oil bath bearings - Fiberglass RV


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Old 08-08-2013, 08:34 AM   #1
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Name: Robert
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oil bath bearings

I have several 22' Oliver on order that the customers are upgrading to sealed oil bath bearings. Our axle supplier only offers this in 6,000# plus axles. They like these so it eliminates the need of hand repacking the bearing every 3,000 miles. Has anyone had any experience with these type axles?
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Old 08-08-2013, 10:44 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by Robert Partee View Post
I have several 22' Oliver on order that the customers are upgrading to sealed oil bath bearings. Our axle supplier only offers this in 6,000# plus axles. They like these so it eliminates the need of hand repacking the bearing every 3,000 miles. Has anyone had any experience with these type axles?
Have no experience with the oil bath bearings; however, your stated 3000 miles frequency for repacking bearings seems more frequent than is probably necessary.
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Old 08-08-2013, 10:48 AM   #3
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I sure did not know that Dexter ( or Lippert ) recommended repacking greaseable bearings every three thousand miles ? I know I don't do it that often.

As for oil bath bearings, yes I have towed various trailers with them, and yes, they have worked fine. I guess in my mind, lube is lube....after all, "grease" is just "oil, in a carrier that has a thicker consistency". The principle is the same....have a bit of oil lubrication between the rolling elements.

However, I believe if you look at the Dexter documentation, they do not recco oil bath bearings for vehicles that sit for long periods, as the oil settles to the bottom and leaves the rollers at the top "dry", possibly leading to corrosion of those components.
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Old 08-08-2013, 12:32 PM   #4
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Have plenty of experience on them on big trucks and trailers, and have replaced many many seals due to leaking. You at least need to check the oil levels on a regular basis. By the time you realize there is a leak the brake shoes are oil soaked and ruined and it's a messy clean up.
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Old 08-08-2013, 02:31 PM   #5
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Have serviced many oil bath bearings and as Bob said "replaced MANY seals". Contamination of the grease (or oil) by water and dirt is the main issue. Seals on grease type bearings are adequate but because of their design will not fully seal against contaminates (this is especially true on boat trailers where the warm hubs are submerged in water when launching the boat which results in the water being drawn into the bearings). Grease in bearings over time will also thicken and through centrifical force leave the bearing dry, thus the needs for repacking

Oil bath bearings have very complex seals that prevent amost all contaminates from entering the hubs but when they leak oil often coats the brake linings which causes another safety issue. The advantage is that the bearing constantly runs in oil so no dry bearings (unless the oil leaks out).
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Old 08-08-2013, 04:47 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Robert Partee View Post
I have several 22' Oliver on order that the customers are upgrading to sealed oil bath bearings... They like these so it eliminates the need of hand repacking the bearing every 3,000 miles.
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Originally Posted by gmw photos View Post
I sure did not know that Dexter ( or Lippert ) recommended repacking greaseable bearings every three thousand miles ?
The axle manufacturers do not recommend such insanely frequent changes by mileage, but Dexter does say to do this annually so if you only tow 3,000 miles per year, then it is every 3,000 miles.

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However, I believe if you look at the Dexter documentation, they do not recco oil bath bearings for vehicles that sit for long periods, as the oil settles to the bottom and leaves the rollers at the top "dry", possibly leading to corrosion of those components.
That would be my concern, just from considering the design, not based on any experience.
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The advantage is that the bearing constantly runs in oil so no dry bearings (unless the oil leaks out).
... unless the trailer is sitting idle.

I only see oil-bath bearings on big commercial trailers that put on huge mileage (not very applicable to most of us) and in driven axles where the final drive lube is the bearing lube (obviously not applicable to trailers). I don't think they make sense on a travel trailer. If I were to pay for upgraded bearings, I would want a sealed no-lube system (from Dexter, that's Nev-R-Lube).

Regardless of the bearing system, I wouldn't want the weight of an 8000-pound capacity axle on a trailer half that weight. I hope at least the springs are matched to the trailer's weight (loaded), not the axle capacity.
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Old 08-08-2013, 04:49 PM   #7
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I think Bob's and Ian's experience is valuable, and I'm not surprised to hear of leakage problems. Wouldn't oil inherently leak more easily than grease?
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Old 08-08-2013, 07:43 PM   #8
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A 6,000# axle on a trailer that weighs considerably less than that is going to tow like a buckboard. Those in the tug are liable to get loose teeth. Talk about a stiff suspension...

Not to get into a discussion about EZ-Lubes from Dexter, but Robert have you looked into that axle for the Oliver?
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Old 08-08-2013, 08:00 PM   #9
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A 6,000# axle on a trailer that weighs considerably less than that is going to tow like a buckboard. Those in the tug are liable to get loose teeth. Talk about a stiff suspension...
... unless you use the right springs. That's what I was saying here:
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I hope at least the springs are matched to the trailer's weight (loaded), not the axle capacity.
But even with the right springs, high unsprung weight will not help ride, which was the other point of this:
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Originally Posted by Brian B-P View Post
Regardless of the bearing system, I wouldn't want the weight of an 8000-pound capacity axle on a trailer half that weight.

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Originally Posted by Donna D. View Post
Not to get into a discussion about EZ-Lubes from Dexter, but Robert have you looked into that axle for the Oliver?
I'm not sure how you start discussing something without getting into a discussion of it.
As those who have read Dexter's manuals understand, EZ-Lube makes no difference to the required frequency of re-packing for axles not submerged in water.
Donna's question is still valid: what other options have buyers requested or been offered?
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Old 08-09-2013, 11:24 PM   #10
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When Oliver did its retrofit of the original 3500 pound axles, they were replaced with 5200 pound Dexter EZ-Lube's. I assume they are currently on all the earlier 17 foot models, that's what is one mine. I do not plan to order the oil bath bearings on our 22 footer.
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