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For the sake of doing a restoration I just serviced a rear wheel: new bearings, new grease, new axle and new dust caps.

I think I have put enough grease. When spinning the wheel before putting it on the bike I was feeling a bit of crunchiness but no noise. After putting the wheel on, truing it, setting the brakes, I did a spin test: there is no resistance, the wheel does spin for a while with a single push. Unfortunately there is a significant metal on metal noise, feels like a bearing on bearing friction. The wheel has also a tiny bit of play but it is attached safety to the bike.

Here is a video with audio: https://imgur.com/a/BTmexIY

Also, I had to replace the dust caps by a wee bit smaller ones (25mm vs 28mm), but I do not think this is to blame.

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    Is everything nice and clean? Perhaps some sand inadvertently got in there and is making the crunching noises.
    – MaplePanda
    Dec 23 '20 at 7:24
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    Did you put in the correct number and size of bearings? Quite often there's enough space to put in one too many. The reverse also happens, btw.
    – Carel
    Dec 23 '20 at 16:17
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When spinning the wheel before putting it on the bike I was feeling a bit of crunchiness but no noise.

My guess is that the crunchiness you felt has become the noise you hear with the wheel bolted into the frame. Crunchy is always bad when it comes to bearings.

Sadly, you need to tear it back apart and find the crunch.

The comments have good suggestions and I'll add a few:

  • MaplePanda says - Is everything nice and clean? Sand, dirt, metal bits, etc. are possible causes.
  • Carel says - Correct number of bearings?
  • You replaced the bearings, axle and dust caps. Possible wear on the cup or cone bearing surface?
  • Could the dust caps be set a little too deep coming in contact with the bearings?
  • When you say "The wheel has a tiny bit of play" does that mean in the bearing adjustment? If not make sure the cones are not too tight.

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