What's the deal with wheel bearings?

Discussion in 'On The Road' started by Andy G., Oct 20, 2018.

  1. Spridle

    Spridle Active Member

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    Old thread, but yea car bearings and trailer bearings are different animals entirely. Even with proper maintenance, I see those bearings come apart pretty often on heavy trailers. Repack with good grease every other year and don't over tighten. These bearings won't survive long at all if you have them too tight.
     
    Last edited: May 22, 2019
  2. Milemaker13

    Milemaker13 Active Member

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    So on that note- looser is better that tighter? I'm the guy that wants them 'perfect' which is not possible. And also have read that they need some room to expand with heat.
    Just how loose should they be? Firmly seated, then back off til next castle nut slot? 2 castle nut slots?
     
  3. WrkrBee

    WrkrBee Well-Known Member

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    Not too loose. Bearings and races are precision matched components, or should be. Too loose will change the contact angle where maybe only the end of the bearing roller is in contact with the race. Then you have your load being carried by point contact instead of a line of contact. Firmly seat while rotating the wheel, back off, then finger tighten while rotating the wheel. If you can get the cotter key in, good. If not close, back off only one slot. The play at the hub translates to more play at the tire tread.
     
  4. Adam H

    Adam H Active Member

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    They are no different from the wheel bearings used in older cars before the sealed hub-bearing assemblies came on the market. Do it every 5 years when you replace the tires and check the brakes. If you are one of the few that tows many miles each year, repack when you feel you need to inspect the brakes. Give the wheels a shake and spin once or twice per year and check for hot hubs at gas stops. Easy, peasy
     
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  5. Spridle

    Spridle Active Member

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    The wheels on my camper and race trailer have noticeable play in them. Not a lot, but you can see them move if you rock them side to side, while jacked up. I packed with synthetic bearing grease. So far, no problems.... I was also advised by a pro trailer mechanic to not over pack the bearings. Too much grease, with the heat and pressure, blows off the caps, then blows out etc.

    I worked on a lot of classic cars over the years and did many many of this type of bearing on cars as well. I saw bearings trashed in a 1000 miles from being over tightened. Never saw one fail from being a bit loose.
     
  6. BillyMc

    BillyMc Well-Known Member

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    It does completely fill the hub. The added bonus for boat trailers is water can't get in a hub that is completely full of grease. Bearing Buddies keep slight pressure on the hub full of grease. When the warm hub is rapidly cooled as it enters the water the spring keeps the slight pressure on so there is no vacuum drawing water in.

    My bearing buddies on every trailer I own have a relief hole that is exposed if the fitting plate is pushed out too far allowing excess grease or pressure to be released.
     
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  7. Wrenchgear

    Wrenchgear Near Elmira, Southern Ontario

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    In my opinion, I'm not a big fan of bearing buddies, but thats just me, other people love them. I'm a fan of take the hub all apart to make sure everything is good in there and you know whats going on from square one. Remove, wash, inspect, pack.

    As for when to re-pack them, that obviously will vary depending on your situation. Climate temps, rain puddle water intrusion, mud and sand of gravel roads, etc. If you ever owned a full size, rear wheel drive car from the 60, 70, 80's, ask yourself how often the front bearings were done on those cars. Yeah, those bearings were a little bit beefier than whats on your trailer, but they used to only ever get repacked at brake job time. Baring a seized caliper, rusted rotor, or something like that, brakes were only done every 35-40,000 miles. Thats when the bearings would get done. I'm pretty sure you don't pull your Pup that far every year. So, most people say once a year is good practice for your Pup bearings, and I won't deny that, but if you have to pay someone to do it for you, you are probably wasting your money. I do all my trailers (ATV, utility, Pup) every 3 summers and never had a problem yet, (famous last words). Utility trailer gets tons of miles, Pup not so many, (maybe 2500 kms, thats about 1500 miles), but thats what I do. My boat trailer gets done every year because it goes in the water.

