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Old 03-27-11, 08:48 AM   #1
trayraynor
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Bottom Bracket Bearing Retainer Orientation - REDUX

I've poured over previous posts and have found little consensus regarding the correct orientation of an 11-ball bearing retainer - does the retainer portion of the unit face the cup or the cone on a Shimano MT60 BB? See attached photos. I prefer to continue to use the bearings in the retainers - that in mind, can anyone weigh in on this with some wisdom on what is the correct orientation?
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Old 03-27-11, 09:07 AM   #2
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I poured myself a cup of coffee and then went out to the garage where I took a look at an old non-shimano axle set. On this set, the closed side of the retainer (left on your photo) faces the spindle bearing surface and the open side faces the cup. When oriented correctly, the ball bearings will roll freely on both bearing surfaces. That's the key. Before installation, try it both ways; one way should be smooth-rolling while the other may involve retainer rub on a bearing surface.
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Old 03-27-11, 11:37 AM   #3
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The proper orientation for a retainer is in the bottom of the trash can. They are not necessary and eliminating it and using free balls (heh, heh, I said free balls) will probably allow you to get in another 2 bearings in the BB which will prolong the life of the BB.
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Old 03-27-11, 11:50 AM   #4
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Depending on the retainer design there may or may not be a reduction of the balls in the bearing. Though I agree that they serve mainly as an assembly convenience, there's no evidence that using one degrades performance in any way.

If you wish, there's no reason not to discard retainers, but in most cases no reason to do so. If you keep the retainer and aren't sure of it's orientation you can assemble the axle bearing and cup dry in your palm and observe which will make things obvious. Or you can use a simple test. Lay a pencil at an angle against the inside and outside of the retainer simulating the face of the cone and cup, the orientation that clears the retainer is correct.

To the OP- Looking at the specific retainers in the photo the closed side (counter-intuitively) nestles into the cup and the spindle enters the open side. Exactly opposite to your Redux post.
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Old 03-27-11, 01:09 PM   #5
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Depending on the retainer design there may or may not be a reduction of the balls in the bearing. Though I agree that they serve mainly as an assembly convenience, there's no evidence that using one degrades performance in any way.
Not using a retainer is advantageous for two reasons:

1) No retainers to fail, for one.
2) If more balls can be put in after the retainer is tossed, wear is decreased and more balls take the load.

Retainer orientation is obvious if you sit down and look at your parts for more than 5 seconds and mock the aseembly up on a table, one way results in the retainer hitting places where bearings normally sit, one does not.
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Old 03-27-11, 01:19 PM   #6
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Not using a retainer is advantageous for two reasons:

1) No retainers to fail, for one.
2) If more balls can be put in after the retainer is tossed, wear is decreased and more balls take the load.

Retainer orientation is obvious if you sit down and look at your parts for more than 5 seconds and mock the aseembly up on a table, one way results in the retainer hitting places where bearings normally sit, one does not.
Yes retainer orientation is obvious, except that the OP got it exactly backwards (as posted). Obviously the obvious is less obvious to some than others.

As for the drawbacks of retainers, here I respectfully disagree. First of all properly installed retainers rarely fail. Secondly many designs including the one pictured in the post do not result in fewer balls than possible loaded loose.

Contrast that with the minor benefit that using original retainers ensures against having an extra ball, which is vastly more problematic than one too few. I'm neither Pro or Anti using retainers and generally do without because it makes my life easier, but I've seen too many instances where folks decided that they were smarter than the guy who designed the bearing and packed in that one ball too many.
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Old 03-27-11, 01:29 PM   #7
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As for the drawbacks of retainers, here I respectfully disagree. First of all properly installed retainers rarely fail. Secondly many designs including the one pictured in the post do not result in fewer balls than possible loaded loose.
If everything was properly installed we never see anyone coming into the shop with cranks that don't turn because the retainers exploded. You've worked on bikes, this is a common thing to happen on ****ty old bikes used as commuters.
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Old 03-27-11, 01:45 PM   #8
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If everything was properly installed we never see anyone coming into the shop with cranks that don't turn because the retainers exploded. You've worked on bikes, this is a common thing to happen on ****ty old bikes used as commuters.
I agree, 99% of bearing related problems, not counting normal wear, are from folks thinking they knew more than they actually did and doing their own work. So what else is new? Forget flipped retainers, I've seen hub cones installed backward (cone to the outside) and had folks look me straight in the eye and insist that it was always that way.

We could have a fun thread if we had pros post the most outrageous claim made by a consumer reporting a bike problem.
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