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Old 05-29-2010, 04:41 PM   #1
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Chinese Wheel bearings!?

Anyone had any experience with these? My Safari 30 is now 4 years old and I have packed the wheel bearings annually which has worked out to 17-20k miles per year. My dealer was closed today so I go to a trailer parts center here in Houston and all they have is chinese bearings. These things are like 9 bucks each, they look cheap although the roller look ok.

I picked them up, but think I want to go find some Timken or SKF bearings on tuesday. The guy at the trailer place said they have been using them for several years.

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Old 05-29-2010, 05:01 PM   #2
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I don't know this for a fact, but it is entirely possible that even Timken or SKF bearings are made in the Orient now.

Bad from the jobs and "retained expertise" side of things, but consumers like the prices.

Remember the big push Wal-Mart once had for "Made in USA" products?

"Wal-Mart stores often are festooned with red, white and blue bunting. Until 1998, store signs urged shoppers to "Buy American." But in 1999, Wal-Mart was the nation's largest importer, according to the Journal of Commerce, with 53 percent of its clothing coming from China, according to a New York Times story last year."

Tha's an old quote, I figure. The real number today is almost certainly far, far higher.

It's all about the money...

“Courage is being scared to death, but saddling up anyway.”
...John Wayne...........................
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Old 05-29-2010, 05:40 PM   #3
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I am curious as to why you are replacing bearings? With maintenance there should be no problems.

I suspect the bearings on my 61 are original. The bearings on my truck are original at 550,000 miles
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Old 05-29-2010, 05:46 PM   #4
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I'm kind of with Rick on this. Sounds like you have taken good care of yours. Better than most, really.

Are you sure that replacement is necessary instead of a repack and new seals?
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Old 05-29-2010, 07:35 PM   #5
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We just replaced all four sets of Timkens in our Avion with Chinese bearings. Not that I wanted to use them but locating anyone that had domestic bearings in stock in my area was virtually impossible.

So far - So good.

Will pull them do for PM next Spring for repacking and a brake service.


"You wouldn't worry so much about what others think of you if you realized how seldom they do."

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Old 05-29-2010, 08:43 PM   #6
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I have been religous about repacking my bearings. The reason for the change is I noticed a slight (very slight)discoloration, a slightly darker tint to the rollers. I am a marathon driver, I may drive 17 to 19 hrs straight at 65 to 70 mph. I dont want any issues due to heat in the bearings. Have been using Mobil 1 axle grease (red stuff). The reason I am wanted to change them is just to be pro-active. If I cannont find quality replacements in a short time I will repack and use until I can order good quality.

When I compare one of the original Timkin USA bearings the surfaces just look "hardened" compared to the chinese bearings. What I dont want to happen is to gaul a spindle or mess up my hub as well.
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Old 05-29-2010, 09:19 PM   #7
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Don't install a chinese bearing unless you want trouble.

Their metalurgy is total crap.

I installed new bearings in my trailer a couple years after buying it. Actually when I started caravanning. All were german Bauer bearings except for one wheel due to a shortage at the supplier. Guess which chinese bearings were pitted after 6 thousand miles.

My local shop "motion industries" manager says that the chinese do not burn the impurities out of the steel like the americans or germans. Result was pitted rollers in my case after only one trip west.

He also said to watch for "gray market bearings in boxes just like timken or skf or bauer. It is a big problem back east in saw mills, etc.

I just had my 1986 ford van front end redone. rotors, pads, seals, grease, etc. I told my repair guy to inspect the bearings and if not pitted, etc. to reinstall the same bearings. 188,000 miles and counting. Better than the new crap.
GM had trouble with 2500 pickup front ends (4wheel drive) in the early 2000's due to chinese bearings.
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Old 05-29-2010, 10:08 PM   #8
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The bearings, brakes and drums Andy sells are made in China.
Bearings and races at Northern Tool are made in China.
Most anything is made over there today.

I hope they will have a good service life.
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Old 05-29-2010, 10:55 PM   #9
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I just bought a set of Timken Seals for my trailer. Made in China. got them at Auto Zone, bought to more at Napa, because AZ only had two, I needed 4. Napa's were made in Mexico. 6 of one half a dozen of the other as far as I am concerned.
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Old 05-30-2010, 12:56 AM   #10
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Im surprised nobody mentioned BCA bearings or National seals.
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Old 06-01-2010, 07:44 PM   #11
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Chinese steel varies in quality from junk to OK in a pinch. There is no way of knowing if you got good or bad. The Chinese bearings will never be as reliable or worry free as American products made to exacting quality standards.

It is a crap shoot. Why the retailers think we want a nine buck junk bearing over a fifteen buck top quality product is beyond my comprehension. I want QUALITY for a fair price.

Maybe that is why I am seeking my first AS... ;-)
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Old 06-02-2010, 08:44 AM   #12
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If at all possible, I re-use the Timken bearings. If they are not pitted, they can last a long time.
Kevin with Baity the Lab/Pointer
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Old 06-03-2010, 07:21 AM   #13
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my bearing resolve..

I went ahead and cleaned my quality stock bearings and repacked them. In looking at the Chinese counterparts I just could not bring myself to risking trashing the spindle on the axle if one failed. They look SO cheap!

I will keep one full set on board for a roadside backup (emergency) and return the rest. I am glad so many others commented on the desire for quality bearings, like I said I dont mind paying the money I just want quality.
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Old 06-03-2010, 07:53 AM   #14
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I picked up a set of Chinese bearings for emergency use only, like a spare tire.

I couldn't find any local source of American-made bearings. The Chinese specials I bought are from a local trailer-manufacturing outfit, so obviously they are being put on at least some trailers as original equipment.

I've read that Timken has also begun importing Chinese bearings.

Does anyone know if American-made bearings are still available? Are new Airstreams supplied with American bearings?

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