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Old 09-27-10, 10:25 PM   #1
Skandl
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Repacking a cone and spilling loose bearings!

I've got an old junker I use as my around town bike, it's a schwinn hardtail mtb. As much as I love it, it was never a super stable bike but at a certain point it's wobble was too much to take. Looking closer as I was getting to remove the freewheel a section of the axle fell out along with many bearings. I had apparently been riding on a broken axle for a while :/

I picked up some replacement bearings and found another axle and did an ok job cleaning the old gunk out. I packed it with grease and pushed in the new bearings but had a hell of a time sliding the axle in without knocking the bearings out of position (like into the hollow center section of the hib!)

My question to you is - what's the beat way to repack a cone/loose bearing style hub? What's the secret? In hindsight it seems like I might have put the axle in first, then th grease, bearings then the cones. Still not sure if it would work this way though.


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Old 09-27-10, 10:37 PM   #2
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My question to you is - what's the beat way to repack a cone/loose bearing style hub? What's the secret? In hindsight it seems like I might have put the axle in first, then th grease, bearings then the cones. Still not sure if it would work this way though.
Lay a bead of grease in the hub's cups. Do both sides before going on. Hold the axle and the hub in one hand so the axle is even with the bottom of the cup. Lay the bearings in the cup so the grease holds them in place. Gingerly drop the axle out without disturbing the bearings and lay the cone in on top of the bearings to hold them in place. Flip the wheel over and lay the bearings in the grease in the other cup. Drop the axle back through, and thread it in the opposite cone. It should all go together without the bearings moving out of place.

I know it sounds like this takes three hands, but take it slow and glue everything together with grease and it works fine.
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Old 09-28-10, 06:34 AM   #3
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more grease....per Sheldon Brown....."Then line both cups in the hub shell with grease. Don't worry about using too much. It is not possible. If in doubt, use more."
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Old 09-28-10, 06:45 AM   #4
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And use an old cookie sheet as a work surface should something unplanned happen.

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Old 09-28-10, 07:21 AM   #5
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And use an old cookie sheet as a work surface should something unplanned happen.

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and I keep strong magnet handy.....those little parts bowl with the magnetic base are good too.....
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Old 09-28-10, 09:40 AM   #6
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To help clarify one point about Jeff's post above, once you've got the bearings in one side, put the axle and cone in to hold the bearings in place, and then turn the wheel over. The axle sticking out the other side will then prevent the bearings from falling into the axle shaft of the hub.

Also, remove the cone, nuts and washers from only one side. Sometimes, the way things are tightened down, a cone and nut might come loose on the opposite side of the loosened locknut. It's a lot harder to do anything w/ cones and nuts loose on both sides of the hub.
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Old 09-28-10, 11:38 AM   #7
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Using a cone wrench will avoid both cones and locknuts coming loose at the same time even by accident. And you need a cone wrench for later on when you adjust the preload so if you don't have them go and buy them.
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Old 09-28-10, 12:57 PM   #8
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Don't put the bearings back in until you have inserted the axle partially through the hub wheel.
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Old 09-28-10, 07:11 PM   #9
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To help clarify one point about Jeff's post above, once you've got the bearings in one side, put the axle and cone in to hold the bearings in place, and then turn the wheel over. The axle sticking out the other side will then prevent the bearings from falling into the axle shaft of the hub.

