Excellent write up, warts and all. I do like it when folks talk about the fits and starts on a project.
I thought I would share my experience replacing the rear wheel bearings on my 1984 GTV6. There are a number of thread on here already, but I was trying to use a combination of rental tools and factory tools to see if I could duplicate the factory tools.
The bearings started making noise on my drive home from Palm Springs to Portland last year. Classic symptoms, a slight whine or rumble that went away when turning left. The last hundred miles weren't fun. But I made it. This spring I started by replacing the right front wheel bearing, and while it definitely needed replacing that wasn’t the problem.
So I ordered a pair of bearings from DiFatta brothers, and managed to borrow a couple factory tools thanks to Wes Conklin and Steve Davis. So here was my process, warts and all. Hopefully this helps someone avoid some of my mistakes. Luckily this isn’t my daily driver or I would have been panicking!
I also rented a slide hammer, a FWD hub pulling flange, and the 4WD nut from the local O’Reily’s. I wanted to see if I could duplicate the factory tools using off the shelf tools. I hope to never do this job again on this car, but I assume I will need to at some point on our Race Milano, so at least I now know what’s involved.
Unfortunately the FWD hub flange is slightly too big for the GTV6 wheel bolt pattern. I assume 5x100 is the smallest size it fits. Since it was a rental I didn’t want to damage it, but I might buy one and try grinding out the holes in the future.
So here’s my process, for better or worse. Usually worse. But I got it done. Both sides. And didn't break anything or hurt anything other than my pride
Loosen the lug nuts on the wheel you’re working on before you jack it up.
Jack up one side of the rear end under the spring pan. Support the car by the jack point to allow the suspension to droop and give you more room to work.
Remove the wheel and put it under the car under the door as a safety catch just in case the car falls. I like to put the lug nuts back in the center of the wheel so they don’t disappear.
Remove the 17mm lock nut and 19mm nut holding the bottom of the shock on the DeDion. Push the shock up and out of the way to give yourself more room to access the axle nuts.
Loosen the cap head axle nuts on the back of the wheel hub. But don’t remove yet. Put the car in gear and the parking brake on.
Remove the cotter pin and the cap that keeps the axle nut from loosening. It just pops off.
Look for your 36mm socket. Realize you only have a 32mm socket. Spend an hour searching Napa Auto Parts websites for a suitable socket, then drive over to buy one.
Get home and realize that your new impact socket is too big to fit inside the hub. Chuck the socket into your drill and try sanding down the edge. Once you sand off the black oxide coating you realize you’re getting nowhere. Break out your grinder and try to grind the edge down evenly without taking too much off. A file works great for cleaning it up and making it smoothish.
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Once the socket fits use your trusty Harbor Freight ½” impact driver and it will spin the nut off easily.
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At this point I realized that I only had part of the factory tool to remove the hub. I had the piece that bolts to the hub. But I didn’t have the part that bolts around the carrier to keep the spindle from pushing out the back. Looking at the factory part I realized a bearing separator looked very similar, so off to Harbor Freight to buy their $40 set.
I used the bearing separator plus some spare angle iron to try to build my own fixture. Unfortunately it didn’t fit quite well enough and even with extra bracing all I managed was to bend the angle iron, and didn’t budget the hub. You can see the threaded rod bending, as well as the angle iron. I tried wedging some wood back there as well with no luck.
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Off to Advance Auto to rent a hub puller slide hammer kit. Advance Auto seems to have newer, nicer tools and lends them for 45 days. But they cost more, so make sure you take it back on time! I also bought a selection of washers to help out.
I pushed the spindle out the back, then once I had the puller I used the washers to help attach it to the factory Alfa hub puller tool. After a number of whacks from my 9 year old daughter and a couple more big ones from me it finally popped free. Note to self: next time make sure your leg isn’t right in front of the hub. You can see the puller bolted to the hub below. And it pulls off part of the bearing inner race in the process. More on that later. The tool explosion is from all the different attempts.
