant achievement in the heavy-duty automotive industry and addressed wear and durability concerns.

As Vesconite continues to revolutionise heavy-transport applications, it anticipates attracting more repairers of trucks and logistics and freight firms seeking high-performance, cost-effective solutions.



Some 30 years after a robust test on Vesconite automotive bushings, mechanics and maintenance and design engineers in the automotive sector continue to use Vesconite bearing materials.

A significant milestone in Vesconite’s success in the automotive industry occurred when a prominent South African vehicle manufacturer of a global automotive brand conducted extensive testing on shackle bushings manufactured by Vesconite Bearings and compared these results to tests carried out on bronze bushings.

The results were nothing short of extraordinary.

The test vehicle, subjected to 5,000 kilometres of harsh conditions on a rigorous test track, demonstrated the superior performance of Vesconite’s bushings.

The arduous test conditions on the track were said to approximate the equivalent of 150,000 km of testing under normal conditions.

In comparison to imported bronze bushings, Vesconite’s products exhibited significantly less wear.

In fact, the vehicle manufacturer’s metrology lab concluded that Vesconite bushings could provide a lifespan three to four times longer than traditional bronze bushings.

This historic achievement underscored Vesconite Bearings’ dedication to pushing the boundaries of what is possible in the field of bearing materials; achievements like this one have been important in establishing the company’s brand name in the automotive industry.



VesArg, the Argentinian distributor of Vesconite, Vesconite Hilube and Vesconite Superlube low-friction bearing materials, is proud to announce the acceptance of the Vesconite Hilube needle-bearing kit for the Peugeot Partner and Citroen Berlingo, with VesArg having sold 500 kits for these vehicles in the last two years. This innovative solution addresses the recurring problem of suspension arm issues in these popular utility vehicles, which often require replacement needle-roller bearings.

Utility vehicle owners often encounter frequent mechanical service requirements due to the unsuitability of traditional needle-roller bearings for applications exposed to water and abrasive contaminants. These recurring problems have long been a source of frustration for vehicle owners and mechanics alike.

The Vesconite Hilube needle-bearing kit offers a professional and durable solution with Vesconite Hilube self-lubricating bushings. Designed to withstand the rigours of daily use, each kit is engineered to support up to 7,500 kg per arm, ensuring a significantly extended service life under optimal operating conditions.

Each Vesconite Hilube needle-bearing kit for Peugeot Partner and Citroen Berlingo vehicles includes the following components:

  • two Vesconite Hilube hubs with seal holders;
  • two straight Vesconite Hilube hubs;
  • two covers to prevent dirt ingress;
  • two high-quality seals; and
  • two hardened steel tubes of excellent quality.

Key advantages of the Vesconite Hilube needle-bearing kit over traditional needle bearings:

  • Greater support surface: The Vesconite Hilube solution offers a wide support area instead of point lines, resulting in exponentially greater load capacity.
  • Homogeneous material: The simplicity of the Vesconite Hilube bushings prevents issues such as jamming due to abrasion or rust, as well as rollers coming off during assembly.
  • Preservation of housing: With continuous contact surface and no binding, the housing does not wear out, ensuring long-lasting performance.

Additional features of the Vesconite Hilube needle-bearing kit:

  • High load capacity: Vesconite Hilube supports up to 300 kg/cm2, making each set/arm capable of supporting 7,500 kg.
  • Rust resistance: Vesconite Hilube bushings do not rust or absorb water.
  • Ultra-low friction: Thanks to the ultra-low coefficient of friction of Vesconite Hilube, this system offers smooth movement and does not require regular greasing.
  • Reduced tire wear: The long service life of the Vesconite Hilube needle-bearing kit significantly outlasts tire wear, preventing premature replacement costs.
  • Extended vehicle life: Say goodbye to unnecessary vehicle stops. Vesconite Hilube’s characteristics make it the optimal material for this application, providing a super extended useful life.

VesArg is dedicated to providing high-quality, innovative solutions to the automotive industry. With the Vesconite Hilube needle-bearing kit, vehicle owners can put an end to recurring suspension arm problems and enjoy a smoother, more reliable driving experience.



In a testament to the outstanding performance and reliability of Vesconite self-lubricating bushings, a prominent South African side-tipper manufacturer has doubled its monthly orders for side-tipper bushings.

This substantial increase in orders reflects the manufacturer’s confidence in Vesconite Bearings’ superior products, customer satisfaction and excellent pricing.

The manufacturer’s confidence in Vesconite self-lubricating bushings is further demonstrated by a noteworthy shift in its buying patterns. In the last year, the company has adopted a proactive procurement approach by placing blanket orders and securing monthly supplies several months in advance to ensure consistent stock availability. This strategic move acknowledges Vesconite’s importance as a key supplier of parts.

Vesconite self-lubricating bushings, known for their exceptional performance, are superior to materials such as nylon and bronze in this application.

Vesconite bushings are self-lubricating, a crucial benefit when dealing with abrasive materials such as sand during transportation. Unlike greased lubricants, which can turn gritty, forming an abrasive paste, Vesconite’s self-lubrication ensures long-lasting durability even in challenging conditions.

Another standout feature of Vesconite is its exceptional dimensional stability. This quality sets it apart from competing nylon parts, which are prone to swelling in moist environments. In contrast, Vesconite bushings remain unaffected, ensuring reliable performance in various operational settings.

The Vesconite bushings in question play a pivotal role as the connecting point between the tipper body and the chassis of side-tipper trailers.

Each side-tipper body utilises two Vesconite bushings, with a bushing employed on each chassis pivot mounting, describes Tristen Wintershoven, Vesconite’s transport application engineer.

He notes that these essential pivot points enable side tippers to efficiently unload bulk materials, such as sand, gravel, or demolition debris, adjacent to the tipper truck using a hydraulic system that tilts the tipper body.

The preference for Vesconite self-lubricating bushings underscores the side-tipper manufacturer’s commitment to delivering high-quality, reliable equipment for the efficient unloading of bulk materials —a practice particularly valued in Africa’s mining, construction and road-building industries.



Ten years ago, a large container vessel that on a typical voyage sails from Japan to Singapore, South Africa and Argentina and through to Brazil could not be steered.

It could not move in a straight direction and turned in a circle over the open ocean.

It was a ship owner and crew’s worst nightmare, as the Panama-registered vessel, with a dead weight of almost 40,000t, followed its own path.

The container vessel was eventually towed to the nearest port and various causes were investigated, including the metre-diameter rudder bushing, which was found to be at fault.

The rudder bushing had been replaced three months previously and, despite the specification being for Vesconite, a dimensionally-stable polymer suitable for underwater applications, a moisture-absorbing nylon rudder bushing was installed.

The third-party-supplied nylon bushing swelled and eventually seized to the shaft, preventing the rudder from executing the necessary action to allow the ship to continue to its destination.

Towing, dry dock and consulting engineer fees, including a call-out from Vesconite Bearings to the port, resulted in significant costs well over what a bonafide Vesconite rudder bushing would have cost.

The lesson: there is no doubt that piracy and counterfeiting are significant issues globally, even among items that one commonly does not expect to be counterfeited. This can have a costly effect on businesses that use them either knowingly or unwittingly.

The prevalence of counterfeiting

The International Chamber of Commerce in 2008 found that the sum of global counterfeit goods came to USD650-billion each year and projected that the value of counterfeit and pirated goods could total USD1.77-trillion in 2015. It is estimated that pirated and counterfeit goods have cost 2.5 million jobs globally.

Other figures that have been quoted include those provided in a Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) press release, which stated that up to USD250-billion and 750,000 jobs could be the cost to the US economy of counterfeit and pirated goods, and those quoted by the German Business Action Group against Product and Trademark Counterfeiting, which has argued that there would be 70,000 additional jobs in Germany if brand and product piracy were eliminated.

Apparel, electronics, toys, medication, food, wine, cosmetics and cigarettes are some of the products that have been worst affected by piracy and counterfeiting, and have been linked to the drug trade, money laundering and terrorism. Other sectors have also not been spared, although their counterfeiting may not be as extensive.

As a result, buyers of even the most innocuous products, such as polymer bushings, might want to also think about piracy and counterfeiting.

The prevalence of polymer bearing and bushing counterfeiting

To Vesconite Bearings’ knowledge, there have been no consolidated studies into polymer bearing and bushing counterfeiting. The company mainly has evidence from concerned would-be clients as well as anecdotal evidence from others on the occurrence of this activity in both critical and non-critical applications.

What is more clear is the evidence of bearing and bushing counterfeiting and polymer counterfeiting, as separate counterfeiting types, rather than on copy-cat polymer bearing and bushings specifically.

These two industries may be especially prone to counterfeiting since bearing and bushing companies as well as polymer companies:

  • often have strong brand power, developed by producing quality products;
  • can have considerable global logistic, distribution and supplier networks that may be difficult to police;
  • can have high prices as a result of considerable raw material, engineering development and technology inputs — and these prices may act as an incentive for counterfeiters and purchasers of counterfeit goods who seek to reduce the cost of purchases; and
  • may sell into developing countries in which the risk of discovery and prosecution is low and the penalties if caught are not prohibitive.

In the bearing and bushing sphere, various companies are taking an active stance against the sale of counterfeit items. Some companies offer authentication apps and invite users to email photos of suspected counterfeit products to them. Some have embarked on legal proceedings against counterfeit dealers and many have been active in the press denouncing those who use their company brand without permission, giving users the impression that they are buying original guaranteed parts.

There is also an international campaign to encourage awareness of the prevalence of counterfeit bearings that is supported by some large bearing manufacturers.

Engineered polymers, meanwhile, are also being threatened by counterfeiters intent on using a well-established brand name to sell an inferior product, as a recent high-profile case that resulted in automotive recalls attests.

Manufacturers have responded by introducing various overt and covert methods to identify their products.

Vesconite Bearings, for instance, includes identifying labelled stickers on its full-length rods, hollow bars and plates, with a green sticker appearing on its Vesconite polymer and a blue one appearing on its Vesconite Hilube polymer. It also has printing over stretches of the product, which gives the polymer name, batch number and measurements.

In addition, Vesconite Bearings issues material certificates that accompany its material and these should be obtainable even where its polymers are being bought through a third party.

As a first step though, Vesconite Bearings encourages users to know the product and conduct their visual inspection of the product. It also suggests some ways of identifying different polymers.

Advice for buyers

There are various measures that buyers can take to ensure that they have a genuine polymer bushing, says Vesconite Bearings.

Engage with the manufacturer

Many manufacturers of polymers sell their products directly to the public. Products sold in this way are guaranteed to be the original specified material.

Manufacturers that use third parties to sell their polymers will have a database of these suppliers. If a user or buyer suspects that their supplier may not be a legitimate source of verified products, the original manufacturer can be contacted to verify that the supplier is known.

Manufacturers, whether they sell directly to the public or through third parties, should be able to supply a conformance or material certificate. This is a warranty that the material being purchased is what is stated on the certificate, and can provide peace of mind for the user.

Know your polymers

Users should carry out a visual inspection to ascertain that the product they are purchasing or have purchased is the correct one. A manufacturer can describe the visual characteristics of the polymer and, if that polymer does not conform to this, chances are that it is not the polymer that was specified.

Even a visual inspection is not enough to ensure that the polymer that is being used is what it claims to be though, as some products are marketed by unscrupulous polymer dealers who match polymer colours to persuade users of a particular polymer’s authenticity.

A small piece of the polymer can, however, be burnt if there is some doubt of the authenticity. Nylon will smell like burnt hair, while polypropylene and polyethylene smell like candle wax or paraffin, for instance.

The material can also be exposed to battery acid. Polytetrafluoroethylene and polyethylene will not be affected, but acidic fumes may be released from nylon, although different fillers may increase the resistance of nylon to acid.

Hardness is also a way to determine which polymer you are dealing with, with most nylons, for instance, becoming softer when they are immersed in water or exposed to moisture.

Be aware of costs

If the price is considerably lower than you would expect, chances are that a counterfeiter may have replaced the specified material with an inferior polymer. It would be best to know the quoted price of a polymer is if obtained from the original manufacturer.

The dangers of counterfeit products

Brand collateral

Counterfeiters often prey on companies that have genuine brand power and are trusted among buyers. Since buyers typically believe that their purchase is a genuine product, they can become disillusioned with a brand if the copycat version does not perform as well as the manufacturer’s brand. This happens in the case of bearings and bushings that may be poor replicas of the original ones. This also happens in the case of imitation polymers, which may not have the desired characteristics of the specified required polymer and may, for instance, degrade when exposed to ultraviolet light, offer limited resistance to solvents and chemicals, or relax and weaken under long-term loading.

Cost of doing business

If polymer bushings and bearings fail catastrophically or wear prematurely, expensive production downtime or equipment breakdown can result. This can increase the cost of doing business and could, ultimately, result in company closures if the costs related to the failure push operating or capital expenditure costs beyond acceptable levels.

For the manufacturer of the copied parts or polymers, the costs to protect and authenticate genuine parts may have to increase too, with increasingly sophisticated measures having to be employed.

Economic damage

The cost to manufacturing host countries can be considerable. Many associations and companies involved in combatting counterfeiting quote the number of jobs that might be added to the economy if counterfeiting was stopped, the cost of doing business was decreased and the profitability of doing business was increased.

In addition, tax losses can result from undeclared manufacturing, and policing costs can increase as governments are expected to enforce intellectual property rights and prosecute those that infringe on them.

Critical applications

Some applications in which polymer bushings are being used are regarded as critical and there may be health and safety implications if the bushings fail.

The outlook for counterfeiting

It seems that counterfeiting is growing with the global economy despite moves by manufacturers and host and supplied nations to stop the flow of these illicit goods.

Both manufacturers and countries continue to step up their responses to counterfeiting, aware of the potential effects of this trade.

Customers, in turn, need to also become aware of the dangers of counterfeiting and buyers especially should be knowledgeable about the dangers of purchasing cheaper copy-cat products that may not meet the specifications of the engineering team.

Buyers can be under considerable pressure to meet performance targets, but, as in the example of the counterfeit rudder bushing, they should ensure that those they report to are aware that purchasing costs can only be brought down by a certain percentage and that the purchasing of counterfeit goods that do not meet specifications should be avoided.



When engineers at Hoover Dam determined that the original cast iron lantern rings built into some of its turbines needed to be replaced, they were looking for a solution to help them overcome the corrosion issues they experienced with the cast iron.

The maintenance team also faced another challenge. The Colorado River serves as a water source for the Hoover Dam hydropower station, and the water in this area is commonly referred to as “hard water” due to its high mineral content, specifically high levels of calcium and magnesium ions. Aluminium lantern rings that were first tried as a replacement, were corroded by chemical reactions with the minerals in the water. 

Having used Vesconite Hilube bearing material in other applications, such as guides on their pressure relief valves, the engineers were familiar with the no-swell, non-corrosive properties of the material and also with Vesconite Bearings’ capability to create large-diameter parts such as these 44-inch diameter lantern rings (Ø1,100mm). Vesconite Hilube also had the added advantage that it is not chemically attacked by the “hard water”. 

Two lantern rings were supplied, one of which was divided into two segments and another of which was divided into three segments. Like the lantern rings Vesconite Bearings makes for pumps, the large-diameter hydroelectric power plant lantern rings were easily machined and included the necessary flush holes that would cool the shaft on which they were located.

“Our experienced staff in the machine shop can machine these large-diameter parts with the necessary accuracy,” notes Monique Potgieter, the application engineer who assisted the Hoover Dam team with the design and supply of the lantern rings.

“Even though not all lantern rings are designed to run in close proximity to the shaft, it is important to know that our materials can be used with small clearances. This will result in better shaft support and stability, all the while you’ll have no worries of contact between the shaft and the lantern ring,” she says.

“Vesconite’s low-friction materials are non-galling, and occasional contact with the shaft will not result in damage,” Potgieter adds.

The two lantern rings were supplied in early 2022, and are the largest lantern rings Vesconite has produced to date.



When a concrete vibrator manufacturer had difficulties with the vanes installed in its vibrators it sought a solution from Vesconite Bearings – and experienced encouraging results.

Concrete vibrators are used to remove the air bubbles from concrete mixes to reduce the number of voids, making stronger concrete that is less prone to cracking.

Various vibrator designs are used, including vibrators attached to the outside of steel moulds into which concrete is poured to obtain concrete pre-cast elements.

The concrete vibrator manufacturer that eventually tested Vesconite Superlube had a pneumatic vibrator design that was attached to moulds. The proprietary design used vanes to turn an eccentric rotor to create vibration.

However, in-field trials with different vane materials produced unsatisfactory results since vane swelling, delamination and excessive wear occurred.

This is when Vesconite Bearings was consulted and it provided the concrete vibrator manufacturer with samples of Vesconite Superlube, a bearing material with a coefficient of friction lower than polytetrafluoroethylene and providing a much higher load capacity with ultra-low wear rates.

Vesconite Bearings supplied test vanes to the concrete vibrator manufacturer’s specifications in 2021; the vanes were required to have recesses machined out at specific spacing intervals on the flat side of the vane face.

Long-term in-house testing was completed in July 2023. Upon stripping the concrete vibrator and measuring the Vesconite Superlube vanes, negligible to no wear was detected.

Vesconite Bearings senior technical consultant Phillip de Villiers, who has been providing technical support for the project since its inception, believes that the success of Vesconite Superlube in the application can be attributed to several factors.

“Vesconite Superlube’s low coefficient of friction and high load capacity were vital since these characteristics ensured the smooth rotation of the vanes and limited the likelihood of the vanes breaking.”

“Vesconite Superlube’s dimensional stability was also important,” says De Villiers.

The compressed air inside the concrete vibrator is lubricated with oil but, since water and moisture may be present, due to the absence of compressed air dryers at some users, the oil may be washed out and the vanes need to be swell-proof, he comments, noting that having no-swell Vesconite Superlube vanes ensures that the vanes do get stuck inside the rotor slot.

The concrete vibrator manufacturer was pleased with the results of the in-house trial and in-field trials carried out concurrently at multiple construction sites.

The vanes that were installed in the vibrators operated well at 5,000 to 15,000 rpm producing high-quality pre-cast concrete blocks that are used extensively in Europe for the construction of industrial and commercial buildings.



A large freight-rail operator in Australia has approved Vesconite Hilube brake linkage bushings for its locomotive fleet, to replace bushings in its fleet’s brake levers and improve its park brake performance.

Brake linkage bushings are essential to brake rigging systems, which distribute braking forces from the brake cylinder to the various wheels using rods and levers linked with pins and bushings.

“The Australian company was looking for three different bushings from a self-lubricating material able to withstand high loads,” describes Vesconite Rail COO Zané Easton.

“Reduced wear and the ability to withstand high loads are critical for brake linkage bushings in the rail industry,” she notes.

Vesconite and the Australian company first began to discuss bushing materials in 2019.

In May 2021, the conversation became more focused on the brake linkage bushings’ specifications.

Two months later, an initial set of Vesconite Hilube bushings was installed on a locomotive for on-track testing.

Subsequent monitoring showed that the Vesconite Hilube bushings demonstrated minimal wear during each inspection.

Metallic and nylon brake linkage bushings have proved inadequate by past users and have been associated with a lack of park brake force and unfortunate incidents involving brake failure.

The metallic brake linkage bushings tend to exhibit excessive wear, leading to the horizontal and vertical misalignment of the top lever with the brake cylinder and, consequent, brake failure.

Nylon brake linkage bushings, meanwhile, soften in humid conditions, which can lead to loss of compressive strength and creep ⎻ and lessen the effectiveness of a locomotive’s braking system.

“Increasing the efficiency of the brake system without changing the brake rigging design can be accomplished by using our self-lubricating bushings with a low coefficient of friction to limit the frictional losses in the system,” Easton states.

She says that rolling stock operators have used Vesconite Hilube bushings to reduce wear, improve braking efficiency, decrease maintenance costs, and prevent brake seizures since the material does not swell and has a low thermal expansion.

Railway procurement managers were also encouraged to buy Vesconite Hilube because of the shorter lead times when ordering Vesconite materials.

However, the deciding factor in choosing the more efficient brake rigging system bushings, which can operate at a 1:40 gradient, was a requirement to reduce mechanical losses in the system. This ties in with the desire of the rail industry to increase safety and to prevent infrastructure damage, including to derailed container wagons, train tracks and overhead power lines.



Vesconite wear rings should be considered for many of the horizontal split-case pumps operating in the harsh South African mining and metallurgical environment.

Indeed, the company’s wear rings are chemically inert in many cases.

Vesconite Bearings, the maker of the bearing materials that are machined to make the wear rings, has tested its polymers’ chemical resistance to many mild acids, mild alkalis, organic chemicals, solvents, hydrocarbons, oils and fuels, and has a chemical resistance chart that shows chemical resistance for many chemicals.

The polymers have demonstrated chemical resistance at 25°C to many common chemicals found in the mining sector, including sulphuric acid (10%), nitric acid (10%), petrol and diesel, among a host of other chemicals.

The manufacturer advocates its products’ use where wear rings are exposed to water-cyanide mixtures and acid mine drainage.

“Our products are suitable for this type of application,” Vesconite advises, commenting that the wear rings will be suitable for similar harsh mining and metallurgical conditions globally.

Vesconite Bearings’ wear rings, which are designed to seal the pressure leakage of the liquid between the inlet of the impeller and the pump casing, can be designed to run with smaller clearances between the ring and casing. This means a higher pumping efficiency due to a lower bypass.

If the wear rings happen to make contact with the housing no damage is caused as the wear rings will conform to the new size and re-establish a close clearance.



A Turkish OEM that supplied a Nile River project with one of its pumps that had been fitted with Vesconite Hilube polymer components in late 2018 reports that the line shaft bushings continue to operate well.

The OEM uses Vesconite Hilube in many of its most challenging projects, and this is why it elected to use the polymer bushing material in a project to pump river water from the Nile River.

The project is associated with abrasive water with a large proportion of sand particles, which hard-wearing Vesconite Hilube would be ideal for, says Vesconite Bearings technical sales representative Phillip de Villiers.

In addition, since Vesconite Hilube is chemically inert and does not react with mild acid or alkaline chemicals, it is particularly appropriate for river water from the Nile which, while it has acceptable water quality, is known to be polluted with agricultural, industrial and household waste.



Vesconite’s ability to withstand various chemicals has been proven in an ultrasonic cleaning application, where bushings made from the chemically-resistant material were fitted to an ultrasonic cleaning machine designed to handle 170,000 parts per day.

The bushings were fitted to the transport cages on the conveyor.

They were immersed in the cleaning liquid, which acted as the only lubrication, and were in contact with the swarf from the cleaning process.

Ultrasonic cleaners are typically used to clean complex parts that may have intricate holes.

They typically require hard, non-absorbent materials that remain unaffected by cleaning fluids.

Vesconite replaced metal-coated bearings that did not perform well in the dirty application because of the thin layer of bearing material before metal-to-metal wear occurs.

Full-thickness Vesconite bushings gave a long life even when immersed in contaminated cleaning solutions.



The first “Gas-in-a-Box” system, allowing users to fill small liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) cylinders, was deployed in 2016 in Cape Town, South Africa. The system was developed to fulfil a need for safe gas filling in rural and informal settlements in Southern Africa.

The system’s pumps were fitted with Vesconite piston-rod bushings and composite piston discs that offer:

  • Durability — Long-wear life is superior to other materials, including nylon and bronze.
  • Low wear on metal parts even when running dry running — They are made from self-lubricating materials to run dry for short periods. 
  • Smaller clearances — Alternative products generally require large clearances because of temperature changes that can occur when the gas changes phase as a result of disconnecting hoses. The system’s material can operate with small clearances.
  • A large temperature range — Pump components must be able to withstand the typical liquid and gas temperatures of butane or propane. At atmospheric pressure, butane boils at approximately -1°C (-30°F). This material is suited to temperatures ranging from -60°C (-76°F) to 65°C (150°F) and will not degrade or become brittle at this gas’ boiling point or at its typical liquid-phase temperature.

Creating opportunity

At the first installation site in Cape Town, the public was filling small gas cylinders from a large upside-down cylinder, which resulted in accidents and cylinder under-filling. The gas-in-a-box system was installed to eliminate these problems.

“The low noise was a pleasant surprise,” said the manager of a Gas Mart franchise, who uses the system as his only pump during the South African winter months.

Gas Piping Services (GPS) created a business opportunity for small and microenterprises by offering them secure gas filling sites that can be locked every night with the distribution of gas cylinders from the gas suppliers to the small businesses.

A business plan was made available to these entrepreneurs, allowing them to gain funding from financial institutions and the gas supplier, which wished to enter the rural and informal sectors.

Gas-in-a-box ventures are designed to support job creation and new business opportunities. The gas supplier can enter into rental agreements with new small businesses or international funding organizations.

GPS aims to grow the LPG distribution market by designing the system with reliable filling equipment in a cost-effective filling containment.

GPS Director AJ de Wet worked with Mevaco Pumps on the pumps included in the system.

It is a natural progression to use the same quality pumps in the LPG industry, said De Wet in 2016, noting that some modifications were required to ensure small LPG cylinders could be filled quickly and that the system was durable under harsh conditions.

The pump supplied higher delivery volumes and the low noise was well-received in congested commercial areas close to housing, said De Wet. The 220-volt motor proved ideal for these areas, and the gearbox runs smoothly with no heat generated by the gearbox, motor or pump.

An important feature of the pumps is that the piston-rod bushings and piston discs, made out of low-friction materials for long life, have high dimensional stability, flexibility, cost-effectiveness and the ability to withstand temperature changes.

Three models are available:

  • A hand-filling plant with a hand pump capable of filling small LP gas cylinders in 2.5 minutes
  • An electrical filling machine with an electric-driven filling pump with the capacity to fill a 9-kg LPG cylinder in less than three minutes.
  • An electronic filling machine with an electric-driven filling pump with the capacity to fill a 9 kg LPG cylinder in less than three minutes, but with extra pump controls to prevent over- or under-filling of gas cylinders.

The system’s patented design provides the small dealer with a one-man operation that offers protection from the weather during filling and has all the safety features of a large filling site with no combustible material used during construction. It includes:

  • A lockable steel gas box with ventilation to prevent accumulation of gas
  • A nonslip working area with storage space for the 4 by 48 kg cylinders inside the box when locked
  • A reliable, quiet hand or electrical pump requiring no maintenance
  • A basic or advanced cylinder scale up to 9 kg capacity
  • A liquid manifold for up to 4 by 48 kg cylinders
  • Liquid hoses to and from the LPG pumps with quick-acting valves
  • An optional solar panel with light and cell phone charger
  • Custom colour coding and business signage
  • Safety signs

The system was specifically sized to be the same as a pallet with forklift slots below to allow distributors to transport them in manageable loads and large quantities.

A growing LPG market

Demand for LPG is increasing as a result of an unreliable electricity supply in the subregion. The South African electricity parastatal has experienced electricity supply constraints because of ageing power stations. It had limited additional electricity capacity coming on stream.

This has resulted in the LPG market experiencing unprecedented growth over the last five years as consumers turn to gas as an alternative to electricity. DeWet said that because South African refineries could not sustain the demand, the gas industry went into overdrive and started building a coastal storage capacity.

Several organisations had to source gas and gas filling equipment, while the current supplier could not sustain the growth, and cheaper imported equipment disappointed the local market.

These conditions led to many people seeing an opportunity to fill gas cylinders, even with unsafe filling equipment. The system has the opportunity to provide a safe solution to the cylinder filling.

Two of the three available system models have been sold in South Africa and neighbouring countries, said De Wet. His company plans to offer national and international service and distribution via its gas suppliers network, backed by the Gas Technician Network.

Most rural and informal settlements in Southern Africa are still dependent on wood and coal, and this has resulted in household air pollution and several health problems including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, asthma, lung cancer, pneumonia and other respiratory problems, particularly among women and children. These issues resulted in high demand for LPG as a solution for reducing household pollution.



Vesconite Hilube no-swell lubrication-free bearings will be installed as the ladder pump bearings on a dredge that is currently undergoing a major maintenance overhaul.

This follows a field trial where the dredge owner installed the Vesconite Hilube bearings side-by-side with a competing elastomeric bearing material.

The test started in May 2022 and the bearings were inspected in May 2023. It was found that Vesconite Hilube offers the same wear performance at a more affordable price.

The ladder pump bearings support the shaft that runs along the length of the ladder and drives the ladder pump. The ladder is the component which is lowered into the water and, at the end of it, sits the dredge cutter head, the piece of equipment that cuts into the sediment or rock. The ladder pump sits a little higher up and the purpose of the ladder pump is to transport the sediment to the main dredge pumps, which are huge pumps that can move the sediment miles away. 

Given the good performance and cost-effectiveness, five large double-flanged Vesconite Hilube split bearings will be fitted to support both 6” ladder pump shafts during this docking.

“The dredging company tries not to take any dredge out of service for maintenance and repairs so, if the dredge is not on a job, the company replaces everything that would require replacement before the next maintenance interval instead of risking a failure during operation,” describes marine application engineer Monique Potgieter, noting that the bearings that were previously installed had to be replaced once a year and sometimes twice or thrice a year when they were working in areas with heavy sand.

“Most of the bushings that support the ladder pump shaft operate submerged when the dredge is running except for the bearing closest to the motor (since it sits too high up on the ladder to be submerged),” she explains.

“Each bearing has a flushing line that forces clean water through the bearings. Furthermore, these bearings operate in freshwater, seawater, and wherever they have a job. Being fitted on a dredge, the Vesconite Hilube ladder bearings can be exposed to dirt and grit and suspended solids in the water, but the clean flushing water helps to limit the amount of dirt that gets into the bearings.”

Vesconite Hilube is valued for its ability to work well in submerged conditions since it does not swell and can work with only water lubrication. In the year of testing, the Vesconite Hilube bearings coped well with the abrasive materials to which they were exposed. 

As a next step in the dredging market, Vesconite Bearings plans to test the performance of a bearing material known as Hitemp150, which has proven to fare well in pump applications with abrasive mediums, in applications like cutter head bearings.



When one hydroelectric plant operator took an environmental stance against water pollution, it went cold turkey on its use of grease in its plants.

Grease is a common lubricant on bronze bushings, ensuring that the bronze bushings can move easily since the coefficient of friction is reduced with grease. However, since grease needs to be reapplied regularly, large amounts of grease are applied in a hydroelectric plant that uses bronze bushings.

With the environmentally-conscious decision to remove grease from its operations, the hydroelectric plant company, which currently manages a portfolio of diverse renewable energy assets, had the satisfaction of knowing that it was improving the water quality on the various waterways on which it operates in the US.

However, the decision significantly affected the wear of its bushings, particularly its wicket gate bushings, since bronze bushings immersed in water show considerable wear without the application of grease.

The bushings showed rapid wear and there was considerable wear on the wicket gate stems — the cylindrical shafts or journals to which the wicket gates are attached and that run inside the wicket gate bushings, describes the engineer that has been managing the companys hydroelectric plants for several decades.

Composite materials were offered as a solution, promising low friction and a reduced wear of the stems,” he says of the companys first attempts to overcome the problem of wear on unlubricated wicket gates. 

The first composite materials that were used to replace the bronze in the 1980s had some problems, from seating problems to water swell that caused wicket gates to seize,” he notes.

Then in the early 2000s, the company introduced Vesconite Hilube wicket gate bushings, and experienced little swell, good resistance to abrasive wear and high strength.

The company continues to use Vesconite Hilube wicket gate bushings where it is the contractor on hydroelectric plant maintenance projects.

The avoidance of emitting lubricants in the waterways is based on State regulations,” says the engineer. 

The acceptable limits and reporting duty vary from State to State but the head office of the renewable energy company in New York has taken the stance of avoiding all emissions, he says.

Since the company employed Vesconite Hilube wicket gate bushings (also known as guide vanes) in the 2000s, their use represents some of the longest test cases of Vesconite Hilube in this application.

The engineer notes that the environment and lubricant is ordinary river water, the quality of which varies considerably.

In hydro plants that are located on a dam with a large storage reservoir the water is usually clean because sediments settle out,” he says. 

In Run of the Riverplants, the reservoirs are small, and, at high flows, there is not enough time to eliminate the sediments,” he comments, noting that the abrasive content varies naturally from river to river, but also seasonally as the peak flow seasons churn up more sediments.

The engineer notes that the wear rate of the wicket gate bushings and stems is affected by this, and the duration of operation between repairs varies. 

There is a vast reduction in wear from the Vesconite material compared to bronze in all cases,” he states.

The company that runs many hydro projects, as well as wind, solar, distributed energy and other projects, aims to operate a high-quality clean energy portfolio responsibly.



The largest New Zealand gas-fired thermal power station continues to use no-swell self-lubricating Vesconite Hilube bearings in its cooling water feeder pumps.

The power station did a full refurbishment of these pumps in December 2022 and installed Vesconite Hilube bearings, which currently have a life of nine years in the application.

Vesconite Bearings’ association with the power station and its cooling water feeder pumps goes back to 1996, when the first batch of its bearings was installed, which overcame problems caused by the interruption of process water.

Before the Vesconite Hilube bearings were installed, the water supply to the pumps was occasionally interrupted by seaweed blocking the inlets. A “no cooling water” alarm sounded when this happened but the pumps could run dry for up to 45 seconds before they stopped. The previously installed rubber bearings would then often overheat and be severely damaged. This could occur before the pumps were shut down.

In its search for a solution, the power station first tried replacing the rubber bearings with an elastomeric material widely used for pump bearings. However, this material wore the expensive 316L stainless steel shafts. This proved more costly than the bearings, was more difficult to repair and entailed additional downtime.

The bearings were then replaced with Vesconite Hilube. The pumps fitted with Vesconite Hilube bearings showed no bearing or shaft wear much to the amazement of the engineers concerned.

In November 1996, the Chief Engineer committed to using Vesconite Hilube bearings for these pumps since internal lubricants in Vesconite Hilube make this an ideal material for pump bearings where there is the possibility of a dry start or an interrupted flow during operation.

At this power station, the installed running clearance was also much closer for the Vesconite Hilube bearings than was possible with the original rubber cutlass bearings. The benefit was that the impeller did not run on the casing and, as a result, the pumps were more efficient in their pumping ability and power consumption.

“We are pleased that Vesconite Hilube continues to be used in this application,” comments Vesconite New Zealand’s Eddie Swanepoel.

“Vesconite Hilube is a far better alternative than traditional pump bearing materials, many of which melt down or burn within seconds,” he says.



There are times when a simple pump design and less maintenance are preferred by pump users, especially in messy dirty wastewater applications.

Such was the case with one wastewater plant operator in South Africa, which was being called in every couple of weeks to remove, disassemble and clean wastewater pumps at one or other of the facilities that the company maintains.

Aeration pumps float on wastewater treatment dams and ensure that chemical decomposition of the dirty water occurs before the wastewater gets treated further. The pumps ensure that the water remains oxygenated and that there is aerobic decomposition rather than anaerobic decomposition, which usually results in volatile and poisonous gases such as methane.

The pump design that was in place was a standard vertical shaft pump design with an output of between 5 kW and 10 kW.

However, the bearing design was complex and prone to failure before the introduction of Vesconite materials.

The main shaft bearing design consisted of a ball bearing with carbon mechanical seals on either side of it and the ball bearing was lubricated by oil that was pressure fed into the system so the pressure of the oil was higher than the pressure of the water on either side of the carbon seals, describes Vesconite Bearings engineer Petrus Fourie.

The main problem was that the carbon seals would pick up the dirt and grime that was in the naturally abrasive water and would erode. The seals would then fail and the wastewater would enter into the ball bearing.

“Anyone who has worked with ball bearings would know that ball bearings and water are not friends,” describes Fourie.

“If you get water anywhere near them they corrode very fast, especially if it is abrasive water,” he says.

It is this problem that resulted in the pumps seizing or shutting down because the ball bearings failed, and this resulted in the aerator pump company being called out every two to three weeks for pump maintenance.

The maintenance then required fishing the pump out of the wastewater; opening it up; cleaning out all the water and dirt that was trapped inside; and replacing the ball bearings.

The aeration pump company then approached Vesconite Bearings in search of a solution and Vesconite Bearings and the pump original equipment manufacturer (OEM) went through several design iterations before an appropriate and effective design was finalised.

The first design involved the replacement of the ball bearing, two carbon seals and the lubrication system with a no-swell wear-resistant Vesconite Hilube bushing in the existing housing.

The design was a combined thrust bearing and radial guide bearing — a combined main shaft bearing and thrust bearing so it has both axial and radial running faces.

“We proposed a flange bearing design where a step on the shaft would sit on the flange,” states Fourie.

“The vertical shaft would sit on top of the flange to absorb the vertical forces, the axial forces, and then you would have the bushing that would absorb lateral forces, or radial forces,” he says.

“In a pump that uses plain bearings from the start, you have a separate thrust washer or wear ring and a main shaft bearing,” Fourie notes.

“But here we hybridised the two parts,” he says noting that, because the ball bearings absorbed the axial force, Vesconite Bearings designed a plain bushing also to take on the axial force.

However, the first design proved inadequate in testing on a test bench with dirty water in the OEM company’s workshop.

None of the water that followed through the pump got to the flange face and this resulted in that particular face overhearing and melting.

“I suggested that the pump company cut some grooves on the flange face to allow the water to flush through,” notes Fourie.

“I also suggested that they add a stainless steel collar to the shaft, which would increase the area on to which the axial force applied,” he says, adding that, if you increase the area, you would decrease the pressure and decrease the overall load on the bearing so it is less likely that it would overheat.

This second design worked better, but a couple of the grooves got blocked up on the axial face because of the dirty water and, again, that resulted in the bearing overheating.

Fourie further altered the design and suggested that the pump OEM switch its bearing material to Vesconite Bearings’ highest-grade bearing material, Vesconite Superlube, which is known for its ultra-low friction and extreme wear resistance.

His design also included additional grooves, increased groove sizes and holes through the stainless steel flange that rests on the axial face of the bearing to allow more water flow through the bearing.

The third design iteration has proven to be a charm and the South African wastewater company is happy with its pump’s performance.

The exact lifetime improvement has yet to be quantified, as the pumps that were installed with the latest bearing design are still operating, having been installed in October 2022.

Other advantages include that the company has reduced oil lubrication which, prior to the introduction of Vesconite Superlube, took place every four to six weeks depending on the water quality and currently takes place between four to six months with Vesconite Superlube, says the wastewater company’s operations director, who adds that the company is still deciding on a final acceptable maintenance schedule for the Vesconite Superlube application.

In addition, Vesconite Bearings’ solution resulted in the elimination of the carbon seals and the ball bearings, making the system much less complex and allowing for fewer problem areas while making the bearing system cheaper due to the reduction in the number of components.

The wastewater company’s operations director notes that he estimates that the Vesconite Superlube solution costs two third’s the cost of the replaced bearings and seals, with additional savings for the end user since they have reduced downtime, labour and service costs.

The company increased the bearing lifetime and decreased its running costs. The company has also indicated it is easier to do maintenance because it is simpler to replace a plain bushing than to replace the carbon seals and ball bearings that were present in the earlier design.

“There are much fewer places for the dirt to accumulate so the engineer’s job is a little bit less messy,” states Fourie.

Vesconite’s premier bearing material, Vesconite Superlube, is a niche product which is made for niche applications such as this one, which is characterised by extremely abrasive and dirty water.

The material’s low friction, which is lower than virgin PTFE , is directly proportional to the material’s low wear rate.

“The low friction also has the advantage that it generates less heat,” describes Fourie.

“If you have any application that has a tendency to overheat and is wearing too fast, Vesconite Superlube is the ideal replacement because it generates less heat and it wears less quickly,” he adds.



A hydro turbine company based in Portland, Maine, USA, has chosen Vesconite Bearings’ lowest-friction material for the thrust bearings on its free-stream turbines.

The material, Vesconite Superlube, has one of the lowest coefficients of friction of any plain bearing material available, with a coefficient of friction lower than virgin PTFE (polytetrafluoroethylene).

“Thrust bearings made from this material were first ordered in June 2022 and installed in November 2022,” states renewable energy application developer Petrus Fourie.

These initial bearings will be assessed in December 2023, but the client, which has been satisfied with how they were installed and how they have operated to date, does not anticipate any problems, he adds.

The company has also ordered additional sizes of Vesconite Superlube thrust bearings, so it is believed that the thrust bearings have now been installed in multiple devices.

The renewable energy company wanted a water-lubricated bearing because of the environmental benefits of not having grease in water systems. 

It also required low friction, since this would result in less friction losses and therefore greater overall system efficiency, and low wear rates, so bearings would last longer and require less maintenance — which is desirable due to the difficulty and cost of doing maintenance on turbines that are deployed in the ocean or rivers, since they either float on the surface of a river, sit at the bottom of a river or they can be placed in the sea where there is high tidal flow so that electricity is generated from the flow of water.

For this reason, the thrust bearings, which are wear rings made of plate to absorb the axial forces on the turbine, are required to have low wear rates to reduce maintenance requirements.

“The thrust bearing rings rotate against a stainless steel counter-surface and absorb any axial loads on the main shaft of the hydro turbine,” describes Fourie. 

“If any axial load is applied, the friction on the sliding surface results in a torque on the main shaft acting in the direction opposite to the rotation of the shaft, effectively braking the turbine and causing energy losses in the system. The energy losses due to this effect are directly proportional to the friction coefficient, hence the importance of minimizing friction to improve system efficiency.”

Image Caption: Modular RivGen® 2-device array deployment, Millinocket, Maine, May 2023.
Photo credit: ORPC



Vesconite Bearings has received its China Classification Society (CCS) Certificate of Works Approval.

This was announced by Vesconite Bearings Quality Control Manager Jaco Prinsloo, who notes that the certification is valid for four years and is one of the certifications that clients request to confirm that Vesconite and Vesconite Hilube rudder bearings and stern tubes (including its Superclad bearings) meet certain quality and safety standards.

The certification company required Vesconite Bearings’ ISO 9001:2015 approval, material specification sheets for its bearing materials and various other company documents, Prinsloo explains.

A manufacturing facility audit was then conducted by a shipping surveyor/engineer and, once the CCS was satisfied with the documentation and the manufacturing facility audit, the certification was granted.

Commercial vessels are usually classed and have to adhere to the class standards in order to ensure that the ship is safe and seaworthy, and Vesconite Bearings has certifications from Bureau Veritas, DNV-GL, Lloyds Register, NKK, RINA and ABS, in addition to the CCS certification that it recently received.

“Vesconite Bearings frequently gets requests to send the relevant approval certificate with its offer or order,” notes Marine Application Engineer Monique Kooij.

“Bushings are critical spare parts on a vessel, and it is important that good-quality bushings are used,” she says, noting that Vesconite and Vesconite Hilube bushings are approved by all the important class societies and this gives its customers confidence that Vesconite Bearings’ bushings are of high quality and have all the right characteristics for this critical application.

The CCS certification is important for Vesconite Bearings, since the company is enlarging its footprint in the commercial new-build sector, which is dominated by Asian shipyards.

China is responsible for around 44% of global commercial ship building at present, with South Korea and Japan also playing important roles in global commercial ship production.

Various traditional ship-building hubs also continue to play a role in ship building and repair.



When a competitor quoted the product manager at a large Austrian technology company a long delivery time for his order, he was underwhelmed.

The 7 to 12 weeks from the placement of an order was considerable when compared to a typical one to two week despatch time for Vesconite.

“Sometimes a lengthy delivery time is not acceptable for us,” the product manager said. (Read more here)

Switch to Vesconite

We’d like to invite those who have been quoted long delivery times or informed of shortages of bushing stock shapes to switch to Vesconite Bearings’ products. We have stock of Vesconite, Vesconite Hilube, Vesconite Superlube, Hitemp 150 and Hitemp 160 bearing materials.

