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Wheel bearing adjustment tips ?

Old 11-12-17, 10:06 PM
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frogman
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Wheel bearing adjustment tips ?

Every time I do maintenance on my wheels, repack the bearings with grease, I spend too much time fussing with getting the adjustment in the "sweet" spot, no play and rotates nice. Back and forth, no thats now too tight,
no now I feel play........... I know this has been discussed before and I apologize for bringing it up again but I am hoping to hear some possible tips to make it easier. I could never work in a bike shop. They wouldn't tolerate
wheel maintenance that takes as long as mine
Bob
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Old 11-12-17, 10:17 PM
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I use a "cheat"method for the final adjustment. I make the best adjustment I can the normal way with the cone and lock nut locked on one side, and adjusting and locking on the other.

Then I check, and if I need it a hair looser, I place cone wrenches on the opposite cones and force them apart against their locknuts. For a hair tighter, same process, but force the locknuts in against the cones.

Note this method is only good for hair thin adjustments, and it takes a bit of touch to leave the cones and locknuts tight but not so tight that I can't force them a bit more.
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Old 11-12-17, 11:28 PM
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The fine line between too tight and too loose can be a hard one to balance. The ability to feel the differences of smoothness of spin and slop (too tight/too loose) AFTER the wheel is secured in the frame can be challenging. I have found from "teaching" dozens over the years that starting from a point of known looseness and readjusting to a point of "is it still a tad loose?" to be easier then starting with a tight/catching/grinding bearing setting and working to just right. The reason why is when a bearing is loose you can feel the slop at the rim. But when a bearing is tight there's no slop AND there's so much leverage that the rest of the wheel has WRT it's bearings that, when still nice and not damaged/worn, a too tight bearing will be hard for most to feel by just looking at the wheel's spin (again when in the frame). The final test is in the frame with the axle nuts or the QR tightened fully. If one works on the same stuff enough one can get better at predicting the in frame and the out of frame feel at any one adjustment and compensate the out of frame adjustment so the wheel tightened in frame results are good. Most who post here don't have this experience of frequency of practice.


With cup and cone (angular contact) bearings of most common bikes I will counter tighten one side (meaning the cone and it's lock nut are fully tight against each other, now being "trapped" on the axle in one spot and act as a vice in securing the axle from rotating within them) and do the initial adjustments from the other side. This second side will not have the cone and lock nut initially counter tightened all the way, enough to keep them in place, maybe 70% of final tightness. Then one tests the spin or slop with the wheel secured in the frame. The wheel comes out of the frame and the adjustment is redone with the knowledge gained from the in frame test. Re test. Repeat till good. Clamping the fully counter tightened side lock nut in a vice and then working the second side with a cone wrench and locknut wrench keeps the axle stationary, making the changes more stable and minor. For the last bit of adjustment it's pretty common to use two cone wrenches or two lock nut wrenches and counter loosen or tighten the two sides WRT each other. As one approaches the final adjustment the second side's cone and lock nut are also becoming more and more fully counter tightened against each other.


Good is in my opinion an in frame result where there might be a tiny tad of slop at one spot of wheel rotation but at another rotational point no slop. Having said that the condition of the bearings will dictate to a large degree how fine an adjustment can be made, rough/worn/damaged bearings won't feel nice even with the best adjustment. I am of the opinion that a slightly sloppy bearing is better then a too tight one. In the various shops I've worked at we've had the discussions of this- how tight is right for bearings? Only after a bunch of miles will one know for sure Andy.
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Old 11-12-17, 11:29 PM
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I never thought of adjusting from opposite cones. That sounds like just what the doctor ordered after getting it close to optimum. I will try it out.
Thanks for the tip.
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Old 11-12-17, 11:41 PM
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Thanks FBinNY for the opposite cone final adjustment tip. I will try it out.
Thanks Andy for the info on adjustment. It is great to hear from you guys with much more bike mechanic experience than I have.
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Old 11-13-17, 06:01 AM
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In addition to the good advice above, you may find helpful these two sources:

Park Tools Repair Help
https://www.parktool.com/blog/repair...icle-section-1

Sheldon Brown's Bicycle Technical Info
Cone Adjustment

One more tip: It's usually not necessary to take the axle assembly *completely* apart to service the bearings. If you leave the cone and its locknut tight on one end of the axle, you are spared the additional task of centering the axle in the hub. This assumes the axle was centered to begin with, and that you are not replacing both cones. On the front hub it doesn't matter which side you leave alone; I like to leave the rear hub's drive side alone and adjust from the non-drive side.
Steve
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Old 11-13-17, 06:11 AM
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The other thing to remember is that if you were doing this more often than once a year, you'd find it a lot easier. Time between 'repairs' is the bane of the home mechanic.
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Old 11-13-17, 06:41 AM
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I also use the "cheater method," except I've found a way that I never have to use the cone wrenches, just two 17mm on the locknuts. After servicing the bearings, I tighten the loose cone by hand just a little too tight against bearings, then the lock nut by hand against the cone, then wrench them tight together. The cone usually backs up just enough to make it perfect, but if it goes a little too far I'll use the two 17s and it never needs more than 1/10 of a turn, sometimes the end of the wrench needs to move just a few mm to make it perfect. If it needs more than 1/10, loosen things up and start again.

