What are Shaft Bearings?

Meaning | Concept | Definition:

Shaft bearings are devices used to allow a shaft to rotate without resistance, wear, or seizure. Typically comprised of roller-type bearings, common shaft bearings provide a larger contact surface than a typical ball bearing can provide.

Lubricated by differential oil, axle bearings differ from a front wheel bearing which is normally packed with high temperature bearing grease. The axle bearing is located near the end of the axle tube in what is known as a bearing cup.

A rumble or grinding noise coming from the wheel area is often the first indication that a bearing needs to be replaced.

Shaft bearings are devices used to allow a shaft to rotate without resistance, wear, or seizure.

The differences between the front wheel bearings and the axle bearings are significant. Wheel bearings are installed in pairs consisting of inner and outer bearings, while axle bearings are installed as a single bearing and only support the outer end of the axle shaft.

Shaft bearings are normally pressed onto a half shaft by means of a hydraulic press. The axle has a machined area near the axle flange that provides a smooth, flat area for the bearing to rest on, which also allows the axle to spin properly inside the axle housing without vibration or wobble.

A wheel bearing rides on a bearing race that is installed in the wheel hub with a racing driver and hammer.

The shaft bearings are held in position partially by the shaft and with some help from a bearing retainer. The retainer is placed on the shaft before the bearing is installed. Once the axle has slid into place inside the axle housing, the bearing retainer plate is screwed into position on the axle tube end of the axle housing.

This is the extent to which the axle is set on some styles of axles, while others use a steel C-clip that installs into a slot on the inside of the axle shaft. The axles are pushed in slightly and the C-Clips are placed in the axle slot.

In some racing applications, C-Clips are not used and are replaced by C-Clip Eliminators that hold the axle to the axle housing, near the axle bearings. There are front and rear sides of the axle bearings, and placing the bearing with the wrong side in or out can be a cause of premature bearing failure.

Maintaining proper shaft lubrication depth is critical to ensuring proper bearing lubrication and long bearing life.

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