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Spitfire & GT6 Forum

rear wheel bearings

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Ken S Ken Steinke
Battle Ground, WA, USA   USA
So, I have had this 77 spitfire for about 7 years. Running about 5 years and about 45,000 miles. I think I am on my 4th rear wheel bearing failure. Does anyone know of any up grades to the bearings, hubs or anything that would help in reducing the failure rate? This last failure was with a half axle that was supplied by a very reputable re-builder here in the NW, so I am reducing the notion that novice assembly was the issue. This axle was only about 2 years and maybe 15,000 miles. What bearing life are others experiencing?

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Tonyfixit Avatar
Tonyfixit Tony M
Duncan, BC, Canada   CAN
Wow! Sounds like bad luck. I have seen over 100k miles on the OE bearings. I have seen 30-40k miles on bearings I personally replaced. But they may well have lasted/continue to last longer.

I too would be intersested in a better, more servicable bearing replacment, one where the rollers do not act directly on the axel.

I belive Carter had some good ideas on this. drinking smiley

Catfish Phil Avatar
Catfish Phil Phillip Colwart
Hammond, LA, USA   USA
For sure, greasing them every 3,000 miles or sooner is an absolute requirement, Ken. Fried two axles (second assembly was straight off a parts car - rebuilt my rear end in 1993 with new axles/bearings and Mobil synthetic grease).

Have seen an arrangement on a GT6 with CV joints on new axles, not sure if these are still in production.

Getting a box of popcorn to eat while following this thread.

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IanF Ian Furqueron
Croydon, PA, USA   USA
Whew... hard to say. The miles between failures does sound too low. The passenger side bearing in my '79 is bad, but I'm not sure how old it is. I've put about 5K miles on the car since I bought it.

My plan is to install a set of CV axles along with a GT6 conversion. In theory, that "should" reduce the failures as the GT6 assembly is designed for a heavier car. Who knows...



"Lisle" - '72 GT6 basically stock and original. For now... T-9 conversion pending.
"Winnie the Poo" - '79 Spitfire 1500. Rubber to chrome bumper conversion, otherwise stock at the moment.

clshore Carter Shore
Beverly Hills, FL, USA   USA
In reply to # 1565236 by IanF Whew... hard to say. The miles between failures does sound too low. The passenger side bearing in my '79 is bad, but I'm not sure how old it is. I've put about 5K miles on the car since I bought it.

My plan is to install a set of CV axles along with a GT6 conversion. In theory, that "should" reduce the failures as the GT6 assembly is designed for a heavier car. Who knows...

Just a reminder that the rear bearings used on swing axles (as used on Spitfire & GT6) are completely different than those used on the GT6 rotoflex.
I've fangled a solution to the needle bearing issue where they use the axle shaft as the inner race.
It employs standard off the shelf industrial bearing components, with a replaceable inner race that fits nto the axle shaft,
and a larger needle bearing that features an integral seal.
The bearing hub/housing does require machine work, bored out so that the larger needle bearing will fit.

Disclaimer, I have yet to actually install one of these modified axles on a running car, much less gathered reliability experience with it.

As for the ball bearing, I'm inclined to think that a sealed ball bearing would be better than the open OEM one.
Many newer cars employ sealed ball bearings nowdays, even on front wheels, and they have proven to be very durable and reliable.

Greg1835 Avatar
Greg1835 Greg S
Rudolph, WI, USA   USA
Does the hub grease fitting provide grease to just the trunnion or does it allow grease to reach the bearing as well? I'd "assume" that there has to be provisions for lube to get to the bearing, but you never know. I'm thinking that if you use a quality bearing and perform regular services to the hub, there shouldn't be an issue. If the bearing is greased via the hub grease zerk, a sealed bearing might not be ideal. But, as Carter mentioned, most every FWD car uses sealed bearings on the rear hubs and they seem to last quite a few miles. Might be able to use a shielded bearing - then grease from the outside would still have access to the working part of the bearing.

14GPDJENGINEERING Avatar
Silver Spring, MD, USA   USA
In reply to # 1565267 by Greg1835 Does the hub grease fitting provide grease to just the trunnion or does it allow grease to reach the bearing as well? I'd "assume" that there has to be provisions for lube to get to the bearing, but you never know. I'm thinking that if you use a quality bearing and perform regular services to the hub, there shouldn't be an issue. If the bearing is greased via the hub grease zerk, a sealed bearing might not be ideal. But, as Carter mentioned, most every FWD car uses sealed bearings on the rear hubs and they seem to last quite a few miles. Might be able to use a shielded bearing - then grease from the outside would still have access to the working part of the bearing.

The fitting supplies grease to both axle bearings. It does not lubricate the trunnion bushes unless you drill an additional hole for that purpose.



