June 2004 – Front suspension, part 3

This part of the front suspension story focuses on the wheel hubs, the bearings, and the brake rotors. Actually, the process is quite straightforward, and it is certainly easier than the installation of the wishbones. One thing that might look a little odd is that the hubs are both sporting “socks” — quite literally. The socks are there to protect the splines from damage. It’s a good thing to have on the hubs from the very first time that the hubs are exposed after removing the wheels. Hubs are very expensive little parts to replace, and damaged splines are a primary reason for replacement.

I believe the hubs on the E-type originally were plated, and there was evidence of plate (nickel?) on my hubs. I decided not to have them replated, since they are totally obscured by the wheels. In order to prevent rust, I am waxing the exposed steel and applying a “waxoyl”-like sealant. That, and the fact that the car is not going to do duty in bad weather, should keep the wheels in reasonably good shape.

The steering arm attaches to the central lock nut on the stub axel and to the upper forward support (one of four such supports radiating from the center of the upright).

Cleaning up the hubs was a chore. I had to sandblast the grime and fused rust-grease off. Then I polished the surface with a wire brush and coarse steel wool.

It’s important to install the correct hub on each side. Reverse them, and you might find that your front wheels won’t stay on. That is definitely a problem!

Here’s my experience. Take it as information from someone whose done the work. Remember “your mileage may vary” — use this narrative and the pictures to guide and inform your better judgment.

Install stub axel and the steering arm. The stub axel fits into the center hole in the upright. The steering arm fits between the upright and the stub axel nut and extends to the upper forward support, which is one of four such supports that radiate from the center hole. The rear pair are used to attach the brake caliper and the lower forward support is used to attach the brake line bracket.I found that all of the threads on all of these supports needed to be cleaned out, and now is the time to do the cleaning of all of the threads. If you wait to do the brake caliper threads until after you have installed the brake rotor, you will have a bit of trouble, since the rotor will get in the way. So, if you want to clean threads, clean them all before mounting anything on the supports. The threads on my uprights were 1/2 inch 20 NF threads.

The left side steering arm bears an embossed “R” that made me think it was supposed to go on the right. Apparently this is not the case, since the part only fits on the left side.

The four bolts that fit into the support holes are in three sizes. The two with holes drilled through the heads are for the brake calipers (the holes are for the wire lock), the longest one of the bunch is for the steering arm, and the shortest one is for the brake line bracket. All of the bolts should have split lock washers. I plated the bolts with zinc, as (I believe) they were originally.

I ran into a curious thing on one steering arm. The two arms are specific to a side, and they are not interchangable. Often the side is indicated on the part (as with the torsion bars), but I found that the steering arm that fit on the left side of the car has a raised “R” near the part number, and the steering arm on the right was unmarked. It could be that the “R” is actually unrelated to which side the part goes on, though it seemed an odd casting mark to use in this case. (The sidebar includes a photograph of the steering arm with the “R.”)

The stub axel gets firmly pressed into the recess on the outer side of the upright as you tighten the stud axel nut. The nut itself has a nylon lock ring. Inspect the nylon before fitting the stub axel with it. If the nylon has been damaged, it’s best to replace the nut. This nut, I would think, would have been a good candidate for something other than nylon to provide the locking.

Place the splash guard, rubber seal, and the inner bearings on stub axel. Now that the stub axel is in place, the process of fitting the various parts of the bearings begins. To put the bearings in, surprisingly enough, you practically don’t need any tools (except when setting the races and attaching the rotor) until the very end when you’re ready to set the hub into place and adjust the tightness of the hub against the bearings. You do need to get your hands greasy.

The inner bearing goes on the stub axel after you have put the stub axel splash guard (or “water deflector”) and rubber seal on. The rubber seal is a bit confusing to set into place — which side does the flat face go on? I tested the faces of the seal against the inner bearing and found that the flat face should go away from the bearing. The flat face of the rubber seal seemed to impede the freedom of the bearing, and besides, my recollection of the removal of the old seal had the flat face pointing away from the bearing. Before you put the bearing into position, liberally pack it with grease.

