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Losing wheel bearing retainers

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G'day everyone,

The first pic is from last year around this time, and as you can see it was a pretty scary moment when the wheel nearly left me behind ...

The retainer failed to hold the wheel bearing on the axle, and the whole lot slid out and nearly caused some big dramas - it happened just short of my descent down Dorrigo mountain in NSW, definately best tackled with all the wheels still on the car.

So, after that happened, the wheel bearing retainer was tacked back on with 3 mig welds to get me home, which it did.

Not wanting to trust a welded axle, when I got home I sourced two more axles, had them checked for true, had the interference fit confirmed at an engineering shop to be between 4 and 6 thou and fitted them up.

I figured over time that the old axles had lost material with new bearings being pressed on and the retainer had insufficient interference fit to retain the bearing.

On I went, happily touring away, until the second pic ...

Happened last month and this time it was on the Gateway at 100km/h, scared the crap out of me, and did actually do some damage when the backing plate and tramp rod hit the deck.

So ... wtf???

I know the retainers had sufficient interference fit (according to what I could find out anyway), and that the axles were straight.

The diff is HR, bearings Repco. The set up has been there for 15 years prior to the first failure, which happened shortly after replacing the wheel bearings through them failing. I know there has been some conjecture about the quality of replacement bearings in terms of longevity, but has anyone experienced this fault before, and more importantly, what was the problem?

I can't bring myself to stay with this system, will be looking to a UC disc brake rear end (already have one!), but I am curious as to whats going on here?

Cheers

Doug

Comments

"I am curious as to whats going on here?"

Me too.

In the past I've either heat shrunk on the retainer or handed the axles to a professional to press fit them.

I've yet to experience your problem, but it makes me wonder if the retainer ring has fallen in quality somehow or the function of the Retainer is no longer understood.

It might be for the want of being "pinned and recessed" as Smith & Wesson gun owners so often lament. Smith & Wesson barrels used to have a pin through the top of the receiver to prevent the barrel from unscrewing. Subsequent versions did not have this pin. Recessed referred to providing recessing in the cylinder to better secure the cartridges ...

https://www.youtube....

Maybe it needs an hole drilled right through the core of the axle and a roll pin inserted.

International bulldozers simply insert a circlip in such a situation.

Commodore tailshaft CV joints machine in a groove and fit a large diameter circlip to hold the ends together.

Perhaps someone could machine a groove in the axle and install a standard size circlip.

Also a groove could be machined into the Axle and smaller inside diameter Retainer machined in half. The new Retainer could be then be fit to the Axle groove and tightened with Set Screws like a Big End Cap.

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T

My Shed

Holdenpaedia, they're the brakes Mate.

hard cornering can pull them off,ive always had more than the spec lateral free play anyway?on one tonners the ring is twice as thick for more friction,see if you can fit two rings?,its not common but is known to happen.

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WHAT? no gravy?

Borrowing from Commodore CV Joint Engineering, the Retainer Ring could have a series of radial holes drilled in it and allen head set screws tapped into the axle.

In this case, axial set screws ...

http://holdenpaedia....

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T

My Shed

Holdenpaedia, they're the brakes Mate.

HQ racers do? Calling Ben Simpson. There must be a way to secure these solidly. Never had the problem myself, and have replaced plenty of bearings.

regards,Rod.

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I'd be checking the housing out as well mate if I was you, Lindsay.

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Cheers, Lindsay.

4305

This is quite common on up to HG LSD, both banjo and salisbury. Normally the RHS, I know lots of people who have had the same problem. I lost one coming down Cunninghams Gap and quite lucky not to have lost my life, as you loose all rear brakes, mine happened in an HK so had enough in the system to just ull me up. Up to HR would loose all brakes as only one circuit.

Mine was fixed the same as yours, a new collar and tacked into place. I threw the whole diff away soon after I got home to Brisbane.

HQ on have a different wheel bearing desing and it does not happen to them.

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HQ and Later Rear Axles use a tapered roller bearing rather than a Ball Bearing.

HQ and Later Rear Axles are also lubricated by having the Diff Oil cycled through them instead of being Grease Packed like front Wheel Bearings.

That means that HQ and Later Rear Axles Bearings take Side Thrust naturally and much better than a Ball Bearing.

