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Old 07 January 2023, 22:37   #1
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Axle bearings sealed or tapered

Hi, I am looking at a new boat and as itís currently moored I will need to buy a trailer for it.
I have looked into most of the makes available and I will probably get a double axle Degraaff or Extreme.
Degraaff uses tapered bearing on a Knot axle and Extreme uses a sealed plain bearing in a complete assembly on an ALKO axle.

Has anyone had any issues with the ALKO axles?
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Old 08 January 2023, 08:39   #2
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Must admit I was initially very sceptical of sealed bearings. Amazingly six seasons on with 30 plus salt water dunkings each year still silky smooth. Well no detectable rumbling or play at least.
Still carry a couple of spare hubs just in case though.
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Old 08 January 2023, 09:17   #3
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I've owned dozens of trailers & done 1000's if miles & only ever completely lost a wheel once & it was off an empty twin axle trailer travelling from Southampton to Durham overnight. Somewhere enroute the sealed bearings collapsed & I lost the complete wheel & hub, the trailer was 9 months old & had been dunked only 3 times in its short life.
Consequently I'd never buy a sealed bearing trailer again given the choice. The bearings are expensive and harder to change & the hubs have a reccomend maximum no of bearing changes. Taper bearings on the other hand are cheap as chips, easy to change even at the side of the road , can be stripped washed out & repacked with grease & greased periodically for preventative purposes. Add a set of bearing buddies which maintain positive pressure on the seals & taper bearings are the best option imho.

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Old 08 January 2023, 11:20   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by beamishken View Post
I've owned dozens of trailers & done 1000's if miles & only ever completely lost a wheel once & it was off an empty twin axle trailer travelling from Southampton to Durham overnight. Somewhere enroute the sealed bearings collapsed & I lost the complete wheel & hub, the trailer was 9 months old & had been dunked only 3 times in its short life.
Consequently I'd never buy a sealed bearing trailer again given the choice. The bearings are expensive and harder to change & the hubs have a reccomend maximum no of bearing changes. Taper bearings on the other hand are cheap as chips, easy to change even at the side of the road , can be stripped washed out & repacked with grease & greased periodically for preventative purposes. Add a set of bearing buddies which maintain positive pressure on the seals & taper bearings are the best option imho.

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And the flip side to that is that after also literally thousands of miles all over the UK & europe, towing trailers with both sealed & taper bearings. Iíve lost a wheel/hub twice, both on taper bearings. Given the choice, I would go for sealed.
You pays your money & takes your choiceÖ.
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Old 08 January 2023, 17:53   #5
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You can strip & examine a taper roller bearing.
Not so with a sealed bearing.

There are God alone knows how many caravans/trailers in use with Al-ko axles & sealed for life bearings but how many regularly get immersed in water.

Normal road use spray is one thing, but immersion - or the use of high pressure washers on wheels - is a different matter.
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Old 08 January 2023, 17:58   #6
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Thanks for the replyís so far.
I am one of the maintenance techs at Southampton docks so I usually do all my own maintenance.
My current trailer has tapered bearings and I do like the fact they are cheap, easy to grease and you can very easily change the bearings in minutes at home with very little tools, I usually change them at the end of each season ready for the next.

However out of the trailers I have looked at itís only Degraaff that still use tapered bearings.
SBS, RM, Extreme, Bramer etc all now use the plain sealed type.
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Old 08 January 2023, 19:13   #7
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You can strip & examine a taper roller bearing.
Not so with a sealed bearing.

There are God alone knows how many caravans/trailers in use with Al-ko axles & sealed for life bearings but how many regularly get immersed in water.

Normal road use spray is one thing, but immersion - or the use of high pressure washers on wheels - is a different matter.


The sealed bearings in ďordinaryĒ trailers, caravans etc are different to the type used in boat trailers. These are waterproof & the seals are different to the non-boat trailer type.
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Old 08 January 2023, 19:52   #8
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I’ve never liked the idea of a “sealed” bearing preferring the tapered items that I can inspect/clean/re grease.

I recently bought a boat and trailer with “sealed” bearings, the trailer had been used to launch and recover the boat then was towed 100yrds to where it sat until next launch. This trailer was dunked once a month and every month since 2009.

I removed the rotten brake shoes and cables to be able to tow it from the sellers house, the bearings were like BRAND NEW and they were original. I was converted there and then.
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Old 08 January 2023, 21:09   #9
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I've seen so many tapered bearings fail that I carry a spare hub with new bearings already packed with grease. Never needed to address bearings on the side of the road, but my friends pay for tow insurance because their bearings fail often. With tapered bearings checking the Bearing buddies for grease every time before dipping is important. I carry a grease gun should they not be pressurized. Another good check is to try to rock the tapered bearings to see if they have excessive play.

