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Old 09-12-2012, 04:12 PM   #1
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Name: Jack
Trailer: '98 BURRO 17WB
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trailer wheel bearings?

I have been inclined to think that the usually recommended interval of 1 yr. for repacking bearings is a bit short considering the limited use (in miles) of our trailer. I had the bearings repacked when I bought the trailer about a little over 18 months ago. I bought a couple of bearing kits at Eastern Marine (bearings, races, seal, dust cup) "just in case." They are Fulton brand, made in China. When I took the dust cap off the right drum, I almost closed it back up without going any further as the adjustment and the grease looked fine. I did want to see how the inner bearing was retaining grease, so I took the drum off and trashed the old seal. The inner bearing looked maybe a bit starved for grease cf. to the outer. The bearings and races both looked fine and I sure wasn't getting into knocking out and replacing races unless absolutely necessary. So I cleaned the bore with kero. I don't have a big dip tank so the problem of rust on the exterior of the drum as a source of contamination was pretty obvious. I finally put the drum in the utility sink and washed it with hot soapy water, dried it in the sun and then got out the compressor and went over everything with a blow gun. While cleaning the bearings, I noticed that they are Russian-marked so presumably Russian-made.

What happened to Timken of Canton, OH? If you do your own bearings, are you fussy about the source (country of origin) or do you have faith that everything that comes in here on the banana boat meets USDOT or U.S. industry standards? If you repack your own, what grease are you using? I used Mobil 1 synthetic this time; is there something better? If you repack your bearings, do you have special tooling and/or a press for race removal or do you attempt to knock them out with something that doesn't destroy the cup seat? I replaced races exactly once on a light boat trailer by the hammer method and consider it a last resort. Thanks for your thoughts.

jack
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Old 09-12-2012, 07:54 PM   #2
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Replace your axle seals, sounds like you repacked the bearings. Most every trailer I own I repack the bearings. The Bearings have been made in USA,Mexico,China, and Korea.
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Old 09-12-2012, 08:13 PM   #3
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Yeh, I used the seals out of the new kits and repacked the Russian bearings. Did not use the new bearings or cups.
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Old 09-12-2012, 10:48 PM   #4
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For the effort you went through I would have just replaced the whole works.

I use regular high temp bearing grease and use a large socket with a hammer to push the bearing out.
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Old 09-13-2012, 11:15 AM   #5
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Anyone care to venture an opinion differing with the commonly encountered one-year repack rec? Boat trailers I understand you have to stay after but travel trailer wheel bearings aren't normally subjected to submersion.

I would have thought the effort of knocking out the cups and replacing would exceed just about any other effort involved including my awkward cleaning method. Maybe I'm too fussy about contamination while handling?

Anyone else who believes it's not worth it to repack wheel bearings and so installs new every time? On what interval? Anyone remove the outer bearing, put the nut back on the spindle and pull the back bearing AND seal with leverage of the wheel still attached to the drum? If so and you reused seals as well as bearings, how did that work out?

I am not a dab hand at this and would like to get a handle on an efficient schedule, method and necessary tools to do the job. I know from one experience of bearing replacement on a boat trailer how I DON'T want to do it. I understand that many things that are "laying around" (large diameter sockets, large diameter steel round bar) are useful for cup removal. What sort of drift do you use for this purpose? Is there a commercially available puller that's quicker and risks less damage to the cup seat? If so, is it affordable for the "once a year" mechanic?

I've watched enuf videos on trailer wheel bearing replacement to know that a great many of the yahoos who make them have their heads in a dark place. I also know how to improvise like Tom Joad with a breakdown at the side of the road on a rainy nite and the cussing that goes with it no problem; I'd rather know a foolproof method for use in my driveway on a dry and sunny day.



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Old 09-13-2012, 11:42 AM   #6
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I believe repack every 10-12 thousand miles some do it based on time as they only do short trips. Bearings maintained should last many years.

If I saw any sign of rust I'm going to replace the whole works as it only takes one roller to start the process of failure.

To myself it is much easier even with the hassle at home then to be sitting in a campground or on the side of the road kicking myself.
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Old 09-13-2012, 01:14 PM   #7
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I've read in some places that anywhere from 3-5 years for a repack is fine. Of course it also depends on how much mileage you put on the trailer each year. In my case I probably average a couple thousand miles per year.

I repacked my bearings once last year (owned trailer about 3 years now). Hubs had bearing buddies on them and was loaded with grease of many different colors. Was getting slight seepage past one seal, so I cleaned everything out and didn't put the bearing buddies back on, used regular bearing caps. One outer bearing was slightly pitted which I replaced.

