Go Back  Bike Forums > Bike Forums > Bicycle Mechanics
Reload this Page >

Cone adjustment is driving me nuts

Notices
Bicycle Mechanics Broken bottom bracket? Tacoed wheel? If you're having problems with your bicycle, or just need help fixing a flat, drop in here for the latest on bicycle mechanics & bicycle maintenance.

Cone adjustment is driving me nuts

Old 08-08-20, 03:17 PM
  #1  
yayoloco
Newbie
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Sep 2017
Posts: 3
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Cone adjustment is driving me nuts

Hello,

A few days ago I snapped the front axle on one of my bikes, so I got a replacement axle with new cones and adjusted it no problem.
I also decided to take a look on the rear axle, so I took it apart and I gave it a good cleaning. Upon inspection, the cones and races were in pretty good condition; only one cone had a tiny scratch of the size of a pinhead.

I'm going to replace the axle and bearings, but I live in a remote area, so getting new parts takes a while. In the mean time I decided to remount the axle. And then my frustation began.

My procedure is as follows:

I take the wheel and I put the "fixed" side of the axle on a vice. Then I adjust the other cone just enough so it does not have any play (finger tight). I lock it in place using a cone wrench, and I tight the locknut against the cone. As far as I know, this should work no problem. But what happens is that even if the cone did not move AT ALL (I have tried for several hours), the bearings end up so tight that the wheel barely spins. Even if I let the cone loose and I tight the locknut, it ends up almost seized.

I also have tried not having the fixed side of the axle on a vice, and just locking the cone and tightening the locknut against it, but then I have the opposite problem: the cones end up loose. Even if I preload the cone a lot, when I tight the locknut the cones ends up loose.

Really, I dont even know what to do anymore. I have adjusted a handful of cones in my life, but I have never faced an issue like this. I understand that having a damaged cone can cause issues getting the right amount of preload, but I feel that this is a different problem.

Please, I would appreciate if someone could tell if im doing something wrong or if is just that the whole axle is busted. Thanks.
yayoloco is offline  
Old 08-08-20, 03:41 PM
  #2  
CliffordK
Senior Member
 
CliffordK's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2014
Location: Eugene, Oregon, USA
Posts: 24,729
Mentioned: 196 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 11749 Post(s)
Liked 1,053 Times in 818 Posts
I do similarly... Lock down one side. Then adjust the other side.

I'll lock the second side down to about 70% of my desired tightness. Then check. If loose, put two 17mm wrenches on the two lock nuts and tighten. It should be able to slightly move the cone and tighten.

If tight, put on two cone wrenches, and loosen slightly.

Keep in mind that the QR may tighten the cones slightly when you install the wheel.
CliffordK is offline  
Old 08-08-20, 03:45 PM
  #3  
CliffordK
Senior Member
 
CliffordK's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2014
Location: Eugene, Oregon, USA
Posts: 24,729
Mentioned: 196 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 11749 Post(s)
Liked 1,053 Times in 818 Posts
I've been polishing cones for a while. I bought a couple of broken axle stubs from the local bike co-op.

Then I screw the cone and lock nut onto the axle stub backwards. Put in a drill or drillpress, and hit with successive sandpaper from 220 to 600 oiled. I get pretty close to a mirrored polish on the cones and can work out fine imperfections.

I can't say about case hardening, but if there is a case hardened rough surface, that won't work for me anyway.
CliffordK is offline  
Old 08-08-20, 03:52 PM
  #4  
Narhay
Senior Member
 
Narhay's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2012
Location: Toronto, ON, Canada
Posts: 3,290
Mentioned: 96 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 774 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 223 Times in 148 Posts
After doing it hundreds of times it is still trial and error. If your bearing balls are slightly worn that can affect the feel. Sometimes it helps to turn the other end with a wrench to adjust the adjustable side. I find the threaded portions sometimes have a little groove they like to sit in so it takes some adjusting on both sides at times.
Narhay is offline  
Likes For Narhay:
Old 08-08-20, 04:03 PM
  #5  
zacster
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: Brooklyn NY
Posts: 6,937
Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 22 Post(s)
Liked 207 Times in 167 Posts
It is trial and error to me too. I start by feel, trying to get the cone right and then tighten, holding the opposite axle and cone relative to each other and tightening the locknut. Then I feel. If too tight, I'll unlock and loosen the cone a bit relative to the opposite axle and retighten, if too loose the opposite. I keep doing this until I get it smooth as buttah. I then fully tighten by backing off the cone against the opposite axle to ever so slightly loosen it so that the QR takes up that little slack.

