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Wheel hub cones badly pitted after 1000 miles

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Wheel hub cones badly pitted after 1000 miles

Old 12-30-13, 11:10 PM
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jsdavis
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Wheel hub cones badly pitted after 1000 miles

I have a Marin bike and back in September I rebuilt the front hub because the cones were pitted. I cleaned out the hub with Simple Green then flushed it out with tap water. I set it by a window with sun to dry maybe 1 hour after blowing the water out with those computer dusters. I installed new cones, ball bearings, and packed it with Phill Wood grease. Now 3 months later, I inspected the cones and these are pitted again. I have put maybe 1000 miles on the bike over that period. The bike is my commute and city bike. Not going off-road with it or anything.

The hubs are cheapo Fomula 6-bolt disc hub and I had to go maybe 4 shops before I could find matching cones. The hub is laced to WTB Laserdisc Trail 29 rims, 32 holes. These are stock wheels from Marin. I'm considering replacing the wheel at this point because even though the hubs are serviceable since it is difficult to find matching cones. The hub is not really sealed despite that it says double-sealed either. There is a rubber piece that fits over the lock-nut and it touches the hub at two points which is what I'm guessing they mean by double-seal.

I'm thinking with going with maybe a new Shimano XT hub and have a shop rebuilding the wheel for me or a should I go with a new pre-built wheel. Are my rims worth reusing? My thought for going with Shimano XT hub is that it's fairly common so it will be easier to find parts for it whenever I need to overhaul it and cup and cone are easy to service without special tools, cone wrench aside.

I was thinking maybe something like this M756 Shimano XT hub if my rim is worth reusing: http://www.universalcycles.com/shopp...4&category=740

Last edited by jsdavis; 12-30-13 at 11:16 PM.
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Old 12-30-13, 11:18 PM
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Those rims are fine but pretty heavy, well over 500g if I remember correctly. Regardless, buying a new prebuilt wheelset is probably going to be cheaper than paying a shop to rebuild your rims with new hubs. I'm sure they will use new spokes, so the cost of the parts alone might put you at more than a new wheel. The Shimano XT hub is an excellent choice though.

The Formula hubs do use cheap crappy cones but pitted after 1000 miles? That seems incredibly early. Like you're not using any grease, riding through wet sand, or setting the preload way way way too tight. How do you set the preload?
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Old 12-30-13, 11:25 PM
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I set the preload by tightening down the cone until it to binds slightly, hold the cone with cone wrench, and tighten the locknut with a 17mm box-end wrench (regular Craftsman wrench one side open, other side is 6 face closed). This will tighten up the locknut as well as loosen up the cone slightly to where there is a bit of play. Insert into the fork, tighten down the skewer, and then check for side to side movement. Also check that the reflector falls to the bottom of the rotation.

As far as pitted cones after 1000 miles, that surprised me too since the original cones lasted about 7000 to 8000 miles over 2.5 years. I rode through a couple light rain storm but otherwise it's just been city riding.

I guess I'm not looking for the least expensive option now. If I spend a bit more, and get a more durable, longer lasting wheel, then it would be worth it to me. I try to avoid a lot fo the potholes, but I can't avoid them all. The streets are pretty beat up here.

Last edited by jsdavis; 12-30-13 at 11:36 PM.
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Old 12-30-13, 11:39 PM
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Originally Posted by jsdavis View Post
I set the preload by tightening down the cone until it to binds slightly, hold the cone with cone wrench, and tighten the locknut with a 17mm box-end wrench (regular Craftsman wrench one side open, other side is 6 face closed). This will tighten up the locknut as well as loosen up the cone slightly to where there is a bit of play. Insert into the fork, tighten down the skewer, and then check for side to side movement. Also check that the reflector falls to the bottom of the rotation.

As far as pitted cones after 1000 miles, that surprised me too since the original cones lasted about 7000 to 8000 miles over 2.5 years. I rode through a couple light rain storm but otherwise it's just been city riding.

