Shop By Category

Loading... Please wait...

The Construction and History of Tapered Roller Bearings

Posted by on

Have you got a job or project that requires heavy duty parts and equipment to complete? You'll need the right parts to be certain the job gets done right. When searching for a bearing that is able to sustain large radial forces while taking large axial forces, chances are you're going to need a tapered roller bearing. Here, we break down the basics and history of tapered roller bearings.

The Components

Tapered roller bearings are made up of four components. These are the inner ring, the outer ring, the tapered rollers, and the cage. The cone, which contains the inner ring, the rollers, and the cage is separable from the outer ring or cup.

The rollers are designed with a taper, as well as the inner and outer ring raceways, being cone-shaped segments in order for the conical surface of the raceways and the roller axes to meet at a single point on the main axis of the bearing when projected. This specific design enables the motion of the cones to remain coaxial while eliminating any sliding motion in the bearing.

Their specific designs allow taper roller bearings to carry larger loads than ball bearings without any occurrence of the differential scrubbing that occurs when a roller slides rather than rolls. The rollers are guided by a flange on the inner ring that keeps them from sliding out at high speeds. The larger the half angles of the cones, the larger the axial force the bearing can handle.

The History

A product of American innovation, the tapered roller bearing was patented by Henry Timken in 1898. Timken, a St. Louis carriage maker was searching for a bearing that could handle radial and thrust roads as his heavy freight wagons were having a difficult time making sharp turns. The result was the tapered roller bearing which proved immediately beneficial. Not only did the tapered roller bearing reduce repairs, but it also allowed the wagons to be pulled with fewer mules.

Recognizing that the tapered roller bearings massively reduced the amount of friction on the axle bearing by rolling while transferring the load evenly from axle to frame, Timken knew that his new bearing could have multiple successful applications. Within a matter of months, he and his sons founded the Timken Roller Bearing and Axle Company.


Today, tapered roller bearings are manufactured by a number of companies for many different applications. Many times, tapered roller bearings are used in pairs to allow axial forces to be supported equally in either direction. These pairs of tapered roller bearings commonly occur in vehicle wheel bearings where they are required to handle large radial and axial forces at the same time. Other applications include agriculture, construction, and mining equipment.

Their use is growing every day as their numerous advantages are discovered. Tapered roller bearings have dimensional stability and a long life span even in contaminated lubricants. They offer a durable steel cage and are dimensionally interchangeable with other bearing manufacturers.

However, tapered ball bearings do have their disadvantages. When a dynamic misalignment occurs, the results can cause irreversible damage. If the probability of misalignment is high, spherical roller bearings are the better choice. Tapered roller bearings are also limited by static misalignment, however, bearing housings can help to alleviate these problems by allowing the bearing to self-align. Another major disadvantage is speed. Tapered roller bearings are capable of higher speed operations, but ball bearings create less heat at elevated speeds if that is a concern.

The Big Bearing Store offers one of the largest selection of bearings available on the internet. Founded in 2005, we pass savings from buying directly from the factory onto our customers. Meaning you get the best prices available. Contact The Big Bearing Store for all your bearing needs to ensure you receive top quality parts and the best customer service around. 

Design by Cart Designers - Experts in ecommerce webdesign.

View Cart Go To Checkout