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  • Bearing School

    It's pretty clear that I need to learn more about bearings. What to look for, where to buy them, how much they cost, that kind of stuff.

    I don't know, maybe it's because I'm cheap, but when I look at the parts list for the needle bearings in the suspension of my dirtbike, I pretty much have a heart-attack when the price comes up. I mean, they're needle bearings. A drive-shaft u-joint has 4 of them and they typically cost less than 1 bearing in my suspension, and I need 2 bearings per pivot point, and there's more pivot points than I care to think about right now. Now, I will assume this is because the word 'motorcycle' is attached, and this magic word works much 'marine' when it comes to price-tags.

    But, I have tools! There has to be a better way. I just can't find it. I mean, we have a shop in town where you can buy bearings... every time I've gone there, I get a heart attack. What do you mean $24.95 for that thing? It's just a little bearing. Obviously, either I seriously under-appreciate the qualities of a fine bearing, or I'm looking in all the wrong places. Which is it?

    Where can a guy in Canada buy bearings? Mail order is fine, so long as the shipping isn't stupid. A US company that ships via USPS is not out of the question.

    What should I look for? Brand names that are reasonable? What to avoid?

    When I hold a bearing in my hand... can I tell quality by how it feels, or do I have to see how it lasts in service?

    Anyone have a catalogue for price comparisons? Just something from a reliable manufacturer that shows what to expect ballpark price-wise.

    It's not just needle bearings... that's just my current heart attack. I've run into this before and I've never really got to the point of being satisfied with what I know. I always feel like I'm missing something, and something important. Bearings are important to what I want to do.

    Is anyone willing to contribute to a Bearing School thread? Something the rest of us can learn from.

    David...
    http://fixerdave.blogspot.com/

  • #2
    Originally posted by fixerdave View Post
    ................It's pretty clear that I need to learn more about bearings. What to look for, where to buy them...........

    What should I look for? Brand names that are reasonable? What to avoid?

    When I hold a bearing in my hand... can I tell quality by how it feels, or do I have to see how it lasts in service?

    It's not just needle bearings... that's just my current heart attack. I've run into this before and I've never really got to the point of being satisfied with what I know. I always feel like I'm missing something, and something important. Bearings are important to what I want to do.

    Is anyone willing to contribute to a Bearing School thread? Something the rest of us can learn from.

    David...
    That's a tall order Dave
    You can't learn it in a few paragraphs
    I sympathize with your dilemma as I have heard it many times before.
    Sometimes a little knowledge is dangerous, because the field is so wide.
    I am not trying to be smart, but I have heard comments that are not right.

    To start with , Ball bearing were invented in Europe and so most ball bearings are metric.
    They do make standard sizes which are called "inch" bearings, but they are minor is availability
    Roller bearing and needle bearings were developed in the USA and so they are very commonly available in inch sizes.

    In ball bearings, the more precise the bearing, the higher the grade number ..like 3,7,9
    whereas in Roller bearings, it is the opposite 1,0,00

    Most ball bearings do not give you the grade , so you have no way to compare quality
    The best ones, like spindle bearings come in match sets and are wired or packaged together.
    But I have seen guys get matched bearing ( They paid for ) and get ripped, because they were separated
    and not factory specked. You should be concerned, because there are lots or slipshod bearings marketed as prime.
    What many do not know is that most automotive bearings are not high quality, they are just ordinary bearings
    A friend just rebuilt his antique car transmission and i found a SKF bearing for him for 20 bucks, but he insisted on buying a "factory" replacement because it came from a dealer...turned out to be a Chinese bearing...hey, it may be good, but I know the SKF bearing was just as good or better and it didn't cost 60 dollars

    So the best bet for a newbie is to stay with the Brand names, like Barden ( Worlds Best) , Fafnir,Skf, Torrington, Timken..

    Rich

    This could go on for days.
    Your needle cups are cheap and Torrington makes them

    Comment


    • #3
      If you can stand what can at times be dry reading, look up any of the companys Rich mentioned and begin with their technical information which will help get you up to speed on different styles, fits and various other parameters (speed ratings as example). May seem a bit odd but older parts catalogs can be a wealth of information, if for nothing more than ideas.
      Precision is linked to cost, though "factory" replacement tends to jack up the cost as well.

