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  1. #1
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    Default Trailer Bearings

    I have always thought myself to be quite good on DIY maintenance. I always redo the bearings on my boat trailer once a year. Over December we took our boat down to George, and used it quite a lot in Knysna. We then left it at the Vaal river and have used it a few times since then.

    I packed the bearing just before December and since I use the Yamaha outboard grease in the wheel bearings, I thought I would be okay to take the boat down to Kosi bay. In any event I did not have time before I left to redo the bearings.

    Big Error! My bearing collapsed completely, but I managed to drag the boat into Pongola and SM Motors very kindly tried to effect a bodge repair to get me to Kosi and hopefully back home again. Anyway we got to Kosi and had an epic time there as always, but by Piet Retief on the way home, the bodge repair gave up the ghost.

    I am now trying to get a new axle and will have to try and get back to Piet Retief this week to sort this out.

    So be warned, don't neglect your axle bearings. This will not affect the caravans and off road trailer guys as much as the boating fellows, but for those that drag their trailers through rivers etc, it may well be worth noting.

    I must say that i was super impressed with the hospitality shown by the good people of Pongola and Piet Retief. You have to love the small town attitude these people have and how they are so eager to assist townies that are unlikely to give them repeat business.

    That and the complete absence of news for the past few days really gave me a much needed does of Afro Optimism.

    Cheers
    Stephen

  2. #2
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    Default

    Thanks for the "heads up" Stephen. I have 3 trailors (Caravan, boat and bike) and will most certainly take your advise
    2001 Hilux 2.7 D/C 350 000km (current)
    1999 Hilux 2.7 D/C 305 000km (Rolled 3 times on a Level 5+ obstacle )
    1992 Hilux 2.2 SFA D/C 263 000km (Sold to upgrade)
    2000 Colt Rodeo D/C 167 000km (Written of by a friend)

  3. #3
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    Default

    I quite often get clients coming in to repair their trailers after a bearing seizure. That's normally when they realize they should have serviced them. The worst case is when its an expensive axle and the axle is damaged, what could of been a small cheap job turns into a costly affair!

  4. #4
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    Default

    I used to work for a film company that was in the marine side of things.

    I have seen first hand what hassles bearings can give you.

    When ever you go far away from home. check your bearings.
    It easy to do. And will save you alot of time down the road.

    Bearing s are cheap and using waterproof grease works like a charm.
    If your seals are good then the bearing should last a long time, unless its a heavy trailer or its used off road.

    TIP: Always take spare bearings and grease with you!
    Land rover defender110 2000 td5 - sorted!
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    ex 1999 Land rover defender 110 2.8i
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  5. #5
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    Default Trailer bearing longevity

    I am not a mechanical minded guy; but something I do not understand:

    Why do we just about never hear about normal vehicle wheel bearing seizure; but relatively often about trailer and caravan (I am excluding boats) wheel bearing seizure

    Do they just use cheap components, or what??

    Regards, Herman.
    Herman Meyer.
    2014 Amarok DC 4Motion Auto ,
    2015-02-03: Bush Lapa Miskewer 394.
    2012 VW Polo Sedan 1.6 A/T.

  6. #6
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    Default

    Most modern vehicles nowadays use sealed bearings which are not suppose to be serviceable. You can if you know how, but normally they are just replaced.

    Older vehicles like a Citi Golf for instance, have the old school bearings on the rear axle and these need to be serviced and can fail if not done correctly.

    PS: also ensure that High Pressure grease is used on wheel bearings. Not all types of grease are designed for a high pressure condition.
    Last edited by Sawdust; 2015/04/22 at 09:08 AM.
    2004 Defender 110 Td5


  7. #7
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by stephenplumb View Post
    I have always thought myself to be quite good on DIY maintenance. I always redo the bearings on my boat trailer once a year. Over December we took our boat down to George, and used it quite a lot in Knysna. We then left it at the Vaal river and have used it a few times since then.

    I packed the bearing just before December and since I use the Yamaha outboard grease in the wheel bearings, I thought I would be okay to take the boat down to Kosi bay. In any event I did not have time before I left to redo the bearings.

    Big Error! My bearing collapsed completely, but I managed to drag the boat into Pongola and SM Motors very kindly tried to effect a bodge repair to get me to Kosi and hopefully back home again. Anyway we got to Kosi and had an epic time there as always, but by Piet Retief on the way home, the bodge repair gave up the ghost.

    I am now trying to get a new axle and will have to try and get back to Piet Retief this week to sort this out.

    So be warned, don't neglect your axle bearings. This will not affect the caravans and off road trailer guys as much as the boating fellows, but for those that drag their trailers through rivers etc, it may well be worth noting.

    I must say that i was super impressed with the hospitality shown by the good people of Pongola and Piet Retief. You have to love the small town attitude these people have and how they are so eager to assist townies that are unlikely to give them repeat business.

    That and the complete absence of news for the past few days really gave me a much needed does of Afro Optimism.

    Cheers
    Stephen
    Is the Yamaha Outboard grease the right grease?? I inspect my boat trailer bearings every year or long trip and generally replace every 2 years and I have never had any problems - mostly the bearings are in very good condition, I always pack the bearings by hand with proper wheel bearing grease (I beach launch about twice a month on average.)
    FJC - Just Cruising

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by ozosborne View Post
    I quite often get clients coming in to repair their trailers after a bearing seizure. That's normally when they realize they should have serviced them. The worst case is when its an expensive axle and the axle is damaged, what could of been a small cheap job turns into a costly affair!
    What would you recommend is the interval to have it checked?

