Suzuki DR350, Brisbane, Australia

Bearings Bearings and More Bearings….

| Australia Australia to Africa

After a couple of weekends off from working on my motorcycle, I am feeling a bit anxious. I need to get back into that workshop and get my hands dirty once again. Its quite hard to turn down exciting things that are happening every weekend, such as the dreaming festival, roller durby and free tickets to music gigs. But if i want to head off in October, I have to spend every minute of each weekend in that workshop! This is also my first weekend in the workshop without my uncle Len. No more guidance, no more chatting about how i can do things differently. But without him there, I can set things up slightly different. I lined two saw horses in a row and placed two old heavy timber planks ontop, creating a second workbench. On the other workbench, I lay out all the tools i will be needing for the next few weeks. This will save me some time not having to hunting for the correct tool.

Ive never enjoyed replacing my wheel bearings, I always struggle to find the lip for the drift to rest upon. The step by step instructions in the manual never mention how to shift the spacer over enough to be able to tap the bearing out. Hence, why I wasnt really looking forward to this job, but it has to be done, so I better  get stuck into it. I had another motorcycle traveller on my couch and he said replaceing wheel bearings are the most satisfying task – i am yet to feel like that!

Removing the front wheel from the axle and placing it onto my new work bench, I hunt through the stacks of metal bits to find a suitable drift and insert it into the center of the wheel. I find a small lip of the bearing to tap against. Eventually the spacer has enough room to breath and shifts over allowing me to be able pry it loose from the wheel hub. Flipping the wheel over I tap the second bearing out on the other side. Repeating this process for the three bearings in the rear wheel, I now have five bearings which have no grease and are going slightly rusty.

With my wheel bearings out of the way, I thought I better check the swing arm bearings before I head down to the bearing shop. Setting the bike ontop of a empty nail box and ensuring that the frame is well hooked up to the gantary. I remove the all the bolts that hold the swing arm inplace. Pulling it free from the bike, with the rear suspension attached. I let it rest on the ground, I glance back at my now extremely naked bike.

Using a shallow dish of petrol and a paint brush, I clean out all the old well used grease from each bearing. Moving on to the lower linkage, as the grease disolves into the petrol all the needle bearings fell out. Luckly for me, I had a nice clean piece of old newspaper for them to land on. I filled the housing full of grease and stuck each needle back in, hoping they wont fall out again.

During the week, I head down to see the old guys at ‘Premier Bearings’. I was warmly greated by two really lovely guys, once of which sat behind a desk piled high with books and bits of loose papers. It was quite refreshing to not see a single computer in sight! While Trevor, when to get my bearing from the store room, I told them all about my plans for my next adventure and what i got up to during my last adventure. They boasted to me they had a computer ordered and should be arriving shortly. So I wrote down my website address and told them to keep an eye on me. I had to returning to the shop later in the week to pick up my ordered bearing seals, when I did, I said to them ‘I have something for you’ and hands Trevor, a couple of motomonkey stickers ‘ its so you wont loose my website address’. ‘We got someone computer savy to look up your website’ Trevor replied proudly.

For each bearing, I popped out the seal on one side and filled the bearing full of grease replacing the bearing as soon as I had done and marked that side with a black pen. Repeating this exercise for all five bearings I was going to install that day and the other five Im going to carry with me as spares. The reason I do this, is to ensure that no water can possibly enter into the bearing and destroy the bearing. I then fill the ‘v’ in the bearing seals full of grease too.
With the rear swing arm and wheel off the bike, when I removed the front wheel to install the new bearings. The bike suddenly dropped down and the whole bike lifted off the nail box. Panicking, I drop the wheel ready to grab the bike as the forks stop short of hitting the ground by two inches. I am so glad, I chained the bike up to the gantry! After I finished panicking, I placed the wheel onto the bench, balanced the bearing flat over the whole and then placed a large socket over that. I then could hit the socket without damaging the bearing. This doesnt go as smoothly as Ive written, I had to pull the bearing out several time just to start again, as I wouldnt hit square on with the socket, which in turn would make the bearing wedge into the hug at an odd angle… I eventually hammer them home and press my new bearing seals into place.

Re-stalling the front wheel, just to stop the bike from swinging around on the gantry. As for my rear wheel, Ill have to install that another day, when my swing arm is back on!