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Old 06 November 2013, 04:29   #1
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How much can you cook a trailer wheel bearing...

Dug the boat out last weekend after six months in the garage, been too busy building an extension over the winter to use it. I thought I'd better try it in a tank before I trailered it in to the slip, needn't have worried as the Etec fired on the second turn of the engine.

One wheel brake was stuck on in the garage, which has happened a lot when it's parked. A few whacks with a hammer unsticks it. However ... when I towed it in to launch (about 5 miles, speeds 20-35mph) I found the hub was very hot when I got to the other end, too hot to touch but didn't actually burn me and no smoke, just a "hot brake" smell. After a bit of investigation I found that the cable was sticking after I'd had the handbrake on, and having bashed the end of the cable back in with a rock at the slip before I recovered the boat, I drove home with no problems and no heat.

It has the original (now 3 year old) sealed waterproof wheel bearings on an ALKO axle (SBS trailer), is a relatively modest overheat like this likely to have damaged the bearing seals? I presume they probably get pretty hot anyway on a long motorway type run elsewhere in the world, so I'm not sure whether I should change it as a precaution (I have neither the time nor inclination to at the moment) or risk using it. No obvious play in the bearing, but I guess it is possible the seals have been damaged by the heat and might have let water in (I let it all cool for about 10-15 min before launching).

Views please? The Etec is due its 3 year service about now, so I've got to set aside some time for boat maintenance but am hoping to leave it all till January when I have a few weeks leave, at which point I will probably do both bearings as well, but I'm hoping I can get away with using it a few times before then. No fast road use - the run to the slip is about 5 miles at the above speeds - and I can jack it up and check it between uses. The old heavy duty adjustable bearings on my old boat trailer would last for quite a while at low speeds even once they got rumbly, but I really don't know how quickly sealed bearings will disintegrate if they get water inside.
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Old 06 November 2013, 05:04   #2
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Chances are you'll be fine. However, my trailer (which is probably near identical to yours) only gets dunked twice a year and does 3miles each way at 30mph. After the second year, my seals had failed on their own accord and let water in. The inside was a rusty mess. I'm sure I put some photos up on here as getting the bearing savers removed was a bit of a struggle.
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Old 06 November 2013, 05:15   #3
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I'd guess that you will have water ingress into the bearings but the distance your doing I'd just keep an eye on them & change when you get the chance the damage is done when it stands for a while but you can tell with a quick jack up & spin if there noisy

if theres no noise & no play I'd keep using it
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Old 06 November 2013, 06:32   #4
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I think you'll be ok. I have exactly the same setup, SBS, Al-Ko sealed bearings, sticking brakes The heat from the brakes will have concentrated around the outside of the drum, to get to the bearing seals, the heat has to conduct to the centre of the hub & through the outer bearing race. I doubt it will have got hot enough in 5 miles to do any damage. The bearings are a doddle to change BTW, as long as you have access to a press, which I'm sure you have They cost around 30 quid a set here on the mainland, that's an axle set btw.
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Old 06 November 2013, 06:56   #5
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No bearing seal is 100% water proof. The seal covers two moving bits, so it cant be a perfect seal otherwise the bearing would not move.

If you heat it up you will melt the grease in it, that may get hot enough to leak out.

Id be less concerned about the seal, which is a rubber lip, and more concerned about the lack of grease in the bearing.

Get some new ones, they are cheap and when you feel play, replace them. Or carefully lift the seal and regrease them if you can.
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Old 06 November 2013, 07:13   #6
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If in doubt replace. Better safe than sorry.

When leaving trailers long term best practice is to leave the brakes off. I see a lot of caravans where the brakes have been left on & the shoes have stuck to the drums or the cables have seized - the worst was a twin axle, the owner had noticed it was a bit harder to tow than normal but carried on regardless . The heat generated trashed the the shoes and the bearings. The drums were replaced due to concerns about the heat they had been exposed to.
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Old 06 November 2013, 07:31   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pikey Dave View Post
They cost around 30 quid a set here on the mainland
You moved to France, Pikey?
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Old 06 November 2013, 07:33   #8
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Bog Monster - I used the same set of Alkos for three seasons. They never got warm, not even after towing for over 100 miles at around 50mph. No idea about your current situation - just info.
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Old 06 November 2013, 07:50   #9
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Never leave a trailer with the hand brake on!
I reckon they will be fine, this is what sealed for life bearing looked like after 5 years of dunking!
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Old 06 November 2013, 08:28   #10
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You moved to France, Pikey?

That's gone straight over mon tete
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