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Old 04-04-2010, 05:47 PM   #1
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How to remove old wheel bearing grease?

it's time to repack the wheel bearings...

I've read three methods for cleaning the bearings before repacking them with fresh grease:

1. just wipe away the old grease with paper towel

2. use brake cleaner

3. use brake cleaner then wash with soap and water.

My question is -- what method do you use?
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Old 04-04-2010, 05:54 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by hiker View Post
it's time to repack the wheel bearings...

I've read three methods for cleaning the bearings before repacking them with fresh grease:

1. just wipe away the old grease with paper towel

2. use brake cleaner

3. use brake cleaner then wash with soap and water.

My question is -- what method do you use?

You must usea grease solvent.

Gasoline works grgeat.

Andy
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Old 04-04-2010, 05:56 PM   #3
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Mineral spirits works good. Or use any commercial parts cleaner solution followed by an alcohol rinse then air dry.
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Old 04-04-2010, 05:56 PM   #4
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Rinse the parts in cheap gasoline in a plastic coffee container (one for each wheel so as to not mix up the components) outside for ventilation.

Um... I don't think the enviromental or dermatologist people would approve so we'll call that a joke.

but it would work...
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Old 04-04-2010, 06:13 PM   #5
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don't use gasoline...

it is a highly effective solvent, but it is very dangerous, even the crappy fuel we get today. if you do not have a solvent tank, buy some cans of brake clean and use that-wipe the majority of the grease off first with the paper towels, then use the brake clean. do not spin the bearings when dry, regrease using the old palm of the hand trick or a bearing packer.
be safe, first
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Old 04-04-2010, 06:28 PM   #6
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thanks for the fast response... so far everyone uses a solvent to clean away the old grease, with one poster recommending an alcohol rinse.

Has anyone had good results just wiping away the old grease? If not, why?
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Old 04-04-2010, 06:36 PM   #7
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You are trying to clean ALL the old grease off. This would include the old grease in between the bearings. Just wiping them does not really clean them. You need some type of solvent to do it right.
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Old 04-04-2010, 06:45 PM   #8
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Why don't you wipe off as much as you can. Then clean them with solvent and see how much old grease and crud you missed?
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Old 04-04-2010, 06:47 PM   #9
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I use the brake solvent and a soft bristle brush. Then, blow out with an air compressor. Repack by hand.
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Old 04-04-2010, 06:51 PM   #10
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You are trying to clean ALL the old grease off. This would include the old grease in between the bearings. Just wiping them does not really clean them. You need some type of solvent to do it right.
The expert mechanic in a how-to video I watched just rolled the bearings on paper towel which removed most of the grease between the bearings. I understand that this technique cannot remove all the old grease, but it seems to remove most of it. Not unlike draining old oil during an oil change removes most but not all of the old oil.

Does even very small amounts of old wheel bearing grease contaminate the new grease?
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Old 04-04-2010, 07:31 PM   #11
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Wiping / rolling can't nearly get it all. And what is left may well have the most dirt/ abrasive in it. It also leaves grease thay may or may not be incompatible with the grease you're about to use to re-grease. Solvent is the only way to get it all out. Gasoline very dangerous due to flammability and toxicity concerns; mineral spirits / kerosene somewhat less so, but take longer to dry.

Experts recommend never using compressed air to blow / dry the solvent out of bearings, as this could cause spin at high speed and galling, etc. I do it anyway, making REAL sure to have rag / paper towel pressure on all parts so nothing can move. Then a littlefinal air dry in the sun while I take a break before repackng.
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Old 04-04-2010, 08:00 PM   #12
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Wash with solvent or gas and blow the bearing out to clean and dry it, you may have to wash again and dry if grease comes out when you blow out with air. One of the reasons to blowing it out is the air will blow out the dirt inside the bearing. Do not mix up the bearings, they go back in their original position, keep them with the hub they come out of. You can get away with just wiping the inside of the hub clean though. Dont buy a cheap grease when you repack your bearings, it could cost you dearly.
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Old 04-04-2010, 08:15 PM   #13
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repacking

When repacking the bearings, DO NOT dip them into your grease tub.. Use the old palm of the hand method so you don't contaminate the whole tub of grease.
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Old 04-04-2010, 08:38 PM   #14
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one other part of repacking the bearings is to inspect the bearing rollers and race. if you leave old grease, you can't inspect the bearing properly.
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