BB balls and cages

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BB balls and cages

Postby RetroPilot » Wed Oct 12, 2011 1:54 pm

Bottom Bracket shaft cage bearings, traditional type...

what would happen if you put balls only, in the same diameter, in in place of the cages?
Would you need to add an extra ball or two to allow for the fact that the balls are no longer held apart a set space by the cage?
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by BNA » Wed Oct 12, 2011 3:13 pm

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Re: BB balls and cages

Postby MichaelB » Wed Oct 12, 2011 3:13 pm

RetroPilot wrote:Bottom Bracket shaft cage bearings, traditional type...

what would happen if you put balls only, in the same diameter, in in place of the cages?
Would you need to add an extra ball or two to allow for the fact that the balls are no longer held apart a set space by the cage?


Nope, but it is more hassle. Just buy std replacements. If they are captive within the cage, life is easier.
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Re: BB balls and cages

Postby gclark8 » Wed Oct 12, 2011 3:37 pm

it would double the wear. Cone-ball-cup as against Cone-ball-ball-cup! :shock:
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Re: BB balls and cages

Postby RetroPilot » Wed Oct 12, 2011 3:38 pm

yeah, but I can probably get a sh-load of the little steel shotty pellets whatever diameter, for nix..

Im still looking for a cheap source of those races...see, the bearing joints can supply shotgun pellets any diameter you want, but you show them those cage races, they look puzzled, for some reason bearing shops Ive been to dont recognize them or have them..

they still must come from a major ball-bearing maker, why bearing sellers dont have them, I dont know.

I actually also wonder whether the cage contributes to shortening the life of the whole contraption.....
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Re: BB balls and cages

Postby RetroPilot » Wed Oct 12, 2011 3:41 pm

yeah, but what about ball vs cage wear, Clarke?
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Re: BB balls and cages

Postby HappyHumber » Wed Oct 12, 2011 5:06 pm

I thought the cages were more for ease of assembly - particularly a time (and thus money) saver at the big factories. And I guess to it means you a get a bit less grease all over your mitts if you're not packing them individually.

I pretty sure Sheldon Brown has an article on the various standard loose ball bearing sizes... he talks about the cages.
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Re: BB balls and cages

Postby sturmey archer » Wed Oct 12, 2011 5:21 pm

I'd be wondering what the diameter tolerance ball to ball and the ovality(?) of each ball is for steel shot gun pellets. Not to mention what sort of surface treatment they have.

Having said that the standard for loose balls is pack in ans many as will fit and then take out one
1.370" x 24 tpi - what sort of stupid standard is that?
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Re: BB balls and cages

Postby RetroPilot » Wed Oct 12, 2011 7:03 pm

I didnt mean steel shotgun pellets literally, I was calling bearing balls that..
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Re: BB balls and cages

Postby RetroPilot » Wed Oct 12, 2011 7:10 pm

I might follow that Sheldon Brown lead..

In wheels, Ive noted, you are likely to encounter either caged balls or free balls..

certainly the caged balls are niftier to handle when it comes to wheels, but once Ive dismantled a BB, I doubt it makes much difference convenience wise, ive got no issue sticking the little buggers into the cup loaded with grease one by one..
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Re: BB balls and cages

Postby glennb » Wed Oct 12, 2011 8:21 pm

Why are you holding out against sealed BBs? IME they work, they're cheap, and they don't need servicing.
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Re: BB balls and cages

Postby HappyHumber » Wed Oct 12, 2011 8:51 pm

haha! I read it the way the OP intended, strangely enough. Similar sense of humour maybe?

I surprised now though that someone didn't pick you on the fact shottie pellets are generally lead or some similar softer alloy? :D
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Re: BB balls and cages

Postby RetroPilot » Thu Oct 13, 2011 3:13 am

why not cartridges?

For my own bike, sure. Whats the rock-bottom cheapest cartridge, maybe $20?

See, Im selling cheap bikes...if BB bearing/s have failed, as they often have on 3-piece cranks though not on 1-piece ones, I have to make some kind of repair. Putting a $20 part into one, and b4 I have even done any other rectification on it Im pretty much wasting my time economically on that bike anyway..even $8 worth of cages is a large % cost-on..
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Re: BB balls and cages

Postby gclark8 » Thu Oct 13, 2011 6:13 am

Buy your balls by the gross, :shock:
remove old balls from cages,
clean cages with kero,
fit new balls to cage,
fit serviced cages with NEW grease,
about 50c for a BB service! :wink:
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Re: BB balls and cages

Postby MichaelB » Thu Oct 13, 2011 8:00 am

gclark8 wrote:Buy your balls by the gross, :shock:
remove old balls from cages,
clean cages with kero,
fit new balls to cage,
fit serviced cages with NEW grease,
about 50c for a BB service! :wink:


+ labour .... :roll:

Last time I bought a pair of BB crank bearings in cages, it was $5 for a pair.

I can't see the point of the effort to use just loose balls and the extra effort and time involved.
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Re: BB balls and cages

Postby RetroPilot » Thu Oct 13, 2011 8:01 am

yeah, thats all fine, but as in a case yesterday, not unusual that half of cage is now in the form iron filings dust around inside of BB and remains of cage such as they are eve recognizable resembles a metal sculpture that a Labor govt paid an "artist" a million dollars for in a public square.