Dennis smiling smiley

Hot Spit Avatar
Hot Spit Mike Stefanakis
Wethersfield, CT, USA   USA
In reply to # 1565248 by clshore
In reply to # 1565236 by IanF Whew... hard to say. The miles between failures does sound too low. The passenger side bearing in my '79 is bad, but I'm not sure how old it is. I've put about 5K miles on the car since I bought it.

My plan is to install a set of CV axles along with a GT6 conversion. In theory, that "should" reduce the failures as the GT6 assembly is designed for a heavier car. Who knows...

Just a reminder that the rear bearings used on swing axles (as used on Spitfire & GT6) are completely different than those used on the GT6 rotoflex.
I've fangled a solution to the needle bearing issue where they use the axle shaft as the inner race.
It employs standard off the shelf industrial bearing components, with a replaceable inner race that fits nto the axle shaft,
and a larger needle bearing that features an integral seal.
The bearing hub/housing does require machine work, bored out so that the larger needle bearing will fit.

Disclaimer, I have yet to actually install one of these modified axles on a running car, much less gathered reliability experience with it.

As for the ball bearing, I'm inclined to think that a sealed ball bearing would be better than the open OEM one.
Many newer cars employ sealed ball bearings nowdays, even on front wheels, and they have proven to be very durable and reliable.

When I overhauled my rear axles I ordered two bearing kits. Oddly, one of the kits had a sealed roller bearing. I removed the seals my theory being there would be no way for the excess grease to exit the hub. I always pre-pack the Inner roller bearing and the outer ball bearing before installing them then I fill the hub with grease just before I install the outer roller bearing into the hub. If you don't pre-lube the bearings you take a chance that the grease will get to the bearings.

Mike

Catfish Phil Avatar
Catfish Phil Phillip Colwart
Hammond, LA, USA   USA
Sealed bearings are, well, sealed and never require regreasing. Regreasing the Spitfire hub requires pumping enough grease through the zerk until old, dirty grease appears both on the outside along the oil flinger and on the inside of the hub. So, yeah, I pull the brake drums and wipe away excess grease to protect the brake shoes.

My original axle broke a few weeks after purchase of the Spitfire in 1991. Slapped a parts car axle/hub on it, pumped it with grease. The bearings must have already been damaged, as that axle broke during a long road trip. Had a friend ship me another parts car axle/hub/vertical link/brake drum so I could get 800 miles home. Brake drum? Yep - the right rear wheel went on permanent vacation and took the brake drum with it - could never find it in the darkness of the Florida Turnpike. Was pretty cool seeing sparks from dragging vertical link on the highway. Made it home with no spare wheel in the boot - had to use it to get home.

So, after only a few months, that third axle was kicking up a bunch of noise, so I screwed the pooch and rebuilt both hubs with new axles/bearings/seals, etc. Faithful regreasing with Mobil synthetic grease has kept that right rear wheel firmly attached to the motor car and on the job.

Saw a Spitfire with an out-of-state license plate parked at a gas station here once, way back behind the convenience store. Looked it over and saw a bunch of flung grease around the right rear hub. Poor guy, I've been through that more than once.

Have always been interested in an aftermarket solution to the Spitfire's Achilles Heel, the hub/axle arrangement.

clshore Carter Shore
Beverly Hills, FL, USA   USA
In reply to # 1565294 by Hot Spit
In reply to # 1565248 by clshore
In reply to # 1565236 by IanF Whew... hard to say. The miles between failures does sound too low. The passenger side bearing in my '79 is bad, but I'm not sure how old it is. I've put about 5K miles on the car since I bought it.

My plan is to install a set of CV axles along with a GT6 conversion. In theory, that "should" reduce the failures as the GT6 assembly is designed for a heavier car. Who knows...

Just a reminder that the rear bearings used on swing axles (as used on Spitfire & GT6) are completely different than those used on the GT6 rotoflex.
I've fangled a solution to the needle bearing issue where they use the axle shaft as the inner race.
It employs standard off the shelf industrial bearing components, with a replaceable inner race that fits nto the axle shaft,
and a larger needle bearing that features an integral seal.
The bearing hub/housing does require machine work, bored out so that the larger needle bearing will fit.

Disclaimer, I have yet to actually install one of these modified axles on a running car, much less gathered reliability experience with it.

As for the ball bearing, I'm inclined to think that a sealed ball bearing would be better than the open OEM one.
Many newer cars employ sealed ball bearings nowdays, even on front wheels, and they have proven to be very durable and reliable.

When I overhauled my rear axles I ordered two bearing kits. Oddly, one of the kits had a sealed roller bearing. I removed the seals my theory being there would be no way for the excess grease to exit the hub. I always pre-pack the Inner roller bearing and the outer ball bearing before installing them then I fill the hub with grease just before I install the outer roller bearing into the hub. If you don't pre-lube the bearings you take a chance that the grease will get to the bearings.

