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Old 24 February 2008, 12:02   #1
spartacus's Avatar
Country: UK - Scotland
Town: Aberdeenshire
Boat name: Sula
Make: Ribcraft 4.8m
Length: 4m +
Engine: Tohatsu 60hp + aux
MMSI: 235087213
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 3,854
Trailer wheel bearings

I know this is common sense, especially before the boating season starts up again properly (UK). I had the wheels of my Indespension roller-coaster trailer for general maintenance and noticed the hub (on one side) wasn't rotating as smoothly as it should.

Stripped down both sides and one side is damaged. The bearings are rusted and the bearing sleeves (hub) are rust-marked - where it was on contact with the bearing. This is on a new roller-coaster trailer purchased in 2006 and used for 2 seasons moderate use (sea). Bearing was well-packed with grease.

I suppose when it was garaged late October last year - the damage was done just be leaving it to stand. I've now used Quicksilver marine grease and repacked one side and reassembled. I need a new bearings for the other side.

Hate to think what would have happened if the trailer had been pulled for anything other than a short trip.

Definately an annual job from now on.

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Old 24 February 2008, 12:45   #2
Country: France
Town: Cannes
Boat name: midkat 550
Make: apoge
Length: 5m +
Engine: 2x50 Tohatsu
Join Date: Jan 2008
Posts: 126
bearing lube

I would suggest to replace grease by oil.

One difference is that grease stays where it was when you stopped the trailer.
I suppose that when you dismantled the hub you found the grease stayng all arond the external sleeve of the bearing. When it is like that, it starts to become an effective lube when the roller became hot enough to make the grease melt. Too late !

With oil, the lube remains down, and keeps its action everywhere it is, so it protects the bearing sleeves and rollers.
Plus : with oil, the acceptable load can be x3.

To replace grease by oil, you must have a leak-free system like O-ring, L-ring, ... contacting an added sleeve, ie a very thin corrosion-free surface, like Stainless steel, bronze, brass (easy to find) ... added/glued with epoxy onto the wheel shaft.

Then to make the hub dustcaps leak-free too bu glueing them with polyurethane sealant (Sikaflex)

You will spend some money to have the special sleeve machined (one time I made 1mm thin wall ones, so I was able to use the genuine oil-retainer) - or you could buy ready-to-use sleeves made of porous bronze, with larger external diameter, and buy the corresponding size oil-retainer.
But you will never have to change again your bearings !

Should you have any problem to do that because of hard-to-find dimensions, I have all the equipment, lathe ...

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Old 24 February 2008, 12:47   #3
Country: UK - England
Town: Enfield/Switzerland
Boat name: Zonneschijn II/Vixen
Make: Shakespeare/Avon
Length: 7m +
Engine: Evin' 175 DI /Yam 90
MMSI: 235055605
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 1,425
yep, we always make it a pre season job when launching with trailer (boat now lifted in), with mid season check.
Easy (and cheap enough) job with taper bearings (buying whole hub assembly not much more money, so usually do that too), but now have a different type and not sure about those. Next trailer will be taper bearings again for ease of maintenance
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Old 24 February 2008, 14:06   #4
Country: UK - Scotland
Town: Inverness
Boat name: none
Make: none
Length: 5m +
Engine: none
MMSI: none
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 1,908
I always changed the full hub every year in spite of it never looking like it was needed. 30-40 once a year seemed little to pay for makning sure I wasn't going to be stuck somewhere at 11pm on a mountain road with no wheel attached to the trailer!
I just used to put last seasons hubs in the trailer container I carried in the Jeep and dispose of the year befores each season.
I deliberately chose taper bearing on the new trailer for ease of changing and maintenance, not particularly sure of these "sealed for life" ones as the first time you find it is on the way out may be when the wheel overtakes you........
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Old 24 February 2008, 15:24   #5
Cypman's Avatar
Country: UK - Isle of Man
Town: Douglas
Length: no boat
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 338
Regular maintenance is the only option to ensure continued bearing serviceability. Even a short period without attention will often result in salt water immersion damage and bearing failure, usually late on a Sunday evening on a busy motorway!!!
I have found the use of "Bearing savers" to be an easy way of reducing premature bearing corrosion and well worth the expense. In addition, if trailer hubs are not fully rinsed with fresh water after each and every immersion in salt water bearing life will be severly reduced.
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