Vanagon – getting that 46 mm wheel nut off

It occurred to me that I should have mentioned how I removed the 46 mm castellated wheel nut off the rear wheel in the last post about the bearing failure. The nut is on there good and tight, Bentley says to torque it up to 360 ft lbs (for the 10 slot castellated nut, the older 6 slot nut was torqued to a lesser value, something like 285 ft lbs). I don’t have the heavy duty air tools that would handle this but I do have a 3/4″ drive, imperial socket that fits (1 13/16″ – handy metric to fractional imperial chart here), corresponding tommy bar, and a 3 ft section of thick walled steel pipe. You can apply a lot of twist with this set up and can even get a fairly good idea of torque applied if you know your weight and where about on the pipe you are applying it. You know the drill, 100 lbs of weight one foot from the axis of rotation is 100 ft lbs, same weight two feet out is 200 ft lbs. You loosen the nut before you jack up the van, and have the handbrake on. But the other day when I was doing the bearing job I had a dickens of a time getting the nut off without the wheel turning and the van moving, and it was impossible to loosen the nut on my parts van as the transmission is out and the free end of the axle was just hanging in space. I did try the slug wrench mentioned in my original post on wheel bearing replacement, but it did not budge the nut.

So how do you stop the wheel from turning when you are grunting down on the end of the 3 ft extension? Well, you have to jack van up and support it securely on good jackstands. Remove the wheel, and use the lug nuts to secure some sort of metal bar to the brake drum. I have lots of scrap bits of aluminium around, so I used some 1/8″  3/16″ thick angle. The angle bears on the ground stopping the hub from turning. Here is a snap taken today when I pulled the drum and hub off the other rear wheel to have a look at the brakes. Not very clear in the pic, but there are 2 lug nuts holding the angle to the drum. Note also the old house jack supporting the socket extension.

This really worked, no drama, no movement of the van. Used the same technique when tightening the nut.

Oh and here is what I wanted to look at. With the hub out of the way I could see the gubbins clearly and I wanted to be sure all the brake springs were installed correctly (I *think* they are). Plus I wanted to pull off the threaded adjustment bar and clean it up so that it would actually adjust (I hate the Vanagon rear brakes).


  1. #1 by AdrianC on May 21, 2012 - 1:47 pm

    Stupid question – why not leave the wheel on, and the weight of the van on the ground? In gear and with handbrake firmly on, and you’ve got plenty of resistance against the force that you’re applying – none of it’s wasted in trying to move the van or pull the suspension arm up or down.

    • #2 by albell on May 21, 2012 - 1:59 pm

      Sure, yes, that works most of the time. But sometimes even that is not enough resistance and the wheel moves. Also, if you are ever faced with removing the big nut and the axle is disconnected for some reason, then the metal brace is the way to go.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: