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Independent Lady

Re-packing wheel bearings

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Hi everyone,

I'm back at my home in New Hampshire for a few months at least, and have put my travel trailer (20 ft.) in my barn to keep it out of the weather.

At some point I'll be using it again, and have been looking online about re packing the wheel bearings. I tend to like to do things myself if I can,

and am wondering if this is one of those things I can do, or should have it serviced. 

The wheels were done  last spring before I drove three thousand plus miles last year, but especially since it's not going to be used

for at least a few months, just sitting in the barn, I do realize it will need to be done again.

Since it's just one axle, I figure it can't be all that difficult. Does anyone have any suggestions?

Thanks so much

Barbara

Edited by Independent Lady

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Search YouTube.  PLENTY of videos there of people, RV "pros" as well as owners, repacking their bearings.  Remember to use a good grease.  Your owners manual MAY suggest brands or the axle manufacturer may suggest a brand.

If you are NOT pressed for time AND have the space, you might want to disassemble the wheels and look at the drums, brake shoes. little retainer for the magnet, etc.  THEN you can go to the trailer store and get everything you'll need in a single trip instead of making two or more trips.

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Hi remoandaris

 

Thanks for responding.  I like the idea of learning how to do this, however I'm a bit leery of doing something so important. I have watched quite a few videos and some just show some guy squirting the grease into the wheel, while most of them take the entire wheel off to check the brakes. (which I think is vital to do)

So since I know nothing about brakes I'm wondering if I'd be overlooking that part if I did the greasing myself.

I do have plenty of time so I'm tempted to try it. As soon as the weather warms up,  I plan to take it out of the barn and park it on my front lawn to do some upkeep stuff on the inside. There's quite a few auto part stores downtown I suppose I can ask questions also.

I guess I'm just worried that I might get it all apart and then not be able to put it all back together again, but

really want to try. 

I'd be curious how many of you do it yourself, but I suppose those of you who have larger rigs probably don't. 

In a way this is good, because I don't even know how to change a flat!  Lucky for me I never had one, so now that I have the time, this would be great for me to figure all this out, 

Do you think anything else should be checked out as general maintenance?

 

Thanks so much

barbara

 

 

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Only you know if you have the strength to wrestle a tire around, or not. Depending on the trailer tire, it could be as heavy as 80 lbs. Yours probably run around 50 lbs, per tire. It would be a good time to see what's involved in changing a tire, rather than on the side of the road. Your mileage is on the low side for a bearing re-pack, but they'll never cause problems from over-attention. 

While It's under cover, and not being used, it's an ideal time to check all the roof seams, and penetrations. Too many RV's die an early death due to roof neglect. All the wall penetrations should be checked too.

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repacking bearings ir really easy, just messy.

how many miles on them? sometims better to replace than reuse.

look at the races are they showing any sign of ware?

but yes check everything down there and do it all as needed.

easer to work now than on the rd. and cheaper.

just get good jackstands.

take your time. and get photos of everything as it sits in place.

gives referance to put it back together right the first time. do only one wheel at a time.

buy a box of desposable gloves. couple " bags of rags, blue towels, best senathic water proof grease , 

gallon of solvent,  metal can to wash old greae out.

buy a spare set of spring for the brakes.

NO oil or grease on the brake shoes or in the drums.

inspect everything ( out of the drum areas) for loose or rubbing etc.

but yes to watching lots of videos, it does help.

have fun, take your time.

 

.

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Thank you Daryl and pack-   I'm going to go for it- I'll probably be here through most of the summer, and I guess worse case is I'm not sure of something and can always either/and ask questions here and at auto places around.

I'm in pretty good shape, having had horses for years, lifting hay, ect...... so that part won't be a problem. Don't mind getting dirty either, will wear clothes I don't really care about!

 

Maybe  I can post photos with questions?  

And yes, it's in the barn, great time to buy a ladder and check the roof. Any suggestions other then simple reseal with the silicone sealer?  

My trailer is a very low end unit, but it served me quite well all last year. .Even in the cold down in North Carolina last month, (got down to twenty at night) my little space heater kept my dogs and I quite warm. I read somewhere that these cheap trailers are no good for full timing, but for me, I think as long as i keep taking care of it, should last me a few more years at least. It's paid for, so that's one reason I love it. 