I've done 3 hubs recently, which is a lot considering my main ride uses sealed bearings. 2 on my almost never used MTB and one on my daughter's bike. The other on that bike probably needs it too but I haven't checked.
zacster is offline  
Old 08-08-20, 04:19 PM
  #6  
2cam16
Senior Member
 
2cam16's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2016
Location: San Mateo,Ca.
Posts: 3,587

Bikes: TOO MANY

Mentioned: 44 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 870 Post(s)
Liked 407 Times in 286 Posts
Same here after doing gazillion of them. It's just the norm,really. Just take your time and you'll eventually get it right.
2cam16 is offline  
Old 08-08-20, 04:26 PM
  #7  
79pmooney
A Roadie Forever
 
79pmooney's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2014
Location: Portland, OR
Posts: 8,669

Bikes: (2) ti TiCycles, 2007 w/ triple and 2011 fixed, 1979 Peter Mooney, ~1983 Trek 420 now fixed and ~1973 Raleigh Carlton Competition gravel grinder

Mentioned: 100 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2399 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 840 Times in 567 Posts
Originally Posted by yayoloco View Post
...

My procedure is as follows:

I take the wheel and I put the "fixed" side of the axle on a vice. Then I adjust the other cone just enough so it does not have any play (finger tight). I lock it in place using a cone wrench, and I tight the locknut against the cone. As far as I know, this should work no problem. But what happens is that even if the cone did not move AT ALL (I have tried for several hours), the bearings end up so tight that the wheel barely spins. Even if I let the cone loose and I tight the locknut, it ends up almost seized.

...
With your technique, you are forcing the locknut against the cone and pushing it to the hubside limit of the threads, whereas when you hand tightened to "perfect", the cone was pushing (lightly) against the outboard limit of the threads, I do my cones similarly. but - I back off the cone a touch before tightening the locknut KEEPING the cone wrench on the cone and in my other hand. after tightening the locknut, I remove wrenches, loosen the vise (another secret - use a vise and keep yhour vices out of the shop ), and spin the axle - looking for a tiny bit of play if it is a quick release hub. If not perfect (and first try rarely is) I put the axle back in the vise. Wrench back on the cone, Now I loosen the locknut and turn the cone wrench a small distance to correct. Loosen vise and repeat. So, I always have my left hand on the cone wrench and just do little turns on it to finesse the cone to perfect (or to the best that hub can get).

I hope I have helped you understand that you cannot hand tighten the cone first because there will always be play in the threads. How much depends on manufacturers tolerances but really doesn't matter, It is always there. (Even if there was zero play, just tightening the locknut would force all the threads of the axle and cone to bend and deform a little, doing the same thing. The cone moves in and tightens the bearings.) So, hand tighten as before, Back off say 1/8th of a turn. Now tighten the locknut and check for smoothness and play. Repeat until smooth and enough play that when the quick release is closed, the play at the rim just goes away, no more.

For a wheel with no quick release, adjust to no play at the rim, coming from the side of noticeable play and stopping when you are just there.

