Bearing Packer- Tool Review
In rebuilding cars you will eventually need to repack wheel bearings. I have done it by had, and by using some of the devices below. It's important to pack wheel bearings properly (it's not hard) so they last a long time without any issue. Use only good quality grease, typically GL-2 ratings for high temperature disc brakes will be what you need. Special applications such as marine may use specialized types. Just check the ratings and application. I have been using Royal Purple Synthetic GL2 grease with good results, it's not crazy priced for a synthetic, but many brands and styles are available so pick your favorite brand and get busy.
I had a the Lisle bearing packer stashed away in a tool box, so I decided to try one of the CUP style packers. I had one from Harbor Freight, however I didn't work. I found out later they had a manufacturing defect which might have been the issue. So decided to try one of that style again. I liked that it stores the grease and had a lid to keep things clean. After trying that type of packer I decided that I was going to have to find the old plastic Leslie cone packer and give that a go on one of the bearings, and finally getting a bug up my a$$ for having something made of heavy metal I found the Lincoln 816 Bearing Packer. Below are pictures and comments!
Below are links to the products (or similar tools and supplies used)
Leslie for Economy Lincoln for Construction
I found a bunch of these on Amazon, and settled on the Aven Portable Bearing Packer. It was middle of the pack as far as price, similar to many others in style. One thing it did have that most others didn't was 2 O-Rings for the seal on the piston assembly. Figured that was a good thing. The box shows the instructions. One thing to note is in the lower right corner you can see the packer in a Vice! Construction is of thick plastic, not really all that bad.
Aven Pro Portable Wheel Bearing Packer Apart
These are the key pieces of the tool. The cone/driver assembly is heavy plastic and threads onto the piston assembly. Nice thing about all these type of packers is that their is a cover to help keep your grease 'fresh'. You can also fill the grease into the container by a lube gun, but would take a while, easier to just scoop it in.
Aven Piston Assembly
Closer view of the piston assembly. Again note the 2 O-rings. Most only have one. This may not matter but couldn't hurt
Aven - About to Press
The bearing is installed (depending on size) to make it so the outside of the bearing retainer is on one surface and the inner race is on the other. This will force the grease into the rollers. If you do it wrong you will grease nothing except the center of the bearing. If that's the case flip the bearing over.
Aven - Bearing Greased
At first I thought this was broken, or suffered the same fate as the Harbor Freight version of the bearing packer. I pushed on the piston with some force expecting it to start lubing up. Nothing. So put more pressure on it, still not much going on, then I leaned on that Mo-Fo with both hands and finally things began lubing up. When I mean I leaned on it, I put both hands and virtually lifted my feet off the ground. Not sure if the Royal Purple grease is extra thick, but it took a lot of force to pressure fill the bearing. Now that being said the picture on the box shows it in a vice... Think about it. Well that's cool, I go to my large bench vice and guess what, it won't fit. WTF, so now I'm pissed, if I wanted a work out I would hit the gym. Now to find the old el'cheepo bearing packer I had tucked away. I think these work OK, but too much effort.
Lisle 65250 Bearing Packer
This is a generic version of many packers, I just picked Lisle's brand as it's pretty common. I had picked this up at a local auto parts store a long while ago. It was likely under 10 bucks. For this type of packer you will need a grease gun loaded with you flavor of bearing grease.
Lisle Bearing Packer
These are the component parts to the bearing packer. Not much really to it. The grease is injected into the threaded rod that has a hole in it. You just sanwhich the bearing in between the cones, and grease gun away.
Lisle Cone Packer
After hitting it up with the grease gun it packed up pretty nice. Like any of these packers you still will be getting your hands dirty a bit, even if the cup style your hands get greasy.
Lisle - Greased Up
This is the view of the bearing side where grease is pushed through the rollers. Other then a mess of grease in the middle of the bearing that is wasted, it did a nice job, and is dirt cheep.
Lincoln 816 Bearing packer
Ok, I had no need for this. I had 2 already working and reasonable bearing packers, so why another? Well I like that it's Heavy Duty, and made of heavy metal. Spending $140 bucks on a bearing packer to use infrequently is a waste of money unless you have a 'problem' with purchasing extra tools like I have. This will pack smaller bearing, but I don't think it will work some larger truck bearings.
Lincoln 816 Bearing Packer Apart
This tool is well made for daily use. You can see the plastic one in the background as a comparison. The Lincoln tool comes with an extra bearing plate for greasing smaller bearing (the metal disk in the middle). I found an extra use for that part, will show you in a minute.
Lincoln 816 In Action
After figuring out which way the bearing will go that will allow grease to pressurize the rollers you screw the top on. Once it contacts the bearing you continue to tighten up as the bottom part of the tool is spring loaded. This is a nice touch. Once completely tightened down you get the grease gun on it and after filling up the empty cavity it pressurizes up easy and nice. Similar to the plastic cone version. The bearing was packed about the same as the plastic version but it felt a lot nicer to use then fumbling around tying to hold the grease gun and the plastic parts. This was really nice to use, and after the initial grease fill, it was fast to pump the next one up. Was nice to use a well made tool, although for most totally overkill.
Lincoln 816 Trick
With the extra bearing adapter you can use it to keep dirt out of the pile of grease that sits inside the tool. It's not the intended use for the adapter but works well, just don't over tighten it since it's not designed to be crushed in that position.
Bearing Packer Review Conclusion
Any of the 3 types of bearing packers would work just fine. The plastic cup style was more of a pain to deal with since it requires a lot of pressure or a large vice. If you don't have a grease gun, go this route. If you do have a grease gun and some cartridges of GL2 grease hanging around I would skip the cup style as it's a pain to use unless you have a large vice.
The best bang for the buck is the el-cheepo plastic cone style, it works just fine and does a good job at packing the bearing full of grease. It's a bit flimsy but unless you do this for a living how many bearings are you really going to pack? If a lot, step into one of the commercial version like the Lincoln.
The Lincoln 816 was my favorite as it's overkill and heavy duty, no question on quality of construction of easy of use. It's just about are you willing to spend the money on it. If you keep an eye on eBay you can pick these up used for cheep as well as similar version from Snap-on.
Their are a few more style and variants of packer floating out on the web, some have the cones attached to a jig that has a built in grease gun, etc. They may be more of a pain to store as all of these can be tucked easily away in a ziplock bag and put on the shelf.
The plastic cup style packer does have a few things going for it, one is that you do NOT need a grease gun. The other is that you can use it as a clean source of grease when left on your work bench. Other then that, skip the exercise and get the cone styles that use a grease gun.
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