I dont recall that particular PM...other than I did buy GBC bearings for the front PTO clutch.
I'll pay double for ones that are made by a company with enough pride to sell their own rather than from a guy who buys them from china and has no idea whether their any good or not. I figure paying $6 per bearing rather than $2.50 per bearing is worth is when you figure in what it takes to replace them.
Until several people buy 3 bearings from this guy and three bearings that are made in America so that a reasonable comparison can be done, speculative threads like this one will continue unabated.
I think that 2 Chinese bearings should go in one mandrel, two American bearings go in another mandrel and one of each in the third mandrel. The deck should be run until one bearing is obviously worn out. The deck could then be dismantled, with each bearing being labelled as to where it was positioned in the deck. Condition of each bearing could then be assessed including Mike Bramel's assertion that the Chinese bearings contain a sub-standard lubricant. If several people did this, then the results could be compared and PERHAPS....some conclusions could be made.
On every forum, there is a presence of dislike by some members for anything that bears the "Made in China" logo. But is it fair to say that ALL items made in China are sub-standard? Is any country out there able to claim that every product made inside their borders was and is of the highest standard?
I think you're right in the 'not everything' department. Its the parts I've dealt with personally that I've had to resource/retest/extent timelines/sort production,etc. over the years that are from there. Its happens from all over the world but not on a regular basis. And when the 'owner' of the company explains he isnt going t change his process to keep it from continuing he tells you 'because thats how we do it here' is extremely frustrating. In my experience the run of the mill manufacturing there is like the 1960's here.
Also, I can GUARANTEE the no-name cheap bearings in question here would not come close to the test life of legitimately manufactured bearings such at Timken, SKF, Koyo, etc. The testing for bearings is not like what was described above. Sudden death testing needs to be completed along with Weibull anyalysis. Legitimately manufactured product with fall on a slope line that is CONSISTENT throughout the duration of production and over all lots of material. What this type of test shows is the point at which failures will begin to occur in use. There is a huge range from lowest to highest life product and we are most concerned with the lowest (warranty, safety, etc). The lowest life parts of the 'no-name junk' will be extrememly low due to lack of consistent process and poor quality. When you grab 'tow or each' you dont know if you are grabbing product in the high or low range of test cycle-life parts therefore that type of test is not accurate.
I have to take issue with your use of the term "legitimate" because that implies that the Chinese are not legitimate. On the other hand, I do "get" what you are saying but in the absence of a widely recognized standard that relates to quality, then how is Joe Average supposed to know? As an example, when dealing with motor oil we have the Society of Automotive Engineers that set standards for that product and the oil containers state that the enclosed product meets or exceeds that standard.
If the Chinese have no problem machining bearing races along with the balls to an acceptable tolerance, then what are we talking about here? Is it just metallurgy? And if that's your claim, then how come thousands of items leave China everyday for offshore markets including North America with bearings in motors and in other places but you don't hear about massive failures being posted on the internet? Where is the irrefutable supporting evidence that Chinese made bearings are truly sub-standard?
When individual components are being selected to be part of a larger piece of equipment, then there are many factors that come into play. How much strain is going to be on a certain part? What does it cost to build the finished product if the highest end materials are selected? Is that cost more than what people will pay once it reaches the store shelf or sales floor? Do I want to have a lucrative parts business to go along with the sales of the finished product? What are my competitors using and how successful are they?
In this instance, we have to ask ourselves this simple question. How long should a set of bearings in a mower deck last? If you get 5 years out of the Chinese bearings that cost $2.50 each instead of 6 years out of American-made bearings that cost $12.00 each........ then the math tells you that the Chinese bearings are an excellent buy. On the other hand...... if the Chinese bearings only last 2 years and the American one's last 10 years, then the math is self-evident in that scenario too. Whether my "test" is scientific or not, really does not matter. It is only meant to be an indicator that other owners can hang their hat on because at this point, everyone is pretty much in the dark. All there is to read on this subject is tainted with personal bias, fear, innuendo and mistrust instead of fact and hard evidence. I have a real problem with that.
Many of you know that I sell farm equipment for a living. I sell a lot of machinery with fairly simple 90 degree gearboxes. Tillers, rotary cutters, finnish mowers, post hole diggers and snowblowers all use them. As there are no companies manufacturing these boxes in the states companies now have to outsource. Both of the companies that I currently sell for have used both Italian and Chinese gearboxes. Both companies have quit selling the Chinese versions due to repeated shaft and bearing failures. One container load would be fine and the next would be terrible. One thing that is happening is that both companies are now working with well known engineering colleges to refine and clean up the manufacturing process to start making our own gearboxes again.
