Some folks like to be very authentic and stay with the original type bearings. From what I've read that's fine if all the parts are in good shape.
But on this wheel I think it's time to switch over to Timken rollers.
Do what you want, but you don't HAVE to switch over. There is a ton of inexpensive NOS ball bearing parts out there, and you can buy better quality balls to assemble them with.
This is timely. The RF inner bearing, Ford Bower T-105, measures 1.190 inside, and is sloppy on the axle of unknown year. Closest stock at the local bearing supply house is 1.183 . Which is correct?
I may be "blackballed" for this, but years ago, when I was doing the front axle on my '15, I bought some of those "NOS" bearings. Some of them came glass-beaded "to remove rust" according to the supplier (so much for the finished surfaces). AND most of them did not meet Ford dimension specifications.
My suspicions are that many of these so-called "NOS" bearings are actually quality control rejects that somehow survived, others WERE good, but now aren't due to handling procedures.
Just want you to be careful when purchasing!
Ohhhhhh, just use a little JB Weld.....
I will trade you good used roller Timken bearings for any good used ball bearings you might have.
David, you're right, but care and examination when purchasing anything, NOS or not, is SOP. Even disallowing the bad stuff, there is still a lot of (good!) NOS ball bearing parts out there.
Royce, no luck on that. Of the three wheels where I've found ball bearings so far, all parts except some of the balls were toast. That broken cup in the picture looks pretty good compared to some of the other ball bearing parts I've found.
Why would you want ball bearings instead of roller bearings? What's wrong with rollers bearings?
i agree fred, the timken roller is a much better thing except the new outers are quite expensive.
The ball bearings work great so long as they are greased properly. We only own these cars until we either die or sell them. My aim is to pass along a Model T with as much originality as I can maintain. Right now my '12 and my '15 both still have their original style ball bearings. Why not keep them that way?
Second, I am working to restore a 2 lever 1909. As much as I can, I will not use any non - original parts when it is restored.
There is nothing wrong with roller bearings. If I was restoring or touring a T that had them originally that is what I would use.
if you could get 100 year old tires would you use em?
Ha Ha. I would not use 100 year old gas or oil either.
I realized a long time ago, that the ball bearings were getting a little hard to find, so I bought a set from Bob Bergstadt Sr., while he still had some. I put them in my '13 roadster a while back. Nothing rolls like a ball! If they are properly lubricated, I don't see how they could ever fail.
DO NOT INSTALL TIMKENS in early hubs. The thick hardened race can (potentially) spread the hub leading to cracking. Many of the damaged early hubs were converts.
IT is possible to grind and polish mirror like bearing surfaces on NOS ball cups and cones, so long as they aren't rusted to bad. I have done this to several sets that I have stored away. You can buy new Grade 25 Chrome steel bass for pennies, either from Langs or from McMaster-Carr.
The secret to making the ball bearings last is selecting cups and cones that are good cores to re-work or are otherwise PERFECT. Even cups that look "perfect" to my eye (I am an optician) still get polished before I use them. Putting a mirrored finish on the bearing surface allows you to see imperfections much easier and provides a friction free surface for the balls to roll on.
They cannot be glass beaded.... they cannot have pits in the roller surfaces. They cannot have cracks. Any blemish such as I mention will continue to grow until the bearing fails.
I have used ball bearings in my 15 for the last 8 years and they work fine. I tour about 2500 miles each year over harsh West Virginia terrain and have no problems. You just have to use good stuff to begin with.
Steve - I'll try to post some pictures later tonight or tomorrow of some re-finished ball bearing assemblies.
Here are some images of rusted bearing assemblies I re-finished. Remember, it is important that the bearing surface be free of blemishes. Pitting is permitted ONLY in areas well away from the region where the ball bearings track. The debris you see is lint, etc floating in the coat of oil.
I think they look very nice!!Bud.
How do you refinish them & what about the surface hardening, is it deep enough that they are still hard?
I have to ask,how are you polishing those balls like that? To small to hold in the fingers.
Jim Lyons describes his technique in this thread: http://www.mtfca.com/discus/messages/179374/214955.html
" I polish my own bearings and re-furbish the inner race cones on a grinder. Outer cups are a different story all together and I need to locate some."