We have also implemented the following logistical solutions:

  • We have expanded our warehouses globally with stock in the United Kingdom, Netherlands, United Arab Emirates, United States, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, Argentina and Namibia.
  • Hub-and-spoke configurations: our Netherlands warehouse is an example. Strategically located, it serves demand from Europe. (Read more here and here)
  • We are adding notifications for shipment visibility. (Read more here)
  • We are committed to immediate follow up. If something goes wrong with a delivery, we will try to solve the problem speedily. (Read more here)

Vesconite Bearings expanded production during the Covid period. In fact during Covid:

  • we did not retrench, so our production staff are in place;
  • we continued training learners and apprentices, so they are more experienced and knowledgeable to add value within our company;
  • we bought additional CNCs and now have 90 on-hand in our expanded machine shops for custom-made parts;
  • we became more efficient at production, and our extrusion shop has new facilities to meet the demand for rods, hollow bar and plates;
  • we introduced a facility dedicated to producing extra-large bearings, including marine bearings (Read more here);
  • we commissioned a facility dedicated to producing large quantity bearing orders (Read more here) ; and
  • we continued to produce bearings in advance for frequent customers and customers with long-term off-take agreements.



Indian hydro-electric projects offer unique challenges: they are exposed to monsoon floods for a few months of the year and then a dry spell for the rest of the year.

After being dormant for long periods, bearings associated with these projects have to cope with a deluge of water containing debris from the floods.

These conditions led one Indian company that does maintenance of hydro-electric dams and, specifically, the sluice gates and other structures associated with the dam walls, to approach Vesconite Bearings for a solution for the trunnion bearings on one of its project’s tainter gates. These gates are used to release or stop water on hydro-electric dams.

The main problem that the maintenance company had experienced prior to using Vesconite Hilube trunnion bearings was that monsoon-related debris and silt were getting stuck in the bearings and damaging them.

Vesconite Hilube bearings were then installed in June 2022, immediately preceding the anticipated monsoon rains.

Since it is a harder material than many of the competing brands, it is good at handling abrasives. This is because it does not provide a yielding surface for abrasive material to indent in and, because the harder material is unyielding, silt particles will generally flush through.

In addition, because Vesconite Hilube bearing material does not swell even in submerged conditions, tighter tolerances and clearances are possible. This translates into a smaller gap for debris, including small sticks and bark, to get stuck in and damage the bearing.

Vesconite Bearings renewable energy application developer Petrus Fourie notes that he recommended clearances in line with Vesconite Bearings’ online “Design a Bearing” calculator and believes that Vesconite Bearings’ smaller recommended tolerances and clearances assisted in the success of the trunnion bearings.

The client informed that the dam gates were operating well in the middle of the monsoon season, and again confirmed in March 2023, following the monsoon season, that the bearings were working well.

Other than the wear-resistant properties of Vesconite Hilube, Fourie notes that Indian hydro-electric projects are also a unique environment in which to test a material’s creep resistance ⎻ its likelihood of deforming under load.

In this respect, the Vesconite Hilube trunnion bearings also performed well.

Indian dams sit closed for almost 9 months of the year during the dry season when it is imperative for them to hold back the water in the dam.

During this time, bearings are exposed to a high load that can result in creep and there is a tendency for the bearing to deform and become oval on the inside.

This results in the gate being unable to open since the shaft cannot turn since the irregularly-shaped bearings cause jams.

While this is unlikely to be a problem in Europe, where dams open and close all the time due to the on-going rainfall, this is a problem in countries like India with a lengthy dry season and particularly where other creep-prone plastic bearings are in place, or bronze, which is soft and prone to creep and can experience galvanic corrosion resulting in seizures.

However, Vesconite Hilube trunnion bearings demonstrated their ability to keep their shape and the gates of the hydro project were able to open and close since the bearing hole remained round and could rotate around the shaft.

“If they can work in India, it’s pretty safe to say that the bearings are fairly creep resistant because of the way Indian companies operate their dams,” Fourie enthuses.

The Indian maintenance client seems similarly enthusiastic and has sent through additional enquiries.



A San Diego hydro-electric plant has been operating with Vesconite Hilube wicket gate bushings since August 2022.

Hollow bar for the bushings was ordered from Vesconite Bearings’ warehouse in Richmond, Virginia, by a Washington State hydro company that specialises in servicing and overhauling older hydro-electric turbines.

The Washington company machined the wicket gate bushings and commissioned the hydro plant, together with the wicket gate bushings. These act as the pivot points for vanes that direct the water flow to hit the turbine at an optimal angle.

The service company has indicated that the wicket gate bushings are performing well and has since ordered enough hollow bar to machine another set of bushings, and one set of wicket gate bushings fully machined by Vesconite Bearings.

This San Diego project, like some other projects for which Vesconite Hilube has been ordered, is an older hydro-electric turbine that has historically used a greased bronze system ⎻ a traditional bearing material that is found in many of the more-advanced-age hydro-electric plants.

The service company wanted to move away from greased bronze because greased systems are difficult to maintain; notorious for leaking, polluting, and failing; and generally require maintenance-intensive seals.

These are some of the reasons why older hydro-turbine projects are increasingly being refurbished with novel materials, including no-swell, self-lubricating Vesconite Hilube bushings.

For quick despatch and time-sensitive projects, Vesconite Bearings’ Richmond warehouse is a preferred option, particularly for hydro companies operating in the US. Where project consultants have sufficient lead times and are in the preliminary design stages, Vesconite Bearings’ turnkey machining of wicket gate bushings is often chosen



Hydro turbine bearing components machined from Vesconite Hilube have been installed at the Crai Water Turbine and Pollok Sawmill Projects in Wales and Scotland.

The UK consultant on hydro-electric turbine design and maintenance on the project had first come to hear about Vesconite bearing materials in 2021, when the restoration projects were still in the conception stage.

The company sent an enquiry for wicket gate bushings and wear rings for the two projects.

The scope of the bushing supply increased and Vesconite Bearings was eventually the supplier of all the plain bearing components in the projects, including the guide vane bushings, runner inlet wear rings, several thrust bearings and the Francis turbine main shaft bearings.

All the parts were delivered in January 2022, installed in the turbines, and despatched to the client in December 2022 after successful factory acceptance tests and some preliminary testing of the bushings under a controlled environment.

Vesconite renewables applications developer Petrus Fourie notes that the previous bearings were made of bronze, but the restoration project necessitated a rethinking of some of the older technology that was in use when the hydro projects were first built.

“People like replacing bronze because they want to eliminate grease from systems in which water is present,” says Fourie.

“Water flushes out the grease ⎻ which pollutes the water. When the grease is flushed out, metal shafts are left unprotected and corrode,” he adds.

Vesconite Hilube bearings are often used in niche hydro-electric applications since they can be machined easily for older equipment with unique designs.

Besides use in huge hydro-power stations, Vesconite Hilube bearing material is also used in smaller projects such as the Crai Project, operated by Welsh Water, and the Pollok Project, operated by the Glasgow Council.

In England, Scotland and Wales, there are many modest hydro projects that could generate 100 to 150 kW of electricity, as many areas are mountainous with significant rainfall.



This year Vesconite Bearings introduced additional notifications to help you better track your Vesconite orders.

When an order is despatched, clients, together with the store manager and the internal and external salespeople involved, immediately receive a waybill, invoice and an export checklist, describing the dimensions of the goods, weight, pallet size and delivery address, among other items.

A system of automatic notifications is then also triggered through Vesconite’s courier partners, which notify clients of where their parcel is and provide visibility into the supply chain.

If there is a problem and delivery is delayed, Vesconite will again send notifications of any actions that are being taken or need to be taken to solve a logistic challenge.

“Clients often thank me for my despatch notifications,” says logistics export manager Zoë Anagnostou.

“It is important for them to know when goods have left our facilities and what transit times they can expect for their products,” she notes.

How Vesconite Bearings is reducing transit times
After the many supply chain delays starting with the Covid shutdowns in 2020, Vesconite Bearings has taken on the project of reducing delivery transit times with renewed vigour this year.

The company appointed logistics export manager Zoë Anagnostou in November 2022 and tasked her with identifying potential logistics difficulties as they occur.

This has allowed Vesconite to become aware of problems early, including, for instance, queries on a delivery address, a customs payment, or an inability to deliver to a client, and allowed Vesconite to address these issues timeously.

Anagnostou also compiles reports on deliveries with transit times that exceed five days and these become priorities for immediate action.

“We are reducing in-transit delivery times even where there are exceptional circumstances,” states Anagnostou.

Zoë Anagnostou, Vesconite’s logistics export manager

Meet Zoë Anagnostou, Vesconite’s logistics export manager
Anagnostou joined the Vesconite accounts department in January 2022, responsible for freight creditors and a range of debtors. When the position of logistics export manager opened up, she embraced it and has been learning the nuts and bolts of the logistics industry since November 2022.

Anagnostou is completing her bachelor of commerce degree with a speciality in accounting. She is using her financial acumen and her rigour for following the logistics audit trail to understand logistic problems as they occur.



A New Zealand builder of composite motor yachts has forward-ordered five bearing sets for its upcoming builds later this year.

The company’s yachts range from 15 to 50 meters and the boat maker specialises in engineering excellence and quality finishes and interiors for its high-performance carbon-fibre racer-cruising yachts.

The boat maker last took delivery in October 2022 of the sixth propeller-shaft bearing that it has ordered from Vesconite Bearings.

Its Vesconite Hilube no-swell wear-resistant bearings were to go into a double-hull catamaran.

The catamaran had been created to reach a top speed of 41.5 knots through an innovative design that focused on the foil, propeller and bearings, among other components.

The New Zealand motor yacht builder is particularly proud of the speeds that its luxury motor boats reach, as well as their stability and fuel efficiency.



Preparation for repairs of marine vessels often involves precise planning.

This is why Vesconite Bearings Netherlands has already decided on the date of despatch for a Vesconite Hilube stern tube bearing that will be delivered to Vigo, located in the northwest of the Iberian Peninsula in Spain, in March.

The order for the bearing was made in early February for a maintenance programme due to start in mid-March, notes Vesconite Bearings Netherlands MD Conrad Penzhorn.

The bearing is in stock, and will be despatched on the 13th of March using DHL’s Express Delivery Service for delivery immediately before it is required, he says.

Penzhorn believes that Vesconite Bearings may have been selected as a preferred supplier of marine bearings for the marine maintenance project because of the company’s central location in Europe.

Vesconite Bearings Netherlands, a wholly owned subsidiary of Vesconite Bearings, is located in Utrecht, so stock bearings can be delivered within Europe within a day of being despatched from the facility.

“Vesconite Bearings BV is pleased to be supplying a customer in the biggest fishing port in the world,” enthuses Penzhorn.

“Our logistics preparation ensures that dry-dock fees are minimised and that repair yards receive their marine bearings when they are required,” he says.



Labyrinth seals can now be ordered from Vesconite Bearings using client specifications.

This follows the supply and successful use of Vesconite labyrinth seals by several large pump original equipment manufacturers in multiple labyrinth seal designs over the past 10 years.

Labyrinth seals are mechanical seals that provide a long path for water to flow through to prevent leakage. As the name suggests, these seals may be composed of a large number of grooves acting as labyrinth chambers. The labyrinths help reduce the leakage flow through the seals.

Vesconite bearing materials have proved valuable in these seals as they are self lubricating. As a result, during shaft rotation, when parts of the seal come in contact with the shaft, high temperatures and even galling are avoided. This is unlike traditional stainless steel and bronze labyrinth seals, where contact leads to high frictional forces, rapid increases in contact temperatures, galling and even catastrophic pump failures.

Vesconite labyrinth seals can also be designed to optimise their performance. Since there is no threat of galling, close clearances can be applied. This is important since the smaller the clearance, the lower the flow of water past the seal and the higher the efficiency of the pump.

Vesconite bearing materials offer the advantage of being more economical than their stainless steel counterparts, and much quicker to machine.

Vesconite can be machined easily to produce complicated grooves for water limiting flow and for securing the seal, and have completely replaced stainless steel parts in many pump applications.



Vesconite Bearings in the Netherlands received 30 crates of stock in February.

Many of these crates include extra-large marine bearings made of Vesconite and Vesconite Hilube bearing materials that do not swell or distort in water, do not delaminate or distort under higher loads, do not corrode, do not require lubrication, are resistant to oils and fuel, are easy to fit and remove, and prolong shaft life.

“The intention is to be able to get rudder and stern tube bearings to customers quicker,” says Vesconite Bearings BV MD Conrad Penzhorn.

“Lead-times-to-delivery are particularly important for marine customers, and we want to cater for this requirement,” he says, noting that dry-dock fees are considerable and waiting for parts needs to be avoided.

Vesconite’s stock includes many popular sizes of rudder bearings and stern tubes.

These are packed, and ready to be sent as soon as orders are received.

Vesconite Bearings’ warehouse is located near Utrecht in the Netherlands.

Stock bearings can be delivered within Europe within a day of being despatched from the facility.

Stock can also be collected by arrangement, with the warehouse within easy access of the cities of Utrecht, Rotterdam and Amsterdam.



A desalination plant in the Middle East commissioned a 6 MW pump with a Vesconite labyrinth seal in 2022.

This is according to the product manager at a large Austrian technology company tasked with designing the pump.

His company advertises that “thanks to today’s state-of-the-art technologies, potable water and desalination plants are able to achieve levels of safety and efficiency that were previously unimaginable”, and these are some of the considerations that he uses when he develops products for this industry.

It was initially for efficiency reasons that the pump OEM engaged with Vesconite.

Wear rings and seals, such as those produced by Vesconite Bearings, exhibit 5% efficiency gains, the product manager says.

With high power intensities, the savings from these gains become increasingly important and have resulted in the whole world striving for more efficiency in the technologies that they employ, he notes.

Interestingly, the technology company believes that Vesconite Bearings’ main differentiating factors are its service and its flexibility.

The product manager informs that a competitor had in one case quoted a seven-to-12 week delivery time from the placement of an order, as compared to a week’s despatch time for Vesconite.

“Sometimes a lengthy delivery time is not acceptable for us,” he says.

Vesconite’s service and support was also a distinguishing factor in choosing labyrinth seals made from Vesconite self-lubricating no-swell bearing materials.

The product manager explains that Vesconite Bearings was willing to discuss the technology company’s design requirements and did not simply dismiss them as impossible to achieve.

As a result, the labyrinth seal was produced applying the close clearances that the client desired.

“We were able to search for solutions together,” describes the product manager.

The technology company has been using Vesconite parts for five years and estimates that between 40 and 60 pumps globally have between 80 and 100 Vesconite parts installed on them.

These are used in a variety of industries, including desalination, which is becoming an important way to secure drinking water for urban needs.



A specialised Southern African railway signalling company, Actom Signalling, has found minimal wear in accelerated wear testing on the Vesconite slides that are contained in its point machines, which control railway tracks and switch the tracks that particular trains will be directed to.

This was confirmed by Actom Engineering Projects and Contracts Development Technician Wayne Meyer.

He notes that testing was carried out in November and December 2022 on a complete B1 Switchmatic Point Machine that was taken out of the production line for the express purpose of testing the performance of the point machine.

“We have to back our products so, periodically, we do these tests,” says Meyer.

“They provide comfort to our customers on the performance of our machines,” he notes of the tests that over a few days put a randomly-selected machine through its expected operating life.

More than 5,000 actuations, or movements of the point machine drive bar, were tested at the company’s factory in Germiston, South Africa.

Since Vesconite slides are among the components that are used on the machines, slide wear was also tested.

Vesconite slides are located around the detection, lock and drive bars at the point where they exit the points machine housing.

The point system blades and bars also run on a track of Vesconite so they are enclosed within Vesconite when they are within the point system housing.

Meyer notes that most of the wear was on the bottom Vesconite slides; this measured around 0.17 mm.

“This is very little for the amount of work that was done,” he says.

Wear on the top-most and side liners was almost undetectable, with wear of 0.05 mm being present, informs Meyer.

Point machines are critical in controlling the directional change of a train and for the safety of rail services.

Among the important components of the point machine are the detection blades, which determine the position of the right and left lines on the track; the locking blades, which physically locks the rail in place in a new position; and the drive slide, which is used to push the tracks into the correct position.

“With each actuation of the B1 Switchmatic point machine, the stroke of it is 300 mm, so there is 300 mm of movement over the Vesconite liner each time the machine will actuate,” describes Meyer.

“For the amount of wear, that is very good,” he says.

The B1 Switchmatic is Actom’s most popular point system, and is a well-tested machine that was first developed in the 1980s. It is the model on which Actom’s other point systems are based.

Actom has also developed the C1-H clamp lock point machine, the in-sleeper or integrated point machine, and the yard point machine — all of which include Actom’s important safety features and locking mechanism.

The C1-H is a smaller machine that was developed in the 2000s and is frequently used on passenger rails on which the rail tracks are normally located closer to one another than would be the case with freight rail.

The yard point machine is a robust, portable machine which is used in shunting yards and operated with high frequency.

The in-sleeper machine is Actom’s newest machine, which combats vandalism and theft by being small enough to be installed securely between the rails and inside the concrete sleepers.

All of the machines use Vesconite extensively, with some of the original machines still operating 40 or 50 years later with low-friction low-maintenance wear-resistant Vesconite still installed.



Vesconite Bearings, through its supply of marine bearings to the MN Colibri charter vessel in June, is proud to be associated with an exciting communication satellite launch that took place in September 2022.

The supply of bearings allowed the Colibri to transport the Eutelsat Konnect VHTS satellite, which is regarded as an important addition to global telecommunications infrastructure.

The MN Colibri transported the satellite to Pariacabo Harbour in French Guiana, near the Kourou-based Guiana Space Centre, the main spaceport of France and the European Space Agency.

On arrival at the port, the Eutelsat was transported off the ride-on ride-off charter vessel.

It then made its way to the launch site, where it was later successfully launched by an Ariane rocket.

The Eutelsat Konnect VHTS is expected to deliver high-speed broadband and mobile connectivity throughout Europe, North Africa and the Middle East from the second half of 2023.
“Vesconite Bearings is pleased to have contributed to this momentous project,” says Vesconite Bearings marine applications engineer Monique Potgieter of the development that plans to supply European users with 100 Mbps broadband as well as to eliminate broadband black spots.

“Our marine bearings are used in many intriguing shipping projects that contribute to the technological advancement of our world,” she notes.

Potgieter explains that, when the MN Colibri charter ship was undergoing planned inspection, it was found that the upper and lower flap bearings needed to be replaced on the flap type rudders.

The bearing supplier was then approached by a company that focuses on rudder new builds and servicing to supply the bearings.

Vesconite Bearings had the right size bushing material in stock at its Netherlands warehouse, and was able to quickly deliver the stock to Hamburg, Germany, for further machining and installation.
Material for two bearings, measuring 170 outside diameter (OD) x 150 inside diameter (ID) x 157 mm (long (L)) and 180 OD x 150 ID x 190 mm L, were ordered at 5pm on June 27, 2022, despatched just after noon on June 28, and delivered to the dry dock that did the final machining shortly after 1pm on June 29.

Marine bearings are essential to the delivery of all manner of cargo, much of which is time sensitive.

“Our team of marine specialists is dedicated to attending to urgent enquiries and we engage with ship captains, ship servicing companies and vessel managers through WhatsApp, Skype, direct calls, email and the other platforms they prefer to ensure a high level of availability, quick responses to enquiries and fast processing of orders,” says Potgieter.

The next step in Vesconite’s ability to deliver rudder bearings and stern tubes quickly is its strategy to have a large number of bearings stocked in locations around the globe and, where necessary, to manufacture these quickly at the dedicated marine bearing facility for the production of extra large bearings.

This dedicated facility can manufacture some of the largest marine bearings in the world in one to two days using its five large horizontal lathes and two large vertical lathes.

“In the case of the Colibri, we had bearings available close to the dry dock machine shop that was working on the ship,” says Potgieter.

“We are proud that our marine-supply strategy makes us the supplier of choice for many shipyards and repair companies that trust us for fast deliveries, excellent customer service and quality products,” she notes.
The Colibri (Image credit: 2021 ESA-CNES-Arianespace/Optique vidéo du CSG – JM Guillon).
A Vesconite Hilube marine bearing



Vesconite is pleased to be associated with one of the final-year Mechanical Engineering projects at the University of Kwazulu Natal, South Africa.

Vesconite-sponsored bushings were used for a traverse, a subassembly of the three-axis traverse and test stand. The traverse secures and positions aerodynamic probes in wind tunnels to measure parameters such as velocity and pressure around objects within the flow annulus. The traverse consists of a linear actuator that linearly extends the probe and a yaw subsystem that secures and rotates the probe about its tip.

In a letter of thanks to Vesconite Bearings Mechanical Engineer Tristen Wintershoven, who assisted with arranging the manufacturing, supply and delivery of the bushings, the study team noted that, “six bushings were used to minimise friction for the linear actuator, where the bushings were situated between three stainless-steel rods and a 3D-printed carriage.”

“The bushings enabled effortless movement of the carriage even when carrying the weight of the yaw subsystem. Two bushings were used for the yaw subsystem between a 3D-printed gear housing and a rotating stainless steel shaft. The bushings provided a smooth rotation of the shaft. Additionally, one of the project’s aims was to design a lightweight traverse.”

The student team, consisting of J. C. Yellappen, K. Z. Khanilye, I. A. Pillay and supervised by Professor G. C. Snedden, noted that the Vesconite bushings are much lighter than metallic bushings or bearings and this assisted in the design of a lightweight traverse.

The bushings had an excellent fit, performed well, and did not require lubrication, they enthused.

“As an engineering company, we hope to empower young engineers with the tools to solve real-world challenges,” says Wintershoven of how he introduced the team to Vesconite’s online bearing design tool which helps with various bearing parameters, including determining clearances and deciding on whether an interference fit is necessary.

“We aim to better the way individuals undertake analytical thinking,” he says.



A global petrochemical company, headquartered in South Korea, has ordered 20 pump bushings made of Vesconite Hilube, a premier-grade bearing material.

The bushings will go into vertical-turbine pumps that supply sea water to a petrochemical plant for cooling purposes.

The order for suction, line-shaft and pump-bowl bushings, is made up of bushings of significant size, with outside diameters ranging from 170 to 230 mm, inside diameters from 135 to 180 mm, and lengths from 180 to 240 mm.

“Vesconite Bearings has significant experience in providing pump bushings that come into contact with sea water,” describes pump application expert Phillip de Villiers.

“Our pump parts are widely used in desalination and sea-water-cooled plants,” he explains.

Vesconite Hilube bushings survive well in salt water and, unlike metal bearings, do not corrode.

In addition, they do not swell and can be machined for close clearances, which reduces vibration and improves pump efficiencies.

Cooling with the use of sea water is popular in coastal areas since it eliminates the use of scarce fresh water.

It is regarded as a sustainable technology, since there is typically no contact between the water and contaminants and the water can be released back into the sea with only a slight change in temperature being observed.


Pump application expert Phillip de Villiers notes that Vesconite Bearings has significant experience in providing pump bushings that come into contact with sea water.



Vesconite Bearings is pleased to have received the Business Resilience Award, presented by the Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of South Africa (SEIFSA) and Mining Equipment Manufacturers of South Africa (MEMSA) last week.

This is according to CEO Dr Jean-Patrick Leger, whose company was honoured as one that showed resilience, agility and adaptability during the Covid pandemic.

“We’re going to see pandemics again and they have happened throughout history, so let’s be prepared for the next one,” Leger said in his acceptance speech for the award that highlighted Vesconite’s business initiatives and management during the pandemic.

Leger stressed that the competition entry gave him the opportunity to examine how to ensure business stability in incredibly difficult times.

“Covid meant very unusual things like putting our sales staff to start shifts at 11 o’clock at night so that they could phone New Zealand, where the pandemic was not having an effect. Their end-of-day meeting was at 5 am in the morning so that we could discuss how they had managed to develop sales leads.”

Besides this sales initiative, Vesconite invested in health and safety interventions, skills development, creating and marketing new products, technologies and initiatives for remote work, logistics management and ease-of-access to products, improved financial oversight, renovating buildings and increased manufacturing resources at its factory, and growing a strong order book.

“I was also very struck that we had carried on paying salaries and, yes, after six weeks, of no real income coming in, it was very nerve-wracking about what was going to happen next,” Leger noted in his speech about the early days of the pandemic.

“When I look back, I recognise that all our employees were stabilised in this very stressful time. It meant that, when we came back with new ideas, they were energised because they were not fearful of their futures. It made a huge difference.”

Besides the Business Resilience Award, other companies that were honoured at the 2022 Awards for Excellence, included Macsteel, which received the Best Customer Service Award; Pamodzi Engineering, which received the Most Transformed Company of the Year Award; MSC Technical, which received the Environment Stewardship Award; Electrolux South Africa, which received the Corporate Social Responsibility Award; Caleisle Ngwenya, the director at CeeWay Engineering, who received the Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award; ArcelorMittal, which received the Industry Apprenticeship Award; ProProcess Engineering, which received the Customised Customer Service Award; Buraaq Mining Services and Rham Equipment, which received the Localised Supply Chain Award; NTGR Engineering Projects, which received the Manufacturing Solutions Award; Kobus De Beer, the current Chairman of International Steel Fabricators of South Africa and the Structural Steel Export Cluster and a Commissioner on the International Trade Administration Commission of South Africa, who received the Lifetime Contribution to the Industry Award; Michelle Austin, the group financial director at Keegor South Africa, who received the Business Woman of the Year Award; Keegor South Africa, which received the Workplace Health and Safety Award; and Bell Equipment, which received the MEMSA Member Manufacturer of the Year Award.



A freight operator in Africa tested Vesconite’s Hilube 20 pedestal liners on its type 9307 locomotives and will be installing these liners due to their better wear resistance.

Pedestal liners are installed on the locomotive at the interface between the pedestal leg and the axle box. They reduce the friction at this interface, which enables the axles to move freely in a vertical and lateral direction. Low-friction pedestal liners are key in reducing the force required for the wheel set to move laterally when the train comes into contact with a defect in the rail.

Hilube 20 is a ductile, self-lubricating material with a maximum design load of 20 MPa and a coefficient of friction ranging between 0.15 – 0.19.

The freight operator replaced its manganese steel pedestal liners with Vesconite’s Hilube 20 to determine if the company would get better performance during on-track testing.

The operator carried out a preliminary inspection of the liners one month after installation. The test revealed the wear plates to be intact, with no evidence of wear or abnormality. The rolling stock engineer said that, in comparison to Hilube 20, the manganese steel liners wear faster on visual inspection. The engineer also found the installation time of the Hilube 20 liners to be much quicker.

Due to the improved performance of the Hilube 20 pedestal liners, the liners have been approved as a replacement for manganese steel liners on the rail operator’s rolling stock.



Vesconite Bearings has received a large order for wear-resistant bushings from a Canadian agricultural manufacturer that manufactures air seeders, among other equipment.

This is according to Vesconite application developer Marius van Zyl, who has been involved in the project since its start.

The project began when an Australian distributor of the air seeder tested standard Vesconite bushings on the pivots on the row units. The distributor then also evaluated Vesconite’s premium bearing material, Vesconite Hilube.

Both materials performed well on the seeder’s two highest-load points.

Because of availability, the Australian distributor supplied Vesconite Hilube bushings on its high-load high-wear pivot points on the planters ahead of the Australian planting season in 2021.

However, from this time on, standard Vesconite will be fitted to these points since this had a longer testing record of reliable performance and is more economical.

Testing of standard Vesconite has also been in progress in Canada through the spring 2022 planting season. The Canadian air-seeder manufacturer is now considering changing all of the pivot bearings to standard Vesconite to streamline production and improve wear across the row units.



Keeping a golf course lush and emerald green is an important consideration for any golf course maintenance or irrigation engineer.

As a result, when a well-known original equipment manufacturer’s pumps’ wear parts were consistently failing, and resulting in less than optimum greens and fairways, a South African golf-course irrigation company turned to Vesconite Bearings to test prototype bushings and wear rings.

The global golf course context

Globally, the golf industry is large, with the US industry (which represents half of global golf courses) estimated to have an impact of USD70b on the US economy, according to Golf Course Industry’s 2017 Golf Industry Outlook.

Maintenance spending in the US totals $9b each year, according to the same survey, with around 56% allocated to labour and the remainder to other expenses, including irrigation costs, which are believed to make up one of the largest parts of these maintenance costs, with the importance of watering, overwatering, the existence of brown patches in the grass, grass thinning or loss of colour consuming much attention. Various other countries, including Canada, are said to have 2/3 of the maintenance budget of the average US course for each of their courses, but, whatever the global golf-course maintenance budget, the sums that are being spent on golf-course maintenance and on irrigation are substantial.

Interestingly, the US, Japan, Canada, England, Australia, Germany, France, Scotland, South Africa, etc., have the largest number of golf courses in that order, with irrigation playing a more or less important role depending on how scarce water is and whether the golf courses are open year round, among other factors.

Since many golf courses are located in water-scarce areas, irrigation can be challenging, especially since golf-course irrigation needs are often pitted against communities’ basic water needs. Capturing storm water, using water from dams and rivers, and re-using effluent and wastewater are all possible alternatives. These are all possible substitutes to using potable water … but they sometimes bring their own challenges that original equipment manufacturers may not be considering sufficiently.

The case study

The irrigation company that eventually switched to Vesconite Hilube bowl bushings and wear rings is a well-established provider of irrigation solutions to the many of South Africa’s 532 golf courses, of which 400 are under irrigation. Each South African golf course typically has three to 16 pumps, although the number of pumps can be as high as 38, as on one elite South African golf course designed by Jack Nicklaus.  Each pump typically has four to 12 stages in its multiple-stage canister pumps, which are the type specified by a large golf-course irrigation solution supplier.

These pumps have to cope with water that is often characterised by high abrasiveness, high alkalinity or high acidity. This is because water-scarcity issues, as well as a national requirement to provide for the country’s basic water needs, have resulted in many of South Africa’s golf courses switching from potable water to water sourced from effluent wastewater; rainfall runoff captured in ponds or reservoirs; streams and ponds; and groundwater.

The impact on wear rings

Prior to the introduction of Vesconite Hilube wear rings, the irrigation company used multiple-stage canister pumps with neck ring casings with phenolic wear rings.

Phenolic wear rings are typically made with a base material such as paper, fibreglass or cotton, which is permeated with a phenolic resin, or phenol formaldehyde resins.

Despite the fact that phenolic wear rings are seen as highly abrasion resistant, they were discovered to not be nearly wear-resistant enough to cope with the acidity levels and debris found in the storm water run-off and waste water that many South African golf courses are now using in line with global norms.

The phenolic wear rings, which were observably paper like, were found to delaminate, a process by which repeated stress causes the layers to separate. They tended to only last six to eight months.

The phenolic wear rings reduced pump performance. The pressure suddenly dropped, the client reported, noting the effect of the delamination and degradation of the wear rings, which are regarded as essential in this application since wear rings are typically used to create a virtual contact between a pump’s moving and stationary parts; to stabilise the pump rotor; and to reduce circulation between the pump stages.

The irrigation company approached Vesconite Bearings to produce differently-sized prototype wear rings for each of the pump sizes that it installs on South Africa’s golf courses. These were to be made of one of its polymers, Vesconite Hilube, a very strong, wear-resistant, low-friction, ultraviolet-stable engineered polymer that is also dimensionally stable in water.

After a year of testing at one golf course, the irrigation company still did not need to replace the wear rings and the wear rings showed no evidence of needing to be replaced. It began ordering sizeable quantities of wear rings from Vesconite Bearings so that it could install them as standard parts in the pumps that it was installing on South African golf courses.

The polymer wear rings were found to be suitable for the difficult water application, since they did not delaminate even when exposed to mild acids and alkalis or when in contact with abrasive materials. With the introduction of Vesconite Hilube wear rings, the dramatic pumping pressure drops and the frequent wear ring replacements also became a thing of the past.

Bowl bushings

The South African irrigation company also experienced difficulties with the carbon-graphite bowl bushings in the multiple-stage canister pumps before it introduced Vesconite Hilube bowl bushings.

Carbon-graphite is usually regarded as a hard-wearing material, since it includes the wear-resistance, strength and hardness of carbon and the self-lubricating characteristics and corrosion resistance of graphite. However, the abrasiveness of the grit and debris in the water that was being used for irrigation proved too much for the carbon-graphite bowl bushings too. Debris in the water sometimes caused the bushings to wear, with fast-moving fragments sometimes coming into contact with the impeller, damaging or removing vanes, and, in some cases, destroying the pumps.

Fine grit and fine particles also frequently embedded themselves into the carbon-graphite bushings and ate into stainless steel pump shafts.

As a consequence, shafts sometimes needed to be replaced, and, where shafts started vibrating due to shaft and bushing wear, the impellers came in contact with the metal chambers. The costs were considerable as canisters or even whole pumps sometimes had to be replaced.

Then the irrigation company introduced Vesconite Hilube bushings for seven canister pump models.

The results proved favourable, as a result of the Vesconite’s wear resistance.

Grit did not embed itself in the Vesconite Hilube bushings and lead to subsequent shaft damage and instability that damaged pump components.

The irrigation company was satisfied that after one year the bushings did not show significant wear and, importantly, there were no significant expenses related to bowl bushing failure.

It began ordering and stocking the Vesconite Hilube bowl bearings for use on the golf courses that it provides irrigation solutions to.

The benefits for golf courses with Vesconite wear rings and bowl bushings

Golf courses rely on the steady irrigation and are often viewed as undesirable places to play if they have visible stressed or burnt-out turf.

They are also averse to high maintenance costs including high electricity costs, which may be elevated if a pumping system is not operating optimally.

In addition, they are increasingly aware of the labour time, and the associated costs, involved in making repairs, managing and adjusting the irrigation system and hand watering dry areas where an irrigation system is found to be not optimal.

The case for ensuring that an irrigation system’s wear parts are well suited to the application is thus clear.

The benefits for the golf-course irrigation solution supplier

According to a presentation on the 2017 Golf Industry Outlook by Golf Course Industry, suppliers to the golf industry need to increasingly package what they sell as solutions rather than simply products. This would ensure that there is not a simple rush to the bottom in terms of price and that a knowledgeable supplier of appropriate solutions would be favoured over a supplier of a simple product that might not meet the needs of the client.

The presentation on the 2017 Golf Industry Outlook by Golf Course Industry also highlighted how tinkering and experimenting among golf-course superintendents is at an all-time high, and it seems that the trend towards independent thinkers, who are trying to optimise how resources are used to produce the best results on a golf course, may extend well beyond superintendents.

Vesconite Bearings is in favour of this approach, especially since it is self-evident that not all pre-packaged products work in all applications. The irrigation company that Vesconite Bearings supplied the wear parts to is well thought of in the industry, and a proactive technical team that are proactively searching for improved solutions to irrigation problems is one reason for this.

A last take-away

Turf-heads, as those who are knowledgeable about golf turf and the irrigation thereof like to be known, are convinced that water provision is the biggest long-term issue facing golf courses.

Several have even suggested that playing on natural grass may become a thing of the past, as concerns about water availability become paramount.

Irrigation using non-potable water sources is thus an inevitability if the continued use of natural turf is desired.  The use of storm water, water from dams and rivers, and effluent and wastewater all present technological challenges that the golf industry continues to address creatively, including in its assessment of the most suitable wear rings and bowl bushings for canister pumps.



A plant hire company in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, has improved bushing life by installing Vesconite self-lubricating bushings on some of its equipment.

This is according to BPD Plant Hire workshop manager Richard Stoltz, who installed Vesconite bushings on the main pivot points of a JCB TLB (tractor-loader-backhoe) and a New Holland skid steer.

Prior to introducing Vesconite, OEM bronze parts were installed on both machines, notes Stoltz.

However, operators did not grease the parts and the hiring company found that the bronze bushings tended to wear away within three to six months, he says.

Seeking a solution to the wear problem, BPD turned to Vesconite bearing materials.

Stoltz had used the material for its wear and self-lubricating properties in the past, but had used it for wear plates and slides rather than bushings previously.

Needing a solution to overcome the short lifespan of the bronze bushings, he first installed the Vesconite bushings on the TLB and was so impressed that he then installed Vesconite bushings on the skid steer.

The Vesconite TLB bushings have operated for two years and are still in working condition. The skid steer bushings, meanwhile, have been installed for six months and are running well.

Stoltz confirms that self-lubricating Vesconite has proven advantageous on the bushings of the bucket dipper arm of the TLB and the bottom loader arm bushings on the skid steer.

These parts are exposed to the most friction and wear and, if bronze OEM parts are used without greasing, they, unlike Vesconite, do not last, he says.



Buying Vesconite products in Namibia has become easier with the establishment of a wholly-owned Namibian subsidiary. 

Known as Vesconite Bearings Namibia, the new company will stock frequently-ordered hollow bar, solid rods and plate for ease of ordering and distribution into the Southern African country.

“Coastal Couriers, a leader in the Namibian courier industry, will assist us,” notes Nadia Swart, who is tasked with managing Vesconite’s Namibian business.

“We will keep stock shapes at Coastal Couriers in Windhoek, and distribute from there,” she says.  

The new company will focus on the marine, mining, manufacturing, agriculture, forklift, abattoir and pumps industries, among others.

“Currently we have customers in many African countries, including South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Kenya and Nigeria,” says Vesconite Bearings CEO Dr Jean-Patrick Leger of Vesconite’s African supply and growth strategy and performance on the continent to date. 

“The challenge is transporting goods across borders, and clearing customs,” Leger states.

“We look forward to the creation of the free trade agreement across Africa, with a view of this opening up better opportunities for trade,” he says



Metalfor, a leading Argentinian equipment manufacturer, has used Vesconite Hilube bushings for its Class 7 combine harvesters since 2010.

Vesconite Hilube wear-resistant, self-lubricating bearing material is used for king pin bushings on the steering system and axle pivot bushings on the back axle.

“We switched from bronze to Vesconite Hilube in 2010 since these are such important applications,” a design engineer stated when Vesconite Bearings visited the company in 2022.

Metalfor applies grease to the bushings upon installation to increase wear life and it also installs a grease zerk for greasing if desired.

However, Vesconite is internally lubricated, which is advantageous if a farmer does not grease bushings for long periods.

Axle pivot bushings.

“Because this is such a crucial application and a failure results in super expensive and long downtime, we felt the protection of Vesconite’s internal lubrication is exactly what we needed to ensure a bulletproof design,” the design engineer stated.

According to Metalfor’s design engineers, about 60% of the loaded combine harvester (roughly 25 metric tons) is placed on the back axle. 

The Metalfor engineers have not heard of a bushing failure since employing Vesconite bushings.

They also have never had to replace a Vesconite Hilube bearing because of excessive wear, unlike when bronze bushings were installed.

Vesconite Hilube king pin bushings on the combine harvester.



Metalfor, a leading Argentinian equipment manufacturer, has used Vesconite bushings in sprayer boom pivots on self-propelled crop sprayers since 2007 … and with great success.

Metalfor’s crop-sprayer bushings have to face a variety of challenging operating conditions. Whilst spraying, crop sprayers are continuously exposed to water and a mixture of chemicals. After use, a sprayer is also typically cleaned with high-pressure water to blast the chemicals away. The spray chemicals and pressure washing also typically flush grease out of the pivot points.

Vesconite has proven to be the solution to these operating conditions. Unlike bronze, it resists a wide variety of chemicals. Vesconite also does not corrode because it is a polymer, which is an advantage because of the chemicals sprayers encounter.

Moreover, Vesconite is highly valued for its self-lubricating properties; while Metalfor provides for the greasing of bearings where a farmer desires this, the bushingsself-lubricating properties are an extra benefit when greasing is absent.

These Vesconite properties make the bushing material suitable for the harsh conditions encountered by agricultural sprayers, Metalfor says.

The Vesconite bushing.
Where the bushings are located.



We understand your frustration with messy grease on your forklift.

Our forklift team replaced the bronze liner on this forklift with a Vesconite part and couldn’t be more pleased that our warehouse staff won’t have to concern themselves with greasing this part anymore.

Vesconite has developed many forklift parts that will save you from the mess, irritation and cost of greasing. Parts that we produce include side shift pads, mast pivot bushings, steer axle articulation bushings, lever and pedal bushings, king pin bushings, tilt cylinder bushings and gantry support bearings.

Find out more about how Vesconite can save you from your forklift greasing, friction and bearing wear problems. Contact Calvin Mpofu or Tristen Wintershoven on +27 11 616 1111.



A forklift rental company in the Cape winelands, South Africa, is experiencing less downtime, expenditure and fewer equipment repairs thanks to the introduction of Vesconite king pin and thrust bearings on its forklifts.

This is according to brothers Jacques and Van Rhyn who, together with their father, Japie du Plessis, supply forklifts to clients in the agriculture, fruit and wine industry through JP Fork Truck Rental, a family-owned and operated company.

In the forklift hire industry, clients often say, “rev it like a rental”, indicating that rental machines are used intensively since maintenance and repair costs are allocated to the rental company.

In extreme cases, clients lift loads that exceed the capacity of the machine causing the rear wheels of the forklift to lift and then drop, often causing damage to the axles.

“It caused severe damage to the rear axles, and we would have to collect the forklift from our clients to do the repairs and send some of the parts to an engineering workshop to have them fixed,” describes Van Rhyn. 

“It used to cost a lot of money,” he adds.

This was before the rental company moved to Vesconite low-friction wear-resistant king pin bushings and thrust bearings for the main pivot point on the rear axle.

The Vesconite parts replaced the conventional needle roller bearings for the king pin as well as the thrust bearings.

Van Rhyn comments that Vesconite king pin and thrust bearings do break in some instances but in most cases they only deform slightly.

If the part has deformed, it usually is an indication of impact, and the bushing is either replaced or shimmed and can be used again, he says.

Jacques, who has completed a PhD in mechanical engineering, comments that the rental company appreciates Vesconite’s hardness while still being ductile enough not to crack or shatter under impact.

“It can withstand a lot of wear. It is hard and, at the same time, it not brittle,” he notes.

The ability to withstand high axial loads and stress is particularly important in forklift thrust bearings due to the weight of the machine’s counterweight, which needs to be able to absorb impact and not crack or shatter.

The brothers explain that conventional thrust ball bearings were used before the introduction of Vesconite’s plain bearings.

With a ball bearing, the contact between the axle and stub-axle is multiple point loads (contact with the balls) and, in the case of a severe impact, the ball bearings shatter or even push outwards breaking the bearing housing. This, in turn, causes the steering plates and the stub-axle to bend and the stub-axle to rub up against the axle resulting in extreme wear on the components.

Quantifying the savings from switching to Vesconite is difficult, but the downtime has been significantly reduced, which leads to savings in maintenance and transport costs.

“Re-occurring bearing failures were eliminated, which means that these parts are now on a preventive maintenance schedule instead of corrective or failure maintenance schedule,” says Jacques. 

“This has saved a significant amount of downtime and inconvenience for both our clients and ourselves,” he notes.

JP Fork Truck Rental is so impressed with the Vesconite parts that it has installed Vesconite mast liners and trunnion bearings in addition to king pin and thrust bearings in about 80% of its fleet of more than 80 forklifts.

It also expects to have all of its machines fitted with Vesconite parts by the end of this year.

“Clients are happier when you don’t have downtime on your machines,” says Van Rhyn.

“This is not an issue anymore,” he notes.



High-temperature-resistant bearing material Hitemp 160 has been certified for contact with water up to 65ºC (150ºF).

This is according to the maker, Vesconite Bearings, which informs that the bearing and wear material has been approved by the Water Regulations Approval Scheme (WRAS).

WRAS is an independent UK certification body for plumbing products and materials. It informed Vesconite that Hitemp 160 has passed the full test of effect on water quality.

The bearing material is advertised as being able to be used in the high temperature range up to 160 – 200ºC depending on the chemicals in the solution.

With the certification, the material is certified as safe for water intended for human consumption up until 65ºC.

“UK pump and potable water component manufacturers can confidently use the product within the given temperature parameters,” says Vesconite Bearings CEO Dr Jean-Patrick Leger.

The certification also provides comfort for the general safety of the bearing material where it is used outside of the UK, he notes.



An ocean of noise could be greatly reduced if more ship owners opted for noise-free marine bearings.

This is according to Vesconite Bearings, which is promoting its bearings materials as ones that exhibit low squeal, vibration and noise because of their low friction, small clearances and no slip stick.

