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  1. #1
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    RePacking Hub Bearings? - It's EASY - a photo tutorial (cup/cone)

    I was repacking my rear hub, because it had been over 6 months and I needed something to tinker on.
    Just after I started, I recalled a couple threads on people who were wondering what to do with their cup and cone style hubs - so I thought I'd take some pictures and do a little write-up.

    This 'tutorial' is for the "backyard mechanic". As you'll see, I do all the work with out a nice-clean work bench and in less than 'sanitary' conditions - like many of us do!
    I'm sure there are more 'professional' tutorials out there, so go and check those out if you want.

    Though only the rear hub is shown (Shimano XT), the same applies to the front as well. (If applicable) - Please read through entirely, as many tools/ aids are introduced as we go.
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Let's get crackin!

    First, do all the necessary stuff to get your hub ready to be worked on:
    - Remove wheel from bike (DUH!), and remove your cassette and dust cover to gain access to all the nuts and bolts.

    'Proper' tools and parts that are taken off:
    From L to R
    - Lock-ring tool
    - Dust cover (if applicable) - NDS or non-drive side
    - Chain-whip - you can make your own with one side of an old wire-crimper tool - just pin a length of chain on the business end and you're set! ('business-end' goes in between cogs)
    - Big ol' wrench (for cassette lock-ring tool)
    - Cassette lock ring
    - Cassette
    - Not-Pictured ...(Magnet & more later)


    Identify the parts you need to loosen:
    To gain access to all the goodies (bearings) inside, you'll need to remove the axle and the nuts that hold that axle in your hub. The side you need to work on first is the NDS as the DS (Drive-side) nuts are partially hidden by the cassette carrier.
    There are two nuts per side; a 'Cone nut' which presses against the bearings and is also a race; and a 'Jam nut' (incorrectly called a lock-nut) which prevents the cone nut from loosening by compression.
    -NDS - this is the side to loosen. You need to loosen the 'compression' on only one side.


    -DS - notice that there is no cone-nut visible...


    Some more tools/ equipment required...(clock-wise from left)
    - "Cone" wrenches - (pictured are a:13-14mm, 15-16mm and 17-18mm)
    [it this tut., we'll use a 15mm (cone) and a 17mm (jam)]
    *front hubs typically use a smaller combo ie. 13mm & 15mm respectively.
    - Grease - I use a heavy 'Moly' (molybdenum) grease which is resistant to wear and water.
    If you notice that the packaging says "Disc Brake" on it, don't let that tempt you - don't use this grease to quiet a noisy rotor! - also notice that below, it says "wheel bearing", so that's a relief. (any good grease will do, moly and water-resistant are preferred by me - some like lithium-based...to each his own)
    - Air compressor nozzle - helpful for getting pesky bearing out from the axle housing or drying/ blowing and solvents off .
    - Clean rags - yeah, they're clean and you use them for what ever need arises - not a whole lot to explain there.


    Decompressing your nuts - what a relief!
    - with the applicable wrench (15mm), hold the cone-nut firm while turning the jam-nut (17mm) counter-clockwise.
    (In this pic, it looks as if I'm pressing down and tightening - I'm not. I'm pulling the jam-nut 'towards me'.)


    Remove your nuts, but don't spill your balls
    - After you break the compression, loosen/remove the jam-nut and any washers.
    *Before you remove the cone nut, it's a good idea to hold the axle firmly against the DS in an upright fashion (pictured). This will prevent any bearings from accidentally spilling out.


    -Cone-nut successfully removed... you haven't let go of the axle yet have you? and kept pressure on the DS bearings??


    Remove the axle
    Using a container of some sort ...smaller coffee can, tupperware, etc (I like old peanut butter jars because of the screw-on lids) and place it over the side you just removed the nuts from.
    In one quick motion, flip the wheel over and set. Then pull out the axle.


