Wheel Bearing repacking

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NorCal

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I have a question regarding repacking wheel bearings on my Outback TT.  I've had quotes all over the board.  I know two years ago, I paid $250.00.  Anybody out there with a ballpark figure on what it should cost?

Thank you,
Tony in NorCal 
 

Mack41

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I just asked an RV/trailer dealer/repair place in Montrose, CO that question.

$266 + $5 per seal (if needed) for a double-axle trailer.
 

kdbgoat

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Mack41 said:
I just asked an RV/trailer dealer/repair place in Montrose, CO that question.

$266 + $5 per seal (if needed) for a double-axle trailer.

What do they mean by "if needed"? It's a five dollar part and I know whenever I've done bearings, the seal stands about a 95% chance of getting boogered up. I've got it apart, so it will get new seals
 

Utclmjmpr

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Once it's been properly done,, have "bearing Buddies" installed and you won't have to do it again for a looooong time.>>>Dan
 

blw2

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I've always read and heard the suggested yearly repack.
Personally I think that's extreme overkill unless perhaps it's a very high mileage or tough application. 

When towing a trailer, I almost always when I stop...every time...for gas, for lunch, or for the day...the first thing I'll do is a quick walk around, laying my hands on all the tires and all the hubs.  That way I can notice if something is starting to get warmer than "normal" or especially warmer than the others.  Doing this, I think it's perfectly reasonable to go 2 years, maybe more....

I repacked my boat trailer bearing myself, probably more than 10 years ago.  It gets used only a handful of times a year for short distances.  A few months ago I had the boat in for service and asked them to take a look at the bearings and service them.  They took a look and said they are tight and fine.

I used to work as a maintenance engineer, doing predictive maintenance on all rotating equipment in a large pulp and papermill.... things with bearings.  We did vibration analysis, ultrasonic surveys, a little bit of infrared inspection, etc.... We would touch and listen to much of these things regularly.  we'd watch bearings start to fail and develop a sense of how much longer they had to live... then when it ultimately did fail or if maintenance would pull it prior (which was our goal), we'd get to cut open the bearings for a look. 

I'm no lubrication expert, but I learned a good bit about lubrication on that job...and because of that experience I've always looked at bearing buddies with a suspect eye.  I sorta classify them in a similar way that I do fore those stupid split ring lock washers that do nothing but that you see everywhere....
Anyway, a greased bearing generally only wants to have a little bit of grease in the raceways.  A good light coating all over with no dry spots, but not too much reserve.  Too much grease will hold heat.  Heat is bad.  Bearing housings generally are not meant to be packed full of grease.

The only place where bearing buddies seem like they could be good, is on a boat trailer, where the idea is to keep the water out
 

Rene T

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Utclmjmpr said:
Once it's been properly done,, have "bearing Buddies" installed and you won't have to do it again for a looooong time.>>>Dan

Bearing buddies are good if you know how to properly use them. If you're using a pneumatic grease gun, it would be very easy to over pressurize the grease cavity and eventually blowing out the seals of you don't see the piston pop out.
Here is their website with some good information for anyone who wants to use them.

https://www.bearingbuddy.com/installation
 

lynnmor

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Utclmjmpr said:
Once it's been properly done,, have "bearing Buddies" installed and you won't have to do it again for a looooong time.>>>Dan

Good luck with that!  How are you going to inspect the brakes?  Do you think that the seal will keep the grease off the brakes with the grease under pressure 100% of the time?  I've had bearings fail in one season from poor manufacturing in China, glad I didn't wait a looooong time!
 

Broke Boater

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TT are easy on bearings compared to boat trailers. Really don't think the buddy bearings are needed on a TT, it wouldn't hurt things though. I own 4 boats and a jetski all on trailers, so I stay up on the bearings, nothing worse then to have one go out on the road. blw2 is on track with checking them during a stop. You have to be aware that the brakes will heat up the hub also, so it may not be a bearing issue if you have a hot hub, but regularly doing a heat check with a gun will give you a baseline reference. A easy way to keep track is a simple IR heat gun from harbor freight, just do your walk around and check with the gun, if you have a hub progressively getting hotter then it would serve you well to have it checked out before total failure. Also a visual inspection of the inner side of your rims, if you see splatters of grease around the rim, the seal has failed, even if its new. It could be just the seal from age or maybe heat/tolerance from the bearing about to fail, but grease on the inner side of your rim is a concern. Oil bath hubs are the way to go now, some old timers will not agree because of this and that, but they are better and more reliable. It's a simple conversion to your existing axle, but that's seperate thread,,,gregg
 

blw2

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good point about measuring the temps with an IR 'gun'

One tip though, from an old reliability engineer...
measuring and getting the numbers is good, but at the same time I think its good to still lay your hand on the things to develop a 'feel for it' about what it should be like.  you won't be able to notice very small trends, but you never know when your batteries might be dead.... general rule of thumb is that if you can lay your hand on it and hold it there things are ok...(although I suppose the brake thing you pointed out really skews that)

Anyway, we used to do that all the time when we were doing vibration analysis.  With that high tech tool, micro vibrations could be detected and you could differentiate between a future outer race failure, inner race failure, roller failure, cage failure...often even before you could find any defect at all visually on the bearing using a magnifying glass...
but even with that tool we would lay our hand on it and often do the old "broom handle" trick to listen to the bearing.  we could then compare the old school indications to the high tech indications and we learned to often hear or feel things just walking by without any fancy equipment at all.
 