Vesconite bearing materials have unusually low co-efficients of friction so there is little squeal when using Vesconite since:-

  • Vesconite has a co-efficient of friction of 0.12 – 0.15 running dry on stainless steel;
  • Vesconite Hilube has a co-efficient of friction of 0.08 – 0.12 running dry on stainless steel; and
  • Vesconite Superlube has a co-efficient of friction of 0.05 – 0.08 running dry on stainless steel

In addition, the materials exhibit little to no slip stick, the jerky motion associated with sound that is common in applications with intermittent motion. This is because Vesconite Hilube and Vesconite Superlube, in particular, have excellent stiction characteristics, since their co-efficients of static friction are lower than their co-efficients of dynamic friction … and this results in less noise or no noise at the start of motion and during slow rotations.

Moreover, because Vesconite does not swell or distort, Vesconite bearings can be machined with small clearances. This considerably reduces vibration and associated noise, since there is much less play between the bearing and its housing.

These bearing characteristics are important in an ocean environment in which noise levels are believed to have doubled every decade since the 1950s. This has largely been due to the increase in shipping and is also contributed to by small boat traffic in coastal waters.

Depending on the species, and the noise frequency and intensity, various physiological conditions have been noted in animals, including increases in blood pressure, heart rates, cortisol levels, cholesterol levels and respiratory rates.

For marine animals, besides physiological disturbances, there may be behavioural responses to avoid noise, including ascents that are too rapid and spending too much time on the surface.

These factors make the choice of bearing important for those who are concerned with the environmental impact of human activities in marine environments.

Read more about how Vesconite can reduce noise in many environments. Go to



Extracting, filtering, milling, purifying, mincing, liquefying, emulsifying, cooking, pickling, pasteurising, canning, slicing, dicing and drying are some of the many physical and chemical means through which raw food ingredients are transformed into other forms. 

As with any equipment in a food processing plant, instruments and apparatus need to be assessed on the basis of their longevity, cost and whether they are fit-for-purpose. Important in a hygiene-critical environment though is whether the equipment is safe and hygienic to use. The health toll on consumers can be high if this is not considered, and the impact on a food company can be devastating if hygiene-related issues result in costly food recalls and significant reputational damage. 

As with any food-processing equipment, bearings need to be assessed for their suitability in a given application. Like other apparatus connected with the industry, health and hygiene are important considerations. After all, the often inconspicuous bearing plays a part in many food-related processes. They are intimately involved in blenders and mixers, ice machinery, picking and weighing equipment and conveyors, among other equipment. They perform many millions of cycles and are an essential although often unacknowledged part of food processing. As a result, those in the food processing industry might want to look at these seven health and hygiene considerations before they choose a bearing for their production line.

Consider a bearing’s swell index

Fortune Magazine reports that microbiological contamination is responsible for 47% of food recalls. Microorganisms, such as bacteria, yeast and fungi, and their build-up, should thus be avoided. When it comes to bearings, materials such as non-food-grade nylon should be avoided, since it absorbs water and harvests bacteria. Other bearing materials should be carefully investigated, and only those thermoplastics that do not swell should be considered since trapped stagnant water is an environment in which microbes thrive. 

Choose the right colour

Unsurprisingly, white is the preferred colour for bearings in the food industry. Many thermoplastics are made of this colour and should be considered for food applications in which there is direct contact with food. The colour allows quality controllers to quickly ensure that there is nothing foreign in the system that has led to a colour change in the bearing. It also ensures that no colour is transferred from the bearing to the food product and that no visible foreign material can be detected in the final product.

Avoid lubrication

Food-grade lubricants can be used safely in food processing plants without the concern that the lubricants may contain toxins that will be harmful in the food that they are in contact with. Bearings, including thermoplastic ones, often operate better with lubricants. However, many thermoplastic bearings offer the advantage of avoiding lubrication in the food-processing plant if required. This eliminates food particulates being caught in lubricant and later contaminating the production chain. 

Choose bearings that are resistant to chemicals

Cleaning is of extreme importance in a food processing environment and the bearings that are chosen should not degrade when in contact with food chemicals or the cleaning chemicals that are used to ensure hygiene in the processing environment. Many thermoplastic bearings have demonstrated chemical resistance over a range of acids and alkalis and these may be preferred to untested bearings. 

Check optimal operating range

For many food-processing lines, steam cleaning is the advised method of cleaning. Numerous thermoplastics are able to operate at high-temperature ranges and these should be chosen over plastics that cannot withstand high temperatures. It is advised that the temperature of the steam should be verified though, since some plastic bearings will melt if exposed to high temperatures for sustained periods.

Ensure certification for food-grade applications

Various certifications are possible for plastic bearings and the polymers that make them. Among them are the FDA certification, common in the US, as well as various other certifications, including the National Test Laboratory certification of France, that apply elsewhere. These apply various aqueous tests, including distilled water, acetic acid and ethanol tests, as well as a fat test, that might include testing using sunflower oil. These are designed to ascertain the inertness of the polymers and the likelihood of a compound in the polymer being transferred to the food.

Avoid toxic components

Thermoplastics are often preferred to metallic components, including bronzes, which often contain lead and tin. This avoidance of tin and lead for the food-processing company has become important as consumers are becoming increasingly aware of the dangers of heavy metals to tissues and organs.

Consider optimal bearing fit

For the food-processing company, there might, however, be other considerations other than the physical properties of a bearing that might be employed. For instance, optimal bearing fitment should also be considered, since food that remains in the running clearance of the bushing is likely to lead to contamination of the entire production chain. Optimal bearing fit requires that operating temperatures be taken cognisance of since some bearings expand when heated.

Benefit from smoothness

Food and beverages also tend to fall into any crack or hole on any surface in the production process. Some bearings are designed to have these features since these are necessary for smooth operation. Others have fewer moving parts and are constructed to form a single unit. Depending on the bearing required, thermoplastic bearings may offer advantages in that they tend to have smooth surfaces in which food particles are unlikely to accumulate. If they have been chosen for their smoothness and their lack of cavitation, it is important that they remain dent and damage free. To achieve this, improper forceful mounting, which might cause denting, wearing or cracking, should be avoided. Similarly, the bearing should not be extremely roughly treated during maintenance.

With Fortune Magazine noting that the yearly cost of food-related medical treatment, lost production and mortality caused by illness related to food-borne pathogens totals $55-million in the US, food processing companies are looking carefully at the parts of their production chain in which equipment is in contact with food. 

No particular study has identified bearings as a particular cause of food-borne pathogens, but bearing manufacturers are keen on ensuring that the risk of food-related illness or diseases associated with their particular componentry remains low.

Bearings, as with other types of equipment, have to be investigated to determine whether there is a possibility of incidental food contact or no possibility of contact. Once this is determined, bearings can be specified based on hygiene concerns appropriate for a given application.

With a rapidly urbanising and increasingly wealthier global population, which spends less time on food preparation due to increasing demands on its time, processed food demand is growing each year. 

This would not be a particular concern, except that food-related outbreaks and recalls are also growing. Food-borne illnesses and their risk to food consumers and food-processing companies cannot be underestimated and any opportunity to be more vigilant about hygiene should be taken.



A Vesconite Hilube U-shaped liner bearing has been used successfully for 350 hours on a Komatsu 675-5 motor grader thanks to an engineering innovation by Hans Bester, from the South African farm Novo, owned by PW Meiring.

The U-shaped plate bearing is fitted on the mould board side shift of the grader and acts as a guide on the grader assembly.

The grader assembly, in turn, is used to construct water ways, embankments and contours, and generally protect against soil erosion at the farm that produces maize, soya and sugar beans, potatoes and wheat.

Bester had constructed his own liner bearing assembled out of small pieces of Vesconite Hilube previously. This had lasted for 600 hours and it outperformed the previous bronze OEM part that had lasted 500 hours in the same application.

Since then, he has installed a single piece of Vesconite Hilube, machined according to his specifications by the Vesconite Bearings factory. 

This was much cheaper than assembling smaller pieces of Vesconite Hilube, says Bester.

He is convinced that the single uniform part made from Vesconite Hilube will outperform his prototype part, and believes that it may be able to operate even longer.

It is also much easier to install, Bester notes.

The OEM bronze part required regular greasing but, with greasing, an abrasive grinding paste resulted when the grease combined with the soil that the grader moved.

Meanwhile, the OEM part wore out quickly without greasing.

Bester, who has worked in soil protection for 40 years, notes that there was a need for Vesconite Hilube since the bearing material protects the grader assembly from wear and aids hard-working graders that are busy for eight hours a day in the most arduous grit-filled conditions.

Vesconite Hilube liner bearings are 70% cheaper than bronze liner bearings, he says.



Vesconite Bearings commissioned a dedicated facility for high production runs of finished parts in June.

This follows its purchase of a thousand-square-meter structure that had been used as a grain silo and then as a seed store by its previous owners.

Known as Welgeleë, or “well established” after the farm at which it was previously located, the new facility provides expansion space for the ‘large-quantity’ facility.

Some 20 CNC machines had been moved to the facility in April, a further 10 in May, and, with three additional CNC purchases that arrived in June, the facility houses 33 advanced automatic CNC machines to produce parts machined to tight tolerances.

“Vesconite is receiving more large-volume orders for finished parts made of our wear-resistant self-lubricating Vesconite and Vesconite Hilube bearing materials,” says Vesconite Bearings CEO Dr Jean-Patrick Leger.

“We required a streamlined, high-tech facility that could create parts in large numbers,” he notes.

The facility will produce high production runs of 10,000 to 100,000 per part a year.

It will cater for high-volume part suppliers and original equipment manufacturers that use Vesconite bearings and wear parts as standard equipment items.



For engineers at CERN (CERN, the European laboratory for particle physics), understanding the co-efficient of friction of a given friction material (including Vesconite Hilube low-friction material, which is being introduced into CERN’s new tooling system) is of utmost importance.

This co-efficient of friction number is an indication of how easily parts will slide, roll or rest on the given material, with a lower co-efficient of friction indicating that there is less friction. Low stick-slip and a more smooth motion is desired.

And this is exactly what CERN project engineer Mike Struik demonstrated this week while testing how the components for the next phase of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) interface.

He has had considerable experience at the LHC with the various friction materials that have historically been used to assemble the more than 2,000 superconducting magnets at CERN.

Some 1,232 dipole magnets have been assembled in the facility straddling the Swiss-French border in which he works.

Typically weighing 29 tons each, these magnets have to be slid into the 15-meter-long tubes (vacuum vessels) in which they are housed using a system of winches, steel rails and sliding material before being installed in the accelerator.

The sliding material used historically is a 3- to 4-millimetre-thick Teflon-filled bronze wear pad that had to be glued to the base material.

“We don’t like the old material,” says Struik of the old engineering tooling system that has been used since the year 2000.

“If the glue on the sliding material comes off, we have a 29-ton magnet that we can’t mount anymore,” he elaborates.

So, when LHC upgrades were proposed to increase the amount of data that could be collected, using more sophisticated superconducting magnets that cool to 1.9 ºKelvin, this was the ideal opportunity to improve on the tooling system that would also have to be upgraded.

Struik specified that the manufacturer of the tooling use a sliding material that could be fitted into a recess on the housing so as to avoid needing to glue the wear pad to the base. He specified winching speeds of 50 mm/minute and 100 mm/minute. He also specified that the sliding material not grip the high-quality surface of the steel rails on which it was placed and have a low co-efficient of friction with a high yield load strength.

The design Applus+ Laboratories, a worldwide leader in the testing, inspection and certification sector, developed in response included an assembly table; an adjustable table that can be configured to support different-sized vacuum vessels; a synchronised lifting system to lift and hold the magnets in place; and winches to pull the magnets in and out of the vessel.

The design also included temporary extension rails made of steel inside each tube and three sliders, with each slider having a 50-centimetre-long block of Vesconite Hilube low-friction sliding material on each side to safely and efficiently guide the magnets in and out.

Vesconite Hilube was also positioned to guide the magnet laterally and keep the magnet in the middle of the tube. Once completed, Applus performed a functional test with a lighter magnet, simulating what could be expected at CERN, which was still, at that stage, to receive delivery of the 24-ton cryomagnets that are be employed at CERN.

The functional test proved successful and the tooling system was shown to be able to manoeuvre a magnet into a vacuum vessel and keep the magnet in the correct position.

CERN decided that it would perform the real test when the actual magnets that would be used were delivered, and it was able to do so in May 2022.

“We had to try and fit this 24-ton magnet inside another tube and then we had to lift it, we had to align it and we had to drop it,” says Struik.

“Everything went well and we are super happy with it,” he notes of the involved test that included the interface between all the existing and newly-introduced components.

As a conclusion to the test, the Vesconite Hilube pads were removed and tested. No wear was detected.

“The friction co-efficient was also lower than we expected it to be,” Struik notes of the smoothness with which the magnet was manoeuvred into the vessel using Vesconite Hilube wear materials.

With the alignment and equipment tests all completed, the cold tests of the assembled cryomagnet are expected to start in June.

These will demonstrate whether the magnet is able to concentrate a particle beam and that the new upgrade involving an additional 37 more-sophisticated cryomagnets at the LHC will be a welcome addition to the 27-km-long accelerator that is part of the largest particle physics laboratory in the world.

Large hadron collider upgrades include more sophisticated superconducting magnets that cool to 1.9 ºKelvin



A marine adventure company has installed Vesconite wear rings on all its SeaDoo Spark jet ski pump sets with great success.

Offshore Adventures first tested a sample of the precision machined, no-swell, wear-resistant Vesconite wear rings as an alternative to the OEM ones, made out of an alternative polymer material, and the replacement ones, made from stainless steel.

Impressed with the results, the adventure company then changed all of the pump set wear rings on its six jet skis to the Vesconite ones.

Vesconite application developer Phillip de Villiers notes that the Vesconite wear rings form part of the housing that contains the jet skis’s propeller.

This is always wet because the propeller is the means by which the jet ski is propelled through the water.

As a result, Vesconite was favoured for its no-swell properties and good dimensional stability in water. The no-swell properties also allowed De Villiers to design a wear ring with a much smaller running clearance, which resulted in better efficiencies and superior operation than had ever been achieved on the jet skis previously.

“The wear rings also sometimes came in contact with abrasive beach sand when the jet skis were started close to the shore,” says De Villiers.

“The occasional contact between the wear rings and beach sand was also not problematic for Vesconite, since the material is wear resistant and copes well with abrasive conditions,” he notes.

The wear-resistant nature of the material also meant that it survived the rare contact between the wear ring and the propeller, resulting in less replacement and lower maintenance costs, he adds.

“In the jet-ski rental industry, one can’t afford downtime,” says Offshore Adventures owner Jaco Kruger.

“These wear rings are not only long-lasting but affordable!” he enthuses. 

Offshore Adventures is based out of Plettenberg Bay in South Africa. Besides various other marine adventures, including swimming with the seals and observing the once-a-year sardine run, the company rents jet skis and provides guided jet ski tours with a qualified skipper.

Plettenberg Bay is part of the Condé Nast Travellers Gold List – its list of the nine best destinations in the world for 2022.



Vesconite Bearings is proud to be associated with tidal energy equipment developer Norwegian Ocean Power, which successfully trialled its Pulsus horizontal-axis spiral-design tidal turbine, as part of the development of its first commercial unit, in 2016.

The turbines were tested in Drammensfjorden, Norway, where a dynamic test on the composite structure and bearings was performed.

The structure bent and flexed with tidal currents, which can produce significant turbulence and considerable upward and sideward forces, so the testing of uneven forces was a key part of testing for this tidal turbine.

 “We were hoping to separate out any vibration from the structure,” informed technical director and founder Kent Thoresen in 2016, noting that the company’s turbine was successful in this aim.

The thrust bearings moved backwards and forwards and eliminated the vibration as planned, which might have otherwise led to a systemic failure.

The 0,5m-diameter Vesconite bearings, meanwhile, which were installed on each end of the horizontal unit, also performed well in their ability to absorb vibration.

They were chosen after the testing of various competing products that were less flexible and exhibited dry-run problems.

They were also shown to exhibit no swell in water; require no grease, oil or additional lubrication; and have a load capacity that is unaffected by water.

There are many failed projects in the tidal energy industry due to turbulence that causes vibration and uneven force distribution,” commented Thoresen in 2016.

That is why it was important to fully test our unit in real sea conditions,” he noted.

Norwegian Ocean Power was the owner, financer and developer of the innovative turbine technology, which was due to be installed in the sea of Norway in 2017 and begin commercial production of 1TWh of energy per year for use in Norway.

The intention was to start production on several turbines in 2017 and 2018, with Canada and the UK being the most likely first markets for these turbines.



Two mounted ocean-powered turbines were generating electricity in Nova Scotia, Canada, in 2016 using Vesconite Hilube plates that make up large bushings.

The ocean-powered turbines went live in November 2016, and their installation was seen as a trial of future current-powered farms that could comprise 30 turbines.

Located in Fundy Bay, the ocean-powered turbines were to utilise the continuous directed streams of seawater that circulate through the oceans to generate electricity.

The 300-t steel assembly formed an open-ended turbine and has a simple lubricant-free design with no seals or gearbox, so as to reduce maintenance requirements.

“The turbines were fitted with large-diameter Vesconite Hilube bushings,” said Vesconite Bearings renewable-energy bushings consultant Eddie Swanepoel in 2016.

“They are included on the outer plate that connects to the blades, which will rotate with current movements,” he noted.

The trial ocean energy-generating project saw the two turbines generating 2MW each.

This generating capacity, as well as future generating capacity in the region, was seen as an important contributor to the economy of Nova Scotia.

The government had committed to approving a 300MW farm of ocean-energy turbines.

It also hoped that the industry will create 22,000 jobs and contribute up to USD1.7bn to the regional GDP by 2040.

The project was understood to be the first ocean-powered project that was connected to the grid in Nova Scotia, which has a well-developed policy and planning framework for growing the ocean-energy industry in the region.



This week we celebrated the 91st birthday of my father, Mr Alain Leger, the founder of our company. I am delighted to share his talk where he shared some important aspects in his life.

We hope that my father’s pointers will be valuable for colleagues and customers: in fact for the well-being and health of all of us.

Please join me in wishing my father health and joy this month!

Kind Regards,
Dr Jean-Patrick Leger
Vesconite Bearings CEO



An aeration windmill manufacturer in the US has found that installing Vesconite bearings on its windmills leads to them to operate smoothly and efficiently.

The bearings are an essential component in aeration windmills, which aerate ponds in private and public spaces, since fan rotation is key to ensuring that a diaphragm moves up; compressed air is taken in; and the compressor builds up pressure, which is released into the air line leading to the water.  

Because of this, the windmills are more efficient at reducing algae and foul smells, controlling mosquitos and creating a healthier environment for fish.

Vesconite Bearings’ Eddie Swanepoel notes that the 60-inch fans spin at 15mph and weigh 35lbs, with aeration windmills ranging in size from 20 foot to 30 foot.

These large windmills are difficult to lubricate, so having a bearing made of a self-lubricating polymer ensures the continued movement of the fan, he says. 

The full benefit of wind energy is also available as a result of the frictionless bearings, which ensure that windmill fans can rotate smoothly, Swanepoel indicates, noting that aeration windmills also reduce the monthly costs associated with electric aerators.

The windmill manufacturer orders about 100 bearings a year, and advertises the advantages of its superior bearings in its aeration windmills and its decorative windmills, for those interested in enhancing their gardens with this feature.

As a result of the interest in its bearings for this application, Vesconite Bearings stocks the required bearings as standard stock items.



Vesconite Bearings is proud to have supplied its largest-ever machined stern tube bearing from the long-life, wear-resistant, no-swell bearing material Vesconite Hilube.

The order was completed with the assistance of a recently-purchased six-meter centre lathe, which is part of Vesconite Bearings’ newly-introduced extra-large marine bearings’ facility.

The long aft stern tube bearing measured 534 mm (outer diameter) x 460 mm (inner diameter) and was 1,640 mm in length, excluding the 640 mm diameter flange, which was machined separately.

Vesconite Bearings marine sales engineer Wian Venter explains that the flange and the bearing had steps machined into them to allow the flange to have a sliding fit over the bearing.

Water-cooling grooves were also specified, as is typical for stern tube bearings, to help cool the bearing during operation, he adds.

A smaller forward stern tube bearing, with water-cooling grooves, was also manufactured for the client, Venter describes.

It measured 533 mm (outer diameter) x 460 mm (inner diameter) and was 410 mm in length, he says.

The bearings were installed on an oil and chemical tanker, the Celsius Mayfair, in China in December.

“I am highly satisfied with the items supplied, which have been successfully installed onboard our vessel during its third special survey,” says the Celsius Mayfair’s Manager, while discussing the Vesconite Hilube bearings that replaced the rubber Cutless bearings that were in place prior to the refit.

The vessel has been running for over six months without any problems after the installation, he notes.

Vesconite Hilube stern tube bearings typically exhibit no squeal at low speed, no stick-slip, can be easily installed, and provide a long wear life.

The one-piece stern tube bearing was approved by the Japanese classification society, Nippon Kaiji Kyokai, known as ClassNK.



Anyone involved in agriculture will tell you that maintenance is crucial to your equipment life and performance and will quickly come back to bite you if it is neglected. A planting row unit has many moving parts, all of which need to work in harmony to ensure continuous and accurate seed placement, in the harshest of conditions, all in the pursuit of better yields and higher efficiency.

“Equalizer aims to use only the best quality and fit-for-purpose components on the market, to ensure that we manufacture world-class machines, which meet any farmers highest standards,” states the head of design at Equalizer AG, a company that specialises in the design, manufacture and global distribution of planting and seeding equipment for grain production.

“To ensure all parts keep moving as intended for as long as possible, we spec SKF hubs and bearings on all our machines. We also use Vesconite bushes on almost all of our oscillating pivot points, as many years of in-field feedback has led us to believe it is the best self-lubricating engineering polymer on the market for our applications.”

Before Equalizer made the switch to low-friction, wear-resistant, no-swell, self-lubricating Vesconite bearings on its row units, it had been utilising nylon bushings on the pivot points. These bushings would typically be used on the parallel arms and closing wheel pivots.

All of these oscillating points are under high loads, as hydraulic or spring force are used to ensure the row unit has adequate downforce to plant at a consistent depth and create proper seed-to-soil contact for the best germination and even emergence. Add to that rough undulating terrain or rock filled fields – these bushings work extremely hard!

With the ever increasing push to extend part life, Equalizer identified that an alternative to the nylon bushings needed to be sought. To quote: “The main reason for the material change was to increase the life of the bushes and therefore increase the time between maintenance intervals. This keeps the equipment running as intended for longer especially on larger farm setups due to the fact that mid-season maintenance is not feasible with the narrow planting windows. The other advantage of increased bush life is a reduction in maintenance downtime, allowing clients to go through a number of seasons before needing to do anything more major than the standard greasing, which also has a significant cost saving when considering the labour component.”

“Under higher loading cases, the Vesconite resists deformation more than our previous nylon. This keeps the bushes in shape, which prevents the joints getting ‘floppy'”

“I can’t give exact values on the difference in service life between the two materials as there are many factors that would need to be considered, but what I can say is our clients have been more than happy with our change over to Vesconite, which has solidified our feeling that we have made the right ‘fit for purpose’ material choice.”

Vesconite planter bushings assist in ensuring continuous and accurate seed placement, in the harshest of conditions, all in the pursuit of better yields and higher efficiency.



Vesconite Bearings has established a dedicated extra-large bearings facility within its factory.

It will manufacture no-swell low-friction self-lubricating bearings for large ocean-going vessels, including container ships and oil tankers.

The dedicated facility houses five large horizontal lathes, including a six-meter lathe, and two large vertical lathes.

It also includes an upgraded Superclad machine, which builds up and encases a Vesconite bearing on the external diameter. By using a high-strength epoxy reinforcing system, the resultant jacket provides an extremely strong final structure, combined internally with the exceptional wear properties of Vesconite.

“We are seeing an increased number of enquiries for extra-large bearings,” says Vesconite CEO Dr Jean-Patrick Leger.

“This facility will streamline our production and reduce the days between ordering and dispatch,” he says, noting that dispatch times will be reduced from four days to two to three days.

Having a vessel in dry dock for days or weeks while waiting for an oversized bearing is costly and frustrating, as is not being able to order a bearing made of your desired material.

Vesconite’s new facility solves these problems, with the company able to produce two-meter-long bearings, with outside diameters of up to 1,6 meters, in a much shorter time.

Should there be demand, even larger bearings will be produced.



When Vesconite Bearings called a Mallorca client in last month, the bearing company discovered that repairs were under way to 15 yachts, including one that was having wear-resistant low-co-efficient-of-friction Vesconite T-track slider inserts fitted to allow sliders with sheaves to move up and down tracks more easily.

Repairs to sheaves and associated equipment are a routine occurance at this highly-regarded company that specialises in marine welding, fabrication and machining.  The Mallorca company’s machine shop works with thermoplastics such as Vesconite to produce bushings, sheaves and their associated bearings when yachts require servicing.

Vesconite was used as a slider insert because it:

  • is harder than many other bearing materials;
  • can take the high loads that rigging sheaves need to carry;
  • does not heat up despite moving fast, which is a benefit in sheaves and track sliders associated with rigging;
  • can be exposed to sea water without rusting or corrosion;
  • does not swell and distort; and
  • is UV resistant, which is important because sheaves, sliders and slider inserts are continuously exposed to harsh direct sunlight.

The welding, fabrication and machining company has been operating for more than 20 years, employs 10 staff members and works with some of the finest yachts in the world, which range from 30 to 70 metres in length.



Vesconite battery slides will be introduced on all electric forklifts at a beverage producer following successful testing.

The battery slides, made from our wear-resistant low-coefficient-of-friction material, Vesconite, are used to guide the lead-acid batteries that power the forklifts.

The batteries need to be swopped out and recharged after every shift so that each forklift is ready for a later shift. Because of the considerable weight of the batteries (up to 1,800 kg), a more rigid solution was sought to prevent the bending and fracturing of the guides.

“Slides from Vesconite were tested for three months,” says Vesconite Bearings forklift application engineer Calvin Mpofu.

“Because of their successful use, the client plans to install the slides on all of the beverage company’s electric forklifts,” he adds.

The guides will become part of the growing range of precision wear and bushing components that Vesconite Bearings stocks for the forklift industry.

They were developed in response to the beverage company’s needs for a particular forklift model.

“Forklift companies are welcome to approach us with their unique wear or bearing challenges,” notes Mpofu.

“We will assist with prototype design and manufacture,” he concludes.



In the coming months, a Turkish geothermal plant will be installing Vesconite’s high-temperature bearing material known as Hitemp 160. Specially designed for pump bearings, this new material may be used in the high temperature range of 160 – 200ºC depending on the chemicals in the solution.

The installation follows an order received from an OEM pump supplier, which stipulated that it required a bearing material that could cope with temperatures as high as 90ºC for its client’s pumps.

Some 26 different bearings have been ordered. These are to be installed on four different vertical-turbine pumps at different stages along their lengths.

Turkey has 55 geothermal power plants and is a leader in this type of generation in Europe.

Geothermal energy is heat energy that is transferred from the earth’s core through to the earth’s surface and has been associated with hot springs since early times.



A drop-size carrot sorter, with Vesconite plain bearings installed on its conveyor chains, has worked well at South Africa’s largest carrot producer for two years.

The carrot producer installed the bearings on one of its two processing lines to test whether the processing line with Vesconite performed better than the standard processing line.

Since installation, the farm reports that Vesconite bearings on its conveyor chains have reduced wear and resulted in quieter operation.

A drop-size sorter consists of a mainframe with sprockets on each side. A chain runs on the sprockets and a polyethylene plate is attached. Rollers, spaced increasingly further apart, are located on the polyethylene plate and carrots, depending on their size, fall through the differently-spaced rollers into bins below.

Ensuring the smooth operation of the sorting machine, including the bearings on its roller chains, is thus paramount.

Vesconite agricultural application engineer Johan Cronje says: “Farmers are concerned about conveyor chain wear. A break in any one of the steel links means that the entire chain needs replacing.”

Chain replacement can be extremely costly. Besides the cost of the chain, a chain breakage could result in a drop-size sorter being out of operation for a day, with resulting losses in production and processing time.

Quieter operation is also important for animal welfare, since animals prefer quieter environments, and human health and safety, since workers may be sorting and working near the traditionally-noisy machines, states Cronje.



Vesconite Bearings has created a lead-free-water webpage to outline how the company aims to reduce lead exposure from drinking water.

View the page:

This webpage was motivated by global concerns over safe drinking water, and is to be launched in March 2022, in a month in which World Plumbing Day and World Water Day are historically celebrated.

The former promotes the benefits of safe plumbing and sanitation. The latter focuses on clean, safe drinking water and sanitation.

Reducing lead in drinking water are often emphasised on these days.

Vesconite Bearings is committed to providing lead-free products for the water sector, including bearings, wear rings and wear strips for pumps and valves.

Experts say there are no safe levels of lead. This is especially true for children, who can experience behaviour and learning problems, lower IQ and hyperactivity, slowed growth, hearing problems and anaemia.



Vesconite Bearings has created a cold-tolerance webpage ( to explain how its bearing materials can cope with temperatures as low as -40ºC.

This webpage was motivated, in part, by the freezing weather that has affected the northern hemisphere lately.

Vesconite Bearings informs that Vesconite does not become brittle in cold temperatures. Testing shows that impact strength declines slightly between 20°C (68°F) and 0°C (32°F) but below this temperature is unaffected down to -30°C (-22°F). Based on generic data, impact strength is expected to remain similar down to -50ºC (-60ºF).

This information should reassure clients who experience major winter storms, blowing snow, freezing rain and howling winds, and have industrial applications that need to operate in these freezing conditions. A substantial advantage is that no special extreme cold greases are required because Vesconite products are self-lubricating.

Equally, while those in cold-affected industries may not be impacted by these unexpectedly harsh conditions, those with intermittent cold applications will also appreciate Vesconite Bearings’ experience with cold applications.

Vesconite Bearings has, for instance, had achievements in food-processing with a range of trolley and castor wheels that do not crack when exposed to alternating freezing cold in cold rooms and ambient-temperature warehouses.

Forklifts and materials-handling equipment in food processing plants and cold storage warehouses have similar results. Vesconite wear components cope well even where temperatures fluctuate widely during operation. Applications include axle bearings and thrust washers, mast bushings and forklift slides.



After replacing the all-rubber cutlass bearing of his new Jeanneau Sun Fast 35 Tide The Knot two times in seven years, Robert Metzen sought an alternative. A fellow sailor told him about his positive experience with Hilube as a rudder bearing. Shortly after contacting Leandro Panzini from Vesconite distributor VesArg, Metzen had a state-of-the-art polymer bearing installed.

At 2,300 rpm, a sailboat engine will spin its propeller shaft a million times in less than eight hours. Cutlass bearing materials such as rubber and bronze wear prematurely. This creates excessive shuddering and can seriously damage an expensive shaft, log or strut. Metzen experienced severe vibration at 2,900-3,000 rpm.

Jeanneau recommends replacing the cutlass bearing annually—a time-consuming and expensive proposition. Their all-rubber part simply did not have the longevity and reliability Metzen required.

Vesconite Hilube offers a wear life more than 10 times that of bronze. Internally lubricated, it offers ultra-low friction properties, even in dirty or silty water. Dimensionally stable, it has exceptional load strength and won’t soften or swell in water—increasing the chance of wear-related vibration—making it the ideal cutlass bearing material.

The innovative polymer is easily machined to +/-0.001″; tolerances for a 1.5″ shaft are typically .004″ to .009″. With a shell and liner, rubber bearings have limited installation options. In contrast, Vesconite Hilube is easily fitted with set screws or adhesive, or pressed into place. It’s available as raw stock or precision-machined parts.

Vesconite is no stranger to performance sailing. It’s used as a bearing material in a wide range of applications such as blocks and sliding cars, rudders, stern tubes and shafts. It’s the preferred polymer for foil and daggerboard trunks by builders such as Gunboat and HH Catamarans, and was used for that purpose on an America’s Cup boat.



Vesconite Bearings is exploring new engineering design methods, including reducing or eliminating grooves, where possible, in industrial and marine applications.

Vesconite’s bearing materials are internally lubricated so, when replacing traditional materials, Vesconite is challenging engineers to explore designs that remove redundant or superfluous grooves for cooling lubricant or water.

For instance, Vesconite engineers have redesigned a forklift lower wear pad without the seven grooves on the upper surface that were in place in the original moulded nylon parts. 

“Eliminating grooves improves the structural integrity of the part and reduces manufacturing times and costs,” says forklift application engineer Calvin Mpofu.

Similarly, Vesconite Bearings can better on previous marine stern-tube bearing designs where constant water cooling is needed and bushings have water circulation grooves. 

“The number of grooves can be reduced where the groove radius and depth can be altered to obtain a sufficient flow of water for cooling,” reinforces marine application engineer Wian Venter.

As a result, Vesconite Bearings has suggested a reduction in the number of stern-tube grooves in a case where the original design was a rubber Cutlass bearing. 

This original design, which included a nitrile rubber lining bonded to a brass shell, required many grooves running the length of the rubber lining to dissipate frictional heat and increase the cooling flow of water.

The alternative Vesconite Hilube design, without the brass shell and fewer grooves, improves the structural integrity of the stern tube and reduces manufacturing time and costs. Fewer grooves also mean that the total bearing surface in contact with the shaft journal is increased.  

Most significantly, with Vesconite Hilube closer clearances can be machined than are achieved with rubber, so there is less shaft vibration.

For Mpofu and Venter, there is a clear advantage in rethinking existing designs and improving production methodologies and product durability.

They aim to make the engineering of Vesconite simpler, better, and faster.



A wear-resistant bearing material produced by Vesconite Bearings, Hitemp 150, has been certified for drinking water use by the Water Regulations Approval Scheme (WRAS).

WRAS is an independent UK certification body for plumbing products and materials. It informed Vesconite that Hitemp 150 “is suitable for contact with wholesome water for domestic purposes”.

Hitemp 150 components met the requirements of BS6920-1:2000 and/or 2014. These standards govern whether non-metallic products are suitable for contact with water intended for human consumption.

UK manufacturers can hence confidently use the product, says Vesconite Bearings CEO Dr Jean-Patrick Leger.

The certification also provides comfort for the general safety of the bearing material where it is used outside of the UK, he notes.



A sliding table panel saw has been well utilised since it was installed late last year at Vesconite Bearings’ warehouse in Johannesburg.

The saw has mainly been used to cut Vesconite and Ultrablack wear plates that are used in a range of wear applications.

The introduction of the machine means the Johannesburg warehouse can dispatch cut-to-size orders quickly, reducing the longer lead times of having plates cut at the company’s busy factory.

Vesconite stores manager Martin Nyathi informs that a large number of plates and strips have been accurately cut on the machine and expects the saw to be a great asset in 2022.

The machine can cut lengths up to 3,700 mm long and 1,500 mm wide to an accuracy of ±0.25 mm, so it can accurately and swiftly cut the most-frequently-ordered plates that Vesconite Bearings produces.



A nylon bearing-swell problem almost led to the abandonment of a project to develop a new percussion hammer drill until the drill maker turned to Vesconite Hilube no-swell wear-resistant bearings.

The drill had been designed with a specific heat-stabilised nylon machined into linear bearings.

However, due to swell associated with the nylon, ten sets of nylon bearings had to be machined so that the drill manufacturer could find one set of components that could work together. The drill would then seize since nylon is known to swell when water absorption occurs.

The maker of drill rigs, rock excavation and construction equipment was at its wits’ end and ready to disregard the new drill design as unworkable when the design engineer heard about Vesconite Hilube.

After some size testing, the company ordered samples, notes Vesconite Bearings technical sales consultant Charlie Simpson.

The manufacturer then sent these samples to its testing facility in India, and has been testing them for three years with promising results, Simpson reports.

The decision as to whether to introduce the product as part of the company’s product line is currently being decided by the drill manufacturer’s marketing department.

From being sceptical that the company would be able to proceed with the drill, the design engineer is encouraged that the niche drill can operate and may be introduced into the company’s catalogue.

Should this be the case, it is likely that the drill manufacturer would produce a range of similar drills all fitted with Vesconite Hilube linear bearings.

These are likely to be used for rock drilling, excavation and construction globally.



Vesconite Hilube bowl, stuffing box, suction and line-shaft bearings continue to operate in a condensate pump in the US ten years after installation.

This is according to Vesconite Bearings pump representative Charlie Simpson, who returned last month from a six week Mexico and US customer-calling tour in which he visited a long-standing customer in Virginia to receive this report.

The customer is a pump repair workshop that offers timely and cost-effective repairs and specifically offers upgrades to shafting, bearings and wear rings to enhance performance and efficiency in older pumps as well as repairs and rebowls vertical turbine pumps.

The customer attests that the bearings are functioning well in the pump.

Condensate pumps operate at 65ºC, and are on the cusp of the temperature range that Vesconite is comfortable recommending for its Vesconite Hilube bearing material.

The continued operation of the Vesconite Hilube-fitted condensate pump after ten years attests to the fact that, even with a small amount of water cooling, the bearings are able to survive for some time, says Simpson.



A leading civil and infrastructure engineering contractor installed Vesconite Hilube wear-resistant U-shaped wear pads on graders in Nigeria.

The company found the wear pads operated well with some chiselling wear on the shorter edge of the U-shaped pad after 535 hours of use.

The wear pads acted as guides that were bolted in place on the grader assembly.

The blade assembly, in turn, slid left to right on the guides with the assistance of hydraulic cylinders behind the blade assembly.

The wear pads are essential in the lateral movement of the grader blades, which are responsible primarily for the levelling and shaping of roads and building sites.

Vesconite application engineer Juan van Wyk notes that Vesconite Hilube was particularly useful in this sliding application since it is self-lubricating, so the grader assembly could easily move horizontally for reach in this dirty, inaccessible location, and for the placement of the windrow (built-up road-building material).

Vesconite Hilube was also valued because of its wear properties, since regular placement and movement of the blade was required in often dusty and muddy conditions.

Van Wyk notes that considerable load was placed on the guides of each grader. In addition to the 2,5 ton blade assembly weight distributed over five guides, the blade pushes 2,5 tons of material and is exposed to a cutting resistance of 2,5 tons on the other side of the guide.

Vesconite Hilube wear pads coped well with the considerable compression and tensile strengths that were needed: “There was no distortion under load, even when wet,” Van Wyk says.

The Vesconite Hilube wear pads replaced bronze wear pads of the same U-shaped design, ensuring that the Caterpillar graders, which they were installed on and which are designed for power, performance, reliability and wear-resistance, continued to operate in tough arduous conditions.



Vesconite Bearings’s appointment calendar is filling quickly, following its announcement to select clients that it will visit Dubai in December.

Clients who have indicated an interest in meeting with Vesconite come from a range of industries, including the marine and pump industries.

Their enthusiasm in Vesconite is believed to indicate renewed economic optimism in Dubai, with strong GDP growth in the second quarter of 2021 expected to accelerate in the fourth quarter.

Vesconite will also attend meetings with its Dubai stockist, JOME Engineering, which has invited Vesconite representatives Marius van Zyl and Sharon McArdle to participate at its booth at Seatrade Maritime Middle East Expo on Monday to Wednesday 13 to 15 December.

“We’re excited to be coming to Dubai,” says McArdle, whose plans to travel to the emirate with Dubai area specialist Van Zyl were scuppered by Covid early in the pandemic.

“We are looking forward to meeting with our customers and visiting the Seatrade Expo,” she notes.



A time-lapse video proves that Vesconite Superlube low-friction, high-load-carrying bearings perform well as sliding bearings in large structures, including soccer stadiums.

The video starts shortly after 7pm and shows structural movement throughout the evening, when the stadium concrete beams contract due to cooling, and continues past mid-day, when higher temperatures result in expansion.

These subtle movements, when allowed by a bearing, ensure the safety and the structural stability of the stadium and the continued support of the superstructure by the support columns’ substructure.

Since the stadium was designed to have a capacity of 55,000 spectators, expandable to 75,000, engineering performance was paramount to ensure the stadium withstands temperature- and moisture-related contractions and expansions, as well as earthquake and wind loads.

History of the stadium 

The stadium was built more than ten years ago, and has been used for large sporting events.

The original bearings were a bitumen-impregnated cloth. The columns and beams were made from traditional concrete.

However, after eight years of use, excessive wear was found to the concrete of the continuous support beams and to the supporting columns.

The bitumen-impregnated cloth had been torn or ripped away in some cases, and pieces of concrete in the beams and columns had disintegrated at the corners.

Engineers motivated that an unfortunate congruency of design and building errors, combined with a choice of original bearing materials not suited to the design, necessitated an urgent review of bearing materials and expansion gap designs.

Problem 1 – Small expansion gap

All materials shrink and expand as temperature varies, so an expansion gap is required. Concrete has a known expansion rate so it is important that designs cater for this expansion.

In this stadium in which Vesconite Superlube was eventually installed, the original bearings, made from bitumen-impregnated cloth, were employed at the expansion gap to prevent the columns from bonding with the continuous beam placed on top of them.

The original contractors poured the column first and then used the bitumen-impregnated cloth to separate the column from the continuous beams.

For a joint that doesn’t move much this would have been suitable. But, in the case of the stadium, the gap size and the material specified proved inadequate and concrete was ripped out adjacent to the provided-for gaps. 

Problem 2 – Inadequate steel reinforcement and concrete cover

Since concrete is good in compression but not in tension, many structures, including bridges, have steel reinforcement to resist tensile forces. The steel tends to follow the contour of beams and columns with a certain amount of concrete cover. This prevents corrosion of the steel and the spalling of the concrete that results from exposure to the environment. However, at the stadium, concrete beam and column corners were inadequately strengthened with steel, and the corners cracked off leaving an inadequate bearing surface.

Some steel was badly positioned, possibly because of a lack of oversight during construction. The poured concrete moved, and the steel was not close enough to the surface to keep the corners strong.

The Vesconite Superlube solution

The existing bitumen-impregnated cloth was replaced with Vesconite Superlube, which is a low-friction, high-load-carrying bearing material.

Since Vesconite Superlube was to be used as a sliding bearing, the bearing material was contained within two stainless-steel plates, which would slide relative to each other to allow for translational movements in a horizontal direction.

Unlike various other stainless steel sliding bearing designs, the engineering contractor chose a top metal plate that arched down to join the bottom plate so as to reduce the ingress of dirt. The bottom plate was also longer than those traditionally used in sliding bearings and had a lip at each side; the length maintained the horizontal rigidity of the bearing during installation.

Since there were significant engineering design and maintenance problems in place at the site, installing the Vesconite Superlube bearing solution involved several measures to address existing structural issues:

  1. Hydraulic jacks were brought in to lift beams off the supporting columns.
  2. Where concrete columns or beams had had extensive pieces of concrete ripped off them, these
    were repaired by putting in form work and pouring concrete to ensure that the corners were intact.
  3. Saws with large cutting wheels were used to cut out the ledges on which the Vesconite Superlube
    bearings were to be placed.
  4. Epoxy bedding compound was placed on to the stainless steel top and bottom coverings of the
    Vesconite Superlube bearing to create a level bearing surface.

Vesconite Superlube in structural design

In structural design, vertical load is considered as well as horizontal load. These two loads are used to determine the required column base-strength and the amount of steel and concrete.

If there is a bearing on top of the column, the horizontal force that needs to be taken into account depends on the amount of friction at the top of the column. If you have a lower-friction bearing, then an engineer can design for a lower lateral force, which means less steel and concrete is needed for the column.

“You want those lateral forces to be minimised,” notes Thomas Utermark, the Vesconite structural engineer who was involved in the project.

“That is why Vesconite Superlube could be used very effectively here. The benefit is very low friction with wear resistance that is much better than PTFE,” he says.

Another benefit of implementing Vesconite Superlube in this application was that a smaller bearing could be used, taking advantage of Vesconite Superlube’s high load-carrying capacity. “If there is a space constraint, that is helpful to an engineer,” Utermark notes.



