Unlocking the Mystery of Hard-to-Find Bearings: Your Guide to Success

Jeanette PfeiferWritten by Jeanette Pfeifer

In the vast industrial landscape, the search for specific bearings often resembles a quest for hidden treasures. Whether for automotive, aerospace, or manufacturing needs, the scarcity of a particular bearing can halt operations and stall progress. The challenges of sourcing these elusive components have left many businesses grappling with downtime and logistical setbacks. 

In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the intricate world of locating these elusive components. From understanding the complexities of various bearing types to navigating the nuances of their applications, this article aims to equip businesses with the knowledge and tools necessary to conquer the challenges of sourcing rare bearings. 

Moreover, we will explore how Bearing & Drive Systems, with its unparalleled expertise and extensive inventory, emerges as the ultimate ally in this pursuit. Their ability to tap into a global network ensures access to a diverse range of bearings, even the most uncommon ones, empowering businesses to sidestep obstacles and keep their operations running smoothly. 

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Hard to Find Bearings 


A growing concern for many organizations is finding and sourcing suppliers of discontinued or obsolete mechanical components such as bearings. There are several factors that contribute to bearings being hard to find.  

  • Obsolete Models: As technology advances, older bearing models become obsolete.  Bearing manufacturers worldwide have manufactured more than 120,000 bearing types. At the same time, companies have discontinued producing numerous bearings and a variety of slow-moving lines due to a reduction in the range of bearing sizes available today. 

  • Specialized Applications: Some industries require specific bearings designed for unique or highly specialized applications. These bespoke bearings may have limited production runs, causing scarcity in the market. 

  • Custom Specifications: Bearings tailored to precise specifications, such as size, material, or load capacity, can be rare due to their customization and limited production. 

  • Discontinued Production: Manufacturers may cease the production of certain bearings due to various reasons, such as changes in market demand, cost efficiency, or technological advancements, resulting in scarcity. 

  • Supply Chain Disruptions: Global events, supply chain disruptions, or logistical challenges (such as trade restrictions, natural disasters, or pandemics) can lead to interruptions in the availability of bearings, causing difficulty in sourcing them. 

  • Unique Brands or Suppliers: Some bearings may only be available from specific brands or suppliers, limiting their accessibility if those entities have a restricted distribution network or market presence. 
  • Geographical Constraints: Bearings manufactured in specific regions might not be easily accessible in other parts of the world due to limitations in distribution networks or trade regulations, making them harder to procure. 

These factors collectively contribute to the challenge of locating certain bearings, necessitating the expertise and extensive network of companies like Bearing & Drive Systems to bridge the gap and source these elusive components from various avenues across the globe. 

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Bearing Types 

While the availability of bearings can vary, there are certain types that might be considered hard to find on the global market due to their specialized nature, limited production, or unique applications. 

  • Hybrid Ceramic Bearings: Combining ceramic balls with steel inner and outer rings, hybrid ceramic bearings offer superior performance in demanding applications. Their scarcity can be attributed to the precision required in their manufacturing and their usage in specialized industries like high-speed machinery or aerospace. 

  • Thin Section Bearings: These bearings are designed with a slim profile, making them ideal for applications where space is limited. Their scarcity arises from the precision engineering needed to maintain structural integrity while reducing size, often making them hard to find on the global market. 

  • Magnetic Bearings: Used in high-speed and high-precision applications, magnetic bearings eliminate the need for traditional lubrication. Due to their specialized use in industries like power generation and aerospace, they might be challenging to source globally. 

  • Air Bearings: Employing a thin film of air to separate components, air bearings are sought after for their frictionless operation. Their scarcity can be attributed to their specific applications in precision machinery and semiconductor manufacturing. 

  • Instrument Bearings: Often used in delicate instruments and small devices, instrument bearings demand precision manufacturing. Their scarcity on the global market may arise from their specialized use in measuring instruments, medical devices, or robotics. 

  • High-Temperature Bearings: Engineered to withstand extreme temperatures, high-temperature bearings are crucial in industries like steel manufacturing and aerospace. Their scarcity may stem from the limited demand and the specialized materials required for their construction. 

