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What can have happened to Tom Meacham's car?

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  • What can have happened to Tom Meacham's car?

    Tom, (who built up his super spiffy Caterham Superlight in Colorado for the last 2 years) met with us in Monterey on his way home to Anchorage. While he made the first 3000 miles well with his brand new car he almost lost his right rear wheel on the way to the race track. Only the brake caliper was still holding it in place. Turned out his rear wheel bearings were completely ground up. Fortunately he could get spare hubs from Caterham USA overnight and found a specialty shop in Santa Clara to install right away.

    Anyway, how can that happen?

  • #2
    No grease or the rear axle nut wasn't properly tightened. The nuts and axle stubs are left and right hand thread so it matters which side they go on too. I think it would be possible to install incorrectly and a nut work loose. If I remember correctly the axles were clearly marked so this is unlikely.

    There are two opposing tapered bearings inside the hub and they need the proper preload, B and D in the sketch. I think they are made such that a flange on the inner side of B and D are in contact when properly torqued (~200 ft. lbs.) The hub needs the proper spacing where the races sit so the bearings aren't too tight or too loose in the races. Some bearing engineering told me this so if it's wrong you can call him and argue.

    Catherham had a batch of bad hubs several years ago where the spacing was incorrect for the preload.

    I caught mine because a boot failed and I noticed the heat marks on the axle when I was fixing it.

    Clark noticed his when it seized up on the freeway and he wore a flat spot on his tire.

    Rear Hub.jpg

    Caterham replaced mine, I don't know about Clarks.

    I assume he checked the other side too?
    Last edited by Doug Liedblad; August 17, 2010, 07:14 AM.


    • #3
      Originally posted by Doug Liedblad View Post
      I assume he checked the other side too?
      He replaced both bearings and is on his way again
      V8 Stalker
      06 Elise
      02 Dodge Viper GTS
      16 Dodge Charger Hellcat


      • #4
        Thanks Doug, I will forward this info to Tom.


        • #5
          There have been bad batches of rear wheel bearings before. When I built my Caterham in Scotland three years ago, I had the driver side (RHS here) rear bearing go. When I contacted Caterham, this did not seem to be a complete surprise to them, and they sent me replacements for both rear bearings. I also got a new rear drive shaft, as the bearings had fused to the drive shaft when they had broken.

          It is not beyond the bounds of possibility that Tom got bearings from this batch!



          • #6
            Was it bad bearings or bad hubs?

            The hubs that came with my car were machined from billet, color was black from black oxide finish. The spacing was wrong for the bearing preload, too little causing the bearings to bind. The car rolled better out of the driveway as soon as I put the new bearings on. Before that the rolling friction was much higher.

            The replacements are a plated casting. No troubles in 21,000 miles.

            This was in 2002.


            • #7

              I just discovered this thread... my fault for not seeing it before. My Caterham is a 2007 S3 kit, so it may have had the bad hubs that others experienced around that time.

              It is suspected that the bearing housing was machined too large, allowing too much pre-load on the bearings when the axle nut was torqued down (the torque on both axle nuts was correct). I'm just glad the failure occurred when i was driving to a GGLC breakfast beforer the Historics at Laguna Seca, and not while crossing the Mojave Desert two days before, or while in the middle of British Columbia a week and a half later. Talk about luck!

              After the repairs, I made it to Anchorage, with a total trip mileage of 6150 miles from Denver to Anchorage. Had a traffic accident in Whitehorse, Yukon territory, but that's another story.... a guy in a big pickup backed out of a parking space on Main Street and into the bonnet and cowl of my Seven, on the next to last day of my marathon drive......

              I'm still going to see if I can get some warranty adjustment from Caterham. The whole wheel-bearing incident cost me about $1600 in new hubs (2), new brake pads, new brake disk, air freight, labor, rental car.

              Thanks for your advice, and of others from the CCC. And thanks, Gert, for following up on this!


              • #8
                Did you save the old hubs?

                My failure happened in 2002 or 2003. Caterham USA sent me new hubs and bearings NC. They did ask for and get back the old ones. Something I did not do was take some photos of the old hubs so if you can take some and please post.

                I did note that the rolling resistance of the car was noticeably less with the new hubs.

                Is his insurance company taking care of your repairs?

                I've been told that sending the new bonnets over is a problem as they are prone to shipping damage. Be sure they pack it well.
                Last edited by Doug Liedblad; October 2, 2010, 12:13 PM.