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Thread: Hub cone adj.

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    Senior Member 1989Pre's Avatar
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    Hub cone adj.

    I have your basic, ball-bearing, steel axle hub on my M80, and I just re-packed it with grease for my first time. No matter how loosely I put the cone on before the locking nut, the wheel will not spin freely when the quick releases are closed. (There is no key washer in this setup).
    I have even tried loosening up the locking nuts. Any ideas? I've gone over it five times.

  2. #2
    Senior Member CACycling's Avatar
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    Are you using cone wrenches? The comment about keyed washers makes me thing you aren't which will pretty much doom you to failure - they are not expensive. There should be a small amount of play when all tightened up before installing the wheel. The QR will compress it slightly so it needs room for that.

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    Retired dabbler hobkirk's Avatar
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    Read Sheldon Brown (?) - after I read his words, I went down to my LBS and paid him $23 to install new bearings. His advice seems reasonable in general, but his article on cone wheel bearings made it sound like there was a huge advantage to having done it a bunch of times and the cone wrenches are so thin that they are expected to round if you use them often. I would love to read contrary advice.
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    Senior Member CACycling's Avatar
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    Like many things in life, it does get easier after you've done a few of them as you get a feel for how tight you need to get everything. But you have to start some time or you'll never amass any experience.

    If treated well, even decent cone wrenches will give years of service for a home mechanic. I've got a set of cone wrenches that came in a dime store bike tool kit I bought in the early 70's. Did many hubs with these before buying "real" wrenches but the old ones still work.

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    17yrold in 64yrold body
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    In making these adjustments, I find it helps me to use two cone wrenches, and a crescent. I only loosen one side to access the balls and cup/cone, and after regreasing, hold the unloosened side with one cone wrench and the crescent. Then I adjust the other side, to get the 'slightly loose' adjustment. While holding this (all three wrenches), I tighten the lock on the 'loosened' side. It took a couple times to get the feel for it, but now I can get it on the first try. As CACycling says, the slight looseness is taken up when you tighten the QR lever.

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    Could you have packed the hub with too much grease? All down the middle of the hub, the grease could be being sheared between the hub and axle.

    The dust caps on the cones are merely pressed on. They could be rubbing against the hub if you bumped one of them out of place.

  7. #7
    Senior Member 1989Pre's Avatar
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    I'll make sure I have those cones loose enough and make sure there is not too much grease. (I did put a lot of grease in there). I appreciate the replies.

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    Quote Originally Posted by 1989Pre View Post
    I'll make sure I have those cones loose enough and make sure there is not too much grease. (I did put a lot of grease in there). I appreciate the replies.
    bearings which are too loose will destroy the cones. Make sure there's no play when you tighten the skewer.

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    QUOTE=1989Pre;11294726]I'll make sure I have those cones loose enough and make sure there is not too much grease. (I did put a lot of grease in there). I appreciate the replies.[/QUOTE]
    Don't worry about too much grease. The excess will bleed out. The bearings should be adjusted so that there is a small amount of play that goes away when the QR is closed. Even then there should be a slight amount of drag that is bearing preload that is important for bearing life. Here's one way. I substitute an oversized nut on the axle in place of the dropout. http://www.parktool.com/repair/readhowto.asp?id=105

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    Senior Member curbtender's Avatar
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    When ever you lock two nuts together you'll get some distortion. back it off some (1/8-1/4) turns then retighten.

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    Quote Originally Posted by 1989Pre View Post
    I'll make sure I have those cones loose enough and make sure there is not too much grease. (I did put a lot of grease in there). I appreciate the replies.

    I still don't see any admission from you that you have or will get a set of cone wrenches. Just so you know this job is impossible to do easily and accurately without the cone wrenches. If you have them then you obviously need to learn how to better use them. If you don't then you need to get the one you need for this bike at least if not a set. They are NOT optional.

    Hobkirk, I've got a set of the cheapest ones that money can buy and they have been working well for well over a decade of use on many, many wheels. Yes they are showing signs of wear and in about another 5 to 10 years I'm likely going to need to replace them. But for what they cost and how much use they've been you should not be afraid to buy a set.

    In a shop situation sure, they'll only last a month or three. But for us part time warriors they'll last for years and years.
    Model airplanes are cool too!.....

  12. #12
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    Some other things left out of your description. "...repacked it with grease.." does not tell us if you really overhauled the hub properly.

    Did you use the same ball bearings? They are considered sacrificial and should be replaced unless everything was clean and the balls still have a mirror finish.