    Clean the axle off w/ a rag and clean any extraneous gunk off of the hub w/ a q-tip.
    **Leave the nuts on the axle alone (barring cleaning) as they will keep your axle/ hub alignment where they were. You don't really want to go and remove them and then try to figure out how far down the axle shaft they belong if you don't need to.(check races for pitting/ wear)


    Get the balls out!
    -Using a small screw-driver, prise out the bearings and let them fall through the hub's axle-shaft into the container below.
    *NOTE* - There should be 9 (nine) 1/4" bearings per side for a rear hub and 10 3/16" bearings per side for the front hub. *(This is 'usual')*
    -Carefully flip the wheel over and do the same process for the other side.
    When you're done releasing the balls from their prison and have liberated them to their cup., Double check your count - often, balls will 'hide' in the axle housing. Use a screwdriver or simply blow them out with a shot of air. (Check your balls for pitting/ roughness - you can get new ones at a bearing shop or maybe your LBS)


    Clean the races (both sides)
    - Using Q-tips or a rag bunched around the end of a screwdriver, wipe all the races (cups) clean. You shouldn't have to use much or any solvent (I use mineral spirits) - what ever you do, don't drench the hub- if working on the rear especially.


    A Clean race!
    A really good time to look at the races - a severely pitted one can mean a new hub - a minor pit here or there or groove can mean a lot more miles by repacking.


    Clean your balls!...they're dirty
    Using your favorite solvent, (WD-40, Mineral Spirits, Simple Green, Soap & Water.... ..the list goes on), swoosh, yeah swoosh, the bearings around in that cool container that you put them in (see how nice PB jars are?) and dry them off/ or put into a lid to dry.
    (double-check your count! - those bastards love to escape after being confined for so long and being made to run circles )) - you'll notice(if you count) that there are only 16 balls - 2 shy of the required 18 (I found them later, cowering in a crack in the driveway )


    SO! Let's rebuild!
    First, notice the bearing count! - got-em - thanks Mr. Magnet!.
    -Get your grease and bearings and let's lube those balls!


    Packing races
    -Get a good dab of grease on your finger and swipe the cups... too much is better than not enough - It helps hold the bearings in.


    - A packed race...like Waltrip vs. Earnhart


    Pack/ Place the bearings
    -Dip a small screwdriver into your grease and use it to 'grab' a ball..


    -Place it into the cup and press it in...repeat for 'X' times - (In this case, 'X' = 9)


    - All balls in the cup...


    -Scoop any extra grease that pressed out while placing the balls. (Extra grease in the shaft does no good and adds weight - like 500wt/380? )


    -Scooped!


    - Clean out any ****/ grease from the dust-shield area...I have no idea what that area is officially called! - Use a Q-tip or a bunched rag as before like the cups.


    - Clean, packed and ready to rock!


    - Scoop any crud from the DS seal w/ a Q-tip.


    Tightening the hub...

    Double-check that the DS cone and jam nuts are tight. Hold the cone nut firm while pulling the jam-nut clockwise...go ahead and crank it really tight...even tighter! -
    this part is really non-adjustable later.


    - Carefully insert the axle through the hub as to not dislodge any bearings.
    - Hold it firmly in place as you screw on the cone-nut (finger tight)

    Did you forget the order of all the other pieces?
    - In general, the smaller pieces (washers/ spacers) go toward the cone nut and get bigger (in diameter) towards the jam-nut..
    For example, in this next pic, the pieces go in order from the 'top in my hand' to the 'axle' ;;- 1)Fat, but small spacer/washer; 2)Thin , but larger washer; 3) Jam-nut.
    -Put all the pieces on the axle and 'finger-tighten' them.


