One vote for plastic cones, one for a handy packer, and two for manual packing.
The longer version of my bearing story is that I replaced driver and passenger side inner/outer bearings, but I couldn't drive the inner race all the way in on the driver's side. I hand packed the bearings, but with that race refusing to go in the final 1/4", I knew I was living on the edge.
I checked out press prices and decided I could BUILD a better one that Harbor Freight sells at the same price so I bought some square tubing, a 12-ton bottle jack, springs, etc. and phoned my neighbor to ask to borrow his welder. Unbeknownst to me, he sold it 2 weeks ago. Grrrrrr
So now I had to rent a welder, buy a helmet, wire, etc. and throw even MORE money at the project.
Refusing to give up, I now have a gold-plated 12-ton press.
I bought another set of bearings and a bearing packer to make sure that I got those things fully loaded with grease since this was becoming a comedy routine. Never failing to resist being a laughingstock, I couldn't get the stupid bearing packer to work right (read my first post in this thread.)
I think I'm going to skip with the packing tool. I'm worried I'll get frustrated and build a $50 version of the $20 packer.
Tony, I think my problem is that I'm TOO willing to get my hands all greasy! I out-think, out-engineer, out-over-react too often instead of just slowing down and going the easy route!