Just received a set of inner and outer bearings from Lang's. Marked Made in China.
Thought to save a few bucks over the Timken
Has anyone have had any problems with the Chinese made bearings?
Correction: meant to say a set of outer front wheel bearings from China. The inner bearings are Timken.
I installed a set for a friend who refused to pay for Timken. The Chinese bearings were snug going onto the spindle threads, but did go on. That car ran a couple of organized tours and was driven 4-6 miles everyday for about 3 years. There were no problems. You do get what you pay for, however. Since the threaded portion is a press-in item, I'd give them an annual check to ensure they do not come apart. I seem to recall there were no flats on the inner member to facilitate adjustment and that was annoying. Maybe they have fixed that issue, I don't know.
Timken has been manufacturing bearings in China for years. 6 manufacturing plants, 8 sales offices, and an engineering training facility...I think some are still made here but who knows these days...
The thing to remember about Chinese manufacture is that as I understand it they will make exactly what you ask for.
If you hand them a Timken bearing and say "I want exactly that" they can make an identical copy but the price tag will be identical too. If you say "make me a bunch of these but I want you to bring the cost down 75%" they will do whatever is necessary to bring the cost down.
I have some of the el-cheep-o's these were not used on road. The pressed in threaded inner sleeve did want to slide as I threaded the bearing tight into the outer bearing race. I suspect this is possibly a non-issue; if I am thinking correctly the bearing will want to slide out toward the washer and locking nut so it should not be able to move further. Care was necessary when screwing on the bearing because the bearing and outer race would meet and the inner insert would continue to "tighten" but it was just sliding in the inner race, this meant that tightening the lock nut could push on the bearing, but not be torquing against the insert to create the positive lock that is being sought.
Another possible but not yet realized issue is that if the fit is really poor the inner race and the insert could spin or wear each other given time. I just couldn't stomach the price for a trailer that in total cost less than the bearings being used on it.
Checking my drawer of wheel parts, I find that I have two of the Timken 09075 bearings (Left) and one 09076 (Right). All are made in Canada. I've had them for a few years, so I don't know if new ones still are. I prefer to buy them from Rock Auto for about $47 and $42, and spend the money saved with the Model T parts dealers for things I can't get anywhere else.