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Steering Headstock Bearings Look Bad

Discussion in 'Cal 1400 8V' started by dennisj, Aug 6, 2018.

  1. dennisj

    dennisj Tuned and Synch'ed GT Contributor

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    At the 10,000 mile service I removed the top triple tree clamp, inspected, cleaned and lubricated the top steering shaft bearings. At that time the top bearing and race looked good and Moto Guzzi assembly line staff did install some lubrication, though a minimum amount. I did not remove the lower triple tree clamp to inspect or lubricate the lower steering shaft bearings. This turned out to be a big mistake.

    At 25,000 miles I did remove the forks (to change the fluid and install the Matris Cali1400 spring kit), the lower bearings are in terrible shape, pitted, rusty and fused with some kind of awful gunk. They are beyond repair or further service. I need to replace them, I'd like to move on to caged tapered roller bearings. Does anyone have any suggestions about replacements for a 2014 California Touring?

    Bearings Description:
    • Steering Shaft (Spindle) Lower Bearing Boss diameter: 35.08 mm (bearing bore diameter)
    • Headstock Race Boss Inside Diameter: 54.88 mm [Top and Bottom] (race outside diam.)
    • Headstock Race Boss (Shoulder) Depth: about 16-16.1 mm [Top and Bottom] (bearing width)
    I have put what I believe to be industry standard vernacular for bearings and race descriptions in bold at the end of these descriptions. If anyone who knows better can correct any mistakes I've made I would be grateful.

    I ordered a new set of Moto Guzzi replacement headstock ball bearings for the interim, they only cost about $60 with dust seals.

    Quick little note: I have already posted this same content in the "All Balls bearing conversation". I've reproduced it here in the hopes of spreading awareness about this issue and to crowd source some input. Thanks. Den.

    Attached is what my bearings look like, after cleaning them up with kerosene and lots of elbow grease. mg_steering_bottom_bearing_25k.jpg
     
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2018
  2. Touringman

    Touringman Cruisin' Guzzisti

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    Great...another project for the winter.
    SO...anyone know of an acceptable double roller bearing set that will fit the 1400?? If I'm going to all that work, Im not going back to the Guzzi parts dept.
    Todd, Can you source a set and sell here?
    Kirk
     
  3. dennisj

    dennisj Tuned and Synch'ed GT Contributor

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    Touringman, You were the one that gave me the idea of upgrading my suspension. When you put the Matris fork springs in I would think you greased your headstock bearings. Care to share your observations about the condition they were in, ESPECIALLY the lower bearings!
     
  4. dennisj

    dennisj Tuned and Synch'ed GT Contributor

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    All right, here's a progress report on my experience with my Cali1400T headstock bearing replacement.

    - I've already posted about the condition of (specifically) the lower headstock bearings on my bike after 25K miles.
    - I pulled the races from the headstock with a (slightly) modified Harbor Freight Pilot Bearing Puller ((Item # 04876).
    - I took my Steering Spindle (integral part of the lower triple tree clamp) to my machinist to have the lower bearing race removed.
    - Now I'm looking for a tapered roller bearing set to replace the stock headstock ball bearing setup.

    The Data:
    - Original Headstock Ball Bearing Set: Manufacturer: NTN Bearing Part Number: SF07A22PXI
    - Dimensions: Bore Diameter: 34.96 mm; Outside Race Diameter: 55.00 mm; Bearing Width: 14.64 mm
    - The diameter of the Headstock Bearing openings are: 54.68 mm
    - So, it looks like the bearing races have a 0.32 mm interference fit differential.

    The Bearing Puller (and its necessary modification):
    I bought this pilot bearing puller at Harbor Freight for $20 (it may have been or sale at the time). When I began using this puller to remove the headstock bearing races there was a problem. These races have an extremely small shelf on which to purchase the puller's paws, for this reason I had to grind down the face of each of the three paws to sharpen the paw's purchase point (i.e. the point at which the bearing puller's paws make contact with the race's inside edge). Once this was done the races came out with little trouble. I spent about half an hour removing both races once the tool was modified.
    To modify the tool I just used my bench mounted grinding wheel (6" coarse stone wheel).