Vesconite’s Hitemp 150 hanger bearings have been installed at a palm oil processing factory in Cameroon,
Central Africa.

This followed a suggestion to test Vesconite Bearing’s most abrasion-resistant polymer – which also has a high-temperature rating. Abrasion resistance is important for a bearing’s success since wear can result in frequent replacement and factory downtime, while a high temperature rating means that the product can be fitted to screw conveyors with high volumetric flow rates.

Developing hanger bearing materials for screw conveyors

Resulta Exporters, equipment supplier and engineering process designer for the palm oil producer, has already had significant success using Vesconite, Vesconite Bearings’ standard-grade bearing material. Further, Resulta applied Vesconite Hilube as a hanger bearing, an advanced-grade bearing material. But Resulta, always keen on testing and improving the products it supplies to the agroprocessing industry, looked for further improved materials.

“We have used Vesconite since 2007 and this has contributed to the good reputation Resulta screw conveyors have in the industry,” says Project Engineer Quihen Marais.

“We see Vesconite hangers lasting for more than a year,” he notes of the bearing material’s performance in the palm oil industry when the bearing is correctly designed.

With the introduction of Hitemp 150, Resulta hopes to see even longer life hanger-bearings, as well as further reducing plant downtime.

Hanger bearings in the palm oil industry

The palm oil industry is notoriously tough on hanger bearings used in the essential screw conveyors that transport palm oil processing plant products, including steriliser fruitlets (oily), cake from press (oily), nuts (non-oily), cracked nuts (kernels and shells, non-oily), kernels only (non-oily) and shells (non-oily).

“Hanger bearings are the major source of maintenance and breakdowns on screw conveyors,” says Marais.

“Every time a hanger bearing is replaced it comes with costly down time of the factory,” he notes.

According to Marais, hanger bearings that are made from inferior materials often require replacement. They also cause more shaft wear, and this can result in more frequent and expensive shaft replacement.

Hanger bearing design can also contribute to failure: “Designing for a very low PV limit (<5) extends the life of the bushings significantly,” Marais explains.

Both of these issues have been combatted with the introduction of Vesconite and Vesconite Hilube, since these are wear-resistant materials and can safely operate without any lubrication below a pressure-velocity rating (PV) of 5 and 8, respectively.

The palm oil industry in Africa

The palm oil industry in Africa is small compared with the industry elsewhere. However, there is considerable scope for growth and significant investment is taking place.

Resulta has supplied screw conveyors, which include Vesconite Hilube hanger bearings, to the African palm oil industry since 2007. Countries supplied to date include Nigeria, the DRC, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Gabon and Ghana.

Resulta continues to pride itself on high-end processing machinery and engineering solutions, and endeavours to work with its clients to solve their engineering challenges.



Vesconite bushings were fitted to an eight-cubic-metre, multi-purpose grab used to offload ships in Durban ‑ the port that handles the greatest volume of sea-going traffic of any port in southern Africa.

The grab operated under conditions of high ambient temperatures, high humidity and dirt. It was in use 22 hours daily for seven months of the year.

After six years of work, the grab was overhauled and the bushings examined.

The Vesconite bushings:

  • showed no signs of heavy wear;
  • had worn evenly (previous bronze bushes used had worn unevenly); and
  • the pins revealed no signs of wear.

Vesconite is proven when high loads must be carried with small clearances under dirty and unlubricated conditions, and is also most effective in moist, immersed and corrosive applications.

Vesconite combines a high load bearing capacity greater than that of white metal, with self lubricating properties better than those of nylon, while giving up to 10 times longer service than phosphor bronze.



Several polystyrene factories use liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) pumps with Vesconite piston-rod bushings being used as a bush and wiper to clean the shafts and keep the contaminants out of the pump.

The bushings are used in Mevaco pumps which supply butane from the butane bulk tanks to the machines that manufacture the polystyrene.

Butane is one of the blowing agents that can be used in the production of expanded polystyrene. The gas is used to make beads of polystyrene expand to produce the foam that is eventually formed into polystyrene drinking cups, plates, picnic coolers and flotation devices, among other items.

Vesconite piston-rod bushings came to be used in LPG pump manufacturer Mevaco Pty’s pumps after several other materials, including porous bronze, graphite, carbon and glass-filled polytetrafluoroethylene and nylon, were tested and found unsuitable.

“Because of priming difficulties when pumping a liquid above its boiling point, and the fact that the liquid is a perfect solvent for most lubricants, LPG pumps are often run absolutely dry,” noted the LPG pump manufacturer’s late owner, Gerrie Meyer, in a product testimonial from Mevaco Pty to Vesconite 28 years ago.

“During use, especially when disconnecting hoses, liquid boils off in the pump and the freezing effect causes moisture to condense,” Meyer said, adding that this factor, together with the severe temperature changes, demanded large clearances for components.

Various alternative materials were chosen for the components, but none proved long-lasting under adverse conditions except Vesconite, which has a lifespan ten times that of bronze, does not swell unlike nylon, and is self lubricating.

“Many users of my pumps have marvelled at the ‘mysterious’ grey material used for these parts, and I am convinced that the resulting acquaintance with Vesconite has been responsible for far more use of it by various establishments than the modest quantity used in my pumps,” enthused Meyer in the testimonial.

Meyer’s family business, Mevaco Pty, continues to use Vesconite in piston-rod bushings and composite piston discs in its LPG pumps.

The company has manufactured more than 1,500 LPG pumps. Meyer and partner, Peter van Alpen, have been succeeded in the business by Max Viljoen, who is the present owner of Mevaco Pty.

The pumps that are in use at present have a life span of two to six years, with the longevity of the pump dependent on when the seals become unviable.

“There are pumps that have been running for 28 years where maintenance has been correctly administered and seals replaced,” enthuses Viljoen.

Pump components must be able to withstand the typical liquid and gas temperatures of butane or propane. At atmospheric pressure, butane boils at approximately -1°C (30°F) so, since Vesconite is suited to temperatures ranging from -40°C (-40°F) to 65°C (150°F), Vesconite is suitable for this low temperature application and will not degrade or become brittle at this gas’ boiling point or at its typical liquid-phase temperature.

Besides being able to operate at low temperatures, Vesconite has a long-wear life that is superior to other materials, including nylon and bronze.

Alternative products also generally require large clearances because of temperature changes that can occur when the gas changes phase as a result of disconnecting hoses. Vesconite, in contrast, can operate with small clearances.



Many customers complained about their castor and trolley jack wheels … so we decided to create our new “Everlasting Range” – long-life wheels named after the beautiful Everlasting flowers that have evolved to outlast their competitors.

You can now buy tested-and-proven long-lasting wheels, suitable for food processing and warehouse environments, with tough Vesco Polycap on the outside and long-life Vesconite Hilube wear-resistant bushings on the inside, and running on stainless steel axles.

The advantages of fitting Vesconite wheels include that they have high load capacity, are wear resistant, have a long life, are floor friendly, are temperature resistant, and exhibit a smooth rolling action so they are easier to manoeuvre.



There is no end to the applications for which Vesconite can be used – even in the coldest climates.

In the USA, commercial snow throwers are fitted with Vesconite bearings. The bearings are on both sides of the auger gear box and come into operation if the auger shear breaks and the power continues. This allows the gear box and transfer shaft to keep turning when the auger jams.

The trackless blower is able to blow snow 40 to 60 feet (15 to 20 metres) from the chute without forming ugly berms.

Vesconite is the material of choice for the freezing, harsh, dirty conditions in which this agile, trackless blower works. Vesconite does not become brittle in extreme cold and copes with wear in the wet, giving low friction, long life with minimal lubrication



The 36-meter Miss Silver sailing yacht has returned to her New Zealand birthplace for a complete refit, including fore and aft Vesconite Hilube propeller bearings.

The two bearings, 5¼” on the outside diameter, 4¼” on the inside and 17″ long, replaced phenolic-backed rubber bearings.

The Vesconite Hilube bearings offer the advantage of close clearances, thus reducing vibration.

They do not swell in water, do not delaminate or distort under high loads, do not corrode, do not require lubrication, are resistant to oils and fuels, are easy to fit and remove, and prolong shaft life.

“This luxury yacht is known for its robust, updated and elegantly simple engineering systems,” says Vesconite New Zealand technical sales consultant Eddie Swanepoel.

Its propulsion system is also vital, since the Miss Silver is a performance yacht, coming in first place in the Millennium Cup in Auckland, New Zealand, in March 2021, he notes.

Besides the replacement of the propeller bearings, the refit will include interior décor and fittings, new teak decks, complete repaint, mast service and rigging replacement, new sails and systems maintenance and/or replacement as needed.

The refit is taking place at Superyacht Coatings’ world-class shed and facility in Tauranga and will be ready for New Zealand summer cruising.

Miss Silver was designed by Ed Dubois and built by Alloy Yachts.



Vesconite Bearings is the newest member of the 130-organisation-strong International Windship Association (IWSA), following its acceptance in August into the non-profit organisation as a technology and service provider.

IWSA facilitates and promotes wind propulsion for commercial shipping worldwide and brings together all parties in the development of a wind-ship sector to shape industry and government attitudes and policies.

This accords well with Vesconite Bearings’ belief in the importance of wind-propelled or partially-wind-propelled ships.

“Ships using wind propulsion are important since this reduces the greenhouse gas emissions of the shipping industry,” says Vesconite renewables and marine-applications engineer Petrus Fourie.

“By introducing wind propulsion into commercial shipping, fuel consumption and, thus emissions, can be reduced by 30%-100%,” he notes.

“This reduces greenhouse emissions and provides huge savings for commercial shipping operators,” Fourie adds.

Being a member of IWSA provides Vesconite Bearings with good opportunity to contribute its experience in renewable energy, marine and shipping.

“Technology to provide primary or secondary wind propulsion for ships requires high strength, low speed, low maintenance and long life bearings, which work well in the marine environment,” explains Fourie.



Some 2,000 pump bushings have been ordered for a new vertical turbine range that is being developed by a Texas pump manufacturer.

The pump manufacturer has been a client of Vesconite Bearings since June 2012, ordering wear-resistant Vesconite Hilube bushings for applications that call for small clearances in sometimes abrasive conditions.

With the design of the new range, the manufacturer will include Vesconite Hilube polymer plain bearings as standard components in seven models.

“Some 30 bushings of different sizes have been requested for different pump stages,” says pump technical consultant Charlie Simpson.

“Samples of these have been delivered for approval, and between 25 and 100 units of the individual bushings will be delivered next month,” he adds.

The pump manufacturer has about 75 pump models and stocks a wide range of replacement parts for these.

It specialises in providing pumps that meet the custom needs of its clients.



Can improved bearing life be achieved by providing a better bearing cage?

Ball bearings operating in harsh or abrasive conditions may have reduced operating times between failures due to the dirt and abrasive materials that enter the bearings, necessitating frequent bearing replacement.

Not particularly well understood in the reduced lifetime of these bearings is the role played by bearing
cage wear.

If bearing cages are made from materials that

  • exhibit low wear rates, and
  • are not badly impacted by dirt and abrasives,

can bearing life be significantly extended?

The role played by bearing cage wear was investigated by Chris Venter at South African chemical company African Explosives and Chemical Industries’ (AECI) plant in Sasolburg. In an effort to increase bearing wear life, Venter investigated and tested bearing cages made from three materials, namely steel, heat treated Monel and Vesconite Standard.

Frequent ball bearing replacements were required on a polyethylene reactor stirrer motor due to the excessive wear of a critical ball bearing. This resulted in significant downtime, since the reactor had to be shut down and cleaned out before the bearing could be replaced.

The original bearing had a cage manufactured from a steel grade, and was replaced after 400 hours of operation. The cage holes had worn from an original diameter of 22.5 mm to 27.2 mm, that is 4.7 mm. See table 1 and figure 1.

A new bearing was installed with a heat treated Monel steel cage. After 2,000 hours of operation (a life improvement of five times), the cage holes had worn 1.4 mm from 22.5 to 23.9 mm, a reduction in wear of 70%.

Seeking to improve the bearing lifetime even further, Venter then tested replacing the bearing cage with Vesconite, a self-lubricating bearing material.

This proved to be an excellent substitution, with the Vesconite bearing cage running 9,500 hours without any problems. This was a bearing life increase of 24 times compared to 400 hours of the initial bearing with a steel cage.

Upon dismantling and inspection, the Vesconite bearing cage showed negligible wear with only 0.07 mm of wear and was in excellent working condition. This represented a reduction in bearing cage wear of 98.5%, even though the bearing had operated for 24 times longer.

Expressing the improvement in operating life and cage wear reduction as a wear factor index compared to the original steel, the Monel cage represented a 17 times wear factor improvement, and the Vesconite cage a wear factor improvement of 1,670 times.

Venter wrote at the time (1988): “The Vesconite cage performed far above expectations and since the first Vesconite cage was installed not one motor had to be changed due to a bearing failure. This contributes to a saving of about R200,000 per annum.”

Calculating this saving in today’s terms (June 2021), a R200,000 annual saving is equivalent to a saving of R1.7 million, about US$123,000 per year.

These carefully recorded observations of performance in a tough real world application, combined with significant financial savings, highlight the value of further investigating the potential Vesconite Standard can play in dramatically extending anti-friction bearing life through improved cage materials.

New, advanced Vesconite grades, developed over the past 30 years, namely Vesconite Hilube, Vesconite Superlube and Hitemp 160, create further opportunities for reducing wear and potentially even greater saving.

Bearing cage material Hours in Operation Bearing cage nominal hole diameter (mm) Bearing cage worn hole diameter (mm) Estimated Wear (mm) Wear as percentage of ball diameter Wear factor
Original 400 22.5 27.24 4.74 21.1 1
Heat-treated Monel steel 2,000 22.5 23.92 1.42 6.3 17
Vesconite Standard 9,500 22.5 22.57 0.07 0.3 1,670
Original – 400 hours
Heat-treated Monel Steel – 2,000 hours
Vesconite Standard – 9,500 hour
Vesconite Standard – 9,500 hours



A Vesconite pulley has been introduced as a standard component in a hitching solution developed by a New Zealand agricultural equipment manufacturer.

Located on the lift arm of the system, the rope that passes through the pulley is fed first to a rotating top pin and then to a bottom pin. The whole hitching solution is attached to the tractor cab and used to attach to a range of trailed implements and farming equipment.

“Vesconite pulleys have been introduced as standard in the SAM Quick Hitch in the last few months,” says Vesconite Bearings representative Eddie Swanepoel.

The rope glides easily in the low-friction material of the pulley.

Since the Vesconite pulley, which acts as a rope guide, is low-friction, it is less noisy and animals do not frighten easily, adds Swanepoel.



A US supplier of marine parts has found considerable demand for Vesconite T-handle and flatter stern screw-in drain plugs for a particular brand of wake surfing boats built between 2006 and 2014.

The original drain plugs were made of brass and also had a brass base. They were found to corrode due to galvanic corrosion, a process through which one metal corrodes preferentially when two metals are in contact with each other. They were also found to be hard to remove and required greasing of the thread, which is not ideal due to environmental concerns about lubrication in a marine environment.

Users have now looked elsewhere. Brass, stainless steel and aluminium are all available. Different sizes and shapes are also obtainable, particularly among the T-handle plug offering.

However, many of users continue to face difficulties with their drain plugs, and have chosen Vesconite replacements, which are made of a polymer that does not swell, does not require lubrication, is resistant to the effect of ultraviolet light and remains unaffected by sea water.

The Vesconite T-handle plugs and stern plugs have been a long-standing order from the US marine-part supplier for ten years, and thousands of units are now employed in trailered boats globally.

The correct insertion, proper tightening and sealing of a drain plug is essential to making a boating safe.

The removal of boat plugs is also an important way of ensuring the stored boats do not fill with water. Moreover, plug removal after boating is also vital to ensure that aquatic invasive species are not spread from one water body to another water body, which is a serious concern in many parts of the world, including in the US.

Vesconite Bearings, the maker of the marine drain plugs, believes that custom and OEM boatbuilders understand the importance of details, even down to the drain plug. A quality fitting—especially one that is used so often with trailered boats—reflects highly on the brand.

“Vesconite has 10 times the wear life of traditional bronze,” says Vesconite Bearings marine representative Sharon Mc Ardle.

“This is an important feature as the polymer is unlikely to abrade and will not corrode, and ultimately begin to leak.”

The polymer that makes up the drain plugs is available in the US in custom precision-machined, ready-to-use parts or as raw stock.



A large wind turbine manufacturer continues to use Vesconite Hilube actuator bearing supports in its wind turbines’ hydraulic blade pitch control systems.

Pitch control systems are essential to protect wind turbines in adverse weather conditions as well as maximise the energy production of wind turbines. These systems allow blades to be twisted so that load can be reduced when wind speeds are high and even stopped completely in over-speed conditions. Pitch control also allows the blades to be adjusted a few degrees to optimise for wind speeds and wind direction.

Since these systems are vital in high wind conditions, as well as to ensure optimal energy production, only tried-and-tested components are used.

It is thus with confidence that the large wind turbine manufacturer continues to support its pitch control systems with Vesconite Hilube bearings that it has used since 2003 in its own branded turbines.

Indeed, the engineers associated with the development of the company’s proprietary system have had experience of Vesconite Hilube’s performance in wind turbines since the early 1990s when they were associated with various other companies which, together with their intellectual property (IP) and expertise, were later incorporated by Vesconite Bearings’ current client.

One of the engineers who has been consistently involved with the development of the IP that is currently employed by the wind turbine manufacturer, Bruce Valpy, now Managing Director of leading wind industry consultancy BVG Associates, notes that Vesconite Hilube was “the only bearing material that coped with the tough, constant, back-and-forth duty in its mechanical pitch systems.”

He further notes that, after testing several bearing materials for the hydraulic pitch control arms, it was found that only Vesconite Hilube displayed satisfactory wear life.

“We had such good experience of the Vesconite product and the support, that we included it in our shortlisted materials for the actuator bearing supports,” Valpy says.

“After rigorous accelerated life testing, it again came out best, and went on to perform excellently, supporting thousands of pitch actuators in operation around the world,” he notes.

It is estimated that 90% of new wind turbines have pitch control systems installed to mitigate the catastrophic failures that might occur in extreme weather conditions.

Combining low friction, minimal wear rate and very low lubrication needs as well as UV resistance and cold and hot climate tolerance, Vesconite Hilube has proved to be the ideal plain bearing material for wind turbine pitch control system bearings.



Vesconite Bearings’ Hitemp 160 polymer bearing material has been approved for use in food-contact applications.

This is according to CEO Dr Jean-Patrick Leger, who received the formal certification letter from the Laboratoire National De Métrologie et d’Essais (LNE) – the French public institution tasked with the voluntary or regulatory certification of products, management systems and services.

The LNE states that the bearing material complies with European Regulation n°10/2011/UE and amendments and, as such, is approved for food contact.

This follows Vesconite supplying a sample of its material to the testing body in January and its passing of a series of immersion tests required by the testing organisation in April.

The certification is important since many clients require Vesconite’s materials to operate in food processing environments, and to be assured that their processing plants are contaminant free and safe.

Hitemp 160 is white in colour so no colour is transferred from the bearing to the food product and no visible foreign material can be detected in the final product.

It also possesses many other required characteristics: it does not swell, so it is appropriate for the often moist food-processing environment; it is extremely wear resistant, making it ideal for food products or intermediate food products that are abrasive; it is suitable for contact with cold and hot water, operating up to 160°C (320°F), and, in many applications, even up to 220°C (425°F), so it is fitting for processing plants which are exposed to the steam and high temperatures; and has excellent chemical resistance, both to strong acids and strong alkalis, so it withstands many cleaning chemicals.

“We believe that the food industry will enthusiastically adopt our material and are pleased our material has been tested for use in this industry,” says Leger.



Custom-made wear-resistant low-friction Vesconite bearings and wear pads are being trialled on a BEISS tyre stripper machine by a company in the thriving tractor-tyre-changing industry.

The trial, conducted in Bultfontein, South Africa, at a company that specialises in tractor-tyre stripping and replacement, aims to prove the efficiency and durability of Vesconite in tractor tyre maintenance.

The wear pads, produced by Vesconite Bearings, were strategically installed on the slides of the hydraulic sled carriage, a crucial component of the tyre stripper machine. This carriage, carrying essential tools for tyre removal and replacement, moves repeatedly during tyre mounting and dismounting operations. Vesconite’s wear-resistant properties are expected to mitigate excessive wear, ensuring smooth and reliable performance over extended periods.

Furthermore, Vesconite bearings have been deployed as rollers beneath the table used for positioning tractor tyres during maintenance procedures. The constant back-and-forth motion of this table often leads to wear on conventional components. By introducing Vesconite products, the company anticipates an increase in durability and longevity, providing a reliable solution for garage equipment used on large tractor tyres.

The Vesconite solutions were installed in January 2024, replacing conventional nylon wear pads and bearings that had worn out over three years. The client, introduced to Vesconite through positive word-of-mouth feedback, will provide information on the performance of the Vesconite components on the BEISS machine, which is exposed to the rigours of cumbersome tractor tyres.

Should the Vesconite bearings and wear pads outperform the traditional nylon products, Vesconite Bearings plans to expand its offerings to other tyre stripping operations specialising in tractors. This move aligns with the increasing demand for durable and efficient solutions in the agricultural sector, which is driven by a growing global population’s need for food, the rise in mechanisation in agriculture, and, in some cases, supportive government policies and subsidies promoting agricultural equipment purchases.

Vesconite Bearings remains dedicated to advancing innovation in the agricultural industry and the equipment that supports the farming sector.



BEISS tyre stripper

Vesconite Bearings innovates in the tractor-tyre replacement market

Custom-made wear-resistant low-friction Vesconite bearings and wear pads are being trialled on a BEISS tyre stripper machine by a company in the thriving tractor-tyre-changing industry.

The trial, conducted in Bultfontein, South Africa, at a company that specialises in tractor-tyre stripping and replacement, aims to prove the efficiency and durability of Vesconite in tractor tyre maintenance.

The wear pads, produced by Vesconite Bearings, were strategically installed on the slides of the hydraulic sled carriage, a crucial component of the tyre stripper machine. This carriage, carrying essential tools for tyre removal and replacement, moves repeatedly during tyre mounting and dismounting operations. Vesconite’s wear-resistant properties are expected to mitigate excessive wear, ensuring smooth and reliable performance over extended periods.

Furthermore, Vesconite bearings have been deployed as rollers beneath the table used for positioning tractor tyres during maintenance procedures. The constant back-and-forth motion of this table often leads to wear on conventional components. By introducing Vesconite products, the company anticipates an increase in durability and longevity, providing a reliable solution for garage equipment used on large tractor tyres.

The Vesconite solutions were installed in January 2024, replacing conventional nylon wear pads and bearings that had worn out over three years. The client, introduced to Vesconite through positive word-of-mouth feedback, will provide information on the performance of the Vesconite components on the BEISS machine, which is exposed to the rigours of cumbersome tractor tyres.

Should the Vesconite bearings and wear pads outperform the traditional nylon products, Vesconite Bearings plans to expand its offerings to other tyre stripping operations specialising in tractors. This move aligns with the increasing demand for durable and efficient solutions in the agricultural sector, which is driven by a growing global population’s need for food, the rise in mechanisation in agriculture, and, in some cases, supportive government policies and subsidies promoting agricultural equipment purchases.

Vesconite Bearings remains dedicated to advancing innovation in the agricultural industry and the equipment that supports the farming sector.



A 54%-per-component saving has been realised by Powerworks following the replacement of bronze bushings with a Vesconite low-friction bearings in the Jetstream turbine starters.

This is according to Powerworks Manufacturing Manager Philip van den Hoeck, who was responsible for the initiative to replace the bushing located inside a drive spindle that acts as a guide for the spindle.

Testing for normal operation

He notes that the saving has been achieved without any loss in performance, as attested to by six months of in-house testing on a Detroit 6-cylinder engine, a dynamometer as well as on hydraulic test benches to test the efficiency of the motor.

Van den Hoeck confirms that the specific bushing is not subject to rotational wear in normal operation as it only moves backwards and forwards.

Vesconite was tested for this motion and no appreciable wear was measured, he says.

Testing for rotational wear

The bushing was also tested for rotational wear to verify that it performs even in the unlikely situation in which the pinion gets stuck, does not disengage and the starter starts to run together with the engine.

Since there are clutch teeth inside the housing, the latter scenario would result in the bushing running in the opposite direction to the shaft. 

“We’ve tested it in house and we have run it in the opposite direction to see if there is an impact on it, which is not the standard application,” states Van den Hoeck, who notes that the testing confirmed that the bushing did not show wear even in this worst-case scenario.

On Powerworks and the introduction of the bushing

Since Powerworks is ISO 9001 accredited, an engineering change notification was compiled on all the items that were tested, as is required for ISO certification rules.

Powerworks has since introduced the Vesconite bushing as a standard component in its pre-engage starter motor, and had used it in 300 units by the end of May 2021.

The company manufactures the bushings in-house along with all other components for the 3000 rpm starter motor that has a three- to five-second starting cycle.



A Gunboat 60, which was refitted in New Zealand, embarked on a Pacific voyage in late April with newly-installed Vesconite rudder pivots acting as the advanced sliding bearing, allowing smooth and effortless sliding of the retractable rudders when sailing in shallow water.

Specialist marine engineering and design firm, Thorne Design, was contracted to improve the operation of the propulsion system that had been in place since the catamaran was originally built in 2014/15. 

The design firm was employed to upgrade existing components and improve performance, including making the steering feel lighter, reducing the likelihood of failures, loading the system more evenly, and generally improving the way that the system works.

Part of the upgrade included the installation of a Vesconite rudder pivot that acts as a centre point in the retractable rudder bearing, which is described by Thorne Design owner Eliot Thorne as being a scaled-down version of a daggerboard bearing.

Above: A section view of the catamaran, indicating the fully retractable rudder system.

High load capacity

A high-performance sailing catamaran, such as the one that the rudder pivot was installed on, requires high-aspect daggerboards or rudders. Being long and thin, and with the loads generated, they require high-performance materials such as carbon fibre, titanium and Vesconite.

A catamaran such as the Gunboat 60 is capable of sailing at 25 to 30 knots and cruising in the majority of weathers at 15 knots. Because of the performance of the boat, and the comfort that it offers, the loads on the rudder are significant. 

“Vesconite is one of the few materials that can deal with the compression loads that we are talking about,” says Thorne, noting that, for the installed bearing, up to 4,5 ton of load comes through the rudder system.

Fully retractable rudder system

Complicating the design of the rudders and their bearings is the fact that many high-performance catamarans are used for cruising in the shallow waters around the South Pacific, the Caribbean or the Bahamas.

For the Gunboat that was refitted, this means that the existing fully retractable rudder system was maintained so that the boat is capable of exploring almost anywhere in the world, even in shallow waters thanks to the rudders and daggerboards being able to be brought completely up into the hull.

Vesconite also proved a good choice in this case since it is self-lubricating and its slipperiness and low coefficient of friction allows for the easy retraction of the rudder.

“The rudders can be taken completely out of the water,” explains Thorne. 

Improved design

“This Vesconite pivot acts as a centre point of the lower bearing,” he says, noting that there was corrosion, cracking and deterioration with the previous acetal bearings, which were fixed and operated as a simple slide.

“We wanted to create this pivot system so that the loads would be more effectively transferred from the rudder into the bearing. This avoids it being loaded unevenly and there will be no twist; this reduces friction and ensures that the helm feels light,” he notes.

On Vesconite

“They just keep on working. Vesconite doesn’t bind over time, it doesn’t swell, it stays slippery and there is no wear,” says Thorne. 

Thorne confirms that the changes to the rudder system of the Gunboat were made specifically for a particular Pacific voyage.

While Thorne Design had been conceptualising the design and engineering requirements for some time, the bulk of the engineering work was carried out in a month.

“Having the product available in New Zealand was quite critical in being able to make that happen,” states Thorne.



An engineered polymer traditionally used for bearings has reduced fire risks on solvent extraction (SX) plants.  

The polymer, Vesconite, has been installed by SAM Engineering on base plates upon which its centrifugal pumps are mounted.

The motors are flame proof; they are ATEX certified, a European safety standard for electrical equipment in hazardous environments.

Vesconite is thus not required to isolate against stray current coming from the motor as all motors are fitted with earth studs.

“Instead, the Vesconite pads isolate the pumps against stray current that travels in the copper solution or other equipment in SX plants,” says Rowen Govender of SAM Engineering’s Technical Sales Department.

Like many polymers, Vesconite is a good insulator. What makes it different to other polymers is that it is dimensionally stable and does not absorb water. Importantly, it handles high static load without deformation, and this is critical for SX pumps, which are heavy.

Govender informs that the 400 kW motor coupled to the SAM pump supplied to SX plants typically weighs 3,500 kg, and pumps 2,000 – 2,500 m3/hour to a head of 40 – 45 m.

Each pump is mounted on to three Vesconite isolation pads that are located, in turn, on a stainless-steel base.

SX plants are the heart of the copper processing operation. Fire protection is important to prevent loss of life, and to reduce the likelihood of plant fire, which could result in significant equipment replacement costs and considerable costs if the plant is not operational for lengthy periods.

SAM Engineering has had considerable success in harsh mining and processing environments. It prides itself in custom pumps made for operation-critical applications.



Vesconite wear-resistant sleeve bearing replacements have been fitted as standard components in a range of Powerstart hydraulic and turbine starter motors, with some 550 of these motors in the field at the end of May 2021.

These plain bearings replaced internal and external needle-roller bearings, which are a special type of roller bearing with thin needle-like rollers.

“The external needle-roller bearing could not be sealed completely, so there was ingress of dirt that caused the bearing to seize up,  reports Powerworks Manufacturing Manager Philip van den Hoeck.

“If clients continued to use the motor with the affected bearing, they sometimes had to replace the bearing, the shaft and even the whole cone head,” he elaborates.

With wear-resistant Vesconite replacing the problematic external needle-roller bearing as well as the internal needle-roller bearing, there was virtually no wear. Replacement of the shaft and nose cone was eliminated and they had an overall longer-lasting bearing. 

“We are providing a better product to the customer and have no comebacks related to the bearings,” states Van den Hoeck. 

“It puts our product one step further in front of our competition,” he says.

Besides the cost saving to the customer thanks to the longer-life bearings and protection of the shaft and nose cone by the Vesconite replacement bushings, Vesconite also offers savings to the manufacturer.

“We had a 10% saving on the bearing components,” tells Van den Hoeck.

Since the bearings are critical components, Vesconite went through 18 months of in-house and field testing.

After testing, the clearances were still within manufacturing tolerances.

“The bearings stayed in spec,” says Van den Hoeck.

“It is a great product,” he notes of the bearings that are used in motors destined for mining, marine and general applications.




Conrad Penzhorn has been appointed Managing Director of Vesconite Bearings BV, the wholly-owned Netherlands subsidiary of plain bearing and wear material manufacturer Vesconite Bearings.

He joined Vesconite Bearings in 2019 as a Development Engineer, specialising in automotive applications.

The bearing-material manufacturer sees the European pumps, marine and rail markets as key to growth.

Penzhorn intends to increase the company’s attention on these industries in the initial phase of his appointment and will expand the target industries to include the high-potential automotive and agricultural sectors later.

He will act as the key contact for Vesconite in Europe and will assist clients with application assessments and urgent requests as he promotes the company’s self-lubricating wear-resistant no-swell materials.

Notes Penzhorn: “Europe represents a significant growth opportunity, with the European subsidiary having seen sizeable growth since it was established in 2017.”



Ultrablack plate has been running for 15 years on a premier-sparkling-wine neck-freezer machine with no wear or swelling.

This is according to Johan Brits, CEO of machinery manufacturing and maintenance company Vino Tech. Brits reports the machine operates for 300 days a year bottling 1100 bottles per hour at a sparkling-wine bottler in the Western Cape, South Africa.

Neck-freezing is a process required when bottle-fermenting sparkling wines in a style that follows the original Champagne wine making style. It involves a second fermentation process in the bottle to produce the bubbles and refreshing taste associated with a premier sparkling wine.

Since some fermentation takes place in the bottle, a disgorging process is required to remove a plug of frozen dead yeast cells.

Brits explains that bottles go into the neck-freezing machine upside down because of the sediment in the neck and cork of the bottles.

The bowl in which the neck goes into is filled with glycol at -28°C, which allows the sediment to freeze and then the bottle turned right side up so that the sediment does not fall back into the bottle. It is removed in a separate process.

Ultrablack plate, a premium wear resistant material for sliding wear applications is used on the wine-bottle-holding conveyor belt.

Little wear and no swelling take place despite the wet conditions and the large numbers of bottles transported, reports Brits.



Vesconite Hilube bushings lasted three times longer in a heat exchanger used for the forced cooling of wine at a bottling company in the Western Cape of South Africa.

Forced cooling may be used to stabilise wine and prevent the future formation of tartrate crystals. The bottler forces tartrate crystals to form which are removed through a number of steps including filtration. This eliminates the need for wine-lovers to decant or filter their wine when drinking it.

Johan Brits, CEO of plant machinery manufacturing and maintenance company Vino Tech, informs that the original heat exchanger, from an Italian original equipment manufacturer, was fitted with chrome bushings that did not react well to the temperature fluctuations of between 8 and 10°C.

“The temperature fluctuations caused the chrome bushings to burst and the seals to wear.”

“The bushings were replaced with Vesconite Hilube and the seals with silicone and the result was an up to three times longer lifespan,” states Brits.



Repair work at the Hammanskraal Drinking Water Project in Tshwane, South Africa, has included replacement of the lower bearing on an Archimedes screw with a Vesconite Hilube polymer bearing.

The bearing has a 202 mm inner diameter, a 300 mm outer diameter and is 407 mm long.  The bottom bearing shaft with the hub and base plate weighed 723kg.

It formed part of a turnkey design and manufacturing project to redesign the screw pumps in a project contracted to the Shosalowe Inv / Wamechsi Group.

Vesconite Hilube was chosen because the application is submerged, and Vesconite Hilube does not swell in water. It was also specified in this potable water application since self-lubricating Vesconite Hilube does not require grease, which can be hazardous to human health if consumed, and it is certified for potable water and food contact applications.

Chris Fourie, of Atlas Lifting Equipment, carried out the maintenance on the Archimedes screw between December 2020 and January 2021.

Fourie tends to use phosphor brass or greased eco-bearings for raw sewerage Archimedes screw applications, but specifies Vesconite Hilube for potable water applications.

He will continue to use Vesconite Hilube for the Hammanskraal lower bearings, and envisages that replacement will take place every two years at this plant that operates 24 hours a day and seven days a week.

The Hammanskraal Drinking Water Project’s Archimedes screws were installed in 2017, have a length of 12.6 m, a diameter of 2 m and the screw body weighs 7.6 tons. Powered by a 90 kW motor, it runs at 47 rpm.

It is regarded as important since it is self-regulating, pumping less when the water level is lower and more when the water level is higher.

Archimedes screw pump with new bottom bearing fitted.
Face surface cleaning and preparation for installation of the new bottom bearing.
Transportation of the 7.6 t Archimedes screw pump body.



A starch and glucose producer in South Africa fitted Vesconite wear-resistant deflectors to its centrifugal pumps in 2019, and substantial maintenance, component and capital-cost savings resulted.

Deflectors are cylindrical rings placed at either end of the bearing assembly around the shaft. In this application, they fit at the end of oil lip seals to prevent the ingress of water and dust.

The producer had previously not used deflectors but in the food environment, in which the pumps are hosed down as part of hygiene practises, it was noted that the life of bearings could be improved with deflectors being installed.

Pump solutions provider SAM Engineering proposed deflectors and a cost-effective material that would protect the bearing assembly against dust and water was sought for. On most sites / process plants, fitting of deflectors are generally overlooked, as lip seals serve the purpose of retaining lubricant in the bearing housing and prevent water and dust ingress; however, installing deflectors provided added protection.

SAM Engineering reports that the Vesconite deflector is likely to improve the life of bearings and decrease the likelihood of mechanical seal replacement and, most importantly, protect the bearing assembly, the cost of which can be considerable.

The bearing assembly totals 30% of the cost of this chemical-process pump, so the Vesconite deflectors could be said to protect 30% of pump value, the pump solution company states.



When Vesconite Bearings’ team visited knife-gate valve manufacturer A.C.Valves to fully understand how its client was using low-friction wear-resistant Vesconite polymer guide strips in knife gates, the company was manufacturing two valves for a South African gold mine that had experienced a break-down.

The 20” valves had been requested the day before and the mine’s supplier was due to pick them up on the day of Vesconite’s visit to the company, which can manufacture 200 – 300 knife gate valves a month depending on the size of the valve.

A.C.Valves director Collin Scott notes that the gold mine required two narrow-design Wafer Ring Flange (RF) bi-directional valves, which are A.C.Valves’ most popular design and the design that uses Vesconite as a guide strip.

The valves, which handle light and medium slurries, are relatively thin and are designed in keeping with mining company plant designs that require small compact plants.

The Wafer RF valves consist of two cast iron pieces with a stainless steel gate that lies sandwiched between the two. A PTFE rod with an O-ring acts as a scraper at the bottom of cast-iron valve halves and a rubber seal fits onto the blade.

Three Vesconite strips, meanwhile, are fitted on to the valve casing and act as guide strips, describes Scott.

“The Vesconite gives a longer life to the blade. It prevents metal-on-metal wear, which would otherwise result in scratches on the blade which, when it was retracted into the stuffing box, would cause leakages,” he elaborates.

Scott notes that he manufactures quality products that will not breakdown and cause downtime and unscheduled shut downs for unexpected replacements and maintenance.

His clients are aware that he has developed a product that is known for its quality, for its improved sealing, repairability and parts availability.

“We have had no complaints about the Vesconite guide strips and there has not been a case where the valve has failed due to the guide strips,” Scott continues.

“I have been using it for 10 years and it has worked perfectly,” he says.

Many of A.C.Valves’ customers are in the mining industry, and these companies would require robust knife-gate valves of different sizes depending on the size of their plants. They would need reliable valves that do not result in the loss of any commodity-containing slurry.

Other customers include those in the water industry. These also have demanding requirements since valves are specified to remain in situ and have no maintenance requirements for twenty years.

A.C.Valves was established in 1996 and specialises in knife-gate valves that are supplied to many countries in Africa, as well as Canada, Argentina and other countries.



Vesconite Bearings has been hard at work identifying the most common propeller shaft bearings used in the leisure marine industry.

It has done so to ensure that the right stock is available when clients need a particular item.

Vesconite Bearings has since identified 170 frequently used sizes.

Its imperial sizes range from shaft diameters of ¾ through to 6½ inches with a bearing length of 30 inches.

In metric sizes, meanwhile, the range extends for shaft diameters from 20 to 155 mm with a length of 620 mm.

It also has a range of flanged bearings available and can machine special sizes of any diameter.

“Vesconite Hilube is an exceptional bearing material, especially in the marine industry that faces demanding conditions,” says CEO Dr Jean-Patrick Leger.

“It is made from internally-lubricated polymers that have ultra-low friction and no-swell properties. These attributes make Vesconite Hilube ideal for marine bearing applications in submerged or dry applications,” he adds.



Vesconite Bearings supplied dressing rollers made with long-life, internally-lubricated Vesconite Hilube bearings to Brakwater Abattoir, in Namibia.

Prior to the introduction of Vesconite, carcasses at the abattoir were suspended using the rollers on overhead rails, then transferred on manual conveyors to different parts of the abattoir.

The dressing rollers also operated in a cold and damp environment and needed to carry heavy loads since a carcass typically weighs 400 to 620 kg.

In addition, moving the carcasses caused extensive wear and breakages to the previous dressing rollers the abattoir used, and extra hands were needed to move the carcasses from one line to the next.

Then Brakwater switched to Vesconite.

Vesconite Hilube dressing rollers were found to glide smoothly between the lines, reducing manual labour. Where previously two people were required to bodily move carcasses to the next line, with Vesconite Hilube dressing rollers one person can move the carcasses with one hand.

Vesconite Hilube dressing rollers were installed in March 2020 and, by February 2021, still did not need replacement while the previous rollers only lasted six months.

Maintenance Manager Julias Marais comments that he is so grateful that Vesconite was introduced to him and that will never go back to the old rollers. “Puik materiaal! (Great material)” he says.



A new large-diameter six-meter lathe has been commissioned at Vesconite Bearings’ South African factory.

The lathe will be able to machine extra-large-diameter bearings and plates, which are in demand for marine mining, container ships, oil tankers, and equipment used to generate renewable power from tides, waves and currents.

The lathe has a ‘swing-over-bed’ of 1,630 mm and a bed of 6,000 mm, which means that it can machine a tube with a diameter of up to 1,630 mm and a length of six meters or a plate measuring six meters.

Other noteworthy specifications are that it has a ‘swing-in-gap’ of 1,890 mm, which means that it can machine short bearings and discs of that diameter.

Vesconite Bearings has a vertical lathe that it uses to machine bearings with diameters up to 1.2 m.

The new machine has expanded the company’s machining capability and increase the speed at which it is able to machine bearings.

“We will be able to supply customers quicker,” says CEO Dr Jean-Patrick Leger. “This is essential for marine clients since keeping a ship in dry dock for repairs can be costly.”



The first batch of 60 Magnevane pneumatic chainsaws (The Swordfish M15) with Vesconite Hilube polymer vanes will arrive in South Africa in early March. A further 150 saws will arrive monthly thereafter to go into the South African underground gold and platinum mines, which get through 15,000 pneumatic chainsaws every year. The Magnevane Swordfish has the most powerful and efficient air motor in the world, which is one of the reasons it uses Vesconite high performance polymers.

The Swordfish M15 chainsaw

The pneumatic chainsaws were developed for underground mines in which timber poles are often used to support the roof – known as the hanging wall – to prevent collapses in the confined underground stopes (work areas) that follow the orebody.

Tested on several South African gold and platinum mines, the Swordfish demonstrates better performance than traditional chainsaws.

The chainsaws cut support poles in restricted spaces and are required to have excellent reliability and efficiency so they can remain underground for extended periods.

The Magnevane Swordfish is distinct from its competitors in several ways, including its ground-breaking patented air motor that uses magnets to maintain an airtight seal between the vanes and the motor housing. Magnevane has chosen to fit its chainsaw motor with Vesconite Hilube self-lubricated wear-resistant vanes, which provide both longer vane life and lower friction to further enhance the high-performance characteristics of the Magnevane air motor.  

Standard air motors use a few different techniques to create the seal between the vanes and the housing. Some air motors have springs to push the vanes against the housing. However, because of the rapid temperature changes the springs lose tension over time and do not last long, so increasing maintenance cost and downtime. Another option for high-end motors are cams that push out the vanes at intervals, but this too has disadvantages in that they limit the range of motion available and are more expensive to maintain. Further options include air channelled through the shaft pushing out the vanes, or simply centrifugal force. All of these options have severe limitations and result in declining performance over the life of the vane, which needs to be compensated by over specifying the motor. The patented Magnevane design overcomes all of these constraints by using high-powered neodymium magnets in the core and vanes of the motor to ensure 100% sealing from the first RPM and throughout the life of the vane.

“The differentiator in the design is four specially made neodymium rare-earth magnets installed on each of the seven Vesconite Hilube vanes as well as more stacked and cone-shaped magnets installed in the core rotor. These hold the vanes against the housing all the time and torque is obtained from the first spin for the whole life of the vane – a very rare and significant achievement and completely changes the operating profile of Magnevane motors,” says Magnevane CEO Gareth Rees.

With this design, the company has achieved a 50% to 60% increase in efficiency against the current leading air motors in the market. In addition, since the vanes are always pressed against the housing and Vesconite Hilube is a superior product, the company is achieving a 300% longer maintenance life cycle, with consistent performance attained over this time.

Rees reports that the company investigated bonded vanes but, since these wear out quickly, they reduced the life of the motor by 50% to 70% and Magnevane concluded that Vesconite Hilube is the best performing vane material that it has tried to date. By fitting Vesconite Hilube vanes, the company has two benefits: the motor runs longer with a better wear life and the efficiency of the motor is increased.

