Bearings ? Again! - Fiberglass RV


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Old 03-23-2017, 10:28 AM   #1
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Name: Dick
Trailer: '15 17' LD Casita and '17 Tahoe LT
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Bearings ? Again!

Why do wheel bearings need to be greased or repacked so often? After owning autos, some over 150k miles and never requiring bearing service, why do trailer bearings need servicing so often? Just wondering.
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Old 03-23-2017, 11:11 AM   #2
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They don't need to be cleaned and repacked nearly as often as some people think. Unless you are backing it down a ramp like a boat trailer into salt water, it makes no sense to do them every year. If you don't use your trailer under extremely harsh conditions, cleaning and repacking them about once every few years is generally more than sufficient.
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Old 03-23-2017, 11:44 AM   #3
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I generally agree with Greg that in an ideal world trailer bearings should be able to go years without maintenance.
But this is not an ideal world and the quality of bearings and seals are not consistent . I've had trailer bearings last for over 10 years and some less than one . The same can be said for seals.
When you can buy a complete set of " precision" bearings , races and seals for under $10 that has been shipped all the way from China and the seller is still making a profit ,one has to wonder about the quality.
Plus repacking your bearings on a regular basis does allow you to examine and possibly repair or replace a problem before it turns into a disaster.
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Old 03-23-2017, 12:04 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dmad1 View Post
Why do wheel bearings need to be greased or repacked so often? After owning autos, some over 150k miles and never requiring bearing service, why do trailer bearings need servicing so often? Just wondering.
Casita Greg is not entirely wrong.
Sitting outside without use could be your best explanation for trailer bearings to need more attention since condensation and rust can be a factor over time with bearings which sit without being rotated or warmed up.
Fact is, there is some risk with repacking too often... like preload, damaged seals, contamination etc.
A trailer which is used often should have better lube life.

I don't know what cars you have owned, but many cars built over the last couple of decades don't even have serviceable wheel bearings.

Another point is neglect creep... having a schedule can prevent you from thinking "I just did that!" when in fact it may have been years.
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Old 03-23-2017, 06:53 PM   #5
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If you drive your car every day there is little chance of the grease to absorb moisture. Enough moisture in the wrong type of grease can turn the grease acidic making the likley hood of failure increased. Another issue if you grease your bearings regularly you have a better chance of keeping bearings in good condition if life gets in the way and your trailer goes unused for several years.
Another issue with some trailers is the use of small lightweight spindles and small diameter bearings running with small diameter tires. These bearings spin at high rate of surface speeds adding higher loads into the grease used to protect the bearings.

learn to regrease your own bearings and change the grease at your own schedule. That way if you decide to extend service intervals and sieze a bearing on the highway its your own fault and you get to pay the concequences.

There are too many variables to the life of bearings to use a blanket time line for all cases. Blow a bearing on the highway and you will never forget the experience.
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Old 03-23-2017, 08:51 PM   #6
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Name: Darral
Trailer: Scamp Standard 13' 2010
Tennessee
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Scamp purchased new 2010. Has 10K miles no lube/no tear down. I spin the wheels often when not in use. I keep a check on the free-play (holding tire on each side trying to get it to move on the spindle). When I pull, after the first stop, I check the temps...nothing has changed since the factory and spinning the wheels prove to be "smooth". I've only adjusted the "road side" brake one time.

My trips are not "cross-country" but usually within a 100 mile radius of my house or closer. I feel perfectly fine with my setup. One thing- I do NOT overload my trailer and keep about 1800 lbs MAX on a 2200 lb rated axle.

I just recently changed the tires on my trailer and that was because of dry rot cracks. The old tires still had GOOD tread which speaks well of light loads, a properly aligned axle and obviously running good tire pressures.

If I ever own a trailer and it was to become "mandatory" by law etc. that you HAVE to do a tear down every year and clean/inspect/replace bearings/seals, I would sell my trailer and never blink an eye.

But all I've said is me.... everyone else can do what's comfortable for them. I was personally raised in a mechanic's home; have dealt with bearings all my life; and am a machinist by trade. I will NOT pull my bearings every year. (boat trailers? WHOLE different environment/world in water!!) G'nite
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Old 03-24-2017, 10:10 AM   #7
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I have a related question. I removed and packed the bearings on our 2014 16' Scamp yesterday. No problems. However I was surprised to find a Zerk fitting at the end of the spindle. How often should I add grease using this fitting. I've had a boat trailer with Bearing Buddies before, but, like Darral T said, a boat trailer is different.
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Old 03-24-2017, 10:39 AM   #8
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Doug,

The zert on this axle (IF it's a DEXTER) is for replacing the grease actually. I've spoken with Dexter engineers several times and gone head-to-head with them as to WHY they say "Once a year or 10-12K miles" on pulling wheels inspecting/replacing bearings. They designed the "E-Z Lube" exclusively with boat trailers in mind!! Not our RV trailers.

