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Old 03-28-2011, 05:05 PM   #1
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eljefino will become famous soon enough
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Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: Standish Maine
Posts: 5,788

1995 SW1
2000 SL1
Default another successful wheel bearing

First off I've done several used knuckles which coincidentally have bearings inside. This is by far and away the easiest way to get out of trouble. shows some for $22 semi-locally.

I was however attracted by the siren song of a Federal Mogul chinese bearing from Advance auto, after appropriate coupon, $19 and change.

You need the whole knuckle off for various calisthenics if it's as rusty as mine. Was trying to slither by not undoing the lower ball joint, as I didn't want to mushroom the threads or bust the boots. Was able to coax it apart.

Sharpened an already broken screwdriver to a point to attack the snap ring. Snapped my cheapo snap ring pliers. Bent my harbor freight picks. Got one tab to kind of move. With two hands and three screwdrivers was able to get the ring out far enough to stab a screwdriver underneath then work it loose. Didn't go flying. Wore goggles irregardless.

Was previously stymied by construction. Believed spindle (part with lug studs) and bearing were one piece. Turns out the spindle shoots out the outside of the knuckle and the bearing out the inside.

Got out my trusty 2 lb sledge for disassembly. Appropriately sized socket, 27mm impact IIRC, knocked the spindle right out of the bearing. Even took some bearing with it. Sweet. Used my cutoff wheel on a 4" angle grinder to cut a diagonal cut on what's left of the bearing shell to weaken it so I could split it with a screwdriver then peel it off the spindle. They sell spindles with bearings, FWIW, as a "hub repair kit" if one feels like spending the few extra bucks.

As for the remaining pieces of bearing, they were in there tight. A sawzall wouldn't cut the raised part of the race (to weaken it). Found a 2 1/4" Ford 4wd hub socket in my bag of tricks. Its diameter is perfect for driving things in and out of the knuckle. Bang, bang, out.

Put my new bearing in the freezer and the knuckle in my barbecue. Wore welding gloves for reassembly. Note: The heat will conduct to the bearing rather quickly when you start reassembly. Propane torches have nothing on the barbecue.

Cringe alert: Used same sledge hammer and block of wood to drive the new bearing home. Everyone says "use a press". Time will tell if I wrecked anything, though, knock on wood, the drive to work was quiet.

I got the bearing cocked a number of times. A screwdriver carefully applied to the edge lip, so as to not tear the seal, and very light tap freed it.

Use a spirit level with your knuckle on the ground to see if your bearing is in straight. The 3/8 inch inboard of the snap ring groove is cut slightly bigger so the natural position of a bearing dropped in will be aligned straight to start with.

Don't know what I did right the 11th time but it went in straight. Drove it home. Reinstalled snap ring. Much easier going in than coming out. Comparatively speaking, "pressing" in the spindle was a much lighter series of taps.

This is seriously one of those jobs that is 95% screwing around. Reassembly literally took 15 minutes. Disassembly was 3:45. As a scale of my speed, clutches take me 7 hrs, and regular bolt-in GM bearings 45 min. Makes this a fairly ridiculous waste of time without a press.

If this helps someone decide... either to find a press beforehand, or buy a knuckle with bearing already installed... my write-up is a success.
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