Mike

Sealed bearings are an engineered solution.
They don't need grease, there is no excess, it's all in there for life.
Rolling element bearings are very sensitive to contamination.
Sealed units eliminate that issue, along with any issues of lubricant quality.

The OEM are hyper sensitive and conservative.
That they have widely adopted sealed bearings speaks volumes to their fitness for purpose.

Hot Spit Avatar
Hot Spit Mike Stefanakis
Wethersfield, CT, USA   USA
In reply to # 1565356 by clshore
In reply to # 1565294 by Hot Spit
In reply to # 1565248 by clshore
In reply to # 1565236 by IanF Whew... hard to say. The miles between failures does sound too low. The passenger side bearing in my '79 is bad, but I'm not sure how old it is. I've put about 5K miles on the car since I bought it.

My plan is to install a set of CV axles along with a GT6 conversion. In theory, that "should" reduce the failures as the GT6 assembly is designed for a heavier car. Who knows...

Just a reminder that the rear bearings used on swing axles (as used on Spitfire & GT6) are completely different than those used on the GT6 rotoflex.
I've fangled a solution to the needle bearing issue where they use the axle shaft as the inner race.
It employs standard off the shelf industrial bearing components, with a replaceable inner race that fits nto the axle shaft,
and a larger needle bearing that features an integral seal.
The bearing hub/housing does require machine work, bored out so that the larger needle bearing will fit.

Disclaimer, I have yet to actually install one of these modified axles on a running car, much less gathered reliability experience with it.

As for the ball bearing, I'm inclined to think that a sealed ball bearing would be better than the open OEM one.
Many newer cars employ sealed ball bearings nowdays, even on front wheels, and they have proven to be very durable and reliable.

When I overhauled my rear axles I ordered two bearing kits. Oddly, one of the kits had a sealed roller bearing. I removed the seals my theory being there would be no way for the excess grease to exit the hub. I always pre-pack the Inner roller bearing and the outer ball bearing before installing them then I fill the hub with grease just before I install the outer roller bearing into the hub. If you don't pre-lube the bearings you take a chance that the grease will get to the bearings.

Mike

Sealed bearings are an engineered solution.
They don't need grease, there is no excess, it's all in there for life.
Rolling element bearings are very sensitive to contamination.
Sealed units eliminate that issue, along with any issues of lubricant quality.

The OEM are hyper sensitive and conservative.
That they have widely adopted sealed bearings speaks volumes to their fitness for purpose.
Carter,

You have no argument from me regarding sealed bearings except to say that in this application the manufacturer, because of the design, opted for open bearings and provided a grease nipple to facilitate periodic greasing, If the inner bearing was a sealed design then yes it would make sense to seal the outer as well and eliminate the need for a grease nipple.

Mike

clshore Carter Shore
Beverly Hills, FL, USA   USA
In reply to # 1565375 by Hot Spit
In reply to # 1565356 by clshore
In reply to # 1565294 by Hot Spit
In reply to # 1565248 by clshore
In reply to # 1565236 by IanF Whew... hard to say. The miles between failures does sound too low. The passenger side bearing in my '79 is bad, but I'm not sure how old it is. I've put about 5K miles on the car since I bought it.

My plan is to install a set of CV axles along with a GT6 conversion. In theory, that "should" reduce the failures as the GT6 assembly is designed for a heavier car. Who knows...

Just a reminder that the rear bearings used on swing axles (as used on Spitfire & GT6) are completely different than those used on the GT6 rotoflex.
I've fangled a solution to the needle bearing issue where they use the axle shaft as the inner race.
It employs standard off the shelf industrial bearing components, with a replaceable inner race that fits nto the axle shaft,
and a larger needle bearing that features an integral seal.
The bearing hub/housing does require machine work, bored out so that the larger needle bearing will fit.

Disclaimer, I have yet to actually install one of these modified axles on a running car, much less gathered reliability experience with it.

As for the ball bearing, I'm inclined to think that a sealed ball bearing would be better than the open OEM one.
Many newer cars employ sealed ball bearings nowdays, even on front wheels, and they have proven to be very durable and reliable.

When I overhauled my rear axles I ordered two bearing kits. Oddly, one of the kits had a sealed roller bearing. I removed the seals my theory being there would be no way for the excess grease to exit the hub. I always pre-pack the Inner roller bearing and the outer ball bearing before installing them then I fill the hub with grease just before I install the outer roller bearing into the hub. If you don't pre-lube the bearings you take a chance that the grease will get to the bearings.

Mike

Sealed bearings are an engineered solution.
They don't need grease, there is no excess, it's all in there for life.
Rolling element bearings are very sensitive to contamination.
Sealed units eliminate that issue, along with any issues of lubricant quality.

