Axle Bearings & Tire Balancing - Fiberglass RV


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Old 06-11-2016, 06:34 PM   #1
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Name: Vic
Trailer: Fiber Stream 1982 16 ft
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Axle Bearings & Tire Balancing

I've just finished re-packing all my (three) trailer's wheel bearings and two questions came to mind.

  • Why are trailer tires generally not balanced at all, but our vehicle tires are? Those 12" or 13" tires go through many more rotations that our tow vehicle's tires do.

  • Why do virtually all trailer maintenance books and trailer websites recommend wheel bearings be re-packed every 12,000 miles or 12 months, whichever comes first? We don't do that with our tow vehicles, even if the only time we use them is to tow our trailer!
Are these questions related? Since we do not balance trailer tires, they are expected to have out-of-balance vibrations that potentially shorten the life of wheel bearings.

What are your thoughts?

Vic
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Old 06-11-2016, 06:44 PM   #2
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Name: Daniel A.
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When I replaced my tires I had them balanced just for the reason you stated.
I don't repack that often but I do keep an eye on the bearing temp. checking when I pull over.
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Old 06-11-2016, 06:45 PM   #3
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Name: Darral
Trailer: Scamp Standard 13' 2010
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I posted on this same subject not long ago. I have a 2010 13' Scamp. I've pulled the rubber caps off the end of my Dexter axle. There's loads of new-looking grease there- from the factory. I keep my Scamp on jack stands when I'm not camping....and spin the wheels regularly...year-round. I check for "play" in the wheels. 10,000 miles later, never balanced the wheels nor taken the wheels off to check the bearings nor have I shot ONE squirt of grease through the "EZ-Lube" hubs. I have adjusted the road-side brakes one time. The temps of the hubs still run the same as when it was new and spin very smooth and freely with no notchiness. Same tires and they still look brand new with no visible dry rot. My Scamp weighs 1780 ready to roll. I do NOT load it down. I'm happy with my decisions.
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Old 06-11-2016, 06:56 PM   #4
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Trailer: 2015 Scamp (16 Std Layout 4) with '15 Toyota Sienna LE Tug
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Originally Posted by Victor Benz View Post
... Since we do not balance trailer tires, they are expected to have out-of-balance vibrations that potentially shorten the life of wheel bearings.

What are your thoughts?

Vic
And what about those tire pressure sensors that weigh about 23 grams.. if you add one of those on the valve stem, should you balance the wheels then? Even if you did not before?
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Old 06-11-2016, 08:00 PM   #5
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I balance my trailer's tires but don't mess with the hubs other than to check them every now and then.
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Old 06-12-2016, 08:51 PM   #6
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Tire Balance & Bearings

I took my 2010 Scamp 13 cross country in 2013 (9K+ miles)after having pulled the wheel bearings, inspecting (finding nothing unusual) and repacking. I checked the bearings daily just with my fingers on the hub and they never felt more than warm. A trip from Mass to Prince Edward Island was next in 2015 without checking the bearings other than on the trip, no problems. This year from Mass to Florida again without checking the bearings except daily, no problems. During winter storage I put the Scamp in the barn on jack stands, remove the wheels, put a plastic grocery bag over the brake drum tied behind and in the spring, I check bearing play when I put the wheels back on; there has been no play in the bearings. I don't want to keep pumping grease into the bearings since it will eventually be too much, get past the seal and ruin the brakes. All I can say is that in the old days, when auto front wheel bearings were similar to these with far more stress on them, some (or maybe most) people never had them repacked.

As far as wheel balance is concerned, I replaced my Scamp tires with a higher load range than the original (D I think) purchased on-line since no-one around here had any for a reasonable price. Took them to a place to mount and balance them. When I got them back, there were no balance weights on the wheels. When I questioned the guy, he said that trailer wheels are made differently than automotive and the rim edge would not hold a weight for any length of time so it was a waste of money. I didn't think to ask him about the stick-on types they have for aluminum wheels.
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Old 06-12-2016, 09:46 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BillF View Post
When I got them back, there were no balance weights on the wheels. When I questioned the guy, he said that trailer wheels are made differently than automotive and the rim edge would not hold a weight for any length of time so it was a waste of money. I didn't think to ask him about the stick-on types they have for aluminum wheels.
Humm I had never lost a weight of the rim on my Scamp in 10 years of towing thousands of miles.

I also recently had the tires on my SOB trailer replaced. I had them balanced. I asked the shop why so many people do not balance their trailer tires and got a very different answer than you. I was told because a lot of people do not want to pay to have them balanced or just forget to ask to have them balanced ;-)
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Old 06-13-2016, 04:53 AM   #8
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I've had two shops tell me they don't normally balance trailer tires but were quite happy to do it when asked. Since all they had were the wheels, they had no way of knowing what type of trailer they were from. An unbalanced wheel on a car vibrates like crazy. I decided that such a vibration was not good for my trailer so I get the wheels balanced. Were it a utility trailer, I probably wouldn't bother.

