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Pressing wheel bearings - Heating and freezing, does it work?

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Old 10-08-2015, 12:42 PM
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Pressing wheel bearings - Heating and freezing, does it work?

So I'm striking out finding a local shop that will press a new wheel bearing on to a new hub for me. Every shop I've called has basically said they do this, but not as a stand-alone service. Essentially, it seems they are all trying to push someone in my position to let them do all the work of replacing a wheel bearing, so they can get the labor charge for a few hours PLUS requiring that I buy parts through them.

I'm still trying to find a shop or someone with a press, but I'm starting to wonder if I could seat the bearings onto the hub without a press using heat and cooling.

Place the hub in the freezer for 24+ hours, then place the new bearing in the oven at maybe 200 degrees F. With the hub shaft now cold and slightly shrunken, and the bearing warmed and slightly expanded, perhaps I'd be able to get the bearing seated onto the hub with just the gentle but firm persuasion of a heavy mallet/hammer?.. I'd place a solid block of metal across the face of the bearing to spread the force evenly, and use a scrap of 2x4 on top of that to soften the impact (while still transmitting the force), then hammer on the 2x4 with my 42oz hammer until the bearing is fully seated.

Has anyone ever tried this? Any suggestions on how hot I can get the bearing without potentially ruining the sealed-in grease, or making it so thin that it might seep out?

Worst case scenario, I might ruin the bearing if I get it too hot. Slightly less worse case scenario, I can't get the bearing fully seated, and I'm left in the same position that I' already in- needing to find a press to finish the job, I guess. Think I'll try this even if I don't get any positive feedback- that is, unless anyone pipes up and has some serious warning that I haven't considered..
Old 10-08-2015, 02:16 PM
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Try pep boys, they will do it for cheap or even free. I have gone through them before.

If you want to try your way, go for dry ice. It will still take some force and you need to work quickly, the heat will transfer into the chilled part very fast locking them together. I have heard/read of guys doing this. They tapped it on with a hammer on some cement. It won't be butter, but you won't need thousands of pounds of force to get them together IF YOU WORK QUICK AND SMART. If not, you'll bring a partially pressed hub/bearing to pep boys like you said. Don't use a flat piece of metal use the proper sized round so you do not put force on the bearing race.

Small local ice companies sell dry ice BTW for cheap.
Old 10-08-2015, 11:45 PM
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Maybe you can rig something up using a car jack as a press or something? You might be able to pickup a cheap press at Harbor Freight also.
Old 10-09-2015, 10:09 AM
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If you don't know anybody, try going to one of those shops and talking directly to one of the techs. Offer $20 for him to do it on a break.

Worse case, you can get a Harbor Freight press for around $100. Could come in handy when you need to replace compression rod bushings at some point.
Old 10-09-2015, 01:54 PM
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Originally Posted by LoSt180 View Post
If you don't know anybody, try going to one of those shops and talking directly to one of the techs. Offer $20 for him to do it on a break..

Or find someone local willing to press. Call up machine shops, vs mechanics.

Honestly, it takes all of 3 mins to press that bearing on. Not much force needed.

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