Thursday, February 25, 2010

Servicing Natasha's wheel bearings

Almost 5K Kilometers overdue, today I serviced the front and sidecar wheel bearings on Natasha, my Ural sidecar rig.  Why so late, well, about 5K kilometers ago, I was actually recovering from a sheared apart sidecar drive shaft!  Scheduled maintenance was really the last thing on my mind.  Still, no excuse.

I didn't service the bearings on the present pusher tire since it's a new wheel with new bearings.  I just realized though as I write this that I forgot to do the spare wheel's bearings.  Dang it.  Oh well, it's a spare for a reason, not much wear on it.  It'll wait till the next cycle of service.

Following the beautifully written and photo demonstrated instructions at Bill Glaser's outstanding site, I removed both front and sidecar wheels, took out the bearing assemblies, cleaned them of the old grease (what there was remaining anyways), packed new grease into the bearings, put it all back in the hubs and remounted the wheels.  NO problems, no hassles, easy peasy!

 Here's a view of the sidecar wheel's hub splines, they were in good shape

This is a view of the sidecar wheel's drum brake assembly and splines, also in good shape

The front wheel's drum brake assembly, note that it does not have splines
so yes, if your pusher wheel becomes stripped of its splines,
you can swap the front and rear wheels and carry on!
(Yes, I would clean all the brake dust off before putting the wheel back on)

I guess there was no grease on it from the factory since no splines are involved in the front wheel
I went ahead and gave everything a light coat of grease anyways to prevent further rust

 This is the old grease on the sidecar wheel bearings, they were definitely due for service!

 The sidecar wheel bearings and bushing, with new grease on!
I used this video to learn how to "pack bearings" by hand   It's easy, but messy.

 This is the front wheel bearings, glad I pulled them today to repack them with new grease!

 Ah, new grease on the front wheel bearings and bushing

Re-assembly was per the instructions at Bill Glaser's site.  I really could not imagine trying to do this service without the help he's provided to Uralisti everywhere!

As I said before, no problems encountered and there was only minimal use of the BFH to "entice" things to fit correctly.  I feel better now about the condition of all the wheel bearings presently on the rolling wheels on Natasha.  Another wrenching experience for the old knowledge bank.


RichardM said...

I've packed bearings using a similar procedure. I put the bearing and a dollop of grease inside of a large Zip-Loc bag. Seal the bag then hold onto the bearing though the bag and push the grease in using my palm. Basically the same as the video except all the grease is inside the bag.

redlegsrides said...


Good tip, so this method allows you to see when the new grease is starting to ooze across the top of the bearing?

RichardM said...

Yes, you can see pretty well through the bag plus you can always open the bag to get a better look. Another way, so I'm told, is to use a kitchen vacuum sealer, with the appropriate plastic bags, to pack grease into bearings. Put bearing and grease into a bag, suck all the air out and the bag pushes the grease into the bearing. I never tried it but it sounds like it should work...

Unknown said...


see, you learn something new every day. I don't ever intend to be doing any greasing but this is a good tip to keep your hands clean so you can take more progress photos

bobskoot: wet coast scootin

Stacy said...

Forgive my ignorance, but are these splines considered wear items, a la the chain and sprockets on a chain-driven streetbike?

Or can you expect a reasonably long life provided that greasing is done at regular intervals?

(This comment might be a double-post, not sure if it came through the first time...)

redlegsrides said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
redlegsrides said...

Bobskoot, thanks and yes, learning something every day is a good thing....

Stacy, nothing to forgive, it's a good question. Yes, it's considered a wear item, although they're supposed to last a lot longer than mine did. Some Uralisti blame it on inferior Russian metallurgical quality, some blame it on loose bearings, who knows? I do know that failing to keep them well greased will result in premature wear and's just like a chain on other motorcycles, regular service and oil are key.

The bearings are supposed to be done every 10K kilometers.

The folks at Wagner's Cycle summed it up nicely, if its metal, moves and has metal to metal contact, it needs grease or oil....