Overhauling Maxi-Car Hubs, Part 3 (whew!)

My Maxi-Car hub overhaul experience has spanned many weeks now.  When I left off in Part 2, I was working on a set of Maxi-Car hubs from a 1977 Jack Taylor tandem.  After running into some issues with those hubs, I went back to the older hubset that I was using as my platform for learning the process.  Those hubs were soaking in penetrant for several weeks.  I had been unable to drop the axle through the hub by striking it with my mallet.  Several readers suggested using a regular hammer with a piece of brass to protect the axle, or a copper or brass hammer.

That turned out to be good advice.  But, I didn’t have a copper hammer or a piece of brass.  And, my local hardware store doesn’t carry copper or brass hammers, so I purchased a much heavier dead blow rubber mallet and finally got the axle of the rear rub to drop down.  The top photo above shows what you see when this happens.  The axle carries with it the two outer seals, plus the bearing set and inner race.  The outer races are permanently attached to the hub and do not need to be removed for the overhaul process.  The hubs and parts were very dirty so I soaked everything in alcohol and then used a pipe cleaner to get at the nooks and crannies inside the bearing rings.

Bearing ring before cleaning

Inner races looking good

Once I had the parts cleaned it was time to begin the lubrication, assembly and adjustment process.

Since the hubs are sealed, I operated on the theory that it would not be a good idea to heavily grease the races and bearings.  The grease has no place to go in a sealed system, so I modestly applied grease, as shown above, using Phil’s waterproof bearing grease.

Now comes time for the assembly and adjustment process.  The above two pages from Yellow Jersey’s Maxi-Car tech manual are the most important resources for the process.  The tech manual was translated from the original French, and so there is the potential for lost meanings and nuances.  The assembly process proceeds in this order:

1.  Assemble the non-adjustable end of the axle with the flat washer and the cambered washers, the bearing cage, and the inner race.  Then insert this into the hub.  On a rear wheel, the fixed end of the axle always corresponds to the freewheel side of the hub.

2.  Put the fixed end of the axle into the hub axle vise.  Now assemble the adjustable side’s inner race, bearing cage, and two washers in the same order as disassembled (See diagram above).  You will note that the inner race will not fully seat onto the axle.

3.  Screw on the adjustment nut until the inner race begins to move downward over the axle, leaving a slight amount of free-play.  Unlike a regular cup and cone adjustment, this is a one-way venture, and if you over tighten the nut, as I did the first time I tried this, you’ll have to disassemble everything and start over.  But, practice makes perfect.  I slowly screwed down the adjustment nut until I felt approximately the same amount of free-play as I would want in a cup and cone hub with a quick release axle.  The instructions say to “take the wheel by the rim and try to move it up and down”.  You want “a little play”, according to the tech manual.

4.  Reassemble the lockring, outer nut and dustcap onto the adjustable end. Lock the nuts against each other.

5.  Now flip the hub over and do the same thing on the fixed end.

The hub should spin freely but without excessive side to side play when mounted in the dropouts.  I ended up doing the adjustment twice because my initial attempt was too tight.  The above video shows the hub spinning smoothly after the final adjustment.

This undertaking was challenging but also rewarding, and I’m looking forward now to working on the Maxi-Car hubs that are part on the 1980’s custom Meral that landed in my shop last Summer.  Stay tuned!

6 thoughts on “Overhauling Maxi-Car Hubs, Part 3 (whew!)

  1. The Yellow Jersey translation is superb. The original instruction include colloquial usages, regionalisms, topical references, things that only a Gauloises smoking mechanic from Lyon who had been working on Sablieres and Ducherons in the 1940s would have easily recognized. Not Academy French at all. Thank you Andy. Thank you Sean.

  2. Hey, I have a damaged Maxi-Car hub, very similar to the one you have restored here. The axle itself has been bent. Do you think there is any chance of finding a replacement shy of having one machined?

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