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Once the hub is off you have to remove the bearing retainer. Mine was the early style with 6 notches. I thankfully had the tool, but I had rented a 4WD axle tool to see if it would work. It does seem like it would work with a little grinding, but didn’t work right out of the box. The factory took also slides into the bearing, so you can literally stand on your ¾” ratchet to break it loose.
When it doesn’t come loose you’ll realize you forgot to unstake the edges of the retainer. A couple minutes with a cold chisel undid the stakes. I sprayed a little PB Blaster on it for good measure and then by standing on the ratchet it came loose and spun off easily. The right or US passenger side is a normal thread, the left or US driver side is reversed thread. I was able to reuse my retainers, but new ones are available if you have to cut one off.
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Now that the retainer is off using the factory bearing removal took will pull the bearing out easily. If you don’t have the tool a FWD bearing set should do the job.
The Harbor Freight bearing separator came in handy to pull the race off the hub. It pulled free when you use the slide hammer to pull off the hub.
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After the bearing was out. I cleaned up the area a little, then popped the new bearing in the freezer overnight for good measure. That's the old bearing above. They were both crunchy and appear to have gotten sand into them. The PO lived in the desert so that makes sense.
Thankfully reassembly was much faster than removal. The next morning the new bearing went back in with little drama. Figuring out the right combination of sockets and wrenches was the hardest part. You can feel when the bearing is fully seated.
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I then installed the axle retainer again, and staked it back in the same position. My toque wrench doesn’t read 200 ft-lbs so that was my best effort.
To reattach the hub and spindle I had to start the axle nut without the washer to pull it through a bit. Then remove it and do it again with the washer in place. To keep it from spinning I used one of my long wrenches wedged between a couple wheel studs. My torque wrench maxes out at 150 ft-lbs so I set it there and cranked on the nut until I hit real resistance. I made sure it clicked the wrench and gave it a touch more for good measure. Then reinstall the lock cap and a new cotter pin.
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I then cleaned up the axle cap screws and washers and reattached the axle. Then jack up the DeDion slightly and reattach the bottom of the shock absorber. Put a touch of anti seize on the inside of the wheel and put the wheel back on. Tighten lug nuts more of the way, then lower the car to torque all the way. I think I torqued the lug nuts to 80 ft-lb.
The first side took me over a week thanks to multiple trips to parts stores, trying the rented tools and just general idiocy on my part. The second side only took 3 hours, 25 minutes including 30 minutes of cleaning up axle cap screws. With two kids home full time thanks to Covid I only get short bursts of time in the garage so the second side went like this:
Sunday 19:10 – 19:45
Tuesday 19:45 – 20:05
- Jack up car
- Remove wheel
- Unbolt shock absorber
- Unbolt axle shaft
- Push out spindle
Tuesday 21:15 – 22:30
- Hook up slide hammer
- Pull off hub with daughter’s help, then put her to bed.
Thursday 21:15 – 22:30
- Unstake and remove axle retainer
- Press out old bearing
- Clean up area
- Press in new bearing
- Install hub
While working on the rear bearings I realized my axle CV boots are dried and cracking on the driver side, so replacing them all is now on my list. As is installing the used Koni shocks I recently bought, after I paint them. Oh and the sway bar end link bushings, which are dried out and shot. I'm hoping to find a set of generic, black hot rod poly bushings that will fit.
- Clean up axle bolts
- Install axle shaft cap screws and toque to spec (50 Nm)
- Torque axle nut, replace cap and new cotter pin
- Reinstall shock absorber
- Reinstall wheel
- Lower car
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So I hope this helps someone else doing this job, and if not at least I hope it was amusing. It’s not super fun job, but having the right tools definitely helped. Thanks again Wes!
i Know i have em but want to make sure the set is complete. Flat rate shipping would be coolCool, I'll even pay you something for them. I just can't justify $40 right now. Thanks!