New owner needs your wisdom

klink140

New Member
Oct 3, 2020
2
I'm a new owner, and soon going to pick up a 1976 Apache. I've been looking at Bearing Buddys as a way to quickly get on the road. Rather than repacking the bearings before I leave, I considered just getting a pair of Bearing Buddys and lube with those before I leave. Any thoughts on using these? Good idea, bad idea? I've never used them, but from videos they seem pretty straight forward and simple. Anything else I should be concerned about besides lighting? I'm using a full size 4wd pickup to tow it. Also if anyone knows what size the dust cap hubs would be on a 1976 Apache with 4 lug wheels would be, that would be good info too.
 

BikeNFish

Super Active Member
Apr 24, 2017
4,471
Maplewood, MN
Hello and welcome from Minnesota!

I have used bearing buddies for 30+ years on my boat trailers. I would not use them on my pup and may stop using them on my boat trailer because you can get a false sense of security using them.

I once was in a group of vehicles towing our boats on our way to a fishing trip in Canada, when the boat trailer in front of me began to smoke and throw bearings onto my windshield. The boat and trailer were place on a flatbed truck to get it to the nearest shop for repairs. As the mechanic started to work on the trailer, the trailer owner mentioned that he had just filled the Bearing Buddies with grease before he left home. The mechanic chuckled a little bit before he said, by far, most of the trailers that he works on that had bearing failures were those using Bearing Buddies. The mechanic said that Bearing Buddies are great for lubing the front bearings, but the grease does not reach the rear bearings, leaving them using the same grease until you repack them. He said that he would never use Bearing Buddies. He also said that it would be much better to go without them and follow a regular maintenance schedule and repack your bearings every 3,000-4,000 miles.

In case you missed that, this is a guy that works on trailers for a living saying that he would NEVER use bearing buddies on a trailer he owned.

I do still use Bearing Buddies on my boat trailer, but I do follow his advice and have the bearings repacked every 3,000-4,000 miles anyways.
 

WrkrBee

Super Active Member
May 23, 2018
6,544
South Carolina
Welcome to the Portal from South Carolina.

Bearing Buddies: Grease will only get to the back bearing, if you blow the grease seal out. Then you have a hub full of grease, which is not good either. With a blown seal, you sling grease everywhere. Jack up one side of the camper, rock the tire to see how much play there is in the bearings. There should be very little. Spin the tire. You can hear a bad bearing. Once towing, stop after a mile or two and check the hub temp with the back of your hand. Hub should be cool, if the bearings are happy.

Check the date code on the tires and spare. They probably need to be replaced.

Check the roof latches. If any hint of looseness (rot in the side boards), strap the top down for the trip home.
 

SteveP

Super Active Member
May 21, 2015
2,647
If you have reason to be concerned you can buy pre-greased ready to install hubs from etrailer. Of course you need to know the spindle diameter, etc.
 

WrkrBee

Super Active Member
May 23, 2018
6,544
South Carolina
Yup, bearing buddy only greases the front. Like putting lipstick on a pig
My brother and his "mechanic" brother-in-law were replacing the bearings on his boat trailer. While I was talking to them, he dropped in a new back bearing and put the seal in. I mentioned packing the bearings, but nope, got bearing buddies he said. I said ok and left. They made it about 2 miles before they cooked the back bearings. They had to come back and replace the bearings and seals again. I heard about it through a third party.
 

rsdata

Active Member
Oct 3, 2011
333
N. KY
Just be prepared to spend an hour or two to inspect the bearings, and repack if they appear to be bad when you pick up the trailer...
 

BillyMc

Super Active Member
Mar 25, 2018
2,486
South Carolina
This subject wakes up the masses faster than awning or no awning.
You are not going to get a consensus on this subject. People are going to to have various reasons why they are good or bad. The top cons you will get conflict each other. 1)They only grease the outer bearing and 2)they blow out wheel seals. To blow out the seal the grease has to get though both bearings. If however you install unpacked bearings and try to grease them with buddies you are most likely going to cook bearings before the grease gets to them.
I've had both, but I would not just throw on some bearing buddies and shoot grease to bearing you know nothing about.
I now use them on every trailer I own. I did inspect and repack/replace bearings on every trailer I put them on. I have never blown a wheel seal using them, but I know to stop pumping before the spring bottoms out in the buddy. Yes some grease does sometimes find its way around the pressure plate of the buddy and makes a mess all over your wheel, in the wheel well, and maybe on the side of your camper. Never had this happen with the plastic caps that slide on over the buddies.
Buddies DO NOT replace proper maintenance! Don't listen to people that say otherwise, sooner or later you will regret it.
 

Grandpa Don

Super Active Member
Sep 5, 2018
1,886
Southern California
All of this talk about bearing has now got me to wondering about my bearings. I thought I had Bearing Buddies on my popup. I now think that maybe I don't. From the photos I've seen of the Bearing Buddies, it appears that the zerk fittings are in the hub cap itself. Mine are not! I figured out that I have what is called a Easy Lube axle. The zerk fitting is actually installed in the axle end. Grease is pumped to both the front and the rear bearing at the same time through a small channel in the axle. I'm not sure how efficient that is, but it seems that it is better that the Bearing Buddies. Regardless, I'm taking my bearings out today and checking on their condition. I have inserted grease often over the last three years, but I just want to make sure. When I installed electric brake on the pup, I got an extra set of bearings in the kit from etrailer. I think I might start carrying them in my maintenance kit in the pup just in case.
 

