1981 CJ7 Restoration - 2020.03.31

Continuing with the front axle rebuild, I started putting the wheel bearings into the hubs. The next step was to install the wheel bearing cups into the hubs. Sounds simple enough, but then I realized that there are two different wheel bearing sizes in the kits I received. It turns out that the wheel bearings closer to the center of the vehicle have a larger inner diameter than the ones toward the wheel. This totally makes sense if you look at the spindle as its profile looks stepped, becoming larger as you go toward the center of the vehicle.

I'm glad I kept all the pieces together since the bearings are matched to the bearing cups, which are different sizes, have different angles and differ in thickness.

Two different wheel bearings. The left bearing (inner wheel bearing) has an inner diameter of 1-3/4" while the right one (outer wheel bearing) has an inner diameter of 1-5/8"

Luckily I slowed myself down enough to realize there were differences and managed to get the right bearing cups into the correct side of the hubs.

Wheel beating cups pressed into the hubs.

The wheel bearings come in matched kits that include an inner wheel bearing, an outer wheel bearing and a seal that goes on the inner side.

Front wheel bearing kit with seal for one side.

Close up of a wheel bearing - playing with the 60m macro lens.

The next task was to get the wheel bearings packed with grease. I'd purchased a bearing packer a few months ago and finally put it to use. You put grease in the bottom, then this plate forces grease up into the bearing which sits on top. Over all of this, there is a plunger that you push on to force grease upwards and it pushes grease through the bearing. I found that I about had to stand on it to get the grease to go all the way through, but it sure was easier than hand packing a bearing.

Bearing properly packed by the bearing packer, then installed in the hub.

Now it's time to install the hub/rotor assemblies on the spindles. You just put them on, then install the washers and nuts in the order that is shown. The first set is installed to seat the wheel bearings on the spindle. Then you torque the first nut to 50 lb-ft, then back it off 1/6th of a turn and check that the rotor spins freely and there is no lateral play. Once this is confirmed you install the next washer, tab pointed inward toward the center of the vehicle, then the final nut, which is torqued to 50 lb-ft.

Once this is done, the last part of this process is to bend part of the outer washer to hug one of the flat sides of the outer nut. This prevents it from turning and coming undone. I used a large flathead screwdriver to do this and was amazed with the amount of force it took to bend the washer from this angle. Once it got going, it wasn't to bad, but it took some effort.

Rotor/hub mounted and locked in.

This is how it all looks. Well, I skipped a few photos, but got the locking hub clutches on and then installed the locking hub housings, then that was it.

Locking hub clutches installed.

Front axle all buttoned up.

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