__BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION__
The present invention relates to a four-point contact ball bearing,
for example, used in an electromagnetic clutch, a pulley, etc. in an automobile
air conditioner.

In a four-point contact ball bearing of this type, both the curvature
radius of a raceway groove of an outer ring and the curvature radius of a raceway
groove of an inner ring have been heretofore selected to be 52 % of the diameter
of each ball to thereby enlarge a contact ellipse between the ball and each of
the raceway grooves to prevent resisting moment and peeling. The four-point contact
ball bearing has advantages in reduction in weight, size and cost.

In the related-art four-point contact ball bearing, however, the
contact area of each ball with the raceway grooves of the inner and outer rings
increased because both the curvature radius of the raceway groove of the outer
ring and the curvature radius of the raceway groove of the inner ring were selected
to be 52 % of the diameter of the ball. Hence, there was a problem that heat generated
due to sliding was apt to cause burning. Particularly when the four-point contact
ball bearing is used in a pulley bearing, an electromagnetic clutch, etc. in an
automobile air conditioner, the temperature of the inner ring has a tendency to
rise because heat is transmitted to the inner ring from a boss of a compressor.
If the temperature of the outer ring is reduced, heat-radiating characteristic
is improved. Hence, how to improve the heat-radiating characteristic of the outer
ring is the important point for preventing burning.

If both the curvature radius of the groove of the outer ring and
the curvature radius of the groove of the inner ring were selected to be equal
to 52 % of the diameter of the ball in the same manner as in the related-art example,
the contact pressure of the raceway groove of the inner ring with the ball became
larger than the contact pressure of the raceway groove of the outer ring with the
ball because the sectional shape of the raceway groove of the inner ring perpendicular
to the axis of the bearing was convex to the ball whereas the sectional shape
of the raceway groove of the outer ring perpendicular to the axis of the bearing
was concave to the ball. As a result, the contact pressures were unbalanced. Hence,
there was also a problem that the peeling life of the ball bearing was shortened.

Further, in the related-art four-point contact ball bearing, each
of the raceway grooves of the inner and outer rings was generally formed so as
to come into contact with the balls laterally symmetrically with respect to the
widthwise center of the raceway groove. Hence, when load was applied on each ball
in the condition that the value of offset with respect to the axial centers (i.e.,
the value of displacement in axial center position between the raceway grooves
of the inner and outer rings) was zero, spin was not generated because the ball
rotated only in a direction of the circumference of each raceway groove. For this
reason, failure in grease supply might occur partially, so that failure in lubrication
occurred and resulted in premature burning.

In detail, in Fig. 4, when load is applied on each ball 53 in the
condition that the value of offset is zero, the ball 53 decides an axis R parallel
with the axial direction of the bearing as its own rotation axis with the rotation
of the outer ring 51 or the inner ring 52 so that the ball 53 revolves around
the axial center of the bearing on the raceway grooves 51a and 52a while rotating
on its own axis R without generation of spin making the ball 53 rotate on its rotation
axis inclined with respect to the axial direction of the bearing. For this reason,
grease circulated, for example, as represented by the arrow in Fig. 3 with the
rotation of the ball 53, etc., so that grease did not go toward the center portion
of the ball 53 surrounded by contact points S, T, U and V at which the ball 53
came in contact with the raceway grooves 51a and 52a. As a result, failure in
grease supply might occur between the center portion of the ball 53 and each of
the outer and inner rings 51 and 52 and a cage 54, so that failure in lubrication
occurred and resulted in premature burning.

__SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION__
Therefore, an object of the invention is to provide a four-point
contact ball bearing which is so excellent in heat-radiating characteristic that
burning hardly occurs and which is hardly peeled. Another object of the invention
is to provide a four-point contact ball bearing in which failure in lubrication
can be prevented to make the life of the ball bearing long even in the case where
load is applied on each ball in the condition that the value of offset with respect
to the axial centers of raceway grooves is zero.

In order to solve the aforesaid object, the invention is characterized
by having the following arrangement.