      IF you have a choice and time, it sometimes works out in one's favour to design around a particular bearing, one that maybe just that little bit different in size say but that your project design can be adapted to...EBay as example, though bearing supply houses can be a source as well, some very high quality precision bearings can be found for much less than direct or factory replacement. ABEC 7 angular contact, precision ball is less than a quarter the cost comparing McMaster Carr to a random find on EBay but it is only a single, in a particular size and are you trusting enough that it is actually new etc. etc. Locally, Luke's Machinery often has overstock items like bearings at great deals, no choice though, what they have is what they have.

      In Canada I suspect you will find a basic search showing only a few larger suppliers with any sort of bricks and mortar places in most provinces and anything too far out of the ordinary will be "special order" anyway, here, Winnipeg, there are only maybe three I would go to directly but changes a bit if you are getting someone to fix stuff as if that is the case I leave it up to the one doing the work (electric motor rewind say). My experience has been the a manufacturer or their rep will go by their part numbers rather than trying to source a bearing that matches but could be less costly, too much work!

      http://www.commercialsolutions.ca/be...ansmission.php
      Last edited by RussZHC; 10-01-2014, 01:09 AM.

      Comment


      • #4
        Only one bearing supplier in Victoria? That would not be good.

        Ottawa is not exactly a hot-bed of industrial activity and there are several bearing suppliers here. I always phone for prices and the prices vary wildly, even for the same make of bearing.

        Even if you only have one supplier, try phoning ahead for prices. If you just show up at the counter, you'll probably pay their highest list price.

        Dare I suggest some discreet haggling? I bought some alloy threaded rod the other day. When I registered shock at the $60 quoted, the price immediately dropped to $45.
        Last edited by cameron; 10-01-2014, 01:45 AM.

        Comment


        • #5
          SKF has a ton of info on bearings on their web site. They used to offer a training class I attended on Bearing installation years ago down here in the states. They may offer one in Canada. Might be worth an email. I see they have a ot of info on You Tube too. http://www.skf.com/ca/en/index.html?switch=y

          I also love this comical you tube on 2 mechanics with the same job. https://www.youtube.com/user/MaProNL ha ha...Rich
          Last edited by Richard King; 10-01-2014, 01:51 AM.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by RussZHC View Post
            ...IF you have a choice and time, it sometimes works out in one's favour to design around a particular bearing, one that maybe just that little bit different in size say but that your project design can be adapted to...EBay as example, ...
            BARDEN SZ83SS SPLIT WHEEL BALL BERING
            C $1.12
            Buy It Now
            +C $13.45 shipping

            Yeah, this random example is what kills me. I fully agree that designing around a bearing I can get makes perfect sense, whenever possible. I'd just like to: A) Find a source that didn't kill me on shipping. B) I could sort of trust. And, C) I actually knew what I wanted in the first place.

            From what I've found on Ebay so far, the only people that can ship to Canada economically are the Chinese (and I'm including Canadians in the list... especially Canadians).


            Originally posted by RussZHC View Post
            ... My experience has been the a manufacturer or their rep will go by their part numbers rather than trying to source a bearing that matches but could be less costly, too much work! ...
            I've found this when doing electronics design as well. You're faced with 100s of possible choices and no way of knowing which one everybody uses and that they have sitting on the shelf for cheap. You just have to 'know' and that's great if you're doing it all day long, reading the trade journals, and on a first name basis with the sales guy. If you're out of the loop, you're on your own. I guess I was hoping mechanical things would be a bit different. Sigh...

            Thanks for the link though... I'll do some reading to see if I can make some progress.

            David...
            http://fixerdave.blogspot.com/

            Comment


            • #7
              I've had the same experience when shopping for bearings. Now I do all I can to design around common size ones, but you also have to know what those are. I've been quoted $70 for bearings that are little different than some which I can get locally for $2.50. There's two ways I deal with this- if I shop in a store where there is a rack of bearings which are priced, I can make a choice. The next, and possibly best way is to go to a local metalwork shop and look through their stock. They normally won't have expensive ones sitting on the rack, but mainly will have several sizes that are commonly used in things. It sure helps to be friendly with the staff, and to support their business. Many places now, I'm free to look through stuff on my own, and I often find something I can use without wasting a salespersons time.

