How To Keep Wheel Bearings Turning

A few months ago, Grainewsasked the instructors at Assiniboine Community College at Brandon, Man., for some tips on what tools to include in a farm workshop. A little surprisingly, one of their recommendations was to include a computer with Internet access. The reason? The web is a great source of how-to information for mechanical projects.

We decided to put that suggestion to the test and use a virtual instructor as a guide to repacking wheel bearings on an old manure spreader. As the instructors predicted, the Internet turned out to be a great tutor. Following instructions gleaned from the web, here’s the procedure.


Begin disassembly by removing the dust cap. There is a special tool designed just for the job. If you don’t have one, it’s almost as easy to use a screwdriver to pry it off the hub. Just be careful not to damage the cap. In many cases, the rim and tire can stay on.


Remove the pin holding the castellated nut in place and screw it off the shaft. Now the hub can be pulled off the axle. Be ready to grab the outer bearing as you remove the hub; it will drop out. Once the hub is off, the rear seal will have to be removed to take out the inner bearing.


Clean all the grease off the parts to get a good look at them and check for wear. If the bearings need to be replaced, the races will have to be removed, too. Bearings and races should be replaced as a set. Removing races is best done with a press, but a hammer and brass drift will work.

If the bearings are to be reused, wipe off the old grease. You can clean them in a parts washer with solvent, but it likely won’t be necessary. Once that is done, repack the bearings with new grease. There is a tool for doing this job, too. However if you don’t want to invest in one, putting a glob of grease in the palm of your hand and pressing the bearings into it will work just as well. Press the edge of the bearing into the grease until you see it ooze out the top. Do that all the way around until the bearing is fully packed.

Coat the axle shaft with grease and pump a liberal amount into the hub.

Place the inner bearing and seal back into the hub and slide the assembly back onto the axle shaft. A little grease on the lip of the seal will help prevent damage as it slides on. Then, insert the outer bearing and retaining washer.


To seat the bearings, use a wrench to gently tighten the nut as you spin the hub. Don’t get carried away and apply too much torque — a little goes a long way on this job. Then, back the nut off. Repeat this procedure a couple of times to ensure the bearings are completely seated. Finally, tighten the nut only enough to keep the hub stable on the axle. If you can wiggle the hub, it’s too loose.


Use a new pin to lock the retaining nut in place. Put a little bit of grease into the dust cap before gently tapping it back on. Voila! job done.

We found everything we needed to guide us through this job by searching “replace wheel bearings” on Google. It was even possible to watch a video of a mechanic doing the job on YouTube. Have you used the internet to help with mechanical projects? If so, let us know how it turned out. Email [email protected]


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About the author


Scott Garvey

Scott Garvey is a freelance writer and video producer. He is also the former machinery editor at Grainews.



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