See im not talking about servicing, am talking about repair /replacement of components beyond service..
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Re: BB balls and cages

Postby gclark8 » Thu Oct 13, 2011 8:27 am

Where are you Retro?

Ball retainers 1/4” x 9 for bottom bracket racer-MTB. I sell them for $2 a pair.
Last edited by gclark8 on Thu Oct 13, 2011 8:43 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: BB balls and cages

Postby RetroPilot » Thu Oct 13, 2011 8:32 am

Melbourne..

the question is also an academic technical one, can you dispense with the cage altogether..
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Re: BB balls and cages

Postby glennb » Thu Oct 13, 2011 9:03 am

Yeah, you can, just use an extra two bearings each side.

Cages go bad when there's no grease though, meaning odds on the spindles will be pitted, at which point you need a new BB anyway.

I picked up a 110mm sealed square-taper BB for $7 or $8 from CRC not long ago. They're probably cheaper by the dozen.

I'd be looking for a cheap source of BBs if I was in your boat.
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Re: BB balls and cages

Postby rkelsen » Thu Oct 13, 2011 9:32 am

RetroPilot wrote:the question is also an academic technical one, can you dispense with the cage altogether..

Absolutely. In fact, I'd go as far as saying that no good mechanic could leave them in there with a clear conscience.
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Re: BB balls and cages

Postby RetroPilot » Fri Oct 14, 2011 12:23 pm

ok, so add two balls, which the normal number in cage is 9 by my count..so make it 11..

ill check on the el cheapo cartridges, thanks to the last two posters..

bearing store is quoting 8c each for balls if imperial sized (which I think they are, what size are they btw?) or 20c ea if metric..

at 8c it might still be practical , at 20c ea not really, at that price its well over the price of the cages that clarke mentioned.
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Re: BB balls and cages

Postby il padrone » Sun Oct 16, 2011 9:05 am

RetroPilot wrote:ok, so add two balls, which the normal number in cage is 9 by my count..so make it 11..

ill check on the el cheapo cartridges, thanks to the last two posters..

bearing store is quoting 8c each for balls if imperial sized (which I think they are, what size are they btw?) or 20c ea if metric..

at 8c it might still be practical , at 20c ea not really, at that price its well over the price of the cages that clarke mentioned.

Struth!!! :shock:

Go to your friendly LBS. They'll probably give you a handful of balls, enough for the whole BB for about 20c total. And they'll know what size to give you (BB and rear wheel hub bearings are 1/4")

As for the correct number, put enough balls in to fill a ring around the cup, then remove one.
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Re: BB balls and cages

Postby il padrone » Sun Oct 16, 2011 9:13 am

gclark8 wrote:it would double the wear. Cone-ball-cup as against Cone-ball-ball-cup! :shock:

Where did you get this idea from??

When the bearings are correctly adjusted the balls should be pushed apart from one another giving only contact between the cup-ball-cone. In addition a well maintained bearing set will have a liberal dose of grease to prevent any wear.

Loose balls are always better than bearings in a cage - more balls taking the loads = less load per ball (this is particularly an issue for the headset). Also caged bearings ina headset make it that much more likely that a loose headset can become brinnelled, taking a 'set'. Caged bearings have the added disadvantage that sometimes the cage can break - in which case you have seized bearings and riding stops.
Riding bikes in traffic - what seems dangerous is usually safe; what seems safe is often more dangerous.
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Re: BB balls and cages

Postby il padrone » Sun Oct 16, 2011 9:16 am

glennb wrote:Why are you holding out against sealed BBs? IME they work, they're cheap, and they don't need servicing.

I must admit this is my preference for BBs. Cups, loose balls and the axles to suit are pretty rare to come by these days.
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Re: BB balls and cages

Postby RetroPilot » Sun Oct 16, 2011 9:30 am

yes, I thought the two extra balls might in fact increase the robustness load bearing ability, by sharing it around another 2/11ths, or the effect might even be slightly exponential.
Ive noted that those big bastards on bikes with one-piece cranks seem almost indestructible compared to the ones on 3-piece cranks..theyve usually survived even on the daggiest old unmaintained bikes.

Ive bought a 144 pack of balls on ebay for about $8.30 inc...highly reluctant to go cap in hand to bike shops for handfulls of anything..except a bike box when I need one, I know that few of them begrudge those.
works out <6c a ball, the local bearing shop wanted 8c ea

thanks for pointing out they are same as rr wheel balls, Id wondered but figured the BBs were probably larger..that will come in handy as well..
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Re: BB balls and cages

Postby batchsaid » Wed Sep 12, 2012 10:31 pm

Bump.

Was there ever consensus reached around whether ditching cages in favour of lose balls is the way to go?

Also does any one know anything about ball bearing grades? Sheldon says grade 25 is the best quality available for cycling purposes but i've seen a few sites advertising grade 10 or 5 in some sizes.

Cheers :lol: :?: :lol:
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