Actually, the number doesn't matter a whole lot, but it's far better to have too few than too many. I would modify Chuck's suggestion, though--fill the race and remove two or three. The balls are tiny, and there are a lot of them. So, the necessary space between any two adjacent balls, times the number of spaces, will come to a few diameters.
Don't feel stupid. We've all been there. A while ago I was removing a fork from a really old bike, and it didn't occur to me that (1) the balls might not be in a retainer, and (2) the headset grease might be totally gone. As I unscrewed the nut, suddenly balls started pouring out of the lower bearing. I instinctively pushed the fork back up into the frame, and then they started pouring out of the upper one. I stood there feeling like a total moron as what seemed like thousands of tiny bearing balls bounced happily around the garage. I'm still finding those suckers.
Steve Maas Long Beach, California
Eric Elman wrote:
> I've just dissassembeled the freewheel body (Suntour PL, steel body alloy
> cogs) and forgot to count the number of bearings in the outer race before
> pulling the center out and the bearings from both races going all over the
> place. Am I alone or are some of you thinking "been there, done that." So,
> now everything is all cleaned up and ready to assemble but I need to know
> how many bearings in total I should have and how many go in the outer race
> and how many into the inner race.
> Seems like I do something like this at least twice a year. When will I
> Thanks in advance to anyone with info,
> Eric "feeling stupid" Elman
> Somers, CT