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Old 12-08-06, 04:18 PM   #1
Lurker1999
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Packing front hub with loose bearings problem

I got this extra wheel with an old Huffy 3-speed. It came with a 26x1 3/8" tire. I removed the original front caged bearings which were horribly gummed up. The LBS didn't have caged bearings to sell me so they gave me 10 loose bearings per side (same size as far as I can tell). I put grease and 10 bearings in per side, then tightened the axle but there's still some up/down and side/side play with the wheel and axle. If I tighten it further the wheel can't turn freely on the hub. Right now I have it as tight as would allow it to turn freely. What am I doing wrong? I tried taking one bearing out and it didn't seem to make a difference. Should I take more out? They're not aligned as the caged bearings were in a neat circle despite my efforts to seat them that way originally in the grease.

There is a gap between the cone and the wheel as you can see in the pictures.


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Old 12-08-06, 04:39 PM   #2
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The loose balls should work fine. Double check the size, which is likely a 3/16". Compare these to what was in the cage. From what you describe, it seems very likely there are too many balls. Do a test. Pull the axle out. Stack in nine balls, and place the cone down in the hub, without the axle. Compare the gap from using 10 balls. Now, press down on the cone and rotate. It should be "smooth" or as good as this type of hub will feel in any case.

If the balls are jumbled, you will also get the problems you mention. However, even if you run 9 when 10 would have fit, the bike will be just fine.
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Old 12-08-06, 04:39 PM   #3
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As a follow-up, I just finally got the cones to seat better but I had to go down to 8 bearings on one side and 7 bearings on the other side. Is this unusual/recommended? The original caged bearings were 7 to the side..
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Old 12-08-06, 04:44 PM   #4
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One other possibilty is that the axle is bent. Rotate the axle and see if the other end goes in a arc
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Old 12-08-06, 04:45 PM   #5
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If there were 7 in the cage there should be 7 loose. The cage just makes assembly easier
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Old 12-08-06, 05:36 PM   #6
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Axle is not bent as far as I can tell. Should I take one bearing out of the side that has 8 in it right now?
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Old 12-08-06, 05:53 PM   #7
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The number of bearings should increase without the cage. This is the advantage of non-caged bearings.

I have heard that the rule of thumb for the proper number of loose bearings is to fit in as many bearings as will fit, and then remove one.
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Old 12-08-06, 05:58 PM   #8
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Maybe you didn't get the right size bearings?

Try soaking your old bearings in solvent to clean them up and reuse them.

BTW, are your cones pitted?
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Old 12-08-06, 06:49 PM   #9
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I compared the bearing sizes and they're the same. I cleaned the cones up really well and as far as I can tell the bearing surfaces are smooth..
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