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Sidecar wheel bearings - Advise needed


I picked up my sidecar and rode under eight hours over a three day period (slow and high speeds) when I heard a high-pitched squeal coming from the sidecar wheel.  Riding an interstate about 65mph.  The fender is the only thing that held the wheel on and prevented a serious accident.  I'm not a mechanic or sidecar expert - new to the experience.  So I don't know by looking at the wheel area if something was not put on correctly - I'm going to assume it wasn't since I sat beside the road for two hours in the sun waiting on a tow.

I attached a photo.  Looking online it seems a washer and bolt should have been used along with the cotter pin.  The cotter pin stayed in place but the whole outside bearing disappeared and the wheel came off - held on slightly by the fender.

I'm hesitant to take it to the same sidecar builder because this is not the first life threatening issue I've had with their build.  First time on the initial delivery it arrived with a bent axle and they weren't even going to mention it (while I have photos of it in the shop without the axle bent - but that's a whole other story).  Second time the sidecar crash bar fell off while I was riding it about 50 mph.  Third they forgot to tighten fender bolts - one bolt was lost and the other was dragging on my tire and the tire was only had 8 psi.  These were all issues after I picked it up same day.  I think they are trying to kill me!

Anyway - has anyone seen or heard of something like this happening with the wheel bearings or can you tell by the photo if something else should have been placed over the bearings to keep the wheel in place.  Trying to find a second builder/mechanic to get a second opinion on the status of my sidecar.  I can supply other photos if needed.  Any help appreciated!

Uploaded files:
  • Showing-wheel-coming-off-spindle_crop_small.jpg

In my experience, axle spindles are usually threaded.  A large washer goes on next to the outer wheel bearing, followed by a castellated nut, and then a cotter pin goes into one of the notches in the nut and through a hole in the spindle and out the other side of the spindle into a notch in the castellated nut so that the nut cannot come off the threads on the spindle.  Your description would seem to be somewhat different.  I couldn't open the attached picture in the uploaded files to see what it looks like.

Hopefully, the bearing wasn't out long enough to wear the hub of the wheel enough to keep the new bearing's outer race from fitting snugly in the hub.

I've never had a wheel come off the sidecar, though I have had a bearing go out and the wheel no longer be vertical or nearly vertical.

Lucinda, tell us where  you are so we can recommend a competent sidecar mechanic/builder.

In trying to open the photo, got a message saying the file in empty?????

I don't see the picture either. Curious what brand of sidecar you own.   There are unfortunately some bad players out there quite willing to sell un-dependable and even dangerous stuff.

Sorry for the faulty photo, I've uploaded a new one to my original message above.

This is an Inder Rocket sidecar.  I'm located in DFW, but I do not want to use the vendor in Ft. Worth again.

Sorry, double post

That sure looks bad. It appears there is no castellated nut. Certainly the cotter pin doesn't appear to be going through one. And the axle is hollow? I've read that an Inder hack would be for a very small bike ( 250cc) even a scooter but I'm far from knowledgeable.  Someone who actually knows what their talking about will be along soon.

Thanks Valkrider.  From what I've researched and see visually on my wheel is there was no castellated nut and no washer - which would have at least kept the wheel on even if the bearing was destroyed.  I bought the Inder from a gentleman who had the frame modified to work with heavy bikes and for higher speeds, more like how we ride in the U.S.  Unfortunately I can only learn as I go because I have no builder experience.

Any information will help me - I REALLY appreciate any and all advisement.  I was working with a company that has been in business since 1968 but it appears the person that took over there does very little to ensure their work is inspected and/or top notch.  I can't tell you how many things have been left partially done (or just fell off!) and I had to figure it out on my own with no experience.  You have to have a level of trust when you don't know all the ins and outs yet and this place has really failed me (and almost killed me).

There are other end results of the sidecar installation that make me concerned just logically but will need a second opinion.

Thank you for the picture.  I don't know where you'd put a bolt.  I doubt the hollow axle is threaded for a bolt, and if it was threaded the cotter pin would prevent you from screwing a bolt in very far.  It appears to me the washer and cotter pin are what hold the wheel hub on the axle, so you must have lost the cotter pin and washer for the wheel to slide out enough for the tire to hit the fender.   This looks more like the bearing arrangement for a lawn mower.



Thanks Tax Man.  Just wondering if the builder should have looked at the setup and recommended something secure.  It doesn't sound like the method he took with just a cotter pin was a good one for keeping the wheel on.