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Adjust bike axle?

Old 11-16-14, 01:11 AM
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Adjust bike axle?

Hi All,
So my front wheel was making funny noises and I posted on here for help a while back. Eventually I narrowed it down to the hub. The LBS here kindly helped me out with the tools I need to service it myself. So I took a shot at it with the help of an excellent video on youtube (cjhoyle wheel bearing).

I managed to take the bearings out, clean all the old grease out (of which there was very little btw), put new bearings and screw everything back on. Just before I put the last locknut back on, I thought I'd spin the axle once..and it refused to spin :-o. Playing with the cone nuts a bit causes it to spin again but then it feels too loose.

So what's the correct way to adjust my axle? Note that I took out the locknut, cone and washers only from 1 side of the bike..not both. I just cant seem to find the exact way to fit it all back perfectly.

Help needed

Thanks
Arvind
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Old 11-16-14, 01:21 AM
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I think the first question you will be asked is are you using caged bearings which seems likely and if so have you put them in the right way around? If you get it wrong then you will be running the cup/cone on the cages rather than the balls. Pull it to pieces and check. It should be apparent which way they should be inserted.

Oh.. Reading your other thread on this problem assuming you have got the bearings in the right way around then the other issue may be that the cones, or cups, are worn. Usually it is the cones that get damaged given they suffer a higher loading. Check the surfaces for a continuous silver line where the balls have been running. If you see any dark patches or pitting then you will need new ones.

Last edited by SparkPlug; 11-16-14 at 01:27 AM.
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Old 11-16-14, 01:30 AM
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You have to find the sweet spot where the cone is screwed in enough that the axle is not loose in the bearings, but not so much that the bearings feel faintly gritty. Then unscrew the cone a tiny amount, like 1/8 turn, hold the cone stationary with one wrench while you tighten the locknut with the other. Tightening the locknut pushes the cone inward a tiny bit, which is the reason for backing off by 1/8 turn. You'll probably have to do it a couple times to get it right.
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Old 11-16-14, 01:31 PM
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Thanks sparkplug. I think I have the cone the right side in. I matched it with the other side that I never took out. They arent that badly screwed up either, sure they (cones and cups) don't look new but its not that they have lots of dents in them. So its not that, there wasn't a single bit of grease in the cups though and the bearings on one side for some reason had become totally brown while the other side were still silvery.

Thanks jyi. Here is what I am doing. Is this correct? This is on a front wheel with quick release.

- Take quick release off, take wheel off bike.
- Spin wheel, hear grating noise
- Take rubber covers off both sides of hub
- Fit 13 inch cone wrench to cone, take locknut off 1 side.
- Unscrew cone off the same side.
- Take extra washer off same side.
- Take bearings off and keep separately
- Take axle out
- Take bearings off other side and keep separately
- Clean all (cones, cups, axle, washers, inside of hub and anything else I can see)
- Regrease both cups well. Put bearings in cup.
- Put axle back in (the side whose locknuts and cone nut i never took out). Bearings dont fall out. Meaning enough grease.

All good so far I think. Now the problem starts.

I try to screw the cone nut back on. It screws on. Now I try and spin the axle though. It spins a bit smoothly. I'm happy. Suddenly though it's stuck and wont move.

I loosen my cone nut and spin. It works. But its just rattling inside. The moment I tighten even a bit, the axle spins for say 3-4 full turns and then doesn't spin any more due to the cone being too tight I imagine. Note that I haven't put the lockbut back on yet.

Hope this explains exactly where I'm stuck and someone can figure out what exactly I should do to fix it
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Old 11-16-14, 01:53 PM
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We aren't there - you will have to look closer at what's happening to determine the problem. First, did you lock the cone with the locknut before testing (there's no such thing as a "cone nut")? Do you have 10 3/16 bearings in each side, and are they still in a circle in the cup, as opposed to one or more falling out of place? You also have not spoken to the good suggestion to check the cups and cones for wear. In addition it's not considered good practice to reuse the balls, though that's not the source of your problem.
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Old 11-16-14, 02:00 PM
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The brown is probably rust. Rusty bearings need to be replaced. Inspecting the cones, and the races inside of the wheel hub, you are looking for pits, or wear grooves, or rust. Rust must be removed. Sometimes old grease is brown, and can be removed. Pits signal the end of the race or cone. A bright line where the balls run is okay. A sharp wear groove where the balls run mean the cone or race is worn out. You will not see dents unless the races or cones are very low quality, and the cones were way overtightened.

All parts should be clean enough to eat off of before you start the inspection or reassembly process.