72cougarxr7

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I just repacked the bearings on my new to me double axle trailer yesterday!
I did replace all the seals and used a high quality synthetic grease.
I took my time and took a couple breaks as it was hot out and it took me a little over 3 hours to do all 4 hubs.
With labor rates what they are, I think most reputable places are going to be charging in the $200-300 range.
There should be no "if" it needs seals, the seals should be replaced every time a repack is done!

I think repacking annually for most folks is a waste.
If you put an extreme amount of miles on the trailer maybe, but for the average rver I think every 3 years is fine.
 

BigLarry

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I found that about 12,000 miles was as long as I wanted to go between an inspection and repack if not using EZ lube spindles.  At that point, the grease looked really dirty and was getting pretty thin on the bearings.  I went 24,000 miles before tearing them down and inspecting bearings on our present EZ lube axles.  The bearings and grease looked great.  I had greased the bearings three times, always adding grease per the instructions.

The bearing buddies I used on boat trailers in the past were completely different than the EZ Lube system.  They were nothing more than a grease cap with a grease zerk that just pushed grease from the grease cap back into the bearings.  Over grease them and you could force grease past the grease seal and then you had grease everywhere on the inside of the wheel.  That's a major problem if you have brakes.

The EZ Lube pushes grease through the middle of the spindle to the inside bearing.  By spinning the wheel while slowly adding grease, I've never had a problem pushing grease past the seal.  The fresh grease pushes through the bearings and out around the opening beside the grease zerk.  I like to use red synthetic grease so I can tell when the old dark grease has been pushed out.  When the grease being pushed out looks fresh and red, I know I'm done.
 

KandT

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I just repacked my Dolly's bearing today.  Sure it took a while the first time but I think I could do it pretty quickly next time.

Two benefits.  One I learned something new about the RV system and am more self sufficient.  Two, figure in the time to get somewhere and wait or get a second party to pick you up and you could have had them done.
 

NorCal

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Thanks for the helpful info everybody, greatly appreciated.  TT's are not as hard on bearings as boat trailers are and I'm told every 2/3 years should be fine unless they are high mileage TT's.  Les Schwab here in my hometown of Folsom, charges $200 for both axles out the door, so getting it done this Friday. 

Norcal
 

merlinmurph

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That sounds like a decent price. Last year, I brought my TT to an RV repair shop (the only time) to have a slide repaired and asked them to lube the bearings, too. I was shocked when I was charged over $400, but wasn't exactly sure if that was high, so I asked a question here. The consensus was that $400+ was high. I also felt I got robbed on the slide repair, and have a distaste for RV repair shops since.
 

KandT

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funny story - at least as funny as you can get about repacking bearings. 

So I go and get the rubber seals at Advanced Auto Parts.  The guy says we have two kinds in stock.  One is the store brand and the other is a name brand.  Something like double price but the name brand comes with a warranty.  Now what the heck could the warranty be?  Are they going to send a team of investigators out if my bearings fail?  Is it just the seal the has a warranty?.

I really don't care about the warranty so I ask if they are built any differently.  He says yeah there are differences in their construction.  I say you know what - Just get me the store name.  So he returns with their brand.

Now the width doesn't line up which probably isn't going to be an issue but hey why not see if I can get a closer match?  So I ask to check out the double price set.  He gets them and pulls out THE EXACT SAME SEAL ::).  It was in a different box but the seal wasn't even a little different :eek:!  They don't even bother to paint it a different color.  The seals are clearly cheaper than the part I am replacing but it was Sunday and they were the only place open at that time.  I stuck them on and they will probably be fine but I guess what I learned is "Sometimes ya get what ya pays fer.  Sometimes ya don't"
 

Broke Boater

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blw2 said:
good point about measuring the temps with an IR 'gun'

One tip though, from an old reliability engineer...
measuring and getting the numbers is good, but at the same time I think its good to still lay your hand on the things to develop a 'feel for it' about what it should be like.  you won't be able to notice very small trends, but you never know when your batteries might be dead.... general rule of thumb is that if you can lay your hand on it and hold it there things are ok...(although I suppose the brake thing you pointed out really skews that)

Anyway, we used to do that all the time when we were doing vibration analysis.  With that high tech tool, micro vibrations could be detected and you could differentiate between a future outer race failure, inner race failure, roller failure, cage failure...often even before you could find any defect at all visually on the bearing using a magnifying glass...
but even with that tool we would lay our hand on it and often do the old "broom handle" trick to listen to the bearing.  we could then compare the old school indications to the high tech indications and we learned to often hear or feel things just walking by without any fancy equipment at all.

Just read your post, we used to have a guy come to the plants and balance our exhaust fans using a sensor checking for vibrations. We had twin 200 hp AC motors driving the fan. Two big 4 7/16" pillow block bearings on a shaft, man the slightest vibration detected by that machine saved us from some serious down time,,,gregg
 
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