Trailer Bearings

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Trailer Bearings

Postby JSC » Tue Jun 27, 2006 7:13 am

I have owned my Offshore for a little over 3 years now and just recently got around to repacking the bearings in my trailer. I now have a couple of questions that I hope some of you can help with. I have no idea how long ago the bearings were last repacked, there was a little "wobble" in one wheel before I removed it, but the bearings themselves seemed to be in OK shape. Both bearing cases had a small amount of surface corrosion - is any corrosion too much? I used the bearing grease I bought at the local auto parts store - should I have used/is there a bearing grease made for marine applications (read: costs 4x more!)? While I'm at it, this trailer has a brake system that I'm sure is not functioning - it apparently worked some time in the past, because the brake shoes have been worn down to nothing. Should I be concerned with repairing this system? I don't pull my boat over any great distances. Thanks for any help you can give.
JSC
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Postby txcaptdan » Tue Jun 27, 2006 7:46 am

I have had trailers without working brakes for years, i would not worry especially if you do not haul long distance. Most of these boats do not weigh enough to worry about.
marine grease would last longer but regular grease will work. Bearing buddys are great as you can pump fresh grease in and expell water.
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Dan Stober
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1962 20' Cruisers Inc. 502
1963 16' Cruisers Inc. 202 Seafarer
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Postby Phill Blank » Wed Jun 28, 2006 7:29 am

JSC, With regards to your bearings with some corrosion on the bearing cups. I would suggest replacing the bearings. Any surface distress on a bearing will eventually cause the bear rollers to start spalling and cause a failure. When ever I go to repack a bearing and see surface distress on the cup I change out the bearings it is cheap insurance. To buy a set of new bearings and a new seal for one wheel cost around $10.00 - $12.00, so why take the chance. It may take a couple hours to change the bearings out. Have a wheel bearing fail when you are on the road and you will spend a lot more time and money and ruin a good day of boating.

I just replaced the bearings on my boat trailer this year because of a little etching on the cups from water entering the hub caused by the rear seal being damaged.

I worked for a industrial gear drive manufacturer for many years and the bearings are the weak link in most any thing that turns and carries a load. A failed bearing stops everything in it tracks. Also a failure at high speeds can cause the bearing inner race to weld itself to the axle or the cup can damage the hub and then you have a real expensive problem to take care of.

Replace those bearings.
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Postby JSC » Thu Jun 29, 2006 8:01 am

Thanks Phill, good advice. I knew, in the back of my mind, that any corrosion was bad. I think I was trying to justify my laziness - not getting off my butt and getting the new bearings. You are absolutely correct regarding $25 being cheap insurance against a miserable day at the side of a busy road, taking the wheel apart! A couple of new questions, if I may - do I tap out the old inner bearing and tap in the new with mallet and screwdriver and is the rubber seal connected to the new inner bearing?
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Postby Phill Blank » Thu Jun 29, 2006 11:09 am

I use a steel 1/2" diameter rod 6" to 8" in length, actually a piece of what they call drill rod, and a hammer. The seal is seperated for the bearing. Once you pull the hub off the axle clean our as much of the old grease as you can before trying to wash out the hub. Once you have as much grease out take the hub an dplace it on top of a couple harwood blocks so the bear cup can be driven out of the hub. Generally a 1"space between the hub face and the surface you have it on will do the trick.
Take the rod and place it in the edge of the bear cup and tap with the hammer. Move around the cup so you are tapping in a different spot approximately 90 to 180 degrees from the last spot you tapped. Keep this up until you have driven the cup out then turn the hub over and do the other side. You may find that you will have to grind the end of the rod as the bearing cup will cause the end of the rod to round off. Grind it flat on the end and clean up any burrs that may form around the end.
Once you have driven the cups out wash the hub in solvent and dry out. Put a light coating of new grease in the hub where the bearing cup will be installed and place the cup over the bore and lightly tap the cup with the hammer to start the cup into the bore. Tap around the cup as this will allow the cup to slowly begin to be driven into the bore. Once it is started you can increase the force and use the rod with the hammer to drive the cups all the way into their bores. You will notice a change in the ring when they are seated completely.
Now you can pack the hub and inner race and rollers with grease. After you place the inner race into the hub you can then install the grease seal. This is done much like the installing the cups. A light tap with a small hammer or mallet around the faces of the seal and the drive it in until it is flush with the back face of the hub. If you have access to a hydrulic or arbor press these can be used to press out the cups and press in the new ones.
Wash and dry off the axles and coat them completely with a light coating of grease. Then carefully re-install the hub onto the axle. Place teh outer bearing inner race on the axle and now you can install the castle nut and washer and tighten it down. I generally tighten the castle nut as a rotate the hub until I feel it begain the drag. I then back it off to the next slot that I can put the cotter pin through and lock it down. That is it and you are good to go.
If you are installing bearing buddies pack the bearing buddie cup with grease before you install it. This will cut down on the amount of air that will be trapped inside of the hub. Also pack a good amount of grease inside of the hub before you install the outer bearing inner race. Once all is assembled pump more grease into the bearing buddies so the spring loaded front plate moves out an dit will keep pressure on the grease inside of the hub.
Now every one knows my tricks.
Good Luck!
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Postby John Hart » Tue Jul 11, 2006 6:26 am