Magnevane’s first tooling application to use their patented motors, the chainsaw, has been in development and testing for several years, and has already proved itself in the harsh South African mining environment and is now ready to be introduced to other mining countries, with Portuguese-owned Magnevane expecting to obtain a significant share of the 15,000 unit underground South African chainsaw market within three years.

The company is also developing more end-to-end applications, such as displacement pumps and compressors. Magnevane continues to work with Vesconite Bearings on these applications, including the Hitemp160 polymer that is heat resistant to 160ºC and is a prime candidate for the vane material of the Magnevane displacement pumps.

Besides manufacturing products, the Magnevane sees itself as a research and development company with intellectual property, including its air motors with magnets, which it is prepared to licence to original equipment manufacturers.

“This is the best air motor in the world – with the best vanes,” enthuses Rees, “and will move the dial on pneumatic operating costs across industry”.



A South Africa-based self-lubricated polymer bearings and bushings manufacturer, Vesconite Bearings, is proud that lost packages are becoming a thing of the past.

This is following the introduction three years ago of shocking pink packaging colours for all its outbound shipments.

Chairperson Dr Jean-Patrick Leger had found that parcels were frequently lost after hand-over from the courier company to the airlines.

“It was unbelievable: sometimes shipments weighing tons would just disappear, only to be found months later in an airport warehouse hundreds of thousands of miles away from the original routing,” he says.

Parcels in nondescript brown packaging were typically found later, but after considerable frustration felt by irate customers as well as Vesconite Bearings staff, Leger adds.

With the introduction of bright pink packaging, with diagonally-worded text with website and telephone details, as well as a bullet-point invitation to contact the company for fitting and machining instructions and technical information, lost packaging has become a rare occurrence.

Leger notes that he was advised to choose packaging that stood out from the crowd, and considered pink, since this was a favourite colour of his late mother.

Various people tried to dissuade him of this colour choice, largely because the colour is strongly associated with women, who have traditionally not been a large market for the company.

However, the deeper pink hues of the Vesconite Bearings packaging seem to have resonated well with clientele, perhaps because analysts now suggest that fuchsias and magentas, as well as other deeper pinks, are considered vibrant and youthful, and are also associated with a sense of confidence.

Such seems to have been the thinking of other brands, such as T-Mobile, which has also chosen a similar colour for its brand to help it stand out among other mobile communication providers while adding life and energy.

Vesconite Bearings’ packaging colour seems to have had a similar effect.

The company ships rods, tubes, plates as well as finished items globally, and its packaging comes in various sizes, with a liner, corrugated medium, another liner, another corrugated medium and then a final liner of pink.

“It feels as if my late mother is watching over each package and ensuring that it does not get lost,” says Leger, reinforcing how the colour choice was initially inspired by his mother and is an ongoing tribute to her.



While most people associate rubber with tyres, ‘carbon black’, which gives automotive tyres their colouring as well as their stiffness, strength and abrasive resistance, is another essential component.

However, particles of carbon black, which need to be dispersed throughout synthetic and natural rubbers when tyres are produced, are notoriously abrasive.

As a result, tyre manufacturers tend to experience difficulties with parts of their manufacturing plant, and especially their bushings, when producing some of the one billion tyres that are manufactured globally.

When one tyre manufacturer in South Africa’s automotive hub of Port Elizabeth experienced these difficulties, it turned to Gahreez Industrial and Plastics founder Gahreez Hammond, who is an important supplier of bearing and polymer wear material to the automotive industry.

Hammond recommended bearing material Vesconite Hilube as a replacement for brass bushings on the presses.

“Vesconite Hilube can handle abrasive applications, is internally lubricated, carries a high load, and does not swell,” he notes.

Having implemented the use of Vesconite Hilube, the tyre manufacturer has been satisfied with the results and has been consistently using Vesconite Hilube in this application for several years.

Other companies in the automotive industry, including OEMs and factories supplying seats, roof liners and other automotive components, have also switched to Vesconite Hilube bushings, informs Hammond.

Some 80% of the companies that he supplies are associated with the heavy-machinery-intensive automotive industry, he notes.




Vesconite Bearings is keeping its customers informed about their orders’ locations.

Vesconite has recently introduced a system whereby Vesconite staff and clients are alerted by email when an order has been dispatched as well as the expected date of delivery. The system also lets customers and staff know whether any unusual event has occurred to increase shipping times and allows customers to view their order delivery status on a tracking page.

 Customer Liaison Co-ordinator Morty Baker notes that the new system has sometimes made Vesconite aware of a problem early and allowed the company to address an issue timeously.

 The system also supports all of the couriers that Vesconite typically uses and can cater for the logistics-information requirements of Vesconite’s many clients who are located in 100 countries globally.



Vesconite’s high-wear-resistant polymer, known as Ultrablack, was installed as a wear pad on a screw conveyor at a vineyard.

The screw conveyor washes grapes that have been harvested and transports them along the production line for further processing into wine.

Ultrablack ensures that the conveyor blades move smoothly.

Johan Brits, the CEO of plant machinery manufacturing and maintenance company Vino Tech, notes that Ultrablack eliminated wear problems and facilitated blade movement.

“We had a lot of problems with it before but now it runs great,” he says.



A pump containing three sleeve bearings made from a new bearing material, Hitemp 160 − which can operate to temperatures up to 160°C and is resistant to abrasive material − has been tested in a pump that has received South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) certification.

Vesconite Bearings pump applications specialist Phillip de Villiers informs that the pump as a whole, rather than its novel bearings, were the subject of the testing procedure carried out by the SABS, the institution responsible for the promotion and maintenance of standards within South Africa.

He is pleased that the pump has been proved to operate well under the conditions specified.

The pump is part of a range of large vertical spindle suction pumps that are to be primarily used in the mining industry.

Because of its new design, its importance in the mines that will use it, and the quality-assurance requirements of the manufacturer and purchaser, certification that the pump was safe and fit for purpose was imperative.

“The pump manufacturer tested and later included our proprietary Hitemp 160 material, which has excellent abrasive properties, negligible water swell and allows the pump to run dry periodically,” states De Villiers.

“Having a material that could aid in the pump’s need to run dry occasionally for short periods of time was a priority, and our material could serve that need in this specific application,” he says.

The new material fills a gap in the market for high-temperature bearings that are able to operate to 160°C in immersed conditions.



Bearing and wear material manufacturer Vesconite Bearings has placed renewed emphasis on the earthmoving industry with the appointment of Lorraine Deans as industry champion.

Deans has a background in customer service, as well as research in construction.

It is this latter experience, compiling construction project information for a subcontractor bulletin, that particularly drew her to her current role.

“I found out about new projects before construction began,” informs Deans of her previous position.

“This was particularly useful for civil engineers, quantity surveyors and other service providers who wanted to know about projects in the planning phase,” she says.

When Vesconite’s front-line work was streamlined, Deans was asked which industry she had a passion for. The answer was obvious – after years of work in the building and construction, she was keen to return to a familiar industry.

Vesconite’s no-swell wear-resistant self-lubricating bearings, that were developed for the notoriously harsh deep-level South African gold mines, which are characterised by extreme dirt and wet, are also suited to earthmoving, she reasoned.

“Vesconite has an enduring long-life, offers reduced maintenance, reduced shaft wear and is suitable for wet and abrasive environments,” notes Deans.

“It is also particularly valued for its self-greasing ability which provides clients with valuable savings on labour and greasing costs,” she says.

Since her appointment in earthmoving, Deans has introduced herself to present and prospective clients, has become familiar with many of their pain points, and has provided prototypes for some of their most difficult applications.

“We have seen a lot of interest in plain bearings that can be used in suspension systems, oscillating joints and pivot points,” notes Deans.

While testing can take between three and six months, she believes that articulated dump trucks, front loaders, back hoe loaders and grabbers have high potential as applications in which Vesconite will bring considerable savings.



Polymer bearing material producer Vesconite Bearings intends to take advantage of South Africa’s high levels of solar radiation to power some of its most power-hungry processes.

The company has already installed the first phase of its solar project, comprising 14 strings of 18 x 350 W Canadian solar panels and a 66 kW Schneider Electric inverter.

The system produces 65 kWh at peak, with the inverter supplying 60 kW to the factory’s Extrusion Department, which makes its proprietary Vesconite and Vesconite Hilube wear-resistant self-lubricating hollow bars and rods.

Vesconite Solar Graph
A typical daily energy production and usage graph.

As such, three quarter of the department’s electricity needs of 80kW/h, are provided for during peak sunlight hours, with a smaller proportion of the department’s electricity needs being catered for from dawn and after 12 noon.

“This is a 60 kW on-demand grid-tied system,” explains Extrusion Head Marius Du Plooy.

“This means that the inverter is synchronised with the municipality’s supply and we use what we produce during day time,” he notes.

Unfortunately, the municipality in which Vesconite Bearings is located does not allow energy producers to sell excess power back to it.

It is not yet cost effective to use storage batteries, so the full energy-production-capacity of the solar system is not harnessed and the company is investigating how to expand the usage of the system.

Vesconite’s CEO, Dr Jean-Patrick Leger, is pleased that the company has been able to harness the power of the sun for its extrusion processes and will soon have “Produced by Solar Power” stickers printed for the company’s extrusions produced during the “solar shift”.

Extruders tend to be power intensive since energy is needed for the barrel heaters that melt the polymers; the screw drives that propel the polymer material through the extruders; and the digital control systems.

However, the location of the company in sunny South Africa, with more than 2,500 hours of sunshine a year and solar-radiation levels of between 4.5 and 6.5 kWh/m2 per day is a clear benefit.

“This is one thing that small businesses can do to save money, make themselves less reliant on State-provided electricity, and reduce their impact on the environment,” says Leger.



A custom farm implement designer will recommend Vesconite for all the bushings on a ripper / cultivator that he is currently designing, in line with a belief in Vesconite’s no-swell self-lubricating wear-resistant characteristics that have led to him using the bearing material on all of his agricultural equipment.

Designer and innovator Kobus van Zyl, of Verbo Engineering, says that Vesconite will be specified for 30 hinge points on the ripper and eight 70 mm diameter bearings on the ripper’s rollers.

He will be making five rippers for a farmer in Marquard, in South Africa, and all of the rippers will have Vesconite installed, he informs.

The farmer who has commissioned the rippers wanted equipment that spanned 8 meters, could attach to his large tractors, use existing tynes that he had in stock, and be effective in preparing and harvesting fields of maize, sunflower and soya.

The 8 meter span of the ripper was of particular importance since this will result in considerable fuel savings. The new design will replace an existing 6.4 meter wide implement and thus cover a larger tract of land as it moves across the farm.

This is much more cost effective since less fuel is required.

Van Zyl notes that he is finalising the design for the ripper and then will order the necessary components.

He will order the metal work from a local laser cutter and will order the precision machined bushings from Vesconite Bearings since he is impressed by the quality of the company’s machining.

Van Zyl expects to start assembling the ripper in January 2021 and to complete one machine each month.

The commissioning farmer is likely to use the machines to prepare for planting and then for harvesting maize and soya in June and July 2021.



Vesconite Hilube bushings, which were installed on the control arm linkages on the radial deep sluice gates on a hydropower dam on the Nile River, are still operating some seven years after a complete overhaul of the systems controlling water flow in 2013.

A company representative reports that the sourcing and specifying of components, including the no-swell self-greasing high-load-bearing bushings, were part of the turnkey scope of work performed by the company, which was responsible for all electrical, mechanical and hydraulic aspects of the project.

The engineering company ordered four metres of 250 mm (outer diameter) and 190 mm (inner diameter) Vesconite Hilube hollow bar as well as two metres of 225 mm (outer diameter) and 170 mm (inner diameter) hollow bar in October 2012.

The engineering firm and its contractor then machined the bushings to the required size before dispatching the bushings, together with the other components and equipment required for the dam gates, to the Nile River project.

Eight bushings were installed on five 9.5-meter control arm linkages that link hydraulic cylinders to dam gates that are used to control the water flow along this part of the Nile River.

They had to carry 80 tons per arm but, since a safety factor of two was required, it was specified that each bushing had to be designed for 160 tons.

The contract was completed in two years from signing, including one year allocated to manufacturing and one month allocated for the installation of the five gates, including the bushings.

The company explained that the linkage arms connect the sluice gates to the hydraulic cylinder.

The sluice gates can be lowered or raised with the water on the Nile to allow for optimal water volumes in the dam, which would otherwise risk being breached if the flood waters were not controlled sufficiently.

The project manager had intended to visit the installation in 2020 to inspect the gates and the bushings, with a site cover on each bushing removed during the inspection.

The project manager is satisfied with the relatively-maintenance-free solution with a high degree of redundancy that his company was able to provide the country authorities.

This large-scale project involved the installation of 275t of equipment, the co-ordination of suppliers from various countries, and challenging climatic and logistic constraints.



Vesconite Bearings, the maker of the polymer bearing material Vesconite Hilube, which is used as an ivory substitute, continues to promote this use among ivory users, including knife makers who are interested in an ivory alternative.

Vesconite Bearings’ own Extrusion Department Head, Marius du Plooy, is an amateur knife maker who recently made a fixed-blade knife with a Vesconite Hilube handle.

He chose the ivory substitute because of its glossiness and its whitish, ivory hue.

“The full tang blade (unsharpened, unexposed part of the blade that extends down the handle) is made from Austrian Bohler N690 knife steel,” explains Du Plooy.

“316 stainless steel is used for the bolsters (thick junction between the knife and the handle) and pins,” he says.

However, what makes the knife unique is that the handle scales are made from Vesconite Hilube with a red liner between the handle scales and the tang.

Du Plooy notes that, during the knife-making process, the blade is the most difficult to make.

The Vesconite Hilube handle is easy to machine, but takes some time to polish since this requires sanding with 1,200 grit water paper followed by buffing with a cotton-cloth buffing wheel and buff soap, he says.

“The finished product is worth the effort,” Du Plooy enthuses.

Vesconite is keen on other knife makers and users of ivory to adopt this synthetic ivory substitute especially as Covid-19 restrictions are easing in many parts of the world and, with this, the likely availability of illegally-sourced elephant ivory.

Road blocks, with police and defence forces policing them, had forced poachers to abandon travel with axes, pangas, stolen hunting rifles and home-made silencers used in poaching.

Similarly, the closure of international borders cut off sales channels, while the closure of game parks limited access by poachers to parks via the gates during the peak of Covid-19 restrictions in Africa.

Vesconite believes that Vesconite Hilube may be one way to reduce demand for ivory.

The material is pleasant, smooth, warm to the touch and hard wearing.

It is also available in a wide range of rods, hollow bar and plate sizes.

Vesconite hopes that its product will assist Africa’s wildlife to make it to 2021 and beyond.



Equipment from as far as the Congo, Namibia and Zambia is being sent to a South African CNC and lathe-repair company to have machines dismantled, cleaned, machining beds ground and scraped smooth, and the wear pads between the saddle and the machining bed replaced with a wear-resistant polymer known as Vesconite Hilube.

Second-hand conventional lathes are sometimes preferred to new lathes in Africa, because of the high quality of workmanship on the castings, which can last longer as they are well made and less likely to be damaged even with robust handling.

However, since these may require some care before they work optimally, they are sometimes sent for reconditioning to Atlantic Enterprises, run by machine tooling expert Henning Von Marschall.

Similarly, even where companies have opted for CNC machines, machine repairs may be more cost-effective than purchasing new CNC machines when the beds and wear pads are damaged.

As a result, CNC owners also revert to Atlantic Enterprises, where they have CNC machines that do not run on linear bearings.

Von Marschall was trained in Germany and has worked for global machine tool companies, including in Japan and Taiwan, so reconditioning of lathes and CNC machines is carried out to precision.

Vesconite Hilube wear pads, made from a thermopolymer developed in the 1980s, are an added feature that sets his reconditioning business apart.

While the exact details are proprietary, Von Marschall reveals that the OEM wear pads are first removed and the saddle surfaces cleaned and scraped of all debris.

The 2 or 3 mm thick Vesconite Hilube plates, that are bought in 1,000 mm lengths, are then cut to size and oil grooves ground into the plate with a lathe.

The plate is then cleaned and glued to the saddle with a slow-setting glue.

Von Marschall reports that Vesconite Hilube wear pads have several advantages over traditional materials used in the application: the OEM material tends to come off easily since lubrication gets underneath the OEM material and is also absorbed by the material; the OEM material is thinner than the replacement Vesconite Hilube, so it wears through more quickly and does not allow for the deep oil grooves that Von Marschall makes; the OEM material can become dry leading to increased wear; and, with Vesconite Hilube, the slides can be tightened more so the load meter is lower where Vesconite Hilube is used.

Von Marschall stresses the particular importance of having a thicker material into which grooves can be machined and, during reconditioning, will ensure that an adequate space is available for the new wear pads.

Atlantic Enterprises started operation in the 1970s, with Von Marschall taking the helm 14 years ago.

Vesconite Hilube hand-scraped gibs for a vertical boring mill
Refurbishing equipment with Vesconite Hilube hand-scraped wear strips
Webster & Bennett boring mill being fitted with Vesconite Hilube hand-scraped wear strips
Vesconite Hilube hand-scraped wear pads with lubrication grooves in place
Lathe that is due to have Vesconite Hilube wear pads installed
Horizontal lathe that is due for refurbishment



Bearing and wear part manufacturer Vesconite Bearings has increased its efforts to develop better -than-the-original-equipment-manufacturer (OEM) forklift parts.

The company has long known that its gantry support bearings, tilt cylinder bushings, side shift pads, mast pivot bushings, steer axle articulation bushings, king pin bushings and lever and pedal bushings offered low-friction, wear-resistant and high load capacity characteristics. The Vesconite parts last longer than the originals and do not need regular greasing. They are sought after by the forklift rental companies who appreciate the longer wear life and savings achieved from reduced maintenance. 

Since the start of 2020 Vesconite Bearings has invested considerable staffing resources into building a catalogue of parts for all the major forklift brands, and offered prototype testing for these better-than-the-OEM parts.

“We have parts for nine common forklift brands in our catalogue,” says forklift industry champion Calvin Mpofu. With three more team members, Mpofu has identified the most popular brands and parts, and then requested the Vesconite factory produces them.

“This mammoth task is ongoing. As the factory completes each batch, we dispatch to select clients for testing,” he notes.

The global forklift repair and rental industry reports that business has picked up after the Covid induced slow down. While the traditional forklift maintenance cycle may have increased due to reduced forklift operation, forklift usage and forklift maintenance is expected to escalate in the coming months.

“Installation and testing of the Vesconite parts is happening at a faster rate,” says Mpofu, who notes that forklift rental companies that have received prototype parts have already indicated that the material feels more premium and commend the great care taken in the machining of these better-than-the-OEM components.



Vesconite Bearings’ ship classification certifications continue to span the world, with the team ensuring that the certificates remain up-to-date.

The company’s marine bearings are currently certified by  American Bureau of Shipping (ABS ), Nippon Kaiji Kyokai (Japan) (NKK), Bureau Veritas (BV), Lloyds Register (LR), Det Norske Veritas / Germanisher Lloyd (DNV / GL), China Classification Society (CCS) and Registro Italiano Navale (RINA).

Vesconite Bearings has had many of these certifications for decades, and continues to ensure that these remain in place, having recently been re-approved for three certificates by two ship classification authorities.

“The application process is started by contacting the relevant shipping classification authority and enquiring what we need to have in place and what steps are necessary to obtain the specific approval we require,” states Jaco Prinsloo, who is the compliance officer who has been tasked with keeping certifications current.          

“Usually some material tests and a manufacturing facility audit by the specific certification authority is needed to get approved and certified, but every certification authority has different procedures and processes we need to follow to be certified,” he says.

The most recent set of re-approvals of certificates were applied for well before the multi-year certificate validity period lapsed.

This is part of the company’s safety and risk-mitigation commitment to the marine industry since these certificates are required if Vesconite stern tubes and rudder bearings are to be fitted to vessels that call for a specifically-certified product.

Having these certifications also supports the mandates of these premium certification bodies whose mission it is to ensure safer products in the marine industry, in line with best practices, regulatory requirements and the latest design techniques.



Independent tests by a major pump manufacturer prove corrosion-free Vesconite Hilube wear rings safely allow reduced running clearances and improve pump efficiency.

Bronze casing wear rings with a clearance of 0.3 mm were tested against no-swell Vesconite Hilube at 0.1 mm

Vesconite Hilube vs bronze wear rings

Pump efficiency increased from 80.50 to 82.55%. Pumping head increased from 30.204 to 30.818 m.

Both these measures are important in the pump industry.

Pump efficiency indicates how much of the energy supplied to the pump is converted to pumping fluid. 

Pump head, meanwhile, measures the pressure that the pump produces in terms of the height to which the pump can raise water.

Head is important where the water source is far from the pumping destination and is vital when users want to increase the pump output.

Importantly, catastrophic failures can be avoided with Vesconite Hilube. With metal rings, if there is contact with the impeller, galling and seizures can quickly occur. But if a Vesconite Hilube wear ring contacts an impeller, it acts as a mechanical fuse and machines away safely, keeping the close clearance.

With a simple swop of the wear ring material, more efficient pumps can be achieved through closer clearances, and wear ring corrosion eliminated.



There is one less thing for hydro engineers to worry about when designing dams.

This is if they choose Vesconite Hilube speciality polymer bearings – which can be fitted and forgotten about for months and even years.

This has been the experience of several engineers working on hydropower projects, including recent ones in North and South Africa.

The one in North Africa involved the installation of control arm linkages on the radial deep sluice gates on a hydropower dam on the Nile River seven years ago, while the one in South Africa, which is nearing completion, involves the use of Vesconite Hilube trunnion bearings on the tainter gates at the Kruisvallei Hydro Power Plant on the Ash River.

The engineers on both projects were particularly pleased with the fact that the bearings will perform reliably over many decades since they exhibit low creep, i.e. they do not deform under persistent mechanical stress.

The trunnion assembly.


The manufacturing of the tainter gates.





Vesconite Bearings has undertaken in-house testing and verified that its polymer is unlikely to deform even where significant stress is applied over a long duration.

In a test exposing a predetermined Vesconite Hilube test piece to a 30MPa load over several days, no dimensional change was detected.

It is the no-creep characteristic that is particularly sought after in these hydro applications, since the bearings are fully statically loaded because of the significant water load that constitutes a large applied stress.

Vesconite Bearings engineer Juan Van Wyk notes that sleeve bearings that are manufactured from speciality no-creep polymers such as Vesconite Hilube outperform traditional roller bearings, for instance, since these are prone to brinelling or permanent indentation of the roller balls into the race of the bearing.

While Vesconite Hilube bearings remain dimensionally stable under high load, roller bearings can be problematic.

Another attractive feature of Vesconite Hilube bearings in hydroelectric applications is that they are swell resistant, since the speciality engineered polymer that they are made from exhibits a confirmed negligible 0.13% mass change after 28 days of being fully immersed. Vesconite also doesn’t soften under these saturated conditions; hence, its resistance to creep

This means that, where other materials may swell to the point where they do not allow for oscillation where this is required, Vesconite Hilube will reliably hold its shape and, in turn, its small clearances and allow oscillation when this is needed.

For Wicus Bonnet of Eigenbau, the contracting firm that is responsible for the hydro-civil, hydro-mechanical and power-house facilities at the South African project, this was ideal.

“The radial arm sluice gates that will be installed at Kruisvallei, and the associated trunnion bearings, which are located at the pivot point that allows for the movement of the gates to release or stop water flow, are a vital part of the project,” he says.

“They will be open most of the time – about 90% of the year,” he reveals of the gates, which comprise two intake, two tailrace and two emergency gates – one of each per plant.

However, operating flow of 37m3/s must be stopped and released during maintenance and emergency shutdowns, which is likely to take place between four and six times a year.

In addition, flow may also need to be stopped to protect against 1 in 200 year flooding and safeguard the hydro electro-mechanical equipment that could be damaged in such a situation.

Similarly, for the North African project, some eight bushes were installed on five 9.5m control arm linkages that link hydraulic cylinders to dam gates that are used to control the water flow along this part of the Nile River.

These were important since the linkage arms connect the sluice gate to the hydraulic cylinder and allow the gates to be lowered or raised with the water on the Nile to allow for optimal water volumes in the dam, which would otherwise risk being breached if the flood waters were not controlled sufficiently.

Besides low-creep and no-swell, other advantages of Vesconite Hilube bearings in hydroelectric applications are that they can be manufactured to any dimensions, which makes designing easier; they have a high load-bearing strength, so there may be a cost saving on bearing design since bearings can be made more compact while withstanding the force of the water; they have a low coefficient of friction, which minimises the forces on the structure during operation; and they are self lubricating, so they will not seize despite being stationary for long periods.

Van Wyk notes that Vesconite Hilube is ideal for high-load slow-speed applications, and it has been found suitable in hundreds of applications in various industries, including the agriculture, earthmoving, automotive, renewable energy and mining industries, among others.

In these industries, it is not uncommon to have slow rotational or oscillating movement every few minutes, days or weeks.

However, what is fairly unusual in the hydro-electric industry is that movement is so limited, and that oscillating movement may only be required half a dozen times a year, if that.

What is also unusual is the sheer magnitude of the force on the bearing, with the Nile River project calculating that each control arm had to carry 80t per arm and, with a safety factor of two worked in, the design engineer specified that each bearing needed to carry 160t.



Daggerboards, once used only by the dinghy racing fraternity, are increasingly common in cruising boats.

This is the insight of Travis McGarry, captain of the 66 foot, 22 ton Gunboat catamaran the Slim, an early convert to use Vesconite daggerboard bearings  – the bearings which support these retractable daggerboards, and which, in this case, have been designed by Thorne Design Ltd.

McGarry describes how racing yacht technology is eventually adopted in cruising boats.

Sailing enthusiasts, for instance, became familiar with daggerboards in the America’s Cup, where they were occasionally visible as competitors skimmed over the water at tremendous speeds.

Thereafter, for performance catamarans such as Gunboats, where cruising comfort combines with a racing pedigree, the adoption of foils was a simple decision.

McGarry notes many traditional cruising boats can reach 10 to 15 knots, but a carbon-fibre performance yacht kitted with daggerboard foils, such as the Slim, easily reaches 20 knots and even top speeds of 30 knots (55 km/h).

Where time is valuable, and most people only take a few weeks leave for sailing, a performance cruiser covers longer distances and allows hobbyists to experience more, which is a great advantage.

In addition, a faster cruiser is a safety imperative. It allows sailors to leave behind a storm: they can set out within a day with the knowledge that the next storm, which in most regions follows after at least three days, will not catch up with them.

The application of Vesconite daggerboard bearings has gone hand-in-glove with the use of daggerboards in many cruising yachts, just as they have among many in the racing circles.

McGarry, who fashioned his first daggerboard bearings out of Vesconite plates with a 5-axis CNC milling machine, reveals that Vesconite does not swell so the bearings can be machined with very tight clearances.

The wear-resistant material has a low coefficient of friction for easy lowering and retraction of the daggerboards.

In addition, Vesconite is able to withstand high loads, an important feature when all the load of a 22 ton cruiser, hurtling through the sea at 20 to 30 knots, is placed on the two daggerboard bearings.

McGarry notes that last year The Slim replaced its daggerboard bearings after eight years in operation – once again with Vesconite.

“There was zero wear when we replaced them,” he says. The decision to replace was based on a rushed first installation in which the original bearings were noisy and crudely finished by hand.

“The cruiser has only had Vesconite daggerboard bearings and we have had great experiences with them.” He notes the new bearings operate noiselessly and smoothly.

With its new bearings in place, the Slim will be chartered for winter cruising in the Caribbean Virgin Islands, Caribbean Leewards and Caribbean Windwards and for summer cruising in the South Pacific and French Polynesia.

Launched in 2012, this performance cruiser can clear between 150 to 300 miles (250 to 500 km) per day.



Moves away from bronze and rubber bearings have boosted the profile and sales of polymer products such as Vesconite. Although many are now discovering the benefits of Vesconite, many more have known of their advantages for years. Vesconite lasts longer, wears less, requires less maintenance and doesn’t require lubrication, making it suitable for different applications, in different industries in different continents.

Take the US.

“A state like California has banned lead so you cannot sell a bronze product. People have to find an alternative,” says Vesconite Bearings’ technical representative, Charlie Simpson.

“We are getting more and more business as people move away from bronze and rubber bearings.”

Simpson says Vesconite has seen steady growth in sales from the US over the last two years. Some of this is due to the need for an alternative product; much is due to the benefits of Vesconite, such as increased efficiency.

Simpson says the companies in the US are willing to test and try new things. “If they can get five percent more efficiency they will go for it.”

Because Vesconite doesn’t need lubrication, bearings last longer. That means less downtime, less maintenance and fewer stoppages. The end result is increased efficiency.

Which is something Eric Bruggeman has known for years. Before he moved to head up the South African Capital Equipment Export Council, Bruggeman was MD of APE Pumps. Based in South Africa, APE Pumps supplies pumps to projects around the globe including countries such as Zambia, Iraq and South Africa.

Efficiency was a problem for Bruggeman, who tried different types of bushings before being introduced to Vesconite.

“As soon as there was sand in a pump with metal bearings it would stick,” Bruggeman says.

“We used rubber bushings, but they didn’t work.”

And this was after trials in a test environment, which Bruggeman says will give results that may not be the same in real life applications.

“You can test something on the rig and get certain efficiencies. Put it in the plant and two days later efficiency is different. There’s sand and grit, they block up grooves, the bearings burn.”

So a pump would last three to four months.

“It was a nightmare.”

Bruggeman was introduced to Vesconite in the late 1990s when a representative walked into his office.

“Our own mechanical seals were brittle – the bearings were thin and were cracking. Vesconite was unbelievably tough. You could drop it and put it back in the pump,” he says.

“Stainless steel would wear down, and have to be replaced. That didn’t happen with Vesconite.”

“We moved to Vesconite.”

Bruggeman was so impressed with the material he replaced every bushing he could with Vesconite.

“The pump would just run and run and we didn’t need to bother with grease or anything. When the strainer was blocked the Vesconite bearings stayed.”

Bruggeman also went to the extreme of putting fine glass, “glass eats anything”, in the pump to see what the wear and tear on the bearing would be.

“Vesconite proved itself.”

Using standard Vesconite increased the working life of the pumps considerably.

Bruggeman became a huge supporter of Vesconite.

“It was more expensive than bronze but if you look at overall performance there was no downtime and maintenance. Even in Richard’s Bay harbour with salt water. So it was worth it,” he says.

“Lots of people knew our pumps weren’t the cheapest but they lasted the longest.”

Bruggeman used the standard Vesconite bearings in pumps. Today Vesconite Hilube is also available and offers even less wear and tear and lower friction.

Used in the automotive, marine, mining, water, irrigation, steel, agriculture and railway industries, Vesconite has proved itself in tough conditions. Although pump bearings are not its only application, the bearing has shown itself to be unbeatable across continents.



Wear material and bushing manufacturer Vesconite Bearings has taken delivery of a Haas gantry router with a 3,200-mm bed.

“This will be a busy addition to the company’s machining capability,” says production manager Robin Crabb.

The router will allow the company to machine parts on its substantial x-y axis, and rout out integral parts from long-length plates.

“There are exceptionally long bearings that we machine and bend and this will save time and improve the quality of machining,” notes Crabb of the router, which will eliminate the need to shift plates and connect portions of work on shorter-bed machines.

Since delivery of the equipment, Vesconite Bearings has been preparing to commission the router: the company has designed and fitted a bespoke vacuum bed to suck plates down while machining. Staff have also completed tool training by the OEM manufacturer.

“This extends our capability,” says Crabb.

“There is a call from our customers for large precision machined plates. We have a large number of orders that can benefit from being machined on a long bed.”

Crabb notes that the router has been upgraded to incorporate a fast spindle that will bring down machining times, in line with the company’s commitment to quick despatch times.

It also has tool and work probes that will allow it to automatically and continuously check part dimensions.



Wear-plate client requirements have resulted in the production of 1 m x 1 m Vesconite Hilube polymer wear plates, which can measure 25 mm and, more recently, 40 mm and 60 mm in thickness.

This is according to Vesconite Bearings technical sales consultant Eddie Swanepoel, who has been instrumental in translating client requirements into new extruded plate sizes of the low-coefficient-of-friction, high-wear polymer that is in demand in various wear applications.

Swanepoel reveals that the 1 m x 1 m plate was introduced when a client required a round wear plate to fit his rotary vacuum filter.

This led to the introduction of the 25-mm-thick plate of that size, which has been performing well in the application for more than a year.

Client applications have been the driver for new materials and plate sizes, and Vesconite Bearings’ factory has responded by developing methodologies for producing larger and larger stock sizes.

Vesconite Hilube plates are also stocked in 200 mm x 1 m sizes, with thicknesses of 2, 3, 5, 6, 8, 10, 12, 15, 16, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40, 50, 70, 75 and 100 mm, in addition to 400 mm x 500 mm sizes, with thicknesses of 2, 3, 5, 6 and 8 mm and 600 mm x 1 m sizes, with thicknesses of 10, 16, 20, 25, 40, 100 and 150 mm.


Please note that Vesconite Bearings is constantly updating the stock sizes that it offers. This article was updated in May 2023. For the most up-to-date plate stock sizes, please contact .




A large food-processing company in South Africa is replacing several of the polyethylene plates on its rotary vacuum filters with plates made of the low-friction, high-compressive strength polymer known as Vesconite Hilube.

This follows the successful use of the Vesconite Hilube plates on one of its rotary vacuum filters.

Rotary vacuum filters are used for dewatering, washing and clarification, and rely on a vacuum to suck the water content out of a slurry mixture in which a vacuum drum rotates. After dewatering is completed, a dry cake remains on a cloth-covered drum, while the clarified liquid in the drum is transported out of the drum through a series of pipes.

Vesconite Hilube wear plates have been successfully used at the interface between the vacuum drum and the exiting pipes at the South African company.

The processor’s mechanical department maintenance coordinator informs that the 800-millimetre-diameter 25-millimetre-thick Vesconite Hilube plates need to ensure that there is an adequate seal that prevents the liquid from leaking.

They also need to have sufficient compressive strength to be secured by a trunnion plate, he says, noting that the equipment agent’s wear plates were of a much softer material and that this resulted in wear and eventual leaking.

In addition, they need to have the correct pipe exiting alignment, with 16 holes in place for some of the rotary vacuum drum designs and 14 for other of the designs.

Testing continues to verify the comparative wear life of the polyethylene wear plates and their replacement Vesconite Hilube wear plates.

The processing company’s maintenance coordinator reports that the Vesconite Hilube plates have outlasted the polyethylene plates, but the exact wear life of both the polyethylene and Vesconite Hilube plates is unknown.

Several variables can change the life expectancy of a plate including the installation personnel, alignment between the drum and the plate, and any drum vibration.

The intention with the Vesconite Hilube plate installation is to keep the drum vacuum constant and reduce machine down time that is caused by having to replace plates.

The food-processing company has nine rotary vacuum filters on site.

The company processes 800 tons per year of maize, and produces dry milled starch and various grades of glucose for the food, beverage and pharmaceutical industries, as well as byproducts for the animal feed industry, among various other industries.



Test-work on Vesconite polymer sliding wear plates has shown promising results on a crawler drill that is employed at a zinc project, in the Northern Cape, South Africa.

The wear plates were installed on the rotary head slide of a drill that carries out exploration drilling at the mine that is to exploit one of the largest zinc orebodies in the world.

The rotary head moves the drill into the ground for deeper and shallower drilling. It also moves to allow the drill to be changed.

Since the rotary head moves approximately 120 times a day, wear on the slides was considerable, and the original-equipment-manufacturer’s (OEM’s) nylon wear pads only lasted 500 hours.

As a result, the OEM crawler drill supplier involved in the zinc project sought a solution to extend the life of its wear pads and investigated other more wear-resistant materials that could cope with highly-abrasive materials such as chrome and silica that come in contact with the pads.

Vesconite Bearings technical representative Phillip de Villiers recommended the use of Vesconite in the application to improve the total wear life of the slides.

The OEM equipment supplier reports that the Vesconite polymer wear plates have lasted more than two time as long as the OEM nylon wear pads with more than 1300 hours of operation to date.

They will continue to be used and the wear life will be closely monitored in comparison with the nylon OEM parts.

The wear life will be proved on the 10 wear plate assemblies comprising 20 separate wear plates on the crawler drill.

On a separate application on the crawler drill, Vesconite wear plates have also been employed on the boom slide.

This is the rear part of the crawler drill, is moved and adjusted to the drilling height, and provides stability to the drill.

This boom moves roughly six times a day, so the wear is not as considerable as that on the rotary head slide.

However, with the previously-installed OEM nylon slides lasting 1000 hours on this application, there was still a need to improve the lifespan of these slides.

The OEM equipment supplier hopes that the Vesconite will last much longer than the 1000 hours of the OEM material.

With low wear on the six Vesconite assemblies, comprising 12 wear plate halves, early indications are that the Vesconite will also perform well in this application.

The equipment supplier imports crawler drills from Korea for resale, and also supplies parts for these and other drills that are used in mining-exploration drilling and borehole water drilling.



Mineral processing equipment manufacturer and designer MechProTech has introduced hydrodynamic composite bearings made out of Vesconite thermopolymer plates that are bent into a half moon or quarter moon shape.

These are used on the mills (which are used for the fine grinding of mineral ore) and scrubbers (which are used for the washing and dispersion of clays and agglomerated material, made up of fines and superfines) that it designs and manufactures.

The bearings run on an oil film so there is no surface contact between the bearing and the outside support for the mills and the scrubbers, and, as a result, there is no energy-consuming and grinding friction during operation, states MechProTech Sales Manager Wynand Boshoff.

“Vesconite is a sacrificial bearing that provides support. If the oil that the bearing runs on breaks down, there is no damage to our equipment,” he says of the benefit of not damaging the more-costly capital equipment processing machinery.

The advantages of using Vesconite are not limited to technological ones and also include cost, operational and logistic benefits.

MechProTech notes that the Vesconite hydrodynamic bearings are less costly in this application than white metal bearings, which can be six times more expensive than the thermopolymer bearings.

The bearings are also hard wearing and grease free so they require little maintenance in an industry in which machinery downtime can be costly.

In addition, they are lighter and more maintenance friendly than the white-metal bearings that they replaced and can be more quickly and easily replaced, comments MechProTech MD Evan Bird.

Vesconite Bearings is proud to be associated with innovative milling and scrubber technology that is set to revolutionise the global cash-strapped mining sector.

Using mechanical and metallurgical skills, MechProTech has developed new machinery and methodologies for optimally extracting mineral wealth from ores, while providing process solutions that reduce the capital and maintenance cost for the operator.



A bottling plant achieved over 10 times the life of forklift side-shift pads by switching to self-lubricating wear-resistant Vesconite.

These hard-working pads allow the side-shift attachment (which carries the forks) to move left and right freely, for quick and accurate loading.

The forklifts’ original side-shift pads were quickly bitten into by the 2-ton loads that these double-pallet forklifts handle.

Vesconite Bearings solved the problem by supplying high-load pads which do not require greasing yet give exceptionally long wear life. 



While many have historically praised rubber and nitrile rubber marine bearings, Vesconite Bearings, the maker of the no-swell Vesconite Hilube polymer, has seen ship repairers increasingly turn to its product.

Such was the case in June, when one New Zealand repairer, who has traditionally only used rubber bearings, requested Vesconite Hilube for two sailing yachts.

The client requested two propeller shaft bearings for the first, and a single bearing for the second, informs Vesconite Bearings’ Eddie Swanepoel.

Sized for 1¾ ” and 1½ ” shafts, they form part of Vesconite’s ready-to-fit range, which includes 170  ready-to-fit-sizes in imperial and metric sizes, he says.

Long-life Vesconite Hilube has several advantages over its rubber counterparts, which typically include a rubber insert with a naval brass or phenolic outer shell.

The first is its price, since typically they are considerably cheaper than rubber bearings.

The second is its lack of noise, since it exhibits no squeal at low speed, a benefit particularly appreciated by trolling fishermen.

Clients have also commented that it lasts longer, with one client reporting that the material has lasted five years longer and another reporting a ten-year longer life.

In addition, many are favourably impressed by Vesconite’s ease of installation and removal. This is because, while rubber bearings may need to have their brass outer shells cut and bent inwards to remove them, Vesconite Hilube can be easily removed with a bearing puller.

“Removing a rubber bearing with a brass shell can take two hours to half a day,” comments Swanepoel.

“Most repairers are set up to do this, but enjoy the time saving and the ease of using Vesconite Hilube,” he says.



Vesconite Hilube trunnion bearings have been used on the Kruisvallei Hydro Power Plant’s tainter gates, which are to be installed this year on the Ash River, halfway between Bethlehem and Clarens, in South Africa.

From the side, tainter gates look like a slice of pizza with the curved part facing upstream of the canal and the lower sharply-angled portion pointing downstream of the canal.

The straight sides of the pizza shape are the trunnion arms, which extend downstream to a pivot point around which the gate rotates.

It is at this point of rotation that the Vesconite Hilube bearings are located, and it is this pivot point that allows for the movement of the gates to release or stop water flow.

The manufacturing of the tainter gates.

Wicus Bonnet of Eigenbau, the contracting firm that is responsible for the hydro-civil, hydro-mechanical and power-house facilities, informs that low-maintenance grease-free hard-wearing Vesconite Hilube polymer bearings were used because they offer a longer lifespan than bronze bushings and do not require regular maintenance – a boon since the trunnions are located on a concrete beam suspended over the canal.

“The power plants have minimal staff and this will ease their load,” he says.

Other advantages were that they can be manufactured to any dimensions, which makes designing easier; they have a high load-bearing strength, so there is a cost saving on the trunnion design since it can be made more compact while withstanding the force of the water; they have a low coefficient of friction, which minimises the forces on the structure during operation; they have low creep, which will assist in their being able to remain open or closed for long periods; and they are self lubricating, so they will not seize despite being stationary for long periods.

Bonnet informs that Eigenbau has built six radial-arm sluice gates for the Power Plant, including intake, and emergency and tailrace gates for the Middle and Lower Power Plants as part of its hydro-mechanical works for the power house facilities. These gates range in size from gate face sizes 7 by 4 meters high and trunnion arm radiuses from 6.5 to  8.5 meters in width, to a 4 meter high gate face with a 12 meter trunnion arm radius. They were designed to withstand a head of water ranging from 4.4 to 12.3 meters.

Vesconite Hilube trunnion bearings are to be used on the Kruisvallei Hydro Power Plant’s tainter gates.

Eigenbau’s scope of work on the Middle and Lower Kruisvallei Hydro Power Plant project includes the contract for other hydro-mechanical projects, including the trash rake, trash rake flushing and cleaning system, bypass gate and dewatering pumps; the hydro-civil works, which include weirs, spillways, canal intakes, headrace canal, draft tube, the encasement of the turbine components and the tailrace canal; and the power house facilities, including the turbine hall overhead crane, HVAC, water filtration plant and sewage disposal system.

All projects are to be completed within 18 months, with much of the work completed already.

“This project will provide 4 MW of power to the South African power grid,” says Bonnet.

“This will ease the load on Eskom as well as help South Africa to switch to more sustainable, reliable and more environmentally friendly sources of energy.”

The radial arm sluice gates that will be used at Kruisvallei are an important part of the project since they will help stop the flow of water in the canals for maintenance, protect against flooding  (1 in 200 year floods) and safeguard the hydro electro-mechanical equipment.

As these are the first installations, Eigenbau will monitor them and see what maintenance will be required.

“We expect the gates will not operate more than four to six times per year,” says Bonnet.

“Therefore, maintenance will be at 20 year intervals,” he notes of the low-maintenance bearings.



Vesconite believes that from its greatest challenges come its greatest opportunities.

So says Vesconite Bearings’ CEO, Dr Jean-Patrick Leger, who has identified four trends that will affect manufacturing and engineering in the immediate future.

Engaging with customers through video

“With all our sales and support staff working from home to reduce infection risks, we have had to think creatively about how to work and communicate with clients,” says Leger.