A bed of grease should be applied to the inner races in the wheel hub. Clean used or new bearings are inserted (use a screwdriver with a dab of grease to position them). Grease is cheap put a generous amount on the cones before you install them.

When you reassemble, rotate the wheel while you are tightening the loose cone, until the cone is too tight, then back it off 1/16 or 1/8 of a rotation AT A TIME, until the wheel can spin, and you can barely see the axle move in or out when you press on it. At that point you are ready to install the locknut. When you apply the locknut, you need to hold the axle and the loose cone stationary while tightening the locknut. After tightening the locknut, retest for the correct amount of play (just enough to see/feel). If the adjustment went off, loosen the locknut and adjust over again. Do this over and over again until correct.

If the adjustment is correct, and the wheel spins and then stops, you probably left some grit in the assembly, and you need to disassemble, clean BETTER, and inspect again.

Last edited by RoadGuy; 11-16-14 at 02:03 PM.
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Old 11-16-14, 02:04 PM
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There is a fine line between too tight and too loose when adjusting cup & cone bearings. It's a "feel" thing that takes practice and experience. I find wheel bearings are easiest, then headsets, and BB the hardest.
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Old 11-16-14, 02:06 PM
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Originally Posted by cny-bikeman View Post
We aren't there - you will have to look closer at what's happening to determine the problem. First, did you lock the cone with the locknut before testing (there's no such thing as a "cone nut")? Do you have 10 3/16 bearings in each side, and are they still in a circle in the cup, as opposed to one or more falling out of place? You also have not spoken to the good suggestion to check the cups and cones for wear. In addition it's not considered good practice to reuse the balls, though that's not the source of your problem.
Thanks. I did mention in my reply to sparkplug that the cones and cups were fine. I used a ball point pen (also in another video) to see if there were spots that were worn out. I did not reuse the balls either.

I definitely put 10 in but I will recheck of something's fallen out. I did not put the locknut on the cone (not cone nut ) before testing. I put the cone on, screwed it in, spun the axle. Too tight. Loosen up. Axle rotates but also rattles.
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Old 11-16-14, 02:14 PM
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Originally Posted by RoadGuy View Post
The brown is probably rust. Rusty bearings need to be replaced. Inspecting the cones, and the races inside of the wheel hub, you are looking for pits, or wear grooves, or rust. Rust must be removed. Sometimes old grease is brown, and can be removed. Pits signal the end of the race or cone. A bright line where the balls run is okay. A sharp wear groove where the balls run mean the cone or race is worn out. You will not see dents unless the races or cones are very low quality, and the cones were way overtightened.

All parts should be clean enough to eat off of before you start the inspection or reassembly process.

A bed of grease should be applied to the inner races in the wheel hub. Clean used or new bearings are inserted (use a screwdriver with a dab of grease to position them). Grease is cheap put a generous amount on the cones before you install them.

When you reassemble, rotate the wheel while you are tightening the loose cone, until the cone is too tight, then back it off 1/16 or 1/8 of a rotation AT A TIME, until the wheel can spin, and you can barely see the axle move in or out when you press on it. At that point you are ready to install the locknut. When you apply the locknut, you need to hold the axle and the loose cone stationary while tightening the locknut. After tightening the locknut, retest for the correct amount of play (just enough to see/feel). If the adjustment went off, loosen the locknut and adjust over again. Do this over and over again until correct.

If the adjustment is correct, and the wheel spins and then stops, you probably left some grit in the assembly, and you need to disassemble, clean BETTER, and inspect again.
- Ah good to know. It didn't feel rusty though hence I had a doubt.
- Yes. I cleant well I think.
- I put some grease but not a lot. I will redo this.
- Excellent post about how to do it. Thanks for the help. I will redo the entire process.
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Old 11-16-14, 02:16 PM
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You need to hold the cone either by hand or the locknut when spinning the wheel or the cone will spin tighter with the friction of the grease. I usually spin the cone in, and hold it while spinning the axle (not the wheel) for rough adjustment. Then I put on the lock nut and fine adjust with the cone wrenches.
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Old 11-16-14, 02:30 PM
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Make sure the locknut and cone is lock together on the side you didn't remove from the axle . If you don't you never get you adjustment right .
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Old 11-16-14, 03:24 PM
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The locknut HAS to be in place and tightened to "test" the wheel. Rotation without the nut will cause the cone to either screw in or out depending on direction of rotation.

If you still have problems after tightening, I suggest you start over with cleaning and reassembly. There could be a piece of something that doesnt belong that snuck in the hub when you put it together.