JSC... Not sure if you have already done your bearings or not, but for what it is worth, I replaced the entire hubs on my trailer last year. I wasn't sure how bad everything was inside, since I know the trailer was old, and perhaps not maintained real well. Also, I needed to get ready for a vacation, and didn't want to risk doing something improperly and goofing up my trip.

I bought an entire pre-lubed hub kit from Northern for $28/side. This included all seals, bearings, wheel nuts and so forth... all I did, was remove the old, clean up the spindle and mount the new hubs... I did add Bearing Buddies, but the whole thing was a pretty painless change. Although it was twice the price of doing it myself, it saved a lot of labor and potential frustration....

One thing I did notice this year, is that I am getting a lot of grease escaping and coating the inside of the wheel. The outside stays clean, because of the bearing buddy plastic caps, but I am not sure if it is normal to have grease flying out at 60 mph, or the back seals are not sealing as well as they should.... although, if there is pressure pushing grease out, there is probably little chance of water pushing in.

John.
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Postby Phill Blank » Tue Jul 11, 2006 7:10 am

John,

Replacing the hubs is not a bad idea for some one who does not have or want to take the time to replace the bearings. When you do look for hubs which have the grease fittings and grease ports built-in instead of adding bearing buddies. I have a set of hubs which have a grease port that puts the grease into the hub thru the space between the inside beariong and the grease seal. When you add grease you pull a rubber plug out of the hud dust cap and pump the grease into the hub thru the grease fitting and the old grease is expelled out the openign in the dust cap. This also lets you see what is in the grease that was inside your hud. Most of the air is expelled from the hub also. so the less air the less possiblility of water being sucked into the hub when it contracts in the water. I have had the one set on a trailer over ten years and have not had a problem with the bearings. (Knock on Wood)

You may have an axle which is worn in the seal area and causing your grease leak or because of the pressure a grease gun exerts the grease is forced out the seal. I have seen seals which have had the lip turned inside out becasue of the pressure from a air powered grease gun.

You may want to check the seal surface on the axle very closley for rust or grooving. Rust can be buffed off with very fine emery cloth. If there are grooves you may need to get a new seal surface sleeve which can be driven onto the axle over the existing seal area. They are called "Speedi Sleeves" by Chicago Rawhide and are available from most industrial bearing houses and possibly from an auto parts shops.

A Note about the grease flying out the back of the hub with bearing buddies. Just because you have grease flying out does not mean you will not get water into the hub.

I am speaking from expreiance. I bought a boat and trailer a few years ago and the previous owner had replaced the bearings and installed bearing buddies, so I thought I was all set. I would add grease to the bearing buddies everytime I took out the boat and had grease coming out of the back of the hub. This year I had to replace the bearings because they had gotten water in them and it mixed with the grease and over winter the bearing became pitted.

When you have a trailer hub which has just run on the highway at 60 - 70 MPH for what ever time it gets HOT as does the grease and what ever air is in the hub. Now take that trailer and back it into a cold body of water and everything inside of the hub shrinks including what ever air is inside of the hub and when this happens water is drawn into thru the seal and it does not take much to screw up a bearing.

So it is not a bad idea to inspect your bearing every year or two depending how often you use your boat and trailer.
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Postby John Hart » Tue Jul 11, 2006 9:23 am

Thanks Phill... great information and tips... I do remember that the axles were a little pitted, but it looked like a big job to replace... the Speedy Sleeves sounds like a great option... I will plan to inspect things next spring...

Thanks.
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Postby Phill Blank » Tue Jul 11, 2006 9:58 am

John,

Not a problem. Would rather share some of my abundant knowledge with the world then keep it all to myself...... ;) [Are you laughing now? I am. :lol: ]

The "speedi sleeves" are not inexpensive, but are cheaper then replacing the axle or axle ends. They do not change the size of the seal used so a standard wheel bearing seals will still work. Also they are made out of stainless steel so rust on the surface will not be a problem in the future. And their hardness is alot harder then the standard axle shaft is that you get with a trailer. They where developed for industrial use and they had to as good as or better then the original seal surface area on a industrial gear drive shaft. See the website below for more info.

www2.chicago-rawhide.com/speedi_sleeves.htm

Good Luck to all.
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