Why? With this system- PLEASE view the video on their site by clicking on my link below- you pump the grease in until ALL the old grease is out and you can tell this by watching for the new grease. This is a much better system than the "Bearing Buddies" as it takes the grease to the rear bearing then up and around out the front. But you have to be VERY careful not to damage or blow out the rear seal. But this in turn- according to Dexter- will push out the old grease AND any water that's there (thus the boat trailer axles) and replace it with new grease.

E-Z Lube System

Quote:
Originally Posted by Doug in Sacramento View Post
I have a related question. I removed and packed the bearings on our 2014 16' Scamp yesterday. No problems. However I was surprised to find a Zerk fitting at the end of the spindle. How often should I add grease using this fitting. I've had a boat trailer with Bearing Buddies before, but, like Darral T said, a boat trailer is different.
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Old 03-24-2017, 10:54 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Doug in Sacramento View Post
I have a related question. I removed and packed the bearings on our 2014 16' Scamp yesterday. No problems. However I was surprised to find a Zerk fitting at the end of the spindle. How often should I add grease using this fitting. I've had a boat trailer with Bearing Buddies before, but, like Darral T said, a boat trailer is different.
I have that setup on one of my utility trailers too. Never used it though.

If you grease it too much, you'll end up with the problem of a full hub and leakage. Not enough and the bearings might fail. Dexter wants it to be used to flush out the system. I'm not comfortable with the hub being completely full of grease. And the pre-load will never be adjusted.

With quality bearings and a careful re-pack, the system should go for many thousands of miles with no maintenance. Or, if you want to inspect the brakes occasionally, you'll have a chance to have a look at the bearings too.

It's pretty simple, while the hubs are off, to change the grease seal and look at the bearings. If they look good, just do a quick re-pack without the thorough cleaning and then re-assemble.

I don't try to keep track of the miles on each trailer, but I do check the hub temperatures every time I get fuel or stop for some other reason. I also like to lift the wheels off the ground occasionally and spin them. Listen for a dry sounding bearing and check for play. I'm always listening for strange brake sounds and I always lock the brakes up after each hookup to make sure they are all working and working equally.
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Old 03-24-2017, 11:40 AM   #10
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Name: Dick
Trailer: '15 17' LD Casita and '17 Tahoe LT
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This also brings up another question about the bearings. I read where some feel the hubs checking for heat and some check the temps. What temp range is considered ok? We just bought a '15 17' LD Casita and pulled it home which was about 60 miles on an 80 degree day. Checked the hub temps with a laser therm. and one read 135 degrees and the other one 145 degrees. I feel sure that these are acceptable numbers but at what temp do you begin to worry? Thanks
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Old 03-24-2017, 12:02 PM   #11
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Name: Darral
Trailer: Scamp Standard 13' 2010
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Dick, here's some statistics I have documented since purchasing my 13' Scamp new in 2010:

Hub Temps-
From Backus:106 @ 80 deg F. 4/20/10
To Gulf Shores, AL: 100 @ 70+ Deg 4/20/15 (NO maint. has been performed!)

On 5-28-15, I spoke with Dexter and here's some interesting info even though this would scare me...here it is-
Normal hub temps: 140-170 F. And the DRUM 150-400!!! (I personally do NOT agree with those hub temps based solely on my experience!)

Here's another experience I had with my Scamp in 2015. BRAKES!! They will drive you crazy chasing hub temps if you're test-driving or regular trip-driving your trailer and brake hard while pulling over to check your hubs! I'm honestly not sure how I didnt catch this coming home from Backus but I was pulling on very flat territory because if you notice above, my hub temps didnt climb that much.

Anyway, I was testing the brakes and found the "road" side (driver/left) wasnt holding as much as the right side. The right side (passenger/curb) was getting warmer than the left side. I adjusted the brakes some. I took it out and noticed when I got back, the drivers/left side climbed to 135 deg!! What?? It even made the rubber dust seal at the zerk fitting puff out (grease). FINALLY, I got everything working/adjusted and brought the temps back closer together when braking.

So how do I test hub temps? I'll pull for 20 miles or so at apx 65 mph, then pull off at an exit with my brake controller set at "0" so it wont activate. That way, I'm measuring actual hub temps and not hub temps getting warmer by the minute because of braking.

There'll be other comments/suggestions, but this I've written is not opinion or info off the internet. I experienced it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dmad1 View Post
This also brings up another question about the bearings. I read where some feel the hubs checking for heat and some check the temps. What temp range is considered ok? We just bought a '15 17' LD Casita and pulled it home which was about 60 miles on an 80 degree day. Checked the hub temps with a laser therm. and one read 135 degrees and the other one 145 degrees. I feel sure that these are acceptable numbers but at what temp do you begin to worry? Thanks
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Old 03-24-2017, 12:05 PM   #12
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The human body doesn't like over 150 Degree F. If you cant hold your hand against the metal without fear of being burnt its too hot. Get around 200 F and the grease will normally start to liquify and start sling grease if everything isnt perfectly sealed. Infrared gun is cheap these days but useless if your running hub caps.
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Old 03-24-2017, 12:19 PM   #13
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Darral T - Interesting about the temp differences. Mine was similar in that the curb side was at 145 vs.135.
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Old 03-24-2017, 12:30 PM   #14
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Do this at your own risk!! BUT could you possibly test the hubs without using the trailer brakes? I had NO trouble stopping my 13' empty Scamp with my 4cy 99 Nissan Frontier. But I also geared down (straight-shift). The results are, this will give you actual hub temps. One thing to keep in mind...dont try this right after you've used your trailer brakes because it takes awhile for the cast iron drums to cool back down. Trust me on that one!