    My one that you worked on hardly travels 2000km a year (a pity really)

  9. #9
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    Default

    Same thing here, Caravan, Venter and Boat, bearings is a shleb! But do it, trailer every two years and Boat and caravan every year...a bit costly but worth the issues

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by hermanm10 View Post
    I am not a mechanical minded guy; but something I do not understand:

    Why do we just about never hear about normal vehicle wheel bearing seizure; but relatively often about trailer and caravan (I am excluding boats) wheel bearing seizure

    Do they just use cheap components, or what??

    Regards, Herman.

    Car bearings also fail but because they are used regularly not so often. Trailers stand for much longer and that is their downfall.
    When the bearings remain in the same position for extended periods the rollers tend to make a minute imprint on the shell and once you start driving that causes the bearing to heat up and eventually fail.
    Boat trailers or trailers that get dragged through rivers and having their wheels submerged have another downside to contend with, the warm bearing being dumped in to cold water has the air inside contract and thereby sucks in cold water ...not lekker.

    Changing bearings an having a trailer serviced once a year is far cheaper than sitting next to the side of he road with a family wanting to go on holiday.
    Henk
    Adventure is out there go find it

    Fitment and trailer service. Agent for SnoMaster & Tentco
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  11. #11
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    Agree with all the comments. My problem is i thought once a year would be enough. Turns out in my case it wasn't. I think the guy that use the boat every weekend are probably okay as per herman above. My dipping my trailer in the ocean and then not redoing the bearings and leaving it at the vaal river were the problem i think. It could also be the yamaha grease. I am no tribologist but thought since it is built for outboards ot should be good for water soked bearings. Anyway i have a new axle and will now replace the bearing with stainless steel items with waterproof wb grease next year.

    My main point is for others to benefit from my life lesson. It would have been a lot worse and a lot more expensive if it had broken down halfway between pongola and piet retief .
    Cheers
    Stephen

  12. #12
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    In my book there are 2 problems.

    1. The bearings used are never "over rated". It is always a bearing that can barely do the job.
    2. Wrong fitting. The bearings are damaged in the installation. Most of the time by overtightening. I have heard of guys that pull it up tight, then slack it off. By then the rollers have pitted the running surfaces.

    The grease is not the problem. Sometimes the grease has water ingress, but most of the time, it is the top 2 factors.
    LC 78 Troopie 1HD-FTE
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  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by stephenplumb View Post
    ............ It would have been a lot worse and a lot more expensive if it had broken down halfway between pongola and piet retief .
    Cheers
    Stephen
    Then you put a log, where the wheel was. Until you get to somewhere safe.
    LC 78 Troopie 1HD-FTE
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    +27 zero eight 2 four 95 9252

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Henris View Post
    In my book there are 2 problems.

    1. The bearings used are never "over rated". It is always a bearing that can barely do the job.
    2. Wrong fitting. The bearings are damaged in the installation. Most of the time by overtightening. I have heard of guys that pull it up tight, then slack it off. By then the rollers have pitted the running surfaces.

    The grease is not the problem. Sometimes the grease has water ingress, but most of the time, it is the top 2 factors.
    Agree on the installation damage - they need to be finger tightened and then slacked off.
    But I disagree on the type of grease used, you simply cannot use any grease, the grease has to be specific for its intended use - all greases are certainly not equal
    FJC - Just Cruising

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by hbannink View Post
    Car bearings also fail but because they are used regularly not so often. Trailers stand for much longer and that is their downfall.
    When the bearings remain in the same position for extended periods the rollers tend to make a minute imprint on the shell and once you start driving that causes the bearing to heat up and eventually fail.
    Boat trailers or trailers that get dragged through rivers and having their wheels submerged have another downside to contend with, the warm bearing being dumped in to cold water has the air inside contract and thereby sucks in cold water ...not lekker.

    Changing bearings an having a trailer serviced once a year is far cheaper than sitting next to the side of he road with a family wanting to go on holiday.
    This is aweful Henk ..I must have had 4000 guardian angels on my side ..Towed a small caravan for 10 years ..no service , a medium Jurgens Fleetline L for 7 years ..no service and a Gypsey Regal for 6 years no service and no probs and to top it off our current Ventertjie stands for a year at a time then does 6000kms to Kruger for a 3 week break and to top it off My Brakah Trailer was with us for 15 years ..Namibia , Bots , Zim (Binga Karoi Road often ) and our friend has had it 10 years in JHB and its been to Moz 3 times a year and the Berg a few times and not one service in its life ..Never had a bearing problem !! But reading all this when I finally get a 4x4 trailer next year I will certainly buy spare bearing kits and take tools and your tel no with as it appears I am on borrowed time
    Last edited by Peter Betts; 2015/04/22 at 03:41 PM.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by dirtshark View Post
    ..........all greases are certainly not equal
    I totally agree. But most of the instances that I have seen, it was never the grease that was the culprit.
    LC 78 Troopie 1HD-FTE
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  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Peter Betts View Post
    This is aweful Henk ..I must have had 4000 guardian angels on my side ...........................................m !! But reading all this when I finally get a 4x4 trailer next year I will certainly buy spare bearing kits and take tools and your tel no with as it appears I am on borrowed time

    Seems as if you should go and buy a lotto ticket first
    Henk
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  18. #18
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    Default bearings

    i strip mine, clean and repack it once a year ,normally round november and take it for a good few km run and check for heat build up.

    overtighting of the bearings will cause heat build up in the hub ,happend to me before ,thats why i take it for a long jog and retorque the one bearing that gives problems.

    dont do bearings maintenance and leave the next day on holiday ,you will worry all the way

    alberto pereira
    Colt clubcab 2.8tdi 4x4 2005
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