Also, remove the cone, nuts and washers from only one side. Sometimes, the way things are tightened down, a cone and nut might come loose on the opposite side of the loosened locknut. It's a lot harder to do anything w/ cones and nuts loose on both sides of the hub.
+1 I do this. Only loosen one side cone/lock nut. After cleaning everything, put grease in both sides (cups). Insert axle about halfway, and put bearings in the side where the cone/lock nut are on the axle. After installing the correct number of balls, push axle in all the way, to hold balls in place. Turn wheel so that the axle without cone/lock nut are up, and install the correct number of balls in that side. Install cone/lock nut on that side. Adjust cones (using 'three wrench method'), then tighten lock nut. Done!
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Old 09-28-10, 08:14 PM   #10
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+1 I do this. Only loosen one side cone/lock nut. After cleaning everything, put grease in both sides (cups). Insert axle about halfway, and put bearings in the side where the cone/lock nut are on the axle. After installing the correct number of balls, push axle in all the way, to hold balls in place. Turn wheel so that the axle without cone/lock nut are up, and install the correct number of balls in that side. Install cone/lock nut on that side. Adjust cones (using 'three wrench method'), then tighten lock nut. Done!
Three wrenches work, but you need three hands! (I've done plenty of hubs this way, BTW.) A better method is a bench vise and a pair of cone wrenches- but make sure the adjustment is correct after you take the wheel out of the vise.
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Old 09-28-10, 08:39 PM   #11
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Cool, thanks for the advice. Another question - how tight should the cones be against the bearings? Too tight seems like a no-no, so leaving a bit of room for the bearings to roll around OK?
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Old 09-28-10, 10:57 PM   #12
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Cool, thanks for the advice. Another question - how tight should the cones be against the bearings? Too tight seems like a no-no, so leaving a bit of room for the bearings to roll around OK?
You make it sound too loose. When you turn the axle in your fingers you shouldn't feel any binding; by the same token you shouldn't be able to jiggle the axle at all. If you have q/r wheels, bear in mind that clamping the skewer can actually tighten the cones a tiny bit.
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Old 09-28-10, 11:03 PM   #13
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Cool, thanks for the advice. Another question - how tight should the cones be against the bearings? Too tight seems like a no-no, so leaving a bit of room for the bearings to roll around OK?
Ideally, the hub should roll smoothly, with no play in the bearings. You can set this up on a bolt-on hub off the bike, but a quick-release hub can be a little trickier. With a QR hub, the compression of the skewer will tighten up the adjustment just a fraction. You need to set the bearing adjustment a teeny bit loose before installing the wheel, recheck the adjustment after the wheel is installed and the QR skewer tightened. Wiggle the rim side-to-side... if you feel free play, you need to go a little tighter. With no free play, the weight of the valve stem should cause the wheel to rotate.

Another way to check: if there's free play in the bearing (again, wiggle the rim side-to-side), spin the wheel a bit. When it comes to a stop, it should stop. A too-tight adjustment will show up by a subtle reverse rotation before stopping. If you see this (it doesn't always happen), loosen the adjustment a smidge.

Some poor-quality hubs can't be set perfectly. I try to find a happy medium- a little play is usually better than too tight.
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Old 09-29-10, 10:21 AM   #14
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Use heavier/sticker grease. A lot of new lubricants out there are being sold as "grease" in bike shops but are sometimes too thin, viscosity-wise, to hold loose bearings in place in cups durng installation. I always used Phil Wood "Waterproof Grease" to repack bearings and I never had problems holding the loose bearings in place in the cups as long as I put enough on it and the bearings.

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Old 09-29-10, 01:39 PM   #15
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Cool, thanks for the advice. Another question - how tight should the cones be against the bearings? Too tight seems like a no-no, so leaving a bit of room for the bearings to roll around OK?
Check out this Sheldon Brown - Cone Adjustment site. Typically I find that with QR hubs, I will adjust to zero-play in the bearing so that the axle spins perfectly smooth. Then back off the cone about 10-20 degrees to introduce a minor amount of play. Then hold the cone steady while I tighten the locknut. I've found the axle oiled before putting the cones & locknuts on prevents spinning the axle relative to the cone when you tighten the locknut down.

The final test I do is to place the wheel into the frame and barely tighten the skewer just enough to hold it in the dropouts. Moving the rim sideways between the brake-pads shows some play in the bearings. Then after I fully tighten the skewer, the play disappears when check at the rim between the pads.

BTW - I like boat-trailer bearing-grease in my hubs. The blue tacky stuff has great adhesion and doesn't get pushed aside as easily as other greases when the bearing rolls around the race.
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