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Bearing Buddies


iliketoski

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I'm not sure if bearing buddies are still being used on new trailers, but my 2001 setup has them.  Annually I clean up the wheels (and the slight grease thrown on the rims ) and make sure to pump up the fittings to load the hubs.  When I pull off the covers of the bearing buddies, there is always a lot of grease inside the cap.  This year seemed excessive, so for the minor cost, I decided to pop off the old bearing buddies and put new ones on.  I was surprised when I pumped them up with grease, the next day, the floating fitting had depressed back into the hub, (signalling that more grease was needed). 

My question, could it be pressing grease into the bearings to fill voids.......or do you thing the rear seals have failed and its coming out the back.  I'm not looking forward to repacking and replacing seals, (and might as well replace bearings while I'm at it).

 

'ski 

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Have you looked at the rear seal to see if grease is being pressed out?  It's the only way to confirm. 

 

I replaced my hub seals this year (they were 20 years old) as I found my grease was watery.  Ended up pulling and inspecting everything to confirm the bearings were good.  

 

It's a very easy job on a trailer, just have plenty of rags handy.  

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1 hour ago, Pra4sno said:

Have you looked at the rear seal to see if grease is being pressed out?  It's the only way to confirm. 

 

I replaced my hub seals this year (they were 20 years old) as I found my grease was watery.  Ended up pulling and inspecting everything to confirm the bearings were good.  

 

It's a very easy job on a trailer, just have plenty of rags handy.  

I have to do this to the trailer for my RLXi in the spring.  I also have to replace all the lights.  I'll likely rewire the hole thing and replace the carpet covered plywood on the inner side of the wheels.  

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2 hours ago, Pra4sno said:

It's a very easy job on a trailer, just have plenty of rags handy.  

Agree, fairly easy, just very messy :-(

Did you replace the bearings, or just clean and repack them?

I haven't looked in a while, but IIR, you have to partially dissemble to see if the rear seals are leaking?

Edited by iliketoski
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26 minutes ago, hmh800 said:

If you lay on the floor with a flashlight you can see the backside of the hubs and whether or not grease is coming past the seal.

Great, I was thinking sightline was blocked, I'll be under the boat doing my annual waxing of the bottom anyway.

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On 11/12/2020 at 11:29 AM, iliketoski said:

Agree, fairly easy, just very messy :-(

Did you replace the bearings, or just clean and repack them?

I haven't looked in a while, but IIR, you have to partially dissemble to see if the rear seals are leaking?

I cleaned, inspected, and repacked my bearings as they were in good shape.  Just looked for scoring and any evidence of uneven heat.  

Most people crank wheel bearings down on trailers and give the wheel a good push/pull test to see if the wheel wobbles and call it good.  Ever curious though, I played with torque settings on my older bearings and found that it took 25ft lbs with the torque wrench on the tension nut to get 4lbs of pretension on the wheel bearing (using a fish scale pulling from a lug nut, parallel to the ground until the hub rotates).  I think newer bearings would need much less torque on the tension nut to achieve a good pretension.  That being said, just torqueing the tension nut down to 10-15 ft/lbs and setting the lock nut to good-n-tight is probably more than technical enough.  

After a 30 min pull at 60mph on the highway, I shot the hubs with my IR gun and they were still under 120*, so I think 4lbs of pretension worked well.  I'd recommend to use Marine Bearing Grease as its hydrophobic and all-in-all seems to do a much better job of not separating like whatever the previous owner put in the hubs. 

As mentioned you CAN inspect the rear seals without any disassembly.  I personally think with how easy and cheap bearing service is, that it's worth taking everything apart and inspecting it every few years (or whatever mileage interval you like) to make sure everything is still serviceable.  A lot rides on those bearings, especially on a single axle, or a trailer that you haul long distance.  I wouldn't have seen the water sucked into the hubs without pulling the bearing buddy.  

Edited by Pra4sno
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I looked behind the hubs, no grease on the back side.

However, I'm leaning toward replacing the seals and cleaning and repacking since I know its been several years and I'm always looking for an excuse to work on boat stuff during the off season.  Its sitting right outside my kitchen door in the insulated garage :)

I know all trailers have different sizes bearings/seals, any good places to source them?

Edited by iliketoski
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22 minutes ago, iliketoski said:

I know all trailers have different sizes bearings/seals, any good places to source them?

The sizes are very standardized, so they should be available nearly anywhere.  The bolt pattern on your hubs should help you figure out bearing sizes, or just pull one and measure it.

The best deal around here is one of the smaller dealers.  They sell about five pallets per month in trailer parts, so they pass the savings on.  This is partly due to the salt water, but mostly it is due to lack of maintenance by the owners.

10 hours ago, Pra4sno said:

I wouldn't have seen the water sucked into the hubs without pulling the bearing buddy.  

In case it isn't obvious how water gets into hubs, the main cause is that we typically drive up to the ramp with warm hubs and immediately dunk them in cool water.  The rapid temperature change inside the hub causes a contraction that can pull water through the seal or small gaps in the dust cover.  Bearing buddies help decrease the risk of that by 1) allowing you to fill the hubs with grease, and 2) providing a spring cap to keep positive pressure on the grease even when it contracts quickly.

Bearing Buddies are fantastic if you make sure that the spring cap is near the end of its travel every time you go out.  If you ignore them and just grease them once a year or so, you wasted your money on them.  My small fishing boat has not needed bearings for about 15 years because I shoot them with grease before every outing.  The seals cracked (or blew out) years ago and they sling some grease, but the water doesn't come in because the grease still has pressure by the time I get to the ramp.  I'm not proposing that you treat yours that way, but the point is that an inspection with maybe a shot of grease every outing beats bearing failure or even pulling them down for a bigger inspection.

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I opened my hubs up after a full summer of use (30-35 days) with the new seals and there was no water intrusion at all and the grease looks perfect.  

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Well I'm packing the bearings and replacing the seals.  I'm wondering if there is a trick to taking the disk brake calipers off!  I got the first one off after some messing, but curious if someone knows the trick, (3 more to go :-).  Getting the wire clip off is a pain.

Caliper picture

'ski

 

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Hopefully someone has some experience with this type of caliper and can give me some advice, I still have 3 to go (but have the whole winter to complete :).

'ski

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3 hours ago, csleaver said:

Thanks that will be useful if I ever have other issues, but funny all they say is "remove wire retaining clip".  I've been able to figure out a method though.

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