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Triumph TR3 FAQ page

Engine Bearings

(written about 2002)

All of the original bearings that came in Triumph cars from the late 50s onward were made by Vandervell. In some cases these bearings were lined with "babbit" material. The main bearings in all TR-2 through TR-4 models were Babbit. This material has very good embeddebility, is quite soft and tolerant of minor misalignment. It is not capable of carrying very high loads.

The rod bearings that came in all TR-2 through TR-6s were lined with Vandervell"s famous VP-2 material. This is a tri -metal lining consisting of sintered copper on a steel shell with a lead- indium alloy layer on top of that and finally a tin plated layer on top. These bearings have good imbeddebility, very high load carrying capacity, and are somewhat tolerant of misalignment and momentary losses of oil pressure. These are great bearings! They are rated for carrying loads of up to 10,500 psi.

Glacier bearings are two layer bearings that consist of an aluminum bearing alloy on top of a steel back. If all conditions are perfect they work very well. They do NOT have good embeddebility, are quite hard and are very unforgiving. If anything goes wrong with the oiling system, or there is any misalignment, they will instantly fail and wipe out the crank journal. Their load carrying capacity is about 6,500 psi.

Clevite makes a trimetal bearing that is cast copper-lead and can withstand loads of 12,000 psi.

When AP Engineering who owned Glacier bought Vandervell around 10 of 12 years ago, they started discontinuing the VP-2 bearing wherever they had a Glacier substitute. They did this because the Glacier bearings ( the aluminum type) are much cheaper to produce.

They only continued production of the VP-2 bearings when they were producing them for a car manufacturer as an original equipment supplier and the car manufacturer insisted on the VP-2 material. The Vandervell Bearings are definitely far superior to the Glaciers. I will only use Glacier as a last resort when I have no other choice. I recently asked Vandervell if they would produce a run of bearings for me on a special order basis. They said that they would, but required a minimum order of 400 sets of bearing at an approximate cost of $30.00 per set. And all of the bearings had to be the same size! I checked with Moss Motors and The Roadster Factory and neither of them were interested in going in with me on the order. I looked around further and was able to get some trimetal rod bearings in .010 undersize only to fit TR-2 through TR-4s. They are made by ACL and are rated at 8,500psi.

They are not as good as Vandervell bearings but are better than Glaciers.

When I spoke to the "powers that be" at Moss, Their reaction to me was that they could sell all the Glaciers they could get their hands on and that there was no demand for the better quality bearings. The only way we are going to get good quality parts out of these companies is constantly badger them and to spread the word through groups like this when the parts are not up to snuff.

Regards, Greg Solow
The Engine Room
Santa Cruz, Ca.

(Oct 2006)

I don't really want to be the one to start the annual rant on engine bearings, and maybe this has already been answered, but here goes anyway.

I've used the aluminum bearings from Moss for several years, identified on the box as COUNTY and have not had any problems whatsoever with them. However, King advertises heavily, and a couple of the suppliers advertise that they are the finest and they are tri-metal.

I found a source for King bearings and decided to try them. Printed right on the box it said they were tri-metal. I installed them today.

In the process I found that the King bearings and the Moss-supplied bearings had nearly identical stampings on the back. Both said

C438 STD and then two letters, which were different on the old and new bearings.

I could not detect a difference in appearance, but must admit that I noticed all this so late in the game that I didn't take a file to one of the new ones to see if it really was tri metal. With identical stamping on the back, it doesn't seem likely, does it?

uncle jack

You might want to do a Google search and read some of the documents on lead in bearings. I suspect in a few years this will be less of an issue. Copper-Tin bearings should be as good and perhaps better that copper/tin/lead. The challenge is that they are more difficult to make. Tin/Aluminum were the first response to the requirement that cars manufactured after 2003 have less lead. The more restrictive cutoff seems to happen in 2010.

I suspect it's more of a volume issue--manufacturers would prefer to do things in a standardized way, and lead in manufacturing processes leads to worker liability anyway. The bearings will probably get better as time goes on. For now, I'm glad for my stash.

Bill Babcock

I asked the vendor why my King bearings said "County" on them. Their explanation was that County is the largest customer of King, so they stamp all the bearings with that name, but that the last two letters of the stamping indicates tri metal rather than aluminum.

uncle jack

(Nov 06)

A little I can add to this. Bearings supplied under the County brand name are also made by King. The tri-metal bearings are described simply as "heavy duty" in the County listings.

Bill Davies


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