How To: Axle Bearing Replacement

Finally! One step closer to getting the Mustang back on the ground. Since the axles were out and one end had a bearing race that was spinning in the housing end I decided it would be a good idea to replace the bearings before putting everything back together.

This is not complicated, but it is a fairly lengthy process! After shopping around a bit and a quote to do it (3 hours and $270!!!) I decided to tackle it myself.

Here’s the axle end. The Versailles axle has a built-in caliper bracket which floats outside the axle bearing. The press plates need to fit between the axle flange and the brake caliper plate.

I borrowed some press plates from a friend at work, they were a lifesaver and this job is impossible with something similar!

The first step on the instructions was to “drill a 1/4″ hole 3/4 of the way through the bearing retainer, then hit sharply with a chisel causing it to crack”. Yeah, one hole and a whole lot of whacking with the hammer resulted in little more than frustrating the heck out of me! I went back to the drill press and drilled two more holes. A little more enthusiastic hammer and chisel work and a “ping” alerted me that I had my crack!

This took some time to get right… One of the axles was really long and the brake caliper bracket and axle flange were too large to fit through the standard support. This worked out great believe it or not! Had to readjust once, but after that the retaining ring and bearing popped right off. Note that wood is NOT recommended for later steps as it simply isn’t strong enough. It worked on here because the retaining ring was cracked and came off easily.

This is about an hour into the job. The other one went much faster since I had figured out most of the tricks the first time around.

New Timken SET20 tapered roller bearings. Grease pack the outer seal and then slide the brake caliper bracket, bearing, and retaining ring onto the axle shaft.

This is the 3rd version of the support for pressing on the bearings! Wood is not strong enough for this BTW, but a 25 lb weight worked perfectly! I used a little machine oil on the axle shaft to assist the bearing to slide on. One shaft ended up perfectly positioned the other was about 1/16″ farther on, but I don’t think this will be an issue. Remember to go slow and measure often. You don’t have a whole lot of control as to how far it is going to “jump” as you press the bearing on, so take your time!

That was it for today. I didn’t have time to install the races and axles into the housing, so I wrapped the new bearings up in plastic to keep the elements away for a few more days! Still on the to-do list is e-brake cable mounts since the new leaf spring perches don’t have them…

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