My bearing kits came with the rubber seal, the bearings and their races, a cotter key to lock the castellated nut, and a pillow-like tube of grease. The tube of grease was severely brittle, probably from long contact with the grease, and so it crumbled as I squeezed out grease to apply to the first parts I installed. The trouble was that I was afraid of introducing small bits of plastic into the bearings, so I threw the tube away and fetched a can of multi-purpose grease. My grease has a red color, as you’ll see in the pictures. I was able to reuse the splash guards (also known as “water deflectors”), even though these are frequently mangled when they’re removed. I replated them with zinc. There are two of these: one that fits around the inner end of the hub and the other that fits over the stub axel nearest the upright.

The order of installation over the stub axel is 1) the splash guard, 2) the rubber seal, and 3) the inner bearing. See the photograph for how the parts actually look when in place. Basically, the splash guard goes on the stub axel so that the concave sections of the ring will accept the hub-installed splash guard. (Yes, there are two splash guards that look quite different. One mounts on the stub axel, and the other goes on the hub.) The splash guard might fit in by pressing it firmly with your fingers. If not, a tap or two with a rubber mallet will do. The rubber seal fits easily with fingers. I was a little confused by how this seal was oriented at first. I tested it against the inner bearing, and I found that if you place the flat (more or less) side of the seal against the bearing, the bearing didn’t move freely. Putting the concave side against the bearing let the bearing spin freely. That concave side has a small spring fitted inside the ring — at least mine did. Grease the bearing well before slipping it on the stub axel. It will go on easily, though it’ll probably need to be well lined up. Making sure that the stub axel is clean will ease placement of the bearing. The bearing should be firmly placed, not sloppy. You should be able to slide it off, but you also shouldn’t be able to wiggle the ring that fits onto the stub axel.

Insert inner bearing race and attach hub to the brake rotor. Getting the bearing races out is no easy thing. Putting new ones in is a little difficult, but certainly easier. It is handy to have the old race to use to help drift the new one in place. You can set the old on on the new one and hit the old one with a hammer and not have to worry too much about damaging the new race.

This is the view of the inner section of the hub and the inside of the rotor interface to the hub. The “splash guard” and inner bearing race (inside the hub and well greased) are installed. I was careful as I removed the splash guards from the hubs, so I was able to reuse them after plating them with zinc. The guards are very easy to damage when you remove them.

But before you tap it in, clean the bore where the race fits. It is supposed to be tight, and so the presence of nicks or dirt will get in the way. I used some emery cloth and steel wool to clean the bores. I also place a smidgeon of grease (not much) into into the bore. At this point do notinstall the splash guard to the end of the hub. The temptation is great, since the splash guard is an easy thing to fit. The trouble is that the guard is soft, easy to bend, and quite easy to hit with a hammer as you tap the race into place. (Believe me, I know.) Wait until after the inner bearing race is installed; then install the splash guard.

Tap the old race as it sits on top of the new one, and be sure to tap in various places along the old race. This will ensure that the new race goes in evenly and won’t bind. I placed the old race on top of the new one with the thick side on top of the new race. This makes it easier to keep the old race in place, and if the race gets stuck in the bore, you have an edge to use to drift it out from the other side. Getting the old race stuck in the bore is a possibility. Once the new race is seated, it is recessed about two or three centimeters into the bore. Of course, if you’re using the old race to tap, that means that the old race is in the bore as well. Although I didn’t need to do it, I suppose that you could sand the outside edges of the old race to make it slightly narrower — making it looser in the bore as it pushes the new race into place.

This isn’t a wonderful picture of the outer bearing race inside the hub. (I forgot to take a picture of the finished race in place.) You can just barely see it inside the hub. The outer race sits flush with the hub part, unlike the inner race, which is recessed within the bore into which it is seated. To get the inner race in place, I used an old inner race to protect the new one from blows of my hammer. I just laid the old one on the new one, and tapped the old one. The outer race I tapped into place by setting the outside of a closed face wrench against the race and tapping the other end of the wrench. I moved the wrench from place to place on the race, usually in a triangular pattern. This gradually “drifted” the race into place. You do need patience.

It’s hard to tell when the new race is completely seated. I used a toothpick to detect when the space underneath the new race was tight. I just put oriented the toothpick to probe behind the new race. If I could feel the toothpick move into a groove, I knew I had more tapping to do. Be persistent.

After the new race is in place, place the splash guard on the hub. It fits snugly, but a few taps with a rubber mallet should do the trick. You could place a wooden block on top of the splash guard and tap it in, too.

