If a line shaft deflect but slightly, due to its own weight, or the weight or pressure of other bodies upon it, and then be run at a high speed, the centrifugal force set up increases the deflection, and the shaft whirls about the geometrical line through the centers of the bearings, causing vibration and wear in the adjoining members. It is evident that the practical remedy for this tendency in a shaft of given diameter and speed is to locate the bearings sufficiently close to render the action of small effect.

Many formulae might be given for this relation, each being based on different assumptions. Perhaps as widely applied and as simple as any, is the "Rankine" formula, which sets the limit of length between bearings for shafts not greatly loaded by intermediate pulleys or side strains :

M = 175 √/d/n. (53)