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How many balls to add to wheel bearing?

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How many balls to add to wheel bearing?

Old 11-27-18, 09:58 AM
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How many balls to add to wheel bearing?

Howdy

I replaced the caged bearings with new loose balls, on both front wheel and BB.
I didn't know any better...I put as many balls into the cup as I could cram in there.
I rode 20 miles to test my restoration...and everything felt good.

Now, I just read, you're suppose to "fit as many as possible and then remove one ball."
Is this a critical rule?

This is a Raleigh Sport bike that I rescued and cleaned up and gifted to a relative who lives pretty very far away now.
I doubt she is going to ride across the country or anything...probably just going to ride with the kids to the park.
But I just read too many bearings can sieze up the wheel...and I don't want it to lock up and toss her over the handlebar.
My relatives don't have any mechanical skillz at all.
Should I call her and tell her to take it to a bike shop and have the mechanics remove one bearing from each cup?

Last edited by mtb_addict; 11-27-18 at 10:07 AM.
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Old 11-27-18, 10:09 AM
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Forgot to say that after putting as many ball into the cups as possible...there was a rougly 1/2 ball length of empty space left.
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Old 11-27-18, 10:35 AM
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Most BB take 11 per side, most rear wheels take 9 1/4inch per side, 10 3/16 inch per side for the front, Just as important as the number is the SIZE. Digital calipers for the win. Measure diameter of bearings you remove.

Typical Raleigh, hub is smaller. Front takes 9 3/16inch bearings per side.


Good video explaining some of the Raleigh uniqueness.


Last edited by wrk101; 11-27-18 at 10:49 AM.
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Old 11-27-18, 10:41 AM
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Until one pushes the others out, then remove that extra one..
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Old 11-27-18, 10:52 AM
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Originally Posted by wrk101 View Post
Typical Raleigh, hub is smaller. Front takes 9 3/16inch bearings per side.
Yes. I put 10 - 3/16" bearings into the front hub. So, I over done it. Oh crap!


Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
Until one pushes the others out, then remove that extra one..
Is that how you interpret the rule? I interpreted differently. I thought you fill as many as you can without any pushing others out, and then remove 1 ball.
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Old 11-27-18, 11:39 AM
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My understanding of the rule has always been to take out the last one that fits. If you know what the hubs are Velobase.com usually has specific ball bearing size and quantities.
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Old 11-28-18, 06:15 AM
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Based on your circumstances I would say tell her to lift front wheel and spin it prior to her rides and if at any time it doesn't spin freely to park it and call you or take to lbs. Alternatively you could have her take to lbs to remove excess bearings in front hub.
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Old 11-28-18, 10:47 AM
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Originally Posted by Slowride79 View Post
Based on your circumstances I would say tell her to lift front wheel and spin it prior to her rides and if at any time it doesn't spin freely to park it and call you or take to lbs. Alternatively you could have her take to lbs to remove excess bearings in front hub.
Okay...I will tell her to be careful and check it before riding. But I doubt they will. LoL.

But I will probably visit them next Thanksgiving...and fix it then.

Last edited by mtb_addict; 11-28-18 at 10:56 AM.
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Old 11-28-18, 11:05 AM
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It is almost always the best (and intended) case to simply fill the races, leaving what is usually a barely-visible gap that an extra ball would never fit into.

In the very old days, a select few bearing assemblies (headsets are the only known example that comes to mind) were poorly designed such that a large enough gap remained so as to cause confusion as to whether another ball would fit. Pretty rare now! Perhaps this was even due to a running change in the use of metric vs. inch standards that today are more universal in bicycle parts designs.
Perhaps also the unwanted large gap could result from the design's original intent to have bearing retainers used, which incorporated a uniform bit of extra space between every ball in the race (and this is the only good reason for such design, if/when a retainer was seen as desirable).

But, due to the publishing of several bicycle repair books that apparently copied each other, and to be on the "safe" side (for novice mechanics who were presumed to be unable to detect a badly-binding, over-filled bearing assembly that could not be adjusted properly), the general "rule" came into common knowledge that one ball should always be removed from a "full complement" of bearings in the bearing cup (remembering here that many bicycle repair books were written for those who could not be trusted to have any experience with assembling mechanical things (and so who could not be trusted to trust even their own judgement as to how a bearing should feel during final adjustment).


The sad result of this is that many hubs, bb's, etc. have been short-changed on their bearing count (and thus load capacity).
Understand that the free space created by a missing ball moves randomly around the races, and that the resulting overload of perhaps only 10% at the bearing races can cause an exponentially-larger increase in the wear rate of the race surfaces due to fatigue.

This is a recurring topic on many bicycle-mechanics-related forums, and it seems I've been shooting down "N-1" for almost 20 years now. People tend to trust published words, but with all due respect for those who dare to commit pen to paper (or just copy) and publish, the original "rule" of bearing counts has done a disservice to many a ball bearing assembly, to many a bicycle, and to many a bicycle owner.

Last edited by dddd; 11-28-18 at 11:09 AM.
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Old 11-28-18, 07:48 PM
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I always fill up the cup then drop the spindle or axle in and give it a few spins then remove it and usually there's a bit of a gap between the bearings and call it good. When I button it up and I feel resistance then I remove a bearing. Always worked for me.
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