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Bearing press questions

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Wasn't really sure where to post this... but I got a little extra birthday money and I was trying to think of something useful to buy, so I started looking towards tools for my garage.

Of frequent maintenance items on my bike, one that I often end up paying someone to do is all the bearings. I've done the home made clamp and socket etc thing, and sometimes I've pressed bearings in and out successfully, and other times not so much.

Anyhow, was thinking about maybe picking up a press from harbor freight. I'm a novice mechanic... I can rebuild the top end on my 250 and do basic car maint. so I don't really know much about presses. I have seen MX specific tools for bearings, but if I remember correctly, its a different tool for linkage, steering stem etc... for example, RMMC has the motion pro suspension bearing puller, and a swing arm bearing puller but the two together are way more than a normal 12 ton press...

I would like to get something that would work for all the bearings on the bike, as well as other press work (like pressing out the bearing on my jeeps AC compressor clutch that went out the other day).

Anyhow, any thoughts or info would great. If I can't figure it out, maybe I'll just get a parts washer!

Here are some of the presses I was looking at;

http://www.harborfreight.com/garage-shop/shop-presses/12-ton-a-frame-industrial-heavy-duty-floor-shop-press-1667.html

http://www.harborfreight.com/garage-shop/shop-presses/12-ton-shop-press-33497.html

http://www.harborfreight.com/garage-shop/shop-presses/6-ton-a-frame-bench-shop-press-1666.html

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Do yourself a favor and NEVER use a press to install bearings on your bike. The housings are both soft and fragile everywhere on a bike and it is way too easy to damage them in a press. Appropriately sized sockets, drifts and drivers behind a hammer are the only way to go.

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Do yourself a favor and NEVER use a press to install bearings on your bike. The housings are both soft and fragile everywhere on a bike and it is way too easy to damage them in a press. Appropriately sized sockets, drifts and drivers behind a hammer are the only way to go.

Drifts and drivers?

And thanks for the response... I don't want to damage anything.

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I like the second one. I have one like that in our shop at work and works nicely. You will have to make stuff for drivers and jigs. Being able to support and odd shaped part and drive a bearing or race out so you will have to find something that is small enough to follow the bearing thru your part but still big enough to rest on the outer race.

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This is a drift:http://www.toolfetch.com/Category/Hand_Tools/Chisels_Punches/065-D-20.htm

It's like a punch, but designed to drive bearings and such things with a hammer.

You can go to any Home Depot or Lowes and get a piece of 5/16 or so round stock rod to cut to the perfect length to use as a drift as well, I use a 12" long piece a lot for driving out wheel bearings, swingarm bearings, and steering head bearings.

Then get a socket that fits the outer race of the bearing to hammer the new ones in. I have a cheap set of 3/8 drive chinese sockets just for this purpose. I use a 6" extension on it for a handle, and viola, cutom size bearing driver.

You have a lot more control over how hard you are pushing in a bearing doing it by hand (with a hammer) than with a press, just make sure to only appy force to the outer race when installing so the rollers don't ding up the inner race.

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I would think that unless you are changing bearings on a daily basis that it wouldn't really be worth it to buy a press.

I've yet to have any bearings on a dirtbike I couldn't get out or back in with a hammer and a punch or socket.

Even wheel bearings on cars or trucks. Just take my time and work in a circle and bam no problems.

Presses are nice but if you are only going to use it twice a year.

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Of frequent maintenance items on my bike, one that I often end up paying someone to do is all the bearings. I've done the home made clamp and socket etc thing, and sometimes I've pressed bearings in and out successfully, and other times not so much.

Don't get the little press - it'll be useless. I have the 6-ton HF press (square-top bench model). Worked great and 6-tons is plenty of force, but it was too short to press steering stems in and out, which is the ONLY way to change a lower stem bearing. I welded longer legs and made holes to lengthen the press and make it similar to your second choice.

Get a floor-standing press; either one of the 12-ton ones will suit you fine. You'll still be using sockets and pipes to make press collars, but the presses work MUCH better than drifts and BFHs.

Good for smooshing other stuff too...

JayC

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I use my press very frequently for all sorts of applications with motorcycles. I never had any problems, and I find it far easier to use than a hammer and bearing drivers. I can't say it makes linkage bearings a pleasure, but it sure beats hammering them out, or trying to rig up something with a vise. You can also use it for friends bikes, cars, etc. I have the HF 12 ton model.

Edited by rpt50

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I have that 12ton press. Not an exciting tool (or gift with your birthday money), and it takes up space, and you don't use it too often, but is definitely nice to have when you need it!