- (1) A four-point ball bearing comprising:
- an inner ring and an outer ring defining raceway grooves, respectively, each
of the raceway grooves being constituted by two circular arcs different in curvature
provided on opposite sides of a widthwise center of the raceway groove; and

a plurality of balls arranged between the inner and outer rings so that the balls
can roll,

wherein in at least one of the raceway grooves, a center of curvature
of one of the circular arcs and a center of curvature of the other circular arc
are displaced from each other at least in a radial direction so that spin is generated
in each of the balls.
- (2) The four-point contact ball bearing according to (1), wherein each of the
balls comes into contact with the raceway groove of the inner ring at two points
and comes into contact with the raceway groove of the outer ring at two points.
- (3) The four-point contact ball bearing according to (2), wherein a curvature
radius of the raceway groove of the outer ring is selected to be larger than a
curvature radius of the raceway groove of the inner ring.
- (4) The four-point contact ball bearing according to (3), wherein the curvature
radius of the raceway groove of the inner ring is selected to be in a range from
50.5% to 53.5% of a diameter of the ball, and the curvature radius of the raceway
groove of the outer ring is selected to be larger by 2% to 6% of the diameter
of the ball than the curvature radius of the raceway groove of the inner ring.
- (5) The four-point contact ball bearing according to (3), wherein the curvature
radius of the raceway groove of the outer ring is selected to be in a range of
from 55 % to 56.5 % of a diameter of the ball.
- (6) A four-point contact ball bearing comprising:
- an inner ring and an outer ring defining raceway groove, respectively; and
- a plurality of balls arranged between the inner and outer rings so that the
balls can roll, each of the balls comes into contact with the raceway groove of
the inner ring at two points and comes into contact with the raceway groove of
the outer ring at two points,

wherein a curvature radius of the raceway groove of the outer
ring is selected to be in a range from 55% to 56.5 % of a diameter of the ball.
- (7) A four-point contact ball bearing comprising:
- an inner ring and an outer ring defining raceway groove, respectively; and
- a plurality of balls arranged between the inner and outer rings so that the
balls can roll, each of the balls comes into contact with the raceway groove of
the inner ring at two points and comes into contact with the raceway groove of
the outer ring at two points,

wherein a curvature radius of the raceway groove of the inner
ring is selected to be in a range from 50.5 % to 53.5 % of a diameter of said ball,
and a curvature radius of the raceway groove of the outer ring is selected to be
larger by 2 % to 6 % of the diameter of the ball than the curvature radius of
the raceway groove of the inner ring.

__BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWING__

- Fig. 1 is a sectional view of a four-point contact ball bearing according to
a first embodiment of the invention.
- Fig. 2 is a sectional view showing a four-point contact ball bearing according
to a second embodiment of the invention.
- Fig. 3 is an explanatory view showing centers of curvature of left and right
circular arcs in the outer ring depicted in Fig. 2.
- Fig. 4 is an explanatory view for explaining a problem in a related-art four-point
contact ball bearing.

__DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS__
The invention will be described below in detail on the basis of embodiments
shown in the drawings.

__FIRST EMBODIMENT__
Fig. 1 is a sectional view showing an embodiment of a four-point
contact ball bearing according to the invention. In this embodiment, a plurality
of balls 3 are provided between a raceway groove 11 of an inner ring 1 and a raceway
groove 12 of an outer ring 2 so as to be arranged at intervals of a predetermined
distance in a circumferential direction. The balls 3 are retained in a cage 5.
Sealing members 6 are fixed to opposite axial end portions of the outer ring 2.
Sealing lips 7 of the sealing members 6 come into frictional contact with cavities
formed at opposite axial ends of the inner ring 1.

The raceway groove 11 of the inner ring 1 includes a left portion
11B on the left side (in Fig. 1) of a bearing radial plane C passing through a
center P0 of each ball 3, and a right portion 11A on the right side of the plane
C. The left portion 11B comes into contact with the ball 3 at a point P3.. The
right portion 11A comes into contact with the ball 3 at a point P4. In the raceway
groove 11 of the inner ring 1, both the left portion 11B and the right portion
11A have a curvature radius equal to 52 % of the diameter of the ball 3.

