Rear Wheel Bearing Replacement (in progress)

Discussion in 'How To' started by mikedjames, Jun 20, 2016.

  1. This is going to be a howto based on replacement of rear wheel bearings out side of garage facilities , even in a muddy field at Victoria Farm at Techenders.

    Replacing rear wheel bearings

    Although John Muirs book describes the process in some detail there are several points where the description is not totally clear.

    This is based on when I changed the bearings on my bus and then went to Techenders and helped @daisey1973 change his, by standing beside his bus and giving advice (I had hurt my back the week before when I bounced off a bump in the road in Bouncy Bus).

    I am going to edit in photographs taken at Techenders : currently what I have here are some diagrams drawn in Libre Office.

    The required parts:

    Rear bearing kit comprising two bearings, one of which is a generic ball bearing and the other is a special roller bearing. There should also be an identical pair of oil seals and if you are lucky you will also get a new circlip.

    There seem to be two types of bearing kit that are around – one is an Elring kit as sold by VWH and the other is a Vetech lucky dip kit sold by VeeWee. I started with an Elring but ended up with VeeWee after making a big mistake. Some may say the VeeWee kit does not fit. But anything can be made to fit with a bigger hammer.. More later.

    New split pin for rear hub nut.

    Spare bolts for CV joints if they have not been replaced recently.

    Required tools.

    Socket set for general nuts and bolts.
    Screwdriver for brake adjuster stars

    Driver for whatever you have holding the outboard CV joint on – a 12 point or a Torx or a hex drive bolt. Also tools to grab heads of chewed socket head bolts, and/or a way of drilling/cutting seriously damaged bolts.

    Jack for bus.
    46mm socket and breaker bar and extension for hub nut
    Axle Stands for bus. Hard standing or thick ply wood or > 13mm MDF (two thicknesses needed in field)
    1kg Club hammer.
    Drift tool – softish metal bar 10-13mm diameter (we used a very damaged screwdriver) or large diameter flathead punch (probably too hard and vicious)
    Tough circlip pliers that are intended for internal circlip removal – the one holding the inner bearing on is tough.
    Pry bar with a curved end – makes it easier to pull the oil seal on the inboard side as there is not much room for a straight tool as it goes into a recessed area.
    Head torch or similar to see with under the bus.


    Drink a lot the night before then there will be less fear of the moment when you end up with the bus in a field at Eddy's Farm with @paradox standing there saying that you should never do it like that, with the rear hubs in pieces and no way to get a wrecked new bearing back in.

    There are certain points of no return unless you are careful and hit the right bit just so. Basically it is easy to trash the old roller bearing so you cannot reuse it if you mess up the new one.

    The first real step is to undo the hub nut. Depending on the design of your wheels: if they are alloys the amount of metal around the centre of the wheel makes a differfence, on mine they cover the sides of the big nut.
    If the wheel is thick you you may have to follow an annoying sequence.
    If you can get the big split pin out of the end of the axle stub and remove the split pin then you do not need to take the wheel off to get to the split pin. If you are an animal, you can just undo the nut and the split pin will give way like cheese, which is apparently their fate if you do not torque up the big nut sufficiently.

    Otherwise put the handbrake on, remove the wheel, remove the pin. Replace the wheel as you need it for something to push against as you undo the big nut.
    Put the wheel back on the ground with the weight of the bus on it. If your handbrake is good and the big nut is only on at the correct torque you may just be able to undo the nut with the breaker bar and an extension without too much extra messing especially after using Plus-Gas or similar to free the thread.
    If the nut is stupidly tight then you can use the axle stand as a big chock to work against as in the picture here of @daisey1973. If you are strong then levering up on the extension bar will work if you also use the axle stand as a big chock. In my case at home I found it would just lift the wheel off the ground and it would start to skid.
    Eventually the nut will come undone. Otherwise put everything back and drive off to a truck tyre place and ask them to take the nut off and put it back at the correct 250 ft lb. Or you can hacksaw the nut off carefully or use John Muirs cold chisel and a big hammer to drive it round. Then get another nut.

    Jack up the rear of the bus and put at least one axle stand under the rear suspension tube.
    Simon removed his shock absorber at this point so he had easier access to the hub area. I did not when I did mine and it did not really get in the way.

