Is it possible to grease front bearings without dissassembling everything?

Brakes, Suspension, Rims and Tires

  1. CBODY67

    CBODY67 Old Man with a Hat

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    Well . . . I guess our (my family's) experiences and y'alls are very different. I never saw a rear wheel bearing being lubed at the local dealership. Also, we've never had that done to any of our C-body cars, all of which have over 150K on them. The '66 had a noisy bearing when it had about 45K on it, so it was replaced, but no mention of it needing greasing. Never saw it happen in any private shops either. Our cars saw "normal" use. IF I'd seen that being done, back then, I would have been asking questions -- period.

    I looked in the '66 and '70 C-body manuals and noted that it said, upon installation, to grease the bearings with NLGI #2 (chassis grease) upon installation. Neither maintenance schedule listed anything other than rear axle fluid changes or level checks. With non-HD use, just a check every so often. With HD use, change intervals were about 24K, but no mention of re-lubing the rear axle bearings.

    I saw both seals, one at the outer flange metal stamping and the one farther in on the axle shaft. It appeared that the inner seal's diameter would allow axle lube past it as it was smaller in diameter than the outer diameter of the bearing assy.

    So, the way I read the manual, the chassis grease in the bearing is more like "assembly lube" and the axle grease then, with time and lateral body motion, washes it out and replaces it for the long term.

    So, I guess I need to do some more research on this subject?

    Respectfully,
    CBODY67
     
  2. Davea Lux

    Davea Lux Old Man with a Hat FCBO Gold Member

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    The outer seal is an exclusion seal that is designed primarily to keep brake dust, road splash and microscopic bits of wear metal from the brake drum from getting into the wheel bearing. The outer seal will not keep oil that gets past the inner seal from leaking out, that is why when the inner seal fails there is always oil on the brake drum and lining. A properly functioning inner seal does not allow the gear oil to wash away the grease. At the Chrysler dealership, we had a large number of high mileage fleet cars and police cruisers and we used the protocol I described above with customer consent. I have pulled rear axles that were so dry that the the bearings had started to rust from the lack of lubricant because the inner seal was intact. The inner seal has a smaller diameter that the machined part of the axle shaft to create a tight seal.

    Dave


    Dave
     
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  3. Jon O.

    Jon O. Well-Known Member

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    Just got done doing this. Thanks Dave. I tried to force the grease into the back of the hub. The old black grease has lost its viscosity and is really thin. It has been lubed before, both dust caps have been manhandled in the past.
    The preload was also a tad loose.
     
  4. fury fan

    fury fan Senior Member

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    Another way to know that the inner seal (the one that pushes into the axle housing) seals to the shaft is that you will see a wear mark on the axle shaft of high-mileage parts. A 'fix' for that os to measure and install the new seal in a slightly different location, to ride on virgin shaft.

    As C-body67 said, I'd agree that rear bearings weren't seeing regular service and were lasting for a long time. I wasn't alive back when these cars were in regular usage, but from pre- and early-internet discussions you'd rarely hear one of the older/experienced guys talk about bearing maintenance or replacement on rear bearings.

    From an engineering standpoint, the front bearings are smaller, but carry more weight of the car, have higher thrust loads (due to front of car turning, and also front being heavier) and probably more heat from the brakes. Rear bearings have side loads, too, but presumably would be less. Front bearings get grounded thru each other to the spindle, while the rear bearings might possibly do some grounding thru the diff spacer pins to the other axle?
     
  5. fury fan

    fury fan Senior Member

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    Preload might've been loose due to the thin lube, incorrect lube, and/or incorrect assembly.
    Getting some new grease in there will likely get you home.

    A bad bearing will likely not cause an occasional noise when turning, I would be more suspicious of a rusty buildup on a brake pad or something. but I'm no expert...
     
  6. Verse

    Verse Member

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    I’m sure the bearings in my 8.75 are oil lubed. I’ve replaced them once.
     
  7. Davea Lux

    Davea Lux Old Man with a Hat FCBO Gold Member

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    They were all tapered roller packed bearings from the factory. Some of the green bearings were a single shield type ball bearing that got rid of the inner oil seal. This was how GM and Ford configured most of the 3rd member rear ends. The ball bearing was open on the side toward the 3rd member. If you had these that you replaced, that is probably what you had, a non-stock bearing. Other possibility was that the inner oil seal had failed and soaked the tapered bearing with oil, this was common. Folks saw oil on the bearing and assumed that they were oiled by gear oil from the rear end.

    Dave
     
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  8. bluefury361

    bluefury361 Old Man with a Hat

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    Sure a lot of unnecessary drama added to the wheel bearing packing procedure here. (place jack stand first)

    Remove.....
    Wheel/tire assy. (loosen lugs before lifting. remember, left side may still have left thread lugs).
    Remove caliper, No special tools required to locate pads.
    Remove spindle nut and bearing.
    remove rotor
    remove grease seal with a drift and hammer.*
    remove inner bearing
    clean everything with solvent.
    inspect bearing rollers for any sign of distress.
    repack bearings with a quality bearing grease
    Replace the inner bearing and seal, (new is best).
    reassemble and repeat on the other side.
    About an hour or one and a half hours, depending on level of experience, total job.

    Hint. *
    You can remove the inner bearing and seal by installing the spindle nut before removing the rotor, then a sharp snap of the rotor will leave the bearing and seal on the spindle.
     
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  9. rkrochen

    rkrochen Well-Known Member

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    Grease will not migrate to the inner bearing. The bearing is packed with wheel bearing grease that has the proper viscosity to stay in the bearing and not thin out when warmed up. When the wheel is spinning centrifugal forces the grease outwards so if it is the wrong grease it will come out of the bearing.
    If you place grease in the center of the hub and somehow does work to the bearing it is too thin. Next time you drive it will be flung out.
    When greasing bearings only the bearings get greased and the center is left dry. If you take it apart later you will see the hub is still dry. Also grease filling the cavity will retain heat which isn’t a good thing.
     
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