The RV Forum Community

RVing message boards => Trailers & Fifthwheels => Topic started by: lumpy75 on October 15, 2014, 05:37:25 AM

Title: Grease seal failures on Lippert Chassis
Post by: lumpy75 on October 15, 2014, 05:37:25 AM
The latest issue regarding Lippert chassis is a grease seal failure that is becoming quite wide spread. It has gotten so prevalent that Lippert has issued "warning letters" to owners to inspect their brake systems.  The problem is that the grease seals that they are using are failing at alarming numbers.  This causes the grease in the axle to leak past the grease seals and coat the brakes.  The Columbus line built  by Palomino, a subsidiary of Forest River is the owner.  It has gotten so much attention that the NTHSA has opened an investigation into the problem.  If you own, or are thinking of buying a Lippert chassis vehicle, inspect the brakes at your earliest opportunity.
I have a 2014 Columbus and just had this issue. The brakes were not what I felt they should be for some time. My dealer did the inspection and they found grease in the drums along with bad wires. I would not say I am upset cause LCI contacted me with all the information. My dealership fixed the issue with no cost to me. I am 2 months outside the warranty but do have the one year extended from Forest River. If you have a Columbus I would get it checked even if you do not think you have an issue.
Title: Re: Grease seal failures on Lippert Chassis
Post by: kjansen on October 15, 2014, 07:59:22 AM
The latest issue regarding Lippert chassis is a grease seal failure that is becoming quite wide spread. It has gotten so prevalent that Lippert has issued "warning letters" to owners to inspect their brake systems.  The problem is that the grease seals that they are using are failing at alarming numbers.  This causes the grease in the axle to leak past the grease seals and coat the brakes.   

After I bought my Montana, I wanted to repack the bearings and install the Mor-Ryde suspension kit.  My brakes were covered in grease.I thought maybe the previous owner got happy with the grease gun.  According to the previous owner  my 5er was delivered to Duluth and put on a lake lot, made 1 trip to the Black Hills, and 2 trips to southern Wisconsin, so that's not many miles,  with bad seals my brakes were worthless.

I believe my axles are Dexter and I would have thought they would come to Lippert pre-assembled and then it would be Dexter using bad seals, bearings, etc.

My son is a quality control engineer for a large firm building boom trucks and he said that if you are welding with the wrong temp setting or not using the right gas mixture the steel beside the weld  will be harden and prone to cracks.  The weld itself will not always crack.   Steel needs a certain amount of flex to hold up to vibration.  Harden steel loses some of that flex.  If that's the case Lippert would be at fault.

 
Title: Re: Grease seal failures on Lippert Chassis
Post by: Bamaman on June 13, 2015, 10:12:07 PM
I've read online of a number of grease seal failures on axles that were supplied on Lippert built fifth wheel trailer chassis'.

It would appear they're using bearings that are not of the best quality--simply put.  And unfortunately, it is a safety issue when the wheel grease gets into the the brakes and the tow vehicle and trailer will not stop properly.

The choice is to carefully watch the inside of your wheels for any source of bearing grease leakage, or go ahead and pay to have new higher quality axle seals installed.
Title: Re: Grease seal failures on Lippert Chassis
Post by: Rob VanVoorhis on July 14, 2015, 06:44:54 PM
All four bearing seals failed after a 4K mile trip on our 2014 Open Range 345 RLS, Lippert Frame and Dexter axels. My dealer did a great job on the repair but Dexter didn't want to include a bearing repack as part of the repair, totally ridiculous and after a few emails all service was eventually covered. Have developed a habit of squeezing the brake controller before I leave the driveway. We'll be in Florida for 5 months this winter so I'll pull the wheels before we leave and after we get there.
Title: Re: Grease seal failures on Lippert Chassis
Post by: JnHinMT on September 29, 2015, 05:56:25 PM
We bought a new (held over) 2014 Denali 280LBS by Dutchmen this summer. It is built on a Lippert Chassis. I do all of my own maintenance including packing the wheel bearings every fall before I put the trailer away for winter. I had read about the failing seals on Lippert chassis and wanted to investigate ours before it soaked the brakes with grease.
I'm a millwright for a living...I deal with all kinds of grease and oil and every kind of seal you can imagine. Just to give you my background and experience.

When I pulled the hubs apart on our trailer 2 of the 4 grease seals were leaking. They hadn't pushed out enough to cover the brake shoes yet because thankfully we've only pulled our trailer a couple hundred miles this summer. I looked at the seals pretty close, because at work I've seen seals fail about every way possible. Those 2 seals on my trailer that were leaking were screwed up at the factory when they installed them. The edges on both of them were smashed half way around the seal.
I'm not saying that they don't also have a failure problem because they are cheap Chinese seals, because they definitely are cheap Chinese seals. And I couldn't even cross reference the number to a good replacement seal, so I had to replace them with more cheap Chinese seals.

