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I month or so ago I asked the question about what parts and tools I needed to perform a 36K service and to change crown bearings. I made my list, checked it twice, and placed an order with Chicago BMW.

My box finally arrived last week and today I planned to 1) install the crown bearing and (depending on time) 2) change the timing chain tensioner lining.

So, I open my $215 box of goodies and grab the crown bearing. I count the balls and find there to be 19. Hmmm. My good friends on the K12LT forum are recommending the 17 ball one. So, after waiting for Chicago BMW to open, I give them a call.

He says that about 2 years ago, BMW superseded the part number from the old part to the new one, which is 33121468899 or "899" as the parts guy called it.

He says he has sold about 60 of the "899's" and never heard of a failure and has never counted the balls.

So, I have a '99 with 39,500 on the clock. I bought it last fall with ~33K and the previous owner never changed the bearing. I changed the rear drive oil a few weeks ago and found only a small amount of metal powder on the magnet and no flakes, plus the wheel does not rock, so I don't think I have a problem...I am just changing it for piece of mind.

Now, do I change bearings and put this one in, or should I send it back and shop around for a 17-ball version?

Or, do I not get the bearing from BMW at all, and go directly to a bearing distributor and buy from them? The bearing I was sent from Chicago BMW was in a BMW box, but it was a FAG bearing, so BMW is just a reseller for this part anyway.

What is the consensus? Did BMW supersede the original bearing with the new and improved 17-ball version, and supersede it again with an even better 19-ball version?

Or is the 17-ball version the best there is there is a warehouse somewhere in Germany with stacks of bearings and it is luck of the draw which one you get?
 

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Holy Cow said:
I month or so ago I asked the question about what parts and tools I needed to perform a 36K service and to change crown bearings. I made my list, checked it twice, and placed an order with Chicago BMW.

My box finally arrived last week and today I planned to 1) install the crown bearing and (depending on time) 2) change the timing chain tensioner lining.

So, I open my $215 box of goodies and grab the crown bearing. I count the balls and find there to be 19. Hmmm. My good friends on the K12LT forum are recommending the 17 ball one. So, after waiting for Chicago BMW to open, I give them a call.

He says that about 2 years ago, BMW superseded the part number from the old part to the new one, which is 33121468899 or "899" as the parts guy called it.

He says he has sold about 60 of the "899's" and never heard of a failure and has never counted the balls.

So, I have a '99 with 39,500 on the clock. I bought it last fall with ~33K and the previous owner never changed the bearing. I changed the rear drive oil a few weeks ago and found only a small amount of metal powder on the magnet and no flakes, plus the wheel does not rock, so I don't think I have a problem...I am just changing it for piece of mind.

Now, do I change bearings and put this one in, or should I send it back and shop around for a 17-ball version?

Or, do I not get the bearing from BMW at all, and go directly to a bearing distributor and buy from them? The bearing I was sent from Chicago BMW was in a BMW box, but it was a FAG bearing, so BMW is just a reseller for this part anyway.

What is the consensus? Did BMW supersede the original bearing with the new and improved 17-ball version, and supersede it again with an even better 19-ball version?

Or is the 17-ball version the best there is there is a warehouse somewhere in Germany with stacks of bearings and it is luck of the draw which one you get?
The "new" 17 ball bearing is made by SKF instead of the 19 ball bearings that were made by FAG.

I would try to find the SKF bearing, even knowing that may not be the total "fix" of the problem. It does seem that the newer bearing is showing better life.
 

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Holy Cow said:
Now, do I change bearings and put this one in, or should I send it back and shop around for a 17-ball version?
There are those on the forum that have specifically ordered the 17-ball version, and received the 17-ball version. So, it can be done. I think you should send this puppy back and go shopping. Perhaps you should start a thread asking for recommendations on where to get the "right" part. That would probably save you a lot of time and aggravation. (Oops! Too late! :rolleyes: )
 

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I just ordered the new bearings also and told they would be 19 ball. These are supposedly the latest and are on back order from BMW AG. I'll let you know what I actually get. Part number was same as posted in previous posts for the 17 ball.
 

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I find it unacceptable that they would be sending out the 19 bearing part. I would not install a 19 bearing part in my bike. Send it back.
 

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I too plan on replacing my bearing, and was planning to order from Chicago BMW. Bummer about receiving a 19 bearing.

I looked at the parts at MaxBMW and they show part # 33 12 1 242 210 @ $134 replacing # 33 12 1 468 899. I don't know if this it 17 or 19 bearings.

I will call them tomorrow for more info.


