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Rear wheel bearings: Remove and re-use original bearings?
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epowell
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 24, 2019 2:31 am    Post subject: Rear wheel bearings: Remove and re-use original bearings? Reply with quote

Hi Folks

...been studying all night on this topic and there does not seem to be any definite consensus regarding how to properly service the rear wheel bearings. Everyone agrees that the OEM originals are the best and it is best to keep them in there, and everyone also agrees that the best way to service them is to remove them completely, clean, and inspect.

But where there is disagreement is whether or not a skilled but inexperienced hobby mechanic with not all of the "proper" tools and training can remove these old bearings without damaging them.

The other suggested option seems to be to remove the BEARING HOUSING and soaking the whole thing (with bearings still installed) in cleaner... cleaning out all of the old grease this way with bearings still 'insitu'... then re-packing with grease and be on your way. To me, this method seems safer... the only real advantage to removing the bearings, it seems to me, is a more thorough clean, and the possibility to really INSPECT the bearings. But if we intend to run these OEM bearings until they die anyway, is it really SO important to inspect them so closely, if removing them might risk damaging them?

- - -

In my specific case, I don't think my bearings are causing any noise - but I was not really listening for it. My van does have a lot of weird noises so I can't be sure...
...I tested the wheels (raised off the ground) for wiggle and spin, and the pass. side passed with flying colours (I think), but the dr.side wheel has a more pronounced "wiggle" (still nothing extreme), and it seems that it doesn't spin as well, and 'might' have a slight noise at certain parts of the spin. The point being, both sets of bearings are currently working satisfactorally but the dr.side is a bit questionable.

I have zero experience with this, but from what I have read, it sounds like the questionable bearing can be brought back to full life with a full cleaning and new grease....

>>> hence, my question:
Should I actually remove these bearings, or just remove the bearing housing (and wash the bearings without removing them)

PS, I do have a press, but no special pressing tools.

---

To accompany this thread I am posting a bunch of fotos that might be useful - I found these fotos during my research into this topic.
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DanHoug
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 24, 2019 5:21 am    Post subject: Re: Rear wheel bearings: Remove and re-use original bearings? Reply with quote

great photos of the assembly! i have the exact same questions on the hub and will be watching responses.
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dobryan
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 24, 2019 5:28 am    Post subject: Re: Rear wheel bearings: Remove and re-use original bearings? Reply with quote

An alternative is to remove the outer seal and use a grease needle to inject new grease deep into the bearing and push out a lot of the old grease.

This is not as good as fully disassembling and cleaning but is a lot less work and does not run the risk of damaging the bearing. YMMV.

I did this on my euro bus project.

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T3messie
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 24, 2019 5:29 am    Post subject: Re: Rear wheel bearings: Remove and re-use original bearings? Reply with quote

The inner race of the ball bearing should be a press fit on the stud while it´s outer race is press fitted in the housing.
By pressing the spindle out, you are side loading this bearing which it is not made for.
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MarkWard
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 24, 2019 5:53 am    Post subject: Re: Rear wheel bearings: Remove and re-use original bearings? Reply with quote

Noise could be related to the brakes. With the cv shaft disconnected and the brake drum removed, you will get a good feel for the bearings. If genuine bearings and seals were available, I’d have already tossed the old ones out. So much cheap stuff out there, not worth the gamble.

If the condition I described above is met, the stub axle should turn smoothly and quietly. Minimal play is also ok. If they are quiet, I’m in the work fresh grease in. Some years ago, a member fitted up grease fittings for working in new grease. Problem is, the old grease has to go somewhere and with it all assembled no easy way to clean up the excess.
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epowell
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 24, 2019 6:09 am    Post subject: Re: Rear wheel bearings: Remove and re-use original bearings? Reply with quote

T3messie wrote:
The inner race of the ball bearing should be a press fit on the stud while it´s outer race is press fitted in the housing.
By pressing the spindle out, you are side loading this bearing which it is not made for.


So again, another voice claiming OEM bearing removal risks damaging it [while other experience members say it is safe]

dobryan wrote:
An alternative is to remove the outer seal and use a grease needle to inject new grease deep into the bearing and push out a lot of the old grease.


So from what I can see there are 3 alternatives to choose from:

1) complete disassembly (best but most risky)
2) remove inner and outer seals and squirt in grease with needle (risk of damage from residual possibly incompatible grease types... and residual dirt... but EASY to do and no risk of damaging bearings
3) completely remove just the bearing housing, and soak in parts cleaner to remove old grease and dirt... (no risk of damaging bearings from removal or incompatible grease - clean up is almost as good as with bearing removal - not as easy as the needle technique, but still much easier than bearing removal - but not able to fully inspect bearings this way)

To be honest, I now have the AXLE nut off and the CVs off... I am told you can get the backing plate off temporarily without disassembling all the brake hardware (? --- that would be a big bummer to have to disassemble all the brakes just to do this) >>> but otherwise I am leaning towards this "middle-way" of soaking and cleaning the entire bearing housing assembly with bearings all together >>> any good threads showing someone doing it this way?
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epowell
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 24, 2019 6:13 am    Post subject: Re: Rear wheel bearings: Remove and re-use original bearings? Reply with quote

MarkWard wrote:
Noise could be related to the brakes. With the cv shaft disconnected and the brake drum removed, you will get a good feel for the bearings. If genuine bearings and seals were available, I’d have already tossed the old ones out. So much cheap stuff out there, not worth the gamble.

If the condition I described above is met, the stub axle should turn smoothly and quietly. Minimal play is also ok. If they are quiet, I’m in the work fresh grease in.


OK, I don't need to decide right away > I will get the next tranny swapped in then remove the wheels and drums to get a better idea of my bearings condition.