What are your thoughts about the Retainer?

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T

My Shed

Holdenpaedia, they're the brakes Mate.

extra grip from wide wheels may be the cause. also used to happen on one tonners when they were not that old too, my uncles shop used to fix a lot of them and then tack weld them for a permanent fix.

for hq racing, we use 3 tack welds after fitting the ring - all good. i used to use a long, thick walled pipe to hit them on for mobile jobs when i had no access to a press, i have never had a failure except for old banjo axles in hq racing where the bearings were already fitted.

ideally you should NEVER heat the retainer ring to fit - this is specifically stated on a red paper stapled to the retainer ring. i know plenty of people do fit them this way without issue but its just something i was taught not to do so i have never done it this way. i reckon if the bearing manufacturers go to the trouble of stapling a piece of warning paper to not heat the ring, its probably best not to...

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I'd be dubious about using Tack Welds on the retainers, especially when a warning against exposing them to heat was issued in the packaging.

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T

My Shed

Holdenpaedia, they're the brakes Mate.

a tack does not even change the colour of the metal.

you can still touch the retainer ring after you tack it.

its a proven method and a lot better than drilling radial holes into a highly stressed (due to the interference fit) retainer ring and expecting it not to break when fitted with grubscrews. or drilling right through the axle and fitting a rollpin. or machining a groove for a circlip. nice way to introduce stress risers...

thats just laughable.... and dangerous.

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"thats just laughable.... and dangerous."

Yet it's done by International on their crawler tractors' axles and Holden in their CV joints.

Better a quick birdsh*t weld then Ben?

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T

My Shed

Holdenpaedia, they're the brakes Mate.

The difference is International and Holden design their parts to have these circlips and screws in them.
That is a big difference to doing it something that was never designed for it.
I'm with Ben, no way I'd even think about doing it.
David

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Old is good.

The Retainer Ring is a cheap way of doing this, done to keep costs down.

It's the same as Gudgeon Pin retainment. A Gudgeon Pin may be secured by ...

1. Bolt, as in the BMC case.
2. Circlips, the most common way.
3. Teflon inserts.
4. Press fit, the GM way.

The industry has followed the example of circlips if you watch this video ...

https://www.youtube....

An interesting statement the video maker states about the Axle breaking. In this specific case the Axle didn't need to break to fall out.

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T

My Shed

Holdenpaedia, they're the brakes Mate.

"That is a big difference to doing it something that was never designed for it."

But aren't you the guy who constantly touts the fitment of japanese 5 speeds into Old Holdens?

Isn't that a departure from "never designed for it"?

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T

My Shed

Holdenpaedia, they're the brakes Mate.

Different concept entirely.
The fitment of a five speed gearbox to an old Holden does not required the modification or machining of any highly stressed or tempered parts.
A modified crossmember is an entirely different kettle of fish to, say, cutting a groove for a circlip in something as stressed as an axle, and and thereby creating stress points in a component.
If a floor member is cut, the metal is replaced and the floor strengthened before use. It isn't put into service in a weakened state, which is what a heated, machined, welded, grub screwed axle or housing would be.
David

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Old is good.

I'm so glad we cleared that one up.

For a moment there I thought I had been reading a complete double standard.

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T

My Shed

Holdenpaedia, they're the brakes Mate.

No one's mentioned Kenny Rogers yet?

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........𝓣𝓲𝓢.

βœ„--------------------------------------------------------

-_--_--_ _______._
_--_-_ -/___+__|__\__
.,.,.,,.,|_O ________O_|

picked a fine time to leave me - loose wheel.

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:-)

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........𝓣𝓲𝓢.

βœ„--------------------------------------------------------

-_--_--_ _______._
_--_-_ -/___+__|__\__
.,.,.,,.,|_O ________O_|

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........𝓣𝓲𝓢.

βœ„--------------------------------------------------------

-_--_--_ _______._
_--_-_ -/___+__|__\__
.,.,.,,.,|_O ________O_|

I've had that happen in a HG on the drivers side > we eventually came to the conclusion that the axle housing was bent. We may or may not have been right.

Good fun not having any brakes.