    Supporting Images:
    --- See attached.
    - race_outside_diameter - shows all the bearing parts as well as the outside diameter of the bearing race.
    - upper_inside_race_diameter - the top bearing inner race inside diameter, must fit over the steering spindle.
    - bearing_stack_width - bearing specification of "width".
    - race_opening_diameter - bearing specification of "outside diameter".
    - mg_lower_steering_shaft_bearings_and_race - The Ugly Truth (if you don't lubricate them!)
    - polot_bearing_puller_harbor_freight - this is the bearing puller I picked up at Harbor Freight $20.
    - pilot_bearing_puller_modified - this image shows how I modified the puller for my application.

    Den. J.
     

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Aug 8, 2018
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  5. dennisj

    dennisj Tuned and Synch'ed GT Contributor

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    Further Update:
    I just spoke with Cory, technical support at NTN, the manufacturer of the original Headstock Bearing.
    Cory suggests staying with the original ball bearing arrangement over switching to tapered roller bearings. His reasoning is that roller bearings have higher coefficient of friction and the risk is that these rollers will slide in many instances rather than roll. The ball bearings on the other hand, provided they are correctly specified, manufactured, torqued and lubricated will rotate more reliably under these conditions.

    Also, NTN does manufacture a tapered roller bearing of similar though not exact size as these ball bearings.
    NTN SFO7A22PXI (original bearing set) 35.0 mm by 55.0 mm by 14.5 mm
    NTN 3290X (near replacement tapered roller bearing set) 35.0 mm by 55.0 mm by 14.0 mm

    I just ordered stock replacement headstock bearings, Part # 811007, at a cost of about $25 each, weather seals are extra, and required.

    Den.
     
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  6. GTM®

    GTM® Administrator Staff Member GT di Razza Pura

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    Thanks for the legwork Dennis. Touringman, I could, but I suspect you can find a local bearing supply house that can as well. Let me know if you want me to add them to the online Store though.
     
  7. PaulDavies

    PaulDavies Cruisin' Guzzisti GT Contributor

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    What type of grease are you going to use? Something water proof I guess
     
  8. dennisj

    dennisj Tuned and Synch'ed GT Contributor

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    Yes, water proof for sure. But isn't all grease water proof?
    Water and all oil products do not mix.
    I'll look into it though, perhaps water aversion is a property of various grease grades.

    To the point however, my lower steering spindle shaft bearings rusted because they were devoid of grease for two years. Moto Guzzi installed them dry at the factory as best I can tell. The top bearings had very little grease on them when I inspected them at 6 months of ownership. Because those "dust seals" are not weather tight the lower seal turns into a bath tub on our bikes.

    While my steering head is apart I'm tapping the headstock and installing a Zerk fitting so that I can keep these bearings greased at all times.
     
  9. PaulDavies

    PaulDavies Cruisin' Guzzisti GT Contributor

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    Up to a point, but the problem with conventional bearing grease is that when churned up with water in high speed or high pressure applications it breaks down and turns into a mush. The water gets trapped inside and is left in contact with the metal.

    For marine applications like boat trailer wheel bearings which are literally dropped into salt water, you can buy grease that resists this much better, with anti-rust and anti-corrosion additives and would be good choice for motorcyles (see https://www.penriteoil.com.au/products/marine-grease) . These types of grease are frequently Green/Blue (or Red) in colour. I would put something like that into a headset bearing that was not well sealed from the elements. I use it on all my mountain bike bearings for the same reason. Look for something with waterproof or marine applications listed on the tub. Marine grease is not that much more expensive than conventional grease, check this out as an example http://www.belray.com/bel-ray-waterproof-grease

    It's probably not relevant in your case, as you are replacing the bearing, but some greases don't mix well with others and should be thoroughly cleaned out before changing to a new type (e.g. lithium and moly).

    Check out this link also https://www.boatus.com/magazine/trailering/2015/april/keeping-wheel-bearings-maintained.asp. It gives and overview of the various properties of different types of grease.

    Be interested to see the Zerk fitting when you have it installed

    Good luck
     
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  10. PaulDavies

    PaulDavies Cruisin' Guzzisti GT Contributor

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    Been thinking about this since you posted so, as Vancouver is bathed in wildfire smoke (from California ironically), I took a couple of hours to drop the front forks an inch or two on my 2016 Audace to see what grease awaits.