I don't know how many others have really looked at their seals....but I'm guessing a good portion of these failures are because the grease monkey at the factory has no pride in his work.
Title: Re: Grease seal failures on Lippert Chassis
Post by: Rik on April 12, 2016, 10:57:42 PM
Just picked up my new Fuzion 371and headed out for a 300 mile drive  home. On the way home I got a trailer wiring problem warning on my new f250, checked lights all seem fine, brakes working. When I got home backing into my driveway my wife heard a noise coming from the axles. I have done brakes and automotive work my whole life so I jumped in and pulled the wheels only to have the electro magnets and brake adjuster fall out of the right side hubs as I pulled them off. The bare wires to the magnets were tangled in the brake shoe mechanism, and I'm sure that's why I was getting the wiring fault.....The left side brake packages were intact but grease all over the place as the rear seals were not installed correctly. When I reassembled everything I repacked all the bearings as none were packed as well as they should have been. I replace all four brake packages with new dexter units and will now take up matter with my dealer.....
Title: Re: Grease seal failures on Lippert Chassis
Post by: SargeW on April 13, 2016, 11:04:11 AM
Unfortunately yours is not an unusual story. What often happens is that when the seals start to leak grease, the heat in the drum rapidly disperses it all around the inside. A minor application of the brakes will cause the brake magnet to stick to the drum and not release.  Then it quickly gets super hot and then wire and shoe failure is close behind. 

Beware and be safe.
Title: Re: Grease seal failures on Lippert Chassis
Post by: ukcarnut44 on June 14, 2016, 10:49:06 AM
Given the content of this forum I feel I need to add my experience. I am new to forums but am a long term RV er. As background I am a retired mechanical engineer with many years working on my own equipment and field work.

My last two 5th wheels have been Montana units, both new units and both have had wheel bearing failures. Both where built on Lieppert Chassis. The first one caused a serious wreck pulling the fifth wheel into a retaining fence and tearing the side out of a new diesel truck and 5th wheel. The lasts one I lost a wheel bearing which caught fire in the middle of nowhere. Montana's comment was "we will put a note in your file".

Needless to say I will look closely at the Chassis manufacturer in the future.
Title: Re: Grease seal failures on Lippert Chassis
Post by: SargeW on June 14, 2016, 01:48:15 PM
Unfortunately Lippert makes about 50% of all trailer chassis supplied to a variety of manufactures these days. Finding someone that doesn't use a Lippert chassis may be harder than it sounds.
Title: Re: Grease seal failures on Lippert Chassis
Post by: QZ on July 17, 2017, 08:53:03 AM
Hello, another new old guy here.
After noticing this thread i figured I would share this video and add to all the great comments.  At times ez lube is blamed for grease on the brake shoes. There is grease on the shoes and it does go past the seal but not necessarily because of ez lube. To me it looks more like they have two problems. In this video of an assembly line bearing greasing operation it seems that they may be missing an important part of greasing the bearings. They dont seem to be applying any grease to the seal lips. Another issue you may notice is how little grease is applied. People will argue about how much grease should be in the hub which by the looks of the video is very little. I was told by trailer builders a long time ago to go with about 85 % or so filling of the hub. A bearing buddy fills the hub on boat axles  and works just fine.

i dont know if someone is manually applying a very light film of grease where the seal rides on the axle or if they are applying grease to the lips as they should be but there is no way that the seal should be riding on the axle without lubricant. The second problem that I have seen on another forum is that the seal is being damaged during installation of the drum assembly. Anyone who has serviced these types of components knows that the drum has to be carefully centered to get the inner bearing started and not cock the drum or bang it around and hit the seal.

So people spin the wheel and slowly pump the grease in and it ends up on the shoes and they blame ez lube for "blowing the seal out. If the seal lips were in good contact along with the garter spring which rides on the inner side of the lip and you could seal up the gap in the dust cap and the grease gun tip you would blow the seal out of the bore or you would push the dust cap out.

if the seal is damaged on installation or the seal lips are worn off in a short time because of no lube the grease will just pass through between the lips and the axle. If the seal isn't tight on the axle the grease will easily go past rather than push the large glob of grease through the bearings and out the dust cap hole. Like water and electricity that seek the path of least resistance.  If you try fitting a new seal on your axle before installing it in the hub you should see that it contacts the axle pretty well.  For those of us who dont have easy lube it's normal to pull the drum and never see grease. Our seals can be worn and not fit the axle as snugly as when new but there is no grease or little evidence of grease.