              Needle roller bearings has been a tougher nut to crack. I know they are commonly used on starter motor and alternator rotors, but there you go- that's automotive and parts for that industry are apparently gold. But if you knew a manufacturers part number for those, you might be able to source them at a machine shop.
              I seldom do anything within the scope of logical reason and calculated cost/benefit, etc- I'm following my passion-

              Comment


              • #8
                Took a look to see and place I usual end up is Wajax (which used to be Kinecor, and before was...) they don't have a branch on the island that I could see, maybe its just fluke but Winnipeg seems to have a fair number of suppliers some of which I go to but not for bearings...so that could be a customer service thing (small, odd, leftover, time searching). The link I gave was only the first one I found seeming to have some selection between major makers.
                Yes, most times I just bite the shipping cost bullet, granted with a bit of local pricing in mind...its the very high end, specialized stuff I go to EBay and then adapt design if possible. 99% of things I do does not need such.
                Last edited by RussZHC; 10-01-2014, 08:39 AM.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Here is something to get you started: some lack specific URLs and some may no longer be posted.
                  Popular Mechanics, Mar 1947, Ball bearing Primer
                  Popular Science, July 1950, How to Choose Bearings
                  (Google the respective magazines, they are all online, starting in the early 1900's)
                  Magnolia Bearing book, c.1927
                  Ball Bearing Basics, Barden Corp
                  Bearings & Bearing Materials, Industrial Press, c. 1921(try Google books)
                  Everything You Need to Know About Bearings, FAG Corp
                  Bearings, Alex Weiss, #40, Workshop Practice Series, ISBN 978 185486 250 1

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Dunc View Post
                    Here is something to get you started: some lack specific URLs and some may no longer be posted.
                    Popular Mechanics, Mar 1947, Ball bearing Primer
                    Popular Science, July 1950, How to Choose Bearings
                    (Google the respective magazines, they are all online, starting in the early 1900's)
                    Magnolia Bearing book, c.1927
                    Ball Bearing Basics, Barden Corp
                    Bearings & Bearing Materials, Industrial Press, c. 1921(try Google books)
                    Everything You Need to Know About Bearings, FAG Corp
                    Bearings, Alex Weiss, #40, Workshop Practice Series, ISBN 978 185486 250 1
                    Great primer Dunc !

                    Rich

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Bearing School, over simplified perhaps.

                      1977, I bought my first motorcycle.
                      I then asked to see helmets.
                      Found two, one was 10$ the other 47$.

                      I asked what was the major difference between helmets.

                      He gruffly replied "got a 10 dollar head, then buy a ten dollar helmet" and walked away.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        So.. you bought the $10 helmet?

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I didn't read all the posts but I would search for a bearing number not a motorcycle company part number. If I couldn't find a number on the bearing then I would use shaft size, id and od , ball / needle count. Ball/ needle size, shields or seals. Bearing companies have that info on their sites.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Old Hat View Post
                            Bearing School, over simplified perhaps.

                            1977, I bought my first motorcycle.
                            I then asked to see helmets.
                            Found two, one was 10$ the other 47$.

                            I asked what was the major difference between helmets.

                            He gruffly replied "got a 10 dollar head, then buy a ten dollar helmet" and walked away.
                            I like that... I get the idea... but having ridden my entire life I'd have to say it's the guy with the $10 head that really needs the $47 helmet

                            David...
                            http://fixerdave.blogspot.com/

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              But maybe the guy with the $47 head could get away with the $10 helmet

                              I dunno- some of those expensive helmets have multiple gaps where your brains could squish out from. Some of the less expensive helmets would contain your brains so nobody would have to scrape them up. Then there certainly are the cheap helmets which I for one wouldn't buy- my head is worth more than $10. Not sure how much more, but a cop once told my my life was worth millions- why would I balk at paying $160 for a speeding ticket-
                              I seldom do anything within the scope of logical reason and calculated cost/benefit, etc- I'm following my passion-

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