The raceway groove 12 of the outer ring 2 includes a left portion
12B on the left side (in Fig. 1) of a bearing radial plane C passing through a
center P0 of each ball 3, and a right portion 12A on the right side of the plane
C. The left portion 12B comes into contact with the ball 3 at a point P1. The right
portion 12A comes into contact with the ball 3 at a point P2. In the raceway groove
12 of the outer ring 2, both the left portion 12B and the right portion 12A have
a curvature radius equal to 56 % of the diameter of the ball 3.

Since the curvature radius of the left and right portions 12B and
12A of the raceway groove 12 of the outer ring 2 is selected to be equal to 56
% of the diameter of the ball 3 as described above, a large gap 13 is formed between
the raceway groove 12 and the outer surface of the ball 3. That is, because the
curvature radius of the raceway groove 12 of the outer ring 2 is selected to be
larger than the curvature radius of the raceway groove 11 of the inner ring 1,
the gap 13 becomes larger than a gap formed between the raceway groove 11 of the
inner ring 1 and the inner surface of the ball 3.

Incidentally, the angle &thetas;2 of contact between the ball 3 and
the left portion 11B of the raceway groove 11 is set to be equal to the angle of
contact between the ball 3 and the right portion 11A of the raceway groove 11.
The angle &thetas;1 of contact between the ball 3 and the right portion 12A of
the raceway groove 12 is set to be equal to the angle of contact between the ball
3 and the left portion 12B of the raceway groove 12.

In the four-point contact ball bearing according to this embodiment,
the curvature radius of the raceway groove 12 of the outer ring 2 is selected to
be equal to 56 % of the diameter of the ball 3. Hence, the ellipse of contact between
the ball 3 and the raceway groove 12 of the outer ring 2 is reduced, so that sliding
between the ball 3 and the raceway groove 12 of the outer ring 2 is reduced. As
a result, the temperature rise due to the sliding is reduced.

Since the curvature radius of the raceway groove 12 of the outer
ring 2 is selected to be equal to 56 % of the diameter of the ball 3, the gap 13
formed between the ball 3 and the raceway groove 12 of the outer ring 2 small in
curvature compared with the related-art example becomes large. Hence, heat-radiating
characteristic between the ball 3 and the raceway groove 12 of the outer ring 2
is improved, so that the temperature rise between the outer ring 2 and the ball
3 can be reduced and, accordingly, the temperature rise at the inner ring 1 can
be reduced. Particularly when the four-point contact ball bearing is used as a
pulley bearing, an electromagnetic clutch, etc. in an air conditioner, the temperature
of the inner ring 1 has a tendency to rise because heat generated in the air conditioner
is transmitted from a boss of a compressor to the inner ring 1. The contact area
between the ball 3 and the raceway groove 12 of the outer ring 2 is, however, small
since the curvature radius of the raceway groove 12 of the outer ring 2 is equal
to 56 % of the diameter of the ball 3, that is, because the curvature radius of
the raceway groove 12 of the outer ring 2 is larger than that in the related art.
Therefore, sliding hardly occurs and the gap 13 between the outer ring 2 and the
ball 3 becomes large. Hence, the temperature of the outer ring 2 in the four-point
contact ball bearing is reduced, so that heat can be effectively radiated from
the outer ring 2 side. Accordingly, burning hardly occurs in the four-point contact
ball bearing, so that the life of the ball bearing becomes long.

In the four-point contact ball bearing according to the first embodiment,
the curvature radius of the raceway groove of the inner ring is selected to be
equal to 52 % of the diameter of the ball, that is, the curvature radius of the
raceway groove of the inner ring is selected to be not smaller than 50.5 % of
the diameter of the ball. Therefore, the area of contact between the raceway groove
of the inner ring and the ball is not excessively large. As a result, sliding between
the ball and the raceway groove of the inner ring is not excessively intensive.