At 2:42 you can see that the seal lips are dry. If they have mechanized the process to this degree I would doubt that they have a guy applying grease manually before installing the drum assembly. Just my guess.

https://youtu.be/dyiApuNIaBY

Seal lubrication

http://www.skf.com/us/products/seals/industrial-seals/power-transmission-seals/radial-shaft-seals/lubrication/index.html

This pic was taken by an owner who was aware of this issue and checked his rig when one week old. The grease that is on there was drug out as he removed the drum. You can also see where the seal was gouged during assembly.

Edit: I couldn't get the pic to post properly

Title: Re: Grease seal failures on Lippert Chassis
Post by: kdbgoat on July 17, 2017, 09:06:15 AM
The seals on my old trailer were blown from the factory. If they couldn't get it right, what makes them think anyone else could. I still recommend pulling the hubs and hand packing the bearings.
Title: Re: Grease seal failures on Lippert Chassis
Post by: SargeW on July 17, 2017, 05:16:51 PM
I thought too that the assembly of the seals may have been cause of failure.  Also pumping too much grease into a Bearing Buddy probably doesn't help. But when I had a fiver and discovered that all of the brakes were grease coated, I knew that there were bigger problems.  At about 3 months old I discovered that the brakes were all grease coated, and the seals were blown. Lippert sent the dealer 4 brand new brake and drum assemblies to be installed. I stood and watched the tech remove them from the boxes, connect the brake wires and remount the tires.

About 200 miles later while heading for home, I observed that one of the brake assemblies was much hotter than the rest. Getting to the campground I pulled the brake drum to find that the entire inside of the drum and brake shoes were again coated with grease.  They have a bigger problem than they are willing to admit.
Title: Re: Grease seal failures on Lippert Chassis
Post by: QZ on July 17, 2017, 09:42:04 PM
SargeW
Probably. With the way things are now days who knows if the stuff is even concentric etc. Money money money.
Title: Re: Grease seal failures on Lippert Chassis
Post by: Smokey613 on August 03, 2017, 08:51:35 PM
Is there a listing of RVs that use the Lippert frames?
Title: Re: Grease seal failures on Lippert Chassis
Post by: Rene T on August 03, 2017, 09:56:37 PM
I thought too that the assembly of the seals may have been cause of failure.  Also pumping too much grease into a Bearing Buddy probably doesn't help. But when I had a fiver and discovered that all of the brakes were grease coated, I knew that there were bigger problems.  At about 3 months old I discovered that the brakes were all grease coated, and the seals were blown. Lippert sent the dealer 4 brand new brake and drum assemblies to be installed. I stood and watched the tech remove them from the boxes, connect the brake wires and remount the tires.

About 200 miles later while heading for home, I observed that one of the brake assemblies was much hotter than the rest. Getting to the campground I pulled the brake drum to find that the entire inside of the drum and brake shoes were again coated with grease.  They have a bigger problem than they are willing to admit.

Now you've got me worried. I repacked my bearings today and reassembled them with new seals. Once the nut was torqued and the locking mechanism was on, I pumped grease through the zerk fitting. I don't know how the seal would fail unless you use a garage type grease gun which would have a lot of volume quickly. The grease should take the path of least resistance which is through the inner bearing, filling the cavity between the bearings then out through the outer bearing. I was using a hand grease gun so it filled slowly. I may pull one of the drums tomorrow just the verify everything is OK.
Title: Re: Grease seal failures on Lippert Chassis
Post by: SargeW on August 04, 2017, 07:42:34 AM
Is there a listing of RVs that use the Lippert frames?

Not that I am aware of Smokey.  But since half of all towables are now using Lippert chassis, it would be safe to check your brake assemblies on a regular basis.

I pumped grease through the zerk fitting. I don't know how the seal would fail unless you use a garage type grease gun which would have a lot of volume .

Many of the failures that were reported did not have axles with grease zerts on them. Such was the case with the replacement brake assemblies that Lippert sent me when mine failed the first time. Cheap seals just failed allowing the grease to get flung throughout the brake drum when the wheels heated up.  Using a grease zert just exacerbated the problem. 
Title: Re: Grease seal failures on Lippert Chassis
Post by: gravesdiesel on August 17, 2017, 09:43:34 AM
From the video QZ posted, it is clear the seal is never lubricated.  Even at the end of the video, they show it totally dry.  Dry rubber riding against dry steel will wear out quickly.  It is also clear to see the "China" on the bearing assembly in the video.  It is a damn shame these folks all use the cheapest of components in nearly every RV.