" I stone them (inner race cones) using a technique used by Opticians for preparing optical grinding laps. The races are very hard so they hold their shape. All you do is put the cone in a lathe and spin it up and use a hand-held medium stone to grind away the imperfections. A radius gauge can be made out of cardboard so you can make sure you aren't changing the contour. You have to work different "zones" to make sure you keep the surface constant and done wear ruts into the surface. It works really well and I have thousands of miles on "reground" inner cones.
Ball bearings are very good, if they are in good shape as has been noted. However, no matter how good they are, roller(Timken) bearings are much better. Simple fact, that is why the ball bearings were replaced with the roller bearings.
James Lyons, I respectfully disagree with your statement that the "thick hardened race can (potentially) spread the hub and lead to cracking". The ball bearing race is also "thick and hardened". The "early" hubs were weak to begin with, that is why they were changed. JMHO. Dave
I have run more than one set of Timkens into early hubs only to have the brass dust caps no longer thread on. The cross-sectional density of the Timkens is triangular and allows no compression at all. The cups have a spherical cross section with a parallel/constant thickness and do indeed compress slightly to take the shape of the hub. The early hubs are indeed weak, but forcing Timkens into the early hubs exacerbates the problem and will lead to cracking. I have seen it first hand, and is why I stopped installing Timkens in early hubs and have invested the time and effort to develop the process for re-furbishing the old ball bearing design.
Mack & David Dewey... I finish the balls in a rock tumbler using 50 micron abrasive and vegetable oil. You have to run them for several days. I measure them with micrometers and group them by size so that all balls in a given bearing assembly are all within .0005". I also buy new ones from McMaster-Carr and specify Grade 25, Chrome Steel Material.
The hardening in the cups penetrates all the way through so I am not worried about the center material being softer.
I am not going to dispute the fact that Timkens are indeed better bearings. You are loading an area of about 0.5" wide across the length of the roller which distributes the load and allows them to last much longer. With the ball bearing design, you are putting the entire load upon a "point" where the ball contacts the cones. That's a huge difference. However, for those with early cars and small hubs, ball bearing assemblies are the right solution - providing the effort is taken to assemble the best bearing set possible and keep them greased and inspected.
I understand that everyone is not a purist, but I don't understand the mockery of those who are. Perhaps some feel it is payback for purist pointing out when things are not so 'pure'. Or maybe it's the same mentality in reverse?
I have not really brought out a bunch of hubs and checked this but I think the hubs may be different from early to late in the bearing area. The inner ball bearing cups have a big radius on the back side of the cup. The early hubs, which are not square cut in this area, may not be able to accommodate a square cut Timken large race.
Wasn't one of the tricks by the Harley-Davidson racing teams (1930's or 40's?) to use motors with ball bearings over rollers to reduce friction? A ball is a point contact, were a roller is a line...in theory.
I looked around for nice original ball bearings and used them when I restored my Depot Hack. That was back in 1975 and they are still in the car.
Replacing the balls is no problem. New ones are readily available. Ditto retainer and felt. But what about all the other pieces not sold by the T parts dealers? Aren't those, as Larry says, getting a bit scarce?
Steve - Yes they are. That is why if you find some, you buy them. But I only buy old NOS parts, OR used cups that are not cracked and have an even wear mark around the entire cup. You can find them at Hershey but you have to look. I've put together four spare sets in the last few years from my trips there.
Guys I'll dig out my supply and see what I have I don't use them, so they are not useful to me
I wouldn't say that rollers are better than balls, Ch#$#%t used ball bearings in their front axles clear into the 1950s. I will admit, however, that in the 1970s it was cheaper to go to taper bearings than to buy the ball bearings when your Chev##$#t needed new front wheel bearings. Maybe cost was one of the factors--and consider that the tapers came with the rollers as a unit, no one needed to put balls in and assemble the bearing, so production time was less.
BTW Jim, that link sent me to a thread on tire wear, not refinishing bearing cups.
So, I'm still wondering, is the refinishing something I could do on my lathe, or ??? I have some cups I could possibly save--somewhere in a box here--it's been years since I worked on the wheel bearings on my '15's chassis.
David, sometimes what's in a thread isn't fully described in the title - thread drift occurs
(But I cited almost all the relevant ball bearing refinishing discussion from that thread in my post above)
James is pretty much correct in his warning about splitting an early hub with a Timken race. I have done this conversion a couple of times and have noticed, and heard from others as well, that the Timken race does not just press in nicely where the ball bearing cup had once been. The ball bearing cups were not precisely machined on their outer diameter suggesting that they were able to collapse slightly in order for them to press in place. I believe, but have not confirmed with factory prints, that the ball bearing hub bores were either a different size or, they had a loose tolerance. In any event, the Timken races are sometimes a very tight with a ball bearing hub. I have ground the Timken races to suit the existing ball bearing hub pockets. Don't open up the pockets, the hubs are thin enough already!
