Camshaft Bearing Facts and Installation

Cummins N14 Camshaft Bearing Set, New | Highway and Heavy Parts

As we discussed in a previous post, Camshaft Bearings Explained, a camshaft bearing is meant to reduce the amount of friction on your camshaft and keep it rotating in position. Too much friction or excess movement of your camshaft can cause damage to the components in your engine block. The bearings therefore serve an important role in the proper operation of your camshaft, and your engine overall, and you want to make sure you are choosing the right ones and installing them correctly.

About Bearings

Choosing the proper bearings can depend on a few factors, particularly what your engine is being used for and the operating temperatures reached during performance.

In years past, a lot of camshaft bearing linings were made of babbitt, a soft, lead-based material that was quite forgiving in terms of debris buildup and lubrication issues. The main downside to babbitt-lined bearings, though, is their inability to hold up under high operating conditions and temperatures.

If your engine operates at lower temperatures rather than a heavy-duty engine, babbitt-lined bearings might still work well for you. The forgiving nature of the material helps it to effectively reduce friction while sustaining minimal wear.

If your engine is a high-performance, heavy-duty build, it's likely that babbitt-lined bearings will not be able to withstand the heavier load. In fact, many engines nowadays are designed to operate under more stressful conditions and higher loads, meaning there's a good chance you might want to investigate another type of bearing material.

For these more demanding conditions, bearings of an aluminum alloy have been developed. This is a much stronger material that can withstand the higher load demanded by many modern engines.

This increased strength, though, brings with it other problems. Because the alloy is harder than babbitt, it has a less forgiving nature. Dirt and other debris can more easily damage it, and alignment needs to be perfect to prevent other issues. Improper lubrication can severely damage the bearings and camshaft as well. Despite these potential problems, properly installed aluminum bearings can keep you running for miles.

Installation Tips

Prior to install, ensure that the block and other components are clean. This helps prevent issues down the line.

Check to make sure the correct bearing is being installed in the correct place. In some builds, the bearing size differs depending on where each bearing is supposed to be placed.

As you install, try not to shave material from the bearing by allowing it to scrape against the block. Not only does this distort the bearing, but it causes a buildup of debris that blocks oil flow, preventing proper lubrication. Using the proper tool can help with this.

Allow for proper clearance as you install each bearing. This is especially important if you're working with the aluminum alloy bearings, which will not wear in as the engine runs. They need proper clearance from the beginning. Check the manufacturer recommendations for your specific engine.

Similarly, make sure each bearing is aligned properly as you place them. Poor alignment can cause distortions, poor engine function, and improper lubrication, among other issues.

Having your bearings in tip-top shape can help prevent major issues from occurring in your engine, and a major part of that is making sure you have the proper bearings selected and installed correctly.

If you have any further questions on camshaft bearings, or any of our diesel engine parts, please call us at 844-304-7688 to speak to one of our techs. Or, you can request a quote online.