Question, play in wheel bearings???

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Dec 22, 2010
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Questions. I just went through and cleaned and repacked both the front and rear wheel bearings. Only one bearing was replaced that being the outer front right. I followed the threads on the forum for measuring preload (fish scale method), but I've already got some play/movement in the front right wheel. So-
1. Is it common to have to re-set the preload after 1000 miles when a new bearing/bearings are installed?
2. What is the normal interval for adjusting the preload in the wheel bearings?
3. How soon must minor play be fixed? I ask because I borrowed the 54mm socket but plan to order my own now. Can we continue to drive in the mean time?

IMHO the fish scale method is crap as the scale pulled at ~8lbs with preload set up to 30ft/lbs, so I ended up setting the preload at 4ft/lbs as per the FSM. But since I now I have a loose bearing I'm tempted to just set the preload to 10ft/lb and forget the scale altogether. Thoughts?
 
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Dan2722

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Your preload should be set between 6.4-12.6lbf not 4lbf. I agree that the fish scale method can be a PITA. I usually use a combination of the below write-up from the FAQ on the front axle rebuild by Romer.



Set pre-load. This step has a difference of opinion. Some folks use a fish scale and some do it by feel. Most agree that the way they do it is the right one.

I'll repeat the steps from the FSM. Install the adjusting nut.

You adjust the pre-load using the 54mm socket. Torque the adjusting nut to 43 ft-lbs

turn the hub right two or three times. Torque the adjusting nut to 43 ft-lbs again.

Loosen the nut until the hub can be turned by hand.

Torque nut to 48 in lbf (Yes thats inch pounds) and make sure there is no play.

Using a spring tension gage (Fish scale) measure the pre-load. s/b between 6.4-12.6lbf. Adjust as required. You do this by hooking one end of the scale to the hub and seeing how much it takes to move the hub.

Here are two other methods:

Robbies
"This was how we did big trucks in the 80's. We would do the bearing preload rotate then tighten again, rotate. Then we would back off to the point that the nut was loose. Hand tighten, then check to see how much the washer would move back and forth with a screw driver. IF no movement then loosen, if real easy movement not tight enough. this was a trail and error until you got good at it. when it was just right you put the lock washer on then the lock nut and tighten to what ever the man spec's were. then check to see if you could move the washer with some force, not two handed force but some more force then it took with just the jam nut. Sound hazzy but works real well. I have been using this method for over 20 years (yea I am old, but big enough to wipp most) and it is what I use in the shop today. It takes a feel and it may take a couple of times doing it but will serve well. The way you would tell if it is too loose(before driving the truck) is with the tire and wheel on, with every thing on the ground and you shake the tire(from the top) back and forth and you have looseness, the bearing preload is not enough, do it over or you will have problems.
Junk you may want to put this in the FAQ section. later robbie"

Gumby/Landtank:
 
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It is not uncommon for them to loosen up after pulling them apart.
I would just reset them and all is good, I do mine by feel the gauge is a PITA, I always check my wheel bearings for play especially when I go off road alot.
Its always good to check them every once and awhile anyway
 
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Dan, the 4ft/lb I referred to is the 48 in/lb as per the instructions you listed. The fish scale pulled at about 8 lbs but did so all the way to the large nut being torqued to 30ft/lbs, hence the reason I backed it off to 4.
I've read some just torque the nut to 10 or even 12-15ft/lbs and just skip the fish scale.
Anyway, my main concern is driving the truck with a bit of play in the bearings. Will it harm them? I've read too loose is better than too tight, but how loose are people talking about?
 
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There should be no play, if there is play i would tigthen them up
Tightening them to 10-15 ftlbs has givin me the best results
You should be able to do it right in the garage by just jacking it up and removing the drive flanges and that is it.
That is how I have done it takes only about 10-15 minutes per side.
 
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Thanks for the input. I'll order the trail gear 54mm socket so I have my own. Plus its 3/8 drive so it will fit my good torque wrench.
 

LandCruiserPhil

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Thanks for the input. I'll order the trail gear 54mm socket so I have my own. Plus its 3/8 drive so it will fit my good torque wrench.

Throw the torque wrench and the fish scale in the trash...learn to set your bearing by feel. The FSM spec is designed for stock tires not large tires.
 
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I understand, but honestly, I overtighten things. That torque wrench limits me, in a good way. :) I think setting the 54mm nut to 10-12ft/lbs should get me close, then I can go by feel.
 
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I set mine to 15 ft. Lbs. 20,000 miles ago. Checked them after the first 1000 miles. Smooth sailing since. I like having a number to work with.
 
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I set mine to 15 ft. Lbs. 20,000 miles ago. Checked them after the first 1000 miles. Smooth sailing since. I like having a number to work with.

I also like to have a number to work with...

As far as setting by feel; the only way I can do this is to remove the caliper, remove the drive flange (which obviously you have to), and bolt the wheel back ON to the hub. This way I can spin the whole wheel and hub assembly with zero drag from the brakes or drive train and get a proper feel for the bearing tension. To me, without the wheel bolted on, the hub always feels too tight.

Anyway, I ordered the 54mm socket and will get in there as soon as I get it. I'll first try 10ft/lbs and see how it feels, then maybe go to 15ft/lbs if it seems to light.

Thanks all for the input.
 
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I'm a bit unsure on this topic as-well, heres my sitch.

I pulled one wheel to replace a wheel lug, repacked and then started driving. I also noticed that it had most likely already been done on the service when I first bought the truck 8 months prior.