With bearing cups that bad, look for stretched hub bores.
interesting indeed, but it seems this could all be cleared up easily. 1, doesnt anyone here have a micrometer, and more important, ford changed the bearing long after they changed the hub didnt they? if so, the late hub with short threads should have a different part # if its been cut for a different size race. sorry, not a historian, but it would seem that if that late hub was made to take both types, why would the early hub be different. i have some dayton hubs that had balls in them, no idea what vintage but i intend to put timkins in in it when the time comes
The late hub was made to fit either type of bearing. The early hub was not.
To add to Royce's last post -
Starting with the 1919 model year:
- Enclosed cars came equipped with demountable wheels and roller bearings as standard equipment.
- Roadsters and tourings equipped with demountable wheels had roller bearings.
- Roadsters and tourings equipped with non-demountable wheels had ball bearings.
Hmm,I am not concerned with refinishing the balls themselves, as new balls are readily available. I'm interested in the cups and cones. Do you use a tool post grinder or ???
Also,there must be a limit on wall thickness too. (or I should say "thinness"!
The reason Chev started having problems with ball bearings is not because of the ball bearing, it is because they started making them so small, they wouldn't stand up under normal load for any length of time. If they wern't so cheap, and would have continued to use a larger bearing, they wouldn't have had that problem.
Re-finishing the cups and cones is done by grinding with a hand-stone and abrasive compounds while spinning the part in a lathe. The cups and cones are finished zonally, the same way an optician finishes the zones on a lens, prism, or other optical mirror. It takes a lot of time and is all hand work.
I have set my own standard on material removal. I discard any cup whereby I am forced to remove .015" from the surface in order to make it good. This means I have to find unused (NOS) cups to start with... a feat that is getting more difficult.
Several years ago I bought a set of NOS roller bearings off Tbay that were sold as direct replacements for both Chevy and Ford. They have fewer rollers than the Timken, and set at a shallower angle. I should have saved the box.
It appears that your micrometers are sticking ;>)
This is fascinating to me. Could you explain "finished zonally"? Although I have worn glasses all my life (since 2 years old) and have been in optician's offices (until I was in high school, my glass lenses were made by Fisher Opticians in San Francisco, just off (egads, I forget the name-it's the park with a parking garage under it & Admiral Dewey's statue in the center)) I don't understand the process, but sounds like something maybe I could do?
David - What you are referring to is an Ophthalmic-Optician.... One who manufactures eyeglasses. I am an Aerospace Optical Engineer, with a background in manufacturing precision optical components for the Aerospace industry. I've spent the last 29 years working for NASA and NASA contractors, building and aligning optical instruments and spacecraft. I don't know the first thing about eyeglass manufacture, but I assume they grind and polish them, just as we do a telescope mirror!
Zonal polishing is when you measure the surface you are modifying and apply the process only to the peaks, or high spots.
You can do this work yourself on a lathe while spinning the cup or cone to about 150 RPM. You need a coarse and fine stone that is long enough for you to hold, but thin enough to fit into the cup and touch the bearing tracks. The ones I use are about 6" long by 1/2" square. I shape the ends so they fit the contour I am working.
With the cup spinning, you work back and forth, making sure you touch all areas evenly until the imperfections are gone. It can take an hour or two for one cup. You can then spin the cup up to about 500 RPM's and smooth it with 220 sandpaper to give it a nice shine.
Now I have to admit that I cheat if the cups are too bad. I put them in my mill on a rotary indexing head and use a jig bore grinder on them to get pits or imperfections out that are deep.
Nice picture set as always.
Since you have them out and clean, could you add comparison pics straight on at the thin side (depth)?
I would not have thought there was 'sameness' without your other pics...curious as to what they actually look like in the other plane side by side. This thread is a nice place to add that so it is all in the same place.
Ah, now I understand. Think when I find my cups, I'll give it a try.
Hope you weren't on the team that did the mirror for the orbiting telescope! Clever fix though!
My Uncle was on the team that created the Space Shuttle tiles, and his son (my cousin) was on the quality control team for the ISS solar arrays.
Me? I play with Model Ts, and player pianos!
Thanks for the hints!