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Fake Timken Bearings Cost Oil and Gas Customer More, Not Less

EUROPE – An oil and gas customer in Europe recently experienced the downside of inadvertently purchasing counterfeit bearings. When a fake “Timken” thrust tapered roller bearing failed shortly after installation in the top drive position of one of its drilling rigs, the customer sent it to Timken for evaluation, believing it was genuine.

Top drive bearings are vital to ensuring uptime in the entire drilling operation. Unexpected downtime can result in a loss of EUR 15,000 daily and cost additional money in shipping and logistics to transport the top drive from the field to the repair shop. Counterfeit bearings can cost two to three times less than genuine Timken, but the long-term costs far outweigh any short-term savings.

Upon receiving the bearing for review, Timken service engineers quickly noticed signs of counterfeiting on both the bearing and packaging. The most obvious indicator was in the bearing construction, but the labeling also included many errors.

A genuine Timken thrust tapered roller bearing in this application has an expected life of four to five years. The counterfeit Timken product only lasted weeks. In addition to impacting the customer’s productivity and financials, the failed bearing also presented a potential safety hazard for any workers near the failing equipment.

As a bearing producer, Timken strongly recommends purchasing bearings only via authorized channels and using the WBA app to ensure the receipt of genuine Timken bearings. Timken provides an updated global list of authorized Timken distributors at