[Healeys] Existential Question on Bearings

Bob Spidell bspidell at comcast.net
Thu Aug 10 11:24:06 MDT 2017

We've all probably lost a few of ours due to the state of the world, but 
I'm referring to the important ones; i.e. wheel bearings, hub bearings, 
gearbox bearings, etc.   I'm fixing to clean, inspect and repack my 
front wheel bearings in the coming days, and I'll likely be faced with a 
decision.  I don't recall exactly when I last checked them, but it 
probably was 50K miles or (much) more.   The 'existential question?'  
Well, should I replace the bearings on principle--even if mine have 
given many years and miles of faithful service, and will probably appear 
pristine--on the presumption that they have a limited lifespan and are 
getting closer to that limit?

Years ago, this would be a 'no-brainer,' as the younguns say: Given the 
time and effort required to remove brake calipers/drums and pull the 
dust cover, cotter key and big nut, I would have probably replaced 
bearings and races, especially if they had 100K miles or more on them 
(even with the hassle of getting end float correct).  Now, I don't think 
that's a given since the quality of parts is more suspect than ever.  
Last time I replaced my rear wheel bearings--a no-brainer as one was 
obviously toast--the new ones from Moss came labeled 'Made in Italy.'  
That was scary enough--although the Italians are known for some pretty 
cool engineering and design--but I suspect anything I can buy now will 
possibly (probably) be labeled 'Made in China.'   I'm sure, someday, 
China will produce quality products--they may even come up with some of 
their own, instead of buying/stealing IP from the US and Europe--but I 
don't think that day is here (lest you think I'm just being my normal 
bigoted self, I once had an airplane partner who was in charge of QA for 
iPhones being built in China--suffice it to say you wouldn't want to 
expose small children to his stories--and I happened to be working a 
contract for Space Systems Loral when they got busted for, uh, 'lending' 
missile guidance technology to the Chinese*).   I don't know for a fact, 
but I suspect even once-trustworthy name brands like Timken are 
'offshoring'--a nicer-sounding word for sending local jobs 
overseas--some if not all of their production.

So, when I remove and clean the bearings, and closely inspect them and 
their races, do I replace them 'on principle,' or put the old ones back 
in after thorough cleaning, inspection and repacking?


* SSL was using Chinese rockets to launch comm and weather satellites, 
and the launches failed fairly regularly, so SSL helped them out with 
guidance and stability technology.  Of course, there's no way the 
Chinese would apply that same technology to make their ICBMs more 
reliable and accurate; that just wouldn't be nice, would it?

Now, it appears Boeing--please say it ain't so--is going to give decades 
of engineering effort and experience to the Chinese for the 'privilege' 
of building their planes cheaper there.  No way that will come back to 
haunt them--and Airbus--nope, no way.

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