Had an older '87 pickup with 150K+ miles, and only repacked one side's front wheel bearing, because I had to remove the hub to change a broken stud. Never touched the other side's bearings, never had any problems.
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Old 09-13-2012, 01:24 PM   #8
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My anecdotal observation is that for decades cars and trucks had rear wheel drive and the front wheel bearings were essentially identical to a trailer's. I recall marveling once that one application for a given bearing on a Chevy was for like over 40 years of models. Nobody repacked their front wheel bearings yearly. In fact, it was usually only done with a brake job and maybe not even then.

Trailers on the other hand get shoved off into the back 40 and may only get used a few hundred miles a year. They may only get the bearings packed every 10 or more years. This infrequency of use and exposure to condensation may be what results in the sorrowful sight of a trailer with smoked bearings.

My conclusion is that if you use your trailer regularly, you probably don't have to repack the bearings yearly. That said, it can't hurt.
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Old 09-13-2012, 01:28 PM   #9
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Jack,

For my travel kit, just in case of a bearing failure, I carry a heavy brass drift and a large hammer. A drift is just a punch with flat ends. Mine is about 5/8" in diamater and 8" long. You can find them at Harbor Freight and other places. Use the drift to drive out the bearing race from inside the hub by smacking it in two places opposite each other, like 3:00 and 9:00 on a clock dial. Hit it hard but try to keep the amount of movement equal.

Putting the new race back in is a little more delicate. You've got to drive it EQUALLY. Start driving the race into the hub with a brass hammer or piece of hard wood. Once the race is flush with the end of the hub, you can start using your drift to drive it in. Just drive a little on each side. You'll get there. Be careful not to slip off the edge of the race and damage the bearing surface. Brass won't hurt the surface but a steel punch might. Note that they also make bearing race installation and removal kits which you can also find at HF. I bought one and really like it.

With regard to an annual bearing repack, in my humble opinion that's too often. If you have good seals, good grease, and have packed it properly, every couple of years should do. However, you should inspect annually to see of the seals are leaking. Hope this helps.
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Old 09-13-2012, 01:43 PM   #10
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Thanks for the tips. I will take a look at Taiwan Hdwre for a brass drift and the puller. Also thanks to all for opinions on the advisability of yearly repack. What I was looking for after viewing a number of absolutely pathetic videos and reading some fairly good written descriptions of the process which still left me scratching my head about a few things.

jack
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Old 09-13-2012, 08:11 PM   #11
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From a hotrodder's perspective... bearings develop flat spots. Yeah, they do. A trailer that moves down the road regularly is better maintained than one that only moves once a year. So, this is an individual maintenance issue based on usage + mileage.

Newer iron.... rear bearings on vehicles are lubed from the rear end (pumpkin), they're not bearings like what's on the front! Kinda think of it as a slosh of grease everytime you turn a corner.

BTW: Bearing Buddies only grease the front race... not the rear! Bearing Buddies are NOT the same as Dexter's EZ lube axle. Replace the seals everytime you pull the bearings... don't cheap out! Five bucks or seventy-five bucks is a LOT cheaper than replacing an axle and once you fry a Dexter torsion axle because of bearing failure your ONLY option is to replace the entire axle.

You've been warned....
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Old 09-13-2012, 10:02 PM   #12
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Fred and frog and Tom the toad
They tried to x the road
To reach the other side.

But then a
Mack the truck full load
Crushed Fred
and Tom the toad

--a dinghy poem
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Old 09-13-2012, 10:50 PM   #13
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I lke that Jack good that you have a sense of humor .
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Old 10-08-2012, 11:40 PM   #14
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Name: Russ
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My observations about tapered roller bearings over the years:
Timken = top quality, tight tolerances, excellent heat treating and metallurgy.
Preload adjustment is very important. Too tight= not enough heat expansion room and early failure.
Too loose= poor angular contact area and premature wear. (Preferable to too tight)
Grease type: Synthetic vs. non-synthetic = Not important
Grease quality: Spend enough to buy the highest quality; there isn’t that much difference in cost.
Lube fittings built into axles: Makes it possible to lube the inner bearing without disassembly, and the sacrifice of the inner seal. I would only use this feature one time after maybe 4000 miles. The next 4000 would get the full tear down.
With quality grease and proper adjustment Timken bearings will last a long time. I really don’t know how well the newer Chinese bearings hold up compared to Timken. My new axle has the Chinese bearings, and the supplier said he has no problems from failures. Time will tell…..
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