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imported_buick5563

Wheel bearing looseness... Again

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I wish one of you guys would write a book on adjusting a front wheel bearing and send me the first autographed copy.

After my short run last week, I thought maybe my bias ply tires had gotten flat spots from sitting. I just knew it COULDN'T be the front left wheel bearing again.

It was.

I have had three instances of this happening (once destroying the bearing). I talked to some folks who said the new bearings weren't as good (made in China, etc.).

Clearly I am doing something wrong, since it happened again. I have followed the shop manual religiously each time, but it still loosened up enough to shimmy a bit. I took 'em apart again today, relubed and reinstalled. How tight are they supposed to be? I know from talking to mechanics, friends and reading for myself that too tight is bad. But just tight enough is clearly eluding me. Help me!

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I don't know if there are torque settings for your wheel bearings, but I always used the "BFWW" system at Firestone. That is...lube the heck out of the bearings and when you put the nut on to hold the drum, use the "BIG FAT WRENCH WEIGHT" to tighten. As I spin the drum in the forward direction, tighten up the nut using the weight of the biggest crescent wrench you can find. Just let it drop to tighten and then give a little more of a push to finish the job. Too tight will wear them out fast. You kind of have to get a "feel" for the tightness. If you can pull the wrench back up with very little effort, the nut is too loose. If you have to brace yourself to pull it up, it should be tight enough. Just be certain that the drum/hub is all the way on the spindle first. I sometimes overtighten and back off a hair or two. I hope this all makes sense.

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That is the way I have always done it, John.

What could be happining is that the inner race is not seated all the way. Then while driving, it moves in a few thousands, therby loosening the whole assembly. ???

Ben

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Thanks guys,

When I reinstalled it, the castle nut lined up in the horizontal position instead of the vertical cotter pin hole. I guess I had it on too loose, or like First Born said, maybe it loosened a smidgeon. My guess is that my left handed tightening technique (wrist torque wrench) is set to Adagio. Like I said, I'm blaming the mechanic on this one. blush.gif

Thanks again.

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Mike, also make sure there are no heavy burrs on the start of the spindel keeping the inner bearing from seating properly.

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Thanks Bob,

Yeah, I checked for grooves, nicks, and burrs. I'm gonna change my fluids later today, then drive it as much as I can this week.

The good thing about getting ready for these long drives is finding out what is wrong instead of ignoring little noises etc. The good news is when I drove it last week, after moving it, I noticed that it was completely dry under the car. I have clearly done other things right while fixing it!!!

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Good luck and please let us know if our system worked.

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Hey Mike,

I have always tightened the nut snug and then took it tighter to the next slot that would allow you to insert the cotter pin.

Did it that way for eleven years in the dealer and never had one come back.

If you continue to have problems and want to try going back to original bearings I have a spare set I can send your way.

Good luck,

Rich

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Hello Everyone: Wheel bearing looseness is a very interesting issue. We all work out our own solution and here is mine and it has worked for 35 years and many miles.

Yes, the front bearings are ball bearings and as such need some freedom to circulate the grease. They cannot be pulled up as tight as roller bearings or they will eventually fail under heat and stress. If you drive your car little and not far they should last for a long while. However, if pulled to tight they fail. I have a friend with a 49 Roadmaster who burnt out two sets driving to a National as the mechanics kept pulling them to tight. I do it by pulling the spindle nut to the tight position without wrenching the hell out of it. I then back it off to the next loose position and put in the cotter key. Then the tire is mounted and with the tire on it is easy to feel the slight movement in the assembly when pulling back and forth on the wheel/tire. You want this movement and it is normal. If this movement is not present go back another location. Long ago I found the correct position for the cotter key and have marked each of the front spindle nuts on each of my three straight eights with metal marker. I simply pull the nut to the tight position and back it off and if the cotter key ends up between the two white metal marker markings it is right. No more guessing. It is best to keep the spindle nuts with their original spindle to avoid problems.

On my 49 Woody Wagon the right front wheel is a bit looser than the left. However, this has never been a problem but just a function of how things fit together and has shown to me that there is some room for flexibility with things still working perfectly.

Hope this helps. Patrick W. Brooks, BCA #3939

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Patrick,

Thanks for that info. All of the stuff I was working on in the dealer had roller bearings so some real life experience on ball bearing adjustment is appreciated.

Besides that you have 24 years on me wink.gif

With the rollers I was always taught never to back the nut off but to go to the next slot. Interesting that ball bearings are just the oposite.

Rich

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Just for reference, the 56' manual says:

1- to tighten spindle nut with a <span style="text-decoration: underline">10 inch </span>wrench till bearings are preloaded one hex.

2- then spin the wheel one revolution to seat the bearings.

3- Then back off the nut till the bearing is slightly loose.

4- retighten just enough to remove looseness.

5- line up nut to nearest cotterpin hole

Caution: bearing preload <span style="text-decoration: underline">must not </span>exceed 1/12 turn of the spindle nut. The underlines parts are my edits for emphasis.

What's implied is the step between 2 and 3, if the rotation of the wheel results in bearing looseness, and would most likely say to return to step 1 if that happens.

Meanwhile I agree with the potential for a race being out of round.

What suggestions are there for a drift when installing races? I look for a socket that matches the edge of the race, but I hate tapping these things into place.

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Like motor oil preference, looks like many restorers have their tried-and-true methods (developed over lots of years of experience).

I'm glad Brooker made the distinction between ball and taper. Another facet that should be discussed:

All too often a car leaves the bay and never gets re-checked. Tire guys tell their customers to re-check lug nuts on aluminum wheels. Mechanics NEVER ask to re-check spindle nuts for being too loose after a few days or weeks.

It happened to me on a Ford. I used the same method; over-tighten, spin, then back off and pin. About a month later I was amazed by the slop. Maybe a race moved, I don't know. I'm glad I re-checked.

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<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: JohnD1956</div><div class="ubbcode-body">

What suggestions are there for a drift when installing races? I look for a socket that matches the edge of the race, but I hate tapping these things into place.

</div></div>

When needed, I always use a brass drift. <span style="font-weight: bold">NEVER </span> hit the race of a bearing too hard with a hammer. You can lose an eye if it shatters.

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I believe I got it Boys!

Took my dad, wife, and son out to get some BarBQue earlier today. Took the 55. Tracked nice and straight, plenty of power.

Unfortunately in the 100 degree heat today, I pegged the temp gauge today. Had to turn off the AC. Dangit! I think there may be a timing issue. Just changed the coolant. Everything else is fresh as well. Oh well. I'll check it out again. May have to add auxiliary fan after Senior Preservation.

BTW running Autolite 303 plugs, look great after 10-15k miles.

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Mike

The temp gauge on 55's is pegged at 200°.That's the good news; the bad news, it is also pegged above 200°. Your pressure cap raises the boiling point 3° for each pound so a 7# cap would raise the boiling point to 233° and if your coolant is 50% add another 8°.

I hate looking at the pegged needle, but just keep on driving listening and smelling for a boil over. At 220° my nailheads will start pinging from increased head temperatures. An accurate aftermarket gauge would help, but the BCA judges will not be amused.

Retarded timing can contribute to overheating, but you would notice drivability and economy changes.

Willie

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Mike....since you never leave a stone unturned, I am sure you replaced the bearings and races. There is a chance that the race was not seated. Driving the car could have further seated the race and then you had slop.

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