Lotus Elan

Doing front wheel bearings at home in an Elan

PostPost by: MrBonus » Wed Oct 21, 2020 4:50 pm

I've never done wheel bearings on any car before. Everything I've learned about working on my Elan (and all cars frankly) has come from Google or the workshop manual and Brian Buckland's lovely addendum.

Is this something I can tackle at home with some multi-purpose grease and hand tools?

Given their relative importance to keeping my wheels on, I'm nervous, but wanted some encouragement and tips. Buckland's book made me feel a bit overwhelmed by it.

My mechanic is backed up and can't get to it for another month and I'm running out of driving season!
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PostPost by: nmauduit » Wed Oct 21, 2020 6:51 pm

I suppose you are positive they need changing and not just re setting...

There is nothing fancy about this job, just take your time in removing the races (tapping through the hub from the other side, a little at a time and from all positions so as not to jam it twisted), also make sure you are tapping on the race and not on some protruding casting, esp. at the beginningwhen they are seated.
Then when tightening the bearings, there is a bit of a feeling to get, you may want to double check that after a few miles if in doubt (one can find descriptions of the procedure on the net, it involves tightening, turning the wheel, undoing, tightening again,undoing... then getting the bearing not so pressed that they drag).

go for it ! one side at a time.
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PostPost by: Craven » Wed Oct 21, 2020 7:18 pm

Very straightforward Job, the more difficult part is the removal of the inner races from the hub.
You need to makeup, one long one short drift supports, cut to the exact length that bridge across the race. I used a length of ½ inch square bar,
After you have cleaned all the old grease from the inside you will see, looking down inside two cut outs in the race support, this is where your perfectly fashioned drift support bridges the race allowing the inner race to be pressed or drifted out.
Like any fitting of bearings, ensure you start the bearing absolutely square into the hole, things can go horribly wrong if you don’t.
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PostPost by: draenog » Wed Oct 21, 2020 7:54 pm

I did this on my +2 earlier this year. Had to remove the hubs to replace the brake discs so decided to do the bearings and repack the hubs with grease at the same time. The bearings were showing signs of wear/discolouration - not surprising as they were made by British Timken, i.e. pretty old, maybe even the originals.

As nmauduit says, the thing that takes the time is knocking out the old races. I would suggest getting a proper drift to do this. You can use an old screw driver which I did on the first hub, but it's easy to mark the inside.

You will also find a lot of the bearings for sale are no-name rubbish. FTR, in the bearing kits I got from SJ Sportscars, one was made by NTN (Japan) and the other SKF (India). The kit also contains the seal which fits between the upright and hub. This was made in India and wasn't very good, the metal part that the felt fits into being made of much thinner metal and a different shape. I was going to use the felt with the original ones but ended up finding some NOS Payen seals on ebay.

There is also some debate about how to repack the hub. I ended up filling it with grease level with an imaginary line between the two bearing cups. Obviously you also need to pack the new bearings with grease (videos on youtube show how to do this).
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PostPost by: elans3 » Wed Oct 21, 2020 8:54 pm

If you're just going to use a drift, make one from a piece of brass rod. I've had mine 40-odd years and it's got a little shorter as I've trimmed the bruises from the ends, but it must have changed 60 - 70 wheel bearings in that time. It's just a piece of brass bar, started off being about a foot long, and 7/16" or 3/8" diameter, needs to be that diameter so's not to bend.
Being brass it doesn't mark the inside bore of the hub, where the bearings sit.
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PostPost by: rgh0 » Thu Oct 22, 2020 3:17 am

In addition to whats been said I would also buy the bearings from an industrial bearing supplier and ensure I got a recognised name brand component from a quality American, European or Japanese bearing maker. Many of these now have special sealed package markings to help deter and detect counterfeit copies.

Dave Bean sells Nilos seals which are a metal to metal seal with less drag and work better than the felt seal. They seal both the outside and inside bearing and the outside one fits under the hub end float adjusting nut. A useful modification - Lotus used to use them on the old F1 cars of the 60's that also used Triumph style uprights so you can say you have some F1 tech on your car !

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PostPost by: Craven » Thu Oct 22, 2020 11:45 am

Craven wrote:Very straightforward Job, the more difficult part is the removal of the inner races from the hub.
You need to makeup, one long one short drift supports, cut to the exact length that bridge across the race. I used a length of ½ inch square bar,
After you have cleaned all the old grease from the inside you will see, looking down inside two cut outs in the race support, this is where your perfectly fashioned drift support bridges the race allowing the inner race to be pressed or drifted out.
Like any fitting of bearings, ensure you start the bearing absolutely square into the hole, things can go horribly wrong if you don’t.

Just to add, this is how I used the designed method of bearing inner race way removal, same using a second shorter bar for the outer smaller bearing.
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PostPost by: Bombay Racing Green » Thu Oct 22, 2020 12:22 pm

Quite straightforward. This might help:

https://youtu.be/HnidVlAaKCw
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PostPost by: MrBonus » Thu Oct 22, 2020 1:32 pm

nmauduit wrote:I suppose you are positive they need changing and not just re setting...

