Interesting. I decided to have a look this evening. I removed the wheel, removed the crank, and therefore had access to the bearings. I don’t yet have a puller.
As an experiment, I picked out the rubber ring that conceals the bearings themselves. The balls were in a metal cage, rather than the rubber holder that the link seemed to suggest. There was no obvious contamination, but the bearings were a bit dry. I couldn’t work out how to remove the cage without causing damage. Maybe I need to attack the bearig from the other side, which would mean removing it completely with a puller.
I had some spray grease that I used to use on my old motorcycle and I applied some of this. Bearings moving freely, but still some slight noise. Obviously a bit worn, but not badly notchy.
On the basis that I couldn’t make things worse, I stood the wheel over the sink and flushed the bearings, dried them, then applied more spray grease.
The situation is now:
I know there is no significant grit or other contamination in there.
I know that the bearings have some grease in them.
I know that the bearings now spin more smoothly than they did before.
There is still some slight noise, which is uneven. I put this down to either uneven wear on the bearing surface, slight dinks caused by occasional drops down kerbs etc, or possibly the bearings being slightly oval. (I am always careful not to overtighten the clamp bolts, but it’s not an exact science.)
So, the uni is working perfectly well, and everything is clean and greased, but there is still a slight noise.
Perhaps this is one of those noises that’s always been there and I’ve just “dialed in” to it, maybe because the new tyre is so much quieter than the old one. It is irritating, but obviously not urgent.