    I worked at a Ford dealer back in the 80-90's, and Ford spec'd a preload of 14 in/lbs on that wheel bearing nut. As WrkrBee mentioned above, a bearing that is too loose will change the contact angle for the rollers. Opposable cone bearings are supposed to have a very slight bit of preload on them, and zero slop.

    I also carry a spare set of bearings, and a seal, in the Pup tool box. They’re all greased and ready to put in just in case of a road side emergency.
     
    Last edited: May 22, 2019
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  8. tenttrailer

    tenttrailer Art & Joyce - Columbus, O

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    +2 Some of the bearing sets and grease seals for trailers and somewhere in the 1980's and earlier are the same part numbers at NAPA.
     
  9. Spridle

    Spridle Active Member

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    I agree with all this with the exception of brake pad life. I never got 40K out of a set of brakes in those early organic pad days. I don't get 40K out of a set now with modern ceramics. 20K is my memory. But I admit, it's been too long to be sure.
     
  10. WrkrBee

    WrkrBee Well-Known Member

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    I'd be upset if I didn't get more than 40K out of a set of brakes. It's rare for me to have to do a brake job. I must drive like an old man. I anticipate, coast, and try to be below 20 or 30 mph before having to apply brakes.
     
  11. Wrenchgear

    Wrenchgear Near Elmira, Southern Ontario

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    Yeah, different braking habits and driving technics will vary the life of your brakes. I'm just at the end of a set of brakes on one of my vans that gets shared by a few family members. They all drive differently than each other, and things get worn out. This was a ceramic set that I put on back in 2017, and now have 58,000 kms (36,000 miles) on them.
    Yes, you're right, things did wear out faster in the days of old. Ceramics do last longer.
     
  12. BillyMc

    BillyMc Well-Known Member

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    I'd be upset if I didn't get any more miles than that from brake pads. My F-150 had 91,000 miles when I bought it. It had over 200,000 when I replaced the pad that were on it when I bought it. The DW doesn't get that kind of service from her brakes though. She does more town driving than I do and waits until she has to brake hard.
     
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  13. Milemaker13

    Milemaker13 Active Member

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    Changed the pads on my little hyundai accent stick shift at 100k and were still far from worn out. Could have easily made it another season or 15k- whichever came first ;)
    And I used to tow a utility trailer all the time with that little guy.... man, I miss that little car.
     
  14. Sneezer

    Sneezer Well-Known Member

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    I have a flatbed utility trailer that gets used every once in a while. Bearings in it are probably 10 years old at this point, and they have no issues. However, it probably gets less than 1k miles a year of use if that. Our troop box trailer though has cooked two bearings in the last 5 years, although the last one appears to have been the result of someone not putting the hub back together properly. The castle nut had backed off pretty far, and the whole tire was wobbling. I'll be checking my pup bearings this weekend if I have time, they are overdue for a checkup.
     
  15. xxxapache

    xxxapache Well-Known Member

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    I have a utility trailer that was built out of a 1976 boat trailer axle in 1993. I hand greased the bearings then. They looked original. I put on Bearing Buddies then and have given them a pump of grease every now and then, but that's it....Last year, I pulled pulled one hub and had a peek. Everything looked good. I stuck it back together and didn't bother with the other side.
     
  16. Spridle

    Spridle Active Member

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    Anyone getting 100K out of a set of pads is just too old to remember the last time they changed them!
    And anyone getting 40K+ because you don't drive hard enough to wear them out. I'm sorry, I'm sure you are a fine person, but we can't be friends! :)
     
  17. BillyMc

    BillyMc Well-Known Member

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    Really not hard at all. I live 37 miles from work with max 4 stops (depending on lights) to the interstate. After I get on the interstate unless something happens with traffic my next stop is to open the gate at the plant.
     
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  18. WrkrBee

    WrkrBee Well-Known Member

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    That's fine. :)
     
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  19. weathervane

    weathervane The wife and I along with our 3 children.

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    Great topic. Lots of good ideas and info.

    -Andrew
     

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