Ben
79pmooney is online now  
Likes For 79pmooney:
Old 08-08-20, 05:45 PM
  #8  
Andrew R Stewart 
Senior Member
 
Andrew R Stewart's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2012
Location: Rochester, NY
Posts: 13,786

Bikes: Stewart S&S coupled sport tourer, Stewart Sunday light, Stewart Commuting, Stewart Touring, Co Motion Tandem, Stewart 3-Spd, Stewart Track, Fuji Finest, Raleigh Pro, Trek Cycle Cross, Mongoose tomac ATB, GT Bravado ATB, JCP Folder

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2498 Post(s)
Liked 568 Times in 439 Posts
I was going to post the technique error but Ben beat me to it. BTW it's far easier to feel/sense a loose bearing adjustment (after all cones and lock nuts are fully counter tightened) if the adjustment is a tad loose. Then trial and error redo the adjustment with one side's cone being SLIGHTLY further threaded onto the axle before tightening the lock nut. Then test for slop again. The quickie method is to start a atd loose and counter tighten the two lock nuts. Usually (but not always) the cones will follow and thread closer to each other while they stay tightened against their respective lock nuts. Andy
__________________
AndrewRStewart
Andrew R Stewart is offline  
Old 08-08-20, 05:58 PM
  #9  
70sSanO
Senior Member
 
70sSanO's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2015
Location: Mission Viejo
Posts: 2,241

Bikes: 1986 Cannondale SR400 (Flat bar commuter), 1988 Cannondale Criterium XTR, 1992 Serotta T-Max, 1995 Trek 970

Mentioned: 9 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 493 Post(s)
Liked 226 Times in 169 Posts
One question...

... did you make sure there isnít a bearing left somewhere in the hub? ... behind the cup?

This isnít going to help with the tightening issue, you have already been given advice on that, but it will make it impossible to get the bearings adjusted correctly. This happened to me once and since then I have been more diligent in counting bearings out as much as bearings in.

John
70sSanO is offline  
Old 08-08-20, 06:10 PM
  #10  
CliffordK
Senior Member
 
CliffordK's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2014
Location: Eugene, Oregon, USA
Posts: 24,729
Mentioned: 196 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 11749 Post(s)
Liked 1,053 Times in 818 Posts
Originally Posted by 79pmooney View Post
With your technique, you are forcing the locknut against the cone and pushing it to the hubside limit of the threads, whereas when you hand tightened to "perfect", the cone was pushing (lightly) against the outboard limit of the threads, I do my cones similarly. but - I back off the cone a touch before tightening the locknut KEEPING the cone wrench on the cone and in my other hand. after tightening the locknut, I remove wrenches, loosen the vise

Ben
I think you've hit it. I always adjust cones with the wheel loose. So, one side is tight, the other side is being tightened. And, both the cone and lock nut move slightly when locking down, hopefully moving to a place generally preserving the cone's position.

By putting the axle in the vise and holding the cone wrench fixed, then one is pushing the cone to one side.
CliffordK is offline  
Old 08-08-20, 06:37 PM
  #11  
Mad Honk 
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 2019
Location: Bloomington, IN
Posts: 1,075

Bikes: Trek 770, Trek 760, Schwinn Paramount, Patelli Professional, Othon Ochsner

Mentioned: 12 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 453 Post(s)
Liked 343 Times in 261 Posts
After teaching the adjustments for about (a long time) it is fairly easy to get it right. The threads on the axles have the same number on them and easiest way to get it right is to lock the fixed bearing race side in a vise, and adjust from the other side Spin the cone down to the bearing until it starts to stop and back the cone off 1/4 turn and then tighten the lock nut. works every time. Smiles, MH
Mad Honk is online now  
Old 08-09-20, 09:39 AM
  #12  
davidad
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2009
Posts: 6,281
Mentioned: 16 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 442 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 65 Times in 59 Posts
Originally Posted by Narhay View Post
After doing it hundreds of times it is still trial and error. If your bearing balls are slightly worn that can affect the feel. Sometimes it helps to turn the other end with a wrench to adjust the adjustable side. I find the threaded portions sometimes have a little groove they like to sit in so it takes some adjusting on both sides at times.
If the balls still have their finish they are not worn.
davidad is offline  
Old 08-09-20, 10:24 AM
  #13  
yayoloco
Newbie
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Sep 2017
Posts: 3
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Thank you all for your help, I'll post an update on the matter.