When I bought it two years ago, (might even have some old posts back then on here) I knew absolutely nothing about RV'ing and just took off. I learned so much it was amazing. I was even quite nervous about how the battery worked, my solar, and all that, but now it's old hat. .

So, this is my new project. 

 

Thanks so much for your response. .

barbara

  

Edited by Independent Lady

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On 3/17/2018 at 2:45 PM, Independent Lady said:

I like the idea of learning how to do this, however I'm a bit leery of doing something so important. I have watched quite a few videos and some just show some guy squirting the grease into the wheel, while most of them take the entire wheel off to check the brakes. (which I think is vital to do)

Taking the wheel off is the best way, IMO.  Just pumping grease in does not always get the grease to go where it is supposed to.  And, while you're in there, you can look around and see how things are; drums worn too far, shoes worn too far, magnet too round, cable or springs broken, grease on drums or shoes, etc.  

Quote

So since I know nothing about brakes I'm wondering if I'd be overlooking that part if I did the greasing myself.

As long as there is not a groove worn into the drum from the shoes, your brakes are probably fine.  You should realize pretty quickly if the shoes or drums need replaced.  Should be a good bit of meat left on those shoes.

Quote

I'd be curious how many of you do it yourself, but I suppose those of you who have larger rigs probably don't. 

I do mine annually, regardless of mileage.  I have a 40' 5er with 2 axles. I think I used 4 pair (maybe more) of rubber gloves per wheel.  I do NOT replace bearings unless they look worn of have a lot of signs of overheating (bluing).  Changing races can be  PITA if you don't have a race puller.  Expert minds say do not reuse old races with new bearings and always replace bearings in pairs.  

If you decide to change bearings and races, put the races in the freezer overnight.  It may help them shrink enough to more easily fit into place in the hub.

If you ever decide to change brake shoes or rebuild the brakes, it might be SIGNIFICANTLY easier and maybe a little cheaper to buy the entire brake assembly (backing plate, shoes, springs, magnet, everything already installed).  If the drums are within spec you could find a place to cut them and reuse the drums.

Quote

In a way this is good, because I don't even know how to change a flat!  Lucky for me I never had one, so now that I have the time, this would be great for me to figure all this out, 

Yes, NOW is the time to make sure you know how to change a flat.  It is also a good time to make sure you carry all the tools needed to change a flat.

Quote

Do you think anything else should be checked out as general maintenance?

Check the slide seals, lube the waste tank pulls, make sure the windows, air con and furnace work as they should.

Edited by remoandiris

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as to instaling the races.

and good cheap race instaler (some auto parts places rent tools) .

having done this kind of work most of my life i say easy. but for your reference take lots of photos.

yes grease the bearings by hand get the stuff deep inside the cage (reason for the gloves).

most auto parts places ( pending the age of who you talk to) know how and can give advice.

but always buy the better brands. avoid the cheap chinese trash.

durabilty thing. the chinese have this problem of lack of qualty control.

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Hi Remoandits, thanks so much!

I still have questions but I think I'll wait till I get started. Will also watch more videos to learn as much as I can.

Absolutely I should know how to change a flat!  I think (hope) we just had our last snow storm, and it's starting to get a bit warmer, so maybe in a week or two will take it out of the barn.

I love being independent (and saving money) my worst fear is not putting it all back the way it should be. What I don't see online in videos (yet) is how to put a new cotter pin back in. Will google that. Everyone I've watched so far looks like they really struggle to pull it out.

I also suppose that, like a car, if the brakes were bad I would have noticed hauling it, which I didn't. 

Lots to learn, thanks again!!!

Barbara

Edited by Independent Lady
sp

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Hi Pak, I  think we just posted at the same time.  Thank you as well-  It will probably take me fifty times longer then you fellas, but again, I'm learning and want to figure this out.

Am making my list of tools!

 

Barbara

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For the first time, it might help if you had a mechanic friend or even a shop guy from a local community college that could observe and provide directions to make sure you get it right.  You will need some basic tools, replacement seals, grease, rags, and solvent to clean the bearings.  You will also need to be able to jack up the trailer safely (after loosening the lug nuts first), and once you've removed the wheels, and then the drum/hub assemblies, you will need an experienced eye to check the brakes.  Putting everything back together after re-greasing the bearings is pretty simple, and adjusting the bearings is pretty important to get right, and then the wheels and lug nuts, and getting the nuts torqued properly.  Once you've done this a couple of times, things will go pretty quick each time, and you will wonder why shops charge so much to do this.

