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HQ 088888

March 24, 1992

CLA-2 CO:R:C:M 088888 CMS


TARIFF NO.: 8431.20.00

Frederick L. Ikenson, Esq.
1621 New Hampshire Ave., N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20009

RE: HQ Ruling 087775, Reconsideration; Load Rollers; Fork Lift Trucks; Parts; Wheels; Guide; Tires; Ball and Roller Bearings; Antifriction; Mast; Subheading 8482.10.00

Dear Mr. Ikenson:

This is in response to your request on behalf of Federal- Mogul Corporation, dated March 8, 1991, for the reconsideration of HQ Ruling 087775 (January 17, 1991).


HQ Ruling 087775 held that certain products described as "load rollers" were classified as parts of fork lift trucks in Heading 8431, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS).

The products consist of steel tires into which assemblies containing rolling elements are incorporated. The tires are designed to turn in the channels of fork lift mast uprights.

The products are manufactured in two configurations. The first configuration is comprised of a separate, reinforced tire into which inner and outer rings containing rolling elements are installed. The steel tire of the second configuration is manufactured integrally with the outer ring section it incorporates.


Is the merchandise classified under the HTSUS as parts of fork lift trucks in Heading 8431, or as ball bearings in Heading 8482?


Customs Treatment Of The Products

On November 3, 1983, Customs issued HQ Ruling 070878, which held that the fork lift mast products with separate, reinforced steel tires were classified under the Tariff Schedules of the United States (TSUS) as parts of other lifting, handling, loading or unloading machinery, and not as ball bearings. We found that the products functioned as guide wheels.

In NY Ruling 841216 (June 8, 1989), Customs found under the HTSUS that the products were not classified as ball bearings and that the products were wheels. Because of interpretative changes brought about by the Harmonized System, the products were held to be classified as parts of fork lift trucks, instead of in the more general provision for parts of other lifting and handling machinery.

In NY Ruling 842150 (June 19, 1989), Customs ruled on the integral tire variation of the product. This ruling was based primarily on a physical observation of the product which was held to be classified as a ball bearing. The National Import Specialist who prepared the ruling subsequently acknowledged that upon a closer examination of the article, including its function, this determination was incorrect and the ruling should not have been issued. This ruling did not reference NY Ruling 841216 or HQ Ruling 070878, and had no legal effect on that line of rulings.

HQ Ruling 087775 (January 17, 1991) resolved any question which may have existed, by revoking the incorrect NY Ruling 842150 and bringing the classification of the integral tire variation in line with the position Customs had maintained since 1983.

In your submission, reference is made to a letter from Customs dated October 19, 1989, which discussed the product in the context of the scope of an antidumping case. However, this letter was not a classification ruling, and it has been determined that antidumping scope matters do not affect Customs classification determinations. Royal Business Machines, Inc. v. United States, et al., 1 CIT 80, 87 (CIT, 1980), 507 F. Supp. 1007, aff'd. 669 F. 2d 692 (Fed. Cir., 1982).

Form and Function

HQ Ruling 087775 found that the products had the physical and functional character of complete wheels. It is common knowledge that many wheels incorporate and turn on bearing components (e.g., roller skate wheels). The radial bearing components (balls, grooved races, spacing cage) within a wheel might themselves be described as bearings, but the wheels as a whole are not mere bearings. Many lifting and handling machines use wheels that turn on tracks and are considered by the HTSUS and lexicographic authority to be "wheels" or "rollers" and not "bearings".

It is contended that the products have the form and function of bearings and that Customs did not look to lexicographic sources it ordinarily relies on in deciding bearing issues.

While Customs routinely looks to lexicographic authorities, we do not always quote from or cite every authority used when deciding every ruling.

In many instances, Customs looks to the McGraw-Hill Encyclopedia of Science and Technology for descriptions of products that go beyond dictionary definitions. In Vol. 1, p. 638 of the McGraw-Hill Encyclopedia of Science and Technology, 6th Ed. (1987), bearings and wheels are discussed. It is stated that wheels perform some antifriction function and that bearings use this principle, but wheels and bearings are not equated and some bearings are described that are used in wheels. It is stated:

The wheelbarrow, the two-wheeled baggage truck, and similar devices are striking examples of the reduction in friction by the use of the wheel. ...This principle is used in the rolling-element bearing which has found wide use.
The first major application of these bearings was to the bicycle...