    Before you take the brake drum off, you need to remove the CV joint from the stub axle. This will require your tool of choice to drive the bolts round and then a pair of Mole grips if that fails.
    If working by yourself you can use your knee on the wheel as a brake to hold the CV joint in place, or you can use the handbrake to lock the axle to undo the bolts – why you dont take the brake drum off yet..

    Remove all six bolts. Place CV joint in a bag as it is coated in moly grease and and try to wiggle it out of the way. Tie it up.

    Ok now you have the nut and the CV joint off now you can take off the wheel, if you have not already, release the handbrake and take off the brake drum. This may be difficult without releasing the brake adjusters.
    If you have a knackered (bent when using as a lever ..) long screwdriver you can reach the back of the drum through the brake adjuster holes and bang at it from behind,

    The brake drum should be held on by a pair of 7mm diameter by 12 mm long bolts. The hub assembly is balanced by VW who assume these bolts are fitted as there is a notch opposite the two bolts.

    If the drum comes off complete with the hub then dont worry as the two are much easier to separate once you have them away from the bus.

    At this point you either have a brake drum or a hub and drum rusted together in one hand and a bus in the other.

    If the hub is still attached to the axle then you can put the big nut back on it or put a drift in the dimple in the centre of the axle and tap it in towards the centre. The hub should pull off easily if there is grease around. Otherwise you may need a three leg puller.

    If you are generally a bit messy, it can be a good idea at this moment to cover over the brake shoes with a plastic bag with a hole in the middle for the axle stub and the bearings. Tape it on . Otherwise random greasy paws will mess up your brake shoes.

    Take the axle out completely and clean it up.

    Cross Section of wheel axle stub and bearing with the gearbox on the left.

    Last edited: Mar 7, 2017
  2. Now for the fun part .


    The bearing on the inside is held on with a circlip and probably a ring of corrosion inside the casting.
    Lever out the oil seal – the small pry bar works here.

    Seals out
    Find the circlip holes in all the grease, grab with the circlip pliers and remove. This can be frustrating as it is a big circlip.


    Now you can tap the inner bearing out by tapping on the centre of the bearing.
    You may need to clear a ring of corrosion from around the inside of the hub carrier inboard of the seal which will stop the bearing sliding out easily. A quick sand down or a scrape will help.
    The centre spacer can be pushed up or down to get at the bearing and push it out.


    Then pull out all of the grease that you can as it keeps things simpler.

    Now if you are truly blessed and you have a 46mm impact socket this may fit inside the hub carrier and allow you to remove the outer bearing by tapping it out from inside.

    This also allows you to recycle it if you find you cannot get the GSF bearing back in, as you are less likely to ping the rollers out and knacker the old bearing when you miss the rim of the bearing if you use the socket or some other bearing shifting tool.
    You can use an extension bar on the socket to give yourself more room. But bear in mind that you dont want to do this with a ‘nice’ extension bar as the metal burrs out as you hit it with a hammer and you may find things get jammed on it in future.

    Otherwise, use a big manky screwdriver or a bar to tap round the outer of the bearing. Noting that it sits on a step in the hub carrier and so you can waste a lot of time hitting that instead of the bearing.


    Once the outer bearing is out. Clean up thoroughly in the hub carrier.

    Change your gloves and really pack the outer bearing with grease. It needs a fair bit of work as the cage holding the rollers stops you from getting the grease into the outer part of the race.

    This is what happens when you fail to pack the outer bearing with grease. The inner plating has cracked off and damaged everything. The metal has softened and the outer shell is cracked. The shell is actually 0.5mm wider where it has started to fail.

    The next bit is intended for when you are in a field or do not have the hub carrier in a vice or in a hydraulic press.

    Regrease the inner bearing. This is easier as it is open on both sides.
    Tap the inner bearing in place and then put in the circlip – either a new one or the cleaned up old one. Bear in mind that the ‘sharp’ cut part of the circlip should go on towards the gearbox side so that it has less risk of riding out of the groove in use.

    Now pack inside the hub carrier with enough grease to make the spacer float on it. Put the inter-bearing spacer tube in and then push the stub axle through from inside to help centre the spacer.
    Then slide the outer bearing onto the stub axle, keeping the centre part of the race inside the bearing as it is free to slide from side to side.

