Brian Dowell's thread day before yesterday got me to thinking about something to ask the forum guys:
I guess we all know that front wheel bearings are quite expensive. Mainly because the one bearing race is threaded, infact, one is threaded "left hand" and the other is threaded "right hand".
I know for a fact, that Model A front wheel bearings are much, MUCH cheaper to purchase than Model T bearings, I suppose because the Model A bearings are NOT threaded. I also know that Model A bearings will work just fine in a Model T, but it's not a good idea to use them, because if for some reason the bearing does not run free as it should, it is possible for the un-threaded bearing race to turn on the spindle,.....not good!
What I keep thinking is that it would be nice if someone could devise a simple and cheap way to "LOCK" the Model A bearing race so that it wouldn't ever turn on the spindle. That way, we could purchase and use the much cheaper Model A front wheel bearings.
Henry and the Ford guys figured out how to use these cheaper bearings on a Model A (and forever after) so it just seems like someone could figure out how we could use them "SAFELY" on a Model T! So whaddiya' think,........harold
Probably a no-no like you say, but I have had Model A front wheel bearings in all three of my T's for over 30 years now and have had no "spinning" problems yet. Seems to work good for me, but I guess I could have problems down the road.
Larry - We have a fellow in our club that can tell the very same experience that you just did. In fact, his long-time trouble-free experience with Model A bearings has been so successful, that he didn't even know that it was, as you say,...."a no-no"! That's why I've always wondered if maybe there might be some simple way to use them SAFELY. Some sort of "keeper" like a "tab-over washer", or set screw, or pin, or something.
Hmmmmm,.....30 years in 3 Model T's,.......if my friend in our club hasn't read your post, I'll tell him. That's even a better "success story" than his,.......harold
The problem is getting a Model A bearing to stay tight in the race.
The Model T bearing threads up snug with the wrench and then you adjust the tightness for free rotation without wheel wobble. Then apply the toothed washer, and then the lock nut is pulled tight, while you hold the flats on the T bearing to keep it in the position you set it, and the inner race can't turn, its locked with threads on the spindle.
See this picture, that A bearing was used on a T, and you can see how much wear on its face, can hardly read the script. The A bearing inner race is free to turn, wear, and maintain slop in the bearing, leading to front wheel wobble. Plus it can turn on the threaded spindle and wear out the threads rendering the spindle ruined.
I didn't think the problem was as much that the A bearings would turn, but that they would not 'bear' well on the threaded spindles. I would think A bearings would booger up the threads where T bearings would never work on them again.
Someone is making cheaper bearings which are a non-threaded bearing with a threaded insert pressed into them. I bought a set and only used one side. They are a very tight fit on the spindle and are really hard to get adjusted properly. Wonder if someone could make a threaded sleeve to thread onto the spindle with an OD that would be a slip fit for the Model A bearing?
I do understand all of the concerns about using A bearing and what problems they could, or should cause. The threads on my cars show no wear or distortion, but that is just my situation and wouldn't want to encourage anyone to use them if they have concerns.
Hal - Sort of like a helicoil but only threaded on the inside, huh?That seems like it would work, except that the Model A inner race diameter is already a pretty close fit over the threaded Model T spindle, so I don't think there would be room for a sleeve of any thickness at all to fit inside the Model A bearing race. And I would think that the hardened Model A bearing race would be all but impossible to machine to increase the I.D. Good thought though; maybe the I.D. of the hardened Model A bearing race could be enlarged by some sort of grinding operation???........harold
One set of wheel bearings will last your lifetime, why not do it right. Eating at home instead of out a few times will more than pay for the bearings.
Yes, that is what I was thinking about. You are right about the A bearing maybe not being big enough. I wonder what bearing they are using for the ones with the inserts pressed into them? They may not be the A bearing, but one with a larger ID, instead.
The other alternative would be a vendor reproducing T spindle forgings machined to A spindle specs where the bearings ride. However, I'm sure they would not be cheap and to complicate matters, there were various designs over the T years. Wonder if existing ones could be modified with a new spindle? Still wouldn't be cheap, but not as much as a whole new forging. I don't know. Just thinking out loud.
I have two or three pairs of used, but good, originals I found at Hershey, so I doubt I'll be in the market any time soon. I bought the insert style repro's back when all of the vendors were out of Timkens and I needed a bearing. It's a good idea. I think the problem is they machine it to fit the spindle in it's natural state, then press it into the bearing, which closes up the threaded portion a couple of thousandths making for a tight fit which is difficult to thread on.
Hal - In looking at Dan's photo of the two bearings, a "thought" (oh-oh) occurred to me:
On that surface of the Model A bearing that shows wear from the bearing race turning on the spindle, what if a little slot or "dimple" was ground into that surface of the bearing race, and the mating surface of the spindle was drilled (or drilled & tapped) for a little pin or set screw to protrude a few thousandths to register with the slot or dimple in the edge of the bearing race. Wouldn't that prevent the race from turning on the spindle? Again,.....seems like that would work, but then if so, I guess someone would have done it, right?....harold
This is your answer.
Harold: I have a small trailer that my Dad built in about 1930 something. It is a "T" axles, springs unknown. I was built in California, made a trip to Missouri in the 30's and back in then back. In 1945 we moved to Missouri and spent 8 years there, in 1953 my Mom and Dad moved back to California and the trailer made the trip back to it's home land California. All this time it had Model A bearings inner and outer Model A drums and a disk blade for a backing plate. For many years here we used it for our refuse trailer. I am guessing it has about 17,000 or maybe 18,000 miles on the bearings, and never had a problem. My Dad, when he thought the bearing need service he would pull the wheels and clean the inner and out race to check for wear and the re-pack and re-install them. The wheels are wire wheels and in great shape. I wish I had a photo of the trailer. In my photo we do have one take in Oklahoma where we stopped and took a photo of the snow on the ground. That was in 1945 and we moved to Mansfield, Missouri to live for 8 years. Then Uncle Sam asked for my help and I gave his three years two in Germany.
I'm thinking the item in Mike's link may be the ticket.
What's all the agony about wheel bearings? They seem to last forever and there are many used ones available everywhere. I am sure used ones will last as long as your T. Why buy new ones?
Buy the right bearings and don't screw around with the your or your family's safety.
I wonder where the new bearings are made?? Bud in Wheeler,Mi.
Who has experienced a catastrophic front wheel bearing failure...that has resulted in an accident?
John M, I am just curious, If used ones are available everywhere, how come 1 person answered my recent ad looking for them--I was even asking for almost bottom of the barrel ones that you might not care to drive on but don't want to throw out.
I couldn't believe only 1 person would want to sell a set, or are the rest of you just hoarding all the used ones.
Kenneth, I bought brand new outers last year, Timken ones, they say Canada on them. I am fine with stuff made by our fine northern folks, it's just the things not made on this continent I have some issues with.
Chad,That is what i was getting at.Bud in Wheeler,Mi.
I think they are being hoarded...or they show up on wheels, axle assemblies at swap meets. That's where I find them. Otherwise I hoard them and use for new projects. They are easy to store and not worth selling.