Auburn Ball Bearing Company

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Auburn Bearing & Manufacturing
Privately Held
Industry Manufacturing
Founded Auburn, New York
Area served
Key people
Peter J. Schroth, General Manager
Products Ball Thrust Bearings, Roller Thrust Bearings, Special Thrust Bearings

Auburn Bearing & Manufacturing is a manufacturer of ball/roller thrust bearings established in 1893 in Auburn, NY. Its products are designed with a V-groove raceway which reduces friction by containing the ball bearings with four points of contact. Auburn Bearing & Manufacturing is one of the oldest continuously operating bearing manufacturers in the United States today.


In 1860, Mark Dean Knowlton founded a paper box manufacturing business in Chicago operating as M.D. Knowlton and Company. The business prospered until the Great Chicago Fire destroyed it in 1871. [1] Mr. Knowlton immediately rebuilt his business. In the early 1880s, he sold the paper box manufacturing portion of the business in order to concentrate on inventing production machinery for the paper box manufacturing industry. In 1888, Mr. Knowlton left Chicago and moved to Rochester, New York, where he formed a partnership with Fred H. Beach, known as Knowlton & Beach.

In 1893, Knowlton & Beach introduced to the market a near frictionless ball bearing. In 1900, they incorporated the business as the Rochester Ball Bearing Company. In 1901, Knowlton & Beach acquired the Auburn, New York-based Auburn Ball Bearing Company, which became a division of Knowlton & Beach.[2] Auburn Ball Bearing manufactured ball and roller thrust bearings. Their primary product, Auburn Four-Point-Cone-Contact Ball Thrust Bearings, was designed with a V-groove raceway which contains the balls with four points of contact.[3]

Auburn Ball Bearing Company manufactured various sizes and configurations of their V-groove thrust bearings for applications in industries including paper box manufacturing, railroad jacks, U.S. submarines, and U.S. Government Light Houses. Early company documentation illustrates Auburn Ball Bearings were used to support revolving lenses in the Carysfort Reef Light, Jupiter Inlet Light, and the St. Simons Island Light in the early twentieth century.[3]

Ball bearing in a v-groove raceway showing four points of contact.

Mr. Beach sold his interest in Knowlton & Beach in 1904,[4] and, later that year the company was incorporated in New York as M.D. Knowlton Company.[5] Mr. Knowlton served as president until his death in 1906. His son, Colonel Frederick K. Knowlton, served as president until his death in 1939. The business continued through the war years and post-war period under family direction. In 1969 and 1970 M.D. Knowlton Company moved operations to Victor, New York.[2]

The Company Today[edit]

On August 18, 2006, Fairport Products, a designer and manufacturer of power transmission parts, acquired the Auburn Ball Bearing Division of M.D. Knowlton Company. On June 10, 2013, the two companies became one under the name Auburn Bearing & Manufacturing and continue operations today in Macedon, New York.[6] They continue to manufacture the original thrust bearings with the unique V-groove raceway which is designed to reduce rolling friction and can carry larger radial loads than typical thrust bearings in a round groove design.[7] They also manufacture round groove industry standard bearings. Auburn Ball Bearing specializes in custom, hard to find bearings in low to mid volume. Their products are distributed by a network of industrial distributors including Motion Industries, Kaman Industrial Technologies, and Applied Industrial Technologies.


  1. ^ Peck, William F. (1908). History of Rochester and Monroe County New York From the Earliest Historic Times to the Beginning of 1907. New York and Chicago: The Pioneer Publishing Company. pp. 530–531. 
  2. ^ a b "About Langley History". Langley Manufacturing Division of the M.D. Knowlton Company. Retrieved 21 July 2011. 
  3. ^ a b Ball Bearing Engineering. Auburn, NY: Auburn Ball Bearing Company. 1920. 
  4. ^ Peck, William F. (1908). History of Rochester and Monroe County New York From the Earliest Historic Times to the Beginning of 1907. New York and Chicago: The Pioneer Publishing Company. pp. 973–974. 
  5. ^ "NYS Department of State Division of Corporations Entity Information". NYS Department of State Division of Corporations. Retrieved 21 July 2011. [permanent dead link]
  6. ^ "Fairport Products Acquires Auburn Ball Bearing". Manufacturing News. March 2007. Archived from the original on 24 October 2007. Retrieved 21 July 2011. 
  7. ^ "Auburn Ball Bearing". Auburn Ball Bearing Company. Archived from the original on 27 March 2012. Retrieved 21 July 2011. 

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