One of the dealers that I do business with summed it up well. When I asked him what kind of luck he had with the Chinese tractors that he sold he said "If you take them out of the crate, drain all the fluids, flush everything out, pull the pan and valve cover and torque everything and add new fluids they aren't too bad". He gave up selling them after 2 years. There has been Chinese tractors sold here for 25 years now and they are still junk. There is not one legitimate dealer selling them even though they are much cheaper. No one would risk his reputation on such a poor quality machine.
My feeling is that left to their own standards they (Chinese) will build a lousy product. If there is supervision in the factory from a country with higher standards, they are capable of making a good product. I guess my question would be is which type of factory are these bearings built in? Maybe it is just a mower spindle but I wouldn't take the chance. I sure as hell wouldn't use no name Chinese wheel bearings on the front of my truck.
IMO, the issue is not whether the Chinese factories are capable of building first class products.
The real issue is whether the engineers and buyers for the North American companies are willing to pay a price adequate to build in the quality.
And clearly the answer in most cases is a resounding no or we would not have issues as described with the tractors.
But, like any maker of any product, when the specifications are clearly stated, product receiving quality control is in place, and the price paid is adequate for all to profit, good products can be produced.
But, the current situation favors cheap prices from the factory and huge profits at North American retail. But that is starting to change. For those that use or follow the fortunes of Harbor Freight tools, they are a good example. A few years ago most all their stuff was junk. Today, they have some outstanding values with good to excellent quality. "course there's still some junk, but a much smaller percentage.
I'd stand behind 'legitimate'. A legitimate manufacturer supplies what they say they'll supply.
I design, develop, validate (test) products for a living. Have done so for 19 years. Have and do work with suppliers all over the world. Some cultures just done 'get it'. Of course it isnt REALLY the culture per say - it is the 'government'. NA companies are 'forced' to buy from these countries in order to do business is said country. It is NOT a 'free world market'. It is a 'world market'. That means legitmate companies must do business with governments rather than businesses. They (those governments) do not care and profit in much higher margins than any NA companies.
There is by far recognized standards for quality. They are world wide and thoroughly known and accepted. There are those countries who will do business with you, take your money, steal your intellectual property, and they sell it as their own. Engineers dont source the products to those countries. Bean counters do. Engineers design their products around those substandard components and subsystems except they cannot account for greater than expected variation in reliability (crap quality and process controls).
In the case of bearings a company can purchase world class manufacturing equipment. That does not mean they can produce world class product. That takes individual know-how and pride. There are places in this world where those are NOT looked upon as good traits. Those are 'bad'. Just do what you are told. I am no longer shocked when I see product come in the door that could not have possibly been seen by they human eye before shipping but...they most certianly were. The answer "we'll add that to the list of things for inspectors to look for" and "thats just way we do things here". ARRRGH!
An yes, there are ex-pats who are assigned to those companies to 'keep and eye' on them.
Metallurgy does make a huge difference. I can think of numerous occasions where we've tried to validate certain steel mills to make certain parts and have failed over and over. Could not find the majic bullet to 'fix' either. Just the way it is.
The NA public DOES know what products are substandard and which countries ship illegal products into our countries. People are too lazy to think about it when they purchase things. People kept buying toys with lead-based paint after years of product recalls for same. People purchased drywall with EF in it (banned years ago in NA and probably the rest of the world years ago).
Topics like this often push me to poking around to see if there is other information out there. We aren't the only forum that has discussed this issue. Once again, the opinions given are diverse but some come from people in the bearing industry.
I found this one interesting too because of the fact that two well-recognized bearing manufacturers are producing bearings right in China and are rather annoyed that their product is being knocked-off down the street.
Now if I managed to get you to read all of the above material, what did you learn?
Well, I learned that a great number of the most respected bearing manufacturers either own a plant in China or are partnered with a Chinese bearing company. I also learned that you can't even trust the packaging or what is inscribed on bearings due to the fakery that is taking place.
I also took note that Chinese bearings will do quite well in non-industrial applications that don't demand really high quality products. And I was somewhat surprised to learn that Mike Bramel's contention regarding lubrication issues was very valid. Thanks Mike, for that tip. So.... if you do buy Chinese bearings, you would be wise to pop out the seals, flush the grease out and then repack the bearing.
And this holds true for PTO clutch bearings and snowcaster bearings as well as the deck bearings under discussion in this thread. :thumbsup: :thumbsup:
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