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16 hours ago, Independent Lady said:

I love being independent (and saving money) my worst fear is not putting it all back the way it should be.

What I don't see online in videos (yet) is how to put a new cotter pin back in. Will google that. Everyone I've watched so far looks like they really struggle to pull it out.

I know up above I said to take both hubs apart to save yourself a trip to town, but it may give you more peace of mind to do one at a time.  Remove both hubs at the same time, but leave one assembled.  That way if you have any questions, you can look at the "mirror image".  

This vid is pretty good.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g5ZhZBSY7hI  He skips over the cotter pin removal/install quickly, because it is EASY to do.  For removal, just bring the legs together with a pair of pliers, then pull thru.  Install is just as easy.  After you adjust the bearings with the castle nut, the pin should easily slip in the hole.  Then you just spread the legs.

The guy in the vid uses an impact wrench to remove the lug nuts.  If you don't have one, you will probably need a breaker bar.  You will also need a long torque wrench.  MUST torque those lug nuts properly.  

I LOVE Harbor Freight for tools I use infrequently, like packing bearings.  If you have one near you, get these tools if you do not have them already;

https://www.harborfreight.com/12-in-drive-25-in-breaker-bar-60819.html

https://www.harborfreight.com/seal-puller-with-2-tips-63039.html (to pop out the old grease seal without damaging anything except the seal)

https://www.harborfreight.com/18-piece-seal-driver-kit-35555.html (to install the new seal.  Not REALLY needed.  I use the edge of a 2x4 and a hammer to squarely put the seal in place)

https://www.harborfreight.com/5-mil-nitrile-powder-free-gloves-100-pc-medium-61363.html  {To keep your hands cleanish.  Also useful when handling the sewer hose)

1/2" to 3/8" adapter (unless all of your sockets are 1/2" drive)  

brake spoon (a flathead screwdriver works, too, but I prefer the shape of the spoon for ease of adjusting the brakes).

A GOOD torque wrench that adjusts to the foot pounds you need for your trailer lugs, preferably the drive size of your sockets.  An adapter on a torque wrench COULD alter the amount of torque you are putting on the nuts.

And, of course, the correct socket for your lug nuts.

Oh yeah, one other thing...a local garage might do the repack for you IF you bring in the hubs.  Then you just put them back on.

 

Edited by remoandiris

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46 minutes ago, remoandiris said:

I know up above I said to take both hubs apart to save yourself a trip to town, but it may give you more peace of mind to do one at a time.  Remove both hubs at the same time, but leave one assembled.  That way if you have any questions, you can look at the "mirror image".  

 

Unless I missed it, Take lots of pictures. Each time you see a new level of dis-assembly, take a picture. you can look back and see what hole the spring was hooked to and the such.

Also have a good jack (I like a little floor jack, Harbor Freight has a $30  model which may have the capacity needed) and jack stands (your TT jacks may be sufficent).

I'm sure you can do the job but do have the TT properly supported before removing a wheel.

Clay

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DO NOT use silicone on the roof!! If your roof is rubber(EPDM), use Dicor caulk. If on flat surface, use self-leveling. videos of this as well.

 

Jim

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12 hours ago, 57becky said:

For the first time, it might help if you had a mechanic friend or even a shop guy from a local community college that could observe and provide directions to make sure you get it right.  You will need some basic tools, replacement seals, grease, rags, and solvent to clean the bearings.  You will also need to be able to jack up the trailer safely (after loosening the lug nuts first), and once you've removed the wheels, and then the drum/hub assemblies, you will need an experienced eye to check the brakes.  Putting everything back together after re-greasing the bearings is pretty simple, and adjusting the bearings is pretty important to get right, and then the wheels and lug nuts, and getting the nuts torqued properly.  Once you've done this a couple of times, things will go pretty quick each time, and you will wonder why shops charge so much to do this.

