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Old 03-30-2014, 09:44 AM   #1
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Wheel Bearing Maintenance

On our last trip to AZ recently I decided to have my bearings serviced. A local tire shop did the work and replaced the seals. Cost $128. Probably could have waited, but with one axle I didn't want a breakdown on the Interstate.

Later in a campground a seasoned RV'r mentioned "bearing buddies". They have a grease fitting so you can service the bearings with a grease gun, thus eliminating the need to repack. He also said the interval for repack is about 30,000 miles.

Anybody have any experience/opinion on this?
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Old 03-30-2014, 09:59 AM   #2
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Bearing Buddies were developed for boat trailers. They seal the bearings against water intrusion. What they don't do, is grease the rear seal. Folks that compare Bearing Buddies to the EZ-Lube axle by Dexter are badly misinformed!
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Old 03-30-2014, 10:32 AM   #3
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Approximately what Donna said (they provide pressure to hold water out, rather than improving sealing)... plus
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rossue View Post
They have a grease fitting so you can service the bearings with a grease gun, thus eliminating the need to repack
They only eliminate the need to repack due to contamination by water intrusion when you back your boat trailer down the launching ramp. They do not change any other need to inspect or repack the bearings. There is no "service" required which involves jamming more grease into a bearing without removing the old grease, and that's all pumping into a Bearing Buddy does.

The constant pressure on the grease can also push grease past the rear seal - on an Escape, that means into the brake drum to ruin the brake linings.
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Old 03-30-2014, 10:38 AM   #4
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I had them on my tent trailer.
Also had grease all over my tires and wheels from enthusiastic use of a grease pump.
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Old 03-30-2014, 11:18 AM   #5
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I had them on my boat trailer and used to repack the bearings annually and change the bearings and seals every two years. Boat trailers that go into salt water are a pain. I found I had to pay more attention if it had heavy use or it is was sitting around not being used. I also found paying extra for quality parts, e.g. bearings, seals and grease was worth the money.
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Old 03-30-2014, 12:16 PM   #6
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Good stuff. Am including following I found online as I still wasn't sure of the interval. Also, its one of those "out of sight, out of mind" things that can be easily overlooked.

FROM TOM MORR, TRAILER LIFE MAGAZINE quoting Mike Niedrich, an RV shop owner:

Never reuse cotter pins. One of the least-expensive parts of the system is probably the most important. Always replace seals.
Any high-temperature wheel bearing grease will work.
All grease isn’t always compatible among brands. Thoroughly clean all old grease from bearings, races and hub cavities using a solvent such as brake cleaner.
In general, trailer wheel bearings should be serviced annually or every 10,000 miles, whichever occurs first. Grease also breaks down on stored trailers, allowing corrosion to form.
Visually inspect the bearing and race surfaces. If nicks or discolorations are visible, replace all inner and outer bearings and races on both sides of the axle.
Spindle nut torquing: Once the hub, bearings and thrust washer are in place, snug up the castellated spindle nut while spinning the drum. This seats the bearing. Then back off the nut a turn, retighten it (to about 50 ft-lb if you have a torque wrench) while spinning the drum, then back the nut off 1/4 turn. Fine-tune the nut if necessary to align its closest recesses with the cotter pin hole, or lock the nut in position with the existing tanged washer or cage-style retainer.
Some shops squirt grease into the dust cap prior to reinstallation. Niedrich used to do this until he noticed that the grease remained in the cap until the next bearing service.
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Old 03-30-2014, 01:16 PM   #7
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IMHO the E-Z-lube Dexter axle option is worth the $50 upgrade cost. A couple of squirts every year and inspection every other year This is a lot better than bearing buddies but not as expensive as yearly replacement.. Replace when needed not yearly.
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Old 03-30-2014, 01:43 PM   #8
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I have the original bearings and races ( 2008 ). They have been inspected, cleaned, re-greased and re-installed approximately every two years.
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Old 03-30-2014, 03:23 PM   #9
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Maybe I'm a bit casual about it, but I went two years between repacking my bearings. I never did close to 10,000 miles a year, or I probably would have done it yearly.
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Old 03-30-2014, 03:42 PM   #10
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Maybe Mike's advice for yearly is to help pay for his new boat(-;

Seriously though, I like the Dexter option (like those Clevis hooks too, but can't find suitable size with spring loaded closer). Could feel comfortable with every-other year then and agree that proper lube should make bearings last a long time.
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