The curvature radius of the raceway groove of the inner ring is selected
to be equal to 52 % of the diameter of the ball, that is, the curvature radius
of the raceway groove of the inner ring is selected to be not larger than 53.5
% of the diameter of the ball. Therefore, the contact pressure between the ball
and the raceway groove of the inner ring is not excessively large. As a result,
peeling hardly occurs.

The curvature radius of the raceway groove of the outer ring is selected
to be equal to 56 % of the diameter of the ball, that is, because the curvature
radius of the raceway groove of the outer ring is selected to be larger by 4 %
of the diameter of the ball 3 than the curvature radius (equal to 52 %) of the
raceway groove of the inner ring, the contact pressure of the raceway groove of
the inner ring with the ball 3 is not larger than the contact pressure of the raceway
groove of the outer ring with the ball 3. As a result, the contact pressure of
the raceway groove of the inner ring is balanced with the contact pressure of
the raceway groove of the outer ring, so that peeling can be prevented.

Although this embodiment has shown the case where the curvature radius
of the raceway groove 12 of the outer ring 2 is selected to be equal to 56 % of
the diameter of the ball 3, the same effect can be obtained when the curvature
radius of the raceway groove 12 of the outer ring 2 is selected to be in a range
of from 55%, not inclusively, to 56.5%, inclusively, of the diameter of the ball
3. Although this embodiment has shown the case where the curvature radius of the
raceway groove 11 of the outer ring 1 is selected to be equal to 52 % of the diameter
of the ball 3, the invention is not limited thereto and the curvature radius of
the raceway groove 11 of the outer ring 1 may be selected to be equal to 51.5 %
of the diameter of the ball 3.

Although this embodiment has shown the case where the curvature radius
of the raceway groove 11 of the inner ring 1 is selected to be equal to 52 % of
the diameter of the ball 3 whereas the curvature radius of the raceway groove 12
of the outer ring 2 is selected to be equal to 56 % of the diameter of the ball
3, the same effect can be obtained when the curvature radius of the raceway groove
11 of the inner ring 1 is selected to be in a range of from 50.5 % to 53.5 % of
the diameter of the ball 3 whereas the curvature radius of the raceway groove
12 of the outer ring 2 is selected to be larger by 2 % to 6 % of the diameter of
the ball 3 than the curvature radius of the raceway groove 11 of the inner ring
1.

As is obvious from the description, in the four-point contact ball
bearing according to the invention, the curvature radius of the raceway groove
of the outer ring is selected to be a value larger than 55 % of the diameter of
the ball. Hence, the ellipse of contact between the ball and the raceway groove
of the outer ring is reduced, so that sliding between the ball and the raceway
groove of the outer ring is reduced. As a result, the temperature rise due to the
sliding is reduced.

In the four-point contact ball bearing according to the invention,
because the curvature radius of the raceway groove of the outer ring is selected
to be a value larger than 55 % of the diameter of the ball, the gap formed between
the raceway groove of the outer ring and the ball becomes large. Hence, heat-radiating
characteristics of the ball and the raceway groove of the outer ring are improved,
so that the temperature rise of the raceway groove of the outer ring and the ball
can be reduced.

In the four-point contact ball bearing according to the invention,
the curvature radius of the raceway groove of the outer ring is selected to be
not larger than 56.5 % of the diameter of the ball. Hence, the contact pressure
between the raceway groove of the outer ring and the ball is not excessively large.
As a result, the peeling life can be prevented from being shortened.

As is obvious from the description, in the four-point contact ball
bearing according to the invention, because the curvature radius of the raceway
groove of the inner ring is selected to be not smaller than 50.5 % of the diameter
of the ball, the area of contact between the raceway groove of the inner ring
and the ball is not excessively large. As a result, sliding between the ball and
the raceway groove of the inner ring is not excessively intensive.

Further, in the four-point contact ball bearing according to the
invention, because the curvature radius of the raceway groove of the inner ring
is selected to be not larger than 53.5 % of the diameter of the ball, the contact
pressure between the ball and the raceway groove of the inner ring is not excessively
large. As a result, peeling can be prevented from occurring due to the contact
pressure between the ball and the raceway groove of the inner ring.