A big part of this is motivating clients to engage face-to-face with video. Where clients are open to video, the company has done remote presentations.

“The result is that we have been able to share the latest technical developments exceptionally quickly, something which would have taken a long time previously,” Leger comments.

Ensuring continuous supply and availability

Many companies face supply-chain disruptions with components manufactured in countries badly impacted by Covid. They are also influenced by the disruptions in air and sea freight.

With vulnerable supply chains under the spotlight due to transport and shipping delays, companies are turning towards trusted suppliers that are able to manufacture and despatch quickly.

“Vesconite has benefitted from having warehouses globally, which have been able to supply stock materials where global logistics has been difficult,” says Leger.

“Vesconite Bearings has also been able to take advantage of the need for custom bushing and wear items that it can engineer considerably more quickly than many traditional suppliers’ delivery times,” he notes.

Towards zero maintenance

There is great interest in reducing maintenance through long-life wear parts – more so than ever before. Water utilities, and the companies that service them, among others, are concerned with having field staff exposed to the virus, and are investigating ways to reduce in-field maintenance.

“Fortunately, Vesconite parts fulfil this need, and answer the call for longer life and less maintenance,” he says.

Emphasis on energy efficiency

With the epidemic raging and concerns about finances, Vesconite has found many customers are thinking about the long-term cost-benefits of better solutions, including using our energy-efficient materials in pumps, for instance.

The company’s focus on energy efficiency has become an important source of new applications and new business.

“With concerns about global carbon dioxide emissions from electricity generation – which reached 12 gigatons in 2010 – as well as an awareness that pumps account for 10% of global electrical energy use, energy saving improvements are valued by pump manufacturers and users, among other customers,” notes Leger.


“My father started Vesco in 1958, the year I was born,” says Leger, of his long history at the company.

“I grew up hearing stories about bushes – as a child I thought my parents were discussing small trees!”

With insights into manufacturing, in general, and bearings, in specific, spanning many decades, Leger is aware of the constant changes in industry, including the potentially life-threatening and business-destroying concerns caused by the current crisis.

He believes that at least some of the business developments, including to customer relationships, the supply chain, maintenance and energy efficiency, are navigable and transformative. “Carpe diem!” he concludes: “There are opportunities to be seized.”



Phineas Modiba, Vesconite’s stores trainee, has had an unusual introduction to the company, having started immediately prior to South Africa’s lock-down and having weathered the most restrictive period of the lock-down, when he was forced to stay at home.

Into his fifth month of work at the company, he is currently one of the few staff members on hand in the company’s Johannesburg warehouse, and is attending to customers’ needs, with many companies returning to business in this less-restrictive level-3 South African lock-down period.

Modiba has a background in teaching yoga with Yoga4Alex, a non-profit that offers yoga to  school students in Alexandra, a densely populated and under-serviced area.

Through yoga, he has been able to assist many students with Kundalini-Yoga-related tools that help them cope with stress and anxiety in school and beyond.

As part of the same programme, he tutored school students in reading in Alexandra, and was instrumental in improving the reading level of many primary and high school students.

Modiba had been learning about Vesconite’s polymers as well as the company’s stock of hollow bar, rods, plates and custom machined items prior to lock-down and has resumed his on-site training as South Africa returns to a new normal that requires social distancing and the wearing of masks in public places and at work.

“I am enjoying being a stores trainee,” says Modiba of his new job, “There is a way through every block. Whatever challenges you face, you will overcome them.”



Vesconite Hilube has been used for decades in a wide range of specialized pump bearing applications.

The material thrives in water, keeping to machined sizes without swelling and with zero delamination.

Other advantages are that it does not corrode, and helps prevent the corrosion between metal components especially in salt water; is resistant to oils and fuels; and is easy to machine, fit and remove – and prolongs shaft life.

In addition, it allows dry startup for up to 1 minute.

Vesconite Hilube is recommended for most pump bearing applications, such as: 

  • Vertical turbine pumps:
    Casing wear rings, top stuffing box bearings, lineshaft / spider bearings, bowl bearings and inlet bearings.

  • Vertical spindle pumps (sump pumps):
    Casing wear rings, lineshaft / spider bearings and inlet bearings.

  • Mixed flow pumps:
    Casing wear rings, lineshaft / spider bearings and inlet bearings.

  • Multi-stage surface pumps:
    Neck ring liners and diffuser bearings.

  • Submersible pumps:
    Neck ring liners, casing wear rings and diffuser bearings.

  • Split-case and centrifugal pumps:
    Casing wear rings and water flingers / deflectors.

  • Diaphragm pumps:
    Valve spools.

  • Gear pumps:
    Support bearings (external and internal).

  • Rotary vacuum vane pumps / exhausters:



Condensate pumps can get very hot. They are used in industrial steam systems to collect and return steam to a boiler for reuse.

This is why when a large energy company in Africa required lineshaft and bowl bearings for condensate pumps at its 4,000 MW power station it turned to Hitemp 150, an engineered polymer produced by Vesconite Bearings, that can survive temperatures up to 150°C (300°F).

The condensate pumps in question reach temperatures of 110°C (230°F), so the contractor to the power producer is satisfied that the pumps will last and that the bearings will not melt, as would be the case with many other polymers.

An order for machined items and stock hollow bar was dispatched in June 2020 and the machined items were due to be installed soon after receipt.

The remaining stock items are to be machined by the contractor and were to be installed soon after the initial installation.

Vesconite Bearings pump expert Charlie Simpson estimates that the large order will be used in four pumps each measuring about 10 meters in length.

The company dispatched three different bearings sizes for shaft diameters of 50 mm (2″) as well as three different sizes of stock hollow bar, weighing 90kg in total.

“Hitemp 150 is an ideal material for pumps in temperature-challenging environments,” says Simpson.

The polymer, which is typically red in colour, has a short-term temperature limit of 170°C (340°F), a temperature rating of 150°C (300°F), and a resistance to hot water and steam of up to 120°C (250°F).



Vesconite Bearings New Zealand representative Eddie Swanepoel will be visiting South Island from 22 June to 26 June, following the opening of New Zealand to domestic travel.

Swanepoel is based In Tauranga, New Zealand, and hasn’t been able to travel because of restrictions on domestic travel. But since June 9, there are no restrictions on daily life, business activities, gatherings and public transportation, although the country remains closed to most international travel.

Swanepoel reports that “New Zealand is ready for business” and firms are keen to see him, despite many catching up order backlogs due to the lockdown. He intends to visit forklift fleet owners, abattoirs and hydro-electric companies while on South Island.

Vesconite Bearings embarked on a concerted customer-relations programme in the weeks prior to Swanepoel’s visit and has been actively promoting its no-grease wear-resistant bearings to New Zealand’s industries.

It has seen quote and order inquiries pick up over the last few weeks, and is encouraged that there were no new Covid-19 cases or deaths in New Zealand at the time of writing.

“The lockdown had an adverse effect on many businesses. Some were forced to close,” says Swanepoel.

“However, I am encouraged by my clients and their positive responses to proposals to discuss applications and materials,” he notes.

Swanepoel can be contacted at or on +64 (20) 4011 3659



A Vesconite rudder bushing has been an important part of the step-by-step dismantling, parts procurement and reassembly of the rudder of a 30ft Jeanneau Arcadia sailing yacht known as the Ghaaata.

When an annual maintenance inspection revealed significant rudder play caused by the internal structure, Jeanneau Arcadia sailing yacht owner Jorge Veiga embarked on a full rudder replacement, including everything from the pins, bolts and bushings, through to the actual rudder.

For the rudder bushings he chose Vesconite Hilube, since he had read good references and the technical data sheet presented beneficial characteristics, including its excellent reputation for self-lubrication and ability to maintain shape, under load, while submerged in salt water.

“I contacted Vesconite, asking where I could have the bushing manufactured here in Norway,” describes Veiga.

“It turned out that Vesconite provides a full machining service from their factory in South Africa, with quick global distribution. The entire process worked fantastically well. Vesconite provided answers almost immediately, were always available and personally informed me of the progress and tracked the shipment, right up until it arrived in Norway.”

“I have no hesitation to endorse Vesconite,” enthuses Veiga.

The Ghaaata returned to its marina port in Kambo, Norway, on April 6, 2020, as planned.

Veiga reveals that the Ghaaata has been extensively tested in all conditions and her performance is exceeding expectations.

The project has been deemed to be a success: the lower bushing’s play was eliminated, says Veiga.

“The bushing has been subjected to very high forces when I was caught in a nasty squall with full sails up the other day (my fault) and it has held as expected.”

The Ghaaata can be typically  found cruising around the Olso fjord and Skagerrak, a strait between the south-east cost of Norway, the west coast of Sweden and the Jutland Peninsula of Denmark. The yacht faces moderate waves and variable winds, with gusts stressing the rigging and steering.

Around half of the time, Veiga is the sole occupant, with two crew members operating the yacht at other times.



Polymer bushing and wear material manufacturer Vesconite Bearings has installed two Haas lathes with bar feeders for large-volume bushing production.

Demand for long production runs is increasing and the new lathes allow the manufacturer to produce 20,000 to 70,000 bushings at a time.

There is a definite need for this equipment, says production manager Robin Crabb, who would have previously required several machines with operators to manufacture such large orders.

With the bar feeders, 30 bars with diameters of up to 20 mm, or a smaller numbers of bars with larger diameters, can be automatically fed into the machines.

This allows for continuous operation.

The machines are fitted with work and tool probes so part checking is also carried out automatically and continuously.

“We have three sizeable orders on hand for large customers,” reports Crabb of the need for the lathes.

Winning orders involving large bushing quantities will assist the company achieve its stated goal of growing the company’s revenue tenfold in ten years, he says.



We are open for sales and machining for essential services.

From Friday, May 1, we will be able to manufacture and machine for all business categories. 

Please send us your orders and inquiries, so that we can machine and despatch as quickly as possible.

Best wishes,

Dr Jean-Patrick Leger

PS: We also have stock available for immediate despatch from the United States, UK, Netherlands, Singapore, Argentina, Australia, New Zealand and Dubai.



Polymer bushing and wear material producer Vesconite Bearings has prototyped a face shield in response to the global call to produce personal protective equipment for emergency medical personnel and nurses.

Some 30 prototype shields, including five with holes, have been sent to a health facility for testing and to verify that the design, which includes a construction helmet and a visor, is valuable and user-friendly.

Hobbyists, globally, are producing various shield components to answer the medical-fraternity call for protection against small infectious Covid-19 respiratory droplets that may be transmitted directly to the eyes, mouth or nose of health-workers.

The face shields they need are usually made of an “alice band” that surrounds the forehead and to which is attached a face-covering plastic sheet, sometimes made from glycolized polyester (PETG).

Vesconite Bearings has made some of these 3D-printed “alice bands” and screens.

However, not content with the two and a half hours that it would take to make an individual shield, it investigated whether there was an easier quicker-to-make solution.

Following this, it prototyped a polycarbonate version of the shield, which is attached to a typical mining or construction hard-hat.

“We were able to make 30 shields in two and a half hours,” says Vesconite Bearings Moulding Head of Department Christian Brumloop.

Besides reducing production times, the design prevents droplets from potentially infecting health-workers by landing on their heads, from where droplets could be later transported to the eyes, nose or mouth.

The hats are also riveted and the shields drilled so that they can be fitted together without additional connections; the design is thus complete and does not require a third party to attach the shields to 3D-printer-enthusiast-produced bands.

The company has, furthermore, drilled five hats with holes to determine whether this improves temperature control and reduces the fogging of the visor, elaborates Brumloop.

It is keen on discovering any adverse effects, such as humidity, of including the harder 1mm polycarbonate together with the hard hat, he notes.

“We will beat this as a collective,” says Brumloop of the large number of people who are spending their lockdown printing or manufacturing shields for valued medical personnel who may be exposed to the Coronavirus.

“If you can assist, you do,” he adds of the traditional and prototype designs that have been produced.



The installation of Vesconite Hilube polymer wear rings can result in electricity savings that more than pay for the wear ring.

This was the result of a study by a large pump original equipment manufacturer (OEM) that compared energy usage on a typical submersible pump when a Vesconite Hilube wear ring was in place and when a bronze wear ring had been installed.

Vesconite Hilube is a low-friction wear-resistant polymer. Wear rings made from the material are designed to seal the pressure leakage of the liquid between the inlet and the impeller and the pump casing, and should result in a higher pumping efficiency due to lower by-pass.

Vesconite Bearing technical pump consultant Phillip de Villiers was, therefore, pleased when the pump OEM’s results independently proved Vesconite Hilube’s ability to improve pumping efficiency and decrease electricity usage.

The study showed a 0.11kW/h energy reduction when operation of the pump with a large diameter bronze wear ring was compared with operation of the same pump type with a dimensionally-identical Vesconite Hilube wear ring.

Assuming the Vesconite Hilube wear ring’s use on an industrial pump, operating 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, the electricity savings from installing a Vesconite Hilube wear ring add up, particularly when the pump is operated in a jurisdiction in which electricity charges are high.

In the specific pump that was studied by the OEM, the wear ring would have a three-month payback even where a low electricity cost was assumed, notes De Villiers.

He adds that electricity savings for a five-to-ten stage submersible pump can be significant if the electricity savings of each stage are added together.

With concerns about global CO2 emissions from electricity generation – which reached 12Gt in 2010 – as well as an awareness that pumps account for 10% of global electrical energy consumption, technological interventions are valued by pump manufacturers and pump users.

They are also of interest to state and national governments that are interested in reducing carbon emissions to keep global warming under 1.5°C.



Polymer bushing and wear material manufacturer Vesconite Bearings is standing by to help manufacture ventilators in case the Coronavirus pandemic spirals.

Last week, the company sent 25,000 emails to customers and contacts throughout the world asking whether any had experience in making ventilators.

With no expertise in this technology but, with 70 CNC lathes and machining centres, and injection-moulding and mould-making departments, and a desire to assist those who may require ventilators, the company received several favourable replies.

Among these are the recommendation that companies come together to produce a current design if a manufacturer makes their drawings available, or licenses them for use over this critical time.

Alternatively, it was proposed to manufacture a traditional design, the Manley Ventilator, which is a simple and robust mechanical device that the company may be able to reverse engineer if it can find a unit in working order.

“If you have ventilator expertise or know a company that does have the expertise, we would like to hear from you,” says CEO Dr Jean-Patrick Leger.

The Coronavirus is likely to result in a need for hundreds of thousands of ventilators worldwide: data shows 5-10 % of people infected need to be supported on ventilators for two to three weeks.

“We know nothing about making ventilators, but we can help,” says Leger.



The Coronavirus is likely to result in a need for hundreds of thousands of ventilators worldwide: data shows 5-10 % of people infected need to be supported on ventilators for two to three weeks.

Our company has extensive machining capability: with our 70 CNC lathes and machining centres, we can manufacture a wide range of mechanical components.

We know nothing about making ventilators, but we can help. If you have ventilator expertise, please fill out this form and join with us so that together we can manufacture the thousands of ventilators that may be needed. If there are any further questions, please email

Best wishes

Dr Jean-Patrick Leger
Chief Executive Officer
Vesconite Bearings: no grease bushings and wear plates

PS: In South Africa alone our population is 58 million. If 10% of the population is infected (5.8 million), my estimate (based on Italy with 7% of cases critical) is there may be a need for 400,000 ventilators. 

To listen to a report from “the front line”, here is a New York Times interview with the head of the respiratory unit of an Italian hospital:



Can we assist you by delivering directly?

If you order before 10am we will try for: 

  • same-day delivery for central Gauteng;
  • next-day delivery for the rest of Gauteng and Durban; and
  • delivery in two to three working days for the rest of the country.

Delivery is free for orders of  > R1,200 and R100 (+VAT) for orders < R1200.

Dr Jean-Patrick Leger
Vesconite Bearings

P.S. Let us help you save time … receive your order in the comfort of your home or workplace.



A large beverage producer turned to Vesconite Bearings for a solution when it found that its forklift side-shift pads were not able to cope with the typical 2-t beverage loads that its single double-pallet-handler forklifts carried.

Side-shift pads are located between the forklift attachment and the carriage of the forklift, and allow the user to shift a load for quick and accurate placement by a stationary forklift onto a goods truck.

However, in the case of the beverage company, the originally-installed pads were quickly bitten into by the forklift attachment when moving the heavy beverage-containing pallets.

“The original nylon pads lasted about two weeks until they started being bitten into, and then we had to use silicon spray,” says the company’s forklift technician.

Since forklifts are an integral part of the company’s business, which relies on efficient materials handling and logistics to supply large volumes of beverages, an intervention was needed.

Vesconite Bearings answered this requirement by supplying load pads in Vesconite Hilube, its proprietary engineered, self-lubricating, wear-resistant polymer.

The bearing and wear material company supplied a modified pad design with smooth dirt-trapping grooves on the load-bearing side, which would allow a smooth side-shift motion on a self-lubricated surface while trapping environmental dirt and debris.

The design was further modified to have two larger fillets on the reverse side where the locating pins protrude from the pad to combat the stress concentration caused by the side-shift movement.

“Since then we haven’t had any problems with them,” informs the beverage company’s forklift technician, who notes that the side-shift pads have shown almost no wear between September 2019 and February 2020 – a more than 1000% improvement to date on the durability experienced in the past.

The beverage company has installed Vesconite side-shift pads on one operating unit’s factory forklifts and one of its other unit’s forklifts, in South Africa, and will roll out the polymer pads on its other South African distribution-hub forklifts.

The beverage company’s forklift technician notes that the forklifts operate at 80% weight capacity since its forklifts can handle 3-t load. The 2x pallet loads and attachment weigh 2.6 t in total.

The forklifts within the factory operate continuously, while the outside forklifts operate for 12-hour periods, from 6am to 6pm.

They are integral to the company’s supply of assorted beverages to South Africa as well as the broader African continent, to which some South African-produced beverages are dispatched.

Since the Vesconite side-shift pads are working so well, the beverage company is also investigating other parts of the attachment in which grease-free Vesconite can be used, including the plain bearings on the shaft that extends the forks to create a double-pallet handler.

The company’s forklift technician reveals that the polymer will eliminate the use of grease on the forklifts, which will be desirable in a food-contact environment in which clients, besides wanting excellent quality beverages free of contaminants, also want to receive beverages in clean grease-free packaging from the international beverage company.



Polymer bearing and wear material distributor Vesconite Rail has employed three additional staff members in line with its intention of growing its share of niche polymer products supplied to the global rail industry.

Lebogang Machethe, Ronnie Mugisha and Graham Wiggill were appointed earlier this year, and have backgrounds in chemical engineering, electrical engineering and information and computer technology.

It is believed that the additional appointees will allow for increased contact with clients as well as additional marketing and promotional activities aimed at the rail sector, where Vesconite Rail has had considerable success with supplying side-bearer guides, bogie support pads, pedestal liners, centre liners, cross-anchor bushings, brake beam guides and hopper door bushings, among many other wear components.

The diverse range of staff skills will also prove invaluable in the multi-faceted railway engineering and rail transport industry, where the complex problem of rail and wheel wear is of central concern.



Polymer bushing and wear material producer Vesconite Bearings appointed five additional sales people, the majority of whom are engineers, in late January.

Calvin Mpofu, Franco Visser, Richard Laurent, Werner Bekker and Wian Venter have since attended a one-month intensive training programme in the polymer products that the company sells and the industries to which it sells, as well as on the company’s accounting and logistics systems.

The new staff members have been allocated to various industries:-

  • Mpofu will focus on forklifts, which can use the company’s products where friction and load are present and existing polymer or bronze materials are unable to cope with the tough operating conditions;
  • Visser will place attention on the commercial automotive market, particularly those vehicles exposed to heavy loads, long distances and adverse road conditions;
  • Laurent and Bekker will concentrate on the pumps industry’s use of the company’s polymers, with special attention on wear rings and support bushings that offer improved pump efficiencies and lifespans for industrial pump users; and
  • Venter will increase Vesconite’s presence in countries with a strong marine industry, with an initial focus on promoting sales of propeller shaft, rudder bearings and miscellaneous on-deck marine equipment.

It is believed that the new sales people’s engineering backgrounds, together with the training that they have received, will set them up to provide excellent technical advice to clients who require superior specialised guidance and service.

It is believed, further, that they will increase the company’s geographic footprint and market share in the forklift, automotive, pump and marine industries.



We are changing our trading name to Vesconite Bearings, so you will be seeing VescoPlastics Sales (Pty) Ltd t/a Vesconite Bearings on your invoices and statements and Vesconite Bearings on our website, newsletters, letterheads and other communications.

Our company name, VescoPlastics Sales (Pty) Ltd, continues to be used for banking purposes so we continue with the same banking details that we have always had.

The reason for our new trading name is to more accurately reflect our company focus and activities: today more than 90% of our business is concerned with bearing applications.

Thank you for your support of our low-friction wear-resistant self-lubricating polymer products. Should you have any questions or concerns regarding this notice feel free to contact us.

Dear Customers

We would like to announce VescoPlastics Sales (Pty) Ltd trading as Vesconite Bearings. The new “trading-as” name, Vesconite Bearings, reflects more accurately our focus on bearing applications.

Any questions?

Please see the notification letter here



One of South Africa’s largest independent polyurethane and plastic foam manufacturers restarted an important gear pump, used to pump glue to rebound foam chips, without difficulty after the company’s December-January closed period.

Because the gear pump pumps viscous adhesive liquid at one of the company’s two chip plants, pumps can fail to restart if component parts are immobilised by glue after a long period of inactivity.

However, with the introduction of Vesconite Hilube polymer bushings in the well-known Viking internal gear pump, the company’s pump restarted with ease.

Not only that, the Vesconite Hilube pump bushings, which were inspected at the time of the restart, showed no wear.

The foam manufacturer service manager notes that the self-lubricating hard-wearing Vesconite Hilube polymer bushings replaced carbon graphite ones, which had tended to crack in the warm operating environment, in which the viscous glue-like chemicals needed to be heated to be applied to the foam chips.

This did not occur with the Vesconite Hilube, which had the added advantage of being self-lubricating and being able to move in the high-friction environment.

“You can’t use an ordinary plastic bush,” says the service manager.

“The gum dries out and sticks to the bush if you try. After the December break and after long weekends, the gear pumps ceased to operate before we used Vesconite Hilube.”

The company manufacturers 800 tons per year of chip mattress blocks.

These are used for mattresses, bus seats, gymnasium mats, restaurant seats and in other high-density furniture and bedding applications.

The service manager says that the Vesconite Hilube bushing has lasted seven months, and is pleased that it has survived and continued to operate after the holiday period.

He has installed Vesconite Hilube bushings on several gear pumps at the factory, including several pumps where temperatures can reach 65°C.

He believes that this is a low-maintenance solution for a challenging operating environment.



Vesconite Bearings has a long history of service to recreational boat users thanks to its large number of distributors for its marine products.

Dutch-born world travellers Adri and Sytske Broekhuizen, for instance, installed a Vesconite stern bearing in their 43ft aluminium sailing yacht, from the designer Koopmans in Lelystad, when they were docked in Singapore in 2008.

“We chose Vesconite because we found a machine shop in Singapore that could make the bearing,” says Adri, of the polymer bearings, which are suitable for the submerged and corrosive conditions of the marine industry and have internal lubricants that allow for prolonged life where the setting is characterised by irregular greasing schedules, or no greasing at all.

The couple sailed in northern Europe until 2002, when they embarked on a round-the-world trip from 2002 to 2015.

Nearly 80 years old, they currently use their yacht, Marida, in summer in the inland waters around the Friesland Islands and, in retirement, they use it as a summer house.

“We were always sailing from our youth until now when we are nearly 80 years old,” notes Adri.

“The Vesconite bearing is still on our boat,” he confirms.

Over the past 50 years, thousands of commercial vessels and leisure marine crafts, including the Broekhuizen’s yacht, Marida, have been equipped with Vesconite and Vesconite Hilube, testifying to the polymers’ success in this industry.

“It is important that recreational boat owners have access to our products anywhere in the world so that they can cover significant distances and embark on long-distance trips with confidence,” says Vesconite Bearings’ Monique Kooij of Adri and Sytske’s adventurous travels.

Vesconite Bearings has warehouses in South Africa, the US, UK, Netherlands, Dubai and New Zealand, with stocking distributors in Argentina, Australia and Singapore. A number of resellers at various ports are also able to supply stern tubes and rudder bearings, as well as rods and hollow bar for the machining of on-deck equipment.



When the team responsible for the maintenance of the irrigation system at one of South Africa’s premier golf courses was confronted with high levels of debris and pumps running dry for periods, it shifted to a high-temperature-resistant high-wear-resistant polymer, Hitemp 150, for replacement pump bowl bushings.

Kyle Pienaar, of Golf Turf Electronics, found that the OEM-supplied carbon pump bowl bushings lasted only two months at the Sabi River Sun course, while another polymer’s bushings lasted six months in the highly-abrasive debris-filled water.

As a result, he turned to an even tougher polymer material, Hitemp 150, which is designed by Vesconite Bearings to give good resistance to abrasion and to be especially suited for dirty applications.

Faced with highly abrasive conditions, the bushings lasted a year without a scratch, tells Pienaar.

Pienaar also found Hitemp 150’s temperature characteristics useful.

With a temperature rating of 150ºC (300ºF),  a short-term temperature limit of 170ºC (340ºF) and a melting point of 265ºC (509ºF), the material was also suitable for the harsh operating conditions that it would face, including having to run dry for limited periods.

Pienaar notes that unattended pumps on golf courses can run dry for lengthy periods.

While this is not ideal for the pumps or the bushings, if the bushings are treated as sacrificial parts that protect the pump in a harsh environment, the Hitemp 150 polymer bushings do their job.

The bushings, which can withstand 1 minute of dry running, will eventually be affected by an environment in which water cooling does not occur.

In extreme cases, the bushings melt on to the shaft, describes Pienaar.

This causes the motor to trip and the pump to cease to operate, he says, noting that this is preferable to damage that may be caused by a pump running dry for a lengthy period.

Golf Turf Electronics has several golf-course pump maintenance contracts in South Africa and provide bowl bushings for the bottom of the pump shaft as well as intermediate support bushings.

At the Sabi River Sun golf course, Golf Turf Electronics fitted the Vesconite Hitemp 150 bushings to two OEM canister pumps, each with a flow rate of 80m3/h.



Dear Clients, Suppliers and Friends,

Best wishes to you and your family during this holiday season.

With the many holidays coming up, we would appreciate your placing your custom component orders before Wednesday 4 December.

Vesconite Bearings will only have standby staff after Friday December 20 until Monday January 6.

The Vesconite Bearings Team



The architects for a day-care centre in Meloding Township, near Virginia, in the Free State, South Africa, were awarded a merit award by the South African Institute of Architects (SAIA) Free State on the 18th of October 2019.

The award, which was conferred on Krynauw Nel & Associates and EBESA Architects for the new classroom wing at the school, is regarded as an important recognition of new architecture and building techniques that could revolutionise South African and other school environments, according to the client, Vesconite Bearings.

Many schools in South Africa, and globally, are characterised by overcrowding, a lack of teachers and books, poor climate control, and a lack of facilities, among other problems.

Architects are often an overlooked component in the design of schools since they are regarded as an unnecessary expense, which pushes up the total cost of the project.

However, the day-care centre and the project initiator, Vesconite Bearings, have found that utilising an architect on a low-cost school can have tremendous benefits.

One of the biggest benefits of the architectural design has been the temperature control and insulation of the building.

Community leader and school board chairperson Mr Welle Joseph Mhlahlo has commented that the thermal advantages of the new classrooms have been evident in the winter and there is a noticeable difference between the outside temperature and the new classrooms, as well as the old classrooms and the new classrooms.

Mhlahlo says that there is no need for heaters in the new classrooms, as compared to the old classrooms in which children congregate around heaters to stay warm.

In the citation for the project, juror Pieter Mathews agreed.

He wrote: “Passive design principles and technologies were employed to optimally counter and control the harsh Free State climate of Virginia.”

“These include raised ceilings to lift the heat zone, dormer windows with opening sections, plaster with improved R-values, hot air chambers, insulated floors with bamboo surfaces and double glazing.”

Vesconite Bearings believes that, besides the wonderful aesthetics of the school and the sense of opportunity, worthiness, freedom and an optimism about the future that are created by the innovative design, the school benefits from passive design principles.

The self-regulating nature of the building design results in energy efficiency and cost savings, since there is little expenditure on heating and cooling.

These design principles would be well worth implementing in other schools, since these are structures in which additional operating costs are undesirable, enthuses Vesconite Bearings, adding that the comfort of building users is another immense benefit of this style of design.

Projects that were awarded a “Regional Award for Architecture”, including the Meloding pre-school, will be submitted for South African national adjudication to become eligible for a SAIA/Corobrik Award of Merit and a SAIA/Corobrik Award for Excellence in 2020.

It is hoped that the SAIA Free State award to the Meloding project, as well as the project’s presence in the national-award adjudication process, will focus attention on the school and potentially act as a reference for other architects as well as school-infrastructure policy makers.



Launched in 2009, the 515′ x 88′ oil/chemical tanker Celsius Birdie has thousands of bluewater miles under her keel. When it was time to replace a stern tube bearing, Guangzhou Shipyard International and owner Celsius Shipping chose Vesconite. The advanced high-performance marine polymer has a deserved reputation for long service life and proven reliability.

Unlike oil-lubricated lignum vitae, white metal and composites, Vesconite is self-lubricating, so there’s no chance of running afoul of environmental regulations. Additionally, because the polymer doesn’t require lubrication equipment, there’s less downtime for maintenance.

Ideal as a stern tube bearing, Vesconite offers a long wear life—even in the dirty, silty waters of the Panama Canal. With low friction, any jarring torque on propulsion components is reduced.

Machining to exacting +/-0.001″ tolerances, Vesconite has high compression strength and dimensional stability. These are important qualities for the 25,399 DWT Celsius Birdie and its 600mm OD x 475mm ID x 1,900mm L stern tube bearings.

Vesconite is ISO 9001 accredited and bears type approval certifications from ABS, Bureau Veritas, China Corporation Register of Shipping, DNV GL, Korean Register of Shipping and Lloyds Register. It’s available as custom precision-machined parts or raw hollow bar, solid rod and plate stock shapes in a broad range of dimensions and thicknesses.



A UK manufacturer of brackets for electrical equipment has changed its 3D printer bushings to Vesconite ones.

The manufacturer had used roller bearings on its two Prusa 3D printers, but had found that roller bearings wore away the printer rods. They also required regular greasing.

Following some online searching, Triple Link Manufacturing founder Mark Bagnall discovered a reference to Vesconite 3D printer bushings and was attracted by the fact that they were low maintenance and required no greasing.

In addition, he was pleased with the fact that the product promised low rod wear and would not result in costly damage and time spent having to strip down the 3D printers to replace the rods and bushings.

Mark reports that, following some adjustments to make sure that the positioning and the spacing of the bushings was correct, the bushings have been operating well.

He has Vesconite Hilube bushings installed on one printer and Vesconite Superlube, the lower-co-efficient-of-friction polymer bushing, installed on the other.

He will also install Vesconite on future 3D printers as the business expands.

“We produce perfectly good quality products,” states Mark, who notes that the finish is great for functional components that compete with commercial bracket suppliers.

Triple Link Manufacturing, through sister company Indigo Lime, produces Sky TV box brackets, TV wall and stand mounts and even Playstation mountings, among other products.

Mark highlights that customers are accepting the quality of 3D printed parts for functional usage since they are cheaper than injection-moulded parts.

The process also allows for the production of the necessary volumes, without large overruns, and, with Mark’s expertise, he has been able to optimise the designs to reduce the print time and the material usage involved in printing, thereby further decreasing the manufacturing and raw material costs.

The company has been steadily growing its electrical equipment bracket manufacturing since sales began at the beginning of the year.

In addition, the design and manufacturing company also continues to produce prototype 3D printed parts for customers who will eventually manufacture their own injection-moulded parts.



A Turkish OEM that supplied a Nile River project with one of its pumps that had been fitted with Vesconite Hilube polymer components in late 2018 reports that the line shaft bushings continue to operate well.

The OEM uses Vesconite Hilube in many of its most challenging projects, and this is why it elected to use the polymer bushing material in a project to pump river water from the Nile River.

The project is associated with abrasive water with a large proportion of sand particles, which hard-wearing Vesconite Hilube would be ideal for, says Vesconite Bearings technical sales representative Phillip de Villiers.

In addition, since Vesconite Hilube is chemically inert and does not react with mild acid or alkaline chemicals, it would be useful in the Nile which, while it has acceptable water quality, is known to be polluted with agricultural, industrial and household waste, he comments.



The team that was awarded the Guinness World Record in 2017 for the longest distance covered by a miniature steam train is setting its sights on improving its record.

Keyser Locomotive Works, together with the Pietermaritzburg Model Engineering Society, in South Africa, was able to cover 330km in 24 hours in its record-breaking attempt, which outstripped the previous 1994 record of 269km covered in 24 hours.

It did so for a number of reasons, one of which was the self-lubricating Vesconite polymer bushings that were fitted to the connecting and coupling rods.

These internal, hard-to-reach turning components did not need to be oiled, and this helped reduce stopping times during the record attempt.

“You can’t oil these bushings on the run,” says the locomotive owner Andries Keyser.

This was not the case with many of the original bronze bushings that had to be oiled every hour when the locomotives stopped and the drivers were changed.

Six of the main crank bushings are currently made from Vesconite polymer bushings on the record-breaking locomotive named Doreen, but the intention is to replace all the bushings with Vesconite eventually so as to reduce oiling requirements in future record-breaking bids.

“The Vesconite has no heat expansion and, using a sloppy fit, didn’t heat up at all,” Keyser notes.

“The engine output was not compromised in any way and still runs today on the same bushes, two years and many kilometers later,” he says.

Another innovation that will assist Keyser to further improve the record is the fact that he is building the longest straightest track that he can in the Stellenbosch Winelands, in South Africa. This will enable the locomotive to run at higher speeds on a track gauge of only 184mm.

Known as the Winelands Light Railway, Keyser is establishing a theme park with 1/3-scale trains, matching buildings, bridges and tunnels, and a hobbies expo for locomotive enthusiasts once a year. Presently there are four steam and one electric locomotive in the engine shed, with 13 wagons able to haul up to 50 people per train. Everything is hand made and based on narrow-gauge prototypes from all over the world.

Starting on the 14th of December 2019, the park will be open on weekends, public and school holidays if the weather allows. This unique attraction aims to become the biggest family-friendly destination in the Western Cape within the next 10 years. 

Keyser will make another world-record attempt sometime in the near future, and expects that between 30 and 60km will be added to the current distance record.



Vesconite Bearings believes that the earthmoving industry in New Zealand has significant potential, with some of its first forays into this sector showing promise.

Vesconite Bearings New Zealand’s technical sales representative, Eddie Swanepoel, explains that he has been introducing this market to Vesconite, having convinced a plant-hire company, which carries out its own repairs and sells original equipment and other parts, to install four bucket bushings (also called skip bushings) on a Volvo A30 dump truck.

The high-wear-resistant no-grease polymer bucket bushing will replace a green nylon one that is supplied by the original equipment manufacturer (OEM).

It is regarded as a like-for-like application, since the measurements of the OEM part are identical to that supplied by Vesconite.

However, it will not wear out as quickly as nylon and will not have to be greased as often.

“The application will definitely work,” Swanepoel enthuses, noting that Vesconite Bearings has been successful with a similar part in a UK OEM’s articulated dump truck (ADT) and has also had success with replacement parts for various ADT makes and models.

Swanepoel notes that there are a large number of equipment-hire companies in New Zealand that could benefit from his product offering.

ADTs are popular in areas where uneven ground is present and where a large flat rigid dump truck is unsuitable.



When Roy McBride, founder of CKD Boats, needed to select bearings for the yacht he was  building, he chose the one bearing material he knew would last: Vesconite. The ultra-low friction, self-lubricating polymer is the ideal marine bushing for applications above and below the waterline. After 19 years, there’s no sign of wear.

Every few years, McBride inspects the bearings on Flying Cloud, a Dix 43, as he reapplies bottom paint. “The boat I fitted with Vesconite rudder and propeller shaft bearings was launched in January 2000,” he noted. “No wear has ever been found.”

Because of its dimensional stability, high load strength and reliability, Vesconite was the perfect choice for Flying Cloud. Internally-lubricated, the ultra-low friction polymer has no stick-slip, doesn’t swell and provides a wear life ten times that of bronze. It machines to +/-0.001″, making it ideal for applications with tight tolerances.

CKD Boats specializes in CNC-cut boat kits, from Optimists to offshore cruising and racing vessels. It has over 17 years of experience in boat design, boatbuilding, surveying and valuations, and offers unparalleled service, superior quality products, and hands-on experience and knowledge.



In the five years since Vesconite Bearings introduced a minimum of two layers of corrugated cardboard packaging around each of its dispatched polymer bushings and rods, the company has had no returns from breakages due to transportation.

The company instituted this as a packaging standard after a complaint by a customer led it to investigate its packaging policies.

Vesconite Bearings then decided that if stock items could not be packed into rigid tube-like cores rods and bushings would be placed in corrugated board, with the ends folded and taped for protection.

Rods and bushings would be further wrapped in corrugated cardboard, so that cardboard would provide additional packaging.

For airfreight packaging, the package would be included in a box where it weighed less than 20kg and secured to a pallet if the box or set of boxes weighed more than 20kg, to ensure easy handling.

The company believes that this set of packaging policies ensures customer satisfaction since corrugated cardboard, with an arched paper that fits between two liners, can carry a range of weights, protect against moisture, and is a sustainable, recyclable packaging solution.

“We have entered a new era in which you never get any returns as a result of breakages during transportation,” enthuses stores manager Martin Nyathi.

“Our packaging prevents cracking and breaking so that customers receive their orders intact,” he says.




Vesconite Bearings’ casing wear rings are proving so popular that they are currently the company’s most important wear component for the pump industry.

The wear rings are used to restrict the pressure leakage of the fluid between the inlet of the impeller and the pump casing in centrifugal pumps. 

The wear rings are made from the thermoplastic Vesconite Hilube, which is a low-friction, wear-resistant polymer that replaces traditional metals such as bronze and stainless steel as well as other thermopolymers.

Here are the benefits:

  • They replace metal components that require large running clearances to avoid metal-on-metal contact. Metal-on-metal can result in galling and unwanted pump vibration, as well as severe damage to the pump;
  • They improve efficiency since tighter running clearances can be applied;
  • They do not require pump redesigns, since they can fit into the same housings used by metal wear rings and, because they are press fit, do not require mechanical fitment or glue;
  • They can be easily machined from a variety of tube stock or they can be machined for use using Vesconite Bearings’ machining capability;
  • They are impervious to salt-water corrosion and thus are ideal for sea water and reverse osmosis pumps where galvanic corrosion may destroy stainless steel wear rings;
  • They resist cavitation, a problem often encountered with metal wear rings; and
  • Vesconite Hilube is approved, including by NSF61 and WRAS, for drinking water applications. 



Sailboats classified as superyachts put tremendous strain on their running rigging. That’s why A+ Rigging of Mallorca, Spain chooses Vesconite, the advanced marine polymer, for components that routinely have massive working loads, yet need to run freely without lubrication such as halyard sheaves.

Ultra-low friction Vesconite has a compressive yield strength of 12,750 psi, yet is self-lubricating, making it ideal for rigging that cannot be inspected with any regularity. It has exceptional wear resistance and for areas where it’s exposed, excellent UV resistance. These features and the ability to machine to exacting tolerances of +/-0.001″ are why so many sailboat makers use the polymer, including an America’s Cup foiling catamaran.

“We tested Vesconite the first time 15 years ago as a bearing material for a spinnaker halyard sheave on a large yacht,” said Marko Bakker, A+ Rigging project manager. “We realized it was the only material that didn’t melt under high load and high speed.” A+ Rigging uses Vesconite exclusively on mast and deck sheaves, boom gooseneck fittings, hydraulic winches and furling gear. “It has proven itself to be the best material out there; it doesn’t disintegrate or need lubrication and is easy to machine.”

Founded in 1996, A+ Rigging Mallorca is the leading superyacht rigging service center in the Mediterranean. It’s experienced with all types of sailboats, from classic to high-performance yachts. The company has longstanding relationships with all major mast manufacturers and is highly skilled with rod, metal and synthetic wire, and carbon fiber rigging.



A Southern African pump manufacturer has received its order for Vesconite low-swell hard-wearing water-flinger polymer bearings for four of its pump sizes.

The manufacturer found that its horizontal centrifugal pumps, as a result of high pressure, had a problem of water escaping from the gland packing – the material that should form a watertight seal around the shaft.

This resulted in dirty water being sprayed on to the non-drive-end bearing assembly and, in turn, resulted in seizure, failure, and a high maintenance and down-time cost to replace the bearing assembly.

“The manufacturer designed a water flinger (deflector) solution that would attach to the release collar on the shaft,” describes Vesconite Bearings technical sales consultant Phillip de Villiers.

“This would mean that excess water from the gland packing would be deflected with the rotation of the shaft,” he says.

However, the initial solution employed a phenolic laminated material, which was found to absorb water and delaminate.

To eliminate these problems the company then called on De Villiers, who suggested Vesconite as an alternative material that would not swell or delaminate and had the added advantage of being suitable in dirty environments because of its excellent wear-resistant properties.

“Samples were produced and tested and, proving successful, the manufacturer ordered water flingers of various designs for its different pump sizes,” reports De Villiers.

“The whole process from sample production to first order took three months,” he says.

The pump manufacturer intends to use Vesconite water flingers in all of its pumps, which are used in a variety of applications.

It is active in a multitude of African countries, including South Africa, Zimbabwe and in the DRC, in which some of the first Vesconite water flingers will be installed in a dewatering pump in a mine.



Vesconite Bearings has opened an office in New Zealand to assist customers and resellers with their Vesconite low-friction no-grease-required polymer bearing and wear-material requirements.

Vesconite Bearings has also appointed Eddie Swanepoel as Vesconite Bearings New Zealand’s Technical Sales Representative. 

Swanepoel brings a wealth of experience to the position. He is knowledgeable about a variety of industrial polymers and their applications, and has been employed in the industry, including for Vesconite Bearings’ South African branch, for 10 years.

The new New Zealand company builds on Vesconite Bearings’ plans to expand the brand’s share of the niche thermopolymer industry.

Swanepoel will build on the existing New Zealand client base in conjunction with resellers and particularly concentrate on New Zealand’s agricultural and marine industries, which have been identified as under-serviced potentially-high-value markets.

Vesconite Bearings has warehouses in the US, UK, Netherlands, South Africa and New Zealand, with stocking distributors in Argentina, Australia, Dubai and Singapore. 



Just because a commercial vessel plies the crystal-clear cerulean waters of the Bahamas doesn’t mean it has a carefree life. For Gerry Fleming of Aqua Cat Cruises, it meant constant attention to the sand and silt that wreaked havoc on the bearings of his fleet of liveaboard dive vessels that operate in the area. That is, until he switched to Vesconite, the high-performance, low-friction polymer that was engineered to shrug-off particulates.

Aqua Cat, the company’s 105′ x 36′ flagship, was delivered with rubber-lined phenolic rudder and stern tube bearings. Drawing under 6′, the vessel’s skeg would often touch bottom, kicking up sand and silt. The result was no water flow and burned-out bearings. “After a hurricane, silt is drawn up from deep water,” said Fleming. “It plugs up everything.”

Working around his vessels’ year-round, 24/7 booking schedule, Fleming implemented standardized maintenance for his fleet, hauling every two years. Aqua Cat has three bearings on each main shaft, four rudder bearings and two sand shoe bearings. “It’s expensive to change-out bearings,” Fleming continued. “With Vesconite, bearing service is now beyond six years.”

Self-lubricating Vesconite is the ideal marine bearing material. It has no stick-slip, doesn’t swell in water and provides a wear life ten times that of bronze. The polymer machines to +/-0.001″, making it perfect for applications with tight tolerances. Originally conceived for use in muddy underground mines, it excels in dirty conditions that leave other bearing materials prematurely wearing shafts.

