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The Gentleman's Express: Tech-Tips from the JIOC

Table of Contents

Lubricating Front Wheel Bearings

Author: Popular Mechanics May ‘80

  1. Jack up the car and support the end you’re working on with jack stands.
  2. Remove the lug nuts and mark one stud on each wheel so you will be able to replace it at that same location. The marks will allow the balance to be maintained.
  3. Remove the lockwire and loosen the caliper retaining bolts and remove the calipers from the discs. Support them on a suspension member to keep stress off the brake hoses.
  4. Remove the grease cap. Straighten out the cotter pin, withdraw it and discard. Remove the wheel bearing adjusting nut and washer. Important: All parts to be saved should be put on a sheet of clean, lint-free paper. Grasp the disc and free the outer wheel bearing by pulling the disc towards you, and then pushing back. The bearing will drop onto the spindle.
  5. Now withdraw the disc and lay it on a couple of blocks such that the rear face is at least an inch off any surface. Insert a brass drift or hardwood dowel onto the hub so it contacts the outer race of the inner wheel bearing. This is the metal part surrounding the rollers. Tap the inner bearing out of the disc. The grease retainer (seal) will also fall free, as will the felt pick-up seal. Discard both if replacements are available.
  6. Wash bearings in a grease-cutting solvent, working the solvent between the rollers with a clean, soft bristle brush. Use Trichloroethane III as the solvent. It is not flammable. Important: Handle a bearing by its race to avoid dirtying it.
  7. Replace the bearing if it is damaged (cracked, chipped or blackened). If it looks okay, spin it slowly to see if it rotates smoothly. Discard the bearing if the rollers feel gritty or bind as they are rotated. Don’t worry, you can’t overlubricate a bearing so, if a wheel bearing packing tool is not available, put on a pair of clean rubber gloves and scoop wheel bearing grease into your palm. Kneed bearing grease into the bearing, coating all surfaces.
  8. Clean the inside of the disc hub with trichlor’ after bearings are greased. Allow the hub to dry and then coat the bearing mating surfaces with a thin layer of grease.
  9. Turn the disc assembly face-down and put the inner bearing inside the hub. Place a new seal over the bearing by using a grease-seal installing tool or a soft brass drift. Tap the seal onto its seat. Install a new felt pick-up seal in its 1 groove with a light smear of grease to ‘glue’ it in place.
  10. Clean the wheel spindle and lubricate it with grease. Place the disc assembly back on the spindle. Now place the outer wheel bearing in the hub, and install the washer and wheelbearing adjusting nut. Tighten the adjusting nut to 14 lb in torque as you spin the disc. When the correct torque measurement is obtained, remove the wrench and see that the disc spins freely. While this was being done, you should check for the split cotter holes. If they do not finally line up with the castellation slots in the nut, you must back OFF to the closest slot. Safety the cotter pin.
  11. Reinstall the caliper, and its spacer washers if any were present during disassembly, and be sure to Iockwire the bolts again. Replace the grease cap, gently tapping it into place. Replace the wheel, lining up again with the marked stud.
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Contents copyright 2008, 2009 - Jody F. Kerr

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