The use of bearings in bicycles is also addressed in the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System Explanatory Notes to Heading 8482, the heading that describes ball bearings. The Explanatory Notes to Heading 8482, p. 1325, provide that "[t]he heading does not cover machinery parts incorporating ball...bearings ...[including]...Bicycle hubs (heading 87.14)". Thus, under the HTSUS, a bearing would not have to be assembled with a complete wheel for the assembly to be classified as a product other than a Heading 8482 bearing.

Even closer to the "load rollers" under consideration are complete wheels or rollers, especially those that turn in the guide rails or tracks of the lifting and handling machinery described in Headings 8426 to 8428 (fork lift trucks are described in Heading 8427 as works trucks fitted with lifting and handling equipment). Such wheels and rollers are referenced in the Explanatory Notes to Heading 8426, p. 1194 (e.g., "wheels, rollers, pulleys, running or guide rails, etc."; see also Explanatory Notes to Heading 8428, p. 1197).

The Explanatory Notes to Heading 8426, p. 1195, describe transporter cranes that use hoisting trolleys running along beams. The McGraw-Hill Encyclopedia, supra, Vol. 11, p. 376, describes a materials handling machine that uses a hoisting trolley travelling on an "I" beam. It is stated that the circular articles that are mounted in the trolley and roll along the beam are not ball bearings, but are "wheels". It is stated that the "[w]heels mounted in trolleys ride on the flange of the track..." (emphasis added).

Like the "I" beams of other lifting and handling machinery, fork lift masts may also be of "I" beam construction, and fork lift "load rollers" may be designed to turn on "I" beams. See Exhibit 7, ruling requestor's March 8, 1991 submission, "Liftall" literature; Exhibit 10, May 6, 1991 submission, documents 1 & 2). Some materials handling systems with trolleys may use idler wheels, drive wheels and guide wheels that roll on the side of the track.

In connection with gravity conveyor machines for transporting materials and objects, the McGraw-Hill Encyclopedia, supra, Vol. 4, p. 397, describes the circular articles used to handle "Rolling friction" not as bearings, but as: "Wheel, Roller, Spiral Wheel, Spiral Roller" (emphasis added). Further, wheels used in materials handling machinery are not limited to those that turn on beams. For example, "[a]erial tramways and cableways employ the use of a cab or carrier suspended by a grooved wheel on an overhead cable" (emphasis added). McGraw- Hill Encyclopedia, supra, Vol. 3, p. 101.

As previously noted, fork lift trucks are described in Heading 8427 as works trucks fitted with lifting and handling equipment. Articles that are classified as parts of fork lift trucks are provided for in Heading 8431, where the "load rollers" under consideration were classified. The Explanatory Notes to Heading 8431, p. 1207, also describe rolling products that frequently incorporate bearing elements (e.g., "rollers" for conveyors).

Marketing Considerations

An extensive review has been made of marketing literature and statements made by bearing and fork lift manufacturers and suppliers, including the extensive materials provided with the request for reconsideration. This review indicates that the products are referred to by many names, including "load rollers", "wheels", "bearings", "guide wheels", "mast guide bearings" and "rollers".

This situation is similar to that in Rollix Bearing, Inc v. United States, 757 F. Supp. 1412 (CIT, 1991), where a question was whether certain products were classified as bearings. One party noted that the products were referred to as bearings and large diameter bearings, and the other party noted that the products were also known as ring gears, turntable bearings, swing gears, swing circles, turntables, rotation gears and rotation circles. The Court noted the tariff classification principle referred to by the plaintiff, that the marketing of a product is not determinative of its tariff classification. Venaire Shade Corp. v. United States, 66 Cust. Ct. 469, 472, C.D. 4235 (1971).

