I have a 13 or 14 year old Trek 800 mountain bike that still has its original hubs and wheels. I recently noticed that the axle for the rear wheel hub was pretty loose and if you held the bike and shook it, you could see and hear the rear wheel wobble as the axis moves back and for within the hub.
I took off the freewheel this afternoon to try and tighten up the cones on the hub to prevent excess movement. This is an older, non-sealed kind of hub with steel ball bearings. I overhauled this hub last year and replaced the old bearings with new steel bearings of the same size.
Today I was able to tighten the cone on the hub and now the axle doesn't wiggle in the hub. However, with the cone tightened to prevent movement, there seems to be a lot of friction of the ball bearings against the cone. I can also hear (and feel) the bearing surfaces rubbing against each other as I turn the axle with my hand. If I loosen the cone a bit to reduce the friction, the axle is prone to a little wiggle. Is a little wiggle OK for an axis? By wiggle I mean that if I grab the end of the axis, I can move the axis side to side or up and down.
Is there something I could do to improve this situation or should I just cough up some $$$ and buy a new set of hubs and wheels? I seem to recall that some of the bearing surfaces inside the hub (not the surfaces on the cones) were a little pitted due to corrosion or wear when I overhauled the bearings last year.
Rans Enduro Sport, Hase Kettweisel Tandem, Merin Bear Valley beater bike
Almost surely you can get by with just another hub overhaul.
1. Make sure that your cones don't have any pitting. If they do, you'll have to choose between a slightly loose cone adjustment and a "crunchy" feeling hub.
2. I'm thinking that you might need a new axle. I think that after a few overhauls the axle threads wear right at the "sweet spot". When that happens they don't like to stay locked in place and need frequently retightening.
3. If they're house brand hubs I'd fugure they have lived a good life and replace the whole wheelset with something that has Shimano hubs.
Thanks for the tips. I think I do have some pitting on the inside bearing surface of the hub. I guess that's why I have the crunchy feeling when I spin the axle. I guess I'll just have to live with it for now. I will most likely purchase a new set of wheels this spring for the bike, but for now the existing hubs will have to do.