“I would never use another bearing material,” said Fleming. Vesconite makes my life easier.”

For over 40 years, All Star Liveaboards has offered a wide range of diving excursions in the Caribbean and SE Asia. Aside from Aqua Cat, its fleet includes a 65′ sailing catamaran and two 65′ sloops in the Bahamas, as well as luxury vessels in the BVI, Indonesia and the Philippines.



Vesconite Bearings’ grease-free polymer bearings and wear parts for the marine industry will be even more widely available from August 2019.

This follows the introduction of additional warehousing in Dubai, which adds to Vesconite Bearings’ global warehousing and stocking-distribution capacity located in the US, UK, Netherlands, New Zealand, Argentina, Australia, Singapore and South Africa.

Dubai, as the busiest trading port in the Arabian Gulf, requires convenient marine bearing and wear-material stock to cater for the large liner companies that are increasingly using Dubai as a global trade-route and feeder vessel trans-shipment centre.

The intention is to include a range of sizes able to accommodate most typical propeller shaft and rudder diameters. Useful plate and rod dimensions will also be included to accommodate various other marine applications, where long wear life, low friction and no greasing are desired.

“Additional warehouses and stocking distributors mean that our bearings reach our customers faster,” says Marine Technical Representative Sharon Mc Ardle.

“Our quick dispatch times will ensure that we become a supplier of choice for many companies, which can incur significant costs if a ship is in a dry dock for considerable periods waiting for required replacement bearings.”

Polymers Vesconite and Vesconite Hilube are ideal for the submerged and corrosive conditions of the marine industry.

Suited to both dry and underwater applications, the products’ internal lubricants allow for prolonged life where the setting is characterised by irregular greasing schedules, or no greasing at all.

Unlike most bearing materials, the company’s polymers offer long wear life and a high load-bearing capacity with no distortion or delamination, despite the wet and abrasive working environment.

Over the past 50 years, hundreds of industrial and leisure marine applications – from yachts to supertankers – have been equipped with Vesconite and Vesconite Hilube, testifying to their success in this industry.



A Georgia-based vertical-turbine pump manufacturer is regularly drawing on its 5000-unit blanket wear-rings order, which it signed with Vesconite Bearings in March 2019.

The order, which covers a one-year-period, allows the manufacturer to request low-friction Vesconite Hilube polymer wear rings for 10 of its vertical-turbine-pump models.

These have already been produced, and are simply ordered as required, and then invoiced and dispatched.

Vesconite Bearings technical sales representative Charlie Simpson notes that the company ordered its first Vesconite Hilube wear rings in 2015 and, after testing, started ordering larger quantities from 2017.

In a March 2019 visit to the pump manufacturer, fixed volume requirements and pricing were finalised and these were included in the blanket order.

“The company is happy with the performance of the Vesconite Hilube wear rings,” says Simpson.

“It sees the value of using the product and has switched all of its wear rings to Vesconite Hilube ones in all of its own-brand vertical-turbine pumps.”

The manufacturer supplies the central and south-eastern USA with pumps for the municipal, industrial, fire and flood-control industries.

Vesconite Hilube wear rings are valued because they allow for exceptionally close clearances to ensure greater pump efficiencies and save energy costs. They are also impeller friendly, and will act as a mechanical fuse – a sacrificial part which does not damage impellers, unlike bronze and stainless steel wear rings.

Wear rings from Vesconite Hilube are suitable for use with mildly acidic or basic liquids. Being hard wearing, they are suitable for use in applications where some debris is present.



A high-temperature, abrasion-resistant bearing polymer has been developed by Vesconite Bearings from all food-grade ingredients.

The polymer is known as Hitemp 150 FG (food grade), and its name signifies that it can be used in applications that run at temperatures up to 150ºC and in which food contact is incidental or likely.

The previous version of Hitemp 150 did not explicitly use food grade ingredients, but, as a result from calls from the food industry to produce a similar hard-wearing product for use in food applications, alternative ingredients were sought for food safety.

“We have produced a product in which a food-approved ingredients have been used,” comments technical sales representative Eddie Swanepoel.

“It is cream with a streaky marble look as opposed to the previous rust-coloured Hitemp 150 polymer,” he notes.

The next step is to have the polymer approved as compliant with Standard 51 of the US’s National Sanitation Foundation (NSF), the standard that deals with polymer materials and components used in food equipment, including products that come into contact with food and beverages.

Vesconite Bearings is confident that the newest version of the polymer will be judged to be food grade since all the raw materials ingredients are certified as food grade.



Vesconite Bearings, the maker of advanced polymer bushings, has launched a 3D printer bushing web store.

Located on the company website, at ,  stock printer bushings include the LM12UU, LM10UU, LM8LUU, LM8UU and LM6UU, priced from $1.90 excluding taxes and shipping.

The specialised 3D printer bushings in stock fit many common 3D models. They come in Vesconite Hilube and an advanced grade, Vesconite Superlube.

Both materials greatly reduce noise, have self-lubricating properties with low coefficients of friction. Each material is ideally suited for 3D printers and provide many benefits for users, including better quality prints with reduced ghosting.

Vesconite Superlube is the advanced grade with a significantly lower coefficient of friction. It is preferred since its low friction results in less strain on the stepper motors, less belt tension and extended bushing wear life. 

Vesconite Bearings has been inundated with requests for its noise-reducing, grease-free, shaft-friendly 3D printer polymer bushings that replace bronze sleeve bushings and linear ball bearings. 

As a result, this dedicated web store has been established to deal with the influx of enquiries and cater for the technologically-savvy client base, which is happiest ordering products online.

For information and testimonials, click



Vesconite Bearings (also known as VescoPlastics) has received the Customer Service Award in the Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of Southern Africa (SEIFSA) Awards for Excellence in 2019.

In presenting the award, University of Pretoria Extraordinary Professor in the Department of Marketing Management and Consulta Research CEO, Prof. Adré Schreuder, made the following remarks:

The Award recognises those companies which are constantly striving to exceed customer expectations, and ensuring that customer-centric thinking should receive more focus in manufacturing.

The winner of this category demonstrated improved customer service excellence and resourcefulness based on the specific customer requirements.

Of the three entries for this category, there was one company that stood out – and that was VescoPlastics.

The VescoPlastics story goes right back to 1968, when founder and chemical engineer Alain Francois Leger began researching the potential for polymer-bearing materials in the gold mines of the Orange Free State – a harsh environment characterised by dirty and wet conditions. Fifty years on, VescoPlastics is South Africa’s leading manufacturer of low-friction, low-wear, polymer-bearing materials for a wide range of industries in over 100 countries across the globe.

The challenge for the company was to reduce dispatch times for clients. Its current target was to have 60% of its orders dispatched within one working day (24 hours) of receiving an order, and having 90% of its orders dispatched within three working days (72 hours). These targets were not communicated to or promised to clients, however, so when exceptional delivery times were experienced, this was seen as exceeding client expectations rather than meeting them.

The intervention anticipated that VescoPlastics’ marine customers would find it most beneficial since a marine breakdown means a loss in production and lost earnings, as well as dry-dock occupancy fees.  However, all customers, rather than only marine customers, were targeted as part of a general dispatch-urgency project.

The intervention to reduce dispatch times was focused on VescoPlastics’ export customers, which comprise more than 50% of its sales. These customers can experience delays in receiving their orders if any aspect of the supply chain is not adequately managed.

Although it would appear that reducing dispatch delivery times may appear to be a small part of customer service as well as the entire customer experience of interacting with VescoPlastics, it is believed that this intervention was important in reinforcing a culture of customer service and one of the key aspects of the customer experience that required improving.

There was an increased level of sales in the 2018 period as compared to the 2017 period. However, it is difficult to determine whether and how much of this increase was due to reduced dispatch times since many other interventions may have played a role in VescoPlastics’ improved financial performance.  It may be noted that, whilst many companies in the same manufacturing space were reporting major downturns due to the overall economic situation, this was not the case for VescoPlastics, where their sales were holding strong.”

Ladies and Gentlemen, the richly-deserving Winner of the 2018 Customer Service Award of the Year is —– VescoPlastics.  We are delighted to present the Award to VescoPlastics and heartily congratulate the company.

Vesconite  Bearings thanks Prof. Schreuder for his kind words and congratulates SEIFSA on another successful award ceremony. Vesconite Bearings is pleased that the Federation continues to encourage excellence in customer service, as well as achievements in innovation, health and safety, corporate social investment, transformation, artisan training and environmental stewardship.

Vesconite Bearings congratulates its fellow winners: HC Heat Exchangers, Pamodzi Unique Engineering, Babcock International, Howden, SNC Lavalin, Schneider Electric, KSB Pumps & Valves, Constructional Engineering Association, Colin Boyes and Koketso Lekganyane.



Melamine hanger bearings will face a new competitor in the sugar industry, as a result of the development and active promotion of the abrasion-resistant polymer Hitemp 150 FG.

The polymer’s name signifies that it can be used in applications that run at temperatures up to 150ºC. Manufactured from ingredients that are all food grade approved, it is a candidate for applications in which food contact is possible or likely.

It is thus deemed suitable for many sugar-industry applications in which hanger bearings are exposed to highly-abrasive pulp and massecuite, the abrasive mixture of sugar crystals and liquor resulting from the crystallisation process.

Melamine has been the preferred material for many sugar-industry hanger bearings in the past since it is abrasion resistant.

However, its big disadvantage is that it delaminates in some cases.

This can result in parts of the melamine hanger bearings being shed into the transported material.

In addition, the propensity to delaminate has resulted in cases of limited shelf life for bearings, with some melamine-impregnated fabric bearings starting to delaminate on the shelf.

Besides delamination, the fact that sugar mills have reported that there is a scarcity of melamine hanger bearings have resulted in calls for an alternative product, with Vesconite Hitemp 150 FG being developed by Vesconite Bearings in response to these calls.

The original formulation of Vesconite Hitemp 150 has proved successful in hanger bearings that were in contact with reject sugar and in processing and boiling in the sugar-manufacturing process.

“The new formulation, which has all food-grade raw materials, could even be used in the granulation stage of the sugar-manufacturing process,” says technical sales representative Eddie Swanepoel of the expanded range of applications in which the new polymer could be used.

The food-grade polymer is cream with a streaky marble look as opposed to the rust-coloured original Vesconite Hitemp 150 polymer, he reports.

Hanger bearings are available in three stock sizes, viz. 155 x100mm, 120 x 60mm and 100 x 50mm, and bearings can also be manufactured to customer prints.

The hanger bearings are extruded as a solid polymer tube and then split.

They are supplied with flanges to secure the bearing in the housing.

They are not mechanically secured and can be fitted using a sliding fit.



Vesconite Bearings is ramping up its 5-axis machining capability in line with future demands for more complex machined parts made from its advanced engineered plastics. 

The company already has a Haas VF 11 and a 6-m Marufuku machining centre with a 5-axis head, and is currently investigating the purchase of specialist software that will allow it to produce even more complicated parts. 

“We are ready to increase our 5-axis machining,” factory manager Robin Crabb says of the initiative that has training, staffing and technology implications. 

Four staff members have already been familiarising themselves with 5-axis technology and have trained themselves in the use of the complex 5-axis machines that allow the cutting tool to move across the X,Y and Z linear axes and the workpiece to tilt and to rotate in any direction. 

On purchase of additional specialist 5-axis software, selected staff will also undergo further training, with the intention that all staff will be fully familiar with 5-axis machine use and programming. 

The decision on which computer-aided-design and -manufacturing software option to purchase is currently being considered by CEO Dr Jean-Patrick Leger, as this software is regarded as vital for the success of the initiative to place emphasis on 5-axis machining. 

“With the additional software, we will be able to undertake continuous cutting on 5 axes,” says Crabb. 

“This will result in less machine downtime and reduced set-up times,” he notes of the software, which will allow the company to complete technical drawings and programme machines for uninterrupted manufacturing. 

Additional 5-axis machining capability will permit Vesconite Bearings to take on challenging machining projects, including many difficult precision-machined custom wear parts, such as daggerboard casings for high-technology sailing boats that are used as an alternative to fixed keels on catamarans. 

Vesconite Bearings has a factory floor space of 20,000 m2, and its factory includes polymer compounding, extrusion and moulding shops in addition to its extensive machine shop, which includes 75 computer numerically controlled lathes and machining centres. 

The company makes rods, machined plates and bushings as stock parts, as well as high-quality finished parts for the agriculture, railways, mining, pump, heavy transport, hydro, renewable, earthmoving and marine industries. 

The polymer bushings and wear-materials manufacturer prides itself on fast production, turnaround and delivery, with an average global delivery time, using various courier companies with global experience, of three to seven working days. 



No-grease engineered polymer Vesconite Hilube bushings were used as suspension bushings in two of the Colcar racing team’s vehicles in the 2019 Dakar Rally that finished in January this year.

They were installed in vehicles in the truck category, with vehicles weighing more than 3500kg, as well as the utility vehicle (UTV) category, also known as four-wheel side-by-side vehicle or recreational off-highway vehicle category.

Unfortunately, the truck had an accident and the team abandoned the race. However, the UTV won its category and also finished 18 overall.

The use of Vesconite Hilube bushings in the Argentinian team’s Dakar vehicles this year builds on a growing record of Vesconite Hilube use in the South American team’s yearly Dakar entries.

In 2018, Vesconite Hilube bushings were fitted to two trucks, one of which finished in position 23 and the other of which did not finish for various reasons.

In 2017, meanwhile, the Argentinian team finished in 33rd position, and continued to use their Vesconite Hilube bushings for two other local competitions that covered a total distance equivalent to three Dakar Rallies.

“The polymer bushings have proven themselves over the gruelling annual 9,000 km multi-country South American Dakar endurance race that covers various terrains, including sand dunes, mountains and salt flats,” comments Leandro Panzini of VesArg, the Argentinian distributor of the Vesconite Hilube. 

“Suspension bushings are considered important in vehicle safety, ride comfort and handling and also align suspension and steering components … and they are paramount in the Dakar, in which vehicles travel at between 100 kph and 200 kph in all kinds of terrain over 15 days,” he says.

In the Dakar vehicles, the bushings were exposed to an oscillating movement with many cycles per minute taking place, and performed much better than the nylon-molybdenum bushings that they replaced, reports Panzini, who is proud to have Vesconite Hilube associated with this historic race and performing so well each year in race vehicles.



Vesconite Bearings, the maker of advanced, self-lubricating polymers, in March dispatched several marine orders to Namibia, the Southern African country that borders Zambia, Angola, Botswana and South Africa.

While global shipping lines have been making a loss as a result of decreased shipping vessel sizes, Namibia is planning ahead for shipping-industry growth.

Namibia has, to this end, started implementing several mega projects to expand capacity and capture a larger share of Southern African port traffic.

Vesconite Bearings hopes to be part of the growth of the Namibian port and marine industry, and has already seen an increase in interest from this region, as a result of marketing and a successful roadshow to the country.

The three marine orders that were dispatched to Namibia in March were from a ship-repair-supplier company based in Walvis Bay, Namibia’s largest commercial port, which receives about 3,000 vessel calls each year and handles about 5 million tons of cargo.

“With a warehouse in Johannesburg, South Africa, Namibian marine customers can quickly obtain rudder bearings and stern tubes from Vesconite Bearings depending on the urgency of their order,” tells stores manager Martin Nyathi.

“Customers can ask for delivery via airfreight, express road freight or economy road freight, with delivery times ranging from one-to-two-days, three-to-four-days and one-to-two-weeks, depending on the courier option chosen,” he says.



Polymer bushing manufacturer Vesconite Bearings will be displaying some of its hard-wearing self-greasing polymer bushings this year at Stand 3, Caltex Hall, at Nampo — South Africa’s premier agricultural trade show, which takes places in Bothaville, in the Free State, from May 14 to 17.

Originally developed in the harsh conditions of the Free State gold mines, Vesconite polymers are ideally suited to agricultural settings. 

The company’s polymers bushings have been successfully used in applications such as combine harvester steering shaft and kingpin bushings, pivot point bushings on planters, borehole pump bushings, front-loader bushings on tractors, articulating arm bushings on sprayers, planter bushings, and many more.

The company’s products are valued by farmers and agricultural equipment manufacturers for being self-lubricating, wear resistant and useful in tough agricultural applications characterised by grit, mud and water.

Their display at Nampo is seen as a recognition that Vesconite polymer bushings are important products to have displayed at South Africa’s largest agricultural expo, where role-players in the farming industry seek solutions to challenges that they face.

“Whether you’re a farmer, repairer or manufacturer of harvesters, planters, sprayers, and harrows, etc., the Vesconite stand is a must visit,” says Vesconite Bearings agricultural technical representative Marius van Zyl. 

“Vesconite’s low-friction translates into 3 to 10 times longer life compared to metal bushings, especially under dirty, wet or poorly-lubricated conditions,” he says, noting that Vesconite polymers retain their material integrity and do not swell like nylon when exposed to moisture. 



Vesconite Bearings, the maker of advanced, self-lubricating polymers, invites you to win a magnum of wine with each recommendation of a Western Cape company that might be interested in our product.

Simply send the name of a company that is not an existing client of Vesconite Bearings, together with a contact person and their email address and telephone number to Include a note about why you think the company might be interested in our products and please also remember to send your name, company name, telephone number and delivery address so that you can receive your prize.

The initiative aims to promote our same-day dispatches from Cape Town of stock items, including rods, bushings and plates made of the no-grease, low-co-efficient-of-friction, hard-wearing thermopolymers Vesconite and Vesconite Hilube.

These are now stocked in Cape Town and available for same day dispatch with Skynet, with orders over R1200 delivered free of charge and a delivery fee of R100 charged for orders of less than R1200.

This is a new service that will save you (and your recommended contact!) time and money.

Ready to order from our Cape Town warehouse? Contact on +27 11 616 1111.



From agriculture to water utilities, California’s total ban on lead has affected numerous industries. With a rising number of highly public water crises occurring, an increase in similar legislation is expected throughout the country. In preparation, many pump manufacturers that typically use bronze bearings are switching to Vesconite Hilube. Not only does the advanced thermopolymer outperform metallic bearings, it fully complies with lead-free regulations.

The bronze used for pump bearings is commonly an alloy of copper, tin and other metals, with lead added as a lubricant. As it wears, it leaches this toxin into irrigation, livestock, food manufacturing and potable water.

In contrast, lead-free Vesconite Hilube is self-lubricating and offers 10 times the wear life of bronze. This is an important consideration when dealing with aquifer and other pumps that are difficult and costly to maintain.

Unlike metallic bearings, Vesconite Hilube provides an exceptionally low friction coefficient range of 0.1–0.2. This allows for dry starting without stick-slip.

It won’t delaminate or swell, and can be run dry and used continuously up in temperatures up to 150° F. For irrigation applications, Vesconite Hilube excels in dirty field conditions.

Vesconite Hilube machines easily with tolerances of +/-0.001″. Due to its high dimensional stability and load strength, it can be threaded.

Vesconite is accredited to ISO 9001. Its polymers are available in North America as custom precision-machined parts or raw stock. Hollow bar, solid rod and plate stock shapes are available in a broad range of dimensions and thicknesses.



Several pump manufacturers have discovered that a combination of Vesconite Hilube bushings and wear rings can improve pump efficiencies even more than the introduction of either the bushings or the wear rings.

“One client introduced Vesconite Hilube bushings into their multi-stage pumps, but still had a stainless steel wear ring that needed bigger running clearances,” explains pump technical advisor Phillip de Villiers.

“The company has since switched to Vesconite Hilube wear rings, thereby reducing running clearances and improving efficiencies,” he says.

Efficiencies are improved if thermopolymer wear rings and bushings are used together and their running clearances are matched to each other. This results in reduced leakage as well as electricity savings.

In addition, metal-on-metal wear is eliminated, since polymer components that touch the metal are worn away themselves rather than having the metal wear away or damaged.

“Every pump manufacturer is trying to achieve better efficiencies,” says De Villiers.

“This is why many are seriously considering Vesconite Hilube bushings or wear rings and, increasingly, both Vesconite Hilube bushings and wear rings in their multi-stage pumps,” he concludes.



After years of replacing white metal stuffing box bearings on Calloo of Wivenhoe, Martin Wibmer chose an alternative. In 2007, he used Vesconite, the advanced, self-lubricating marine polymer. A recent survey found that the bearing was still sound with hardly any noticeable wear.

Ultra-low friction Vesconite has no stick-slip, making it ideal for use in sailboat deck, hardware, steering and propulsion applications. It provides a long wear life—up to 10 times that of bronze—even in dirty and silty conditions. Machining to exacting tolerances of +/-0.001″, it has exceptional dimensional stability and load strength, and threads easily.

“As a bearing material, it doesn’t seem to wear at all,” said Wibmer. “Mine is showing minimal deterioration after 12 years of regular use.”

Wibmer typically sails Calloo of Wivenhoe solo in the Moray Firth in northeast Scotland, but takes an annual cruise to the west coast of Norway. The 4.5 ton, 25.4′ x 8.4′ Bermuda-rigged sloop was built in 1962 using traditional plank-on-frame construction of Iroko over Canadian Rock Elm. He acquired the vessel in 1976.

Vesconite is available as custom precision-machined parts or raw stock. Hollow bar, solid rod and plate stock shapes are available in a broad range of dimensions and thicknesses.



An independent test has shown that a Vesconite left-hand torque-plate bushing, made from a no-grease hard-wearing engineered polymer, shows 35% less wear than a phosphor bronze right-hand torque-plate bushing of a similar design after one year of being exposed to abrasive material.

The test was carried out by a large trailer manufacturer over one year, and utilised a vibrating jig on which the bronze bushing was mounted on one side and the Vesconite one mounted on the other side.

The jig was enclosed in plastic wrap and sand and an inflow of air was introduced through a hole to simulate the abrasive off-road material that the bushings would be exposed to.

No seals were used so that the bushings would be maximally exposed to abrasive wear conditions.

“The intention was to mimic how a truck drove and when it braked to emulate the expansion against the drum,” says the test engineer.

“Initially we were going to do interval checks every 3 weeks but, because of the limited wear on the Vesconite, this was increased to 3-4 months and then left until a year was completed for the final fifth measurement.”

The results were conclusive: the Vesconite bushing showed 0.0175mm of wear to its inside diameter after one year compared to 0.05mm wear for phosphor bronze – demonstrating that a phosphor bronze bushing has 35% faster wear than Vesconite in a dry application with sand and under laboratory conditions.

Similarly, when shaft wear was considered, Vesconite shaft wear totalled 0.0025mm after a year, while the comparable phosphor bronze bushing showed wear of 0.0125mm.

Considering bushing wear and shaft wear, the Vesconite showed an increase in clearance of 0.02mm, while the phosphor bronze had an increase in clearance of 0.0625mm over the same period.

“One would expect that the wear rates would get worse in the second year and even worse in the third year,” advises Vesconite Bearings technical sales representative Eddie Swanepoel.

“In addition, in tough off-road conditions where the bushings are exposed to impact, there is likely to be much more wear than in a laboratory test environment,” he says, noting that one coal transporter has had to replace his phosphor bronze bushings four times a year, compared to once  a year with Vesconite.

Swanepoel points out that, while the bushing wear measurements seem small, these small changes in bushing sizing and shaft wear result in significant impacts for associated components, including tyres, which would be affected by poor alignment. Fuel costs would also increase if wheel alignment was out, he adds.

There would be similar cost implications if nylon bushings were used in preference to Vesconite ones, Swanepoel advises. The Vesconite self-aligning bushing showed far less wear than nylon self-aligning bushing, and there was also less wear to the shaft where the Vesconite bushing was used, he notes.

In the trailer manufacturer’s study, the nylon bushing showed 0.1325mm of wear over the one year period compared to wear of 0.0075mm for the Vesconite.

The same study showed shaft wear of 0.0125mm for nylon compared to 0.010mm of wear for the Vesconite bushing.

Once again, Swanepoel advises that harsh off-road conditions would make the comparative differences more extreme and that it is likely that nylon would perform even worse in non-laboratory conditions.

The impact on maintenance for associated equipment would also be more convincing, he says.



Vesconite Bearings, the leader in high-performance bearing polymers, has appointed four additional engineers as part of a drive to provide the best technical advice on the use of its products, announced Dr Jean-Patrick Leger, company CEO.

Additionally, the company intends to expand the range of applications in which its no-grease, hard-wearing, low-coefficient-of friction polymers can be used, he said.

New appointees Zané Easton and Monique Kooij are chemical engineers who will be responsible for rail and marine applications, respectively.

Meanwhile, appointees Conrad Penzhorn and Franco Swanepoel are mechanical engineers who will be responsible for transport and pump applications, respectively.

All of the engineers will be building Vesconite Bearings’ global customer bases and adding applications in their particular portfolio areas.

Vesconite Bearings’ extensive, globally-renowned machining capacity allows for the manufacture of precision-machined custom wear parts made from various polymers, as well as finished moulded products.

With a factory floor space of 20 000m2, Vesconite Bearings houses polymer compounding, extrusion and moulding shops in addition to its extensive machine shop.

The company makes rods, machined plates and bushings as stock parts, as well as high-quality finished parts for the agriculture, railways, mining, pumps, heavy transport, hydro, renewable, earthmoving and marine industries.

Vesconite Bearings boasts customers in more than 100 countries, exports over half of its total sales, and dispatches large orders regularly to the US, China, South America and Australasia.



Vesconite Hilube engineered polymer vanes have replaced a competitor’s product in the air motors of one UK manufacturer’s torque wrenches.

Vanes are essential to a torque-wrench rotary motor, as the necessary rotating element consists of a slotted rotor, fitted with free-sliding rectangular vanes, which create the rotational motion that drives the wrench when air passes over them.

Thus, when the torque wrench manufacturer became unhappy with vane delivery times and the torque rating of the existing supplier’s product, alternatives were sought for this important part of the torque wrench.

The torque wrench assembler was facing a 3-week delivery time for its original fine weave epoxy cotton vane slabs. The material sections that were delivered by the epoxy resin supplier also had to be machined by the assembler, adding to the vane production lead times.

The assembler was also facing lower torque ratings and higher wear than was acceptable.

This is when the assembler approached Vesconite Bearings to find out about its product range.

It was favourably impressed that hard-wearing self-lubricating engineered polymer Vesconite Hilube vanes could be delivered fully machined in two weeks, and that this would cut down having to wait for essential vane components.

In addition, after testing, the torque rating of the Vesconite Hilube ranged from 1150N/m to 1250N/m, and was well above the 1000N/m torque settings that are required for testing.

Some three years after the introduction of Vesconite Hilube vanes, the assembler is content with many of its important advantages.

“The vanes also last longer,” says Vesconite Bearings technical sales representative Eddie Swanepoel.

“After 30,000 cycles, the vanes don’t show any wear,” he notes.

The torque wrenches are said to have accurate torque control as a result of their durable custom-designed air motor, which has all its components checked and tested to see that they can withstand the rigours of the torque motion.

The wrenches can be used on bolting applications, such as wheel nuts, axle and suspension components, engine head bolts, pipeline flanges and pressure vessels.

They can also be used on non-bolting applications, including valve operation and grinding, valving and devalving of gas bottles, and paper and steel mill roller adjustments.



Vesconite Bearings has contracted Bartholomews Specialist Distribution Ltd (Bartholomews) to warehouse and dispatch Vesconite and Vesconite Hilube engineered polymer rods and hollow bar from Bartholomews’ facility in Eastleigh, UK.

This is according to Vesconite Bearings UK champion Julian Fenn and CEO Dr Jean-Patrick Leger, who note that Bartholomews is able to provide the required storage and shipment services.

Vesconite Bearings has had a storage and distribution facility in the UK for nine years.

Through this facility, it has supplied its low-friction no-grease polymer bushings and wear plate material to a growing UK client base.

Vesconite Bearings’ continued commitment to stockholding and distribution in the UK demonstrates the company’s resolve to have easily-accessible stock and good delivery times for this market.

Contact Fenn on +44 800 731 9745 to purchase Vesconite Bearings’ specialised engineering products in the UK.



Hydraulic steering systems and heavy seas can place enormous loads on a vessel’s rudder linkage, especially tiller arms and jockey bars. A bearing failure here means a loss of steerage, so metallic bushes need constant lubrication. This requires someone to go below to grease them—a dangerous and difficult task while underway. With massive load strength and dimensional stability, self-lubricating Vesconite is the safer solution for these specialized applications.

“It’s really dangerous to send someone down to lubricate bushes when the rudders are moving,” said Leandro Panzini, general manager of Buenos Aires, Argentina-based Ves-Arg SRL. “We have many tug and push boat customers who come to us with this safety issue. Once they switch to low-maintenance Vesconite, they’re very satisfied with the results.”

Vesconite doesn’t need lubricating, either by hand or an oiling system. Maintenance costs are greatly reduced—as is the potential for an accident. It doesn’t swell in water and runs wet or dry without any stick-slip.

Vesconite machines easily with tolerances of +/-0.001″. Long-lived, it offers up to ten times the useable life of bronze, even inside a dirty engine room. ISO 9001 accredited, it bears type approval certifications from ABS, Bureau Veritas, China Corporation Register of Shipping, DNV GL, Korean Register of Shipping and Lloyds Register.



Experienced polymer-products representative Gary Croeser has officially become the Vesconite Bearings representative in the US.

This was the announcement made by Vesconite Bearings chairperson Dr Jean-Patrick Leger this month.

“Croeser has successfully managed the Vesconite Bearings Texas warehouse since 2004,” he said.

“I am very pleased to advise that we have now retained Croeser to play a more active role for sales of Vesconite in the United States,” he noted.

Vesconite Bearings will be increasing its stockholding of the polymers Vesconite and Vesconite Hilube in San Antonio, Texas, and its plan is to replenish the warehouse every two months.

As a start, Croeser has been tasked with calling lapsed customers in the USA who have not bought Vesconite since January 2018.

They will be specifically engaging with Texas-based companies, and particularly with those customers located in Lubbock, a global centre for pump manufacturing.

The new Vesconite Bearings US representative is knowledgeable about the polymer industry, having worked for many years in a sales executive capacity for Chemplast, which specialises in polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE).

Besides being near to the market, and available to discuss sales requirements with customers in the same time zone, Croeser also has a good understanding of the US market.

“We see the US market is as a high-growth-potential market,” commented Leger.

“The US has a GDP of USD19-trillion, which represents 24% of the global economy,” he said.



Six Vesconite Superlube load pads that have been recovered from South African rail parastatal Transnet’s Sishen-Saldanha-line bogies show little wear after two years of use.

This is according to Dr Jean-Patrick Leger, the CEO of Vesconite Bearings, which makes the polymer load pads that are installed on railway bogies - the metal structures on which the rail wheels and axles are mounted and on which railway vehicles lie.

“What is interesting is that the samples are hardly worn at all,” he says.

“We see tiny areas where there is 0.1mm wear, but you can see the original machining marks and machine ridges on most of them.”

The Vesconite Superlube load pads have been specified for many years on Transnet’s iron-ore line locomotives, and replaced the original specified load pads that lacked sufficient load-carrying capacity and low-friction performance.

Load-carrying capacity is a particularly important criteria in selecting load pads, notes Leger.

The Vesconite Superlube load pads have been made from an engineered polymer with a compressive yield strength of 54MPa and a recommended design loading of up to 18MPa.

This means that they can effectively support the locomotives without distorting or breaking − which is a considerable advantage when a weight of 28t to 30t is distributed on each axle of each locomotive.

The low co-efficient of friction was another important criteria why Transnet’s 15E locomotive designers chose Vesconite Superlube, says Leger.

The engineered polymer was developed with this particularly in mind, and the development process resulted in the polymer exhibiting a static friction co-efficient (dry on polished steel) and a dynamic friction co-efficient (dry on polished steel) of 0.06, he notes.

This was particularly important because of the nature of the Sishen-Saldanha track.

This 861-km-long iconic heavy-haul iron-ore transportation route is largely straight but has ten crossing loops that trains travelling in one direction move into to allow full coast-bound trains, moving in the opposite direction, to pass where necessary.

These loops all lie on the one side of the track, and this results in very little turning motion along the length of the track, except at these very particular points.

What was experienced prior to the introduction of Vesconite Superlube load pads was that the locomotive wheel sets tended to run out of alignment when coming out of a curve and, due to the straightness of the track, the wheel sets remained out of alignment for considerable distances. This, in turn, resulted in track and wheel wear.

While an authoritative study has not presented the exact savings that resulted from the introduction of Vesconite Superlube, estimated savings are considerable.

Consider that, prior to the introduction of the Vesconite Superlube load pads, the bogie frame sometimes swivelled out of the bolster, and bogie wheel sets sometimes didn’t return to their original position for hundreds of kilometres.

With the train in the forward-drive position, this would have resulted in wear to the number 1 and 11 wheels, while other wheels would be subject to wear in the reverse position.

While various mechanical means, including packing under the springs, could be used to equalise the wheel load and keep the bogie height the same, ultimately wheel cutting would be required to ensure that the wheel diameters were equalised.

On many tracks, wheel life is reduced to a fraction of the intended life of six years, which they are designed for, as a result of frequent wheel cutting.

With costs of R40,000 a wheel, or R80,000 a wheel set, the cost to associated equipment can be considerable if the incorrect load pad is used, warns Leger

When the cost of wear to the track is included, the financial benefits of using the Vesconite Superlube load pads can add up to a considerable sum, he says.



With a downwind sail area of over 4,600 sq. ft. and a top speed well over 20 knots, the Gunboat 66 is a boat where components simply cannot bind. That’s why when Slim was refitted in 2015, Vesconite was used as the rudder and daggerboard trunk bearing material. The ultra-low friction polymer has performed flawlessly in over 20,000 ocean nautical miles.

Internally lubricated Vesconite is engineered for high compression strength and dimensional stability. This makes it perfect for the extreme loads a 34,000 lb. boat can place on its foils.

In 2015, Slim’s daggerboards were replaced with longer versions that are better supported by the low-friction Vesconite bearings at the deck and lower exit. Combined with a reduced chord, the extra 3.5′ make them far more efficient with an improved lift to drag ratio. For details of the refit: Read more

“The Vesconite has been flawless,” said Travis McGarry, Slim’s charter captain. “They’re still performing as new and I’d like to use it again just to get a tighter tolerance.” Vesconite has exceptional wear properties and can be machined to tolerances of +/-0.001″.

A 66′ all-carbon fiber performance ocean cruising catamaran, Slim sleeps six in three staterooms, all with en-suite baths, flat screen TVs and air conditioning. Currently in Spain, it is heading to the Caribbean this November.



Self-lubricated polymer bearings and bushes manufacturer Vesconite Bearings will next month add three computer numerically controlled lathes and machining centres to its machine shop.

Among the equipment added will be a Mazak slant turn lathe with a C axis, a Gate ECL 550 gap bed lathe and a Haas HS-1 horizontal machining centre.

“We are excited to be adding these machines to our machine shop,” says Chairperson Dr Jean-Patrick Leger.

“We want to have additional capacity to allow for our ambitious growth targets.”

The machines are similar to existing equipment that Vesconite Bearings has on hand but have been purchased to ensure that the company has an additional 10% capacity to ramp up its production by ten times in the next ten years.

This is in line with the company’s objective to gain 10% of the world market share of the type of niche polymers that the company produces, thereby increasing sales by ten times within ten years, says Leger.

The company’s extensive machining capacity, which will increase to 70 machines next month, is well regarded globally and allows the company to manufacture precision machined custom wear parts made out of various polymers as well as finish moulded products.

Vesconite Bearings has a factory floor space of 20,000m2, and its factory includes polymer compounding, extrusion and moulding shops in addition to its extensive machine shop.

The company makes rods, machined plates and bushings as stock parts, as well as high-quality finished parts for the agriculture, railways, mining, pump, heavy transport, hydro, renewable, earthmoving and marine industries.

The polymer bushings and wear-materials manufacturer prides itself on fast production, turnaround and delivery, with an average global delivery time, using various courier companies with global experience, of three to seven working days.

The company also focuses significantly on training and skills development, and is currently mentoring 23 young people as part of its apprenticeship programmes.

Vesconite Bearings boasts customers in more than 100 countries, exports over half of its total sales, and dispatches large orders regularly to the US, China, South America and Australasia.



When the stern tube bearing on the 490′ x 75′ container ship M/V Marine Rickmers began to fail, South Africa-based Elgin Brown & Hamer (EBH South Africa) replaced it with state-of-the-art, pollution-free Vesconite. The innovative self-lubricating polymer is far superior to oil-lubricated lignum vitae, white metal and composite bearings, especially with the implementation of ever more stringent environmental regulations.

Vesconite doesn’t swell in water and machines to +/-0.001″, so tight tolerances are always ensured. It has high compression strength and dimensional stability, and no stick-slip. Long-lived, it delivers up to ten times the useable life of bronze, even in dirty, silty harbor water.

The bush for the Marine Rickmers is 500mm x 422mm x 600mm long, but Vesconite can supply environmentally sound 1,300mm and longer stern tube bearings. The polymer is ISO 9001 accredited and bears type approval certifications from ABS, Bureau Veritas, China Corporation Register of Shipping, DNV GL, Korean Register of Shipping and Lloyds Register.

“The shipping industry is getting greener every day,” said Eddie Swanepoel, Vesconite technical sales consultant. “Converting from an oil lubrication system to self-lubricating Vesconite makes environmental sense.”



The Australian agent of Vesconite and Vesconite Hilube continues to supply the company that first proved Vesconite’s suitability for pump applications.

VescoPlastics Australia technical expert Robert Egginton supplies the pump company with 40 to 80 bushings each year.

These end up in various pumps that this Australian branch of a global pump company uses in repairs or for unique applications, including models of different sizes employed in a variety of conditions.

Egginton, who is part of a family-owned enterprise, notes that his father first started experimenting with pump bushings made of the polymer Vesconite in the 1980s.

When a pump company approached Vesco Plastics Australia P/L and stated that it was investigating changing over from bronze and asbestos-based bushings, Vesconite became one of the 18 materials that was bench tested in challenging conditions to determine which bushing material could survive in highly-abrasive conditions.

The pump company discovered that Vesconite performed best and lasted the longest of all the bushing materials tested.

“Whereas the material that it had been using lasted three to six months, the Vesconite lasted significantly longer,” says Egginton.

“This is why the material continues to be used in the pump company’s pumps in mines, boreholes and in waste water management.”



Vesconite has introduced Vesconite Hilube and Superlube 3D printer bushings as stock items.

Printer users can now replace bronze sleeve bushings or linear ball bearings with these high-wearing alternatives.

These are supplied in Vesconite Hilube (a low-friction polymer) or in Superlube (an ultra-low-friction polymer).

Initially, three of the most common 3D bushing sizes will be available, namely:

• LM8UU – 15mm (OD) x 8mm (ID) x 24mm (length);
• LM8LUU – 15mm (OD) x 8mm (ID) x 45mm (length); and
• LM12UU – 21mm (OD) x 12mm (ID) x 30mm (length).

“We chose these bushings, since these are the most common bushings used globally,” says marketing, sales and mechanical development engineer Juan van Wyk.

“However, we were cognisant of the fact that there are many different printer models on the market,” he adds, noting that, while Vesconite Hilube and Superlube are self-lubricating, the stock bearings are supplied with a dual radial internal groove design to allow for a grease reservoir if preferred.

While other sizes are not kept as stock items, custom bushings can quickly and easily be made with a choice of axial, radial or spiral internal grooves, as well as custom lengths and diameters to accommodate unique housings and shafts.



Vanes made of the bearing polymer Hitemp 150 have lasted three times as long as traditional vanes in servicing company Septic Tanks (Pty) Ltd’s vacuum rotary pump, a Broom B35.

Vesconite Bearings technical sales consultant Phillip de Villiers recommended Hitemp 150, an engineered polymer that is wear resistant and can withstand temperatures of up to 150ºC.

This material will not delaminate as does the original-equipment-manufacturer supplied material, a thermosetting phenol formaldehyde resin that impregnates layers of cotton to produce a hard synthetic plastic, he reasoned.

The trial result has been impressive: Hitemp 150 did not delaminate unlike its competitor and it was resistant to overheating.

In addition, the new polymer vanes coped well with the frequent pump cleans that were required when waste material accidentally entered the pump.

Septic Tanks (Pty) Ltd owner Charl Neuhof is also pleased that the Hitemp 150 vanes continue to operate after a year and a half, while the phenolic alternative had to be replaced after six months.

Moreover, he is enthusiastic about the reduced maintenance costs that are associated with the product, which can be cleaned in-situ unlike the previous variety of vanes that had to be removed prior to cleaning because of their high levels of swelling when exposed to water.



A graphite shortage has meant that manufacturers of submersible motors and pumps are switching to impact and wear-resistant Vesconite bearings.

Vesconite technical sales representative Eddie Swanepoel informs that he has received enquiries for the switch from carbon graphite to Vesconite for sleeve and thrust bearings and mechanical seals for submersible motors and for line-shaft bushings and wear rings for submersible pumps.

This follows what clients describe as a global shortage of six grades of carbon graphite, including those impregnated with resin, white metal, bronze and antimony, which are produced by manufacturers as tubes, rods, sheets and finished machined items.

The demand for carbon graphite has increased dramatically as a result of its use in battery applications, and particularly as a result of the increase in the production of electrical cars.

This has been a boon for Vesconite Bearings, which is keen to match prices and replace carbon in various applications.

Vesconite has many advantages over carbon graphite including that it is easier and more economical to machine. While carbon graphite needs to be produced in a strictly controlled environment, requires lapping and polishing to ensure smoothness, and needs to be glued and baked to adhere to components, Vesconite has no such requirements.

In addition, the low coefficient of friction of Vesconite means that the inclusion of Vesconite components in motors and pumps will result in energy savings.

“Many of the enquiries that we have received this year and last have come from India,” says Swanepoel.

He believes that India is playing an increased role in the global supply of submersible motors and pumps as a result of a closer relationship with the US in the last few months.



Norwegian innovator Kent Thoresen, of 9axis AS, is trialling Vesconite Hilube sleeve bushings as part of an endeavour to create more robust, reliable and smoother-operating 3D printers.

Around nine years ago Thoresen started 3D printing of various parts for projects he was involved in, and via this involvement became aware of several key weaknesses in open-source 3D printer designs. From here he started redesigning and refining his own 3D printer design.

Friends, and friends of friends soon began requesting his improved designs, and over the years he has produced around 200 printers for acquaintances.

His current 3D printer design is stiff and dependable and a marked improvement over the low-cost flimsier designs currently available. Robust and technically solid, it doesn’t require calibration if the plates are moved, unlike many commercially-available designs.

Thoresen’s current trial also involves the use of Vesconite Hilube bushings to improve 3D printer robustness.

The Vesconite bushings are currently undergoing a final leg of testing, with the aim to eventually provide an open source design to printer enthusiasts at no charge.



When cycling enthusiast Willem Goosen noticed in a service that the cogset on his bike’s rear wheel – known as the rear freewheel – had quite a bit of play, he decided to make his own smaller lubrication-free Vesconite bushing.

“I decided on Vesconite as it has all the characteristics that I required,” says Goosen. He requested the bushing from South African manufacturer Vesconite Bearings, which makes the polymer that doesn’t require lubrication, does not swell in water, has low resistance and requires low maintenance.

Goosen’s do-it-yourself bushing solution resulted in significant savings since, typically, a new freewheel body would have been required if a standard OEM bush was required.

In addition, since there was wear to the hub, a repair with OEM parts would have required the replacement of the hub, since wear had resulted in too much play for a standard OEM bearing to be employed.

“The Vesconite bush is still in a good state. No excessive wear has been noticed,” says Goosen.

“It has done over 10,000km since installation and only removed twice for cleaning and lubrication.”

Goosen started fitness cycling in 2009, and he is an active social cyclist, training five or six days a week.

Goosen has completed several South African cycle races, including multiple completions of the world’s largest individually-timed cycling race, the 109km Cape Town Cycle tour, which is the first non-European event to be included in the Union Cycliste Internationale’s Golden Bike Series.



