Cleaning, regreasing front wheel bearings. - Wrist Twisters
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post #1 of 14 Old 08-05-2017, 05:20 PM Thread Starter
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Cleaning, regreasing front wheel bearings.

I'm about to fit new front forks and I'll service the front end at this time.
I'm sure the wheel bearings are fine but I would like to clean out old grease, clean and regreasing. I'll do this without removing bearings just the dust seals on the wheel and the seal on the bearings.
I was wondering what to use to clean with, degreaser, kero or high flash brake cleaner. Maybe a good blow of compressed air. I'll have some new bearings on hand if the ones on the bike are knackered. Cheers.

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post #2 of 14 Old 08-06-2017, 10:25 AM
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interesting in hearing answers to this as well

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post #3 of 14 Old 08-06-2017, 11:14 AM
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I wouldn't take anything apart or spray anything into there. Just wipe it down as best as you can with some shop towels and then apply new grease. Doesn't need much. Did this for many years on my 919 and haven't had any failures despite the harsh conditions I rode in.

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post #4 of 14 Old 08-06-2017, 01:46 PM
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If you are not going to remove the bearings then the best you can do is add a small amout of bearing grease as Pvster suggests. Don't use any solvent or spray. You'll likely do more harm than good with that. If you bend or damage the seals then replace the bearings.
If you take the seals out and the grease inside the bearing is gritty ot it's dry then I'd also suggest you replace the bearings.
If bearings were expensive then it might make sense to remove them, ultra sonic clean, measure radial play, then regrease. But bearings are relatively cheap so it's not worth the effort.

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post #5 of 14 Old 08-06-2017, 06:33 PM Thread Starter
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Hey thanks for the input. I'm going to ignore your advice and clean my bearings. I can't help tinkering. When I replaced rear bearings(right was shot) I opened the left bearing. Only a very little thick dark "stuff" left. Bike is 15 yrs old, low km's but sat in some dude shed for most of that. So I'm sure bearings aren't worn but I'll bet the grease is nasty. I'll leave the bearings in the hub, pop the outer seals and have a look. If clean maybe a wipe and some lithium bearing grease added and seals back on. If dirty I'll clean with degreaser and toothbrush. Wash out with water, dry with compressed air. Give the bearings a good dose of light machine oil, blow out oil with compressed air. Regrease with lithium grease and put seals back in. If it doesn't work out I've got new bearings to put in. No worries.

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post #6 of 14 Old 08-06-2017, 07:28 PM
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you're way over thinking this. The process I described hasn't led to bearing failure yet, which is in excess of 48k miles on original bearings. Plus I rode in the rain daily to boot.

You're putting in a lot more work than really necessary. More so since you have replacement bearings on the shelf.

Plenty of other things you should be tinkering with instead. Like the bubbles in your gauges for example. Or cleaning out the carbon in your exhaust...
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post #7 of 14 Old 08-06-2017, 07:45 PM Thread Starter
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It's winter. Work's slow. I'm bored. I'm still going to have a peep under those seals. I'd love to get rid of those bubbles.

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post #8 of 14 Old 08-06-2017, 10:52 PM
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NEVER
EVER
use water
allow a dry bearing to spin from compressed air
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post #9 of 14 Old 08-06-2017, 11:55 PM Thread Starter
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If I clean I wasn't intending to spin the dry bearings with compressed air just blow the water out. I read to use degreaser and water not a solvent to remove old grease. So just wipe out old grease and put new in? What's the reason to never use water? Thanks.

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post #10 of 14 Old 08-07-2017, 09:44 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Islandboy View Post
If I clean I wasn't intending to spin the dry bearings with compressed air just blow the water out. I read to use degreaser and water not a solvent to remove old grease. So just wipe out old grease and put new in? What's the reason to never use water? Thanks.

Degreased bearings are way too easy to spin up with compressed air, intended or otherwise - hence the warning.

As for the water, in the case of a hydrocarbon lube in a many nooks and crannies application, it's bad news re both Solvency and Hiding.
The water hides incredibly well in the weeniest of places.
The water is not miscible in the grease later put in, so creates a localized emulsion wherever that wee water droplet is.
That emulsion has extremely poor lubricating effect.
And that emulsified grease can migrate to other areas and ruin the grease elsewhere.
Water also precludes the immediate use of an antirust oil application to serve an anti rust agent until the fresh grease is applied - this being a high humidity area concern in particular.

So, clean out with kero or similar, drain and blow as best you can, then follow with some very high flash solvent, then drain and blow that.

Frankly, attempting to clean bearings in place in a housing is begging for trouble - mostly by the cleaner that will leak/weep/creep into other spots and be at the ready to contaminate and ruin the new grease that later gets put in.
If the bearings are OK, and are still in the housing, it is infinitely better to mechanically remove as much old grease as you can, then do a few cycles of compatible new grease in/out/in to help get as much old grease out as possible, then do the final greasing.

It's winter for you, and I can tell you want to really clean those bearings.
Remove them, and go at them that way.
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post #11 of 14 Old 08-07-2017, 04:38 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks Mcromo. Got it. If I clean, kero then carefully blow out, high flash solvent wash then regrease. Avoid water and stupid air blowing. Preferably I should wipe out old grease and add new grease.
I would prefer to remove bearings to clean but thought I would wreck em getting out. Your not tricking me into wrecking em so I gotta use new ones?
Yeah it's winter, can't ride much and I'm bored. I painted tire hugger bolts the other day. I got it bad.

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post #12 of 14 Old 08-07-2017, 05:56 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Islandboy View Post
Thanks Mcromo. Got it. If I clean, kero then carefully blow out, high flash solvent wash then regrease. Avoid water and stupid air blowing. Preferably I should wipe out old grease and add new grease.
I would prefer to remove bearings to clean but thought I would wreck em getting out. Your not tricking me into wrecking em so I gotta use new ones?
Yeah it's winter, can't ride much and I'm bored. I painted tire hugger bolts the other day. I got it bad.
No way would I ever stoop so low as to attempt to trick you or anybody that way.
If you remove on the basis of inner race pressing or driving, you have just trashed the bearings - whether it's apparent or not.
Seeing as they are an OD fit into the housing, that is.
Warming the body around the bearing might trigger a drop out or allow a fairly easy light push from the other side.

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post #13 of 14 Old 08-07-2017, 06:27 PM Thread Starter
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No worries Mcromo. I don't think my bearings are going to pop out any time soon. 15 yr old bike. Sat neglected most of that time. I think I'll just have a look, maybe wipe and regrease. If they are too nasty I'll knock em out and replace with new. The new with seals was $20. Seems like to much hassle cleaning.

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post #14 of 14 Old 08-19-2017, 04:32 PM Thread Starter
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Pvster, Mark 919 and Mcromo44 you were 100% correct. My bearings were clean and only needed a little grease added. Would have been easier and inexpensive just to replace if dirty. Also thanks for your patience, I'm a knucklehead.

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