The front wheels on my 1910 Touring have the original ball bearings; I am in the process of taking apart the front axle assembly and having new wheels made. Should I keep the ball bearings or switch to Timken bearings? I'm curious how many of you early T owners have kept original ball bearings and how many have switched.
If the ball bearings and races are in good shape why bother? Is there a risk of damage to the early hubs by changing?
Why? As Kenneth said, also some car makes kept ball bearings long after the T era.
I still have the ball type on the front of my '12 Touring. Replaced the races and balls in both my front wheels a couple of years ago. The only difficulty was finding good condition races. Don't recall just now which were the hardest to find, but two were NOS and had slight corrosion. I polished them up, but probably nowhere nearly as well as a pro would have done.
Chevrolet used ball bearings all the way up until about 1955. Of course, just because it's on a chebby doesn't make it a good idea. (Well yes, I may be a little prejudiced.)
The few times I've tried fitting timkens to early hubs, come up with the same problem, first the depth for the cup is about an 1/8" shorter on the early hub and the cup has a very loose fit as well, so I stick to the ball bearings for early hubs.
When it comes to antique vehicles, I'm always reluctant to make changes that won't yield obvious, significant benefits. -Ancient machinery is a little hinky and you never know when something you decide to change might not fit together correctly or, for whatever reason, not work right. -And with old equipment, there's a danger that changes can be irrevocable. -
As ball-bearing technology has worked for a century, it's sufficiently proven. -If necessary, new balls are available from Lang's. -Other than that and some fresh grease now and then, I leave the front wheels alone. -Ain't nuthin' bad about with working with ball-bearings (unless you happened to be manufacturing them in the city of Schweinfurt during the autumn of 1943).
I'd say if they're in good shape use them. But if anything needs to be replaced, it may be a problem. While new balls are available, some of the other parts can only be had NOS and are getting mighty scarce. When I had new wheels made for my 1915 I used 1917-1918 hubs, added cup removal notches, and installed Timkens because new ones are readily available. I haven't dealt with early wheels, so can't comment on those.
Tinken is a better bearing but i put many many miles on the ball bearinģ
If the ball bearing set up is in good usable i would reuse them
My '21 Touring had a mixture of ball, tapered roller, missing, and wrong bearings in it when I got it. I was blessed to be able to get it straightened out. Someone on here gave a good, current number on the correct seals and since I worked at a Napa parts store I crossed the number over to "our" number and got new seals. Then I found , on ebay , two of the correct tapered inner bearings. I was able to order the matching inner races at work. The only parts that were right on my car were the outer
races, and they were like new. I then found, on ebay, a deal in several outer bearings that were the correct, internally threaded, ones. I ended up with 4 left and 3 rights that cleaned up and looked like new, as well as 2 or 3 each nuts for the spindles, so I now have new or like new, correct bearings and seals in mine. I spent around $ 100.00 all together, but I don't have to worry about wheel bearing trouble when I eventually get to drive my T.
I still run ball bearings in all my early cars. I have never had any issues but finding good races can be a problem. I never run over 35 mph but might think differently if I was in the over 50 mph crowd.
The problem with using Timkens in early hubs, is you can't drive them out. Stick with ball bearings. I visited Don Lang a couple of months ago, and he had some NOS bearing cups with slight surface rust, but they looked like they would clean up ok. I bought several.
GM used ball bearings at least until the late 50s.
I understand early hubs had no "notches" to drive the bearings, actually the races, out. Does it matter whether the bearings are ball or roller style? Don't the races have to be driven out with both styles?
Thanks for all the advice! I think I'll stick to what Henry used first. I just wasn't familiar with ball bearings to know if they were worth keeping. I'll check the races today, but what should I be looking for concerning wear?
Jack the front up and see how they roll. Can you feel any flat spots or binding, loose, Noise? Once a year after I check i lube mine by adding 6 pumps of the grease gun to the hub cap /grease cup and turn them all the way on. I know for a fact this will not work because several here have told me the fine thread hub cap/grease cup will not force grease through the inner bearing!!
John is right. Our 1953 had ball bearings in the front but were in bad shape. So, I changed out the balls for rollers but kept the old races and balls. Why? Because, you'll never be able to look up the part anymore with a supplier of factory parts, even with trying to match it up. I'll let ya'll figure that one out.
Tommy, the cups for the ball bearings don't need notches. You can drive them out with a drift because they're wide enough for it to reach them. You can remove Timken cups from early hubs, but they can't be reused. You weld a bead on them and they loosen and fall out, or you weld a piece of scrap metal across them and drive them out with a drift. I've used the second method. But as I mentioned above, when using the 1917-1918 hubs I added notches.
The point on the stick shows where the edge of the Timken cup will be.
This is the outside end of the hub.
For those who haven't seen them, here are the ball bearing parts.
Adjusting cone, retainer, outer cup, and balls.
Felt seal, retainer, inner cup, and balls.
New balls are available. As far as I know all other parts have to be used or NOS. Some are easy, some are impossible or close to it.
This is a pretty typical inner cup.
Unfortunately, this adjusting cone is not at all unusual.
Thanks Steve. As usual you make it clear. How about a new video of a ride in a T? Right now riding with you is the only T fix I get. Thanks again.
While I've posted this before, You should only use the ball bearings in the early hubs. The Timken races are hard enough and non-yeilding that they will spread the outer nose of the hub and make them crack over time. However, the only way to use the early ball bearing system is to polish the Cups and cones so that there are ZERO imperfections in the bearing track. I buy them up whenever I find them, re-grind new surfaces in them, and just store them away. Here is a link to a previous thread where the quality of the NOS bearings is discussed and how they need work before use. I also show what a good set of "ready" bearings look like.
Yes cut notchs in you hubs if you change over
Also on the spindles theres the innner race for the inner balls this is a slip fit
AND will ne be removed .
Langs had a limited supply last time i got a set.
From the looks of those races i think i need to stop talking and inspect mine!!!!