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I have the 20 ton harbor freight press. If I had to do it over I'd look for a high quality one on Craiglist. There is just a little too much slop in the harbor freight for delicate stuff. Don't get me wrong it's still does press work but I think I would use it for more stuff if it was a precition tool.

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Do yourself a favor and NEVER use a press to install bearings on your bike. The housings are both soft and fragile everywhere on a bike and it is way too easy to damage them in a press. Appropriately sized sockets, drifts and drivers behind a hammer are the only way to go.

That doesn't make much sense...the material is softer and more fragile, so it's better to whack it violently with a hammer instead of using smooth, even pressure?

I have the 20 ton harbor freight press. If I had to do it over I'd look for a high quality one on Craiglist. There is just a little too much slop in the harbor freight for delicate stuff. Don't get me wrong it's still does press work but I think I would use it for more stuff if it was a precition tool.

This.

For light work I prefer my arbor press. It won't do everything, but it gets a lot of stuff done. Mine is ancient, heavy, strong, and I paid $20 for it on CL.

You can snag stuff like this for $50 on CL

http://minneapolis.craigslist.org/ram/tls/2633909349.html

If you're patient, you can get some good stuff on CL for pennies on the dollar. That's how I equipped my shop.

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Worked great and 6-tons is plenty of force, but it was too short to press steering stems in and out, which is the ONLY way to change a lower stem bearing.

So the 20 or so sets of stem bearings I have done by hand were impossible? 👍

That doesn't make much sense...the material is softer and more fragile, so it's better to whack it violently with a hammer instead of using smooth, even pressure?

The idea is to shock the part into movement with PROPER application of impact, not wailing away on it like an idiot.

The smooth, even force you are talking about is 20 TONS of pressure -40,000 pounds! The nature of my suggestion was to HELP prevent a self-admitted novice mechanic from accidentally overpressing or side-pressing bearings into thin aluminum housings and causing damage. It's easy, really easy to screw things up with a press, I have seen plenty of it. A hammer is a gentler, if slower way to install the little bearings our bikes use.

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So the 20 or so sets of stem bearings I have done by hand were impossible? 👍

The idea is to shock the part into movement with PROPER application of impact, not wailing away on it like an idiot.

The smooth, even force you are talking about is 20 TONS of pressure -40,000 pounds! The nature of my suggestion was to HELP prevent a self-admitted novice mechanic from accidentally overpressing or side-pressing bearings into thin aluminum housings and causing damage. It's easy, really easy to screw things up with a press, I have seen plenty of it. A hammer is a gentler, if slower way to install the little bearings our bikes use.

sanddemon I'll politely disagree and I'll give an example.

I have to move your body from the front yard to the backyard. I have a hammer. I can either push you along gently on the ground with it, it may be hard to push, or I can smash you in the head repeatedly to move you along that same path.

what would you pick?

to your point, there are indeed some applications where a hammer is better.

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I bought the 12 ton press a few years ago to the crank on my kx250 and while it's not the greatest quality it's a very good value. At $120 I figure it paid for itself that first bottom end job. I also found it great for rebuilding linkages. You might also look at the blind bearing puller they have too. It's quiet useful for tranny bearings as well as wheel bearings. Or you could just buy a bfh but anyone who tells you to use it for reassembling cases is clearly misguided.

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sanddemon I'll politely disagree and I'll give an example.

I have to move your body from the front yard to the backyard. I have a hammer. I can either push you along gently on the ground with it, it may be hard to push, or I can smash you in the head repeatedly to move you along that same path.

what would you pick?

to your point, there are indeed some applications where a hammer is better.

I'll grant you that being smashed in the head repeatedly is not an enjoyable way to be moved; "excuse me" will do the job with less effort and bloodshed.

But since I don't weight 4 ounces and have a Rockwell hardness of 60, and am not being pushed into a precision casting with an Rc of cream cheese, I'll go along with your example.

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What I'd like to know just generally- do none of you guys heat up a bearing race to slip it off a steering stem (or onto a crankshaft), or freeze a bearing to slip it into a swingarm or engine case? This mass notion of smashing the hell out of stuff with a BFH has me wondering now.

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Last bottom end I built, I was able to literally drop the bearings in with almost no persuasion after I froze them. I have used my HF 12 ton in the past, I just go slow, make sure that the bearing's going in straight, and stop to reevaluate if I feel the slightest hesitation. Haven't screwed anything up yet.

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