Joined: July 11, 2005
Location: Livermore, CA
|Posted: Tue Jul 18, 2006 8:51 pm Post subject: Rear wheel bearing replacement report
|Well, against the informed advice of members here in the Vanagon forum, I forged ahead and replaced the rear wheel bearings in my '81 Westy. It was quite an undertaking, as I decided to replace the wheel cylinders, free up the stuck brake adjusters and relube the CV joints while I was in there. Took all last weekend to get everything done.
Contrary to the Bentley, it isn't necessary to use a press to change these bearings. They can be replaced with a bearing installation drift and judicious tapping with a hammer. The actual replacement went quite smoothly. The biggest struggle was getting the parking brake housing to part ways with the backing plate.
Also contrary to Bentley, it is fairly easy to remove the 22mm bolts holding the bearing carrier with the backing plate in place. There's only 100 ft. lb. holding them on. A box-end wrench worked just fine for me. I couldn't get the backing plate to separate from the carrier without destroying the backing plate.
One of the reasons I was intent on performing this service (aside from not knowing the history of the rear bearings) was a note in the Bentley manual that the rear bearing spacer on vehicles prior to VIN 25ZBH119362 should be replaced with new sleeves. My van was a candidate for this, so I decided to see what the difference was. The VW part number for the spacer is 211-501-281-E.
In the photo below (sorry about the poor focus) you can see the new spacer on the right is quite a bit thicker than the original on the left. I'm assuming that this extra thickness was an upgrade needed to better withstand the 360 ft. lb. of torque to be applied to the new axle nut.
I was a bit disappointed in the appearance of these new spacers, however. At $61 apiece, one might have hoped for something that didn't look like it had been cut from a length of plumbing pipe.
Then again, one shouldn't judge by appearances...
For what it's worth, the van seems to ride smoother with all new wheel bearings. But the original bearings looked like they had lots of life left in them.
'81 Westfalia: 2L, manual. Originally Canadian, now Californiated
Back in the day:
'72 Super Beetle
'69 Camper Van - Corvair powered
'71 Window Van - Transferred Corvair from '69
"With sufficient thrust, pigs fly just fine." - Internet RFC 1925
"They say a little knowledge is a dangerous thing, but it is not one half so bad as a lot of ignorance." - Sir Terry Pratchett