I left out a wheel bearing

Nic Soontiens /

yeah, i pulled all the bearings out of the hub, cleaned everything and repacked the grease, placed the ball bearings back in, but the wheels back on my batavus...later that night, as i was cleaning I FOUND A BEARING!!! no idea what side, no idea what wheel...i took the thing for the "maiden voyage" and everything...how much damage can happen if that bearing doesn't "go home"???


Re: I left out a wheel bearing

One missing ball out of 22 or 25 or so won't do any harm. 6 or 8 missing might damage the race or be outright dangerous.

For me, just knowing about the missing bearing would be the worst part.

Re: I left out a wheel bearing

I actually beg to differ from joe. I saw one bike that was incorrectly packed and after a couple hundred miles the rest of the bearings turned into dust. It also stripped the threads on the axle and made the wheel wobble like crazy.

However I don't know how many were missing, but after seeing that, I make sure all my bearings are there.


Re: I left out a wheel bearing

how about this..

A certain number of loose ball bearings can fit in the race. Each ball has a contact point which carries a load. BAlls are side-by-side, touching eachother. The more balls the better, no?

But loose ball bearings are a pain in tha ass to deal with so many times they use a retainer instead. These balls are not loose. And since the retainer takes up space between the balls, the balls are nowhere near touching each other.. By necessity, there are fewer balls. However, these types of retainer bearings are found virtually everywhere the loose balls could be used. Balls are spaced out and there are fewer load support points.

So, if the bearing races are lubed, all parts are smooth and properly adjusted, i don't see how missing one ball will make a difference in the real world.

I'm not trying to justify being lazy and so not reinstalling the found ball bearing.. i'm just logically examining the value of a single missing ball.

Re: I left out a wheel bearing

Yeah I see your point. I don't think missing one would be a huge problem (short term), but after seeing a axle destroyed and a wheel almost coming off, I don't mess around with bearings anymore.


Re: I left out a wheel bearing

i agree.. messing with them is a bad idea. The things rely on absolute precision to support enoumous point-loads.

Heres something else to think about.. Mixing used balls from different races. You take off the wheel and dump all the balls from both races into a tin can.. they all look the same?

All it takes is for a ball to be a couple millionths of an inch smaller in diameter than the rest and that ball will float without touching anything and may as well be missing..

If one ball is larger than the others it might be supporting 90% of the load (before it desintigrates a few moments later). Even different lots of brand new ball bearings should never be used in the same race..

Re: I left out a wheel bearing

Nic Soontiens /
nic OP

Well, at least i DID separate them and did one side/one wheel at a time.

and yes BK, i AM lazy! aren't we all!!

but thanks for the insight gents...i'll go put my bearing back in ... ;)


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