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Old 07 September 2002, 10:29   #1
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Sealed wheel bearings - trailer wheels

When I was in a diving club some time ago I remember reading about so called sealed bearings for boat trailer wheels. Are these still available and do they work? How long will they last allowing for say, 20 - 30 launches & recoveries per year?
We have a Indespension/Hallmark trailer for our Osprey 5.2M. This has only 1 wheel per side with standard (non-sealed) bearings - no problems so far but I would like to hear other ribsters experiences.
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Old 07 September 2002, 12:15   #2
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wheel bearings

in my experience you only really get serious bearing problems/failure through letting them sit in salt water for any period of time or fitting them incorrectly. The bearings in my trailer have been there for over two years with no TLC other than allowing the sea water out of the hubs by popping the hub covers off after every trip and giving it a dose of WD40 to displace any water left there. It also pays to have quality bearings such as Timken or SKF which are available from specialised bearing suppliers tightened to the correct torque ( as a rough guide you should be able to move the thrust washer with a screwdriver once the hub is torqued' up) . Be very wary of cheap japanese bearings from camping shops etc as they will cost you in the long run due to inferior components and slack tolerances in manufacture. I am fortunate enough to work with all kinds of bearings due to working in maintenance and get bearings for very little cost (or none) but so far have never needed to replace any of the bearings in my trailer despite having 4 spare sets! I believe sealed types are available and have a close friend who is a bearing sales rep and will enquire for you if you like but I dont think they are water tight due to the nature of a thrust type bearing, merely sealed from road grime!
hope this helps


PS. there was an excellent fictional tale about trailer neglect in RIB international magazine a couple of months ago ,worth a read for worst case scenario!
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Old 07 September 2002, 12:57   #3
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our coastguard boat trailer came with sealed bearings - they certainly weren't waterproof and it cost an arm and leg to replace. We now use standard hubs/bearings. If you have a hallmark trailer get some of their bearing saver fittings which go on instead of thegrease cap and keep a certain amount of pressure on the grease all the time due to a spring loaded cover plate. They really work - stripped our bearings down on the humber's trailer after a years use (inc three 600 plus miles round trips) and virtually every weekend on the water locally and the bearings looked like they had just come new out of the packet. Ours came with the trailer but I think they are about 60 quid as a retro fit. And use waterproof grease-see last winters thread re castrol heavy grease etc
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Old 07 September 2002, 17:01   #4
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Agreed, think twice before you go for the sealed type. My last trailer had Alco sealed for life bearings. They were great in that you could forget about them till they needed re-placing. The trouble was that that was every 18 months and then you had to buy a complete hub at 100+ to replace them. They also give little warning when they are about to go, other than a grumbling noise. One tip though, the hub unit from Alco is the only official way you can buy them, but if they're the same as I had, they are actually an ordinary bearing as fitted to a Bedford van. If you can find a friendly metal worker with a press you can press them out and buy new ones from a motor factors for about 26. Can't remember what type they were but I did post that info last year here. Do a search for bearings and you may find it.

Interested in you comments about the bearing savers, Dave. My current trailer for my 6.3 is a single axel Rapide, rated at 1,800 kilo gross. As such it has a thicker than usual axel and thus needs a bigger than usual bearing saver. Difficult to get, but if they are as good as you say, it may be worth the investment. Why don't Bradley put grease nipples on their axels?
And waterproof grease! Try Aqualube!

There now follows a cacophony of nipple jokes!


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Old 07 September 2002, 17:25   #5
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Hallmark tell me that their system works well 'cos the back bearing has a metal stiffener in the seal(not just rubber) to cope with the constant pressure on the grease-otherwise it would ooze out round the rubber. So if you replace bearings then you should purchase from hallmark.
I think we may have to wait for keith ( ) for the nipple jokes
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Old 07 September 2002, 18:25   #6
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So many different ideas on bearings. It's difficult to know what's breast really!
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Old 07 September 2002, 18:34   #7
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Milk it for all it's worth Mike
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Old 08 September 2002, 09:02   #8
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Thanks for the mammary The old ones are still the best
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