-SP
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Old 11-17-14, 01:00 AM
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Thanks dedhed, bikeman715 and speedy25

I finally did it .. finally . It was a combination of all the advice on this thread. All the adjusting was a problem, so I decided to open it up again. Then I cound the bearings and what do you know? 1 missing . Then I peep around and the little guy was happily stuck halfway up the hub and not moving cause of all the grease. That makes sense as to why the axle would sometimes rotate freely but sometimes just get stuck.

The rest...I made sure I had the locknut on. Adjusted bit by bit and closed it all up. Spun axle. NO noise. Welll a really really teeny noise but that's more just the rotation of the wheel and some contact against the bearings I guess. That's a huge relief.

Somehow then I manage to forget how to put a quick release in and waste 45 minutes figuring that out. :facepalm. But all's good guys.. the wheel is back on the bike and spinning smoothly. I can't thank all of you enough for helping me through this.

The other problem that seems to have magically come up, is that my brakes are all messed up now..and all the playing with the cables and brake pads is NOT fixing it. What could I have messed up in this process that has now affected my brakes? Wheel alignment maybe while putting it back? But that seems reasonably straightforward..dunno.

I mean.. the brakes work. But if I press it then the brake arm seems to go and get stuck against the wheel (only 1 side). I pull it off manually and it starts working. All was working before this hub servicing that I did . What did I do that screwed it up?

p.s: Should I start a new thread though? As this is a separate problem - I just thought it was connected and was also (:hides face) a bit lazy.
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Old 11-17-14, 07:56 AM
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Originally Posted by live_dont_exist View Post
Thanks. I did mention in my reply to sparkplug that the cones and cups were fine. I used a ball point pen (also in another video) to see if there were spots that were worn out. I did not reuse the balls either.

I definitely put 10 in but I will recheck of something's fallen out. I did not put the locknut on the cone (not cone nut ) before testing. I put the cone on, screwed it in, spun the axle. Too tight. Loosen up. Axle rotates but also rattles.
Well, "(it's) not that they have lots of dents in them" does not read to me as "they were fine," and I don't check all your threads for additional info. You did not mention new bearings so I had no reason to suspect you did not reuse. Obviously I asked if you tightened the locknut before testing because that's the proper procedure, as noted by others here.

Last edited by cny-bikeman; 11-17-14 at 08:11 AM.
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Old 11-17-14, 08:04 AM
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1. When giving credit you might mention the 1st person to point out exactly what to look for:
Originally Posted by cny-bikeman View Post
We aren't there - you will have to look closer at what's happening to determine the problem. First, did you lock the cone with the locknut before testing (there's no such thing as a "cone nut")? Do you have 10 3/16 bearings in each side, and are they still in a circle in the cup, as opposed to one or more falling out of place? You also have not spoken to the good suggestion to check the cups and cones for wear. In addition it's not considered good practice to reuse the balls, though that's not the source of your problem.
2. The exact cause/fix of the brake problem depends somewhat on the type of brake you have, though the most likely cause is that you knocked the entire caliper to one side on it's mounting bolt. A pic of the caliper as well as a front-on view of lever, housing and caliper would help, or a description of anything written on the brake system. Failing that a good description of what the caliper looks like or the brand/model/year of the bike.

3. Yes, you should post a new thread, both for ease of getting help and for those in the future who want to look at brake problems specifically. Just mention that the problem started after you worked on the wheel.

Last edited by cny-bikeman; 11-17-14 at 08:09 AM.
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Old 11-17-14, 09:39 AM
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Originally Posted by cny-bikeman View Post
1. When giving credit you might mention the 1st person to point out exactly what to look for:

2. The exact cause/fix of the brake problem depends somewhat on the type of brake you have, though the most likely cause is that you knocked the entire caliper to one side on it's mounting bolt. A pic of the caliper as well as a front-on view of lever, housing and caliper would help, or a description of anything written on the brake system. Failing that a good description of what the caliper looks like or the brand/model/year of the bike.

3. Yes, you should post a new thread, both for ease of getting help and for those in the future who want to look at brake problems specifically. Just mention that the problem started after you worked on the wheel.
Absolutely cny-bikeman. Thanks a ton I just included everyone because there was a lot of good advice that taught me a lot about the hub. But yes, for sure - your suggestion certainly was very very important and the root of the problem.

I will soon post another thread for the brakes problem and try and upload pictures tonight when I get home. Thanks again
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Old 11-17-14, 09:50 AM
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Old 11-17-14, 10:52 AM
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Thanks Davidad, that looks like a great site. I will keep going back to that from now on.
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