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Smokin 79 wheel bearing ?

4739 Views 19 Replies 4 Participants Last post by  PowerWagonPete
So I have this bone stock, low miles, total survivor 79 RC that I picked up a few months back. Did the total lube job thing per the FSM including front axle u-joints and wheel bearings right after I picked it up. Today I pulled in the driveway and the right front corner is smokin like its on fire. Yanked the wheel and the brake disk is a lot hotter than it should be but the brake caliper isn't dragging. The only sign of frying fluids that I can see is around the wheel studs.

Does is seem reasonable / likely / typical that the outer wheel bearing seal went poof and the grease got flung through the access hole in the rotor hub? There doesn't seem to be any fluids drippin or burning off the inside of the rotor or steering knuckle area.

Is the outer seal between the outer  bearing cup and the rotor hub or is it between the bearing retainer and the knuckle or is it somewhere else? btw, have been reading the FSM, how to 35 and the forum archives but still a bit confused.
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RWG75 said:
Is there a good / affordable tool for yankin the outer bearing / seal off the hub ?? Tried with a generic 2 jaw gear puller but didn't get real far. Same question for putting the bearing back on.

The FSM says put outer seal / bearing / retainer on hub then bold retainer to knuckle. Seems more logical to me to put bearing in retainer, bolt retainer to knuckle, drive hub/rotor in - ya know, reverse the tear down procedure. What's the easy way here ?

How much hassle is gonna be gettin the hub back on the spindle and what tool am I gonna have to buy for that?
Yeah, a cutting torch. Be prepared for a grease fire!!! 8)

No special tools required, '75. Disregard the FSM and install the seals, bearings, and retainer back on the knuckle first. Then install the hub and rotor assembly. The hub should slide right back on the spindle through the bearing cones. If not, tap it on far enough for the spindle nut to grab the threads and use that to push the unit together.

Originally, the retainer cap used a thin rubber O-ring seal. Replace this with a bead of RTV. The retainer bolts are torqued to 30 ft-lbs. Ensure the cap is aligned properly for the grease fitting.

The spindle nut is torqued to at least 100 ft-lbs. Continue tightening if necessary until the slots in the nut line with the cotter pin hole in the axle end. DO NOT back this nut off!!!

Yeah, in this case, it's easier to put these back together than to take apart. LOL ;D
RWG75 said:
Having gotten no where with trying to pull the outer bearing off the rotor hub I took a trip to the local repair shop and did a bit of rummaging around in thier tool box. The professioanl bearing puller did a fine job of destroying the roller half and managed to yank one cone with a bit of encouragement from a flame. It took the cutting torch to get the other one apart. With any luck I'll have time this week to take the retainer apart and see how much fun the inner bearing is going to be.

I did notice in the FSM where it says to toss the o-ring and replace with silicon. It does apear that these seals were replaced at least once already as I can see the silicon between the retainer and the knuckle.
The inner bearing set and seal are easy, '75. Once you get the retainer cap off, just yank on the axle assembly using it like a slide hammer, and knock them out. ;)

BTW, the caliper bracket must be removed first.

When disassembling the unit under normal circumstances however, the hub, rotor, retainer cap and seal, and the outer bearing cone should come off the axle and out of the knuckle intact. The outer race, spacer, inner bearing set, and inner grease seal typically remain lodged in the knuckle. ;D
RWG75 said:
Kinda think it's gonna a pain to get the drivers side axle shaft back in the bearing.
No it won't. :)

BTW, this is always a good time to replace the both the axle u-joints and the ball joints. ;D
RWG75 said:
So I finally dragged my butt back down to the garage to put this mess back together today. Started by scraping another 5 lbs or so of grease, gunk and road dirt off the knuckle and that's always alot of fun. Cleaned up the axles, put grease on side gear ends and they slid right in. The outer seal turned around and used as an inner seal looks like it will work great and for those at home keeping track - a short piece of 3" O.D. exhaust pipe works great as a seal driver ($2 at autozone). Put the caliper bracket and dust sheild back on, pack the bearings, bolt on the retainer. All pretty straight forward, easier than ya think it will be and a lot greasier.

Tap it with what? A jack hammer??? I put a lot of grease on the inside of the hub, likely left the stub axle dry (schmuck) and greased the outside of the hub. Using a little 5 lb sledge I was only able to get the thing seated to the point where the end of the stub axle is just about flush with the front of the hub - at least an inch short of even seeing the threads. Tried the other side, got just as far (or not), quit for the day before cranking up the compressor and getting the air hammer out as that just doesn't sound like a good idea. Just how hard should I be hitting this frickin thing to get it home?
A precision fit for sure!!! LOL :)

I've always used a 3lb. hand sledge and the spindle nut socket as a driver. A breaker bar makes a nice handle for the driver.

Backing up the axle shaft with a pry bar or large screwdriver behind the u-joint yokes, so it protrudes as far outward as it can through the knuckle, helps.

Try to resist the temptation of the air hammer though '75, and ensure the whole truck doesn't move too far laterally on the jacks while you're pounding away. 8)

Once you get enough of the spindle exposed, use one of the old spindle nuts, with or without the associated washer, to push the unit together. The old spindle nuts should be replaced with new ones anyway.

Those hubs and rotors will go on, eventually. ;D
RWG75 said:
Finally got the whole thing put back together, took it for a short test drive, noticed maybe some small burning smells. No smoke clouds this time but the passenger side wheel cover was hot to the touch after only 10 miles or so. With the pin type calipers this a dead give away that the brakes are dragging and even though both fronts spin freely (jacked off ground) I decided to replace both calipers. Oddly I had some nearly new used pads handy.

Take another test drive and both fronts were noticeably cooler after same 10-15 miles. Does make me wonder if the brake rotor got hot enough to fail the old seal and/or liquify the old grease. Oh well, at least I have new seals, bearings, calipers, pads and if the axle u-joints stay together for a year it's all good.

Soooo '75, where's my case of beer? LOL ;)

You're a frickin' expert now, buddy!!! When the next guy comes along, you can let him know how it's done. {cool}
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