There is nothing fancy about this job, just take your time in removing the races (tapping through the hub from the other side, a little at a time and from all positions so as not to jam it twisted), also make sure you are tapping on the race and not on some protruding casting, esp. at the beginningwhen they are seated.
Then when tightening the bearings, there is a bit of a feeling to get, you may want to double check that after a few miles if in doubt (one can find descriptions of the procedure on the net, it involves tightening, turning the wheel, undoing, tightening again,undoing... then getting the bearing not so pressed that they drag).

go for it ! one side at a time.


I'm not certain they need changing but I notice on tight right turns, there is a noticeable whirring sound. The right side bearing is definitely not tight as there is noticeable play, even after driving. There is no noise during normal operation or non-tight turns, even at speed.

Craven wrote:Very straightforward Job, the more difficult part is the removal of the inner races from the hub.
You need to makeup, one long one short drift supports, cut to the exact length that bridge across the race. I used a length of ½ inch square bar,
After you have cleaned all the old grease from the inside you will see, looking down inside two cut outs in the race support, this is where your perfectly fashioned drift support bridges the race allowing the inner race to be pressed or drifted out.
Like any fitting of bearings, ensure you start the bearing absolutely square into the hole, things can go horribly wrong if you don’t.


Thanks! Is there any reason I can't order one of those bearing removal tools off of Amazon to achieve this?

rgh0 wrote:In addition to whats been said I would also buy the bearings from an industrial bearing supplier and ensure I got a recognised name brand component from a quality American, European or Japanese bearing maker. Many of these now have special sealed package markings to help deter and detect counterfeit copies.

Dave Bean sells Nilos seals which are a metal to metal seal with less drag and work better than the felt seal. They seal both the outside and inside bearing and the outside one fits under the hub end float adjusting nut. A useful modification - Lotus used to use them on the old F1 cars of the 60's that also used Triumph style uprights so you can say you have some F1 tech on your car !

cheers
Rohan


Thanks, Rohan! I already purchased the Lucas units from RDent. My car was converted to the 4-bolt hub during its mid '90s restoration per invoices I have from Dave Bean.

Bombay Racing Green wrote:Quite straightforward. This might help:

https://youtu.be/HnidVlAaKCw


Fantastic, I will watch this later.

Thank you all for your help and encouragement.
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PostPost by: MrBonus » Thu Oct 22, 2020 2:04 pm

Okay, I just watched the video and the process makes more sense to me now. That video was extremely helpful, and now understand Buckland's description of the dangers of damaging the bearing while installing it. I think I may give it a go, but I want to order the right tools to remove/replace the races and bearings first.
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PostPost by: denicholls2 » Thu Oct 22, 2020 7:06 pm

Based on what you say you have, I would repack and not replace, but that is your call, Either way, DO NOT use multi-purpose grease which will vaporize at disc brake temperatures. Any parts store has high-temperature grease, the better ones are white lithium-based.

Derek at Vice Grip Garage has a YouTube video on packing (one of his Chevelle's). You need to do this with new or old bearings, but be sure to get them cleaned out of what's in 'em first if they're not new. I also like his technique of filling the dust cup with grease on assembly so that there's some to melt and flow into the bearings when the temperatures get up.

Other than that, I don't recommend filling the cavities with a lot of grease as it is an excellent insulator to retain heat. Packing the bearings and smearing the races is plenty.

Also, when replacing, unless the races are scored or blue (indicating they've been overheated), they're usually fine for re-use as long as the bearing/race profile is the same on new as old (which it should be). This can save you a lot of complication with getting old ones out and new ones in. If you do bang on the races, consider them toast.

Final notes: A socket of the right size is good for tapping new races home with even pressure. Tap gently in a circle. And always use a new cotter pin unless for some reason this is a side-of-the road emergency. If one of the pin's feet breaks off, it makes a poor roller bearing.

Practicing on a Chevelle might also be a good idea unless it's an LS6. :)
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PostPost by: MrBonus » Thu Oct 22, 2020 11:37 pm

Hah, good to know. The Lucas bearings I purchased came with grease so I won't use the same stuff I used on the trunnions.

Since I already purchased the bearings, I figure I might as well just replace them at this point.

I'll check out the video!

denicholls2 wrote:Based on what you say you have, I would repack and not replace, but that is your call, Either way, DO NOT use multi-purpose grease which will vaporize at disc brake temperatures. Any parts store has high-temperature grease, the better ones are white lithium-based.

Derek at Vice Grip Garage has a YouTube video on packing (one of his Chevelle's). You need to do this with new or old bearings, but be sure to get them cleaned out of what's in 'em first if they're not new. I also like his technique of filling the dust cup with grease on assembly so that there's some to melt and flow into the bearings when the temperatures get up.

Other than that, I don't recommend filling the cavities with a lot of grease as it is an excellent insulator to retain heat. Packing the bearings and smearing the races is plenty.

Also, when replacing, unless the races are scored or blue (indicating they've been overheated), they're usually fine for re-use as long as the bearing/race profile is the same on new as old (which it should be). This can save you a lot of complication with getting old ones out and new ones in. If you do bang on the races, consider them toast.

Final notes: A socket of the right size is good for tapping new races home with even pressure. Tap gently in a circle. And always use a new cotter pin unless for some reason this is a side-of-the road emergency. If one of the pin's feet breaks off, it makes a poor roller bearing.

Practicing on a Chevelle might also be a good idea unless it's an LS6. :)
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