Further, in the four-point contact ball bearing according to the
invention, because the curvature radius of the raceway groove of the outer ring
is selected to be larger by 2 % to 6 % of the diameter of the ball than the curvature
radius of the raceway groove of the inner ring, the contact pressure of the raceway
groove of the inner ring with the ball can be balanced with the contact pressure
of the raceway groove of the outer ring with the ball, differently from the related-art
example in which contact pressures were unbalanced because the curvature radius
of the raceway groove of the inner ring was selected to be equal to the curvature
radius of the raceway groove of the outer ring. As a result, peeling can be prevented.

Further, in the four-point contact ball bearing according to the
invention, because the curvature radius of the raceway groove of the inner ring
is selected to be in a range of from 50.5 % to 53.5% of the diameter of the ball
whereas the curvature radius of the raceway groove of the outer ring is selected
to be larger by 2 % to 6 % of the diameter of the ball than the curvature radius
of the raceway groove of the inner ring, the ellipse of contact between the ball
and the raceway groove of the outer ring is reduced. As a result, sliding between
the ball and the raceway groove of the outer ring is reduced, so that the temperature
rise due to the sliding is reduced.

In the four-point contact ball bearing according.to the invention,
because the curvature radius of the raceway groove of the inner ring is selected
to be in a range of from 50.5 % to 53.5 % of the diameter of the ball whereas the
curvature radius of the raceway groove of the outer ring is selected to be larger
by 2 % to 6 % of the diameter of the ball than the curvature radius of the raceway
groove of the inner ring, the gap formed between the raceway groove of the outer
ring and the ball becomes large. As a result, heat-radiating characteristic of
the ball and the raceway groove of the outer ring is improved, so that the temperature
rise of the raceway groove of the outer ring and the ball can be reduced.

Further, in the four-point contact ball bearing according to the
invention, because the curvature radius of the raceway groove of the outer ring
is selected to be not larger than 59.5 % of the diameter of the ball, the contact
pressure between the raceway groove of the outer ring and the ball is not excessively
small. As a result, the peeling life can be prevented from being shortened.

__SECOND EMBODIMENT__
Fig. 2 is a sectional view showing a four-point contact ball bearing
according to a second embodiment of the invention. In Fig. 2, the four-point contact
ball bearing according to this embodiment has outer and inner rings 101 and 102
as raceway grooves, balls 103 arranged between the outer and inner rings so as
to be able to roll, a cage 104, and sealing plates 105 for sealing ring-like opening
portions between the outer and inner rings.

The outer ring 101 includes a raceway groove 101a. Two circular arcs
101a1 and 101a2 different in curvature are provided on opposite sides of the widthwise
(left-and-right direction in Fig. 2) center of the raceway groove 101a. The left
and right circular arcs 101a1 and 101a2 come in contact with each ball 103 at
points A and B respectively. Similarly, the inner ring 102 has a raceway groove
102a. Two circular arcs 102a1 and 102a2 different in curvature are provided on
opposite sides of the widthwise center of the raceway groove 102a. The left and
right circular arcs 102a2 and 102a1 come in contact with each ball 103 at points
D and C respectively.

In the raceway groove 101a, the centers __a__ and __b__ of curvature
of the circular arcs 101a1 and 101a2 are slightly displaced in radial (up-and-down
direction in Fig. 2) and axial (left-and-right direction in Fig. 2) directions
of the ball bearing from each other, so that spin is generated in each ball 103
at the time of rotation of the ball bearing. Similarly, in the raceway groove 102a,
the centers __c__ and __d__ of curvature of the circular arcs 102a1 and 102a2
are slightly displaced in radial and axial directions of the ball bearing from
each other, so that spin is generated in each ball 103 at the time of rotation
of the ball bearing. That is, since the curvature centers __a__ and
__b__ and the curvature centers __c__ and __d__ are provided differently
as described above, the state of contact between the ball 103 and each of the raceway
grooves 101a and 102a at the time of rotation of the ball bearing is made laterally
asymmetrical with respect to the axial center (the widthwise center of the raceway
groove). As a result, difference can be produced between frictional force acting
on the ball 103 from the left circular arcs 101a1 and 102a2 at the contact points
A and D and frictional force acting on the ball 103 from the right circular arcs
101a2 and 102a1 at the contact points B and C. As a result, the rotation axis of
the ball 103 is inclined with respect to the axial direction of the bearing, so
that spin can be generated in the ball 103.

