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Author Topic: PSA: Don't neglect your hub bearing maintenance  (Read 391 times)

cybertron

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PSA: Don't neglect your hub bearing maintenance
« on: August 16, 2017, 11:13:56 AM »
Like I did.  :-\

I've had my trailer for about 7 years now, usually just local trips so I don't put a lot of miles on it.  That was my justification for not having re-greased my hubs, even though I know you're supposed to do it yearly anyway.

Fortunately, I caught it before anything failed spectacularly.  I have a long-ish trip coming up for the eclipse and decided I was going to stop neglecting this basic maintenance.  When I jacked up the trailer one of the wheels would barely spin if you weren't actively moving it.  Terrible grinding sound too.  New grease did nothing, so I replaced the bearings.  The outer one was visibly pitted when I took it off.

The other wheel didn't sound as bad and spun more freely.  I almost didn't replace the bearings on that one.  It would have been a huge mistake.  The outer bearing on that wheel was worse than the other.  Almost every roller was badly pitted.  I suspect the castle nut may have been on too tight on that wheel because I had trouble getting it off when I did replace the bearings.  It might have just been a burr in the threads, but given the state of the bearings I think it was legitimately too tight.

I'm not super confident in the replacement bearings I put on, but they should at least get me through this trip safely.  There's still more noise than I'd like and a little play in the wheels, but no worse than before, and the wheels spin properly now.  They were pretty cheap bearings since I had to go with whatever I could find locally.  After a test trip my hubs were only reading about 95 degrees (ambient was about 75) on my new IR thermometer so I don't think there's anything terribly wrong, but I'll be keeping a closer eye on them from now on.  If I have to replace them again at least I'll have the tools and experience to do it in a lot less time than it took this time.  :)

I also finally adjusted my brakes.  With all the reading I've done about trailers I'm not sure how I missed that those need regular adjustment to work properly too.  :o

Anyway, hopefully this cautionary tale will help prod someone else into doing this maintenance before their bearings get near the failure point.  :))
2010 2011 Rockwood Mini Lite ETC 184
2015 Ram 1500 3.0L Diesel

lynnmor

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Re: PSA: Don't neglect your hub bearing maintenance
« Reply #1 on: August 16, 2017, 01:54:43 PM »
One more thing.  When driving keep plenty of distance from any and all trailers.  We read all the time from the folks that try to justify the shortcuts they take on hub maintenance.

scottydl

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Re: PSA: Don't neglect your hub bearing maintenance
« Reply #2 on: August 16, 2017, 04:47:23 PM »
What bearing maintenance do you trailer owners usually do, other than having hubs re-packed with grease every X number of miles?  I'm curious to know what that service usually costs too, from a qualified shop.

I bought my 2008 trailer in 2015, and the first owner said the bearings had been recently packed.  I'm not sure of the details though.  That owner never traveled with it, the rig was only moved twice each year to/from a seasonal site.  Now, I tow it maybe 700 miles/year at most.
Scott, wife, 3 boys... and the dog
- 2008 Forest River Wildwood 32BHDS
- 1995 Chevrolet Suburban C2500 tow vehicle
- 1994 Thor Residency motorhome... owned 2007-2012

Rene T

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Re: PSA: Don't neglect your hub bearing maintenance
« Reply #3 on: August 16, 2017, 05:05:25 PM »
What bearing maintenance do you trailer owners usually do, other than having hubs re-packed with grease every X number of miles?  I'm curious to know what that service usually costs too, from a qualified shop.

I bought my 2008 trailer in 2015, and the first owner said the bearings had been recently packed.  I'm not sure of the details though.  That owner never traveled with it, the rig was only moved twice each year to/from a seasonal site.  Now, I tow it maybe 700 miles/year at most.

I would repack the bearings and check the brake shoes and adjust at the same time. I don't know what it would cost at a shop. I do my own.
Rene & Lucille & co-pilot Buddy
AKA  Pep N Mem
2011 Chevy Duramax 2500 HD 4X4
2011 Montana High Country 343RL
From the Granite State of NH
& Florida Snowbird in Lakeland FL

cybertron

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Re: PSA: Don't neglect your hub bearing maintenance
« Reply #4 on: August 17, 2017, 04:20:46 PM »
I probably towed my trailer less than a thousand miles per year, with the possible exception of the first summer and one long trip to Michigan that was about 1200 miles itself.  I doubt I had 10000 miles total on it and my bearings were still shot, so it's not just the mileage.