I guess I'm not looking for the least expensive option now. If I spend a bit more, and get a more durable, longer lasting wheel, then it would be worth it to me. I try to avoid a lot fo the potholes, but I can't avoid them all. The streets are pretty beat up here.
sounds like you got the preload right. just crap components. a plain old deore hub is pretty good for the price. make sure the get the model 525 or 529. the 475 model number hubs are not sealed well
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Old 12-31-13, 08:32 AM
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You might try a build with these if they make one that will fit. http://wheelsmfg.com/products/all-cones.html
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Old 12-31-13, 08:56 AM
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Originally Posted by jsdavis View Post
I set the preload by tightening down the cone until it to binds slightly, hold the cone with cone wrench, and tighten the locknut with a 17mm box-end wrench (regular Craftsman wrench one side open, other side is 6 face closed). This will tighten up the locknut as well as loosen up the cone slightly to where there is a bit of play. Insert into the fork, tighten down the skewer, and then check for side to side movement. Also check that the reflector falls to the bottom of the rotation...
What were you using to keep the axle from moving, when you were tightening the locknut?
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Old 12-31-13, 09:11 AM
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SB... has the right question. Without keeping the axle from rotating while doing bearing adjustments can be a fool's errand. There is no guarantee that both the cone and lock nut will move equally (or at all) while just holding them with wrenches. In fact when i don't have the ability to secure the axle (like in a vice or with vice grips, either clamped on the other side, which has had the cone and lock nut fully tightened to lock them on the axle) I will observe the actual axle/cone/lock movements and adjust my pre tightening start accordingly. I also often use two cone wrenches or two locknut wrenches to counter tighten/loosen for the final bearing adjustment.

The other comment I'll make is that suspension forks can be real killers of cones. Forks with wimpy stiffness/poor bracing will allow the drop outs to twist and move relative to each other. The small diameter axle tries to hold the drop outs in line with each other but isn't up to the job. (The 9mm axle diameter was never meant to do this extra job, having been created for solid forks which don't have ANY WHERE the same drop out splaying). The resulting misaligning of the cones within the, otherwise solid, hub shell makes for a bearing adjustment that's constantly changing. Andy.
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Old 12-31-13, 09:49 AM
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Originally Posted by davidad View Post
You might try a build with these if they make one that will fit. http://wheelsmfg.com/products/all-cones.html
I went to a few shops and a few did have the Taiwanese kit, and the R082 cone is the closest but it's too long so by the time everything is in place, there's only maybe 1 thread showing past the locknut
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Old 12-31-13, 09:56 AM
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Originally Posted by SBinNYC View Post
What were you using to keep the axle from moving, when you were tightening the locknut?
Originally Posted by Andrew R Stewart View Post
SB... has the right question. Without keeping the axle from rotating while doing bearing adjustments can be a fool's errand. There is no guarantee that both the cone and lock nut will move equally (or at all) while just holding them with wrenches. In fact when i don't have the ability to secure the axle (like in a vice or with vice grips, either clamped on the other side, which has had the cone and lock nut fully tightened to lock them on the axle) I will observe the actual axle/cone/lock movements and adjust my pre tightening start accordingly. I also often use two cone wrenches or two locknut wrenches to counter tighten/loosen for the final bearing adjustment.

The other comment I'll make is that suspension forks can be real killers of cones. Forks with wimpy stiffness/poor bracing will allow the drop outs to twist and move relative to each other. The small diameter axle tries to hold the drop outs in line with each other but isn't up to the job. (The 9mm axle diameter was never meant to do this extra job, having been created for solid forks which don't have ANY WHERE the same drop out splaying). The resulting misaligning of the cones within the, otherwise solid, hub shell makes for a bearing adjustment that's constantly changing. Andy.
The fork is rigid so that should not be an issue. I did not have anything to prevent the axle from moving, which is why I tightened the cone until it binds a bit knowing that it will loosen when I tighten the locknut. It's not exact, but it seems I got the play out once mounted in the fork.
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Old 12-31-13, 10:33 AM
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Maybe I'm missing something, but it sounds to me like your method would result in the cones being to tight.
The QR skewer compresses the axle some, pushing the cones even closer together.
I get things really close, where I get slight binding when the skewer is clamped.
I then use my 2 cone wrenches to back off the cones slightly to just where I want things. Basically where you know there's a bit of clearance, but you can't feel it.
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Old 12-31-13, 10:34 AM
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There are two separate and unrelated types of pitting.

Rust pitting will generally occur throughout the ground bearing surface except on the ball track where the rolling balls keep the surface polished (similar to how trains keep tracks polished).

Wear pitting occurs only on the ball track where the track wears or breaks through to the softer material below.

Before speculating on the possible cause and solution, I'd need a better description of the problem.
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Old 12-31-13, 10:42 AM
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Originally Posted by jsdavis View Post
The fork is rigid so that should not be an issue. I did not have anything to prevent the axle from moving, which is why I tightened the cone until it binds a bit knowing that it will loosen when I tighten the locknut. It's not exact, but it seems I got the play out once mounted in the fork.
Here are a few strategies you can employ to prevent the axle from moving when tightening a locknut.

