Bicycle Mechanics - Packing Grease on Old Style Bottom Bracket
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12-30-05, 08:09 AM
I need a recommendation with regard to packing grease on an old, non-cartridge style bottom bracket. I had to remove the chain rings on an old (1988) Hoo Koo E Koo, so I decided to pull the BB and clean and repack the bearings. I've cleaned the BB and I'm in the process of repacking the bearings when I ran into a small question. In addition to packing the bearings and cups with grease, should I load up the space between the two bearing cage retariners along the length of the axle? I mean, there's lots of space to place additional grease to act as a sort of 'feeder' over time. I checked the following sources but could not find an answer to this question: Sheldon Brown, I searched this Forum, and Todd Downs Bicycle Maintenance and Repair.
Also, one source (Sheldon Brown) says use a Marine Grease (typically heavy duty) while Todd Downs says use a medium grease. I use Val-Plex EP automotive/marine wheel bearing grease for all my other bike applications. Any problem with using this for the BB?
12-30-05, 08:15 AM
Nope. That grease will never migrate into the bearings and, even if it did, it would probably be contaminated with dirt and rust from the seat tube.
12-30-05, 08:34 AM
I use white lithium grease. Only pack the cups and bearings and coat the metal parts that touch each other.
12-30-05, 09:12 AM
Agreed, just put grease on the bearings and in the cup races. Any other will be wasted. Your Val-Plex grease will be just fine. If you do a search on the forums, you'll find many many threads full of great information and diverse opinions about types of grease, but the absolute bottom line is this: the best grease is clean grease. If you have open seat tube, down tube, and/or chain stay access into the bottom bracket, it's good to have a plastic liner in the bottom bracket shell to help keep crud from migrating into your freshly greased bottom bracket bearings. If there isn't one in there already, it's really easy to make one from a plastic soda bottle. I think Sheldon shows that on his website. You can use any piece of flexible plastic, really.
12-30-05, 09:12 AM
Whilst repacking the BB on my POS beater, I included one of those plastic accordion tubes to keep frame gunk from contaminating the balls and fresh grease. I also replaced the old balls since they're 5 bucks for a bag of 100 Campy Grade 25s at nashbar.
12-30-05, 09:23 AM
Rub a film of grease on the axle between the bearings just to act as a rust preventative. No value in filling this space with grease whatsoever.
12-30-05, 09:37 AM
Add my vote with the coat the spindle for protection, but don't fill the space. No advantage, and it will add a couple of grams if you are concerned about weight. :D
12-30-05, 09:44 AM
Thanks for the comments. I forgot to mention that this old Gary Fisher came with a bearing protection tube that completely blocks all other tubes from the BB housing (I can see why his old bikes are held in high esteem). It doesn't come out without forcing the issue. On a bike this old, I just wiped the excess grease that was present and will leave it as is. I'll just put a thin coat of grease on the BB and pack the bearings and cups. The bearings show little/no wear, but if I can get new ones from my LBS, I'll replace them. Thanks again for the comments.
12-30-05, 02:53 PM
Also, drill out the bottom bracket so that any water/condensation will drain out. Water or condensation will get into your frame, no matter how well sealed, and collect in the BB. I worked at a bike shop and on several occasions opened a BB and had water literally pour out.
12-31-05, 02:06 AM
I like the blue boat-trailer bearing grease. It's got more tackiness then the other stuff and it sticks to the parts and doesn't get pushed out of the way. Also use loose balls so you can stuff an extra bearing or two into the cups. This combination always lasted 2-3 years for me between BB services. :)
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