In Rollix Bearing, Inc., supra, the products were similar in physical construction to a radial ball bearing, having an outer ring, rolling elements and an inner ring that was manufactured with gear teeth. The Court found that antifriction was only one of the functions of the products and the products were not classified as bearings under the TSUS.

There may be no direct analogy between the products in Rollix Bearing, Inc. and the "load rollers" under consideration. However, the argument that the tires of the "load rollers" are merely bearing races of special design, formed to allow the product to function in the machines for which they are designed, is not much different from asserting that a geared inner ring is merely a bearing race of special design, formed to allow it to function in the machine for which it was designed (a concept rejected by the Court in Rollix Bearing, Inc.).

Although marketing may not be determinative of tariff classification, it is interesting to note that in what might be the most detailed name attached to the "load rollers" in company literature, the product is referred to not as a ball bearing, but as an assembly in which a bearing is just one component (i.e., an "Integral Load Roller And Bearing Assembly", May 6, 1991, submission, Exhibit 10, documents 1 and 2).

Miscellaneous Arguments

It is stated that Customs violated section 502(b) of the Tariff Act of 1930 (19 U.S.C. 1502(b)), because HQ Ruling 087775 was not issued in concurrence with the Attorney General, the Court of International Trade or a certain binational panel.

In Joanna Western Mills Company v. United States, 311 F. Supp. 1328 (Cust. Ct., 1970), the Court found that section 502(b) was not intended to benefit any class of individuals or persons, including the plaintiff. It was also found that the reference to the concurrence of the Attorney General was directory, not mandatory.

You also argue that Customs had a "fixation" on what is described as the "wheel concept". The key element of the argument is apparently that Customs had a "fixation" on the fact that the outer part of the product rotated around the inner part. May 6, 1991, submission, p. 7. Customs had no such "fixation". All aspects of the product were considered, including their similarity to articles used in lifting and handling machinery.

Several arguments are made in the context of the "wheel concept" notion. Reference is made to "slide mechanisms" which do not have an outer part rotating around an inner part. The analogy between "slide mechanisms" and "load rollers, however, is misplaced; the "slide mechanisms" are linear bearings which have no rotating races and no separate or integral outer tires at all. An extensive discussion is also provided regarding products described as cam followers. Cam followers, however, primarily follow the curved surfaces of cams in the wide variety of machines that use cams (e.g., engines, manufacturing machinery, packaging machinery, typesetting machinery, machine tools). The "load rollers" are much more similar to the wheels, including guide wheels, that turn on "I" beams and other beams, tracks and channels, specifically in lifting and handling machinery.

Concerning antidumping, the May 6, 1991, submission, p. 17, cites Diversified Products Corp. v. United States, 6 CIT 155, 572 F. Supp. 883 (1983), a case that sets forth criteria used by the Department of Commerce in making antidumping scope determinations. It is suggested on p. 18 of the submission that Customs use a "modified Diversified Products analysis" in the course of its tariff classification determination.

As you are aware, antidumping scope and tariff classification have fundamental differences. Antidumping scope does not affect tariff classification. The Court of International Trade has stated:

The Court distinguishes between the authority of the Customs Service to classify according to tariff classifications (19 U.S.C. 1500) and the power of the agencies administering the antidumping law to determine a class or kind of merchandise. The determinations under the antidumping law may properly result in the creation of classes which do not correspond to classifications found in the tariff schedules or may define or modify a known classification in a manner not contemplated or desired by the Customs Service.

Royal Business Machines, Inc., et al. v. U.S., 1 CIT at 87, n. 18


After careful consideration of all aspects of this issue, we have concluded that under the classification system of the HTSUS, the fork lift "load rollers" are not described or classified as ball bearings in Heading 8482. Customs is unpersuaded that the products should be classified in a provision other than the Heading 8431 provision for parts suitable for certain materials handling machinery, including the fork lift trucks of Heading 8427. HQ Ruling 087775 properly classified the merchandise in Heading 8431, pursuant to Section XVI Note 2(b).


HQ Ruling 087775 (January 17, 1991) properly classified the merchandise as parts of fork lift trucks in subheading 8431.20.00, HTSUS, and is affirmed.


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