Ferguson-Specified Bearings

The quality of modern bearings and seals seems to be a significant concern for rebuilders. Did Ferguson/Continental source its bearings and seals from a particular manufacturer?

Ferguson and Timken advertised the Ferguson 30 tractor and wagon, and the Belle City Corn Picker used Timken bearings. Ferguson and Massey Ferguson purchased their bearings and seals from all the major bearing manufacturers. Some bearings and seals were only available from one manufacturer while others were sourced from multiple manufacturers.

Ferguson and Massey Ferguson did have specifications for some bearings and these became significant as bearing manufacturers began using plastic for bearing cages and side plates. I remember a dealer training school where they demonstrated the difference between a manufacturers standard bearing, and a Massey Ferguson specification bearing. They cut apart bearings and showed the plastic cages on the standard ball bearing and the metal cage on the MF specification bearing. The same was true of the seals or side plates on sealed bearings.

In many cases the metal parts on MF specification bearings were necessary because of heat or dirt conditions where the bearing was used. The MF specification bearings usually did not carry a different number, general trade number, on the side of the bearing, but in many cases you could examine the bearing and see if it was a MF specification bearing or a standard bearing.

MF’s warranty department sometimes did this before paying a warranty claim. If a non MF bearing had been used to replace an MF specification bearing, and there was a failure either of the bearing or a machine the warranty claim would be denied.

While the above was very true for the Ferguson and MF up until the 1980’s I found Russian and Polish bearings in new Perkins engines, particularly water pumps. When you rebuilt the water pump you were required to use a MF/Perkins rebuild kit. I remember a MF-285 we sold blew a water pump shortly after it was delivered. We ordered the rebuild kit and noticed both the original bearings in the pump and the bearings in the kit were either Russian or Polish. When the water pump failed again we replaced the pump rather than rebuilding it.

MF’s Warranty Department asked to have the failed pump returned and initially refused the warranty claim saying we had used cheaper non MF bearings. I complained, and when our MF Service Rep visited i showed him a new MF rebuild kit for the pump. He was surprised to find the same Russian or Polish bearings in the kit. My warranty claim was eventually paid, and I later found out there had been a significant amount of discussion and examination of parts from the MF Parts Depot. The majority of the kits had the same Russian or Polish bearings.

I never did hear what the final outcome was but it was obvious whoever the supplier was who provided the kits and water pumps to MF/Perkins was not using MF specification bearings.