Auburn Bearing & Manufacturing
|Industry||Industrial Equipment Manufacturing|
|Founded||Auburn, New York|
|Peter J. Schroth Owner & General Manager|
Auburn Bearing & Manufacturing is a designer and manufacturer of ball and roller thrust bearings and custom machined components and is owned and operated in the small town of Macedon in Upstate New York. Founded in 1898, Auburn Bearing is one of the oldest continuously operating thrust ball bearing manufacturers in the United States. Auburn Bearing & Manufacturing is most known for its line of thrust bearings that incorporate a "V" groove raceway, historically known as the "Auburn Groove," which is specifically designed to reduce rolling friction by containing the ball bearings with four points of contact.
In 1860, Mark Dean Knowlton founded a Chicago-based paper box manufacturing business. The business, operating under the name M.D. Knowlton & Company, prospered throughout the decade until it eventually became a victim of the Great Chicago Fire in 1871.  With Mr. Knowlton's courage and determination, he was able to rebuild his business and resume his paper box manufacturing operation within the same year. In March, 1892, he sold his interest in the paper box manufacturing portion of his business in order to concentrate on inventing production machinery for the paper box manufacturing industry. In 1888, Mr. Knowlton moved his machinery business to Rochester, New York, where he then formed a partnership with Fred H. Beach, and the two business men began operating under the new business name Knowlton & Beach.
In 1893, Knowlton & Beach introduced a near frictionless ball bearing to the market, presumably the first such bearing of its time, and in 1900, the company's bearing business was incorporated as the Rochester Ball Bearing Company and became a division of Knowlton & Beach. A year later in 1901, Knowlton & Beach further expanded their bearing business with the acquisition of the Auburn Ball Bearing Company, a manufacturer of ball and roller thrust bearings established in 1898 in Auburn, New York. Auburn Ball Bearing became the second division of Knowlton & Beach and was relocated to Rochester, New York to continue its operations. Auburn Ball Bearing's primary product, their Auburn Four-Point-Cone-Contact Ball Thrust Bearings, incorporates an exclusive "V" groove raceway, designed to distribute the load evenly over the balls as they travel on four points of contact, creating a straight line rolling effect and decreasing the amount of friction created by a full contact round groove design. 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.
In 1904, Fred Beach retired and withdrew his interest in the Knowlton & Beach co-partnership. Mr. Knowlton subsequently took over the entire interest of the company, and later that year, he incorporated the company in New York under the name M.D. Knowlton Company. Mr. Knowlton served as president of the M.D. Knowlton Co. and the Auburn Ball Bearing Co. until his death in 1906. Knowlton was succeeded by his son, Colonel Frederick K. Knowlton, who served as president of the company until his death in 1939. During his time as president, the Auburn Ball Bearing Division of M.D. Knowlton Company was able to patent a number of new and useful improvements in the design of bearings, particularly in the design of ball thrust bearings, under inventor Francis A. Collins, Jr.
- Ball Bearing Patent US1219919A — Triple-race ball bearing which is self-contained, readily positioned, and high efficient in its operations (patented March 20, 1917).
- Ball Bearing Patent US1219920A — Double thrust ball bearing which is self-contained, and, therefore, capable of being handled and positioned as a unit (patented March 20, 1917).
- Ball Bearing Patent US1219921A — Double thrust ball bearing which is capable, when installed, of slight radial movements to accommodate itself to the radial position of the shaft, due to wear of the bearings, but is also capable of accommodating itself to angular changes in the position of the shaft, while providing a means for holding the parts of the bearing together to form a unit of the same so that it may be readily handled and positioned (patented March 20, 1917).
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, where the Knowlton Building then served as the company's headquarters.
The Company Today
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, and its operations were then moved to the small town of Macedon, New York. The businesses continued to operate as two separate business entities until June 10, 2013, when the two companies became one under the new name Auburn Bearing & Manufacturing. Under the leadership of the current owner and manager, Peter Schroth, Auburn Bearing & Manufacturing continues to manufacture the original Auburn Groove Thrust Bearing which features a unique V-groove raceway designed with four contact points to reduce rolling friction. Auburn Bearing that feature this proprietary bearing design have the advantage of carrying larger radial loads than the typical round groove thrust bearing design. The company also manufacture round groove industry standard bearings. Auburn Bearing & Manufacturing specializes in custom, obsolete, and hard-to-find bearings in low- to mid- production volume. Furthermore, the company is increasing their capabilities in manufacturing custom radial bearings. Their products are distributed by a large network of industrial distributors including Motion Industries, Kaman Industrial Technologies, Applied Industrial Technologies and BDI.
- 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.
- "About Langley History". Langley Manufacturing Division of the M.D. Knowlton Company. Archived from the original on 28 March 2012. Retrieved 21 July 2011.
- Ball Bearing Engineering. Auburn, NY: Auburn Ball Bearing Company. 1920.
- 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.
- "NYS Department of State Division of Corporations Entity Information". NYS Department of State Division of Corporations. Retrieved 21 July 2011.[permanent dead link]
- "Fairport Products Acquires Auburn Ball Bearing". Manufacturing News. March 2007. Archived from the original on 24 October 2007. Retrieved 21 July 2011.
- "Auburn Ball Bearing". Auburn Ball Bearing Company. Archived from the original on 27 March 2012. Retrieved 21 July 2011.