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Some thoughts on trailer bearings
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Some thoughts on trailer bearings

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from Graham Lamond

How often do you replace your trailer bearings? If you tow a lot, I'll bet it's around once a year.

Water always seems to get into the bearings and emulsify the grease and before long you hear that familiar droning sound from the trailer behind you. Whilst replacement is straightforward, there is a cost and it's another job to do. It was certainly an annual feature for me. Some years ago I was told about bearing savers by FF sailor John Wright. Bearing savers are spring loaded tubes which are a press fit into the outer hub. You inject them with grease and the spring acts against a disc, keeping hub under a slight pressure and thus preventing the ingress of water. Fitting and removal is easy and I have included a couple of videos from You Tube showing fitting and removal. In the USA they're called Bearing Buddies but the principle is the same.

Two tips to note in the fitting video, don't overfill with grease or you'll blow the rear seal and rotate the bearing to ensure removal of air whilst filling. In the UK, the bearing savers are available from Indespension and you can order them on line. Their models have a small hole on the side to allow air to come out and it also acts as a tell tale to let you know when the hub is full of grease. I've learned it's better to slightly under fill the hubs to allow for some heat expansion when on the road. When the pressure decreases, the spring loaded disc closes off the tell tale hole and prevents water ingress. I would recommend at least cleaning and repacking your bearings before fitting the savers so you know everything is in good order. If the bearings have been on a while, you may as well replace the lot. I have fitted these units on three trailers now, with the longest being 5 years ago and I haven't replaced any bearings since.

Indespension's direct web page is: http://www.indespension.co.uk/204-unbraked-trailer-hubs

Note the bearing savers come in pairs. The price of a pair of savers is less than for a single hub and bearing unit, so the payback is immediate.

You Tube fitting video is: Installation Of The Bearing Buddy

Hope this helps remove another task from trailer maintenance!

Graham Lamond

 

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