The OEM are hyper sensitive and conservative.
That they have widely adopted sealed bearings speaks volumes to their fitness for purpose.
Carter,

You have no argument from me regarding sealed bearings except to say that in this application the manufacturer, because of the design, opted for open bearings and provided a grease nipple to facilitate periodic greasing, If the inner bearing was a sealed design then yes it would make sense to seal the outer as well and eliminate the need for a grease nipple.

Mike

Hmm, when the small chassis Triumph architecture was laid out (maybe around 1958), IRS swing axles and needle rollers utilizing the axle shaft as the inner race were nearly cutting edge.
Sealed wheel bearings would not become widely adopted for automotive use for another 30-40 years.
But there is no reason not to have both.

clshore Carter Shore
Beverly Hills, FL, USA   USA
I've been asked to share details of the axle repair/upgrade proposal to replace the standard needle bearings.
Please see attached, which I wrote in August 2017.
It's incomplete, the depth of the boring in the housing/hub and the exact dimensional location of the inner race along the axle shaft.
I planned to determine those as the next step, just have not gotten to that, since I have no pressing need for an axle.

One issue is the fit of the inner race onto the axle shaft.
In most cases, the shaft is slightly smaller OD than the inner race ID, by a few thousandths.
Wear on the axle, can contribute to this.
Remediation can be accomplished by lightly knurling the axle surface.
The 162020 inner race is purposely chosen because it is longer than the SCE2014 bearing, and also longer
than the original needle bearing.
This provides some latitude in placement, as it spans any damaged section of the axle.
To ensure concentricity when fitting with Loctite, pieces of appropriate shim stock can be inserted between the
axle shaft and the inner race, and the Loctite is fully capable of performing it's designed task to mount and
retain the race on the shaft.

Another 'dangling issue' is the fitment of the 'flinger' on the shaft.
The 'flinger' is actually there to protect the seal from stones and debris, and ought to be capable of performing
the same role for the new bearing.

But another possibility is to fit a split collar, which has an additional advantage, can be fitted without
disassembling the entire axle.

https://www.grainger.com/category/shaft-collars/shaft-couplings-collars-and-universal-joints/power-transmission/ecatalog/N-1d90#nav=%2Fcategory%2Fshaft-collars%2Fshaft-couplings-collars-and-universal-joints%2Fpower-transmission%2Fecatalog%2FN-1d90Z1z0hjdyZ1yyta1oZ1yytkveZ1yzycl0

Parts & materials:
PI 162020 - inner bearing race
SCE 2014 P - needle bearing with integral seal
Loctite Kleen 'N Prime
Loctite 680 Bearing Mount
Loctite 660 Press Fit Repair


Attachments:
SpitfireGT6AxleRepair.pdf    110.2 KB

IanF Ian Furqueron
Croydon, PA, USA   USA
One of my "other" cars is a 2003 VW Jetta TDI wagon. As such, I am rather more familiar with sealed front wheel bearings than I would like to be. These bearings are wear items. The OE ones seem to last quite awhile - I got 150K out of the first set before they started groaning. The R&R process is a bit tedious and requires either removing the entire spindle assembly or a few special tools (I have an OTC Hub-Tamer tool kit). The real trick is getting the bearing pre-load -just- right. If you don't you'll be replacing that bearing again in well under 150K miles.


So as mentioned, sealed bearings are an engineered solution, meaning they will require a level of engineering beyond what most DIY'ers are capable of.


Yes, Carter - I am well aware the Roto-flex and swing axle bearings are different. I do have both cars... and that is also one reason why I want to convert the Spit to the GT6 components - to reduce the number of spares I'll need to stock (I have plans to replace the brakes as well).



"Lisle" - '72 GT6 basically stock and original. For now... T-9 conversion pending.
"Winnie the Poo" - '79 Spitfire 1500. Rubber to chrome bumper conversion, otherwise stock at the moment.

Jediscuba Avatar
Jediscuba Steven Spandorf
Southampton, NY, USA   USA
1963 Triumph Spitfire "Pussycat"
1970 Triumph Spitfire 1500 "PussyCat The 4th"
1972 Triumph GT6
1980 Triumph Spitfire 1500 "Pussy Cat"
Not to steal the thread but Ian, I have some bad news for you.
Unless you already have the GT6 CC axles, you may be out of luck.
Canley posted a notice recently that they have discontinued the production and have none in stock.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

In reply to # 1565236 by IanF Whew... hard to say. The miles between failures does sound too low. The passenger side bearing in my '79 is bad, but I'm not sure how old it is. I've put about 5K miles on the car since I bought it.

My plan is to install a set of CV axles along with a GT6 conversion. In theory, that "should" reduce the failures as the GT6 assembly is designed for a heavier car. Who knows...

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