Originally Posted by 79pmooney View Post
With your technique, you are forcing the locknut against the cone and pushing it to the hubside limit of the threads, whereas when you hand tightened to "perfect", the cone was pushing (lightly) against the outboard limit of the threads, I do my cones similarly. but - I back off the cone a touch before tightening the locknut KEEPING the cone wrench on the cone and in my other hand. after tightening the locknut, I remove wrenches, loosen the vise (another secret - use a vise and keep yhour vices out of the shop ), and spin the axle - looking for a tiny bit of play if it is a quick release hub. If not perfect (and first try rarely is) I put the axle back in the vise. Wrench back on the cone, Now I loosen the locknut and turn the cone wrench a small distance to correct. Loosen vise and repeat. So, I always have my left hand on the cone wrench and just do little turns on it to finesse the cone to perfect (or to the best that hub can get).

I hope I have helped you understand that you cannot hand tighten the cone first because there will always be play in the threads. How much depends on manufacturers tolerances but really doesn't matter, It is always there. (Even if there was zero play, just tightening the locknut would force all the threads of the axle and cone to bend and deform a little, doing the same thing. The cone moves in and tightens the bearings.) So, hand tighten as before, Back off say 1/8th of a turn. Now tighten the locknut and check for smoothness and play. Repeat until smooth and enough play that when the quick release is closed, the play at the rim just goes away, no more.

For a wheel with no quick release, adjust to no play at the rim, coming from the side of noticeable play and stopping when you are just there.

Ben
Your explanation was crystal clear, I'm definitely going to try your method. I never thought that the locknut could compress the threads of the axle, but it makes sense. Thank you very much. You have teached me a couple of things today (also, the difference between vices and vises )

Originally Posted by 70sSanO View Post
One question...

... did you make sure there isnít a bearing left somewhere in the hub? ... behind the cup?

This isnít going to help with the tightening issue, you have already been given advice on that, but it will make it impossible to get the bearings adjusted correctly. This happened to me once and since then I have been more diligent in counting bearings out as much as bearings in.

John
No sir, no bearings left on the hub. It happened to me once and since then I always double check before putting back the axle.
yayoloco is offline  
Old 08-09-20, 06:06 PM
  #14  
sweeks
Senior Member
 
sweeks's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: Chicago area
Posts: 1,493

Bikes: Airborne "Carpe Diem", Motobecane "Mirage", Trek 6000, Strida 2, Dahon "Helios XL", Dahon "Mu XL", Tern "Verge S11i"

Mentioned: 18 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 611 Post(s)
Liked 98 Times in 80 Posts
I like using an axle vise (like THIS ONE, though it's easy to improvise an equivalent set-up) when I'm adjusting bearings on a quick-release hub. This allows the adjustment to be made with the axle compressed so it will be perfect on the bike.
sweeks is offline  
Old 08-10-20, 02:29 PM
  #15  
davidad
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2009
Posts: 6,281
Mentioned: 16 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 442 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 65 Times in 59 Posts
I know that there is a tool for this, but I have been using a 7/16" nut over the drive side axle to adjust my bearings. I put a skewer through it and the axle with the end cap on the NDS. I Tighten the QR and snug the locknut against the cone and adjust the bearing either with the locknut or the cone depending on which will give me a light preload on the bearing. When I open the QR there is a slight amount of play in the bearing that goes away when the wheel is installed.
davidad is offline  
Old 08-17-20, 03:01 PM
  #16  
yayoloco
Newbie
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Sep 2017
Posts: 3
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Sorry for the late response, and thank you all for the help. I really appreciate it.

I used the method described by 79pmooney combined with the nut and QR trick by davidad. The result was perfect. I never thought that I could get such good bearing preload.

Hopefully this info will help others with the same issue.
yayoloco is offline  
Old 08-18-20, 10:13 AM
  #17  
davidad
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2009
Posts: 6,281
Mentioned: 16 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 442 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 65 Times in 59 Posts
Originally Posted by yayoloco View Post
Sorry for the late response, and thank you all for the help. I really appreciate it.

I used the method described by 79pmooney combined with the nut and QR trick by davidad. The result was perfect. I never thought that I could get such good bearing preload.

Hopefully this info will help others with the same issue.
I'm glad to help.
davidad is offline  

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off


Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Terms of Service - Do Not Sell My Personal Information -

Copyright © 2018 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.