I wouldn't expect it to be too expensive to have the bearings repacked and the brakes adjusted by someone who knows what they're doing.  It took me 4 days and probably $200 to replace mine myself, but a lot of that was having to buy new tools (jack stands, bearing race installation tool, grease gun, so many nitrile gloves, etc.) and figure out how to do it in the first place.  If I did it again I could probably finish in about 2 hours and maybe $50 in materials (assuming new bearings again, which hopefully won't be the case).  I bet a pro could do a basic repack and adjustment in an hour or less and a few bucks in grease.  Well worth it for the peace of mind.
2010 2011 Rockwood Mini Lite ETC 184
2015 Ram 1500 3.0L Diesel

Boonieman

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Re: PSA: Don't neglect your hub bearing maintenance
« Reply #5 on: August 17, 2017, 05:04:34 PM »
This is a good thread. I pull a fifth wheel Keystone Fusion, and out of habit when I stop for fuel I walk around the trailer and feel each wheel hub and check for excess heat on the bearings. When I was young I worked at a full service gas station and I remember a guy came in and said he needed his wheel bearings packed. I asked my boss and he said just take the big nut off, pack grease around the bearings and put the nut back on. That was my training. A couple weeks later the same guy came in (an older gentleman) and said he just wanted to make me aware that he had to get his wheel bearings changed on the way to Florida because one failed and the mechanic said they were too tight and burned it up. I felt awful and offered to pay for his repairs, but he declined. He said he just came by to tell me so I would know better the next time. I wouldn't bank on peace of mind of someone else doing it, especially since now you know how and probably know as much about it as some "professionals". 👍
2016 Chevrolet Dually/Duramax
2011 Fuzion 322
2016 Harley Trike
3 cherished dogs, Moo, Molly, Mia the one eyed pup 😊
Originally from South Dakota, reside in Kentucky

lynnmor

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Re: PSA: Don't neglect your hub bearing maintenance
« Reply #6 on: August 17, 2017, 06:58:36 PM »
The "professional" doing the work may well be like the one above.  This non-technical job may be done by the cheapest help on site.  I've seen enough that I will do it myself even if, (I mean after), I hit the PowerBall.

Gods Country

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Re: PSA: Don't neglect your hub bearing maintenance
« Reply #7 on: August 17, 2017, 07:08:59 PM »
This is a good thread. I pull a fifth wheel Keystone Fusion, and out of habit when I stop for fuel I walk around the trailer and feel each wheel hub and check for excess heat on the bearings.

Me too.
Every time I check the trailer and TV wheels.  There are usually warning signs if you look for them.

keith c

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Re: PSA: Don't neglect your hub bearing maintenance
« Reply #8 on: August 18, 2017, 09:15:35 AM »
Scott,
Shops typically charge about $300 to repack bearings on 4 wheels by me.  However, every shop I spoke with lift the trailer by the axle and not on the frame.  Most of the time that they do this, it may be fine, but they could also easily bend the axle.  So, I continue to repack the bearings myself every spring.  Some brake cleaner and axle grease is all that you need to purchase (around $10 total) to do all four wheels and my labor (which is free).  I've only had to replace the bearing once when the trailer was new from the factory (can you believe that) and that wasn't that difficult to do and the bearings are relatively inexpensive.
Keith C
2017 Ford F150 3.5L Ecoboost w/ Max Trailer Tow
2013 Jayco Eagle 304BHS
320 Watts of Solar
Michigan

lynnmor

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Re: PSA: Don't neglect your hub bearing maintenance
« Reply #9 on: August 18, 2017, 02:34:59 PM »
Some brake cleaner and axle grease is all that you need to purchase (around $10 total) to do all four wheels and my labor (which is free).  I've only had to replace the bearing once when the trailer was new from the factory (can you believe that) and that wasn't that difficult to do and the bearings are relatively inexpensive.

Don't forget new grease seals.

Yes, I believe that cheap, junk bearings find their way into trailers.   I replaced mine with quality bearings made in USA.

cybertron

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Re: PSA: Don't neglect your hub bearing maintenance
« Reply #10 on: August 18, 2017, 05:06:53 PM »
$300 to repack bearings?  Apparently I'm in the wrong line of work.  :)

Leaving on my first real trip with the new bearings tonight.  Fingers crossed that everything is good to go!

Although I'm actually only driving about an hour tonight.  I figured it would be good to break up the trip instead of trying to do the whole 7 hours at once.
2010 2011 Rockwood Mini Lite ETC 184
2015 Ram 1500 3.0L Diesel

 

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