As shown in Fig. 3, for example, the length L of displacement between
the curvature centers __a__ and __b__ is selected to be not larger than 0.1
% of the curvature radius __k__ of each of the circular arcs 101a1 and 101a2.
When the length of displacement between the curvature centers is selected to be
not larger than 0.1 % of the curvature radius as described above, reduction in
the life of the bearing, increase in rolling noise, and so on, can be restrained.

As described above, in the four-point contact ball bearing according
to the second embodiment, spin is generated in each ball 103 at the time of rotation
of the ball bearing. Hence, the point of difference from the ball bearing described
above in the related art is as follows. That is, even in the case where load is
applied on the ball 103 in the condition that the value of offset with respect
to the axial centers of the raceway grooves 101a and 102a is zero, failure in grease
supply can be prevented from occurring between the center portion of the ball
103 and each of the outer and inner rings 101 and 102 and the cage 104. As a result,
failure in lubrication can be prevented from occurring, so that the life of the
ball bearing can be made long. Since failure in lubrication can be prevented even
in the case where load is applied on each ball in the condition that the value
of offset with respect to the axial centers of the raceway grooves 101a and 102a
is zero, the four-point contact ball bearing according to this embodiment can be
preferably used as a bearing for rotatably bearing a long-size rotary shaft long
in an axial direction. As a result, when the four-point contact ball bearing according
to this embodiment is used as a substitute for two deep groove ball bearings in
a device such as an electromagnetic clutch in which the two deep groove ball bearings
were used in the related art for bearing a long-size rotary shaft, reduction in
size of the device,space saving, reduction in cost, and so on, can be achieved.

Although description has been made upon the configuration that the
curvature center __a__ or __d__ of the left circular arc 101a1 or 102a2 and
the curvature center __b__ or __c__ of the right circular arc 101a2 or 102a1
in each of the raceway grooves 101a and 102a of the outer and inner rings 101 and
102 are displaced in radial and axial directions from each other, the invention
is not limited thereto if spin can be always generated in each ball 103 at the
time of rotation. Specifically, for example, only in the raceway groove 101a of
the outer ring 101, the curvature centers __a__ and __b__ of the left and
right circular arcs 101a1 and 101a2 may be displaced at least in an axial direction
from each other so that spin can be generated in each ball. Although description
has been made upon the case where the left and right circular arcs 101a1 and 101a2
are formed by one and the same curvature radius __k__, the invention may be
applied also to the case where curvature radii of the left and right circular arcs
are made different from each other. Further, as mentioned in the first embodiment,
the curvature radius of the raceway groove of the outer ring may be selected to
be larger than the curvature radius of the raceway groove of the inner ring. Specifically,
the curvature radius of the raceway groove of the inner ring maybe selected to
be in a range from 50.5% to 53.5% of a diameter of the ball, and the curvature
radius of the raceway groove of the outer ring is selected to be larger by 2% to
6% of the diameter of the ball than the curvature radius of the raceway groove
of the inner ring. Alternately, the curvature radius of the raceway groove of the
outer ring may be selected to be in a range of from 55 % to 56.5 % of a diameter
of the ball.

As described above, in the four-point contact ball bearing according
to the invention, failure in grease supply can be prevented from occurring partially
even in the case where load is applied on each ball in the condition that the value
of offset with respect to the axial centers of the raceway grooves is zero. Hence,
failure in lubrication can be prevented, so that the life of the ball bearing can
be made long.