A thrust bearing assembly includes a bearing housing and a shaft supported therein in a front and rear spherical thrust roller bearings. First and second spring devices are provided to pre-load the front and rear bearings. The bearing pre-load exerted by the first spring device acts on the front bearing in a direction opposed to a working load applied to the front bearing. The first spring device removes the spring force from the front bearing race rings, when exposed to a working load exceeding the load exerted by the first spring device. The first and second spring devices under working load and idle conditions being arranged to provide clearance between the rear bearing outer race and a bearing housing seat for the rear bearing outer race for allowing tilting of the outer race in order to compensate for radial oscillations, thereby avoiding rubbing movement between the outer race ring and the housing.