Best advice so far IMHO. If you have never cleaned, greased and installed a bearing, have someone that does know how show you the way. Hands on with someone helping explain things to you is a LOT better than a YouTube video. What an experienced eye will see at a glance, you will not see because the video doesn't show it or it is not the focus of the video. Things like shock mounts, spring hangers or leaves in the spring can be broken or cracked, the frame itself can have issues, the axle tube or backer plates could be damaged and you would not notice it but someone that is familiar with it can glance and see what it wrong.

Remember back to a year ago and think about how green you were about an RV. Now compare that to this VERY important detail. Don't you think it would be better to get it right to start with? If installed wrong, you can burn up a bearing or even worse, lose a wheel because it wasn't installed right. There are lots of people out there that would be willing to help. As noted in several posts, it's not that hard but it is easy to screw up as well.

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We used to carefully clean, inspect, and repack front wheel bearings on the late 60’s and early 70’s cars and pickups on about 16,000 to 20,000 mile intervals. 

That was in The Age Before Drama ...

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So many great responses. Georgia, my concern exactly.  Worse nightmare would be leaving here this fall, and a major accident happens because my wheel fell off.

I'm going to print out all this information, so that when someone helps me, I at least know what to look for and ask.

To me  the wheels are the most important part of the rig, except of course, the hitch.

 

Thanks so much everyone, so much help!!!

 

Barbara

 

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I like what ramonediris posted, but I don't like using a race puller--I use a punch and a 4-pound hammer...it works much better for me. To install a new race use a bearing race and seal driver set...https://www.harborfreight.com/10-piece-bearing-race-and-seal-driver-set-63261.html

This is the grease I use:  https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0053O9FQS/ref=oh_aui_search_detailpage?ie=UTF8&psc=1

Edited by BigTexRex

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Parking on the lawn or dirt put down a board or piece of plywood at least as wide as the tire and park on it so the tire doesnt get moisture from the ground

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Question for Devil- Why is that?

Some people here in New Hampshire leave their RV's out in the weather, although I chose not to. I actually just took it out yesterday and it's sitting on the snow. 

 

Even if I did put boards underneath, wouldn't the wood soak up moisture, especially if it rains, and even keep the moisture in the wood?

curious what your reasoning is,,,???

 

thanks

Barbara 

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If it were mine with only 3000+ miles since the last service, I would not repack at this time unless there are signs of brake issues or grease leaking.

In my opinion some folks are wearing the axles out just taking them apart.  I do my 5th wheel at approximately 20k miles.

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On ‎3‎/‎21‎/‎2018 at 10:36 AM, Devilishjim said:

Parking on the lawn or dirt put down a board or piece of plywood at least as wide as the tire and park on it so the tire doesnt get moisture from the ground

I've used a 2X8 plank long enough to accommodate wheel chocks outside the tires topped with 3/4" barn stall mat pieces (I cut a 4'X6' mat to size with the leveling blocks, to be used alone or in conjunction, keeps the blocks from sinking as well). The 9" square mat pieces lay on the plank providing rubber to rubber with the tires & a good surface for the wheel chocks, while the plank helped distribute the weight of the RV over more surface area. 

If you like to tinker and looking to get familiar with your RV, the bearing project could serve a purpose... but yeah, 3K miles on freshly serviced bearings isn't much to think of. Definitely get on the roof though, heck crawl over, around, & under that baby while you have a chance... look at everything :) 

Edited by rm.w/aview

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At 3000 mi. your wasting your time if it was done right the last time. look for grease on back side- pull dust cover. Is it full of grease? Will the wheel/tire wiggle? Pull cotter pin and hand tight and back out to first hole. Bearings go hundred of thousand miles with out repacking. Those grease jerks in caps are a joke. People will pump too much blowing grease out of seal and end up on brakes.

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Thank you bipeflier Rm and bee,

 

I guess my thinking was more that it's going to be sitting here stationary for at least six months or maybe more. Somehow I got the idea that I should do this especially since it was not being used. 

When I do leave, I don't plan to go cross county again, but stay on the east coast, probably "just" another couple thousand miles again for another year if I don't buy another house by then.

I like the idea of not messing around with it if it doesn't need it, and yes, there are other things (little things) I am repairing and fixing.

Of course if I call a shop, they'll tell me to bring it in, and I have a feeling they'll find something wrong, even though I've been hauling it just fine.

Much to think about,

Thank you for your knowledgeable thoughts,

Barbara 

 

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