Also, have you jacked up the trailer, spun the wheels and listen for any bearing noises? Dexter's e-brakes will make a light scrubbing noise because of the magnet. So you have to be careful not to confuse that with bearings! I'm just thinking also, this would be a good way to test your brakes and make sure they are not sticking. I did this on my Scamp. I jacked up one wheel, spun it, then had wife to apply brakes. On the driver's side, when she released, I had to tap the hub to get the brakes to release enough for the wheel to spin freely! I backed out the adjustment and tweaked until I got the results I posted previously...no more problems.

If you do this, spin the wheels, apply brakes, and the wheels still spin freely (coast to a stop), then I say it's possibly aggressive braking on your trailer. But you really wont know until the hubs are tested without the brakes playing a role.

When using my trailer brakes, I set my brake controller so that the truck has the SAME stopping feel with or without the trailer.

As a summary, I test the trailer hubs without using brakes. If they're still 135-145, well....all I can say that mine arent. One final thing Dexter says as well...if you use the E-Z Lube, the cavity in the hub will now be full of grease and you're going to get higher than previous temp readings on your hubs. Keep us posted.

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Darral T - Interesting about the temp differences. Mine was similar in that the curb side was at 145.
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Old 03-24-2017, 12:59 PM   #15
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To get a meaningful temperature you should read the hub directly and only after minimal brake use. I find mine are always right near ambient temperature and they are all the same. Best time to check them might be after pulling in off the highway to get fuel. But maybe not after a mountain descent.

No need to use a digital thermometer. Just touch each hub in the same place. Are they all relatively cool? Are they all nearly the same temperature? Are you sure you're not reading brake drum temperature?

This is a simple, common sense thing. Just touch them and see what you notice.

You're looking for the outlier here. If you did have a bearing failure and it lead to more heat, they would not all be failing at the same rate and therefore not all hot. If you see a hot one, look at the drums to see if one might be dragging. Dragging could be a bearing failure or a brake failure. To find out, jack up that one wheel and see if it wobbles or sounds gritty.

You might save your digital thermometer for more interesting endeavors, like making sure your beer temp is within specs. Guiness and Coors are likely to give different specifications on this and should be followed for safety. A beer failure could be serious. A compounding failure, such as replacing a wheel bearing while only having warm beer is the kind of disaster you read about! I shudder to think.
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Old 03-24-2017, 01:07 PM   #16
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No reason not to use a digital thermometer when you have it.
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Old 03-24-2017, 01:11 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by Darral T. View Post

There'll be other comments/suggestions, but this I've written is not opinion or info off the internet. I experienced it.
Wait a minute. I just read your your story and info on the internet. Uh oh. For a minute there, I actually believed it.
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Old 03-24-2017, 01:21 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by Darral T. View Post
No reason not to use a digital thermometer when you have it.

Of course that's right. No reason not to. But it's just funny to be looking for that kind of accuracy and to be dependent on it working while traveling and camping and to be consistent in how you use it, all while having no clear data to use for comparison to what is correct and safe, and what is not.
A few degrees different from side to side can be caused by the sun, for instance. The temp could be considered "normal" from ambient to 170 degrees.

I find it's so simple to start fueling and do my normal "pre-flight" inspection by walking around looking for anything that might be of concern. As I pass the hubs I reach down and touch them as part of the inspection. Quick, comparative and simple. The last thing I want to do is log the data for further use.
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Old 03-24-2017, 03:00 PM   #19
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I know this will confuse some who watch it, but below is a video of the EZ Lube system which makes it clear how to service it and explains that it is
"Ideal for most towable axles including marine trailer applications"
Obviously not limited to marine trailers...

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Old 03-24-2017, 04:23 PM   #20
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Name: JD
Trailer: Scamp 16 Modified (BIGLY)
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I like the EZ lube system, but you need to be aware of how grease reacts.
If the hub is full the bearings will run hotter until the excess grease is forced out.
Personally I think you should leave the rubber plugs off for a couple of hours so that that excess can work it's way out and the temps will drop.
After the temps drop then put the plugs back on.

Bearings actually need a fairly small amount of grease.
The grease cannot actually BE in the bearing races for any length of time because the rolling elements will churn it up and that heats it up and if there is no escape for the excess it will overheat and cook the grease.
When we grease motors we remove the purge caps and let that excess grease get out.
Since we have temp sensors on the bearings we can see the spike and the temps fall off as the motors rum.
There is a small controversy on whether to grease while running or when stopped, but I prefer the have them greased (ever so slowly) while running.
Try to put the grease in fast and you will push the grease past the seals.not build up too much pressure while greasing.
Just my $0.02 worth.
The grease in the gun should be as warm as possible so that it will flow easily and
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