    With everything "finger tight", use a wrench to hold firm the opposite side (in this case - DS) and ($$) tighten down the cone nut on the closest side (NDS) until it just starts to bind*

    *- NOTE- Binding is when the axle wont spin smoothly when turned while holding the hub.
    If the axle has slop (vertically/ horizontally), tighten the cone nut some more.
    If the axle has no slop, but still spins easily, tighten it just a touch* more. *Over tighten a smidge. (over-tightening will be addressed in the next step)


    Cinching the nuts - it's a cinch!
    - Using the cone wrenches, 'kinda' hold firm the cone-nut (NDS) while turning the jam-nut (NDS) clockwise until tight.
    This action should loosen any binding in the hub as the cone-nut is pulled toward the jam-nut.
    If there is any binding still, repeat the above action - ($$), but to a lesser degree.
    If there is no binding, repeat the above section ($$), but to a slightly more aggressive degree.
    *=Judgment call - I can't tell you what's right in words - you gotta 'feel' it man!!

    - A "perfectly" tensioned hub will have : 0 (zero) binding) and negligible (you can barely feel it) slop; which the QR will pick up or close. (The QR will actually pull the cones a bit closer - not much)
    - When the wheel is on the frame/fork and you can still feel a wiggle...go to the previous tightening steps.

    You're done!

    HEY!!! you didn't forget about that dust cap did you?



    I hope this was easy to follow, because it's really easy to do!
    **REMEMBER TO CLEAN YOUR ROTOR!!! ( if applicable)**

    Remember not to rush, take it easy and everything will fall into place. -

    Good Luck!

    Oh, here's a pic "just because"... Chain is now clean and dry, just gotta put it on...Where is it?

    ...
    Last edited by highdelll; 08-02-2009 at 04:06 AM.
    Honestly... ahh I give up

  2. #2
    ~Disc~Golf~
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    If you have any constructive criticisms, or find any errors in my post, please PM me so I may fix it . Please don't post here with any errors or the like. I'd like to keep this concise if possible. I will edit the OP.

    Any general BS or comments in general, are fine for posting. - I'm fine w/ that
    Honestly... ahh I give up

  3. #3
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    bump

  4. #4
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    Awesome job highdell.

    Two things that I like to do.
    1) I like to take carb cleaner or brake cleaner and lightly spray the area and clean the hub etc. This way I'm not dealing with the mess and grime around the area. And when the wheel goes back together, it's nice and clean.
    2) I remove the brake rotor as well so I don't get greasy contamination on it.

    Aloha,
    g

  5. #5
    ~Disc~Golf~
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    Quote Originally Posted by gmats
    Awesome job highdell.

    Two things that I like to do.
    1) I like to take carb cleaner or brake cleaner and lightly spray the area and clean the hub etc. This way I'm not dealing with the mess and grime around the area. And when the wheel goes back together, it's nice and clean.
    2) I remove the brake rotor as well so I don't get greasy contamination on it.

    Aloha,
    g
    I thought about that too, it's just that the time involved for cleaning a rotor is so much quicker than removing and wearing bolts.

    I agree that I could've cleaned better... but hey - that's the backyard mechanics way!
    Honestly... ahh I give up

  6. #6
    transmitter~receiver
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    noice!
    and i'm diggin' yer chain whip!
    is that dupli-color on your rotor?

  7. #7
    ~Disc~Golf~
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    Quote Originally Posted by meltingfeather
    is that dupli-color on your rotor?
    Actually, its this paint used for making "stained glass"
    It's a deep translucent red and looks pretty cool in the sun - hard to capture w/ the camera tho and when it's overcast
    Honestly... ahh I give up

  8. #8
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    Great write-up! Highdell, I was wondering which XT hub do you have? I have an M756 rear XT hub that I'm going to repack.

    Btw, can one use an adjustable wrench on the locknut? I don't think I have a 17mm cone wrench.

  9. #9
    CTB
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    A fellow MTBR member pointed me to this thread, and it looks like great information, Highdelll! However, I'm rebuilding my M756 hub because the Drive Side actually loosened on me. The NDS is still tight, however. This writeup is based on working only on the NDS. Any tips for what I can do with my reverse situation? Remove the freehub and just follow the same procedure? Thanks.

    PS: Nice MGB.

