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Spacer lenght for tapered front wheel bearings

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Tim66 Avatar
Tim66 Silver Member Tim Burchfield
Toledo, OH, USA   USA
1951 MG TD
1953 MG TD
Has anyone personally had a broken spindle when running with tapered bearings and no spacer? Just firsthand knowledge please, not secondhand.

Tim



1951 MG TD TD26711
1953 MG TD TD12524
1980 Corvette

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Steve S Avatar
Abingdon West, Southern California, USA   USA
On what kind of car? On a TC, yes it is well documented. I have no idea if it was tapered bearings or not but that should make no difference that I can think of. It never happened on my car (I have Bob's oversized spindles) but more than one friend has had it happen. Take a look in TC's Forever to see photos of what happens when the front corner of your car snaps off. Don't risk it!

Here's a right hand TD / MGA spindle with a big crack in it. My photo, but not my car. It was done the "American" way. The spacer was there but the nut was loose despite the split pin being in place. It also had a bad bearing, outer if I remember correctly. The left side was tightened properly and had no cracks or odd markings.



Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 2019-01-29 05:50 PM by Steve S.


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TD4834 Avatar
TD4834 Bill Chasser
Sacramento, CA, USA   USA
1950 MG TD
1951 MG TD MkII
I am aware of the prewars history of stressed and broken stubs. I have not heard this being an issue on TDs and TFs. When fitted with ball bearings I can understand the need for a spacer as there is no preload placed on the bearings themselves but once converted to tapered bearings which require some preloading I don’t understand the need. Any car or truck hub I’ve taken apart from the ‘60s and later that has factory fitted tapered bearings I’ve never seen any spacers to load the bearings against. They simply all had the tab washer, castle nut and cotter arraignment or were double nut’ed along with the tab washer.



Bill Chasser
TD-4834
TD/c-8151
TD/c-16920
TD-19408
TD-24060

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Steve S Avatar
Abingdon West, Southern California, USA   USA
There should be no pre-load on hub bearings. You need room for heat expansion. With ball bearings the spacer size is fixed, determined by the distance between bearing races inside the hub (inner and outer bearing races are equal distance). The nut is then torqued to spec. Adjusting the spacer slightly can reduce play or introduce pre-load if desired, if the bearing is rated for it.

The typical "American" way of putting tapered bearings together is to tighten the nut until the bearing starts to bind, then back off to whatever the next hole is. That leaves a somewhat random amount of play between bearing and race, in my experience usually between 3-8 thou end float. If you place a spacer between tapered bearings, it is typically equal or slightly smaller than the distance between inner races, and you then add shims on top of it to control the bearing end float (factory spec usually 2-3 thou) as well as increase the effective diameter of the spindle by torquing the hub nut to full spec (Typically 45-85 lbs/ft.). So the reason to use a spacer with tapered bearings would be two fold - setting end float and increasing the strength of the spindle assembly. Whether or not the extra strength is needed depends on the application. The MGB guys have argued this ad nauseam! But their spindles are far stronger than the earlier cars.

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Buckdendave David Hill
St Neots, Cambridgeshire, UK   GBR
1954 MG TF
Is this not a case of the original TC axles being rather undersized, making them vulnerable to long term failure, whereas later vehicles, with the benefit of hindsight, use a bigger diameter (and better material). The TD and TF falling somewhat between these two, means we sensibly treat them the same as the TC type?
I intend to make the change to roller bearings and have been gathering the required parts over a period of time (at lowest cost for best quality).
Dave H

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TD4834 Avatar
TD4834 Bill Chasser
Sacramento, CA, USA   USA
1950 MG TD
1951 MG TD MkII
Dave I have not converted to tapered bearings as I haven’t had issues that warrant the change. I know this has been brought up before regarding tapered conversions on the TD/TF spindles. A few members on this site have done the change while continuing to use the spacers. I’m just trying to determine the need for them on post TC cars as I have not heard of spindle failures like those prone to occur on earlier models.



Bill Chasser
TD-4834
TD/c-8151
TD/c-16920
TD-19408
TD-24060

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Buckdendave David Hill
St Neots, Cambridgeshire, UK   GBR
1954 MG TF
Bill. I haven't had any issues either. When I rebuilt the car I cleaned the original RHP bearings, greased them and put them back, thinking they would still be better than the ultra cheap no name new bearings that are offered now. However knowing that roller bearings are superior for this application, I thought that if I could find a set of NOS roller bearings in a good brand, cheaply enough, I would fit them instead. So far I have found a pair of one of the two sizes required and am still looking. The cost doesn't really matter to me, but the principle does.
Dave H

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Steve S Avatar
Abingdon West, Southern California, USA   USA
In reply to # 3881841 by TD4834 ... I have not heard of spindle failures like those prone to occur on earlier models.
Well, you know of at least one! winking smiley

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Tim66 Avatar
Tim66 Silver Member Tim Burchfield
Toledo, OH, USA   USA
1951 MG TD
1953 MG TD
Let me ask again and I'll be more clear this time. Has anyone personally, yourself, not a friend, uncle or ex wife but personally had a TC,TD, or TF break a spindle on a car that was using tapered bearings and no spacer.

Tim



1951 MG TD TD26711
1953 MG TD TD12524
1980 Corvette

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LaVerne Avatar
LaVerne LaVerne Downey
Fruita, CO, USA   USA
1954 MG TF "Green Hornet"
1969 MG MGB
1979 Triumph TR8 "Wedgie"
I have not Tim, but considering the metallurgy of the day, I'm for anything that might add some additional strength.... for that reason I have the spacers in with the tapered bearings


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lindi R. Lindi
Munich, Bavaria, Germany   DEU
of course it is a very good question to ask if anybody personally has been involved in a failure of those spindles. But what is the conclusio for action ?

