In this article I’m going to explain how to replace a quick release with bolts.
Over Nut Distance (O.L.D.)
The spacing of a hub is measured from the outside faces of the cone lock nuts, where they come into contact with the frame’s fork ends. (Most cartridge-bearing type hubs don’t have locknuts, so the spacing is measured from the equivalent shoulder surface of the axle ends.) The spacing dimension is commonly referred to as the “O.L.D.” (Over-Lock-nut Distance)sheldonbrown.com
The O.L.D. of this bike was 135mm. with 5mm. of axle extending on either side. But measurements with a caliper indicated that the right dropout had 5mm. of unused space and the left one 0.7mm.
The reason the right dropout had so much room left was in part because of the bolt-on derailleur hanger. But even without the derailleur hanger the axle would be too short.
At first I thought I could find a replacement axle with skewers. But nowhere was I able to find an axle meant for sealed bearings with the correct size of 150mm. and correct width between the shoulders meant to keep the axle from falling out.
Step 1. Choosing the correct solid axles
I decided that instead of using axles with skewers I would use solid axles so the entire surface area of both dropouts would be used, minimizing the risk of them wearing out again.
Removing the axle
Before I knew what axle to buy I had to remove it. The axle fits snugly between the two bearings because it has shoulders that are positioned exactly on the axle where they meet the bearings.
Tapping the axle with a mallet will push the shoulder against the smaller bearing race, forcing it and the bearing out of the hub container. Make sure your axle doesn’t fly all over the place by cupping it with your hand on the other side.
Measuring the axle
With the axle out of the hub, measuring it was easy enough. To be able to replace a quick-release axle with bolts it had to be significantly larger than 145mm. Because I had to accommodate for both the width of the dropouts and axle nuts.
The only axles I could find meant for cartridge bearings were from Aliexpress. Initially hesitant to buy from this platform I have to admit the crazily cheap axles superseded my expectations and arrived on my doorstep for free in 11 days.
With a 185mm. width in the rear axle, 10mm. diameter, and asymmetric shoulder placement for use with bikes running cassettes they turned out to be perfect.
Step 2. Creating custom axle shoulders
The new axles had the axle shoulders in the wrong place. At first I used the springs and washers that came with the axles to recreate the correct width for the shoulders.
Unfortunately the little springs could be easily forced inwards. And since I pressed the bearings into the hub only using the smaller bearing race I actually destroyed one of them.
So besides buying a pair of new 10x26x8mm NTN bearings I also had to make custom washers for the shoulders to be in the correct place.
The bearings needed to sit around 11mm. from the shoulders of the replacement axle.
I bought an aluminum rod that fitted exactly around the axle, but couldn’t get over the axle shoulder, marked it using the caliper, and sawed it to the correct length.
I made sure the two makeshift axle shoulders were the exact same length using a file. And I tested the correct height by placing the original axle between the bearings on the new axle with the shoulder rings in place.
If there was any play, I would file the shoulders a couple of strokes and retry until there was a snug fit.
Step 3. Replace a quick release with bolts
Now it was to replace the quick release with the bolts by reinserting the new axle into the hub.
I use the mallet to tap one bearing into place for the non-drive side after I slightly greased the hub.
To be able to press the other bearing into place and not ruin it again, I use a washer roughly the same size as the bearing. This washer should sit on the outer bearing race.
With the axle in place the makeshift shoulder should sit exactly where the bearing starts without jutting out too far. Or else the bearing can’t go in far enough.
Make sure the threaded part of the asymmetric axle which is shortest goes into the drive-side.`
You can then proceed to press the bearing into place using the washers on both sides, the axle nuts on both sides, and in my case, two adjustable wrenches.
The bearings simply need to be in place. You don’t have to exert a tremendous amount of force to get them there. If you do, you risk damaging them.
Then it’s basically putting the axle spacers and nuts back into place and you’re ready to put the wheel back into the frame.
Step 4. Putting the wheel back
Now your wheel has a solid axle which protrudes from either side with enough space to hold:
- a ring so you don’t damage the sides of your dropouts when you tighten the axle nuts
- a first flat axle nut to tighten the wheel in the frame
- optionally a second axle nut to make sure the flat axle nut doesn’t loosen
Make sure that before tightening the nut the axle fits snugly in between the two dropouts.
And that’s how you replace a quick release with bolts !
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