Instructables
This is a method I have used for well over a decade to repack bicycle hub bearings, and to adjust them to a proper preload for optimum life and performance.

This was posted in a relative haste, so comment on any corrections/clarifications if necessary. I may edit to add more actual photos later on.
 
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Step 1: Disassemble the axle assembly

If you want rear axles, see my other project: http://www.instructables.com/id/Rebuild-a-bicycle-rear-hub/

A future instructable project is coming concerning frame alignment. Please see it first if applicable!

Have at least 3 separate rags for this procedure. Rag 1 is for the raw glop of removal, rag 2 is for finer cleaning after rag 1, and rag 3 is for reassembly.

Have some non-chlorinated brake cleaner aerosol, and a glass jar to catch the overspray for best results. The overspray will still be useful to you in the future.

For front axles as covered here, the situation is essentially the same. Best method is as described below:

If you do not have a cone wrench (a recommended tool), try to determine the side that will give way first by unscrewing the locknuts away from each other. The side that moves relative to the axle is your first bet, then retighten the "stubborn" side to the fork as tight as possible, once this procedure allows. Then loosen and remove the nut from only one side of the front axle from the fork, and then loosen the cone locknut. Sometimes the cone locknut will stubbornly hang onto the cone. loosen it enough to get any form of wrench or pliers onto it to break the two free from each other in as few turns as possible. Since you are repacking the hub, use of penetrating oil such as "PB Blaster" is recommended, even if the parts are not rusted/seized.

Once you have them free from each other, spin them off completely and put them on rag #1. Scour off as much old sludge as possible with this rag from the cone and locknut first, then from the axle and other cone/locknut on the other side. Perfection is not required yet, just get the main glob of goo off.
randofo6 years ago
Hello, and welcome to the Instructables community! It's great that you've decided to tell the world about something you've made by publishing an Instructable. We just wanted to let you know that your project still needs a little more work if you want it to be well received on Instructables. Projects that don't include certain basic elements tend not to get the attention that they deserve, and so we'd love for you to check out the list below of what makes a successful Instructable. Successful projects on Instructables include: - clearly written details of a finished project with instruction - as many steps as are necessary to explain your project - clear images that you took of your project for most, if not all of your steps - an intro image - proper spelling and grammar - appropriate cautions or safety considerations I'll give you another opportunity to make any final changes to your project before we publish it. Once you're all set to go, please republish your project and send me a quick comment letting me know that you've made some changes. I'll give it a quick final check to make sure you're on the right path, and then remove this note. Thanks for your submission and we hope to see your project published soon!
Prometheus (author)  randofo6 years ago
erm...this is still unpublished (or should be), I'm not finished yet. If this has been published, please remove until editing is complete.
Alright, it's unpublished right now.
botronics5 years ago
I'm rebuilding a Columbia Commuter2 (1966-1971). Its been stored in a garage all these years and is in great shape. The chrome had rust spots but they are coming of f with steel wool and Brasso. I just repacked the front bearings with Molygrease and your instructable was very useful. I discovered there was no dust seal for the bearings. Does anyone know if this was normal for this bike or did they deteriorate and disappeared over the years? Below is a photo before I started to cleaned it up.
columbia.JPG
i took a look at your album and the seals look perfectly fine you only need a small amount of grease in the hubs
Prometheus (author)  botronics5 years ago
Any "dust seals" a bike of that era had were merely shields and didn't do much to keep dirt out...If there was any kind of rubber seal, they would mostly survive as rubber doesn't decompose that fast, so I'm betting that what you see is all it ever had. Glad my project was helpful, just make sure you have the bearing preload set correctly or they can be damaged quite quickly, especially if they are set too tight....remember that "perfect" with the wheel off the bike is too tight, as tightening the lugs increases the preload just slightly. Start too loose and work up to the point where you have just removed any "wiggle" at the rim with both nuts at torque, and don't forget to lock the cone against the locknut tightly! You might want to get into all the other bearings as well, such as the bottom-bracket (crank bearings). The procedure for setting those bearings up is basically the same, just remember to loosen the locknut, it's backwards (left-hand threaded), so it's "lefty-tighty, righty-loosey". You may have to strike the lockwasher to free it once you have the locknut off. A wire-wheel (stainless-steel) is great for removing surface rust from chrome, but does slightly scratch the surface (but no more than steel-wool), so if you have that at your disposal, remove all the rubber from the wheels, and go to town with that wire brush. Don't use Brasso or such on rims that have caliper brakes or otherwise use the rim as a braking surface, or you will contaminate the pads and ruin them. Brasso will do great to help protect the finish on the handlebars and such, so after the rust is removed, give it a good polish afterwards.
Here is a link to my google album. You can follow the progress of the restoration. Brasso and 0000 super fine steel wool is working pretty good. I got some nice 20 inch vintage Schwinn YO! tires for $17 each that work well with the bike. I noticed the old inner tubes had really thick rubber, about 1/8 inch thick. Unless the 20 year old slime thicken the rubber.
sharlston5 years ago
ever since i repacked my rear bearings it makes a ticking noise when imriding how come?
sharlston5 years ago
darm i repacked my rear hubs and now it makes a ticking noise whats wrong?
Thanks, it is very important to keep your Wheel hub bearings properly packed. On my bike from when I was younger, the bearings were absolutely trashed because I didn't take care of them
A good, if simple, bicycle instructible would describe how to true a wheel, preferably without a truing stand. This could also include more advanced things like making centering the bearing in the rim, as well as simple wobbling.