As to bearings, here's a recent discussion you might find interesting.

Wheel Bearing question
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Old 06-13-2016, 06:28 AM   #9
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Name: Bill
Trailer: Scamp
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Tire ballancing

We picked up our new Scamp from the factory in February. Between 45 and 65 mph, it shook the trailer so bad that I could feel it in the steering wheel and seat of the Honda Pilot TV. When I called Scamp and told them about the problem and that I suspected that it was a wheel balance issue, they said that they had never had any problems with the tires or wheels. I had a local tire shop balance all 3 wheels and the trailer now tows smooth (for the last 4,000 miles) without any vibration. I was surprised at how much lead weight was added to 2 of the wheels. I called 2 RV dealers and asked if they balanced tires and they said there was no need to. I've talked to a few knowledgeable people since then and they all agree that any spinning tire needs to be balanced. Other than that, our new Scamp has had no other issues.
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Old 06-13-2016, 09:04 AM   #10
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Many trailer wheels are lug centric and most vehicle wheels are hub centric. I had my trailer wheels balanced by two different local garages and both times I had weights hanging everywhere. The trailer actually towed better after I removed the weights. I called Carlisle Tire and was told that you can not balance the wheels properly on a balancer that is designed for hub centric wheels. I later found out that neither garage had a balancer designed for lug centric wheels. Discount Tire has the proper equipment to balance both types of wheels
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Old 06-13-2016, 09:19 AM   #11
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Name: Darral
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Steve Dunham....that's good information to know. Thanks for sharing.

HILO: (did you use to own a "HILO"?)
Wow ! You SURE you didnt/dont have a bad tire? Could be a weird coincident that something happened during manufacturing of the tires- belts/rubber shifted? Out of round? I dunno, but it sure sounds like a bad tire with THAT much vibration. Mine have never been balanced in 10K miles new from the factory.

Quote:
Originally Posted by HiLo View Post
We picked up our new Scamp from the factory in February. Between 45 and 65 mph, it shook the trailer so bad that I could feel it in the steering wheel and seat of the Honda Pilot TV.
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Old 06-13-2016, 09:21 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by steve dunham View Post
Many trailer wheels are lug centric and most vehicle wheels are hub centric. I had my trailer wheels balanced by two different local garages and both times I had weights hanging everywhere. The trailer actually towed better after I removed the weights. I called Carlisle Tire and was told that you can not balance the wheels properly on a balancer that is designed for hub centric wheels. I later found out that neither garage had a balancer designed for lug centric wheels. Discount Tire has the proper equipment to balance both types of wheels
VERY good info! Here is a video that goes into that also (worth a watch if you are going to get your trailer wheels balanced)

I'll be taking my tires to Discount Tire soon, and now I know what to look for to make sure its done right.

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Old 06-13-2016, 11:36 AM   #13
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Why would any manufacturer punch the holes in their wheels with the lug circle not concentric to the center hole?

Every vehicle I have presently, has aftermarket wheels as have many of the ones we have owned in the past, All have been balanced successfully using cones while the lug centric adapter languished on the rack collecting dust and rust.
This includes all of our trailer wheels and racing wheels, even TRX.
It also includes hundreds of GM light trucks but no Toyotas.
If I owned a wheel which could not be properly balanced from the center hole I would consider it (with rare exceptions) to be defective and worthy only of replacement.
I did once see a set of wheels on which the lug circle was eccentric, but they were on a clown car and intended to elicit guffaws.
OBTW...Discount Tire is where I purchase my tires and have them balanced.
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Old 06-13-2016, 03:18 PM   #14
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Name: Steve
Trailer: Scamp 13
California
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When I had my trailer tires balanced they didn't use the centrifugal dynamic wheel balancer, they went into the back of the shop and used an old school bubble balancer. Old guy using old tools. I doubt the young tire jockeys even knew how to use it. Their too busy slinging and spinning 100's of tires a day.

The old tire specialist told me it was a good Idea to balance trailer tires so they spin in balance but dynamically wasn't necessary because it wasn't a steering axle with ball joints. They also don't want to change the head in the dynamic balancer for lug centric wheels with all the different lug patterns. Just wasn't worth the time and expense for 2 trailer tires.

Trailer supply shop that supplied the tires and rim assembly couldn't and wouldn't balance the tires and sent me to the tire shop if I absolutely had to have the tires balanced. I paid my 12 bucks and left happy just to have it done.

I really think that their view is most trailer tires need replacing far sooner than they wear out so no needed effort to extend tire life.
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