As part of an initiative to ensure that its machined components are produced to specification for clients, Vesconite Bearings has invested in quality-control equipment as well as software dedicated to inputing and recording machined component measurements.

The new quality-control equipment includes electronic vernier callipers, micrometers and height gauges that will assist to measure the length, outside diameter, inside diameter and wall thickness of bushings and machined components, where these were measured exclusively through mechanical means and read off by a skilled quality-control expert in the past.

Electronic measurements are regarded as more accurate and an important way in which the consistency of machined parts can be ensured, says chairperson Jean Patrick Leger.

Electronic measurement also allows quality controllers to combine temperature measurement with metrology. Measured sizes can change with temperature, and can differ if the country of origin has substantially different weather conditions to the country in which a component will be used. As a result, it is important to note the conditions under which the component conforms to specifications, and adjust for new conditions if necessary.

In addition, the new measurement technique allows measurement to be carried out in the shop shortly after machining. This ensures that machining operations that are tending to go out-of-spec can be quickly identified and adjustments made to machining equipment before any material is wasted.

The intention is to use the latest metrology standards, provide traceable error-free measurement records, increase the quality and consistency of machined parts, and reduce wastage due to late correction of inaccurately set manufacturing equipment.



Some 600 graves have been dug in the Luveve and West Park Cemeteries, in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, using 428E Caterpillar Tractor Loader Backhoes (TLBs) fitted with Vesconite self-lubricating wear-resistant polymer bushings on the boom pivot pin.

This is according to Replants Africa’s Doug Bawden, who rents earthmoving and capital equipment to various companies, including to the Bulawayo City Council.

The 428Es are good for grave digging as they don’t require a truck to transport them between sites.

They have a variable displacement hydraulic pump that makes the machine more fuel efficient, and quicker when digging compared to a lot of other TLBs that use a gear type pump.

However, grave digging is not easy and the equipment can take a beating depending on the soil type.

Bawden explains that, in sandy-clay soil, there is an approximately 400-500mm-thick crust, which can be difficult to get through.

This can result in the entire back of the machine lifting off the ground when trying to penetrate this layer.

“In this instance the Vesconite bushes are taking the full force of lifting the machine off the ground,” says Bawden.

Where mild-steel-backed bronze or brass bushings had been used on the boom pivot pin, located where the boom connects onto the machine through the swing frame, “they ooze out like grease”, he notes.

“By some unexplainable miracle, the Vesconite does not,” adds Bawden.

“I am still trying to understand how a plastic can take a load that large and not displace when steel does,” he says.

Bawden machined the bushings that have been fitted to the two TLBs that are used for grave digging.

The polymer bushings measured approximately 65mm (internal diameter) x 75mm (external diameter) x 260mm (length).



Polymer bushings and wear material producer Vesconite will be visiting Italian pump manufacturers in early June to introduce the companies to Vesconite’s bushings and wear rings that are used globally to increase the operating life of vertical turbine, canister and sump pumps.

Vesconite intends to visit eight companies in one week, and will travel from the south to the north of the country to establish relationships with pump companies, offer prototype testing and answer technical queries.

“Italy is an important location for pump and valve businesses,” reports Phillip de Villiers, who is championing sales to the pump industry in Europe.

Vesconite is committed to expanding its presence in Europe and sees the outward-focused Mediterranean country as an important one in which to establish itself.

Vesconite has translated its pumps manual and its industrial design manual into Italian in preparation for the trip.



Founded by Alain Leger, an entrepreneurial engineer, Vesconite started in response to a need for an alternative to nylon bushings, which swelled and seized in humid underground mines. Years of testing resulted in a thermopolymer that had exceptionally low friction properties and could be machined to close tolerances. Steady, controlled corporate growth led to an international enterprise that never lost its commitment to and roots in the small town of Virginia, South Africa.

As a tribute to the community that has supported it since its beginning, VescoPlastics has built the Two Friends Wing addition to the Meloding Day Care Centre, doubling its size. “With its careful design and inspirational architecture, this new building turned out more significant than I had expected,” said Dr. Jean-Patrick Leger, CEO. “It provides a model of what classrooms for preschool children can be, at a time when there is such a need for early education and attention to higher standards.” Meloding refers to an area where people of color were forced to live during the apartheid era.

Throughout its 60 years of manufacturing, VescoPlastics has been deeply committed to education at all levels. In 2017, the Steel, Engineering and Iron Federation of South Africa awarded the company first prize for the best artisan training in the country. One of the largest employers in the area, apprentices and work candidates comprise 44% of its workforce. “In 2016, the number of people in the South African manufacturing sector totaled 1.19M,” noted Leger. “If the same steps we have applied in our company were used across the country, half a million apprentices would be preparing to enter the workforce.”



Vesconite Bearings’ Christian Brumloop, has been carrying out testing of Vesconite Hilube bushings on a 3D printer, convinced that 3D printing will revolutionise the manufacturing industry and that Vesconite Bearings needs to be at the forefront of 3D-printer-component and filament supply.

While the latter is still under investigation, Brumloop has shown that Vesconite Hilube bushings are well suited to 3D printers.

Brumloop notes that he has installed ten self-lubricating hard-wearing Vesconite Hilube bushings on the test unit and that they work well.

“The noise reduction is huge. The printer sounds completely different. So much better,” he enthuses.

Brumloop has ensured that the calibration of the extruder is perfect and is satisfied with his printed parts ― which is high praise from someone who is a veteran expert on moulding of polymer components.



A recent trip to Spanish pump manufacturers has resulted in several large orders of Vesconite bushing material.

“This month we received orders for considerable sums,” Phillip de Villiers, who is spearheading Vesconite’s European pumps business.

“One company ordered stock material of extra-large bushings that it will machine into wear rings for its own use, while another ordered bushing material to machine into bushings for its original-equipment-manufacturer pumps.”

De Villiers, together with European branch head Matthew Davey and company Chairperson Dr Jean-Patrick Leger, visited four large Spanish pump companies in late March 2018.

These companies were located throughout Spain, so the visit involved travel from Valencia, in the south of the country, through to Bilbao, in the north of the country.

“The Spanish pump industry is sizeable and the companies we visited serve both the local Spanish market and the global market,” De Villiers comments.

“The companies appreciated our input and our assistance with technical enquiries. They were also impressed that our CEO visited and was able to provide additional insight into our bushings and how they would prolong the life of pumps.”

The Spanish companies were enthusiastic about the use of the low-friction self-lubricating polymer Vesconite Hilube in various pumps, and spoke passionately about their production of vertical turbine pumps for Spanish desalination plants, among other projects.

De Villiers is excited about the results from the March Spanish visit, which builds on a previous successful visit to Spanish pump manufacturers in July 2017.



South African self-lubricated polymer-bushing manufacturer Vesconite Bearings will have its polymer bearing materials, Vesconite and Vesconite Hilube, on display at the Caltex Hall at Nampo, South Africa’s largest agricultural exhibition, in May.

Its polymer bearings are valued by farmers and agricultural equipment manufacturers for being self-lubricating, wear resistant and useful in tough agricultural applications characterised by grit, mud and water.

Their display at Nampo is seen as a recognition that Vesconite and Vesconite Hilube bearings are important products to have displayed at South Africa’s largest agricultural expo, where role-players in the farming industry seek solutions to challenges that they face.

Vesconite Bearings’ factory in Virginia produces rods, hollow bar and wear plates for the agriculture and other industries, and also machines bushings and wear components to specification for the industry.

The company also provides extensive machining services and has the largest machine shop in the Free State, with 60 computer numerically controlled lathes and machining centres, and numerous large conventional lathes that are capable of machining bushings up to 3000 mm in diameter.

Vesconite Bearings has warehouses in Johannesburg, Texas, the UK, the Netherlands and New Zealand, with stocking distributors in Argentina, Australia and Singapore.

The company boasts customers in more than 100 countries, exports over half of its total sales, and dispatches large orders regularly to the US, China, South America and Australasia.



An Australian agricultural equipment manufacturer has switched from oil-impregnated nylon bushings to Vesconite Hilube polymer ones on the hydraulic tynes that it manufactures for seeding machines.

The Vesconite Hilube polymer is valued by farmers and agricultural equipment manufacturers for being a self-lubricating, wear resistant polymer, which is widely used in tough agricultural applications characterised by grit, mud and water.

With seeder tynes being the teeth that cut through the soil during seeding, their exposure to harsh wear conditions is significant.

OptiAg Systems director Peter Hills explains that there are up to 80 or more hydraulic tynes on a seeding machine. These allow for seeds to be planted at the correct depth so that seeds have better access to moisture and nutrients.

Speaking about the introduction of Vesconite Hilube bushings to his tynes, Hills says: “I believe it to be a superior product to the oil-impregnated nylon we have been using”.

“As grain growers ourselves, we are looking for the best product for use. We want to provide our clients with the best possible product as well.”

OptiAg will be testing the lifespan of the Vesconite Hilube bushings as compared to the oil-impregnated nylon bushings and expects that, although there are higher upfront costs associated with the Vesconite Hilube bushings, the longer life and the lower maintenance requirements will show the Vesconite Hilube bushings to be a superior product.



Published in Business Day – 14 March 2018
Co-authored by Vesconite Bearings Chairman, Dr Jean-Patrick Leger

Before SA lapses back into business as usual, it is worth returning briefly to that heady moment two weeks ago, when new President Cyril Ramaphosa delivered his state of the nation address to Parliament. In the speech, Ramaphosa disclosed plans for a summit to seek practical solutions and new initiatives for job creation, especially for the youth.

This was put forward within the framework of an ambitious vision of reindustrialising the country “on a scale that draws millions of job-seekers into the economy”.

It has always been challenging for the private sector to find new ways of working with the government and labour to achieve larger goals when many businesses do not regard those goals as part of their purview, particularly when businesses often feel under attack by the government.

This may explain the reluctance to come forward with new ideas. Businessmen are often concerned that whatever new ideas that emerge from the government will lead to more problems and complexities.

But if the anger ignited by the debate on land expropriation without compensation has shown anything, it is that there is an expectation that the new regime will bring meaningful change to people’s lives by challenging the economic status quo.

If business does not want to surrender ground to the populists, it should start imagining how it can contribute to a more just and equal society. Just as at Dunkirk, when a flotilla of small boats crossed the English Channel to bring home the British soldiers trapped on the beaches of France, so the country’s manufacturers can take the initiative and bring home an army of artisans and skilled workers that will be needed for the next battle: the reindustrialisation of SA.

Unlike the troops at Dunkirk, SA is not engaged in a world war, but it is embroiled in a profound crisis. Unemployment and despair, while hardly touching the enclaves of privilege, is corrosive and unsustainable. More than 6-million South Africans are unemployed, and youth unemployment remains stubbornly above 50%. Of those who are employed, many are trapped in dead-end, low-skilled jobs.

The arguments around free higher education have obscured the equally critical need for training of young people for skilled blue-collar jobs. Any implication that there is only one route to gainful employment and a decent lifestyle leaves out those who are less academically inclined. The many who do not go to university are the most economically marginalised and many despair of finding any way to escape poverty.

Apprentice and learnership schemes are a means by which youth with little work experience can gain essential experience and theoretical knowledge for job entry. The tally of apprentices is small compared with the number of students enrolled at public higher education institutions — about 112,000 apprentices compared with 620,000 university students (excluding 400,000 enrolled at Unisa) — and they are often overlooked in discussions about transforming education.

Yet SA is faced simultaneously with high unemployment and an enormous skills shortage, one that will ensure that the reindustrialisation that Ramaphosa advocates will be stymied before it starts. There is a way to deal with this conundrum that does not lay the full burden at the door of the government. It is what we call the one-for-three solution. One of us (Leger) runs a small manufacturing company in the Free State and has adopted a policy of actively training young people — in practice one apprentice or learner for every three permanent staff members.

If all SA’s manufacturer employers followed a one-for-three approach, we could train hundreds of thousands of South Africans in the much-needed practical skills that will help jumpstart the economy. Manufacturing and mining combined employ about 1.6-million permanent workers.

If state-owned enterprises and government technical and engineering services on all levels — including the municipalities — are included, the one-for-three solution could generate up to 1-million newly skilled workers into the formal economy.

The solution would build on existing programmes, some of which have stalled, and would need to be fleshed out in consultation with the government, the unions, companies big and small and the technical training institutions. It is also time for the private sector and the government to engage the universities — especially the science, technology, engineering and maths faculties — to see how some of their graduates can be absorbed into on-the-job training programmes.

Some of these discussions may take place at the president’s job summit, where we will present our proposal in detail. Critically, this national apprenticeship and learnership programme would have to be a good-faith effort to train those who would otherwise not be employed, and not an attempt to displace union labour with lower-paid interns. There could be a rewarding negotiation around preferential procurement and additional incentives for businesses that participate in the programme, which would be voluntary.

We will continue to emphasise that skills training is not just a door to opportunity for the disadvantaged or a means of dealing with the scourge of youth unemployment. It is also a necessary requirement for equipping SA with a competitive workforce capable of delivering the more prosperous future that we are striving to achieve.

The global economy is changing, and the cheap labour force that industrialised SA the first time can no longer be the country’s crutch. Competitive industrialisation in this highly technological age is taking place in the global “brain belts” and if SA aims to compete it has to build an army of skilled and semiskilled workers.

The mining sector, long the mainstay of the South African economy, is on the upswing and the shortage of skilled workers is already being felt. Any thought of taking the mining sector forward into the new technological age, where SA long held a competitive edge, is a nonstarter without a complete revision of how SA trains and equips its workers.

Ramaphosa’s state of the nation address was widely praised, but was also criticised by some for being short on detail and hard policy decisions. This is not surprising given the fact that he had to deliver the speech within one day of becoming president. But it is also because it is up to society to fill in many of the blanks.

Most importantly, it is incumbent upon manufacturing employers to make their contribution to overcoming economic stagnation and inspiring hope by building the workforce of the future.



Vesconite has appointed Guenter Lorenz as its new German Strategic Account Manager. Company CEO Dr Jean-Patrick Leger made the announcement.

Lorenz has a background in business development, marketing and sales, and has previously worked for Canadian, Indian and European firms interested in expanding their European contribution to sales.

Lorenz’s key focus area will be in the pumps sector, but he will also look at growing the use of Vesconite in European agriculture and rail applications, among other applications. His duties will encompass new business development, sales and customer support.

The thermoplastic polymer Vesconite is self-lubricating and hard-wearing. As such, it is regarded as a quality maintenance-reducing product with a long lifespan. In addition, since it does not need any special tools for installation and removal, it is regarded as service friendly.

Hollow bar, solid rod and plate shapes are offered in a wide range of dimensions and thicknesses, and are available for immediate shipment from the company’s EU warehouse. Machined parts can also be ordered to customer specifications.



We are pleased to announce that Vesconite and Vesconite Hilube stock shapes (rods, bushing & plates) will now be stocked in Cape Town and available for same day dispatch with Skynet.

Orders over R1200 will be delivered free of charge. A delivery fee of R100 will be charged for orders less than a R1200.

Please place your orders directly with VescoPlastics in Virginia or Johannesburg by emailing:

Johannesburg – 011 616 1111 or Virginia – 057 212 0000. Email:

This is a new service that will save you time and money. We have a vast stock range available ready for immediate dispatch.



A company specialising in pumping equipment continues to use rock drill machinery fitted with bushings made from Hitemp 150, Vesconite’s temperature and wear resistant, internally lubricated polymer.

The drill bushings are exposed to high temperature and pressure, as well as water, resulting in significant stress, which the previous bushing materials succumbed to within two weeks.

Not so with Hitemp 150, which reduced bushing replacement intervals to only four times per year. A significant cost saving in downtime on machinery resulted.

Late last year, Vesconite produced over 4200 bushing for the company, which has been manufacturing the rock drills successfully for the past 10 years.

Vesconite continues to develop Hitemp 150 and products that are specifically designed to cope with extraordinary operating conditions.



Talk on adventures and challenges in overcoming wear

Vesconite Bearings Chairperson Dr Jean-Patrick Leger has been invited as the guest speaker at the South African Institute of Tribology’s AGM. His talk will cover bushing polymers and wear material and is entitled “Adventures in Wear: From Underground Gold Mines to Desert Railways to Ocean Floors”.

“In a day we may review bearing production requirements for deep mines and mills, seek grease free solutions for construction plant and transport equipment, provide oil free bearings for small irrigation pumps or half-kilometre-long deep well pumps, focus on solving rail/wheel wear on locomotives and rail wagons, offer solutions to reduce the number of dry-dockings of container ships, or to make racing yachts move faster, or develop longer life bearings for underwater turbines and remote operated vessels working on the ocean floors,” says Leger.

“Each day provides adventures and challenges in overcoming wear,” he notes.

Best known for Vesconite, its brand of plain bearings and bushings, Vesconite Bearings today has customers in over 100 countries on five continents.

Date: 15th May 2018
Time: 18h00 – 18h30
Venue: Science Park, 1 Northway, Kelvin, Johannesburg, South Africa

For further information:
Phone: +27 11 616 1111



15 years ago, a South African vegetable farming enterprise fitted two borehole pumps with custom-designed Vesconite spiders.

Vesconite has become internationally recognised as a versatile, high-performance replacement for traditional bushing and bearing materials and has often been used as a line shaft bushing that supports borehole pump shafts.

However, in this application, the spiders were used to centralise the pump shafts, which reach to a depth of nearly 80m below the ground surface. The spiders have an outer diameter of 100mm, with a shaft of one inch, with 8mm radiating spokes – which create a spider-like appearance.

Pumping a potential two million litres of irrigation water per day, the pumps’ original bronze spiders were removed, as they were deemed too heavy, likely to wear, and have a possibility of being stolen for resale when the pumps were removed for servicing.

The Vesconite spiders are still functioning without fault after all these years. According to farm owner Roland Gaberthuel, the Vesconite parts will likely outlive the pumps. Proof that Vesconite was the ideal material for this demanding application.



A South African insulation company with insulation contracts at 18 sites has opted to replace its trolley wheel bushings with Vesconite.

The company has many on-site maintenance contracts that involve the production and installation of specialised thermal insulation and cladding.

Where the installation site is far from the storage site, trolleys are used to move cladding materials.

Polyvinyl chloride wheel bushings were used previously but, following the replacement with Vesconite, the wheels last 10 times longer, says a company representative.

The trolleys, some of them measuring 1,5m by 5m, are necessary to carry considerable loads.

Vesconite, a hard-wearing thermopolymer designed for challenging operating conditions, has demonstrated its ability to carry these loads with little wear.

The trolleys that it is fitted to are used all over South Africa, including on South Africa’s mines, which require insulation and cladding for their refrigeration and acid plants.



Vesconite Hilube is traditionally known for its superior performance in difficult operating environments. particularly moist and underwater applications, such as found in the pump and marine industries.

Woodwind instrument maker Guy Cowley has, however, found another novel use for the material.

“I had been searching for a strong alternative to ivory to use on the knee joint of my basset horns,” says Cowley of the replica basset horns he produces in the style of 18th-century European instrument maker Theodor Lotz.

Cowley was originally drawn to Hilube’s pleasant aesthetic qualities – the polymer is smooth and warm to the touch. However, he quickly discovered it was also extremely hard wearing, not easily scuffed and highly suited to his craft.

He has been using Hilube successfully for the past six years.

While Vesconite Hilube offers a viable alternative to ivory in this niche application, Vesconite – with its charcoal matt finish – is finding use elsewhere as an ebony substitute.

Watch this space…



If you thought you had to get your endorphin fix in a sweaty indoor environment filled with unsightly Lycra, think again. The outdoor gym craze has finally hit South Africa, with increasingly sophisticated gym park equipment popping up in trendy urban hotspots. And, with this new fitness phenomenon comes specialised bushing demands that can withstand not only heavy human use, but nature’s elements.

Jonathan van Biljon, of Lani Service Centre in Johannesburg, demonstrates how the company is using Vesconite bushings to good effect in its robust fitness equipment.

Van Biljon’s company started manufacturing outdoor gym equipment four years ago, in response to a need from park authorities, truck stops, mining companies and residential estates – all eager to provide gym facilities in a natural setting.

Various gym equipment designs were rejected, including designs with screw-in bolts, as it was found that scrap metal seekers simply unscrewed the bolts and made off with the metal components.

Metal bushings and a competitor’s plastic bushings were also rejected when it was discovered that the gym equipment became difficult to operate over time and eventually seized in response to corrosion and a lack of lubrication.

Vesconite gradually emerged as the answer to Lani Service Centre’s problem, given it self-lubricating properties and ability to withstand whatever the elements threw at it.

The manufacturing process was tweaked further by injecting a small amount of grease on the bushing during assembly, together with a pin through the bushing and an outer steel sleeve with a washer at the end, which was welded to the counter metal beam, thereby serving as a deterrent to would-be scrap metal thieves.

Outdoor gym facilities are likely to become ever more popular as a means to improve fitness, encourage community building and general health by providing a cost-effective alternative to traditional gyms. Vesconite is thrilled to be part of this trend.



A production line can only move as fast as the parts used to support it, whether it’s a conveyor system, a belt, or a sorting bin. A recent case study highlights this.

After a temporary shutdown to improve production and maintenance, Johannesburg-based laminating and coating factory, Arthur Dowson, decided to replace Teflon and nylon with Vesconite Hilube support bearings. Vesconite Hilube has a lower friction coefficient and requires less lubrication compared to nylon.

The polymer bearings’ friction coefficient (0.10) is less than half that of nylon. This allows for a higher PV factor (load × speed). Adding external lubrication or water to the equation will lower friction even further, and the resultant PV factor. It also has a much higher load capacity compared to nylon and Teflon.

According to Vesconite Bearings mechanical engineer Juan van Wyk, the decision to use the Vesconite plain support bearing design was two-fold: simpler removal and resultant easier operation, as well as easy cleaning and maintenance – Vesconite is resistant to many acids and alkalis, including acetone, paraffin, and turpentine.

Arthur Dowson maintenance manager Roy Rodgers reports that the material coating company lubricated the previous support bearings to reduce wear, and is likely to continue doing so with the Vesconite replacement. Wear issues become particularly important on the support bearings at the end of the production line, as the coupling of the drive-end attachment and material shaft require tight tolerances.

The company is confident Vesconite’s introduction to the workflow will extend the life of the fabrication line and minimize future maintenance cycles.



No-grease, no swell Vesconite bushings will be on display at four expos in the next two months.

Learn more about Vesconite rudders and stern tubes, and on-deck applications at:

  • Stand G10 at the Navegistic Paraguay Marine Show, October 4th to 6th
  • Stand 6413 at Europort Rotterdam, November 7th to 10th
  • Booth 07.330 at METS Amsterdam, November 14th to 16th
  • Booth 1205 at Workboat New Orleans, November 29th to December 1st

Vesconite’s bushings outperform in many marine applications because they are dimensionally stable, have tight tolerances, close clearances and are easy to machine. 

Vesconite is approved by most of the ship classification societies, including the American Bureau of Shipping; Biro Klasifikasi Indonesia; Bureau Veritas; China Classification Society; China Corporation Register of Shipping; Det Norske Veritas; Germanischer Lloyd; Korean Register of Shipping; Lloyd’s Register and Nippon Kaiji Kyokai. 

Contact Leandro Panzini ( to discuss Vesconite bushings at Navegistic.
Sharon Mc Ardle ( and Matthew Davey ( to meet at Europort, METS or Workboat.



Marine bushing emergencies in South America can now be easily dealt with by ordering XL marine bushings that are available for immediate dispatch from Buenos Aires, Argentina, from this week.

The bushings, which are widely used in the marine industry as rudder bushings and stern tubes, are made of Vesconite, a very strong, wear-resistant, low-friction, ultraviolet-stable engineered polymer that is also dimensionally stable in water.

The polymer bushings are ideal for the submerged and corrosive conditions found in the marine industry. They are easily removed and refitted, saving in costly downtime. They also are resistant to oils and fuels and do not delaminate or distort under high loads.

Over the past 50 years, hundred of industrial and leisure marine applications ‒ from yachts to supertankers ‒ have been equipped with Vesconite bushings. The bushings have been particularly enthusiastically received by the marine industry in South America, and are valued for their ability to withstand the tough and abrasive conditions found in the subcontinent’s inland waterways. They have also been widely accepted by container ships entering South American waters, having been certified by most of the large ship classification societies.



South African hydraulics solutions provider Rite Hydraulics has advised heavy equipment users to plug up their greasing points and switch to Vesconite bushings on the pins on hydraulic cylinder rod clevises.

The rod and base clevises are the mounting sections of the hydraulic cylinder. They yoke to the piece of machinery that is required to be moved by hydraulic means and, as such, the good working order of the pins and associated bushings is necessary for the hydraulic movement.

However, hydraulic solutions are often employed in conditions where dust and grit are common, including on front-end loaders and tipper trucks that are used in mines and industrial sites and, where these applications use bronze bushings and grease, a grinding paste is formed that wears down bronze bushings.

It is better to use Vesconite without lubrication so that the bushings last much longer, reports MD Andre Jacobs.

Rite Hydraulics supplies hydraulic solutions to a range of industries including plants, foundries, steel manufacturing, railway repair and crane hire companies.

The company has been replacing hard bushings with Vesconite bushings since 2009, and says that clients report extended life with the Vesconite bushings.



An Australian company that specialises in both on-site and off-site pump refurbishment is finding that energy efficiency is an important driver in its refurbishment packages – and has included Vesconite bushings as part of its energy-reducing refurbishment package.

FITT Resources’ Daniel Hechter says that electricity costs in Australia, at 25+ AUS c/kWh, are among the highest costs globally.

As a result, when the company retrofits 30 to 35-year-old pumps, besides increasing the life of a pump, there is a focus on increasing the energy efficiency of the pump.

The company’s retrofitting is programme orientated and includes a number of interventions to increase energy efficiency by ensuring that flow is better and that less electricity is used.

One of the retrofitting tasks is to typically install Vesconite bushings as interstage bushings in the multi-stage high and low-pressure pumps that it repairs.

The pumps that it repairs have used bronze bushings historically and this has been expensive and caused damage to shafts.

The Vesconite bushings, in contrast, offer the advantage of being able to run with small clearances, which causes less recycle, or less movement of pressurised water from the previous stage to the next stage.

Hechter notes that it is difficult to determine the exact energy savings that can be attributed to the bushings, but energy consumption is reduced in general following a refurbishment package.

“Capital and labour are expensive in Australia, so it is important to use retrofitting to return original equipment manufacturer (OEM) equipment to its original if not better state,” he notes.

Water utilities in the region continue to rely on the pump refurbishment firm, which is also a supplier of OEM pumps, seals and filtration systems, to refit their multi-stage pumps, and in the last four years several multi-stage pumps have been retrofitted with either Vesconite Hilube or Vesconite bushings.



A large manufacturer and supplier of trailer axles in the Asia-Pacific and Australia-New Zealand areas converted to Vesconite Hilube bushings in 2002, having used nylon previously.

The Vesconite Hilube bushings are made from an engineered polymer that is wear resistant, operates quietly and does not delaminate or distort under high loads. With built-in self-lubrication, the bushings last longer than bronze or nylon, and for axle manufacturers there’s an opportunity to extend their axle warrantees.

“The truck, trailer and bus industry is among the many industries for which Vesconite Bearings produces custom parts at its factory in Virginia, South Africa,” says technical consultant, Eddie Swanepoel.

“The S-Cam bushings are stock items, and the hope is that other axle manufacturers will also convert to Vesconite Hilube bushings, which will enable them to extend their warrantees.”

Vesconite Bearings has the largest machine shop in the Free State, with 60 computer numerically- controlled lathes and machining centres, and numerous large conventional lathes that are capable of machining bushings up to 3 000 mm in diameter.

As a result, S-Cam bushings, mechanical suspension bushings as well as other bushings can all be produced for the automotive and transport sectors.

Vesconite Bearings also has warehouses in South Africa, the US, UK, Netherlands and New Zealand, with stocking distributors in Argentina, Australia and Singapore – so the supply of transport-equipment OEMs can be undertaken easily and quickly.

Vesconite Bearings boasts customers in more than 100 countries, exports over half of its total sales, and dispatches large orders regularly to the US, China, South America and Australasia.



The labour time spent on greasing bushings can be substantial.

Although some greasing globally is automated, much re-lubrication is performed by hand using a grease gun. This means that the time spent greasing one grease point totals between three and five minutes for the staff member involved, be they a lube technician, a maintenance engineer or the equipment operator.

This may not seem like a large amount of time, but consider that the average machine might have 20 grease points, with a typical excavator with a 1.4t bucket having 18 greasing points, a typical 213HP fly-wheel grader having 25 points, a typical 31t truck having 22 points, and a typical 7,7t bucket loader having 20 points. The time spent on greasing adds up quickly to between an hour to over an hour and a half for greasing one machine.

Still not convinced that greasing is time consuming? Consider that, while some grease points need to be greased weekly or monthly, some grease points might have to be greased once a day, seven days a week. For equipment requiring high-frequency greasing, the time commitment for lubrication could add up to seven to ten and a half hours a week.

In addition, depending on the size of the plant or the size of the fleet, total numbers of grease points may increase dramatically, adding to an already substantial lubrication labour burden.

With maintenance requirements already considerable, Vesconite Bearings technical consultant Eddie Swanepoel suggests switching to maintenance-free, oil-free, dry-running, corrosion-resistant polymer bushings, also known as plain bearings.

The time spent greasing could be more profitably used elsewhere, he argues.



VescoPlastics was awarded the Artisan Award at the Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of Southern Africa’s (Seifsa) Awards for Excellence in May.

The award is given to a company federated to Seifsa that has the highest activity in artisan training each year.

VescoPlastics won the award based on the number of apprentices trained as a percentage of the company’s total permanent workforce.

The company currently has 11 registered apprentices and is in the process of registering 10 more.

VescoPlastics has 48 permanent employees, which means the total number of registered apprentices or candidate apprentices represents a massive 44% of the total workforce.

Vescoplastics chairperson Jean-Patrick Leger puts this in context. “Consider that the number of employees in the South African manufacturing sector totalled 1,191,000 in December 2016. If the same training ratio we have applied in our company was applied across South Africa, half a million apprentices would be in training.”

VescoPlastics has had a long-standing commitment to training artisans that dates back many decades. Since 1994 it has trained 27 apprentices in fitting and turning, electrical skills and boiler. Sixteen of these artisans are now formally employed by the company.

Leger believes that a similar commitment to training by other firms could stimulate manufacturing, increase gross earnings and potentially boost the country’s gross domestic product, making South Africa one of the world’s leading workshops.



The Electronics and Computer Science Department of the UK’s Southampton University has chosen Vesconite Hilube for various parts of an innovative low-weight sensor-rich prosthetic hand.

The polymer’s lower density (compared to alloys) was an important influencing factor in the decision to use it.

“A main constraint in the design of a replacement hand is that its mass should be kept as low as possible,” says primary investigator Paul Chappell.

As a result, the Southampton-Remedi hand uses carbon fibre sheet and Vesconite Hilube, with metals only used on the actuators of the electric drives.

Not only does the University’s research programme use Vesconite Hilube for the thumb of the hand, it’s been the material of choice for the ends of the worm and wheel shafts at the base of the fingers and thumb.

Vesconite Hilube’s self-lubricating properties mean that the gearbox does not require additional bearings at the end of the shafts, explains Chappell.

The Southampton-Remedi hand has four motors that move the fingers and two that allow for flexion (movement towards the palm), and extension (movement away from the palm), as well as rotation of the thumb.

The hand can grip and grasp objects securely, and the current prototype incorporates touch, position, slip, texture and temperature sensors.

Explaining the origins of prosthetic hands, Chappel says, “War often resulted in loss of hands, and this trauma led to the development of artificial replacements.”

“In the sixteenth century, Götz Von Berlichingen, a German warrior, and Ambriose Paré, a French surgeon, made hands from metal components.”

Various developments followed, including the split hook – a device that attached to the shoulders with leather straps and used the shoulder muscles to open the hand against a spring.

World War I and World War II, and subsequent conflicts, saw the rapid advance in these designs.

Southampton University has been at the forefront of some significant work on artificial limbs, and is also well known for the Southampton Hand Assessment Procedure, which assesses hand function.

Vesconite is proud to be part of this valuable research endeavour.



Specialised polymer manufacturer Vesconite Bearings believes that its multi-continent sugar strategy will grow its revenue from relatively-new markets.

The company already has considerable expertise in African sugar applications and shared these applications with US sugar producers when it visited the American Society of Sugar Cane Technologists (ASSCT) Joint Meeting, in New Orleans, in the US, from June 14 to June 16.

The polymer manufacturer also hopes to learn about bushing difficulties experienced by US sugar producers.

These pain points will be the source of prototype trials and eventually new applications, which should assist to inform all sugar producers about where Vesconite Bearings’ polymers can be used to good effect.

After the New Orleans Expo, Vesconite Bearings technical consultant Eddie Swanepoel will visit the KZN Industrial Technology Expo (KITE) from July 26 to July 28.

“Our polymers have been successfully used in underfeed rollers, hanger bearings, pump bushings, vertical crystalliser support bushings, feeder table bushings, mill housing side plates, long-travel-crane wheel bushings, ash settler sprocket bushings and lime bucket bushings, among other applications in the sugar industry,” he says.

“The knowledge gained from hard-wearing African sugar applications continues to be essential in converting other relatively-new markets to our products.”

Vesconite Bearings supplies sugar producers in South Africa, Tanzania, Malawi, Kenya, Mauritius, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Sudan and is starting to make headway in the US supplying sugar cane and beet sugar producers.

Expos such as KITE and South African Sugar Technologists Association Congress have historically proved invaluable in achieving brand recognition for the company’s polymers and, with the attendance of the ASSCT, and armed with a clutch of proven applications, further brand recognition for the polymer among global sugar producers is possible.



South Africa-manufactured Vesconite Hilube bushings have been successfully used as suspension bushings in a modified 4×4 vehicle at this year’s Dakar Rally.

Prior to Dakar, the polymer bushings were put through their paces at an endurance event in Argentina – a gruelling 9000km race across a tough terrain of sand dunes, mountains and salt flats.

According to our Argentina distributor Leandro Panzini (VesArg), “The previous material that was used lasted only one or two race stages, whereas Vesconite Hilube lasted for the complete Dakar race, as well as another shorter race.”

Apart from aiding suspension alignment, these bushings are an important component in general vehicle safety, driver comfort, steering and handling. This is particularly pertinent in the 15-day Dakar Rally, where vehicles are travelling between 100km/h and 200km/h over extremely demanding terrain.

In this particular setting, the bushings were exposed to rapid oscillating movement. Panzini says the Hilube performed way better than the original nylon-molybdenum bushings. “The bushings were used for the equivalent of two Dakars, and are still in good condition, thanks to Vesconite’s winning combination of low friction and high abrasion resistance.”



South Africa-based high-performance polymer producer Vesconite Bearings is arranging a roadshow to US earthmoving customers in June.

This is according to newly-appointed earthmoving representative Juan van Wyk, who is spearheading the company’s drive to have the earthmoving industry use the company’s advanced thermoplastic bushings in various types of earthmoving equipment, including load, haul and dump (LHD) equipment, back hoe loaders, excavators, wheel loaders, articulating dump trucks, graders, and crawlers.

Van Wyk, who is a recent graduate in mechanical engineering from the North West University, is passionate about problem solving and intends to discuss the development of custom components for specific machines and manufacturers.

The design of a particular component typically involves defining the problem, undertaking background research, specifying requirements, brainstorming solutions, performing development work, building a prototype, testing and analysing the results and possibly redesigning the component if necessary.

This approach, together with a partnering between Vesconite Bearings and earthmoving equipment users and manufacturers, should see the optimising of components and could result in improved efficiency, weight savings or longer component guarantees, among other potential benefits. 

“The US is a significant market for earthmoving equipment and is expected to show impressive growth in the coming five years,” says Van Wyk.

“We are expecting considerable growth from the construction sector with significant growth in new infrastructure development and renovation. The surface mining sector is also expected to support earthmoving equipment industry growth.”

Vesconite has been developed and proven in many industrial applications and has become the preferred bushing material where high loads must be carried with small clearances, including on pivot and articulation points.

The thermoplastic is specifically suited to solve the problems experienced in the harsh earthmoving environment, with Vesconite bearings offering various advantages, including the elimination of greasing and down time and the extension of the life of shafts and mating pins.



It is advisable for mining companies to consider converting brass components to polymer alternatives, says Vesconite Bearings’ Marius van Zyl.

Non-ferrous-metal thefts are associated with direct costs and the indirect costs of production losses, with one study finding that, while copper-related incidents comprised 51% of mine incidents on South African mines, they made up 73% of primary and production losses.

While copper cabling is the most worrying type of non-ferrous metal theft — since it is associated with possible endangerment or loss of life, with ventilation and transportation failure likely in the event of a power interruption, in addition to the substantial drops in revenue and profit associated with work stoppages — other brass components’ thefts are also a concern for mines.

This is because brass components are concealable, removable, disposable and available and so are also an attractive target for thieves. In addition, many components that are stolen are also not recovered and are only detected after a piece of equipment is found to be inoperable.

Van Zyl, who acts as the representative of Vesconite Bearings to the mining sector, believes that mining companies may reduce substantial losses if they convert brass components to ones made of the company’s polymers, including Vesconite, Vesconite Hilube and HiTemp 150.

He notes that, particularly in underground mines, items such as pumps are stripped for their brass parts long before they wear out.

“Our products last longer than bronze ones in many of the applications and are not sought after in the metals scrap market,” advocates Van Zyl.

“Using our polymers will reduce losses due to theft,” he comments.



A South Africa-based self-lubricated polymer bearings and bushings manufacturer, Vesconite Bearings, is proud that lost packages are becoming a thing of the past.

This is following the introduction three years ago of shocking pink packaging colours for all its outbound shipments.

Chairperson Dr Jean-Patrick Leger had found that parcels were frequently lost after hand-over from the courier company to the airlines.

“It was unbelievable: sometimes shipments weighing tons would just disappear, only to be found months later in an airport warehouse hundreds of thousands of miles away from the original routing,” he says.

Parcels in nondescript brown packaging were typically found later, but after considerable frustration felt by irate customers as well as Vesconite Bearings staff, Leger adds.

With the introduction of bright pink packaging, with diagonally-worded text with website and telephone details, as well as a bullet-point invitation to contact the company for fitting and machining instructions and technical information, lost packaging has become a rare occurrence.

Leger notes that he was advised to choose packaging that stood out from the crowd, and considered pink, since this was a favourite colour of his late mother.

Various people tried to dissuade him of this colour choice, largely because the colour is strongly associated with women, who have traditionally not been a large market for the company.

However, the deeper pink hues of the Vesconite Bearings packaging seem to have resonated well with clientele, perhaps because analysts now suggest that fuchsias and magentas, as well as other deeper pinks, are considered vibrant and youthful, and are also associated with a sense of confidence.

Such seems to have been the thinking of other brands, such as T-Mobile, which has also chosen a similar colour for its brand to help it stand out among other mobile communication providers while adding life and energy.

Vesconite Bearings’ packaging colour seems to have had a similar effect.

The company ships rods, tubes, plates as well as finished items globally, and its packaging comes in various sizes, with a liner, corrugated medium, another liner, another corrugated medium and then a final liner of pink.

“It feels as if my late mother is watching over each package and ensuring that it does not get lost,” says Leger, reinforcing how the colour choice was initially inspired by his mother and is an ongoing tribute to her.



South Africa-based self-lubricated bearings and manufacturer VescoPlastics will be able to machine custom components faster and easier thanks to the introduction of a new 5-axis computer-numerically-controlled (CNC) machining centre at its factory in Virginia, Free State.

The state-of-the-art Haas VF-11 machining centre has a 3,000 mm travel, and allows the cutting tool to move across the X,Y and Z linear axes and the workpiece to tilt and to rotate in any direction.

Among the many applications that it may be used on is in the machining of daggerboard casings for high technology sailing boats that are used as an alternative to fixed keels on catamarans, for performance boat builders.

Other complicated machining jobs are also to be carried out.

“The machining centre will allow us to complete complex projects quickly and accurately,” says VescoPlastics chairperson Dr Jean-Patrick Leger.

“It will also save manufacturing time because components do not need to be transferred between machines for finishing,” he says.

VescoPlastics produces its proprietary brands of Vesconite and Vesconite Hilube bushings and wear plates that operate in dusty, dirty or wet conditions and still last longer than other products on the market.

The company also provides extensive machining services and has the largest machine shop in the Free State, with 60 computer numerically controlled lathes and machining centres, and numerous large conventional lathes that are capable of machining bushings up to 3 000 mm in diameter.

VescoPlastics has warehouses in Johannesburg, Texas, the UK, the Netherlands and New Zealand, with stocking distributors in Argentina, Australia and Singapore.

Leger’s South African Bureau of Standards-approved and ISO 9001-accredited company boasts a staff of 71, 25 of whom are employed in the sales and administration divisions, with 46 in manufacturing.

The company also focuses significantly on training and skills development, and is currently mentoring 30 young people as part of its learnership and apprenticeship programmes.

VescoPlastics boasts customers in more than 100 countries, exports over half of its total sales, and dispatches large orders regularly to the US, China, South America and Australasia.



South African-engineered and manufactured sailing blocks will be available for sale to yacht enthusiasts soon.

This is the second batch of the products that is being produced, with the first batch having been used as test pieces or fitted onto yachts through personal contact sales.

“We waited until we were completely satisfied with the performance of the first range before actively marketing the products,” says Draco Sailing Hardware mechanical engineer Scheepers Schoeman.

“This is now the exciting phase of the new business, where we are setting up the website and full marketing strategy.”

Schoeman explains that sailing blocks are part of the rigging system that operates the running rigging, or the ropes, of a yacht.

“It is very important that sailing blocks are strong, reliable and serviceable. If the blocks do not perform adequately, the control of the sails are affected. Additionally, a catastrophic block failure can damage expensive larger equipment. For this reason, we designed our equipment to handle very high loads, while managing to keep the weight low,” comments Schoeman.

The blocks have undergone a multistage load test at an official lifting machine inspector. The blocks have been certified for their maximum working load and designed breaking load, with all blocks having met or exceeded design parameters.

The metal parts of the block have also undergone an accelerated electrolysis corrosion test to ensure that the products withstand long-term marine conditions.

South African-manufactured Vesconite is also included in the sailing block design.

“Vesconite is ideal for our application,” enthuses Schoeman.

“We need a very strong, wear-resistant, low-friction, ultraviolet-stable engineered plastic that is also dimensionally stable in water. Even more than that, we want to prove that we can beat the imported parts, not only on price, but also on performance with a completely local product. Vesconite ticks all of our boxes,” says Schoeman.



Those interested in Vesconite or Vesconite Hilube rods, bushings and plate are reminded that Vesconite Bearings, the maker of the two self-lubricating thermopolymers, has a Netherlands warehouse that can dispatch products to European customers within one day.

The warehouse has substantial stock of these standard items, and is able to supply these products to Europe much more quickly than would be possible from the South African factory.

Customers in Europe who order from the Vesconite Bearings Netherlands warehouse typically have their own machining capacity to machine the component that they desire.

The Netherlands has long been an important market for Vesconite and Vesconite Hilube, which is often used in the country’s strong marine sector as well as its water sector, in which pumps play a significant role.

Europe, in general, is a similarly strong market for Vesconite and Vesconite Hilube that will be used in the marine, agriculture and pump industries.

The polymers are particularly desired in the pumps industry in lineshaft, pump bowl and stuffing box bearings and in wear rings. These bearings and wear rings have been developed for global original equipment manufacturers as well as for repairers who use Vesconite and Vesconite Hilube in preference to various OEM parts.

The polymers do not swell, unlike nylon, and show low wear compared to acetal bearings. They thrive with water as a lubricant and are also suitable in dirty and poorly-lubricated conditions.

Vesconite and Vesconite Hilube bushings have solved thousands of bushing problems in demanding applications in many industries worldwide – especially in applications where there is a lack of lubrication, dirt is present or water is a problem. The thermo-polymer bushings ensure longer bushing life, reduce maintenance, reduce shaft wear, can run without grease and solve problems in wet conditions.