I didn't know of such a case, too. But in the same manner I stopped smoking some 12 years ago, I didn't want to be the first to be known by me suffering a bad risc.
Adding spacers is a simple thing. I am sure, it makes things better, at least I know it doesn't make things worse. We do so much on our beloved cars, why not this?

Best regards
Lindi

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Fsisson Avatar
Fsisson fred sisson
nashville, IN, USA   USA
1938 Morgan 3 Wheeler
1950 MG TD "007"
I sense a cavalier approach in this thread. I beg to differ a bit. Yes a captured spacer is not a bad idea if done right. Especially on an older car as a captured spacer holds the inner race in place, keeping it from spinning. BUT... Adding spacers to get proper bearing pre-load, especially with tapered rollers is NOT such a 'simple' thing to do. A lot easier to do wrong than right right.

Ask anyone who has properly set up A TD differential what they went through to set the pre-load accurately.... It is a fiddly process at best.

SO... my question to those who advocate spacers with tapered rollers is, how do YOU check that you have indeed set the pre-load accurately?

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Tim66 Avatar
Tim66 Silver Member Tim Burchfield
Toledo, OH, USA   USA
1951 MG TD
1953 MG TD
In reply to # 3882952 by lindi of course it is a very good question to ask if anybody personally has been involved in a failure of those spindles. But what is the conclusio for action ?

I didn't know of such a case, too. But in the same manner I stopped smoking some 12 years ago, I didn't want to be the first to be known by me suffering a bad risc.
Adding spacers is a simple thing. I am sure, it makes things better, at least I know it doesn't make things worse. We do so much on our beloved cars, why not this?

Best regards
Lindi

It just that I've talked to people who have personally used tapered roller bearings without spacers for years without a problem, Dave DuBois was one (TD). But I've never heard from anyone who personally had a spindle break with tapered bearings and no spacers. It borders on an urban legend. As far as cancer goes, if you asked if anyone who was a smoker and had personally had cancer you would get an overwhelming response. The conclusion for action regarding the spacers is dispelling a myth or proving a fact. What someone does with that information is up to them.

Tim



1951 MG TD TD26711
1953 MG TD TD12524
1980 Corvette

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LaVerne Avatar
LaVerne LaVerne Downey
Fruita, CO, USA   USA
1954 MG TF "Green Hornet"
1969 MG MGB
1979 Triumph TR8 "Wedgie"
You can do it one of two ways.....the correct way would be to use a dial indicator to determine the end float. Those that have done so generally use the spec given for the MGB bearings which is .002-.004. The seat of your pants method is to grab the hub at 12 and 6 o'clock and determine by feel that you have a slight amount of play but not excessive. If you have done an MGB you know what it feels like. I used shims designed for the MGB which have a smaller id and require opening up to be useable. Most likely there are some off the shelf shims somewhere but not at any of my local bearing supply or drive train shops.

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Tim66 Avatar
Tim66 Silver Member Tim Burchfield
Toledo, OH, USA   USA
1951 MG TD
1953 MG TD
In reply to # 3883015 by Fsisson I sense a cavalier approach in this thread. I beg to differ a bit. Yes a captured spacer is not a bad idea if done right. Especially on an older car as a captured spacer holds the inner race in place, keeping it from spinning. BUT... Adding spacers to get proper bearing pre-load, especially with tapered rollers is NOT such a 'simple' thing to do. A lot easier to do wrong than right right.

Ask anyone who has properly set up A TD differential what they went through to set the pre-load accurately.... It is a fiddly process at best.

SO... my question to those who advocate spacers with tapered rollers is, how do YOU check that you have indeed set the pre-load accurately?

Here is how From The Frame Up does it (note: they use spacers):

Slide hub onto the axle with existing installed parts.
 Slide CH310 Tube Spacer onto the axle stub inside the hub. Small diameter end will be
to the outside of the car / axle stub.
o Note: This spacer tube must be installed. Replace if missing.
o Note: This spacer tube can vary in length due to a number of factors. The
spacer tube is approximately 1.25” long.
o The use of shims in next step will correct for variances.
 Place a selected thickness set of shims on the axle stub.
o CH308 Shim set includes an assortment of thicknesses of .001, .002, .003, .005,
& 1.0 mm
o This step will be repeated by trial and error to finalize setup.
o Note: This same fitment of shims is also appropriate for the stock ball bearing
setup for TABCs.
 Install greased outer roller bearing on the stub
 Install cupped washer with holes. Concave side of washer is to outside of car / axle
stub. (Will appear as a cup when viewed installed.)
 Tighten the slotted hex nut to 75-85 ft-lbs torque. (This is for original 5/8 BSF nuts. If
you have replaced the stubs and use 3/4 “ nuts then torque to @120 ft-lbs.)
o Spin the wheel. It should spin freely.
o There should be no end play or bearing float once the install is finalized.
o A slight (not excessive) amount of drag, once finalized, is considered acceptable.
o If the above tolerances are not met, adjust the thickness of shim set and retry.
 Install cotter pin
 Install wheel and knock-off.
 Complete
Summary: The above conversion will strengthen and preserve the front axle stubs

Tim



1951 MG TD TD26711
1953 MG TD TD12524
1980 Corvette

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