[Vwdiesel] Bearings for Lunch

Val Christian val at swamps.roc.ny.us
Sat Mar 27 22:54:12 EST 2004

It's a little off the topic...

I had a 79 Rabbit which ate the lrft front bearing.  Several replacements.
The bearing lasted about 30Kmiles, and then destructed.  Tire wear
was fine, alignment was fine, brakes were fine  (and not dragging so that
they overheated), and so on.  Finally, I decided that I wasn't replacing
enough.  On on the next bearing, I replaced the whole hub/spindle
assembly with one from a junkyard.  Put a new bearing in it first, of 
course.  That one lasted over 200Kmiles.

In the end, I figure there was something wrong with the hub, or the 
flange.  Perhaps it was slightly distorted.  (Checked round with 
calipers, though.)  Perhaps the problem was a dynamic one.  In any 
event, replacement of the casting caused the problem to go away.
Go figure.

On rear bearings...I've had a set of bearings trashed once, on the 
right rear.  I never really heard them.  It was summer, and I run
the R-12 system at full blast, and love it.  It brings back winter.
I was running to the airport one morning, and all of the sudden the 
right rear wheel started clunking and shifting side to side.  The 
guy I was traveling with was a ham, and he was a couple of miles behind
me, so I was able to have him pick me up, and I left the car at the 
side of the road.  I put new bearings in, and as was discussed, 
retensioned the wheel bearings after a couple of tanks of diesel.
I think the races pound into the casting after a little use.  I doubt
the bearings pound into the races...bearing material is very hard.
This rear bearing had almost 200Kmiles since I had last lubed it.
I have a tendancy to not clean and pack bearings when I don't have 
to.  Laziness.  Using disposable gloves has helped me be more willing
to be through on this type of a job.

Oh, one trick, I think I saw in a Ford truck manual, is to make sure that
you can just barely move the washer behind the tensioning nut with a 
screwdriver.  In other words, it should not be impossible, but it shouldn't
flop around.  I can't say I religiously perform this test, but I have 
demonstrated it to people.  Also, for some reason, I like using an 
adjustable (Crescent 8" or 10") wrench for tightening the axle nuts
on rear wheels.  I can't really say why, but somehow it gives me a better
feel of tightness than a fixed openend wrench.

On preping bearings, I used to use white gas, but now I use kerosine or
diesel, with an old paint brush, or an acid brush.  Then I do a final
cleaning with canned (aerosol) brake cleaner fluid.  Finally, I pack 
wearing disposable gloves (aids clean-up and dermatitis).  When I know
I'll be popping off dust caps, I buy a couple of spares, so if I want
I can put a new one on.  I probably have more spares than I've ever 
replaced.  It's just packratting a new dust cap gives a comfort factor.

I also tend to stock extra long, but lighter gauge cotter pins.  
The longer and slight thinner ones are easier to work with the needle 
nose pliers.  I curl them to an "E" around the axle, rather than the more
conventional cut one leg, and bend the other over the end of the axle.
They take off and reuse easier this way, and I've never had a problem 
with parts of one getting in the wrong spot.  In a pinch, you can use
aircraft type safety wire, or even a piece of solid copper wire left
over from household use (12 ga or 14 ga).

Sorry about the ramble; hopefully this helps someone.


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