The next thing is the brake rotor. The hub and the brake rotor are connected with five nuts and bolts. The nuts are the self-locking type, though these do not use a nylon ring. They use a metal ring, which I believe is more durable. Inspect the nuts and bolts, and replace any that are damaged. The bolts are placed from in inner part of the rotor, and the nuts are exposed on the outer part of the hub. It is an easy install. The nut and the bolt are different sizes, you’ll note.

Insert outer bearing race, prepare outer bearing for insertion, mount hub/rotor. Inserting the outer bearing race is a little easier simply because the brake rotor stabilizes the hub. The rotor serves as a large stand for the hub, holding it in place. Getting the outer race in is simplified by virtue of its size. It’s quite a bit smaller than the inner bearing race. That said, you do have to set it down into the hub a little. Also, the trick of using the old race as a protection doesn’t work. (At least I couldn’t get it to work for me.) I used a stout crescent wrench with a closed end wrench on one end and the open (“crescent”) wrench on the other. The closed end wrench was smooth and, of course, the steel was tough. I placed the rounded surface of the closed end on the bearing race and tapped it into place. Again, move the wrench (or whatever you use to place against the race) to different places on the surface of the race so that it goes in evenly. This race fits evenly into the bore, so that the race lies flush with the hub when it is completely in place. (Remember, the inner race was slightly recessed into its bore.)

Underneath the coating of multi-purpose grease (which my wife says looks like blood in the picture) is the bearing surrounding the stub axel end and neatly fit within the race.

Once you have the outer race installed, pack grease into the outer bearing. Put some grease on the inner and outer races. Then guide the rotor and hub onto the stub axel. Things should go on nicely. You should be able to hold the hub and rotor easily in place on the inner bearing.

Place outer bearing, insert “D” washer, screw on castellated nut. Look into the end of the hub to see the outer race and the stub axel end. Take the greased up outer bearing and slip it over the end of the stub axel and into to outer race. You’ll probably have to hold the hub up a bit. You can press the bearing into place with your fingers. Holding the outer bearing in place with your fingers, you can spin the rotor and the hub quite easily.

The outer bearing — and indeed the whole hub — is held in place by a “D” washer, a castellated nut, and a cotter key. Grease the “D” washer before slipping it on. (As soon as you look at the washer, you’ll see why it’s called a “D” washer.) Screw the castellated nut onto the stub axel and hand tighten.

It’s a good thing that this is easy, because the hardest part of the whole operation is coming — putting the cotter key in to lock up the castellated nut.

Over the outer bearing goes a “D” washer and the castellated nut.

Adjust bearing fit, insert cotter key to lock nut in place. My shop manual gives two alternatives to adjusting the “float” of the bearings: one that requires a measuring instrument and another that uses “feel.” Of the two, perhaps the measuring procedure has been done a couple of times in the history of the world, but the adjustment-by-feel method is probably the most used. Adjustment-by-feel entails tightening the castellated nut to a certain point and then backing off of that point a fraction of a turn. The correct “float” according to my workshop manual is 0.003 – 0.005 inch (0.07 – 0.13 mm). The manual says that adjustment-by-feel entails tightening until there is no “float” — the hub feels “sticky — and then loosening the nut “between one and two flats” to expose the hole on the stub axel for the cotter key. (My workshop manual uses the term “split pin” for “cotter key.”)

The completed assembly. A few things are lacking for the front suspension, most notably, the anti-roll bar and, of course, the brakes. At this point it does in fact look like a front end again!

Actually getting the cotter key in place is a real trick. The cotter key that came with my kit was actually slightly larger than the hole it was supposed to fit into. I was able to narrow the key by some deft work using my wire wheel on my grinder. It didn’t take much, obviously. (I cleaned the hole, too, with a drill bit.) You will need to bend the cotter key at two points, roughly in thirds along the key.Make the bends about 140°. You can also gently bend the whole cotter key into a curved shape about a quarter of a circle. These bends will make it possible for you to get the key into the hole on the stub axel end. Once you get the key into the hole, you shove it through and straighten the key while it’s in place. After the key is in place, you bend the halves of the key around the castellated nut, locking the nut into place.

The first one is the hardest to do.