wheel bearings - why so "bad"?

Discussion in 'On The Road' started by fun4dad2, Sep 10, 2015.

  1. mcbrew

    mcbrew Member

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    Re: wheel bearings - why so "bad"?

    If anyone is worried about getting all the dirt/debris out of their bearings when they repacking them... Just remember that a new set of inner and outer bearings, along with an inner seal and a new cotter pin will set you back around $10 per wheel.
     
  2. xxxapache

    xxxapache Well-Known Member

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    I carry a bearing kit with races, bearings, seals, washer and cotter pin all in a nice blister pack.
     
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  3. ricko

    ricko Member

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    I've had less than positive experiences with bearings that don't mirror the experiences others have had... burned out a bearing in a small town on a Sunday night - 3 hours for repair parts - had a similar incident a few years later with the wheel and hub actually flying off.

    In my opinion - the longevity of the pack has a lot to do with how much the camper weighs as a percentage of the total weight capacity of the axle as well as how far and how fast you've driven since the last pack. So a heavier camper will 'wear' the bearing more quickly... driving hundreds of miles at a high rate of speed will wear it more quickly.

    Running a camper an hour or so away from home isn't going to wear much - but a cross country trip at 65 mph, 10 hours a day will tax the bearings pretty quickly.

    After our experiences, we're overly cautious - we'll have them packed every year and before every long trip. We also carry and OSK with a brake hub, a set of bearings, races and everything to repack on the side of the road.

    Don't let it go too long...

    Ricko
     
  4. NJGuy

    NJGuy Active Member

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    Experienced a type of wheel bearing failure. The seal failed and grease could not provide enough pressure to hold bearings in place. Remarkably, bearings were fine, wheel alignment not so good, causing uneven tire wear.
     
  5. unclemark

    unclemark Overland Park, KS Gold Supporting Member

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    I have repacked yearly and before every 1000-mile trip. That works out to 2x per year. I'll have to put together a kit like that.
     
  6. generok

    generok Well-Known Member Gold Supporting Member

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    For decades before I owned my PUP and found the portal, I owned a few utility trailers I used to move from base to base when I was active duty. I hauled those cheap-o trailers all over this great land at highway speeds with those itty bitty tires. I wouldn't say I neglected the bearings, but I certainly didn't repack them every year. I just never worried about it, and never had an issue.

    When I joined the Portal, I too railed against the "repack every trip, carry two spare sets" mindset. In fact, I left the Portal for a season due to fear mongering and other content issues. I came back because there's good info here, and I only selectively comment now.

    The way I look at it, bearings can fail, like any mechanical component. If you attend to the needs of the component, you will prolong the life of it. If you neglect it, you shorten the life. Some folks clean the gutters on the house twice a year, some do it once a decade. Perhaps that is hotly debated on the home maintenance portals. Every interest group has its never ending debate topics. Repacking the bearings is one of those for the Portal along with:

    BAL vs Lynx vs wood for leveling
    Cover or not cover PUP for storage
    Stabs up or down for storage
    Stabs down then crank up roof vs crank up roof then stabs down
    What's the best way to remove old stickers
    What's the best way to clean mildew off my canvas
    And just about any "Will this vehicle tow this PUP?" question

    All I can say is, first, WELCOME! Second, carefully consider the advice you pay for. Free advice is sometimes worth every penny. The range of opinions can be overwhelming. Some of the extreme opinions come from a very bad personal experience. So, I learned to read the advice, and determine my level of risk acceptance and just press on with life.
     
    rich2 and bob barnes like this.
  7. unclemark

    unclemark Overland Park, KS Gold Supporting Member

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    I missed you, and I'm glad you're back.
     
  8. ladypam

    ladypam New Member

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    I just got a 1978 Coleman Concord camper. I saw an YouTube video wherein the person used some sort of injection system to pack the bearings. Is this possible to do with my old trailer? Also what type of place does this type of service?
     
  9. tfischer

    tfischer A bad day camping beats a good day at the office

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    I don't quite understand the "take an extra set of bearings with you" advice. Changing bearings at the campsite is NOT something that I would attempt, and changing them on the side of the road could literally be a death wish.

    I'll be regularly maintaining my bearings (I just bought a bearing packing tool actually) but if something fails during a trip, I'll be calling for backup and paying for it.
     
  10. NJGuy

    NJGuy Active Member

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  11. xxxapache

    xxxapache Well-Known Member

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    In the event of a problem, it might be nice to have the bearings in hand to give to a road service guy if you elect to not do the job yourself.
     
  12. herdsman

    herdsman New Member

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    On my last PUP I replaced the bearings when I got it. They weren't real bad, but showed some wear. I tossed the old ones in a drawer with the tools in case one of the ones in use failed. I chose to use the old ones for spares and put the new ones on the trailer where they'd do the most good. The spares didn't have to last 1000 miles, just get me to where I could get new ones.

    When we sold that PUP they were still in the drawer, never had to use them.
     
  13. West Coast Canuck

    West Coast Canuck Jumped to the dark side ......

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    I repack mine every 2-3 years. My TT is due for brake inspection and I will repack the bearings at the same time. We will be taking a 3300 km trip this summer to visit our daughter in Alberta so I want to make sure that there are no issues. We will be driving thru the Rockies with lots of hills.
     
  14. DanLee

    DanLee Active Member

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    Grease is a mix of oil and soap (emulsion). Trailer bearings need to be repacked because grease tends to separate if not remixed, especially over a long period of time. Automobiles don't have this problem because every time they are driven the grease is remixed in the hub. If we towed our trailers around as much as we drive our cars, repacking wouldn't be necessary.
     
  15. NJGuy

    NJGuy Active Member

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    Nice explanation!
     
  16. 1380ken

    1380ken Well-Known Member

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    I have a 1967 Caddy and it has sat for over ten years and the wheel bearing grease hasn't broken down.
     
  17. sawdusty

    sawdusty San Antonio

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    Welcome from San Antonio!

    First and foremost, do you have a jack and lug wrench that fits your PUP? I have an old Jayco that the stabilizers were too hard to lower so I got 4 scissor jacks to use.....also solved the problem of having a jack that would fit under the axle in case of a flat or for tending to the bearings. Then, how about the tires? Look at DOT date of manufacture. Lots of tires need to be replaced due to age, not wear.

    Now, the bearings. You probably don't know when they were last inspected, cleaned, and repacked. Get that done before your first trip. How often you clean and repack will depend on you. Depending on the opinions you read and the sense of safety that you want as you travel, you will make a good decision. If you plan to carry extra bearing please pack them with grease and seal in a bag. Bearings won't do any good w/o the grease.

    Happy Trails [:)C]
     
  18. redneckgearhead

    redneckgearhead New Member

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    Re: wheel bearings - why so "bad"?

    How often do you pull the hubs and send out a grease sample for testing?
     
  19. 1380ken

    1380ken Well-Known Member

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    I did take off the dust cover and looked at them. They looked like new. Probably only about 50 miles on them in the last 10 years. I didn't take a grease sample and send it to NASA yet.
     
  20. mjbeam

    mjbeam New Member

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    I had an old 2 wheel drive Toyota pickup with a 6 pack camper on the back and the rear passenger side bearings failed. The wheel heated up and melted the brake line and caught on fire on the interstate. I pulled over and luckily I had water in the camper. I put out the fire and was fortunately less than a mile from an exit where there was a gas station with a repair bay. Repacking the wheel bearings is cheap insurance.
     

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