    Did you inspect both cones and cups for pitting or uneven wear? It's impossible to get good adjustment if the surfaces are not good, and the bearings with just be destroyed in a short time.

  13. #13
    Senior Member 1989Pre's Avatar
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    CNY, I put the hub in colmean fuel and let it dry. I inspected the cones and cups. I sanded them down with 400 gr sandpaper. The bearings looked fine to me, but next time, I'll replace them. I repacked the hub thoroughly with Lubrimatic wheel bearing grease.
    I got two 13mm cone wrenches and after a while, I got the wheel to turn freely. My only problem was that when I turned the locknuts, the cones would turn as well, so I kind of needed to improvise.
    Thanks for all the information on tools and techniques.
    I'm going to buy a new Mavic Crossride soon, so this wheel will be a spare in the closet, but it's good to know it is spinning well.
    Paul

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    Quote Originally Posted by 1989Pre View Post
    ......I sanded them down with 400 gr sandpaper.......
    DO NOT EVER DO THAT AGAIN ! ! ! ! !

    Sandpaper, cups and cones have no business being in contact at any time ! ! ! ! ! At best you'll abrade the cups or cones out of perfect roundness or deform the track the balls run in. Small fractions of a thou of an inch count for a good amount when dealing with bearings and abrasives are the last thing you want around such delicate surfaces. At worst you'll embed some of the grit that breaks loose from the paper backing into the metal of the cups or cones and that will eat away at the bearing balls over a long time.

    Quote Originally Posted by 1989Pre View Post
    ........I got two 13mm cone wrenches and after a while, I got the wheel to turn freely. My only problem was that when I turned the locknuts, the cones would turn as well, so I kind of needed to improvise.......
    Yep, adjusting the cones is much like doing any other lock nut style adjustment. You need to use the cone and axle nut wrenches together while playing off a little give with a little take here or there to end up with the final preload being just right while ensuring that there's enough locking torque between the cone and axle nut to avoid any future movement. It IS a two handed job and it really helps if the axle with the other cone and nut are locked up tight and held in your other "third hand". That "third hand" being your bench vise.

    The reason you can't just set the cone and then lock the axle nut to it is that first, the friction between them will move the other. And even if you hold the cone in place with the cone wrench there is still some play in the threads. And when you tighten the axle nut against the cone that play allows the axle nut to push the cone in against that free play and tighten the bearing preload too much. So that's why you need to play the cone wrench against the axle nut wrench and work these two back and forth as a pair to sneak up on the final bearing setting.

    You've obviously never adjusted the valve play in an adjustable tappet valve gas engine... It works the exact same way. You need three hands there too. One to hold the shim used to feel the clearance and two to work the adjuster and locknut. And in this case it's darn hard to use the bench to hold the shim up under the engine hood so using the trusty bench vise as the third hand is pretty much out.....
    Model airplanes are cool too!.....

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    you need a vise. i can do a front hub adjust in minutes. but i do this every day. clamp the lock nut in the vise, tighten cone agaisnt the clamped nut. work from the other side in small increments(1/32 or 1/64 rotations) until a hint of play is present, tap tire with the 17mm and put your other hand on the axle to feel the play. assuming qr hub if solid hub tight cone 1/32 rotation and check for no play.

  16. #16
    Senior Member 1989Pre's Avatar
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    Thanks for all the good ad(vice), people. Next job: get a bench vice, work stand, torque wrench, various crank and bottom bracket tools. I'm getting there. I'm trying to absorb everything that is said. I will be taking both the beginners and advanced bicycle repair course at Cambridge Bicycle School beginning in november.

    Paul

  17. #17
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    I use the 13, 15 and 17 mm wrenches on my shimano hubs. Always use new ball bearings when overhauling a hub. They are cheap, and sometimes when they wear they get out of round.

  18. #18
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    Rather than start a new thread, I thought I'd ask a theoretical question about hub overhauls: Is it acceptable to repack the hubs with bearings from one production run on one side of the hub, with a different production run on the other side?

    I recently ordered a new bag of 100 1/4" bearings, but I've still got 11-12 from the old bag left. Could I use 10 from the old bag, or just throw them away?

    My question is in reference to this Sheldon quote:

    Quote Originally Posted by Sheldon Brown
    It is particularly important that all of the balls in a given race come from the same production run. They are made to tolerances of 3 or 4 millionths of an inch. one batch may be oversize, while the next batch may be several millionths undersize. If some of the balls in a race are that much smaller than others, the smaller ones might just as well not be there, because only the larger ones will be taking the load.

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    As long as you don't mix them on the same side, it will be fine.

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