1. Put an adjustable wrench on the locknut on the opposite side. Get a friend to hold that wrench while you do the adjustment on the other side.

1A. If a friend isn't handy, sit on the floor. Use your feet to hold the adjustable wrench, while you do the adjustment on the other side.

2. Get a stack of washers that just fit over the skewer and do not fit over the axle. Place enough washers in the skewer on the side you are adjusting so that you have enough room to get your tools onto the locknut and the cone wrench. Place the opposite side of the wheel into the dropout so that the wheel is outside the fork or rear triangle. Tighten the skewer - you are using the frame as a vise. Make the adjustment.
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Old 12-31-13, 11:33 AM
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If you do go for new wheels, get ones with cartridge bearings. Cheap and easy to service, more accurate bearings, and no more worries about the inner race getting damaged or worn out. bk
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Old 12-31-13, 07:12 PM
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Originally Posted by FBinNY View Post
There are two separate and unrelated types of pitting.

Rust pitting will generally occur throughout the ground bearing surface except on the ball track where the rolling balls keep the surface polished (similar to how trains keep tracks polished).

Wear pitting occurs only on the ball track where the track wears or breaks through to the softer material below.

Before speculating on the possible cause and solution, I'd need a better description of the problem.
The pitting is on the ball track, though the whole tapered part of the cone is shiny. While riding it intermittently makes ping noises which is what led me to inspect the cones. The pinging went away after I replaced the original cones and has now started again.
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Old 12-31-13, 07:13 PM
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Originally Posted by bkaapcke View Post
If you do go for new wheels, get ones with cartridge bearings. Cheap and easy to service, more accurate bearings, and no more worries about the inner race getting damaged or worn out. bk
Doesn't those require a press tool to service?
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Old 12-31-13, 07:22 PM
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Originally Posted by jsdavis View Post
The pitting is on the ball track, though the whole tapered part of the cone is shiny. While riding it intermittently makes ping noises which is what led me to inspect the cones. The pinging went away after I replaced the original cones and has now started again.
Wear failure in a cone after only 1,000 miles means either too much preload or too little. Of course there's the possibility that the part is of low quality with inadequate surface hardness and depth. But even a very soft. crappy cone should easily last over 1,000 miles.
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Old 12-31-13, 07:29 PM
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Originally Posted by jsdavis View Post
I set the preload by tightening down the cone until it to binds slightly, hold the cone with cone wrench, and tighten the locknut with a 17mm box-end wrench (regular Craftsman wrench one side open, other side is 6 face closed). This will tighten up the locknut as well as loosen up the cone slightly to where there is a bit of play. Insert into the fork, tighten down the skewer, and then check for side to side movement. Also check that the reflector falls to the bottom of the rotation.
To better insure that the cones loosen, you could put a cone wrench on the left & right cones and "unscrew" them so they tighten outward against the locknuts. My road hubs have slotted washers between the cone & locknut so the locknut will not turn at the same time.
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Old 12-31-13, 07:39 PM
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Originally Posted by Homebrew01 View Post
To better insure that the cones loosen, you could put a cone wrench on the left & right cones and "unscrew" them so they tighten outward against the locknuts. My road hubs have slotted washers between the cone & locknut so the locknut will not turn at the same time.
I have washer between the cone and lock nut but it's just a flat washer. Interestingly, I found this SRAM manual today and both my hubs look exactly the same except my spoke flanges are the same on both sides. Not sure if the BB count is accurate in that diagram though.

Man I wish I had that a few month ago...I couldn't figure out where the cover on the left side on the rear hub went when I went to reassemble the thing. (The cone presses into it.)

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Old 12-31-13, 08:26 PM
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Originally Posted by jsdavis View Post
I have washer between the cone and lock nut but it's just a flat washer.
That washer used to be keyed and there used to be a lengthwise slot in the axle threads. The keyed washer fit into that slot. The object was to prevent the cone from turning when the locknut was tightened. You could place the cone wrench on the cone on the opposite side and tighten locknut with a wrench. This made it possible to tighten the locknut without either the cone or axle moving and use only two hands.
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Old 12-31-13, 09:10 PM
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Originally Posted by jsdavis View Post
The fork is rigid so that should not be an issue. I did not have anything to prevent the axle from moving, which is why I tightened the cone until it binds a bit knowing that it will loosen when I tighten the locknut. It's not exact, but it seems I got the play out once mounted in the fork.
Axle cones get tighter when you tighten the locknut.

When the cone binds then the bearing balls are pushing outward on the cone. When you tighten the locknut, it pushes the cone the other way, inward.

