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Old 04-17-2015, 02:35 PM   #1
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Wheel Bearing & Greasing

I am just throwing this out for discussion - "Why is it necessary to re-pack wheel bearings yearly on campers?" The wheel bearings on my truck, car, and motorcycle do not require yearly servicing yet they travel many more miles. The bearings on my 5th wheel are sealed so there should be no dirt or dust in them and we use the same grease as would be used on other vehicles.

Ok lets hear from everyone.
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Old 04-17-2015, 03:08 PM   #2
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I don't. My 2012 TT has been done once, last summer.
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Old 04-17-2015, 04:31 PM   #3
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The bearings on autos are way different and higher quality than the bearings on trailers. That is the reason why you have to pack them every few years.


Do they need to be done EVERY year??? Probably not, but it covers the manufacturer and Jayco to tell you to inspect and re-pack every year. I try to do it every 2 years. Unless you periodically inspect them, you won't know there is a problem until its beyond simple repair... and likely hundreds or thousands of miles away from your home and tools...
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Old 04-17-2015, 07:02 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hausknwa View Post
I am just throwing this out for discussion - "Why is it necessary to re-pack wheel bearings yearly on campers?" The wheel bearings on my truck, car, and motorcycle do not require yearly servicing yet they travel many more miles. The bearings on my 5th wheel are sealed so there should be no dirt or dust in them and we use the same grease as would be used on other vehicles.

Ok lets hear from everyone.
Because the TTs are parked for long periods of time.
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Old 04-17-2015, 07:05 PM   #5
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Many reasons will be brought up. Another is travel trailers are usually loaded to capacity or close when under tow and are usually pulled at highway speeds.
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Old 04-18-2015, 07:45 AM   #6
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In my opinion.

I feel servicing bearings annually is very conservative. Properly greased bearings with good seals should be fine even when in storage.

Boat trailer wheel bearings that are dunked into the water need to inspected and re-greased annually. I feel that is true even when auto grease units like Bearing Buddies are installed. My choice is to service dunked boat trailers in Fall before being stored for the winter. That addresses any water possibly trapped in the units.

I service other trailer bearings about every 5 years for my approx. 6,000 - 8,000 miles towing annually. Whenever I stop during towing I always go back to my trailer and feel the tires, wheels, and hubs to see if any are running particularly warm. Most times they will all be basically the same temperature. Don't panic if one feels slightly warmer than another though. I have bearings that run slightly warmer (not hot) on the same trailers even though adjusted equally and fine by inspection. If I notice a bearing getting consistently warmer then I step up my service schedule. That method has worked for me for decades now.

If my bearings look good at service time I re-pack and re-install the same bearings. My experience with bearings in electric motors, pumps, etc. has me believing that quality control on bearings made who knows where in the world is not what it once was. We experience more infant mortality failures of replaced bearings than we ever did back in the day. "The devil you know" with an inspected good serviceable bearing comes to mind. New seals are installed at every service.

Do not wash the bearings in solvent. Wipe the bearings down well with a lint free cloth and use the new grease to force the old grease out to be further wiped off. Using solvents can affect the adhesion of the new grease. I use specified heavy duty wheel bearing grease on my wheel bearings, never general purpose grease.

Just my opinions based upon experience. I have no data.

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Old 04-18-2015, 10:15 AM   #7
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Thanks for the opinions, Would like to hear more if you have them. Very thoughtful and interesting. Keep em coming.
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Old 04-18-2015, 10:59 AM   #8
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Have had the same bearings for 20 years on my 27 ft 5th wheel.
Have pulled it mroe than 20,000 miles. Remove bearings each year, wash bearings in gas, dry bearings, , force in new grease, adjust brakes. That's all!

Don't follow what I do, but. it works for me. Just my $0.02.
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Old 04-18-2015, 04:35 PM   #9
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I just had my bearing/seals serviced on my 2012 fifth wheel. Grease had just began coming through one seal and close to it on the other three. It appears that they were over greased at the factory. It could have damaged my brakes had it gone undetected. Three seasons and about 10k miles.
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Old 04-18-2015, 04:44 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by linkbelt View Post
Have had the same bearings for 20 years on my 27 ft 5th wheel.
Have pulled it mroe than 20,000 miles. Remove bearings each year, wash bearings in gas, dry bearings, , force in new grease, adjust brakes. That's all!

Don't follow what I do, but. it works for me. Just my $0.02.
That is an interesting data point.

Let's see. My 1985 boat trailer = 30 years old. Original bearings still in service. Stored outside over NE winters.

3500# rated axle. Approx. 2800# gross weight w/ boat

Conservatively 60,000+ miles towed (No dunking. Jib crane launch.)

5 year service interval = 5 service operations to date.
1 year interval (would have) = 29 service operations.

Somewhat unrelated as to vehicle type, but still individual tapered roller wheel bearings (not a sealed hub assembly):

2004 van front bearings.

Inner bearings = 285,000 miles to date.
Outer bearings = Replaced at 226,000 miles

The last 5 year interval visual inspection revealed a shadow on the outer bearing races that I didn't like. The outer bearings (smaller in size than the inners. Stamped made in some emerging country) were changed to Made in Germany replacements. The inners (larger size, Made in Germany) looked excellent. I applied "Devil you know" so the inners were left in service.

I haven't needed to deal with a bearing failure ever using my 5 year interval service program. (knock, touch wood)

My earlier comment wasn't really accurate. So I revised it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by VicS1950 View Post
... Strike "If I" - insert Were I to ever notice a bearing getting consistently too warm I would then step up my service schedule. I have yet to need to change my 5 year service interval. That method has worked for me for decades now.
...
Someone doing their own service may find annual bearing R&R for repack worth the effort. I wouldn't have wanted to pay professionals for 29 bearing service operations on my boat trailer at about 75+ bucks for single axle repack.

Maybe my 5 year plan is too radical for some?

Even increasing from annual to a 3 year interval reduces my possible 29 (as recommended by others) annual service operations down to 9.5. A significant savings. Even more savings are gained for a TT double axle professional repack at maybe 150+ bucks.

Of course type of use figures in. If the trailer sees a bunch of secondary roads, stream crossings, etc. then maybe an annual service is necessary. 5 years and monitoring trailer hub temperatures has worked for me so I'm pretty certain that 3 years would work well for most typical highway travelers. But... that's just my opinion.

FWIW. vic
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