    I've done about 10k miles over 2 years and don't ride through the winter, but here is what I found. Top seemed light but in excellent condition, so put a couple of squirts of marine grease in after this photo. The bottom seemed well packed so left it alone, again in excellent condition. Seems there were a lot of grease issues with early 2014 models (wheel splines come to mind). Hopefully quality control has improved for everybody since then. If I have to do this every 2-3 years, I won't be upset
     

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    Last edited: Aug 14, 2018
  11. dennisj

    dennisj Tuned and Synch'ed GT Contributor

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    Job completed two weeks ago but I've been riding so just now sharing the Zirk fitting installation. There is nothing to it, I used a silver Metric M8 grease fitting. I chose to mount it directly on the side so it would not be visible behind the front tank shroud.

    In the attached photograph you'll see the zirk fitting I installed. The green dot is mentioned above and a yellow dotted line illustrating the approximate top of the headstock bottom bearing race seat. Any point above this line will put grease directly into the headstock barrel.

    headstock_zirk_proposed.png

    In hindsight I might have made it easier to get at and not very visible by locating it at the point I painted a green dot. Here you could grease the headstock bearings without disassembling anything.


    Note about grease: I used Thixogrease brand marine grease. It is expensive and you'll need a 15oz tube and a half to fill the void in the headstock with the grease before it will force its way through the bearings.
     
  12. Skip Stauber

    Skip Stauber Tuned and Synch'ed GT Contributor

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    I read this post about a year ago and I applaud Dennis for sharing his in-depth experience with correcting a problem. My 2015 14 CUSTOM with 8k is in drydock for maintenance and customizing ( I'm looking out my garage window at a foot of snow :cry:). I decided to install a grease fitting in the steering head and when filling with marine grade, out the bottom came a teaspoon of lightly rusted water, a small amount of lightly rusted factory grease, and then nice marine blue and continued filling till it came out the top at about the same time, as I centered the fitting. An easy and worth while preventative maintenance procedure all may wont to consider. Again THANKS Dinnis :rock:
     
  13. vagrant

    vagrant GT Reference

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    In the heat and with use you will get some leakage from the bottom. I made a leather wrap about 1/2" wide to zip tie around it.
     
  14. Moto-Uno

    Moto-Uno Cruisin' Guzzisti

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    ^ I did that mod to my Le Mans 2 years ago . And the term "some" leakage is an understatement , YMMV
    It tended to drip onto the crossover pipe :( . Peter
     
  15. Skip Stauber

    Skip Stauber Tuned and Synch'ed GT Contributor

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    Very good idea using the leather. Your new grease seal uses both New and Old school technology.
     
  16. GTM®

    GTM® Administrator Staff Member GT di Razza Pura

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    The zerk fitting into the steering stem tube seems excessive as there is a great deal of empty space, that and the top bearing wouldn't get any significant grease where needed, and relying on gravity for the bottom is meh at best. Best to pull and grease by hand. However this is better than never doing anything I suppose, provided you remove the triples and clean the bearings from the drill fragments. ;)
     
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  17. Skip Stauber

    Skip Stauber Tuned and Synch'ed GT Contributor

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    Keeping grease in the steering head seems to be a major concern. So far so good but I'm certain time and miles will tell. I will stay vigilant on this and post my findings. Thanks for all the input.
     
  18. Skip Stauber

    Skip Stauber Tuned and Synch'ed GT Contributor

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    The grease fitting idea, at first seems like a good way to lubricate the bearings, but after careful analysis it becomes clear that it has its drawbacks. The steering head bearings were not designed to be lubricated with that type of system for there is no seal to contain the fluid grease, which could allow for some seepage. Also, it appears that the grease used by the factory has more of a firmer, waxy consistency than marine/automotive grade wheel bearing grease, I'm guessing so that it stays put. I am not sure that it is specific for that application but it certainly appears to be different. So as Todd suggests, do it by the book and make sure to use the appropriate type of grease for that specific application. As always, CHEERS
     
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