WrkrBee

Super Active Member
May 23, 2018
6,544
South Carolina
I figured out that I have what is called a Easy Lube axle. The zerk fitting is actually installed in the axle end. Grease is pumped to both the front and the rear bearing at the same time through a small channel in the axle.
I've posted on these a couple of times. I have EZ Lube axles, but do not use the "system". A cheap grease gun can develop 2,000 psi (good ones 10,000 psi) and blow the back grease seal out. That's the reason EZ wants the tire rotating as you pump grease in, to try to relieve pressure. The back grease seal is not designed as a pressure seal and is easily compromised. The grease is fed between the grease seal and the back bearing, having to force the grease toward the end of the axle through the back bearing. You have to fill the hub with grease to push the grease through the front bearing. Bearings were not intended to run in a pack of grease. Wonder why the hubs do not come from the factory full of grease, if that's they way run after you put all that grease in the hub? Because it's not needed. There's probably bearing rollers sliding on the inner race, instead of rolling, in a grease pack. It should run warmer with all the grease being pushed around, because it has nowhere to go. You are paying for that with reduced mileage. Just my [2C].
 
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Econ

Super Active Member
Aug 18, 2019
1,573
Deep South
Easy Lube axle

I bought a used camper with a Dexter axle that might have been called EZ Lube. A burned out light bulb is an annoyance but a burned out bearing will leave you stranded on the side of the road. The first thing I did was tear down the bearings and inspect the brakes and bearings. The seals and bearings were replaced.

The P.O. admitted to faithfully pumping the "bearing buddies" every trip. What I found were blown rear seals and a grease bomb that took a long time to clean.

Research was done on why Dexter would produce such a bad design. They didn't. WHAT NO ONE APPARENTLY KNOWS IS YOU ARE SUPPOSED TO JACK UP THE CAMPER AND SPIN THE WHEEL WHEN PUMPING. Something I haven't done on my sailboat.

The Dexter design is the grease goes from the zerk to the rear bearing pushing the old grease to the outer bearing and then out the front. You pump til you get "new " grease.

Research not old wive's tales, an amazing thing.

Buddies DO NOT replace proper maintenance!

Agree whole hardheartedly


I still tear down my axles the old fashion way. That checks the brake shoes.
 

Grandpa Don

Super Active Member
Sep 5, 2018
1,886
Southern California
One other thing that I'd like to tell you about regarding bearings. I was going over the Tehachapi Pass one summer day in my passenger car. As I came around a bend in the road I noticed a fire burning in the weeds right along side of the road. When I got closer I noticed a man running around frantically trying to put the fire out. I also noticed that he had been towing a small boat. But the boat and trailer was tilted to the right side and the wheel was missing. As near as I can figure it, the bearing must have seized up and the whole wheel came off. The hot bearing must had started the fire. Several other cars had already stopped and were trying to put the fire out. There was nothing I could do that they were not already doing. So I just went on into town. On my way back I went by that same spot. The fire trucks were just mopping up. The fire had actually burned the whole side of the hill and the area around some buildings. Two of the buildings and some stored vehicles were burnt to the ground. I often wondered how good that poor man's insurance was?
 

xxxapache

Super Active Member
Jul 30, 2008
4,555
I ran Bearing Buddys on my Apache for 8 years with no troubles.

The grease most certainly does reach the rear bearings. You have to pump enough grease in to fill the hub, then it gets to the rear bearing. The key is to not pump so much grease in that you force it by the rear seal and grease up your brakes.

I have a trailer I bought in 1993 and another I bought in 1996. Each was used. I put Bearing Buddies on each when I bought them. I havent repacked, either.
 
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Castle Nut

New Member
Sep 4, 2020
6
I'm a new owner, and soon going to pick up a 1976 Apache. I've been looking at Bearing Buddys as a way to quickly get on the road. Rather than repacking the bearings before I leave, I considered just getting a pair of Bearing Buddys and lube with those before I leave. Any thoughts on using these? Good idea, bad idea? I've never used them, but from videos they seem pretty straight forward and simple. Anything else I should be concerned about besides lighting? I'm using a full size 4wd pickup to tow it. Also if anyone knows what size the dust cap hubs would be on a 1976 Apache with 4 lug wheels would be, that would be good info too.
I just removed my bearing buddies from my 69 Apache. I recommend that you take the extra time and pack your bearings by hand and not use them. They don’t provide grease sufficiently to the inner bearing on the wheel and often grease fills the empty cavity on the spindle that doesn’t help. You can get dust caps at mist TSC Stores which are probably 1”. In long hauls take some bearing grease, lug wrench and a few cotter keys just in case.
 

Grandpa Don

Super Active Member
Sep 5, 2018
1,886
Southern California
Well you asked for it. In this thread you learned that:
Bearing Buddies are bad!
Bearing Buddies are good!
Easy Lube axles are bad!
Easy Lube axles are good!

But worst of all, and everyone agrees, dry bearing are very bad! So pick the choice you want. Just make sure the bearings are, and stay, well lubricated!
 

Emerson

Member
Apr 30, 2020
11
We are first time camper owners and just purchased our new-to-us pop-up in late spring. After replacing one of the roof side panels, the next thing I did was placed the trailer up on jack-stands, remove both wheels and replaced the tires. While the wheels were off, I quickly inspected and rewired the brakes and decided to spend about 15 minutes per side cleaning, inspecting and repacking the bearings. In my opinion, there’s no substitute to making sure your bearings are properly cleaned and packed. I would never use Bearing Buddies, personally. I’ve replaced and serviced bearings and brakes a few trailers where there Buddies just made a complete mess on the spindle and never actually lubed the inner bearings.
 




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