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Disclaimer :- The above is purely speculation and is only posted for entertainment purposes!!!

mmmm what fun
had that happen uphill of eagle on the hill on the down track in a HG s/w towing car trailer unloaded mmmm snapped about 5-6in of the axle in diff near the brakes i fixed it by a spare axle i had never happen since
cheers

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Thanks guys for your thoughts, I see there is a wide range of possible fixes, but the question remains why does it fail in the first place? I mean, there were literally a million of these things running around, raced, towing caravans, in the outback over the ruts, driven by P platers (enough said - and yes I was one back in the day), and every other possible way of putting stress on these components. But a very small percentage have the problem, and I'm betting not many have the same problem twice in 12 months, especially when after the first time the fit was checked as well as straightness of the axles.

Understanding the true cause will generate the fix, but I guess its not that easy to get to the root of the problem.

The car is driven normally, but does tow and was towing on both occasions. On the same trip I did the spider gears in the diff so the axle had been removed and replaced about 400km prior, and it looked normal at that point - perhaps it was overheated when the spider gears went?? It was hot enough to have a little smoke escaping, and the hubcaps were too hot to touch, but there were no signs of discoloration of the metal or that it might have moved.

So far possible causes, from here and elsewhere:
1. Bent axle housing - I have no reason to suspect bent housing as its been in situ for years and hasn't had anything happen to it that might bend the axle housing, that does not mean it isn't, just that I don't see how it would of got bent.
2. Hard cornering / wide tyres - Same sized tyres been on there for years (in fact wider for quite a few of those), and the hardest driving it cops is an occasional spurt on grass driving events, and of course the extra loads of towing.
3. Improper fitting - I never have hammered on the bearing or retainer. I have always taken the axle to a shop that has a press, and they have been pressed on. The advice I have always received is that the retainers as supplied in the kit are designed to be pressed on only, unlike early / original retainers which were made from different material and designed to be heated first. I try to ensure that the operator of the press knows what they are doing regarding only pressing on the inner race of the bearing.
4. Offset of the wheels loading the bearing - the rims are 7 inch and have about 1 inch offset (estimate I have never measured them) and seem to me to be pretty standard fare for modified vehicles of this type. Not saying it isn't the problem, just that the wheels are not unusual.
5. Bearing not seating correctly in the housing, generating side loads and heat - if the bearing does not seat all the way in, due to something stuck behind it (piece of rubber seal, grit, whatever) then the bearing sits slightly proud of the housing and the retainer (for the axle, not the bearing) plate sits hard up against it when you do the bolts up, and generates heat and side loads. I do recall the first time the retainer was actually stuck to the bearing when I got the old bearing out (wasn't that a saga). Haven't pulled it apart this time yet so don't know whether it has or hasn't this time. Sort of fits because on both occasion the axle had been out just prior (within a few hundred km) of the failure, and so the possibility exists something got stuck in behind on reassembly. Both times were roadside repairs so higher possibility of grit getting in there ... maybe. I will be having a very close look when it comes apart this time.
6. Poor quality bearings - the bearings are Repco, not sure where they are made, no indication on the packaging or the bearing itself that I can find. Have no way of knowing, but since it doesn't seem to be a widespread problem, unless its batch related, I don't see how a poor quality product can be fine in some installations and not others - if the retainer ring was not up to scratch there would be lots of problems.

As I said in my first post, I won't be using this axle assembly again, I will be upgrading to the UC disc brake rear end and going for bigger front brakes as well (and a split system), so it isn't that important to me to find a fix, I just thought it might help someone else with similar issues if there is anyone, especially if a definitive problem can be found.

Just for the record though I personally don't trust welded axles, because the welding process is likely to affect the surface hardening of the axle itself and could lead to cracking and eventual failure. If it breaks at the point of the welded section (likely where it would break if its going to) there is a high chance the wheel will fall off completely and fast, creating a bigger drama. Having said that, I understand many have done so without problems, its just not a risk I'm about to take.

When the failure happened I was fortunate to not lose the brakes entirely, despite the fact that at the moment its a single system, the rear cylinders didn't pop, probably because I was very gentle on the brake pedal anyway trying to keep the car as straight as possible.

Cheers
Doug

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Find an old [Naughty Pottyword] who knows how to use a wheel alignment machine and get that housing checked out. I reckon it'll be bent.