  • Corrosion-Resistant Bearings: Designed to withstand harsh environments, corrosion-resistant bearings are crucial in marine, chemical, or offshore applications. Their scarcity can be linked to the demanding manufacturing processes and the specific industries they serve. 

  • Custom or Non-Standard Bearings: Bearings designed to unique specifications for specific applications may be hard to find on the global market due to their custom nature and limited production runs. 

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Bearing Manufacturers 

The availability of obscure and discontinued bearings can indeed be challenging, as these components may no longer be in production or are niche products that cater to specific applications. Here is just a small example of such bearings and manufacturers that might produce them: 

  • RBC Bearings (formerly Nice Ball Bearings): RBC Bearings offers a variety of specialized bearings, including aerospace bearings and cam followers. Some of their older or less common models might be considered obscure. 
  • Timken Super Precision Bearings: Timken, a well-known bearing manufacturer, produces a range of bearings. Some of their super precision or specialty bearings, especially those designed for specific applications, may be discontinued or considered obscure. 

  • New Hampshire Ball Bearings (NHBB): NHBB, a subsidiary of MinebeaMitsumi Inc., specializes in precision miniature and instrument ball bearings. Some of their older or less mainstream models could be challenging to find. 

  • Barden Bearings: Barden, now a part of the Schaeffler Group, is known for its precision bearings. Certain discontinued or specialized Barden bearings may be considered obscure. 

  • JAF Bearings: Japanese company JAF (Japan Agricultural Machinery) produces a variety of bearings, including agricultural and industrial bearings. Some of their less common or discontinued models may pose challenges in sourcing. 

  • MRC Bearings (SKF Group): MRC, now part of the SKF Group, has a history of producing specialized bearings. Some older MRC bearing models may be discontinued and could be challenging to locate. 

  • Kaydon Bearings: Acquired by SKF Group, Kaydon specializes in thin section and slewing ring bearings. Certain Kaydon bearings, especially those tailored for specific applications, might be considered obscure or discontinued. 

  • Nice Ball Bearings (Now a part of RBC Bearings): Nice Ball Bearings, now part of RBC Bearings, has a history of manufacturing precision bearings. Older or less common models from Nice Ball Bearings may be difficult to find. 

It's important to note that the availability of these bearings may vary over time, and advancements in technology or changes in market demand can influence their production and availability. Specialized suppliers, bearing distributors, or companies with a focus on sourcing hard-to-find bearings, such as Bearing & Drive Systems, may play a crucial role in locating these obscure or discontinued components. 

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Bearing & Drive Systems, Strongsville Ohio 

Bearing & Drive Systems 

Bearing & Drive Systems (BDS) stands tall as the ultimate source for comprehensive bearing solutions and the key to locating those elusive, hard-to-find bearings. Our commitment extends far beyond just being a supplier; we are your strategic partner dedicated to ensuring uninterrupted operations and seamless productivity. 

BDS has a wide selection of bearings; including new, discontinued, and hard-to-find brands in stock and ready to ship.  With one of the largest distribution centers in the world containing over 650 million dollars in inventory, BDS carries products from all major manufacturers including many of those hard-to-find specials and obsolete bearings. 

  • Since 1983, BDS has sold to distributors throughout the US and in over 60 countries.   

  • We sell to distribution only and are here for you when you can’t get what you need from your stock and the manufacturers quote long lead times.   

  • BDS is also ISO 9001:2015 certified as a Premier Source of Bearing and Power Transmission Products.  


Our facility consists of three warehouses that contain our entire inventory of bearings and related products, over 600,000 SKUs from 368+ manufacturers. 

  • Our diverse stock includes an extensive range of products, encompassing radials, cylindricals, tapers, sphericals, mounted units, couplings, noncritical aircraft sizes, bushings, sprockets, sheaves, chain, obsolete bearings, and specials.  

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Global Sourcing Network 

BDS offers distributors a Global Sourcing Network to locate hard to find bearings.  When we don’t have the bearing requested in stock, we will source it for you through our partners in over 60 countries around the world. 

Our services are complete and include: 

Locating Hard to Find items 
Quote Delivered Price, FOB Cleveland OH 

  • Includes International Shipping Charges 
  • Includes Domestic Shipping Charges
  • Includes All US Customs Duties

Handle All Import Documentation
Assume All Risk
Inspect for Authenticity  

Testing for Authenticity 

If the product received does not meet our quality standards and the part is rejected due to mis-shipment, mishandling or quality, you or your customer are not responsible for any charges.   