You can use this method as a quick and easy way to adjust a BSO with axle nuts without taking the wheels off the bike. Next time you see a kid on a cheap bike with wobbly wheels, all you need is a 15mm for one axle nut and a 17 for one locknut. Coaster brakes too.

I agree with europa about the time between repairs. If you have a local coop or nonprofit, volunteer a few days and you'll learn a lot.
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Old 11-13-17, 07:14 AM
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[QUOTE]I use a "cheat"method for the final adjustment. I make the best adjustment I can the normal way with the cone and lock nut locked on one side, and adjusting and locking on the other. /QUOTE]

FBinNY's way is a good method for lots of 'preload' stuff. Sure makes life easier.

[QUOTE]The other thing to remember is that if you were doing this more often than once a year, you'd find it a lot easier. Time between 'repairs' is the bane of the home mechanic./QUOTE]

Could not have been said better.......!
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Old 11-13-17, 08:04 AM
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I've developed a way that works for me on cup-and-cone bearing hubs. I have a Park AV-4 axle vise that I clamp in my bench vise. As noted, have one side's cones and locknuts fully tight and work from the other side only.

After cleaning, lubing and reassembling the hub I clamp the fixed side axle stub firmly in the axle vise. I finger tighten the cone against the balls and finger tighten the locknut against the cone. Spin the wheel several times to distribute the new grease and seat the balls in their track.

Now, place your thumb and index finger spanning the dust cap/hub shell seam and wiggle the rim. If there is a significant play, tighten the cone slightly. If there is no play, back the cone off slightly. Keep adjusting until you can feel a very slight amount of play and tighten the locknut fully while holding the cone stationary. Check that the slight play is still there and refine the settings by tightening the locknut more or backing off the cone against the stationary locknut until every thing is tight but the small play remains. As you approach "perfection" the adjustments become very small, perhaps only a degree or two of cone or locknut rotation.

I find that once I have the hub adjusted in the axle vise with this small (and I do mean small)l amount of play, the wheel has no play at the rim when installed in the dropouts but spins very freely and will "pendulum" several times as it comes to a stop.

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Old 11-13-17, 09:39 AM
  #11  
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Originally Posted by sweeks View Post
In addition to the good advice above, you may find helpful these two sources:

Park Tools Repair Help
https://www.parktool.com/blog/repair...icle-section-1

Sheldon Brown's Bicycle Technical Info
Cone Adjustment

One more tip: It's usually not necessary to take the axle assembly *completely* apart to service the bearings. If you leave the cone and its locknut tight on one end of the axle, you are spared the additional task of centering the axle in the hub. This assumes the axle was centered to begin with, and that you are not replacing both cones. On the front hub it doesn't matter which side you leave alone; I like to leave the rear hub's drive side alone and adjust from the non-drive side.
Steve
Removing both cones allows for inspection whether the axle was bent - that's the only advantage.
For freehub bicycles, this is rarely a case (and a problem), since bearings are placed properly. For freewheel (rear) wheels, it's not bad to check.

I also use the "cheating" method, but make sure I just need to tighten (with 17 mm wrenches) and spare my cone wrenches of all the hard work - they are thinner, less durable.

Here's how I service hubs, with a list of needed tools:

Bicycle hub overhaul - Ciklo Gremlin
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Old 11-13-17, 10:08 AM
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I put a 7/16" nut on the right side axle and install the quick release and tighten it to the same tension as on the bike. I adjust the cone on the left side so that there is a small amount of drag for a preload. When the QR is open to about 45 degrees there should be a small amount of play in the bearings.
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Old 11-13-17, 10:15 AM
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I adjust the cones on my truing stand using the quick release to load the bearings.
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Old 11-13-17, 10:43 AM
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Originally Posted by Slaninar View Post
Here's how I service hubs, with a list of needed tools:

Bicycle hub overhaul - Ciklo Gremlin
Very nice! Clearly illustrated and thorough.
Here's a much less widely useful monograph I did about 6 years ago:
https://hubstripping.wordpress.com/2...le-dynamo-hub/
Cheers,
Steve
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Old 11-13-17, 12:29 PM
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One more thing that can help is securing the axle so it can't turn.

There are two common methods. One is to use a cone wrench to hold the axle. Years ago I heated and bend a beat up cone wrench so I can trap it in the spokes. That allows me to make fine adjustments knowing that the axle isn't turning with the cone.

