The history of technology records many attempts to reduce the friction of wheeled vehicles by some form of rolling element bearing. The problem remained unsolved when Henry Timken, a German immigrant to the USA, established his own carriage building business in the mid‐19th century. Timken devoted much effort to attempts to improve axle bearings, and in 1898 formed the Timken Roller Bearing Axle Company to make his patented integral shaft and taper roller bearing assemblies for wagons. The design reduced running friction by up to 50 per cent, could accommodate side loads, and adjustment for wear was simply by tightening up the nut at the end of the axle.
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