    Make sure that if the inner bearing has a rounded shoulder on one side this is pushed against the hub carrier.

    Now take a 46mm socket , either the impact socket or a normal socket or similar and push the stub axle through against the socket when it is resting on the outer part of the outer race. At this point the inner part of the outer bearing will be guided by the stub axle.


    Now you can tap the bearing in. If it is a VWH/Meyle bearing it will go in quite easily and should and must go in square. Tap it in until the outer race is flush with the step on the hub carrier.

    If you find you have pushed the outer bearing in too far : If you have that nice thin socket, you can take out the inner bearing and circlip and push the outer bearing back the other way.

    If you are using GSF the outer bearing shell is symmetrical and is hard to get started in the hub carrier. I do not know if it really helped, but mine went in after a night in a deep freezer and a full arm swing with a 1kg club hammer and a lot of desperation.

    It still has to go in evenly – I think it is possible to distort and damage the bearing if it goes in too unevenly. KEEP CHECKING.

    At this point the inner part of the outer race will protrude a little resting on the spacer which rests on the inner bearing. When you torque up the big nut this stack holds the pressure, and the big circlip stops the stub axle moving sideways.

    Now you can carefully tap in the seals , the outer one goes in flush, the inner one goes in until it touches the circlip.

    Reassemble hub and brakes, remembering that now is a good time to make sure the adjuster stars are clean and their threads coated with copper grease.

    File or Dremel the lip off the brake drum as you go to save yourself trouble putting it on and taking it off in future.

    I had to recycle my carefully stashed away 48000 mile OG drum one side. This was because a new drum I bought in 2010 had become too warped after 48000 more miles to allow me to adjust the brakes properly any more.

    Last edited: May 2, 2019
  3. Many Thanks for the above Mike, very useful as I have just tackled this part of my Resto of Lottie. I did find that I could just get a punch to the outer shell of the inner ball bearing so it is possible to remove them without damaging blows to the inner race. I also used some bearing bond on the replacements which meant it would be better to apply grease after the bearings were fitted to the hubs see:
  4. How are the rear wheel bearing tolerance's these days,we had the devils own trouble to find a set that didn't rattle around when my resto. was carried out in 2013.
    paradox likes this.
  5. As I bought bearing kits, I did not focus on preserving the bearings that were already in place - but quite possibly my inner bearings only became crunchy after I drove them out - but it took much less force to move them once I had cleared the rust out of the way .

    I would be wary of trying to grease the bearings after installation as some designs have a cage on the rollers which makes it difficult to get the grease in to pack the bearings . It took a lot of work to make sure it went in.

    I lost the first roller bearing from VWH about 40 miles after installation because I did not thoroughly pack the roller bearing with grease. The bearing shell started to flow and crack. The next two sets from GSF have now run for about 10000 miles.

    And the bearings in my hub carriers were so tight fitting that I did not consider I needed to lock them in place with any other adhesives.
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2017
    Poptop2 and grandmst like this.
  6. I found that both the VWH and the GSF bearing sets felt loose when I tried the roller bearing inner sleeve before assembly, but they tightened up noticeably when installed as the shell was compressed. The play on both types was aceptable - but as I failed to grease the VWH bearings properly they did not last much more than a couple of days commuting to work.
  7. Thanks so much for the walkthrough. I followed your instructions to the letter with a set of ”ina” bearings, I also let them sit outside overnight (-20 degrees in Canada right now). I took some pictures during the process in case they might help someone else further down the road.

    Attached Files:

  8. Nice work boys 10/10
    JamesLey likes this.
  9. The INA bearings I fitted failed the MOT with too much play ..... genuine FAG bearings were found and passed no problem .....
    Moons likes this.
  10. what grease to pack the bearings is best?
  11. I used standard GSF lithium grease, brown stuff.
    pgtips likes this.
  12. Mikedjames do you have a copy of your diagrams please, looks like is offline, and unable to serve the photos.
  13. I am trying to get it back online.
    grandmst likes this.
  14. Cheers bud .

    Great thread, it's really helped me today.

    Sent from my Pixel 3 XL using Tapatalk
    art b likes this.

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