David
 

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Hello All:
I just did the change. I have the box for the 17 bearing in my hand. BMW part #33121468899. As David states in a previous reply the 17 and 19 bearing units are made by different manufacturers. I bought my bearing from the local dealer who had it in stock. Good luck on the project.
 

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When I ordered mine last week I ordered part #33 12 1 468 899 and was told it would be a 19 ball. Will see when it shows up.
 

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fredthead said:
When I ordered mine last week I ordered part #33 12 1 468 899 and was told it would be a 19 ball. Will see when it shows up.
What dealer in MSP ?
 

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Is BMW just dumping the old 19 ball units on the market to get rid of them? Knowing they are, at the very least, part of the rear end problem, you would think they would have removed them from the supply chain.

I was seriously thinking of replacing mine with the new 17 ball unit - until now. Thanks for the info.
 

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lnowell said:
Is BMW just dumping the old 19 ball units on the market to get rid of them? Knowing they are, at the very least, part of the rear end problem, you would think they would have removed them from the supply chain.

I was seriously thinking of replacing mine with the new 17 ball unit - until now. Thanks for the info.
Since BMW has never admitted a problem with the bearings, it is entirely possible the advent of the SKF bearing was nothing more than second sourcing of parts, and they may still be using both suppliers for bearings depending on availability and pricing. Certainly a common practice in all industry.

It will be really interesting if we ever see a FAG bearing with the "new" part number on it's packaging.
 

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All I know is that it's pretty darn ironic that the FAG
bearings are the ones blowing apart! ;)

All the more reason to buy the new GT. To get rid of this FAG in my rear drive. :D
 

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dshealey said:
Since BMW has never admitted a problem with the bearings, it is entirely possible the advent of the SKF bearing was nothing more than second sourcing of parts, and they may still be using both suppliers for bearings depending on availability and pricing. Certainly a common practice in all industry.

It will be really interesting if we ever see a FAG bearing with the "new" part number on it's packaging.
True, they have not admitted anything. In your opinion, why would they still be selling the 19 ball unit if almost 100% of the failures are with that unit? Is it the design of the 19 ball unit or the manufacturer of the 19 ball bearing unit the problem?

Does this imply that newer LT's MAY have the 19 ball bearings installed in them at the factory or does the PARTS division get their dealer replacement parts where ever they can get the best deal?
 

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Jon, I ordered mine from BMW Chicago. They said they were on back order from BMW AG (Germany). But I was at Leo's this morning for a new tire and they said they had the 17 ball in stock although I didn't physically see it. I'll post as to what I get on arrival.
 

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Baerings

dshealey said:
The "new" 17 ball bearing is made by SKF instead of the 19 ball bearings that were made by FAG.

I would try to find the SKF bearing, even knowing that may not be the total "fix" of the problem. It does seem that the newer bearing is showing better life.
Question: Could it be that the improvement going from 19 balls to 17 had nothing to do with the # of balls, and everything to do with the Quality of the original 19's? And now they might have gone back to a 19, but with the Quality problem fixed? Dave, you are probably as close to a bearing expert as anyone we've got. What do you think?
 

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messenger13 said:
All I know is that it's pretty darn ironic that the FAG
bearings are the ones blowing apart! ;)

All the more reason to buy the new GT. To get rid of this FAG in my rear drive. :D
Ya, we don't want no FAG balls :(
oh gosh
 

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HarvRead said:
Question: Could it be that the improvement going from 19 balls to 17 had nothing to do with the # of balls, and everything to do with the Quality of the original 19's? And now they might have gone back to a 19, but with the Quality problem fixed? Dave, you are probably as close to a bearing expert as anyone we've got. What do you think?
The number of balls never had anything to do with the problems. Different manufacturers use various designs of the ball cages (separators), and also slightly different ball diameters depending on the load ratings. The separator design is what determines the number of balls used. Lower ball count leaves a little more room for the separator attachments. Some use rivets, others use little folded over tabs to hold the halves together.

The machined bronze retainer MRC bearing I bought to use (never got to try it :() only had 16 balls, but there was machined bronze between the balls which was riveted together. I sold it to another member here, hopefully he will one day try it out.

All the bearings had just about the same load ratings though.

I am surprised that the FAG bearings were failing, and seemingly the SKF bearings are holding up better. Both companies are long time highly respected bearing manufacturers.
 

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Well I called and talked to the parts guys at Max BMW. They said that BMW pretty much keeps them in the dark. The two 899 bearings they had were 19 ball. They ordered more, but the computer showed that both US and Germany showed Out of Stock status. I would assume that the only stock is what is on hand....

Dave
 
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