Maybe you once did a three piece crank bottom bracket. In that case the lockring pushes against the bottom bracket shell and pulls the cup outward which loosens the adjustment.
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Old 12-31-13, 09:28 PM
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Originally Posted by SBinNYC View Post
That washer used to be keyed and there used to be a lengthwise slot in the axle threads. The keyed washer fit into that slot. The object was to prevent the cone from turning when the locknut was tightened. You could place the cone wrench on the cone on the opposite side and tighten locknut with a wrench. This made it possible to tighten the locknut without either the cone or axle moving and use only two hands.
My wheel axle is not keyed, but now that you mention it, I do remember that the axle on my pedals are keyed so I do know what you're referring to.
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Old 12-31-13, 09:33 PM
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Originally Posted by garage sale GT View Post
Axle cones get tighter when you tighten the locknut.

When the cone binds then the bearing balls are pushing outward on the cone. When you tighten the locknut, it pushes the cone the other way, inward.

Maybe you once did a three piece crank bottom bracket. In that case the lockring pushes against the bottom bracket shell and pulls the cup outward which loosens the adjustment.
I wasn't securing the axle and the washer isn't keyed so when I tighten the lock nut it also causes the axle to turn a bit at some point, but since the cone can't move, the axle moving through it causes the cone to loosen.

I'm not sure what is a three piece crank...I worked on a few types, but don't know which is which. There is one where you use a big hammer to drive a wedge, one where the crank arms come out together in a Z-shaped piece and then the square taper type that comes out as a whole assembled unit.

Last edited by jsdavis; 12-31-13 at 09:37 PM.
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Old 12-31-13, 09:44 PM
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Anyhow...called the LBS and they said $65 labor plus $1/spoke (includes nipple) to rebuild my wheel using a different hub and reuse my rim. So that comes out to $97 plus whatever the hub costs.

The problem with figuring out how to adjust my cones now is that I don't have any good ones and those parts are difficult to find; I had to go to several different shops and even the last shop had difficulty finding a matching set. The Wheel Manufacturing cone is a bit too long and by the time everything is in place only 1 thread still shows on the axle. I suppose I could take out the washer to make it more narrow, but I'm not certain that's a good idea.
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Old 12-31-13, 11:44 PM
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Originally Posted by jsdavis View Post
Anyhow...called the LBS and they said $65 labor plus $1/spoke (includes nipple) to rebuild my wheel using a different hub and reuse my rim. So that comes out to $97 plus whatever the hub costs.

The problem with figuring out how to adjust my cones now is that I don't have any good ones and those parts are difficult to find; I had to go to several different shops and even the last shop had difficulty finding a matching set. The Wheel Manufacturing cone is a bit too long and by the time everything is in place only 1 thread still shows on the axle. I suppose I could take out the washer to make it more narrow, but I'm not certain that's a good idea.
...I don't know where you are, but do a google search for bike coops with your town name.

If you can find one, they will have a drawer full of cones and axle parts lying around somewhere.

You can lose those washers with no effects other than it makes it marginally more difficult to
adjust your bearing play. I usually do the final adjustment with the wheel in the bike with a
cone wrench on each side, but from your description, it sounded to me like you probably had
the adjustment right.......no side to side play but loose enough to spin under the weight of the
the valve or the reflector. There really are some marginal quality components around these days.



Otherwise, in today's environment, you are almost always money ahead buying the entire
wheelset as opposed to paying the labor and spoke charges for building locally. Just the way it is.

Last edited by 3alarmer; 12-31-13 at 11:49 PM.
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Old 01-01-14, 12:10 AM
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Originally Posted by 3alarmer View Post
...I don't know where you are, but do a google search for bike coops with your town name.
I've found it more effective to search by state because there may be one in a nearby town and search engines can miss these if you list your city. If you live near a state border, don't forget to check the neighboring state.

Anyway, here's a link to a list of 110 co-ops throughout the USA. It's not comprehensive, so do the search also. Check also under other possible names such as bicycle collective, bike kitchen, community bike shop, etc.

If you decide to start fresh, don't worry about the rim. Good wheel sources can save you enough to offset the cost of the rim, so a whole new wheel could end up costing less than you'd pay keeping the rim.

One supplier of quality built wheels to order is Yellow Jersey, in Madison WI. Their wheels are top notch quality, and their prices are very competitive. I suggest you call them for a quote, and use it as a basis of comparison in making your decision.
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“One accurate measurement is worth a thousand expert opinions” - Adm Grace Murray Hopper - USN

WARNING, I'm from New York. Thin skinned people should maintain safe distance.

Last edited by FBinNY; 01-01-14 at 12:20 AM.
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