The most important function of our GSN process is our 24-point inspection, which ensures our customers receive quality products.  All bearings are guaranteed to be authentic and are covered by a 1 Year Warranty.  

BDS works together with our sister company BMC to inspect inner rings, outer rings, cages and rolling elements.  We check the metallurgy, dimensional tolerance, and harness of all components.  

With the constant threat of counterfeit products being introduced into the marketplace, our inspection process will ensure that you receive the product that you ordered.  In the past decade, we have stopped hundreds of inferior products from entering the US market. 

Additional Services & Bearing Solutions 

Class 1000 Clean Room – Lubrication Services 

Located inside the warehouse at BDS is our Class 1000 Clean Room.  It is US Government and aircraft certified.  We stock over 200 types of oils and grease, which allows us to degrease and re-lubricate bearings for any application including aircraft, food grade, high and low temperature, and military. 

All bearings are run through our ultrasonic degreasing equipment to ensure that there is absolutely no residue left behind from the original oils or grease.  Our equipment gives us the ability to degrease and re-lubricate sealed and shielded bearings without damage or removal. 

We will repackage and label the bearing boxes to customer specifications.  We offer a certificate of lubrication with every order.  Our flexibility allows us to process orders from one to five thousand pieces. 

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 Bearing Modifications | Lifting Holes 

Bearings Manufacturing Company – Modify, Repair, Manufacture 

Our sister company, Bearings Manufacturing Company is conveniently located across the street from BDS.  Here, they can manufacture many types of bearings and have extensive modification capabilities.  These include clearance changes on spherical and cylindrical bearings, preload changes on angular contact bearings, spacer modifications on taper roller bearings and precision angular contact sets, adding lifting holes to spherical roller bearings and many other types of modifications. 

BMC can also repair bearings up to 18 feet in diameter, increasing cost savings and reducing costly downtime.  We do bearing modification work for all the major manufacturers and we are FAG and INA’s only authorized US repair facility. 

If your customer needs a special bearing manufactured, their current bearing modified or one of their bearings repaired, BMC can provide the service you need.  

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    2 Companies | 1 Solution 

Customer Service & Shipping 

Here at BDS, our phone lines are open from 7:30 am to 5:30pm Eastern Standard Time.  We realize that breakdowns occur at all hours, so we also have a 24/7 after-hours service available 365 days a year.  Calling our toll-free number at any time will get you connected to one of our representatives to help you with your bearing needs to get your customers back up and running. 

In our shipping department, every bearing is unboxed, unwrapped, visually and dimensionally inspected.  Before leaving our facility, bearings are checked for proper lubrication. If needed, the bearing will be flushed and re-lubricated in our Class 1000 Clean Room.  BDS understands that the next inspector is your customer. 

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With an expansive inventory spread across multiple warehouses, BDS offers an unparalleled selection of bearings, including the rarest and most specialized variants. Our global sourcing network allows us to access even the most obscure bearings, serving as the go-to destination for industries seeking solutions to their unique challenges. 

Moreover, our expertise in the bearing industry, coupled with a passion for customer satisfaction, sets us apart. We understand the urgency and importance of obtaining the right bearings promptly. Our team of professionals is equipped with the knowledge and resources to assist in identifying, sourcing, and delivering the precise bearings tailored to your requirements. 

From obsolete bearings to the most specialized components, we are the beacon guiding industries through the maze of scarcity towards seamless operations. Trust Bearing & Drive Systems as your singular destination for all bearing needs, where solutions meet precision, expertise meets reliability, and challenges meet their match. Choose BDS, and unlock the power of unparalleled bearing solutions. 


Jeanette Pfeifer

Jeanette Pfeifer

Hi! I'm Jeanette. I am the Office and Content Marketing Manager here at BDS. I have been with BDS for over 4 years, but in the last 40 years, I have worked in the Industrial Distribution, Industrial Service, Food Distribution, Food Manufacturing, and Retail Sectors. Those years of experience have given me extensive insight into all aspects of business, and I enjoy writing and sharing that with our readers.

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