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I have a a retro Campy BB (balls/cups/spindle) which comes with an 11 (?) ball caged bearing set.
Three questions:
1. if I don't use the retainer can I get an extra ball in there? I have done that in other places like headsets with smaller/more numerous balls.
2. does doing #1 make any sense?
3. assuming it works and I can get another ball in there, will the balls ride in the same place in the race?
Thanks folks.
 

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Removing bearing retainers

elvisVerde said:
I have a a retro Campy BB (balls/cups/spindle) which comes with an 11 (?) ball caged bearing set.
Three questions:
1. if I don't use the retainer can I get an extra ball in there? I have done that in other places like headsets with smaller/more numerous balls.
2. does doing #1 make any sense?
3. assuming it works and I can get another ball in there, will the balls ride in the same place in the race?
Thanks folks.
1 - Yes, typically when a bearing retainer is removed, it leaves space for one more ball (sometimes two if the bearing has many small balls).

2 - Yes, it probably does make sense. There are pros and cons of bearing retainers. First the pros: It makes it quicker and easier to assemble the bearing; it reduces wear in very high speed bearings by reducing ball-to-ball contact. The second point is generally moot for bicycle bearings, because they rotate very slowly (typicaly less than 150 rpm for bottom brackets, anyway). Now the cons: It reduces the load capacity and bearing life by reducing the ball/race contact area and increasing ball/race contact stress. All in all, there are more plusses than minuses to removing the bearing retainers in bottom brackets.

3 - If there is room for an additonal ball, the balls will run on exactly the same track on the races as before - the balls will just be a little closer together.
 

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l'illustre sconosciuto
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elvisVerde said:
I have a a retro Campy BB (balls/cups/spindle) which comes with an 11 (?) ball caged bearing set.
Three questions:
1. if I don't use the retainer can I get an extra ball in there? I have done that in other places like headsets with smaller/more numerous balls.
2. does doing #1 make any sense?
3. assuming it works and I can get another ball in there, will the balls ride in the same place in the race?
Thanks folks.
I am sorry to have to completely disagree with what Mark writes.

1) The Campagnolo cages allow the exact same number of balls as if you installed loose balls. This is ttrue of the BB and headset cages. Most other cages do indeed use less balls.
2) Given the answer to question 1, no, it does not make any sense to do so.
3) I take that you mean will they be equally spaced, just like when using the cage. Because you are still using the same number of balls, it is unlikely that you can 'force' the balls to space themselves differently than they way they are in the cage.

My guess is that you are attempting to get extra life out of a shot BB by varying the spacing so that the pits in the cups no longer line up perfectly with the balls. The only way this can be done is to use a cage having 10 1/4" balls. They are out there, so ask a few bike shops. They usually came with cheap BB's.
 
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