BN1 Front Wheel Bearings

By Norman Nock

Originally published in the Austin-Healey Magazine, March 1995

The front wheel bearings on the Austin-Healey BN1 are of a very special type. These bearings, known as “angular contact bearings” are recommended for applications in which the main thrust load is in one direction. The main thrust load is 80 percent side thrust and 20percent vertical. This main thrust is needed when turning. We have found the standard type plain ball bearings that have only 20 percent side thrust and 80 percent vertical thrust fitted on some BN1s. This can be a problem because with only 20 percent side thrust, they could come apart while turning (not a very comforting thought).

The angular contact bearings used in the BN1 are shown in Figure 1. Note how much side shoulder there is compared to plain ball bearings (Figure 1— right). There is no shim adjustment on the BN1. Consult the BN 1 Service Manual (Section J) for additional information. The tapered roller bearings fitted to the BN2s through BJ8s and now common in the auto industry use shims, and the adjustment is different.

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