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Thread: Making your own rolling element bearings

  1. #1
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    Default Making your own rolling element bearings

    This is not a tutorial, but a question for anyone who might have ever done this. Has anybody actually machined (and heat treated presumably) their own bearing races? What kind of results did you have?

    I've thought about this a few times now. It seems that you could save space and achieve a very low runout for a spindle if the bearing grooves are machined at the same time as the rest of it. Maybe it would take a more precise machine than most of us would have to do this, maybe not. I do wonder if this kind of thing is ever done?
    I seldom do anything within the scope of logical reason and calculated cost/benefit, etc- I'm following my passion-

  2. #2
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    -No, and for several reasons:

    One, the ball or taper groove has to be extremely finely ground, and polished to a near-mirror finish. AND concentrically to a very high tolerance- even just a few hundred-thousandths of "egg shape" is too much.

    And two, the bearing race needs to be extremely hard, and extremely tough. You'd have to make the entire spindle out of an exotic, hard-to-machine alloy, have it very carefully heat-treated and tempered, and then ground to a high precision.

    Theoretically, yes, it can be done. Lots of cars and trucks today have "unitized" wheel bearings in the hubs, where the splined wheel flange IS the inner bearing race. Theoretically a high-quality lathe manufacturer could pull it off, but really, it's not worth it.

    One of the biggest benefits to a standard separate bearing like we use today is if and when one or both races wear out, it's a relatively simple job to press off the old races, press on new ones, and go back to work. Rebuilding a "unitized" spindle like you suggest would involve high-precision regrinding of the grooves, and then precise reinstallation of the proper oversized rollers.

    Doc.
    Doc's Machine. (Probably not what you expect.)

  3. #3
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    I'd not want to say it is impossible (the first gage blocks were made without any exotic equipment), but it would probably be something of a "career".

    You'd need to make some equipment to make some things to make some other things to make the bearings.....
    1601

    Keep eye on ball.
    Hashim Khan

  4. #4
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    I don't know for what application your talking about but iv done it many a times for projects of mine, by no means precision but never the less friction reducing get the job done ball and roller type bearings, machining and then heat treating 0-1 or D-2 or in some cases just machining 17-4 H-900, did that yesterday for roller bearing application on a low load situation for an experimental project...

    if your talking a mill spindle then forget it - buy a precision bearing...

    all really good bearing races are ground...

  5. #5
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    Start with one of these.

  6. #6
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    Needle bearing on some milling machines spindles (older Aciera F1, Deckel FP1 ) is just like that and they are feared and respected because repair is very expensive. Integrated ball or tapered roller bearing would be 10x worse than that.

    DIY needle bearing spindle would be the "easiest" to make as you need "only" cylindrical surfaces and rolling elements you could buy for a few bucks from bearing store.

  7. #7
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    I've done it too. But not to anything at all like you're looking at doing. The two times I did it the loads were light and speeds low and the bearing seats were done using a form tool into steel on one side and cast iron in the other. One of the items was given away many years ago and the other I still use and it's still working well. But as mentioned light duty and low speed. Simply about reducing friction so I could feel the torque building up through the gearing.

    For what you're describing no way you could get by without some rather sophisticated grinding after the hardening.

    OR... .since it came up in another thread. You might be able to make then heat treat and then "grind" by lapping the surfaces in using a series of your own carefully made laps to hone out the distortion from the heat treatment.

  8. #8
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    Yes it would require some precision tooling and grinding equipment, specialized lapping and honing devices, gear for heat treating- cost you more than the expensive bearings would be just to purchase instead.
    I seldom do anything within the scope of logical reason and calculated cost/benefit, etc- I'm following my passion-

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by MattiJ View Post
    Needle bearing on some milling machines spindles (older Aciera F1, Deckel FP1 ) is just like that and they are feared and respected because repair is very expensive. Integrated ball or tapered roller bearing would be 10x worse than that.

    DIY needle bearing spindle would be the "easiest" to make as you need "only" cylindrical surfaces and rolling elements you could buy for a few bucks from bearing store.
    yeah they do, as nice as the mills are, its worst spindle bearing design ever, I mean it sets the standard for poor design Don't believe me....wait you need to do the bearings in one.

    Matt, if you had to do the bearings in your F1, how would you go about it, with the outrace and inner race worn? I'm almost thinking a new housing, fit with a bearing with an outer race....but there isn't much room and still have the housing OD 40mm (or whatever it is)
    .

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mcgyver View Post
    yeah they do, as nice as the mills are, its worst spindle bearing design ever, I mean it sets the standard for poor design Don't believe me....wait you need to do the bearings in one.

    Matt, if you had to do the bearings in your F1, how would you go about it, with the outrace and inner race worn? I'm almost thinking a new housing, fit with a bearing with an outer race....but there isn't much room and still have the housing OD 40mm (or whatever it is)
    Aciera managed to fit some standard tiny angular contact bearings in the late model F1. (like the one I have)
    For home brew repair of the old version F1... yikes..
    grind the bearing surfaces and order custom size needle bearings (haven't been able to confirm availability but rumor is that these would be available from SKF)(Nadella was another company mentioned somewhere on PM forums)
    Some speciality shops also offer repair for eye-watering price, IIRC 2000-3000 usd.

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