There is a reason the auto industry switched to sealed bearings. 200K miles is not uncommon for sealed bearings, yet a tapered bearing would have been repacked about 4 times and replaced twice with new seals each time, not including wheel bearing adjustments.

No matter what bearing, NOT dipping them into cold water HOT will greatly extend their life.
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Old 08 January 2023, 23:07   #10
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Sounds like these sealed bearings arenít that bad then, I live in Southampton so I can actually buy an extreme trailer directly from them.
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Old 08 January 2023, 23:34   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by martin33100 View Post
Hi, I am looking at a new boat and as itís currently moored I will need to buy a trailer for it.
I have looked into most of the makes available and I will probably get a double axle Degraaff or Extreme.
Degraaff uses tapered bearing on a Knot axle and Extreme uses a sealed plain bearing in a complete assembly on an ALKO axle.

Has anyone had any issues with the ALKO axles?
Bearings is well discussed above ,however imho there are more (admittedly older)trailers on the side of the road with those al-ko hollow suspension arms rotted through (from the inside ) than bearing issues ,and alot of bearing issues are caused by seized brake cables and heated up drums ,then whichever bearing you have it will fail !
Personally i,d go for the knott avonride axle which are availiable with sealed bearings and flush ports ,(Knott suspension arms are solid)
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Old 09 January 2023, 03:24   #12
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~alot of bearing issues are caused by seized brake cables and heated up drums ~
Oh my

In the USA we moved onto disk brakes and Electric/hydraulic or surge/hydraulic long ago...I can't imagine the maintenance required for a brake cable?? Well lubed boat steering cables fail often enough.
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Old 09 January 2023, 12:39   #13
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UK/European law is a bit different. Not necessarily for the better!
http://www.gov.uk/government/publica...-and-couplings

Cables can & do seize.
Mine are stainless steel & removed annually & hung up to allow oiling - same way I used to do motorbike cables.
Easy to do & so far I haven't had a problem - at least with the cables!
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Old 09 January 2023, 17:32   #14
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Bearings is well discussed above ,however imho there are more (admittedly older)trailers on the side of the road with those al-ko hollow suspension arms rotted through (from the inside ) than bearing issues ,and alot of bearing issues are caused by seized brake cables and heated up drums ,then whichever bearing you have it will fail !
Personally i,d go for the knott avonride axle which are availiable with sealed bearings and flush ports ,(Knott suspension arms are solid)
I think you hit the nail on the head with the siezed brakes contributing significantly to the number of bearing failures by burning the seals & melting out the grease the bearings days are numbered whether sealed for life or tapered. The whole "sealed for life" thing is a bit misleading imho it should just read "none servicable". Their use only encourages a lack of maintenance as they are supposed to be maintenance free & encourage folk to think they dont need touched, the one shot nuts & horrendous torque requirement is another deterrent to folk removing hubs for a check on the brakes. In reality the hubs should be off once a year as a minimum & even more often depending on useage. The fact you can strip taper bearings off with minimum tools in a few mins has to be the best option to encourage maintenance of brakes & inspect & repack the bearings as required.
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Oh my

In the USA we moved onto disk brakes and Electric/hydraulic or surge/hydraulic long ago...I can't imagine the maintenance required for a brake cable?? Well lubed boat steering cables fail often enough.
Disk brakes still sieze up on trailers & electrics dont like water especially salt most folk struggle with keeping trailer lights working nevermind complicating the situation with electric brakes, hydraulic master cylinders will suffer too. Considering our trailers are restricted to 3500kg maximum the braking systems we have available are adequate for our use with regular maintenance, stainless cables as paintman suggests and regular maintenance can help a lot. Most failures can be avoided with proper maintenance except maybe the axle failures Orwell boy mentions

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Old 10 January 2023, 23:04   #15
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We've had sealed and tapered bearings on multiple trailers over the years and they are all about the same in terms of quality and durability. We do way more mileage than most boaters so we really have but them "through the mill" over time.

The most useful bit of advice I was given was to always stop and have a brew before launching your boat as it give the bearings time to cool down and avoid drawing water into the bearings. We've done this on all our trailers and it seems to be pretty good advice.

