CANTON, Ohio — “Timken has confirmed that this is a great direction to go, a great environment for engineers to do development in, and a great way we can execute new technologies quickly.”
Al Deane, senior vice president of technology for The Timken Company, expressed those sentiments and more during the company’s celebration in February of its motorsports relationships for the 2006 race season.
“What today is all about is kicking off the new season and reconfirming for everybody our passion and focus on friction management and power transmission products,” shares Deane.
And that passion leads to a successful finish for the manufacturer’s aftermarket customers as well. Timken has announced that it has become the official technical partner with Joe Gibbs Racing, working with their engineering team to develop and test technologies that improve a car’s powertrain performance, delivering longer life, improved fuel economy and higher horsepower availability.
The company utilizes what it’s doing on the racetrack to improve power density, fuel efficiency and smooth operation. “Some of those are the same hot-buttons in the auto industry and other industries,” Deane says.
For example, research learned during the development of the Timken RacePac™, an integrated hub and bearing assembly specially designed for NASCAR teams, can be transferred to R & D in other areas of the industry as well.
John Maley, business analyst, automotive aftermarket, reiterates this point: “The RacePac pinion pack and other bearing technology is currently being used in OEM applications for Mercedes-Benz and other car manufacturers. That, in turn, lets us sell that same product that in a sense was tested in a race arena, and made it to the OEM arena and is now being sold as our product in our box to our aftermarket customers.”
Appealing to weekend racers
Timken plans to bring racing to the consumer as well with the recent introduction of a new performance race kit.
Geared toward the “weekend racer,” the kit is being carried by three distributors chosen from the Carolinas by Timken, says Wayne Dyer, zone manager Midwest/Southeast, automotive/heavy duty aftermarket.
“Everybody looks up to the Nextel Cup racers, and they’re always trying to strive to get bigger and better things. The only problem, and the difference between the two, is money,” he comments.
Timken decided to incorporate the RacePac technology into a kit that gave weekend racers an advantage at a cheaper price. The kit has a price point of $109.99.
The kit includes two component bearings (inner and outer); a low-torque seal (a non-contact seal that prevents drag as the axle rotates); and high-temperature grease.
Dyer says they’ve received good feedback on the kits and plan to take distribution to the West Coast in the next three months.
“We’ll probably select another three to seven more distributors for just this particular product,” he notes, adding he’s trying to go to the high-performance shops as distributors.
New training launched
The Timken Tech Series program is a multimedia tool that teaches about the company’s products and materials. The training CD consists of bundled tech tips on bearings, seals, hubs and lubricants.
“Version 1.3 is geared toward the counterman, the technician, anyone that would have a vested interest in learning about our products,” says Eric Shirley, communications manager at Timken. The program includes removal and installation tips, troubleshooting and videos. It was launched during the Automotive Aftermarket Products Expo and is currently being distributed to WDs.
From railroads to golf clubs
Timken’s Research & Development arm in North Canton is where a whole host of testing takes place, from jet engine bearing tests and ultrasonic testing to load tests, in which bearings are subjected to simulations of the worst possible road conditions.
The company’s standard life testing puts bearings through a gamut of conditions until they fail, offering researchers a gauge of the entire life span of a bearing.
“You can plot out a whole population,” says Timken Executive Consultant Dennis Huffman, who led Aftermarket Business through a recent tour. “This is how you set a bearing life projection.”
The three factors to improving bearings include steel quality, bearing finish and geometry, according to Huffman.
As far as finishes go, Timken is responsible for coating some of its surfaces with plasma, or what Huffman refers to as the fourth state of matter. With geometry, the point of producing a great bearing is trying to spread the load as evenly as possible over an entire surface.
Other tests at the facility include metrology, or precision measurement research, in which measurements are made down to millionths of an inch, and electron microscopy.
Timken makes everything from golf shafts and crankshafts to drill bits and circular knife blades.