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Bottom bracket bearings: refurb or replace?

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Bottom bracket bearings: refurb or replace?

Old 01-17-21, 11:17 PM
  #1  
sovende
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Bottom bracket bearings: refurb or replace?

Back in mid-summer, I was following and posting in a thread that was discussing a “clicking sound” of unknown origin. Most of the discussion was about issues with the bearings in the bottom bracket and I was pretty much in agreement and concluded that was the issue that I was having with my ‘90 Schwinn World Sport. Since that thread is over 6 months old and I don’t want to be accused of hijacking it, I’m starting a new thread.
I had good intentions of taking care of the issue early on but since I have other bikes to ride, the World Sport was set aside to be dealt with as a Winter project. Well we’re there now!
So, today I pulled the crank arms and disassembled the OEM bottom bracket. Back in July, the “clicking sounds” I was hearing didn’t lead me to think catastrophic failure but I did want to fix the issue. Replacement with a sealed unit was a common suggestion and I was prepared to do just that. Once the components were out of the frame everything went into a kerosene bath and allowed to soak. After the clean up, I was pretty amazed to find the bearings, cups and the cones on the spindle to be in great condition! There wasn’t a lot of grease left and there was a fair amount caked on to the bearing races. The caked on grease took some doing to remove but once that was done, everything else was near pristine! At this point, I’m thinking that my “clicking sound” was coming from elsewhere. Bottom line, my plan is to reuse the OEM components,re-grease with Park bearing grease and reassemble. I know some will suggest new ball bearings, I just can’t see (even with my magnifying lamp) any damage to the bearings or bearing surfaces. Since I can resort to a sealed bearing if need be, I’ve got little to lose!
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Old 01-18-21, 06:23 AM
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Most folks would replace the balls, they're cheap. However, if you perhaps aren't confident in determining the size and sourcing new ones, as you say, nothing to lose but your time.
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Old 01-18-21, 06:53 AM
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If the bicycle looks like it is low mileage (e.g. little wear on original tires and chain) and the bearings and cups look good then a cleaning, regreasing and reusing the original bearings is fine. Of course if you have new ones on hand then replace them but as long as they look good replacement is not necessary.
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Old 01-18-21, 11:40 AM
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Originally Posted by sovende View Post
Back in mid-summer, I was following and posting in a thread that was discussing a “clicking sound” of unknown origin. Most of the discussion was about issues with the bearings in the bottom bracket and I was pretty much in agreement and concluded that was the issue that I was having with my ‘90 Schwinn World Sport. Since that thread is over 6 months old and I don’t want to be accused of hijacking it, I’m starting a new thread.
I had good intentions of taking care of the issue early on but since I have other bikes to ride, the World Sport was set aside to be dealt with as a Winter project. Well we’re there now!
So, today I pulled the crank arms and disassembled the OEM bottom bracket. Back in July, the “clicking sounds” I was hearing didn’t lead me to think catastrophic failure but I did want to fix the issue. Replacement with a sealed unit was a common suggestion and I was prepared to do just that. Once the components were out of the frame everything went into a kerosene bath and allowed to soak. After the clean up, I was pretty amazed to find the bearings, cups and the cones on the spindle to be in great condition! There wasn’t a lot of grease left and there was a fair amount caked on to the bearing races. The caked on grease took some doing to remove but once that was done, everything else was near pristine! At this point, I’m thinking that my “clicking sound” was coming from elsewhere. Bottom line, my plan is to reuse the OEM components,re-grease with Park bearing grease and reassemble. I know some will suggest new ball bearings, I just can’t see (even with my magnifying lamp) any damage to the bearings or bearing surfaces. Since I can resort to a sealed bearing if need be, I’ve got little to lose!
With no visible damage, Yes just re-grease and re-assemble, you should be fine.
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Old 01-18-21, 12:12 PM
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...if the bearing surfaces still look shiny, they are fine. This could still be the source of your clicking sound, depending on adjustment.
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Old 01-18-21, 12:34 PM
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Why not replace the bearings? Good quality #25 are literally pennies and you will have a known when you rebuild your BB.
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Old 01-18-21, 12:36 PM
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Originally Posted by sovende View Post
Replacement with a sealed unit was a common suggestion... I was pretty amazed to find the bearings, cups and the cones on the spindle to be in great condition!
A lot of bike shops would just use a new, cheap cartridge bb, because it's far easier, they're not the ones riding the bike, and they can make more profit. But, in this case, there's no reason to do that ... if you're willing to repack your bb.

There wasn’t a lot of grease left and there was a fair amount caked on to the bearing races.
For me and my keeper bikes, I would replace the bearings with grade 25, 1/4" balls, probably 11 loose on each side. If you knew how old they were, saw fresh grease, or weren't going to keep the bike, then you might want to clean and reuse the old balls.

I buy from this ebay seller:

https://www.ebay.com/itm/100-1-4-Inc...pid=1439798620
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Old 01-18-21, 08:00 PM
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sovende
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This is a 30+ year old bike! I bought it ~15 years ago at a thrift/resale shop for less than $20. It looked to have been almost never ridden. Either a shop worn display model or one bought for some spoiled kid that never really wanted it so it just sat in the corner of the garage! I did an external “fluff & buff” and put it in the “stable” with my other lower end bikes. I can’t say for sure but I can’t imagine that it has more than a couple of hundred miles on it. To be sure, the grease wasn’t “fresh” and I will prolly keep this bike since it fits me well and it’s fun to ride. I’ve yet to decide on how I’ll proceed. Thanks to all for the input.
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Old 01-19-21, 07:35 AM
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Originally Posted by sovende View Post
There wasn’t a lot of grease left and there was a fair amount caked on to the bearing races. The caked on grease took some doing to remove but once that was done, everything else was near pristine!
I generally squirt a bit of WD-40 at the caked on grease to help it dissolve back into its original greasy state. I seem to service a lot of coaster hubs, and the heat from the braking advances the grease solidification process. If a bike has then been left standing a long while then the brake then doesn't engage or disengage cleanly. Once the old grease has been cleaned away and the the hub reassembled and adjusted they seem to work just fine.

Your click might have been nothing more than the balls impacting each other or the cone and as long as you did not ride it much, which the condition suggests you did not, there is a good chance that a regrease and reassembly is all you need.
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Old 01-19-21, 09:14 PM
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Now that you have started working on the bike...

...re-grease and adjust the headset. I can’t imagine the grease is much better there.

John
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Old 01-23-21, 05:36 PM
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Could be that the shell was never faced correctly in the first place. I've successfully rehabbed many loose-ball bottom brackets, but if you have to ask, get a new sealed unit.
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Old 01-23-21, 05:46 PM
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When my MTB BB started creaking, I pulled the guts and put in a new sealed cartridge. It's been through mud, hammering, got caught by a sneaker wave on the beach and fully submerged and still rotating like new after 4 years. No regrets. But if you want to keep it original, clean and grease and pre-load the bearings and look forward to the next time you get to tinker with it. Nothing funner on a cold rainy day than tinkering on your bike. Except maybe playoffs and beer.
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