We have recently switched from SBS and DeGraff over to two Indespension trailers after we were offered a really good price. Interestingly we noted that some manufacturers still don't put sealed bearings on their larger capacity trailers as they don't think they are up to it and stick to tapered bearings (and bearing savers on their boat models).

The bigger trailer came with tapered bearings so we special ordered same sized tyres and tapered bearings on the smaller trailer so we carry one spare set of spares for both trailers just in case.

Personally I would say that they are as good as each other and its just a personal choice.

If DIY is your thing and a desire to check them regularly then stick with tapered.
If fit and forget and then change every 5 years is your thing, then sealed will do you fine. (We did 10 years on one set of sealed bearings in an SBS trailer!)

PS if you are buy new have a think about buying the Datatag trailer kit to deter it going walkies! https://www.datatag.co.uk/trailers.php

Chris
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Old 11 January 2023, 20:46   #16
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I'm on my 2nd set of bearings since new in 2007 on the 5.4's trailer.First ones lasted til 2017 then a brake lining came off the backing plate and cooked the seals. Bearings were still fine but changed as a matter of course.
Taper rollers, bearing savers pumped up with fresh grease every year.
Same deal on the Ballistic I sold a few years back, the only issue I had with it was brake linings.
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Old 11 January 2023, 21:29   #17
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I'm on my 2nd set of bearings since new in 2007 on the 5.4's trailer.First ones lasted til 2017 then a brake lining came off the backing plate and cooked the seals. Bearings were still fine but changed as a matter of course.
Taper rollers, bearing savers pumped up with fresh grease every year.
Same deal on the Ballistic I sold a few years back, the only issue I had with it was brake linings.


Re. Brake linings. The modern bonded type are sh1te when dunked in seawater. The water gets between the lining & the shoe, rusts the shoe & blows the lining off (ooer matron) I kept a set of old back plates, had them shot blasted & zinc chromated. I then sent them to a place in Sheffield that re-lines shoes with proper old style riveted linings. They lasted for years & I sold the trailer with them on.

https://custombrakes.co.uk/services/...-classic-cars/
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Old 11 January 2023, 23:50   #18
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Re. Brake linings. The modern bonded type are sh1te when dunked in seawater. The water gets between the lining & the shoe, rusts the shoe & blows the lining off (ooer matron) I kept a set of old back plates, had them shot blasted & zinc chromated. I then sent them to a place in Sheffield that re-lines shoes with proper old style riveted linings. They lasted for years & I sold the trailer with them on.
https://custombrakes.co.uk/services/...-classic-cars/
I'm hoping my last set of brake shoes won't be as bad-there's a couple of holes in them that I think allow the sea water in between the shoe and lining. They're between the horizontal and vertical bits of steel that make up the back plate.
I've sealed these up this time, so hopefully...

If not, that link will be useful, ta
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Old 12 January 2023, 22:32   #19
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We've had sealed and tapered bearings on multiple trailers over the years and they are all about the same in terms of quality and durability. We do way more mileage than most boaters so we really have but them "through the mill" over time.

The most useful bit of advice I was given was to always stop and have a brew before launching your boat as it give the bearings time to cool down and avoid drawing water into the bearings. We've done this on all our trailers and it seems to be pretty good advice.

We have recently switched from SBS and DeGraff over to two Indespension trailers after we were offered a really good price. Interestingly we noted that some manufacturers still don't put sealed bearings on their larger capacity trailers as they don't think they are up to it and stick to tapered bearings (and bearing savers on their boat models).

The bigger trailer came with tapered bearings so we special ordered same sized tyres and tapered bearings on the smaller trailer so we carry one spare set of spares for both trailers just in case.

Personally I would say that they are as good as each other and its just a personal choice.

If DIY is your thing and a desire to check them regularly then stick with tapered.
If fit and forget and then change every 5 years is your thing, then sealed will do you fine. (We did 10 years on one set of sealed bearings in an SBS trailer!)

PS if you are buy new have a think about buying the Datatag trailer kit to deter it going walkies! https://www.datatag.co.uk/trailers.php

Chris
Hi, how did you find your Degraaff trailer?.
I have just been offered an ex display double axle one with £1000 discount, itís basically new but the boat yard have moved a couple of boats with it.
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Old 12 January 2023, 23:02   #20
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10 yrs one trailer 1000's 0f miles 100's of launches and recoverys
Just One set!
....(had real problems like most with tapered and none sealed stuff in the past)
SEALED! 100%!! no argument!

Oh....and Grease Packed "bearing savers" too
Regardless DO...
keep checking for heat and noise especially on long trips...good for peace of mind.
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