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roller / ball bearing races

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Dominic Houseman18/02/2014 19:41:59
4 forum posts
1 photos

Is it common practise to install ball or roller bearings in the axle box, or simply use the axle box as a plain bearing? I am not planning on running my loco round the clock but would like it to last .

If so can anybody recommend a supplier? I'm building a 3.1/2" Gauge Evening star and need to decide on this before machining the axle box's.

Regards Dom

Clive Hartland18/02/2014 21:21:51
2820 forum posts
40 photos

Dom, when I made my Evening Star I used plain bearings, I had some Alu/bronze which is quite tough to machine. I did consider using ball/rollor brgs, but the space consideration was a problem. I think that ash and dust would be a problem towards the rear of the loco. Give consideration to a ball/sealed brg. for the link on the eccentric.

The only ball bearings in the Loco are for the tender.


John Baguley19/02/2014 10:39:43
507 forum posts
56 photos

Hi Dom,

It's not common to use ball/roller bearings but I do fit them. I use drawn cup needle roller bearings which run on unhardened silver steel axles. I believe Neville Evans? used this method as well. I expect the axles and bearings to outlive me and probably the next owner as well!

You can get the larger bearings with built in seals but for smaller ones you have to add your own e.g. O rings either side of the bearings.

Arc Euro sell metric bearings and imperial down to 7/16" bore but any of the bearing suppliers will have them.

As Clive suggests though, you may have trouble fitting the bearings into the standard axle boxes - the boxes may be too narrow to take them, although the drawn cup bearings are quite thin, unlike standard ball or roller bearings, and there is no need to use a hardened inner sleeve.

My 2½" gauge Helen Long has 10mm bearings on all driving axles and 8mm on all bogie axles and is very free running. The 0-6-2 Simplex I am building also has Drawn cup bearings on all the axles.

For axles near or under the firebox I make the axles fully enclosed in a tube (like a cannon box) to keep all the grit etc. out.



Edited By John Baguley on 19/02/2014 10:46:07

Edited By John Baguley on 19/02/2014 10:47:34

Derek Drover19/02/2014 11:50:39
86 forum posts

Both my 3 1/2 Netta and 5" Simplex use phos-bronze axle boxes with Silver steel axles. You only need to ensure that they're well lubricated and try to keep grit out of the rear axles. Over time the grit will penetrate the bearing faces and wear them out, but its a compromise of ease of production and cost vs longevity. They should last for many years, even with a good amount of running.


jonathan heppel19/02/2014 12:03:23
99 forum posts

I think polymer bearings are well worth looking at. I've started a new thread on it, because my searches suggest that they are not much known about among modellers, though there was a series some 30 years ago in ME about a DU bearinged spindle.

Ian S C19/02/2014 12:52:38
7468 forum posts
230 photos

One thing about the needle roller bearings is that they most be pressed into an exact sized hole as specified by the manufacturer to close the bearing to its correct size on the shaft, too tight and the shaft will suffer, if you can get it into the bearing. Ian S C

D.A.Godley20/02/2014 19:41:00
120 forum posts
39 photos

Dom ;-

Should you decide to go with bearings, you would do yourself no harm by checking prices at either ;

AK Bearings, or Engineers Mate Ltd,

both from whom I have had excellent service and enjoyed really competitive prices, but who, other than being a satisfied customer, I have no connection with .



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