I'm getting ready to pop off the rear wheels on my 1914 to paint them and mount new tires. There is grease all over the wheels, and so I'll be evaluating the brakes, and I'd like to install new seals. After a little research, I've learned that the oil seals are inside of the bearings, and the bearing run in grease that's retained by felts.
I see that there are neoprene inner seals available, as well as a modern outer seal.
How difficult is it to remove the bearings and sleeves? What's the best way to attack this?
There is a tool which looks like a short piece of pipe which fits right inside the sleeve after you pull out the bearing. There is a spring loaded button on the tool which fits into the grease hole in the sleeve and you rotate the tool in the opposite way the wheel turns when the car goes forward. The sleeve should turn and pull out. The seal goes in facing the inside of the axle with the smooth side out. You might need to grind off a few fractions of an inch from the inner edge of the sleeve in order to push the sleeve all the way in so the outer edge does not protrude. Then put the bearing back in and put the outer seal on. Some use a modern seal on the outside too. If the inner seal works the old type felt seal is OK for the outer seal. Put plenty of grease in the bearing because none of the differential oil (is supposed) to get past the seal.
You need the bearing sleeve removal tool. This would be a good time to clean and look over both the bearings and sleeves. For sure on the new style neoprene inner seals, felts or modern your choice on the outer. I and others use the felts on the outer and seem to work fine.
With the tool, which you do have to have, it's more messy then hard. There are left and right sleeves, one type does not work on both sides.
Unless you know the condition of your rear end, this might be a good time to pull and go thru it. The club book does a good job in guiding you thru the job.
I just pulled a sample of the book, other dealers will carry them too.
Do the axle shafts have to come out for this? What holds them in?
The bearings should pull out easy. You will need the tool to remove the sleeves.
There is an inside and outside bearing on each side. Only the outside bearing needs to come out for what you want to do so the axle shafts stay in place and are reasonably supported by the inner bearing. It isn't a bad job as long as the outer bearing sleeve comes out without too much trouble. Some do and others can be a rear bear!
Steve..no the axle shafts do not have to come out. They're held in place with the gear in the differential. With the outer bearing removed, it can droop a wee bit, so if you're going to leave it "idle" for any length of time, I prefer to give it some sort of support, even if it's just sliding the outer bearing back in a little bit. The neoprene seal slides in easily, with the pointy end in first of course. Also helps to smear a little black Hi-Oil resistant RTV along the outer metal flange part of the seal before sliding it in the tube, this will help keep oil from seeping past the seal.