Thanks
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crazyvwvanman
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 24, 2019 6:26 am    Post subject: Re: Rear wheel bearings: Remove and re-use original bearings? Reply with quote

You should evaluate the wheel bearings with the axles unhooked at the wheel end.

Mark
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epowell
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 24, 2019 6:40 am    Post subject: Re: Rear wheel bearings: Remove and re-use original bearings? Reply with quote

crazyvwvanman wrote:
You should evaluate the wheel bearings with the axles unhooked at the wheel end.

Mark


Yeah that makes total sense concerning 'spin' and 'noise', however we can still accurately evaluate the "wiggle" with the CV still connected, no?

What I don't know is how important is this wiggle? My pass.side seems to have maybe a 0.5mm wiggle and the dr.side has double that. There is a definite difference but nothing extreme. So I don't know what this reflects?

I can see that possible noise and drag can have something to do with the brakes or CVs.
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Sodo
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 24, 2019 7:51 am    Post subject: Re: Rear wheel bearings: Remove and re-use original bearings? Reply with quote

Quote:
I have zero experience with this, but from what I have read, it sounds like the questionable bearing can be brought back to full life with a full cleaning and new grease....


If that was said, its wrong.

A full cleaning and new grease will prolong the life of a good bearing.

A questionable bearing is shedding hard steel particles into its grease, further reducing its remaining useful life. Removing this contamination, Cleaning and new grease could prolong the life of a questionable bearing simply because its not further damaging itself with its own barf. Theres no way to bring it back to life and the opportunity to extend its life (by cleaning & new grease) was missed long ago. Once a bearing is “questionable” its best to replace it.
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dobryan
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 24, 2019 7:58 am    Post subject: Re: Rear wheel bearings: Remove and re-use original bearings? Reply with quote

Sodo wrote:
Quote:
I have zero experience with this, but from what I have read, it sounds like the questionable bearing can be brought back to full life with a full cleaning and new grease....


If that was said, its wrong.

A full cleaning and new grease will prolong the life of a good bearing.

A questionable bearing is shedding hard steel particles into its grease, further reducing its remaining useful life. Removing this contamination, Cleaning and new grease could prolong the life of a questionable bearing simply because its not further damaging itself with its own barf. Theres no way to bring it back to life and the opportunity to extend its life (by cleaning & new grease) was missed long ago. Once a bearing is “questionable” its best to replace it.


Yep.

Exception is if you are on the road and no good replacement is available and you are trying to stretch the life to get home.
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epowell
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 24, 2019 8:06 am    Post subject: Re: Rear wheel bearings: Remove and re-use original bearings? Reply with quote

Do rear bearings need to be changed in pairs, even if only one is bad?
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dobryan
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 24, 2019 8:07 am    Post subject: Re: Rear wheel bearings: Remove and re-use original bearings? Reply with quote

epowell wrote:
Do rear bearings need to be changed in pairs, even if only one is bad?


No. They are independent of each other.
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Wildthings
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 24, 2019 8:09 am    Post subject: Re: Rear wheel bearings: Remove and re-use original bearings? Reply with quote

I wouldn't remove the shafts unless I intended to replace the inner seals, so basically in highway driving that means accessing the bearings every 300K miles or so. If you are driving in extremely dusty conditions, crossing streams frequently, or using your van on salt strewn roads, more frequent service may well be necessary.

Whenever I do brake work, I remove the outer seal and pump grease between the rollers using a needle fitting, I then wipe off the grease on the outside of the bearing to create an air pocket and install a new seal, being sure to lube the lip.
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 24, 2019 8:59 am    Post subject: Re: Rear wheel bearings: Remove and re-use original bearings? Reply with quote

That’s a good point about renewing the seals. My rear wheel bearings are original and quiet at ~175k. The seals were worn to the point that they were no longer touching the seal lands. The dirt buildup was further eroding the seal. They had Dirt lands where removal of the dirt buildup left a GAP Shocked If I drove the van in deep water, they would have let water into the bearings.

Renewing the grease every 100,000 miles is good and renewing the seals makes a lot of sense. I wish I did it at 100k, but I did it at ~175k. Nobody puts effort into longevity issues at 100k (when it makes the most sense).

Everyone waits to close the door after the horse has left the barn. Cuz you don’t know back then how coveted your antique will become. Rolling Eyes
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MarkWard
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 24, 2019 9:13 am    Post subject: Re: Rear wheel bearings: Remove and re-use original bearings? Reply with quote

The last backing plate I tried to remove off of a rust bucket did not come off so easy. I recall it was staked pretty well at the bottom brakeshoe pivot. Your results may vary.

As far as the freeplay is concerned. Have you checked the torque of the stub axle outer nut? Its pretty high torque. The manual I have in front of me says 369 foot pounds with wheel on the ground.

The spacer sleeve between the inner and outer bearing sets the preload. There is a spec for that as well in the manual.
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 24, 2019 3:34 pm    Post subject: Re: Rear wheel bearings: Remove and re-use original bearings? Reply with quote

Hey MarkWard,

I see what you did there. ThankYou.
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 25, 2019 12:34 am    Post subject: Re: Rear wheel bearings: Remove and re-use original bearings? Reply with quote

Are there any threads on setting the preload? Sounds important...
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 25, 2019 4:29 am    Post subject: Re: Rear wheel bearings: Remove and re-use original bearings? Reply with quote

Abscate wrote:
Are there any threads on setting the preload? Sounds important...


The thrust load is all handled by the ball bearing as the roller bearing is not setup to handle any axial loading, so no preload is required. Tightening the axial nut locks the drum and the inner races of the bearings together, but does not preload the bearings.
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 25, 2019 6:02 am    Post subject: Re: Rear wheel bearings: Remove and re-use original bearings? Reply with quote

What part of the system handles the axial loading when you turn corners?
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