If I grab the top of each front tyre with both hands and shake rhythmically as hard as I can there is a little bit of 'play', but more like it generates from the steering all joint (can't remember what that giant ball is called, sorry..) I recently pumped it with grease (through the two filler bolts atop of the ball joint) and it still happens. I hear a click when it reached it's furthest point in the push on each front wheel. Is this normal? It seems the weight of the truck kinda strains the ball joint or something.
 
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Ok, new issue. I got my new 54mm socket and went to tension the front bearings. The passenger side (which was the loose one) was only finger tight. The problem is that the brand new Mobile 1 grease I packed the bearings with was black just in the outer bearing and the inner surface of the bearing that conacts the spindle had some wear like it had spun a few times on the spindle. Remember also that this is a brand new bearing. To compare, I also pulled the driver side drive flange off and upon inspection the grease looked new.
So whats the deal with the passenger side? Is the spindle bad?
For the record I set both front wheel bearing preloads to 15ft/lb and they spin nicely. I'm just worried the front passenger will be loose in 1000 miles again.
 
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Sorry, a few questions I forgot are-
Whats the proper torque for the 12mm nuts with the cone washers on the drive flanges?
The 54mm nuts have one very flat side and one rounded side. Which face goes in and which goes out for each nut? I can't imagine it really matters but am curious.
Thanks in advance.
 
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Sorry, a few questions I forgot are-
Whats the proper torque for the 12mm nuts with the cone washers on the drive flanges?
The 54mm nuts have one very flat side and one rounded side. Which face goes in and which goes out for each nut? I can't imagine it really matters but am curious.
Thanks in advance.

26 ft lbs. I always put the flat side in on the 54mm nut.
If you have wear on the spindle that you can feel, it's most likely not good
 
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Yeah, I didnt pull the hub off the spindle to inspect. I simply pulled the outer bearing out, cleaned/repacked, reinstalled, and set the bearing preload. Just a bit of grease immediately around the outer bearing was black and all the grease inside the hub appeared fresh from the recent repack.
Anyway, if it loosens up again I'll pull the hub off and inspect the spindle for wear. I didnt notice any the last time the hub was off but perhaps there was some. The underside of the spindle seems the most likely spot to see it, so maybe that's why I missed it.
In terms of repairing a worn spindle, has anyone heard of dimpling the spindle with a punch where the bearing rides to help it seat?
 
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Been searching worn spindle threads. It seems that some wear is normal, but to much can lead to- 1.You will not be able to set the bearing preload properly. 2.It will eat bearings fairly quickly (maybe my problem).

Some have attempted to smooth out spindle wear with emery cloth which is really backwards thinking as you are removing more material thus further reducing the diameter of the spindle. One member suggested scaling the surface to help the bearing 'grip or seat' on the spindle better. This method sounds similar in idea to using a punch to dimple the surface thus helping the bearing seat. The problem is I have never seen this done and would like additional info on both procedures. I will probably attempt this if the wheel again develops some play and will document with pictures and results.

Last option is obviously best and that's spindle replacement at $200+ plus just for the spindle (probably a good idea to do both wheel bearings at the same time). Ultimately this is probably what I will do but not until I rebuild the knuckles. Besides, I really want to see if I can first make what I have work, just because...

Here's some of what I've been reading-
https://forum.ih8mud.com/100-series-cruisers/464195-normal-front-spindle-wear.html
https://forum.ih8mud.com/80-series-tech/409818-front-spindle-damage.html
 
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I just adjusted mine this past weekend. I ended up with 100in/lbs on the drivers side to get the proper "feel". I couldn't find a fish scale in town, so I set them by feel. I put the wheel on, torqued the preload nut to 43lb/ft. Spun it back and forth, then re-torqued again to 43lb/ft. Then backed off till hand tight. Tightened to 48in/lbs and tested for play. Still had too much play. Went up to 100in/lbs and checked it again. Perfect with no play and good drag. Setting wheel bearings isn't hard. Just don't be like the hack that worked on my truck before and use a chisel to whack the preload and lock nuts into place. Pick up the proper socket.
 
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The issue may be very well be that I didn't put enough preload on the inner nuts the first time which would me awesome as I've already corrected that. But it's odd that when I did the bearing repack (1000 miles ago) the passenger front outer bearing was toast, so it was replaced, only for this same bearing to get loose now ( after 1000 miles). Thus if it happens again I am suspecting the spindle. I know spindle replacement in not common, but perhaps this is an issue from lack of maintainance from the previous owner.
 
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Joined
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I just adjusted mine this past weekend. I ended up with 100in/lbs on the drivers side to get the proper "feel". I couldn't find a fish scale in town, so I set them by feel. I put the wheel on, torqued the preload nut to 43lb/ft. Spun it back and forth, then re-torqued again to 43lb/ft. Then backed off till hand tight. Tightened to 48in/lbs and tested for play. Still had too much play. Went up to 100in/lbs and checked it again. Perfect with no play and good drag. Setting wheel bearings isn't hard. Just don't be like the hack that worked on my truck before and use a chisel to whack the preload and lock nuts into place. Pick up the proper socket.

I do have the correct tools and yes, they are a must for the front wheel bearings.
48 in/lbs (or 4ft/lbs) is what the FSM calls for but it seems way too light to me, plus I got play in the passenger front within 1000 miles. This is why I went to 180 in/lbs (15 ft/lbs) this last time. They still spin very nicely so hopefully it doesn't loosen up again. Apparently people are going up to 20ft/lbs without issues.
 

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