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Main bearings

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Arthur Goodwin06/11/2020 22:57:46
41 forum posts
18 photos


The book which came with my kit advocate sweating the mating faces together before machining.

The method outlined seemed a bit hit and miss. I was thinking a better way would be after cleaning and fluxing, to grip lightly in the vice (to keep parts aligned) and solder like that.

My Q. is. Would I get a capillary action of solder with both faces held together.

Thanks in advance


Andrew Tinsley06/11/2020 23:08:16
1256 forum posts

Definitely will not work. I think you are confusing silver soldering with soft soldering. Tinning the two surfaces first and then putting them together and reheating has been a standard way of doing this sort of thing for at least a 150 years. Why try to reinvent the wheel?


JasonB07/11/2020 07:00:58
19589 forum posts
2150 photos
1 articles

The other downside to putting them in the vice is that it will act as a heat sink so harder to get upto even modest soft soldering temp and any flux will see your vice a nice shade of rust. Tin and sweat as said above though on small ones you can get away with coating with soft solder paste and heating with one sat on the other.

Ramon Wilson07/11/2020 08:06:33
931 forum posts
156 photos

Arthur - soft soldering the two blocks together is not difficult but you won't get cappiliary action as said by Andrew.

Mill the parts all over but slightly oversize to start with. Note down the width of the blocks across the joining faces and tin the two inner faces. Then hold them together with a spring clamp bent from wire - I used piano wire but anything with sufficient 'spring' to keep them together will do. Lay them on a heat resistant surface and melt a tiny blob of solder on the top face. Heat the entire block and wait for that solder to flow which acts as an indicater that the tinned faces are the same.

Machine to size but don't touch the faces opposing the join. Even if you can't see the join the centre line is half the width of the block - bore the hole then bring the outer faces to suit


Hope this helps some more

Ramon Tug)

Jim Nic07/11/2020 11:26:10
288 forum posts
164 photos


As an interested bystander, thank you for posting your method. In the 10 or so years i've been making bearings I have never come up with a satisfactory way of holding them in place while the solder melts, usually relying on gravity. Now I have and I'm off to the workshop to find the piano wire I know is in there somewhere.


Circlip07/11/2020 11:56:08
1221 forum posts

Method I've always used. Clean mating surfaces, heat parts and using good old 60/40 Multicore, lightly coat surfaces. While still hot, wipe solder off with a piece of damp kitchen towel ensuring faces are fully coated but no thickness of excess solder. Clamp pieces together and reheat. Shouldn't be enough solder to squeeze out, If you've wrung slips together you get the idea.

Clamps? Vice with a couple of bits of wood to insulate heat drain, Heating media? Small blowlamp.

Regards Ian.

Edited By Circlip on 07/11/2020 11:59:06

Ramon Wilson07/11/2020 12:13:20
931 forum posts
156 photos

Glad to be of use Jim smiley

Ians method is the same as I use - FWIW I have just added several images to my 'General' album of the process when making bearings on the Waller engine which may help explain it a bit better

I don't know how to provide a link to that - perhaps Jason can help ? LINK

Hope that's of more help Arthur




Edited By JasonB on 07/11/2020 13:12:15

Andrew Johnston07/11/2020 12:21:37
5837 forum posts
662 photos

The only time I used the soft solder method the bearings came apart when I tried to machine them. The bearings for my traction engines were too big to solder with the kit I had at the time. So I made a fixture that allowed them to be bored in the housings ensuring that everything would be lined up automatically:

Crankshaft Bearing

The slot drill in the front was used as a slow helix "drill" prior to boring to prevent snatching.


Ramon Wilson07/11/2020 13:01:41
931 forum posts
156 photos

Well I've done quite a few now Andrew described as above but none of course quite so large as the ones for your engines - the making of a dedicated fixture is ideal of course, especially so as you are making two of everything.

I have had them come slightly apart, none more so on this latest build but that was my fault for having it in the vise the wrong way round when drilling and boring - the faces not being clamped between jaws !! Usually it's after the bore has been done and it's easy enough to super glue them back to finish the outside with the light cuts required.


Edited By Ramon Wilson on 07/11/2020 13:02:30

JasonB07/11/2020 13:08:55
19589 forum posts
2150 photos
1 articles
Posted by Andrew Johnston on 07/11/2020 12:21:37:

The only time I used the soft solder method the bearings came apart when I tried to machine them

That's what big cuts on big machines do for yousmile p

Yes there is a risk of popping the two halves apart particularly if you have a bit of a dull reamer than can make the bronze hot. I try to do the outsides first on round ones and then hold in a collet if reaming. If they are large enough to bore then I prefer that method with a sharp **GT insert. Square outside bearings can be done on the mill in a vice which will help keep them together.

Arthur Goodwin07/11/2020 20:18:27
41 forum posts
18 photos

Thanks for all thetips.

Makes life a lot easier.


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