  10. #10
    ~Disc~Golf~
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    Quote Originally Posted by djork
    Great write-up! Highdell, I was wondering which XT hub do you have? I have an M756 rear XT hub that I'm going to repack.

    Btw, can one use an adjustable wrench on the locknut? I don't think I have a 17mm cone wrench.
    I have the 756 hub as well
    You should be able to use an adjustable wrench on the outer (jam) nut.
    Honestly... ahh I give up

  11. #11
    ~Disc~Golf~
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    Quote Originally Posted by CTB
    A fellow MTBR member pointed me to this thread, and it looks like great information, Highdelll! However, I'm rebuilding my M756 hub because the Drive Side actually loosened on me. The NDS is still tight, however. This writeup is based on working only on the NDS. Any tips for what I can do with my reverse situation? Remove the freehub and just follow the same procedure? Thanks.

    PS: Nice MGB.
    well, the DS side is shown right after it says "Tightening the hub..."
    you need to loosen the NDS nuts, pull out the axle, and then work on the DS nuts (be sure to note the amount of exposed threads), re-insert the axle, and the preload and tighten the NDS nuts again.
    Honestly... ahh I give up

  12. #12
    CTB
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    You know, sometimes things are so obvious that you just can't see them. Highdelll, I feel like an idiot for not thinking of the "remove the axle, loosen the other side, note the threads, start over" technique. Thanks for the prod in the right direction.

  13. #13
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    Great write-up and nice MGB. What year is that?

  14. #14
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    Nice job. How often do you re-build?

  15. #15
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    Great tutorial! I''ll be rereading this while I look for missing ball bearings when the snow falls. Thanks!

  16. #16
    offroader
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    nice!

  17. #17
    ~Disc~Golf~
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vespasianus
    Great write-up and nice MGB. What year is that?
    haha,
    anywhere between 69 and 76 (different parts)
    Honestly... ahh I give up

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by veritechy
    Nice job. How often do you re-build?
    about twice a year
    Honestly... ahh I give up

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by CTB
    You know, sometimes things are so obvious that you just can't see them. Highdelll, I feel like an idiot for not thinking of the "remove the axle, loosen the other side, note the threads, start over" technique. Thanks for the prod in the right direction.
    no worries
    Honestly... ahh I give up

  20. #20
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    Excellent, thanks. I've done coaster brakes before but never messed with a freehub and plan on doing mine this weekend since it's dragging.

  21. #21
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    bump for a ?


    Had an XT hub for about 2 years and it hasn't been serviced, didn't realize it was a general maintnence type of thing

    Anyway, after I take off the NDS Jam Nut and the washers I can't get the Cone nut to come off. When I turn it the whole axle spins with it. How do I get that little bugger loose?

    I'm thinking the hub might be toasted, has a ****-load of miles on it. I still want to get it apart and have a look though.

    Thanks for any help

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by mikedeber
    bump for a ?


    Had an XT hub for about 2 years and it hasn't been serviced, didn't realize it was a general maintnence type of thing

    Anyway, after I take off the NDS Jam Nut and the washers I can't get the Cone nut to come off. When I turn it the whole axle spins with it. How do I get that little bugger loose?

    I'm thinking the hub might be toasted, has a ****-load of miles on it. I still want to get it apart and have a look though.

    Thanks for any help
    Use a 17mm cone-wrench on the DS jam-nut and a 15mm on the NDS cone
    Honestly... ahh I give up

  23. #23
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    Awesome tuturial! After seeing that though, gotta love cartridge bearings!!

  24. #24
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    Quick Tip!

    I received a suggestion to use a transparent or tinted grease such as Bel-Rays to more easily identify if the grease is contaminated.
    (I don't know why I can't edit the original post tho)
    Honestly... ahh I give up

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by dexon555
    Awesome tuturial! After seeing that though, gotta love cartridge bearings!!
    +1

    Just a reminder for me why I will never use anything but Sealed cartridge bearing hubs for the rest of my days Good riddance to loose BB hubs !

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