Having reassured myself that the front wheels were no longer about to fall off, I turned my attention to the rear wheels. I knew that at least one of the bearings was borked, so I made sure that a replacement was in stock. A Febi kit, which I consider good enough, was ordered for just over Â£10.
With the nearside rear wheel in the air, the bearing felt really rough though axial play was unimpressive. Taking the drum off revealed various issues : a worn out bearing (still the factory SKF item), a wrongly routed handbrake cable (which meant that the shoes were dragging all the time) and a stuck wheel cylinder piston.
Here you can see the piston unstuck and lubricated and the handbrake cable clipped in its correct place.
Changing the rear bearings on those Polos is great fun, because you get to hit various things with a large hammer : the inner bearing races, the outer bearing races, the grease seal, your fingers (optional). In later models, you can't buy the bearings alone, you need to fork out Â£Â£Â£ for a complete hub. So much for progress, Mr.
Hitler Piech Winterkorn Muller.
Here's a picture of the nearside drum after the bearing replacement, ready to be installed.
Moving to the offside, it was evident that someone had been there recently - lithium grease was smeared on the wheel and the bearing grease cap looked really battered. I tried to rotate the wheel and realised it was binding ! Fuck !
Taking the grease cap off revealed why : the imbecile who had done the bearing had completely ignored VWs advice and had tightened the stub axle nut so much that I needed a breaker bar to undo it ! Thankfully, the new bearings hadn't been (too) damaged and were still fairly smooth. So I took the drum off, removed and re-greased the bearings, and put them back on, leaving the stub axle nut only finger tight.
No more binding and one more job off the long list !