Ben, if you change the colour of the lock ring, you got it too hot. Just for [Naughty Pottyword]s and giggles, one day when Mums not home, bake one in the oven at 180 for 15 minutes and give it a quick measure. It will fall on the axle :)

T, that's the most stupid [Naughty Pottyword]ing idea ever. Save yourself the time and effort of fitting the ring, drilling, tapping and [Naughty Pottyword]. Just tie a piece of [Naughty Pottyword]ing string on the axle behind the bearing. It will do just as good of a job. Probably last longer too.

Old mate, get that [Naughty Pottyword]ter on a wheel align machine. Unless you been drifting round Calder, something bent.

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i had this happen twice on my fj twice in once in 97 again in 2000 had the original diff housing in it and i'd driven it for 20 yrs prior to the first time with no prob but in my case the bearing failed
last yr i replaced the housing with a later ek type that run a heavier bearing no more issues since
you are lucky it was the rear that went i also had a king pin break at the knuckle that was scary damaged the control arms as well

there were a few cheap bearings around that had a narrower lock ring that would allow this to happen they had a step design on them
maybe you had this type ???
you said the diff gears went and enough heat that there was smoke this could effect the housing maybe distorting it
the hr and uc disc rear you mention run the same bearings on the axles so if its a bearing prob changing the housing may not cure the problem

the early fx's run a tapered bearing

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hr and uc DO NOT RUN the same bearing , uc runs a tapered
roller bearing like in hq onwards , hr run a ball bearing..

the other advantage of running rear disc brakes is that that caliper and disc will help hold the axle in if the retainer on the axle fails..

wombat.

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UC Rear Axles are the same design as HQ and later.

They use a slightly smaller Bearing.

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T

My Shed

Holdenpaedia, they're the brakes Mate.

It looks as though GMC used Circlips on their 4WD Front Axles (16:20) ...

https://www.youtube....

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T

My Shed

Holdenpaedia, they're the brakes Mate.

I could be wrong but I think it's load related. In both pics you're towing a caravan and possibly a bit of gear for your trip. The extra weight and as Ben mentioned above the wider tyres combined are the most likely cause of your issues. Ditch the UC diff as UC discs aren't all that flash. Get a Borg Warner diff or something similar. I believe there's a good Volvo diff you can use too.

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Cheers
David

aka hq308belmont

My Archived Shed

I used HR utes for work purposes carrying Building gear from late 60's to mid 80's, 3 in all, and it happened on all 3, and I simply banged the retainer back on with a piece of pipe and gave it 2 spots with the arc welder, never came off again, and no further problems.
The fact you need to spot the welds on the axle more than the retainer simply stops the retainer coming off.
Try it with an old axle, I guarantee you will not press the retainer off without smashing it.

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A couple of days before mine let go I had a very [very] heavy weight sitting on the tailgate which was down > I was up near Kingaroy on not very good roads driving out to a job.

2 days later [back in Brisbane]the axle walked out but the wheel stayed inside the guard > I jumped on the brakes because of the noise and popped the cylinders. I had no cars in front of me and it started to slow down so I ran it into the gutter > no harm done.

I rang a tow truck and towed it to a garage that was like an independent Holden dealer.[used that place all the time]

They pressed on a new bearing and collar and said it was very tight but suspected the housing might have been bent from the heavy weight I had had on > they had seen this before.

Off I went and I had no further trouble so I left it at that but it's always in the back of your mind what would you do if you were out on the highway at high speed and the axle walked out.

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Disclaimer :- The above is purely speculation and is only posted for entertainment purposes!!!

25 years as fitter and machinist fitted various types of bearings.
hq308 is on the money your rim offset will also load the bearings as well check housing is not bowed due to age.
Tacking the retainer is a good idea would do this if were my vehicle. Will cause issues if changing bearings in future but with the right tools and knowledge can be done easily enough.
Drilling the retainer and fitting grub screws will also work just divet axel and loctite grub screw.
Cir clip is great idea but weakens axel and groove must have small radius in corners.
DO NOT heat bearings or retainer over 110 degrees celcius or if they turn blue they are scrap.
Bearings can be put on with hammer and punch/dolly if you are careful but if you are unsure how to do it not worth the risk.
Axels are not hardened at the bearing end check by gentley touching with a file it will remove metal
Volvo (older) diff works plus you can get them in disk brake and PCD is the same have mate who already done this on an EJ ute.

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I agree with those above suggesting the load and wheel offset (or backspace).

They look like fairly fat tyres, so I would definitely check the offset on your wheels first, it won't cost you anything and if they are way out it might be the root cause. The standard offsets are in the Holdenpedia under the stud page @ http://holdenpaedia.... , you have a HR axle in your humpy so it could be complicated, but you probably need to make sure that your offset is close to the HR std.(get a standard HR wheel if all else fails and compare them.)

If your offset is too far off the spec, any other solutions might eventually fail especially if you are moving heavy loads and towing, i.e. pinning the retainer may just fix one problem, you might find that the axle breaks at the bearing or the wheel studs break (more wheel excursions).

P.S. there are a lot of old school rims out there that can cause these issues, I have a set of Dragway "Deep Dish" style that fit a HQ, but they are offset so much that the back side of the rim is actually outside the centreline of the bearing. I don't have to be an engineer to tell that they were not a good idea to put on my tonner if I want it to still be a tonner. (Probably not roadworthy to boot, due to the track change) They look fantastic though with some fat TA's.

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Anthony - Lettuce Alone SS

"I would definitely check the offset on your wheels first, it won't cost you anything and if they are way out it might be the root cause. "

Great Info. I think that far more relevant than the sheer width of the Tyre or the Housing flexing due to weight. I'm not sure that the Housing would recover from flexing ...

http://holdenpaedia....

I've witnessed the Axle breaking at its thinnest point (the Wheel end of the Spline) caused by wide rubber. Otherwise it can contribute to the Hemisphere collapsing.

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T

My Shed

Holdenpaedia, they're the brakes Mate.

That housing looks like someone attacked it with an oxy torch :-).

Do you reckon there was heat involved in the collapse? (Seized diff bearing maybe?)

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Anthony - Lettuce Alone SS

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T

My Shed

Holdenpaedia, they're the brakes Mate.

nuff said

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Anthony - Lettuce Alone SS

Going on the pedia HR axle std offset is 6mm positive. So any sort of negative offset (pretty likely with a deep dish rim) is really going to have to add that on top to get an idea of how much the standard bearing load has been changed.

This website explanation on offsets and problems is quite clear about the possible issues.
http://www.hoosierdi...

Not sure about copywrite T but something like this would be good in the Holdenpedia.

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Anthony - Lettuce Alone SS

I'll add the link to a suitable page ...

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T

My Shed

Holdenpaedia, they're the brakes Mate.

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T

My Shed

Holdenpaedia, they're the brakes Mate.

I like the wheels on the FJ > I would ring a diff shop and see what they do or tack weld the collar on with a low hydrogen stick.

2c.

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Disclaimer :- The above is purely speculation and is only posted for entertainment purposes!!!

Retaining collar, YEP, have seen the narrower "stepped" version. It doesn't look real strong.

HK ute, fully loaded walked an axel out in Bendigo, the axel came out of the side gears so drive stoped, the guard held the wheel in. Pulled the axel and slid some pipe over, bashed bearing and ring back on. Drove home.

Speedway..we HAVE TO tack the shrink rings. this is a RULE, if an axel comes out and no welds..12 month holiday :(
This happened to a bloke I used to race with from Ballarat. He had been un-well so the well meaning pit crew put the car back together...somewhere along the line an axel got changed for one without the tacks, out it came during a race and...well.."bugger"

I recon weight and/or off-set can increase this prob. What would I do? I was always taught to press each part on separately, I use Loctite shaft fit. If I had to I would tack the shrink ring...wouldn't worry me

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Q-ball.

"Clay is for racing on,Tar is how you get there!!"
[http://gallery.oldho...|My Shed]
3401

Were the spring saddles relocated?

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G'day all,

Measured the wheel offset, 11mm negative (98mm to outside of wheel, 87mm to inside of wheel) so there is the switch from positive offset to negative but only 16mm difference ...

The retaining ring has failed - lots of shrapnel in the axle housing and material gone from the inside edge of the ring, obviously enough material gone to cause it to slip off.

Can't work out how to put another picture up?

Cheers

Doug

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