Or if you have a bench vise you can use a DIY axle vise. Buy a hex nut with the same thread as the axle. Use a hacksaw to cut one side through starting near a point. Now you can thread on the axle and your vise jaws will close it tight to hold the axle securely without damaging the threads.
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Old 11-13-17, 12:57 PM
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Originally Posted by Andrew R Stewart View Post
Good is in my opinion an in frame result where there might be a tiny tad of slop at one spot of wheel rotation but at another rotational point no slop. Having said that the condition of the bearings will dictate to a large degree how fine an adjustment can be made, rough/worn/damaged bearings won't feel nice even with the best adjustment. I am of the opinion that a slightly sloppy bearing is better then a too tight one. In the various shops I've worked at we've had the discussions of this- how tight is right for bearings? Only after a bunch of miles will one know for sure Andy.
It's a relief to read that. I might well be more OCD than most, but whenever I've adjusted a wheel bearing, I move the wheel through its full rotation and feel for any play at the rim, and can usually find a spot where there is still a slight amount of play once I've gotten it out of the rest of the wheel. I don't know if that's because of my hubs in particular, or if it just goes unnoticed by most people. At any rate, I've always continued tightening the adjustment so that the play just goes away in that last spot before pronouncing the job done. Maybe I'll start allowing that tiny amount of vestigial play to make sure the rest of the bearing isn't over-tightened...
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Old 11-13-17, 01:02 PM
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Originally Posted by ThermionicScott View Post
It's a relief to read that. I might well be more OCD than most, but whenever I've adjusted a wheel bearing, I move the wheel through its full rotation and feel for any play at the rim, and can usually find a spot where there is still a slight amount of play once I've gotten it out of the rest of the wheel. I don't know if that's because of my hubs in particular, or if it just goes unnoticed by most people. At any rate, I've always continued tightening the adjustment so that the play just goes away in that last spot before pronouncing the job done. Maybe I'll start allowing that tiny amount of vestigial play to make sure the rest of the bearing isn't over-tightened...
Wouldn't advise that. If the bearing is any good, then any amount of play left will do more harm than good. Those bearings need the preload in order to work properly and last long(er). Too much preload is bad, but leaving play is certainly not enough preload. So the "just as soon as all the play - in every spot - is gone" is the right amount of preload IMO.
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Old 11-13-17, 01:40 PM
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Originally Posted by davidad View Post
I put a 7/16" nut on the right side axle and install the quick release and tighten it to the same tension as on the bike. I adjust the cone on the left side so that there is a small amount of drag for a preload. When the QR is open to about 45 degrees there should be a small amount of play in the bearings.

Good tip. This is what the Stein hub adjustment preload tool is about. The Stein also acts as a vice clamping surface further helping by securing the axle from rotating and supporting the wheel in general. Andy


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Old 11-13-17, 02:00 PM
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Originally Posted by Andrew R Stewart View Post
Good tip. This is what the Stein hub adjustment preload tool is about. The Stein also acts as a vice clamping surface further helping by securing the axle from rotating and supporting the wheel in general. Andy


+1 I haven't used my axle vise since getting the Stein tool.
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Old 11-13-17, 02:35 PM
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Originally Posted by FBinNY View Post
Or if you have a bench vise you can use a DIY axle vise. Buy a hex nut with the same thread as the axle. Use a hacksaw to cut one side through starting near a point. Now you can thread on the axle and your vise jaws will close it tight to hold the axle securely without damaging the threads.
Or, carrying the DIY theme one step simpler, take *2* axle nuts and jam them together, then clamp only the one farthest from the hub in a vise.
I like the DIY axle vise suggestion better, though, for "slickness"!
Steve
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Old 11-13-17, 02:42 PM
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Originally Posted by Andrew R Stewart View Post
This is what the Stein hub adjustment preload tool is about.
How about a link for this interesting looking tool?
I'm still using a Park Tools axle/pedal vise.
Steve
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Old 11-13-17, 03:08 PM
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Originally Posted by sweeks View Post
Or, carrying the DIY theme one step simpler, take *2* axle nuts and jam them together, then clamp only the one farthest from the hub in a vise.
I like the DIY axle vise suggestion better, though, for "slickness"!
Steve
I use the single nut system because all my hubs are QR and there's no room for two nuts on the 6mm axle stub.
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Old 11-13-17, 03:20 PM
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Originally Posted by sweeks View Post
How about a link for this interesting looking tool?
I'm still using a Park Tools axle/pedal vise.
Steve

I Googled Stein Tools. Andy
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Old 11-13-17, 05:09 PM
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Originally Posted by Andrew R Stewart View Post
I Googled Stein Tools. Andy
After looking around I finally found a place that has it in stock: BTI. No price, though... but it must be reasonable.

I've been using a piece of steel angle-iron with a notch in one end. I put it vertically in my bench vise and fasten the wheel to it with the Q-R. Then I can adjust the cup and cone with the axle under compressive loading as it should be for a Q-R hub. Same principle as the Stein tool, but not as stable. I may "customize" it accordingly!
Steve
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Old 11-13-17, 07:10 PM
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Get a pair or 4 strong flat washers that approximate the thickness of fork ends or rear dropouts. The hole in the washers should be big enough so the washers will slip over the threads of the axle. Once in place, squeeze the washers - and the assembled, adjusted axle set - with the quick release. Or tighten the nuts if it's a nutted hub.

You can turn the axle and feel the effects of the squeeze. Adjust the cones and locknuts so you feel no play and the least possible graininess or notchiness when the QR or nuts are tight, as they will be when the wheel is installed on the bike.
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